A transsexual man who has successfully fought two court cases against the Federal Government to have his marriage recognised may now face a High Court challenge to his relationship.
Kevin, who was born a woman, and his wife, Jennifer, were elated yesterday when the Full Bench of the Family Court ruled their marriage was valid because Kevin was considered a man in the everyday sense.
Law experts said the judgement put Australia at the forefront of judicial reform.
But the western Sydney couple's joy was dampened when the federal Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, said he would consider an appeal to the High Court.
If he goes ahead, it will be the third time since the couple married in 1999 that the Federal Government has attempted to quash legal recognition of their union....
"Our marriage has been described as a transsexual marriage, but in fact it is just an ordinary marriage, a mix of challenges, triumphs and joy as other marriages are," Kevin said yesterday. "We are a typical Australian couple, an average man and woman, raising our precious children responsibly in a loving home."
Daryl Williams, you bluenosing dolt, stop wasting taxpayers' money and sod off, please. Don't you have anything better to do?
The Oz on congestion charges The Australian's editorial on 'Red' Ken's decision to introduce congestion charges in London strikes me as a little contradictory:
... this scheme based in the socialist solution to everything: coerce people to be good and give more public servants more, much more of other people's money to spend. The scheme wil employ 800 people and raise £130 million, most of which will go to pay the administrators.
The irony is that socialism is now being delivered with a free-market face. Rather than the rationing of congestion, Mr Livingstone is basing access to the scarce commodity of London street space by charging what he guesses the market will bear, and weeding out the discretionary users who can find an alternative to driving in a city with streets designed for the horse and carriage. The problem is that in pursuit of a simple user-pays solution, Mr Livingstone is using a bludgeon, indiscriminately hammering all users in the same way, where a rapier, targeting precise points, might have made more sense. Some European cities simply ban cars outright from their ancient hearts. Others, such as Singapore and San Diego, use flexible pricing to influence the ebbs and flows of market demand for road space.
Agreed, flexible pricing is the way to go eventually. For instance,this article notes the complaints of night shift workers who have little alternative to their cars in getting to the city at night. Night time isn't exactly peak hour for driving and a more economically rational approach would certainly want to match peak prices with peak hours. Nonetheless the apparatus set up for collecting congestion charges (condemned predictably by Car Socialist Tim Blair as 'big brotherish' - would it be less big brotherish if, say, a private company which got traffic management outsourced to it set up something similar? Why is it more of a problem in this case?) is now there to be fiddled with over time, if London is genuinely interested in improving its traffic management, to a more flexi-price Singapore-style system. This is, at least, a very good start. As one London transport expert said:
Experts say the scheme has broken a taboo about road charging. Glenn Lyons, professor of transport at the University of the West of England, says: "In transport, we're very good at spending lots of time developing complex models. In congestion charging, we're finally actually implementing something. Without someone taking the step Ken Livingstone has done, we could have pontificated for years about whether charging would work."
Also see this old post from UK-based Libertarian Samizdata welcoming Red Ken into market-based wonkery.
Quote of the day A reader of the Oz Libertarian website responded to my post on the peace protesters, which was reproduced there, as follows:
John Quiggin may have a high IQ, but I would not lay too much faith in this. I have heard even that he can recite the entire works of Shakespeare. But this is what Quiggin is, an idiot savant. His economic ideas are Keynesian and he has no objections to governments expropriating property (Microsoft). If this makes him smart then I want to be an idiot.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Aside from this I am intrigued by the source of the rumour of Quiggin as Shakespearean idiot-savant.
Mark Latham and Richard Nixon I saw Mark Latham as PM material once but not anymore. Jane Albrechtsen documents the case against him. Latham is famous for his admiration of and fascination for Richard Nixon. I can understand it now - the both of them seem to be driven by the same self-destructive urges and most frightening of all, the same strong sense of vengeance and borne grudges.
Iraq and the Tampa - which is the more divisive? I wouldn't have felt comfortable marching on Sunday so I didn't. I'm far too pedantic about the banners I march under and somehow the idea of marching along with 'Peace at any price' banners or marching with the sorts of people who would boo Simon Crean for daring to even suggest that Iraq should be disarmed didn't particularly appeal to me. There are jerks in every crowd, but kneejerks are the worst of all and regardless of whether they were representative of the people marching, they certainly seemed to be the most prominent. However this is also uncalled for, another kneejerk response even though it's funny in a 'clever dick' kind of way:
I saw the morons congregating on the streets of Melbourne last Friday, and let me tell you, they smelt even worse than they looked. Fat, ugly chicks studying for their diplomas in body-piercing polluted the air with the foul stench from their unshaven armpits and unwashed crotches. Dreadlocked druggies weaved aimlessly along the street, carrying signs about everything from Palestine to capitalism and GM food. Even if there were 100,000 protestors, Johnnie need not worry - they were the 100,000 Melbournites who voted for Bob Brown and the Looney Tunes set, along with a collection of huge, bearded yobbos from the nation's most militant unions, marching under union banners.
Yes, I haven't been averse to thinking too myself, that there would've been a fair number of feather brained hippies amongst the peace marchers, people marching solely because of some vague idea that 'war kills people'. Yes, dear, 'war kills people' but so do some test tubes easily dispatched to fringe groups and released in subways. Then I remember that among those peace marchers were people like John Quiggin who has the IQ of 2 average warbloggers. There are people of good faith and sense on both sides of this debate, even among those who did not share the simple-mindedness of the kneejerk peaceniks but nonetheless joined the marchers, and sometimes it's too easy to forget that.
Makinson vs Strocchi Round 3 continued And reader Tim Makinson has yet more blows to land Strocchi's way:
Jack Strocchi has become so distressed by the lack of economic rationalism in the world that he's proposing the US military invade Iraq to enforce it. Ummmmm, shouldn't they start by shooting Congress for enacting the Sonny Bono Act?
I'm further confused by his suggestion that the US military invade to enforce human rights. Is Mr Strocchi unaware of the fact that a total disregard for human rights has long been a virtual prerequisite for US client-state status?
And lastly, I'm absolutely flummoxed that he should suggest that disarmament is an objective of invading Iraq, when he himself has rubbished the WMD rationale.
But in expressing all this nasty skepticism, I'm proving that I'm just a bleeding-heart peacenik. I should stop worrying, stop thinking, trust the nice misunderestimated Mr Bush, and learn to love the Regime Change. Viva Dr Strangelove.
Makinson vs Strocchi Round 3 Reader Tim Makinson leaps into another round of logic chopping with Jack Strocchi:
Out of concern for Jack's fading attention span I'll attempt to keep this brief...
'I am not making "predictions about the future.'
If you are not making (at least generalised) predictions about the future then you are not dealing with outcomes. If you are not dealing with outcomes, then you have no basis for a logic-based choice between strategies. If you cannot make a logic-based choice between strategies, you cannot claim your vaunted superiority over the "illogical peaceniks". QED (And somewhat of an own-goal on Jack's part.)
For those of you interested in the details...
'The S-Fork is an "Ideal Type"...'
As 'ideal types' are explicitly composites, the degree to which they yield any useful analysis is dependent on the degree to which the cases they are synthesised from are homogenous. Contrast with Jack's later comments on good & bad NRO outcomes. Is it appropriate to lump a happy, democratic pro-Western Iraq with a Vietnam-style morass?
"...classification of the major options available at the top of the decision tree"
If this was meant to be the top of the decision tree, then what is NRO (obviously an outcome, not a strategy) doing there? This juxtaposition leaves the fork horribly confused.
"False, some kind of NRO is an inevitable consequence [of?] Regime Change..."
Only if you define "NRO" to include all possible outcomes of invasion/"Regime Change". Strictly speaking true (by definition), but analytically rather unhelpful.
"But the only (Fork-dictated) way to achieve a good NRO is to Regime Change. To get any progress, a risk must be taken."
This statement, while strictly speaking true (at least given how Jack has set up his definitions) is misleading. Firstly, as Jack's strategies are composites, it is possible that decomposition of the non-invasion strategies will yield a variant that has outcomes similar to a "good NRO" but with reduced risk. Secondly to take just one, quite trivial, decomposition of the invasion strategy composite, that an invasion is the best of the three composites does NOT automatically mean that an invasion now, rather than later, is the best idea. THIS is why I have been complaining so repeatedly about the reductionist nature of Jack's Fork.
"At least Hawks use logic"
Actually Jack, no -- spurious logic is merely ulterior motives (be they greed, emotionalism or whatever) masquerading as logic. For myself, I prefer honest emotionalism, at least then I know the real motive.
Oh and Jack, could you leave off the petty name-calling. It is childish and also inaccurate, in that it lumps knee-jerk peaceniks in with a large number of experts in Middle Eastern affairs (and not a few right-wing politicians) who suspect that Now is a Bloody Stupid Time to Hold a War in Iraq.
Coincidence? I was watching The Patriot on Channel 10 last night (yes my TV antenna is mysteriously able to pick up commercial stations again). I have to admit I'm not immune to that stuff especially if it has good production values and a reasonably OK character development which this movie did. Anyway the thought occured to me whether or not some cheeky Ten programmer was trying to insert some political message in all this since it coincided with the Sunday Peace march which presumably was in planning stages some time before. Those of you who've seen the movie might remember the scene where the Mel Gibson hero explains why he opposes fighting against the British and would prefer to negotiate as much as possible. Then the British kill his son and burn down his home. Then again, I found it unintentionally amusing towards the end of the movie when the French come to the rescue of the American independence fighters ...
Howard reconsidered Strangely, though I remain of the 'muddle through' school, willing to concede that there is an intellectually respectable case for US-led intervention into Iraq but not seeing any compelling need to take the plunge yet until all containment options and UN brokered options have been exhausted, John Howard's stance on the Iraq issue has increased my respect for him. I have always thought of him as a crowd pleaser since Tampa but now have to concede that he genuinely is a conviction politician even though not all his convictions are mine. In my book, a conviction politician is many times better than a Graham Richardson-style fixer and political whore, almost regardless of his convictions. Howard's willingness to resist populist stances and public opinion when he thinks it is wrong and even when it is likely to lose him votes has been clearly evident in the Iraq issue. By contrast Labor has been pathetic, not so much because of its agnosticism as its lack of intellectual discipline or principle (one can be a principled agnostic) and its willingness to play vulgar cards like the 'increased domestic terrorism if we don't sell out our allies' card.
Also aside from the specific matter of the war I very much agree with Howard's overall foreign policy stance and do not regard it as reducing us to a client state at all. This is something on which I am wholly in agreement with my co-blogger Jack Strocchi - we have more in common in terms of fundamental political and cultural values with the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand than any other countries. I hope to see one day these countries combining in an 'Anglosphere Federation' of some kind.and I have never agreed with the 'Asia first' foreign policy. We should listen to what our Asian neighbours tell us insofar as it affects our realpolitik interests, but no more. Anyway, all the sensible Asian countries are pro-US.
"THIS WORLD CANNOT EXIST HALF SLAVE AND HALF FREE"
Those folk who think they are doing the world a big favour by opposing US-backed regime change in Iraq might like to take a look at a report by Amnesty International that details exactly what kind of regime will persist in Iraq if Hussein is allowed to stay in power. Warning - this stuff is not for the faint hearted! Money quote:
"Amnesty International has continued to document gross human rights violations committed on a massive scale in Iraq affecting all sectors of society." [emphasis added]
But you can't go past first hand experience. Here is a quote from one Iraq student, emailed to some mates in the UK, which gives a flavour of life under tyranny.
"you will be hard pressed to find a single family in Iraq which has not had a son/father/brother killed, imprisoned, tortured and/or 'disappeared' due to Saddam's regime."
Still, we need more time, who knows we might find that SH has something really bad hidden under his bed.
The Peace-At-Any-Price Party (PAAPP) might also want to consider these words of Lincoln (paraphrased for WWII) about the indivisibility of freedom.
Jason Soon is a nice man. I want the record to show that I am grateful for the fact that he extended an invitation to me to blog on his site, expecially after I said such rude things about him. Having said that I am now obliged to bag him for his "wet" stance on the war and his commie-symp anti-car policy wonkiness.
Jason gently chides Miranda Devine for only mocking the gullible Coogee beach miraculists, whilst launching scathing attacks on the anti-war movement.
"one wonders why [Devine] doesn't extend the same tolerance to people who express scepticism about intervention in Iraq when that is a substantially more iffy issue."
"its main benefits will be to people who do want to continue using cars who will face smoother traffic flows."
Jason, what about getting rid of some of those obstructionist pedestrians? They stand in the way of progress and traffic. Put them where they belong.
You have just witnessed a moment in cyber-history, the first intra-blog fisking.
Fisking the Tories: 2 short cuts 1) In the Sydney Morning Herald today, Miranda Devine writes about the people who have flocked to see the apparitions of Virgin Mary above some fence in Coogee Beach. She writes tolerantly and indulgently about these gullible souls. All well and good, I agree. Even if they're massively deluded they aren't harming anyone. But one wonders why she doesn't extend the same tolerance to people who express scepticism about intervention in Iraq when that is a substantially more iffy issue (and one which involves the loss of lives whatever action is taken) than the matter of a vision in a beach. Double standards anyone?
2) Tim Blair has only this to say about Red Ken's proposal to introduce a Friedmanesque congestion charge when such fits of sanity in lefties should be encouraged:
CAR-HATING commie Ken Livingstone is destroying London
Never mind that nowithstanding my hopes that it will lead to a switch to a more efficient mix of private and mass tranist usage its main benefits will be to people who do want to continue using cars who will face smoother traffic flows. Microeconomic reform for thee but not for me, Tim?
The war against the Peace-At-Any-Price-Party (PAAPP) is hotting up. Tim, to give him credit, is a persistent soul, and is ever ready to get off the mat for another round of intellectual sparring. Having said that, I am afraid that this bloggers attention span may be waning so this will be by way of coup d'disgrace.
"Our friend Jack's fork is REDUCTIONIST. ...decision should not be based on his fork, because both the decision and the consequences are more complex than his simplistic model can represent."
[And now a short refresher on Philosophy 101. For those who are turned off by intellectual wanking, please go to the next item in this fisking.
I am Reductionist only in the first instance. You are confusing my logically necessary stipulation of the initial conditions for fair decision making with your impossible requirement that pro-RC'ers predict the inevitable empirical consequences of violent confrontation. The S-Fork is an "Ideal Type" - classification of the major options available at the top of the decision tree. Beyond that I made no attempt at empirical disaggregation of the chaos of the Middle East. As I explicitly stated in the preamble to the Fork, the point of the logical abstraction was not to provide a crystal ball. It is to clarify analysis and embarass illogical Peaceniks. This is Basic Logic Tim, not Advanced Empirics. It is old hat, Hempel, Quine and Popper stuff. I am getting bored.]
"he lumps assassination in with regime-change. How is this regime change? Has he not heard of Iraq's ruling Baath party"
[I have heard of the ruling Baath party. It used to rule Iraq. It now exists now only in name. Tim, have you heard of Tikrit? Since SH took over the Iraqi revolution he has purged the Baathist party, tribalised the national state apparatus and lives in terror of his people and army. Stalin, SH’s idol, did a similar thing with the Communist party, which more or less ceased to exist after he purged it in the thirties. Kruschev Regime Changed the Stalinist apparat and reconstituted the communist party after the secret speech in 1956. Decapitation of the Tikrit-based Husseinist faction would constitute regime change. Rumsfeld, an uber-hawk of regime change, has conceded this.]
"He mentions the balkanisation of Iraq. Is it possible that, lacking Saddam's boot on their throats, the Iraqi Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, et al might do what Yugoslavia did, sans Marshal Tito's boot?"
[Iraq is already imploding into ethnic balkanisation without a US invasion. SH’s Tikrit faction has already Stalinisticly crushed the ethnic factions dividing Iraq. That is bad enough. After the Gulf War II, when it appeared that SH was on the verge of defeat, 14 out of 19 provinces rose against SH, not each other. And after the Gulf War III, the US will be on hand to administer the state, peace keep the ethnics and dole out the oil money, so it will be in their interest of everyone to co-operate as US Special Forces will garrison the oil wells. The US Regime Change (NRO) is evidently the best hope of avoiding a Stalinist-statist (FTTP) or Milosevician-tribalist solution (MT) to Iraq’s ethnic problems, of that much I am certain.]
"his analysis conflates strategy with outcome -- implicitly making predictions about the future."
[Look, SF is more a tool to poke fun at self-righteous lefties. I am not making "predictions about the future. [sic - or about the past] I am making an indiction of morally obtuse Peacenik evasions. You must be aware of this by now, as I have said it umpteen times. My goal is to shame the Peace-at-any-Price camp by showing that they have not considered the necessary costs of not going to war. It is possible that the costs of 1 NRO going to war will exceed non-war 2 MT & 3 FTTP. It is also possible that a comet may also hit the world because a peaceniks nervous fart shifts the earth’s centre of gravity. What I do know is that the only decent option is 1 NRO and the PAAP camps options 2 & 3 will never ever achieve this. Got it?]
"To attempt to crystallise all this, I think Strocchi's Fork fails most crucially because an NRO is not the inevitable consequence of invading Iraq."
[False, some kind of NRO is an inevitable consequence Regime Change, but it may not be a good NRO, it may be worse. But the only (Fork-dictated) way to achieve a good NRO is to Regime Change. To get any progress, a risk must be taken. My empirical guesstimate, FWIIW, is that the balance of probabilities favours a Regime Change enabled good NRO. But I could be wrong if the US oil companies grab all the mineral royalties from the oil wells and the US government cuts and runs from nation building as Iraq turns into another Lebanon. It is my pious hope that this does not happen. The peaceniks want a risk free utopian world handed to them on a platter. Sorry, we don't stock that item in the real world.]
"My eye is on the casualties of the next ten years more than that of the next ten weeks."
[Try looking at the 2 million plus casualties of the past twenty years, it might give you some idea of how non-Regime Change has gone. While you are at it, can I borrow your crystal ball?]
"This would be the equivalent of me assuming that your rationale is the widespread WMD one which you have elsewhere explicitly disavowed."
[I want OBL’s head on a platter, but SH’s will do for the time being.]
"I used this ["hand waving"] metaphor to indicate my opinion that much of the logic used by the Hawk camp is spurious."
[At least Hawks use logic, Peace at any Pricers (PAAP) use psychological blackmail, call it the PAAP smear (get it?) End]
The banality of stupidity The price of the SMH went up by 20 cents again today. I want to know why it continues to pay Hugh Mackay to write articles like these. It's not that many of the sentiments he expresses are particularly objectionable. It's just that his writing is how shall I put it ... dopey? Hugh's article is about what he'd do if he were PM and he writes things like these
We were almost sucked in by George Bush's rhetoric about the "coalition of the willing", but we realised, just in time, that invading another country and slaughtering its civilians is not the best way to sort out our differences with its leaders, and is certainly no way to minimise the threat of terrorism at home ...
I am pleased to announce a new deal for refugees. Existing detention centres will be replaced by well-run camps where all refugees - legitimate and otherwise - will be treated with respect and care. No children will be imprisoned. (How embarrassing even to have to say that!) Applications for residency will be processed as quickly as humanly possible: where there is no reliable information about the status of an asylum seeker, that person will be given the benefit of the doubt.
We will make some mistakes, but the risk to our security will be minuscule when compared with the previous risks to our cultural integrity.
We won't become a soft touch, but we'll restore our self-respect by treating refugees and their children as we would want us and our children to be treated on a foreign shore.
Well, zippety-doo-dah! Such an easy way out of the Iraq dilemma, why didn't we all think of that before? And he seriously thinks the government doesn't want camps to be well run (even if purely for tactical reasons) or that it doesn't want applications to be processed as quickly as possible? This guy should be writing greeting cards. He is really bringing down my estimation of psychologists, well actually not, when you also have people like Stephanie Dowrick in the profession. Has it really become so touchy-feely?
Iran and Al Qaeda? This article in the Washington Times reports on suspected Iran-Al Qaeda links. Too early to call on how formal the links are if they exist but this certainly reinforces in my mind the foolishness of the obsession with Iraq if it's the War on Islamicist Terrorism which is the priority.Again, I'd bring up the Hitler-Stalin analogy from WW2.
Makinson vs Strocchi Round 2 Reader Tim Makinson has more to say regarding Jack Strocchi's recent thoughts
My original point was that our friend Jack's fork is REDUCTIONIST. It reduces all possible strategies down to three, and claims to know the outcomes of each.
To use his abuse of my own spur of the moment example as a further example, he lumps assassination in with regime-change. How is this regime change? Has he not heard of Iraq's ruling Baath party? Does he really believe that it is certain that Saddam's successor will be sufficiently different from him to warrant the description "regime change"?
Lets pluck another example out of Jack's overheated rhetoric. He mentions the balkanisation of Iraq. Is it possible that, lacking Saddam's boot on their throats, the Iraqi Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, et al might do what Yugoslavia did, sans Marshal Tito's boot? Would a repeat of the Balkans War be worse or better than Saddam remaining in power? I don't know, nor do I know the likelihood of such a war. But I'm sure neither does Jack. This one example (and I'm sure there're dozens more, e.g. regional conflict, Israel getting drawn in, anti-American sentiments leading to the fall of vulnerable pro-Western regimes) leaves a rather large poison pill in the middle of his nice palatable "New Regional Order" scenario.
It is still possible that Jack's conclusion is still correct -- that now is the time for an invasion to remove Saddam and his regime. However this decision should not be based on his fork, because both the decision and the consequences are more complex than his simplistic model can represent.
More formally, the Fork can provide the basis for a reasonable decision strategy where:
1) the strategies can be enumerated with a reasonable approximation of completeness (raising the likelihood of a global, rather than merely a local optima); and
2) that the outcomes of these strategies are known with reasonable certainty.
On the first point, I would consider any attempt to enumerate strategies for dealing with Iraq should span proposed methods of winning the peace, as well as winning the war.The degree to which the US succeeds in installing a stable regime in Iraq and defusing wider tensions in the Middle East will be crucial to whether a war proves to be, in hindsight, the optimal strategy. Which leads to the second point. We do not know the outcomes of each strategy with any certainty. We do not know that a war will lead to the "New Regional Order" that Jack claims it will.
And how Jack can reconcile claiming that equating invasion with a NRO does not amount to "penetrat[ing] that inscrutable future" I don't know, as his analysis conflates strategy with outcome -- implicitly making predictions about the future.
To attempt to crystallise all this, I think Strocchi's Fork fails most crucially because a NRO is not the inevitable consequence of invading Iraq. This conclusion is in fact supported by Jack's own criticism elsewhere of the US's track record on nation building. If a NRO is not the inevitable consquence, then we cannot, at least on the basis of the Fork, claim invasion to be the optimal strategy.
Oh and Jack, next time you stick the knife in, do try and aim for me rather than some straw-man of your own creation. While a liberal, I am hardly a bleeding-heart. My eye is on the casualties of the next ten years more than that of the next ten weeks. It's quite possible that the majority of those in the protest marches do hold the beliefs you ascribe to what you term the "bleeding hearts", but it is a dangerous assumption that those debating with you also hold them. This would be the equivalent of me assuming that your rationale is the widespread WMD one which you have elsewhere explicitly disavowed.
Incidentally, I did mean "hand waving", a metaphor derived from the use of gestures by an illusionist to distract their audience's attention away from the actual performance of the trick. I used this metaphor to indicate my opinion that much of the logic used by the Hawk camp is spurious.
Another example of this spurious logic is the Bush Administration's recent claim that Bin Laden's statement calling for support of Iraq, if it is attacked, is evidence of a link between the two. This logic neglects the fact that Bin Laden, as a Muslim extremist, would be likely to call for the support of any Muslim nation attacked by non-Muslims. This "link" is further weakened by the fact that, in the same statement, Bin Laden denounced Saddam as an infidel. While it is possible that this denouncement is misdirection on Bin Laden's part, for Bin Laden to consciously lie on a matter of Islamic faith would appear to be out of character.