Wry&Dry #1830

Wry & Dry #31 FY-24 Where 88% is a fail. Where’s Dan? Useful idiot.

Ten stories you may have missed

  1. Russia: where 88% is a fail
  2. Victoria: where’s Dan?
  3. Events 1: Useful idiot
  4. Events 2: Ruddster v Trumpster
  5. Hong Kong: ‘External influence’
  6. Muscles: Macron’s new tactic
  7. Jokes: Sleepy Joe
  8. Money: the Trumpster needs GoFundMe
  9. TikTok: hypocrisy 101
  10. TikTok: hypocrisy 102

1. Russia: where an 88% of the vote is a fail

Tsar Vlad threw himself at the feet of his subjects. And begged to be re-elected for the 5th time. To make it easier for his subjects to vote for him, he wisely banned all opposition parties.

Under those circumstances, he really should have got at least 100% of the vote. So, an 88% result is a dismal failure. It’s also an administrative failure.

As Stalin said, “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

Not that Tsar Vlad will be fazed. It was 24 years ago that he was first elected. Elections then were, more-or-less, ‘free and fair’. Now, with most real political rivals in exile, in prison or in the ground, Tsar Vlad didn’t need to spend much on campaigning. In fact, there were more ads about the need to vote than for whom to vote. Hence a voter turnout of more than 70%.

If Tsar Vlad sees out his 6-year term, he will be only 11 months behind his hero Joseph Stalin as a long- serving Russian leader. But that still leaves him in 7th place. The top seven are:

  1. Ivan the Terrible: 50 years, 3 months
  2. Ivan III the Great: 43 years, 7 months
  3. Peter the Great: 42 years, 9 months
  4. Catherine the Great: 34 years, 4 months
  5. Mikhail Romanov: 32 years, 5 months
  6. Joseph Stalin: 30 years, 11 months

In his 24 years, Tsar Vlad has dealt with five US presidents, seven UK prime ministers, eleven Italian prime ministers and two German chancellors.

And eight Australian prime ministers.

2. Victoria: Where’s Dan?

In an announcement that surprised only those whose covid-19 mantra was, “I stand with Dan,” the Victorian Auditor-General has reported that then Chairman Dan’s decision to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games cost Victorian taxpayers almost $600m.

But wait, there’s more! The original decision to host the Games was fiscal folly: benefits were over-stated and costs under-stated. So, who over-stated the good and under-stated the bad? Which department established the business case?

Was it the fiscal gurus of Victoria, the Department of Treasury and Finance? Err, no. Then-Chairman Dan wanted the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (!) to run and advise on the budget for the Games.


There’s more to this than meets the eye. But it’s okay. Premier This Week, Jacinta Allen, who was Minister for Games Delivery before it was axed, said on Wednesday that she would meet with the State’s top bureaucrats to “discuss the Auditor-General’s findings.” Phew. That discussion will find that… err… umm… well… that no-one was actually responsible for the decision to host the Games.

Meanwhile, journalists trying to find Emeritus-Chairman Dan for a comment have been unsuccessful. Like Princess Kate, he seems to have been kidnapped by aliens.

3. Events 1: Useful idiot

“Events, dear boy. Events.”

That delightful understatement by a former UK Prime Minister,1 responding to a question as to what he feared most, probably summed up Albo’s week. So far.

Firstly, there was the pesky. Paul Keating somehow arranged for Emperor Eleven’s visiting foreign policy adviser Wang Yi, to drop in for Chinese tea for two. Just Keating and Mr. Wang. Keating is not only a serial sufferer of RDS, but also an outspoken apologist for Emperor Eleven. And this caused pre-emptive action by Albo: take a Nurofen and get Penny Wong to do the heavy lifting.

Keating’s egotistical action will ensure that the Working Committee of Party and State Merit and Honour Commendation2 recommends he receives the Friendship Medal3.

Keating now stands alone as Australia’s most useful idiot for Emperor Eleven. That phrase, popularised by Stalin, refers to a person who propagandises for a cause without fully comprehending either the cause’s goals or that he is being cynically used.

But Keating doesn’t care that he trumped, so to speak, Foreign Minister Penny Wong. But the latter, in publicly speaking of what mattered, showed that she has considerably more spine than Albo. But Keating was happy that all of the fuss was about Paul Keating.

1 Harold McMillan.

2 The body that is responsible for recommending state awards in China.

3 China’s highest award for foreigners. the first awarded went to Tsar Vlad in 2018.

4. Events 2: Ruddster v Trumpster

Albo’s second event was the inevitable: a submerged log emerged. The Ruddster’s mouth.

In a UK television interview, the Trumpster unloaded on the Ruddster, Albo’s captain’s call4 as Australia’s ambassador to the US: “I heard he was a little bit nasty. I hear he’s not the brightest bulb.”


All of this in response to the Ruddster’s name-calling of the Trumpster over the years: “nuts,” a “traitor to the west,” etc. His post-PM-behaviour as a social-media troll was not an edifying entry on his CV. And sooner or later would re-emerge.

This is really a sandpit fight that is of no lasting consequence. But it reminds Readers that Miracle Morrison was not the only PM to make ‘captain’s calls’.

4 Not even Albo’s inner circle, including Penny Wong and Tony Burke, thought the appointment of the Ruddster was a good idea.

5.Hong Kong: “External influence”

As might happen in Beijing, Moscow or Tehran, in Hong Kong lawmakers unanimously passed new national security legislation.

Should Readers yawn? Well, yes, if one wishes to wade through 212 pages. But no, if one has a concern for Hong Kong and its people. The new law is draconian in scope, intimidatory in intention and comprehensive.

The vagueness of the law gives an even wider scope for Emperor Eleven’s Hong Kong hench-people to put the boot on the throat of those they dislike. Consider that now inciting ‘hatred’ against the Chinese Communist Party, apparently a form of sedition, is an offence punishable by up to 10 years in the slammer. Suspects can be prevented by police from meeting their lawyers.

And the new law allows for criminal prosecution for certain acts committed anywhere in the world.

The problems with the law extend beyond the obvious targets of troublesome dissidents and demonstrators. Such groups as journalists and company research writers might find themselves locked-up for what last week might have been lawful.

No wonder that the people in Hong Kong are the 86th happiest people in the world. Below even those of China.

6. Muscles: Macron’s new tactic

Taking a leaf from Tsar Vlad earnestly displaying his pecs, lats and obliques, M Macron, France’s President has turned to his biceps and triceps.

Photos have been released, showing a sweaty French president belting a punching bag in a gym. Muscles were bursting from a just-too-tight t-shirt, teeth were gritted, eyes popping like Marty Feldman’s and veins protruded like mini firehoses about to explode.

What’s going on? Well, it seems that this is the latest manifestation of him turning to a hawk from being a dove. Readers will know that last week when meeting with the Chancellor Germany, he took a very pro-Ukraine stance – gone were the words of appeasement he once had. Memories swirl of the photo of him negotiating peace with Tsar Vlad: he at one end of a 10-metre table and Tsar Vlad at the other.

But that was yesteryear. Last February he said that NATO should have ‘boots on the ground” in Ukraine.

Is this take-my-photo-whilst-I’m-boxing and publish it a classic small man complex? Or vanity more than virility.

Either way, with those biceps he can wave his white flag a little more vigorously when the Russian soldiers come knocking.

7. Jokes: Sleepy Joe

Sleepy Joe has turned his coat. And his back. On Israel.

What’s happened? Well, Sleepy Joe no longer speaks of defeating Hamas. It’s about beating-up Israel or getting his acolytes to do so. Or more actively calling for cease-fire. This is his way of catering to the anti-Israel Democrats to his left without alienating the bulk of American voters.

Sleepy Joe said that he supported Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas but now opposes the actions needed to achieve that goal. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday that “our position is that Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven in Rafah or anywhere else, but a major ground operation there would be a mistake.” 

Hold the phone, none of the political solutions that Sleepy Joe wants for Gaza can possibly succeed if Hamas battalions remain intact.

After the assault in Israel on 7 October, he was an overt and earnest supporter of Israel. After the polls have turned against him, he’s now working on the “two-state solution”: Michigan and Pennsylvania.

As Wry & Dry recently noted, these states are two ‘swing states’ in the upcoming US elections. Sleepy Joe won both states in 2020, but is now behind in the polls in both. Michigan has a large population of about 240,000 Muslims, Pennsylvania has 150,000.

It seems that Sleepy Joe is more concerned to lock in the White House as his post-November retirement home than he is about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

Don’t go wobbly on Israel, Joe. You’ll get more votes by being steadfast.

8. Money: the Trumpster needs GoFundMe

Is it possible that the Trumpster’s bid for a second term in the top gig might unravel?

Y’see, he is unable to secure the bond he needs to postpone the enforcement of a US$464m fraud judgment against him and his business empire. He has appealed the decision. Some 30 surety (i.e. insurance) companies had been approached. All have declined. Apparently, the size of the bond requested was too big5. The Trumpster’s wealth is mostly in property and surety companies rarely accept property as collateral.

A surety bond is similar to a bank line of credit and ensures that a party will be able to pay a legal judgment in full in the event that an appeal fails.

This problem comes only days after he posted a US$91m bond to stay the enforcement of a separate civil judgment.

The Trumpster has until Monday to post the bond. Otherwise, the State of New York can seek to freeze some of his bank accounts and seize some of his marquee properties.

Even in a worst-case basis, if the Trumpster goes bankrupt it won’t matter. He’s been bankrupt six times previously. And that didn’t stop him getting the top gig in 2016.

Note that this is a civil action – he’s not going to end up in the slammer. Just a lot poorer, if all the appeals fail.

5 Or maybe the reputational risk was too great.

9. TikTok: Hypocrisy 101

Readers will be aware that the US government is about to force Byte Dance, the Chinese owners of TikTok (a social media apparatus of some sort), to divest its American business.

The Trumpster used to hate TikTok, to such an extent that in 2020, he drafted an Executive Order to ban it. But the order failed in court.

Consider that last week the Trumpster is now a champion of TikTok. Could it be that he has repaired his relationship with Republican mega-donor Jeff Yass, whose firm has a multibillion-dollar stake in TikTok and who has donated millions to Republicans who oppose the ban?

This comes at a time when Trump is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in legal judgments, a financial vulnerability that, perhaps, just perhaps, makes him prone to selling his political positions.

Or is his about-turn because Sleepy Joe said that he will support the ban on TikTok?

10. TikTok: Hypocrisy 102

“Shame!” yelled Wang Wenbin, a Chinese government spokesman, at the proposed forced sale of TikTok in the US. Actually, he didn’t say that.

He said, “This kind of bullying behaviour that cannot win in fair competition disrupts companies’ normal business activity, damages the confidence of international investors in the investment environment, and damages the normal international economic and trade order.”

Perhaps the Emperor Eleven’s government is not in a fair position to complain about unfair competition.

Readers might recall, in the social media universe, that this is a country where X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google and Instagram are all blocked from operating.

Snippets from all over

1. War and Peace War

Leo Tolstoy’s great-great-grandson warned on Thursday that any Frenchman fighting in Ukraine can expect “a swift flight home in a coffin.” The outlandish statement was made in impeccable French by Pyotr Tolstoy, 53, deputy head of the state duma — the lower house of the Russian parliament. (The Times)

Wry & Dry comments: This is all about M Macron’s warning that sending western troops to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

2. Apple in ‘anti-trust’ suit

The U.S. accused Apple of monopolising the smartphone market in a landmark antitrust lawsuit that threatens to disrupt the tech giant’s business model and how millions of consumers use their iPhones. (Wall Street Journal)

Wry & Dry comments: This is serious stuff. Anti-trust laws are those that encourage competition by limiting market power in any one company. They also prevent collusion and price fixing. The most famous ‘loser’ in an anti-trust case was John D Rockefeller, whose Standard Oil Company was broken into 33 companies (including Esso – now Exxon, Mobil – now merged with Exxon, Amoco and Chevron. Others included Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroad, and US Steel.

3. US economy booming

“The economy is performing well,” said Fed chair Jay Powell in a news conference… US gross domestic product would expand by 2.1% this year, officials predicted, compared with their previous forecast of 1.4%. (Bloomberg)

Wry & Dry comments: A life raft for Sleepy Joe?

4. Where to find happiness

Finns are the world’s happiest people; Afghans and Lebanese the least. That’s according to the World Happiness Report, an annual survey on wellbeing conducted in 140 countries since 2012. (The Economist)

Wry & Dry comments: Australia comes in at #10, Israel #5 (before the war), UK #20, US #23, China #60, Hong Kong #86. And size does matter: of the top 10 countries (mostly Nordic), only Netherlands and Australia have populations greater than 15 million. Of the top 20, only Canada and UK have populations greater than 30 million.

5. Chocolate prices to rise

Cocoa futures in New York reached an all-time high. The commodity’s price has soared by 98% since the start of 2024. Extreme weather is partly to blame: a drought swept West Africa since last November, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown. (Wall Street Journal)

Wry & Dry comments: Cocoa is the main ingredient of chocolate: 70% in dark chocolate and 50% in milk chocolate. Scientific research suggests that chocolate is not an addictive food...


  1. Turkey: the central bank raised interest rates by 5% points, to 50%.
  2. Australia: unemployment unexpectedly fell to 3.7% in February.
  3. Australia: the RBA left interest rates unchanged.
  4. USA: the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged.
  5. Canada: inflation in the year to January fell to 2.9% from 3.4%.

And, to soothe your troubled mind…

Let’s just bite the bullet and give it to Sydney...”

  • Tracey Wickham, former Australian Olympic swimming champion, suggesting the Brisbane should surrender the 2032 Olympic Games.

No, give the Games to Melbourne. The Victorian government could then cancel them. Thus, cementing its place in global sporting immortality for cancelling both Olympic and Commonwealth Games. This would be the sort of memorial that would make Dan Andrews even prouder of his trend-setting leadership.


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


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