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John has a strong interest in politics, especially the workings of a progressive democracy, together with social justice and the common good. He holds a Diploma in Fine Arts and enjoys portraiture, composing music, and writing poetry and short stories. He is also a keen amateur actor. Before retirement John ran his own advertising marketing business.

We live in shadowy times and white men who inhabit it lead us further into darkness

As a man who is but months away from turning 80 I hope that I have inherited some characteristics of the prudent sage.

A man with awareness, and knowledge, which enables me to speak through my longevity with authority about the society, I have grown up in, taken from and invested in.

Many things disgust me about many societies of the world, none more so than the people’s aptitude for electing moronic individuals who show no understanding of life and the living of it.

In the fool’s paradise of America – who the world once viewed, rightly or wrongly, as the world’s policeman – the people elected a president who in his madness matches that of the Roman Emperor Caligula for his decadence and depravity. He is, in fact and inaction, a mass murderer of his own people.

America has always thought of itself as being exceptional which “as a lie,” has been a magnificent propaganda success.

When Donald Trump promised he would make America great again, “Instead,” writes Noel Turnbull;

“… he has presided over a significant collapse in belief in American exceptionalism.

While the rest of the western world … has always been conscious of what really makes the US exceptional – racism and limited democracy; constant waging of war; appalling health care for poorer citizens; worker exploitation; religious extremism; massive inequality; organising coups and assassinations in nations around the world; torture of prisoners; and the ignorance, hypocrisy and myopia which allows many citizens to deny it all. …and to add to that list of the exceptional, The Economist (20 June 2020) reported that the US is one of only 13 countries (along with Venezuela and Syria) where the maternal mortality rate increased between 2000 and 2017.”

It is time that those with the capacity to change laws that might prevent the mass murder of people and refuse to do so were made to account.

We live in dark times.

The Brazilian people elected a right wing conservative politician in Jair Bolsonaro, 65, as its president. In the past few days he has announced the he has tested positive for COVID-19.

He has repeatedly flouted all of the rules of combating the virus. If infected, he would quickly shake off the illness thanks to his “athlete’s background,” he said.

“There’s no reason for fear. That’s life,” the president added. “Life goes on. I thank God for my life and the role I’ve been given to decide the future of this great nation that is called Brazil.”

Has he really been tested?

In Russia the people have voted to give their president an unprecedented lifetime in office. He is reputed to have made a fortune of $70 billion. How did he get it? No one knows.

We live in dark times.

In Australia where political apathy has grown year upon year it would seem that the worse the government governs, the more popular they become.

We have a Prime Minister on an annual salary of close to half a million dollars (in the top three in the world) saying that the Government will not be increasing the unemployment benefit of $40 a day because it might dissuade people from applying for a job.

It is then that you  understand there is something profoundly wrong, something seriously flawed with his understanding of the world and how people survive in it.

In 2013 Australia’s citizens elected the far-right politician Tony Abbott whose sole aim in life seemed to be to destroy things, not to build things. His first budget was universally acclaimed as the most uncaring ever.

Now approaching their 8th year in power it is hard to point out any major advances made by the three conservative Prime Ministers of the period. Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison have all been consumed with the power that personal entitlement brings to the job rather than what they could have done bettering the lives of the people.

So corrupt has Australian politics become under these scoundrels, its democracy in tatters, that on questions of trust, Transparency International’s recent research found that 85% of Australians thought that some federal politicians were corrupt.

And now the art of diplomacy has also suffered … in favour of an aggressive defence policy toward China.

We live in dark times.

British citizens, of course, not to be left out of the world’s irrational need of the far-right brought about by endless fear campaigns rejected any hope of a leftist revival by snubbing Jeremy Corbyn over the buffoon Boris Johnson. Now with Brexit behind it the people expect that Conservatives will make things right again.

We live in dark times.

Throughout Europe, France excepted, a swing to the right is occurring with Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Hungry, Slovenia and Greece are tending toward anti immigration, nationalism and far right-policies.

Why then do ordinary folk vote against their own self-interest? Conservatives in Australia have never given pensioners, for example, a raise in their pension. As I said earlier, the dole will be kept low and benefits to the rich and privileged won’t be touched. Yet it is amongst this cohort that the conservatives have their greatest strength. The over 65s form a solid base.

“Just why these people put their faith in conservative leadership?” you might ask. “Why do they instinctively vote for the LNP when it is Labor who is more likely to address their concerns?”

The answer is in a psychology of fear that conservatives portray. A fear of change of instability, insecurity, having something taken away. Conservatives are averse to both change and science.

The conservative has a need to convince his potential followers and adherents that they are always under threat, real or imagined, and it is only their leader who can control events that might affect their well being.

Conservatives also have a built-in fear of the aforementioned and when it overlaps with the same fears in the poor and middle classes they form a mighty powerful voting group.

The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.

Religion too plays its part in the psychological fear campaigns of the conservatives. They focus on religions (particularly the Pentecostal) aversion to change and the preservation of life as is.

I previously wrote that:

“I remember as a young boy seeing pictures on posters in trams, in the newspapers, and news shorts at the cinema with pictures depicting the communist hordes thrusting their way towards us. There were others with hundreds of Chinese rolling across Sydney Harbour Bridge in their rickshaws with guns and communist flags.”

Less-informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths.

If their religion is under threat then so to is their well-being. Threats come in abundance, anything from foreign military threats to domestic terrorism, exaggerated fears of minorities and immigrants, pluralism, disease, violent crime, or government overreach. Even a virus that is a sign from God.

Fear draws people into protection from it. It gives poor people approval to vote against their own best interests.

I began this piece by saying that.

It is so true of Australia. Australian conservatives have long been the champions of fear. They have won many elections with it and will continue to do so until confronted.

We live in dark times.

My thought for the day

It’s difficult to cast yourself in a new light when you’re surrounded by the politics of darkness.

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Clear as ABC: We need our public broadcaster because there is an absence of political truth

In terms of ideology, conservatives would rather be rid of the ABC altogether. Forget the fabulous services it provides in times of crisis, its programming, its news services, employment, its social debating and truth telling.

Just by its truth telling alone it is a hindrance to the ideals of conservatives who believe that informing the public is going a tad too far.

People of prominence like Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and other adherents with conservative values want the ABC to be of lessor importance than commercial television, particularly when it comes to providing people with local and international information.

Almost every complaint of ABC bias is met with an inquiry and inevitably nothing of consequence is found.

In 2013 The Conversation reported that:

“Claims of ABC bias are always tenuous, especially given the extensive accountability framework developed over six years by former editorial policies director Paul Chadwick – after the 2003 inquiry into allegations by former communications minister Richard Alston of biased coverage of the Iraq war.”

Murdoch hates anything that is in opposition to him. The Liberals hate anything that is a voice of concern about the way we are governed. The Nationals – who are fully aware of the value and work that the ABC do in the country – nevertheless hates them because the Liberal Party does. But then the Nationals don’t govern for their constituents anyway. Just look at the NBN.

The ABC has a stable of programs that address all manner of public concern: News24, The Drum, Q&A, 7.30, Insiders and the many others that provide a varied source of news, information and discussion throughout Australia. Not to mention its services to rural Australia and Asia in general.

They spend their money wisely and are innovative to the point of being far in front of the commercial stations. Just look at iView.

Both the Labor and National candidates in Eden Monaro are both committed to restoring the $83.7 funding the Government has so stupidly taken away.

In trying to pretend that funds haven’t been cut the Government has made fools of themselves. Even the NSW deputy leader John Barilaro agrees.

As for the accusations of bias that stem constantly from the obsessed Andrew Bolt, The Australian newspaper and many others, I say, “What bloody hogwash.”

The ABC is subject to internal rules and regulations that require evenhandedness and must give equal prominence to things like climate change even though science has won the argument.

Tweets about the media, like poetry, speak through their brevity. Meaning that with a minimum of words a story can be told or a point made.

 

Rupert Murdoch is on the record as saying that his first aim is to defeat the ABC. It is his only competitor in Australia, after all. With newspapers under threat throughout the world one less opponent would be ideal.

Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity.

So we find the ABC fighting for its survival on two fronts. On the one hand it is fighting an almost daily attack from commercial interests, and two, from true blue conservatives. Maybe they are one in the same.

For me all this opposition to the ABC serves only to reinforce its significance and importance. To suggest public broadcasting services are nothing more than news, entertainment and social commentary and can be provided from a variety of sources other that public broadcasting is nonsense.

(The ABC has its performance measured against a legislated charter of objectivity. Commercial outlets don’t.)

In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government.

In fact, because the polarisation of media sources have led to an obstinate falsification of news and social commentary there is a case for increasing the ABC’s budget if only for the protection of objectivity. The ABC holds the powerful to account when others don’t.

Aunty may not be perfect, but she is miles ahead of the next best thing.

Of all the mainstream media organisations in Australia the ABC is streets ahead in public trustworthiness.

The mainstream media will only ever print or say whatever is in its best interests. This is usually blatant bias. Then it might say something interesting and truthful.

Just imagine if the ABC were privatised. It would be at whim of a money-making board of directors with their own capitalistic view of the world, together with their own biases.

What Australia needs right now is an independent, well-funded public broadcaster responsible to the people.

Its charter is to:

“… provide services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians, and it must reflect the diversity of interests in the Australian community through a range of distinctive programs of broad and specialist appeal.”

Something it does very well. Let’s keep it that way.

My thought for the day

The Fourth Estate as the custodians of the public’s right to know should act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion.

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Conservatives and Social Engineering

Social engineering is something that all political parties practice. Left-leaning progressive parties view change as a vibrant way of engineering society for the common good. To introduce a National Health Service with good research followed up with good legislation is one example of good social engineering.

Conservative parties view it as a means of changing society to fit their own ideology.

To introduce changes in university courses and fees so as to produce more workers without looking at the social consequences for humanities courses is bad social engineering. We need thinkers as well as workers.

In the complexity of what a society is we are apt to find many pieces that make up the puzzle.

Social engineering exists within “the Psychology of Politics.” That means that persuading people to think as you do is an important part of any democracy provided you are not being manipulated, lied to or fed propaganda.

I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

In 2013 I wrote a piece titled “The Abbott form of Social Engineering.” Not long after he had become Prime Minister it became apparent that he and his government had embarked on a conservative form of social engineering.

It was based on the aforementioned tactics of manipulation, lies, propaganda and hidden persuaders.

At the time I received a fair bit of flack for my views so I followed up with some quotes to put them in context.

It is said that American economist, Milton Friedman:

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine.” He observed that: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.” [Which of course is a variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”].

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, Conservative’s manufacture crisis at every opportunity.

Let’s look at what others have said…

Margaret Thatcher (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich.”

Abraham Lincoln:

“Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt:

They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers … call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

Before addressing the issue of Social Engineering I should say exactly what I think a Government should be regardless of its ideology.

Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions.

When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government.

It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour.

And above all, it should be answerable to the people.

What is Social (political) Engineering?

Social engineering is a means of implementing ideas and principles relative to your party’s philosophy.

Sometimes, however, it is politically expedient to forgo your beliefs when certain policies become entrenched in the countries way of life. Our health system and the NDIS are but two examples.

It is when a political party seeks to use selective deceptive, manipulative and insidious psychological techniques to influence and bring about a change in the attitudes of masses of people to its point of view.

If you look at the society we had when Tony Abbott came to power and compare it with today you could not deny that it is less free, FOIs are more difficult to procure, press freedoms have declined, we are more open to corruption, and police intervention in our daily lives has increased.

Older folk are treated abysmally as are women generally. The treatment of asylum seekers and our Indigenous folk have gotten worse.

Our economic attitude toward the wealthy be they corporate or individual has resulted in the rich getting increased handouts and subsidies

Abbott’s social engineering 2014 Budget was labelled the most unfair ever. Cuts to services such as welfare, education and health copped most of the budget pain.

Billions in funding were also slashed from international aid, health, and education. Alongside cuts to family benefits, these were all designed to change the societal structures of how we live.

My problem with the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments is that they all embarked on a program that was ideologically targeted at changing the way we think – for all the wrong reasons. Think climate change, for instance.

This is social engineering at its worst and the current proposal for changes to university entry is a typical example of reasoning gone wrong.

Conservatives seek to create a crisis even when none exists.

There is a debt crisis … while adding to it. Or a rise in Islam immigration, or boats. Last week it was the Chinese attacking our internet security.

It’s a deliberate tactic of social engineering.

Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe that perception is in fact reality. (COVID-19 and climate change aside, of course.)

Conservatives appeal to the base instincts of ordinary people and the racists.

I have the view that a form of serfdom is running through the Morrison government’s work.

The disparagement of science (COVID-19 excepted) has been peculiar to the three governments.

In the area of communications, we have a concerted attempt to eliminate the reasoned voice of opposing views. The dual attack on the ABC by the Murdoch empire and the government is an attempt to stifle debate.

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

When a government condemns a perceived bias of one outlet without acknowledging the bias of another it is practising social engineering

Lying, of course, is the social engineer’s most effective tool. Throughout his career, Tony Abbott used it most effectively.

Malcolm Turnbull was hypocritical on climate change and Morrison has taken lying to another level.

Another tool of social engineering is secrecy, and the Conservative governments have has displayed a propensity for it. It’s called lying by omission.

We also see social engineering in communication policy.

The best NBN is now effectively only for those who can afford it. They have become information-rich and those who cannot have become information poor.

All of these things contribute to how we think act and feel. By manipulating society into thinking that the entire realm and ownership of knowledge is found in one ideology, one individual or cohort of individuals is a form of social engineering.

By influencing society into believing that if the rich become richer their lot will advance at the same rate, conservatives see their social engineering as a success.

As I said at the beginning, all forms of government, corporations, institutions, and religious groups, even the advertising industry practice social engineering.

Not to mention the lop-sided social engineering that stems from a biased media in Australia.

Questions of ethics, values and law arise because it can be used for good or evil.

At one end of the scale is power and societal control, whilst at the other is a desire to be virtuous.

All that the common good be served.

My thought for the day

Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by willingly exercising a greater desire to think more deeply.

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Two deceptions. One done, and one to come.

1 Reds under our beds

The day after telling the Australian people that the country faced the gravest possible economic news since the Great Depression, Scott Morrison fronted the assembled media and television cameras to tell us that we were under cyber attack.

He couldn’t tell us who it was but it was a state-based country. He was talking about China while at the same time treating us as children

If he knows who is hacking into our systems why does he not name them? His acting was as bad as that second-rate actor, Ronald Reagan.

Of course, this time it was different. How different, he couldn’t say, but he assured us it was. In fact he couldn’t tell us much at all except it was serious.

The assembled press asked all the appropriate questions and went away to write about Chinese propaganda and other assorted hacking techniques.

He said that the attacks “hadn’t just started,” they were “on-going” and constant threats to Australia.

It was all straight out of the Crosby (now Sir Lynton) Textor book of political propaganda.

Crosby Textor are a globally conservative “dirty trickster” election campaign specialist company who exploit unstated fears in the electorate, aggressively attacking the opposition as not just wrong but positively incompetent in all manner of ways.

One of their dirty trick techniques is to continuously replace one fear with another.

Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

So the fear of losing your job one day was replaced the next with the fear of the Communist Party getting into your bank account. Morrison’s cyber attack warning was a classic Crosby Textor grubby ploy that should have been identified by every journalist at the hastily convened press conference.

I happened to be watching at the time and I saw right through it. But the journalists starting asking questions like they had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

How sadly it reflects on the quality of our journalism. Or was it just that most were Murdoch hacks.

Meanwhile, Twitter was busy reacting to Morrison’s announcement. Please note the cynicism:

 

But on ABC Insiders last Sunday there wasn’t a hint of cynicism from the likes of Mark Kenny or Lenore Taylor when the subject was raised. Although confused by his intent, they didn’t doubt his words.

Yes, #ScottyFromMarketing had conned them all again. It showed that not only was he a brilliant marketing man but it also showed up the standard of journalism in this country.  Mind you, most were from the Murdoch mob where the truth goes to die.

Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity.

2 The next budget: Who will pay to fix the economy?

On the one side we have the middle and the lower classes who earn very little – or more than likely they are on welfare. They also consist of regular taxpayers.

On the other side there are the upper class, the rich individuals who have earned their wealth through their own enterprise or inherited it. Then there are the small business owner’s, corporates and the multi-nationals.

When the next budget comes into being will it reflect the Prime Minister’s statement that “We are all in this together”?

Indeed we are, but will we all share the burden equally? I have long contended that the government is far too generous to the rich and privileged, who receive subsidies and handouts that are not available to the middle and lower classes.

So diminished is my trust in our Prime Minister that I cannot see any possibility of any equity in the coming budget.

Allow me to share with you some facts and figures from a report commissioned by Anglicare by Per Capita.

It records some of the details of what most people and the media already know. That is, that the richest part of Australian society receives much more government support than the poorest.

The study uses Treasury data, ABS figures and a University of Melbourne’s HILDA survey, to illustrate that the rich and privileged of society, the top end of town, costs ordinary taxpayers $135 billion a year. “Wow,” I hear from the assembled voices.

The report says that this is more than the cost of Newstart, the age pension, family assistance payments and disability payments combined.

And yet they say that welfare is such a burden on society. Will the budget correct this anomaly?

Poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

And would you believe that more than half of these handouts go to the richest fifth of Australian society? The report doesn’t consider handouts to corporations otherwise the benefit to those at the top would be much larger.

Do you remember Foxtel received a $30 million handout in November 2018 and avoided paying $8.3 billion in tax for three years? It was only one example. Nobody to this day knows why they got the $30 million, not even the minister could explain it at the time.

It was but one example of 354 companies operating in Australia who avoided paying income on $911 billion, and last year, 36 percent of companies pay no tax.

And in the 2015-16 financial year, 17 of the 50 biggest Australian companies paid no company tax.

It was reported at the time that:

“In the context of the Per Capita report, it reveals that the richer you are, the more you get in superannuation concessions, and the greater your capacity to take advantage of income splitting, capital gains tax and negative gearing. It proves beyond doubt, that the tax system is deliberately designed to shift income upwards.”

It’s not the weak that are unable to say sorry. It’s the strong and the privileged.

If we want a more equitable share of the country’s wealth then the disproportionate handouts to the richest must come to an end.

However, I foresee a time in the near future when the Treasurer and the Prime Minister present the next budget where they will, like many other things, yet again try to pull the wool over the eyes of every Australian. Or just lie about them.

My thought for the day

Meritocracy is a term used to imply that those at the top of the social scale have merit and a slur against those at the bottom.

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The Morrison Government is bad, but is it that people don’t care anymore?

Prior to the last election I was of the view that the good folk of Australia had their cricket bats at the ready preparing to hook the LNP for six over square leg. And given their performance so far in their third term you would think I would be entitled to feel the same way again.

The latest NewsPoll shows the LNP leading Labor 51-49. Not much in it, you might say, and given at this stage of the cycle, polling can only ever tell you what people are thinking at the time might I suggest another close call.

The Prime Minister enjoys a lead as preferred prime minister of 56-26 over Anthony Albanese. It seems that no matter how many stuff ups the government makes they can do no wrong.

The NewsPoll doesn’t reflect the truth of what is actually taking place. The truth is that Morrison and his government are performing just as appallingly as they did when Tony Abbot won government.

You don’t believe me? Well, let me see if I can make a case. Currently, I am inclined to the view that there are those, in the majority, who think that things are so bad that they have given up caring.

They would rather stick with the devil they know than the one they don’t. Otherwise you would think NewsPoll would reflect their dissatisfaction.

Conversely, the poll tells us that a majority of voters at this time are happy with the way they are being governed and if an election were held today the LNP would probably win.

Or if you’re an optimist you might say that 51/49 Morrison’s performance “hasn’t shifted anyone’s votes.”

Sure there is a sizeable proportion of the population who protest the government’s incompetence but under the circumstances, given all the governments ineffectiveness, one would expect the opposition to hold, at the very least, a 3 point lead over the government.

Let’s take a look at some performance examples before analysing why this is so.

1 The Guardian reports that:

Only one of the six commissioners (former Union man Greg Combet) on Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 commission has volunteered to release their conflicts of interest agreements, prompting calls for greater transparency from the publicly funded body.

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) is a prominent advisory body put together by Morrison to shape non-health aspects of Australia’s COVID-19 strategy. Most are ex mining executives.

2 In Parliament last Wednesday Brendan O’Connor – the Shadow Industry Minister – revealed that, “prior to the last election, the Coalition had awarded 97 per cent of first-round funding for the Export Hubs Initiative to Liberal or National seats.” Another sports rorts affair, perhaps?

Despite a sordid whiff of sleaze and corruption hanging over it the government has all but admitted that it has no intention of introducing legislation for a Federal Integrity commission. Mark Dreyfus for the ALP said in a statement:

“The truth is that the Morrison government is trying to delay this debate for as long as possible because it does not want a national integrity commission.”

The government also gave every indication that it will be sticking to its six-month timetable for the withdrawal of Job Keeper, and all signs suggest there is “zero appetite for the scheme to be extended.”

3 Following on from #BlackLivesMatter the Prime Minister rather stupidly said; “there was no slavery in Australia.”

He was of course wrong. It is a case of the way middle-aged white men think on the subject. Howard was the same. Morrison needs to take a course in Australian history.

The fact is that “Australia still turns a blind eye to Aboriginal people dying in police custody.” (More on that later). As for any inclusion in the constitution you can forget it. The remnant of racism still resides in the houses of the haves.

Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism.

4 Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is expressing his usual “inequality” views saying that those attending the demonstrations that are on Newstart might have their payments taken away.

“Finance Minister Mathias Cormann threatens to pull welfare payments to punish protesters,” the headline read.

Surely in a democracy such as ours your right to protest shouldn’t be dependant upon where you derive your income so long as it is legal.

5 Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has also announced that the government plans to return to the mutual obligation system which forces unemployed people receiving benefits to show proof of their job seeking efforts to continue receiving their payments.

In other words, applying for jobs that simply don’t exist. Then they will argue that the jobs are there but the unemployed aren’t trying hard enough.

Not trying to be funny but there are tens of thousands of jobs in renewable energy. Why not invest in that Scotty.

12 pm Thursday 18 June the PM announces the latest unemployment figures.

  • Unemployment reaches a 19-year high in May after loss of 227,000 jobs
  • 835,000 have lost their jobs he didn’t dispute it when a journalist suggested a jobless rate of 11% was nearer the mark.
  • 1 in 5 Australians are looking for work or wanting more work and it will get worse.
  • Youth unemployment figure comes in at 16%.

Do you have confidence in a party who continuously denied the existence of the Global Financial Crisis to address this disaster?

6 The Attorney General has admitted that the Robodebt scheme was illegal and “plans to refund victims – now 460,000 debts at a cost of $720m – would only include those targeted after 2015.”

This has proven to be extremely embarrassing for the government. And very costly.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Energy Minister Angus Taylor will fast-track changes to a $2 billion climate fund as he rejects furious criticism of a new plan to spend its cash on carbon capture and storage projects.

Mr Taylor called on the government’s critics to give up their “ideology” in opposing the controversial projects and said he would consider putting changes to the Parliament to overcome their objections.”

Corruption at its very worst.

8 Talking about corruption, both Sports Rorts and Branch Stackers prove beyond doubt that now more than ever we need an independent federal corruption watchdog:

“Then the “sports rorts” affair highlighted the government’s fast and loose approach to spending taxpayer money to win an election.”

The media has hammered Labor mercilessly over the member stacking scandal but not a word about how refreshing it is to witness a party taking action when it finds rotten apples in its team. It takes a strong leader with integrity to do it.

9 Anyone who says that racism isn’t alive and well in Australia is kidding themselves. It has taken a flood of 24/7 coverage of the death of an African American to highlight the fact. Our government turns a blind eye to it but one cannot deny that Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated race of people on the planet.

Not to mention the asylum seekers who have been detained on Manus and Nauru for almost 7 years having never committed a crime.

We are racist despite being told by the government that we are the most wonderful country on earth.

10 With hand on heart we like to think we are but when we bash and murder and murder our women on a regular basis we cannot, in all honesty accept the title.

11 We have a government who acted quickly on the science of a bug that turned into a pandemic, but for a decade has denied the science of climate change. People in other countries see us as simpletons in the same vain as they do the American President.

From the WWF:

“Australia faces a public health emergency with immediate economic impacts as well as longer-lasting global economic pain. Beyond the pandemic, Australian prosperity also depends on dealing with other long-term challenges, including the transition to net zero emissions.”

In our apathy we swat the flies away and reach for another stubby.

12 We cannot get our diplomacy right with China with whom our prosperity depends.

13 The stench of corruption seems to permeate its way down every corridor, into every office in Parliament House yet no doubt through the fear of being drawn into it the LNP refuse to any thought of implementation of a national corruption body.

No doubt there are some good and honourable people in our parliament but I’m ready to concede that many are just crooks.

It does make one wonder why is it that politicians are given the title “the honourable.” There is nothing honourable about illegal donations and shonky expenses claims.

No one resigns for misleading parliament anymore. It’s just another example of the declining standards of political integrity in this country.

Conclusion

The year just past since the election shows the government on the basis of performance has little to be excited about.

Sure, it has done a reasonable job with COVID-19 but its performance was patchy before the pandemic. We were heading for a recession with very poor economic management and record debt.

I often speculate about how much better a society we would be if people took the risk of thinking for themselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the Murdoch media and other vested interests.

We have even reached a point in our history where we are trying people in camera whereas we should be giving them medals for service to there country.

On top of that the Minister for Everything Peter Dutton risks “being jailed or fined if the home affairs minister is found to be in contempt of court for failing to comply with the law in an immigration case.”

Australians, however, don’t seem to have the stomach for voting out mediocrity let alone downright incompetence. The opposition leader may not have the charisma of a Hawke or Whitlam, but he is fair dinkum honest politician.

The Prime Minister who got his job by cleverly manipulating others in his party is, despite his pretence of being a Christian, nothing more than a charlatan on steroids.

When one looks at the enormity of the problems confronting this government and compare them with the Coalition’s past actions we are not left with any overwhelming sense of confidence.

My thought for the day

I found it impossible to imagine that the Australian people could be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two and has amongst its members some of the most devious, suspicious and corrupt men and women but they did.

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Branch stacking isn’t just the domain of Labor

The allegations of branch stacking by the Labor Minister Adem Somyurek by 60 Minutes on Sunday night were very quickly settled by 9am Monday.

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews precipitously sacked Somyurek and asked Labor’s national executive to expel him.

In addition, the Premier asked that all the matters arising from the 60 Minute‘s program be refereed to Victoria police and Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog, IBAC.

Whilst this is primarily a matter for Victoria it once again highlights the need for a national integrity commission.

I have cut and pasted the next paragraph from an unfinished draft of my next post. It refers to an occurrence in the House of Representatives:

“Despite a sordid whiff of sleaze and corruption hanging over it the government has all but admitted that it has no intention of introducing legislation for a Federal Integrity commission. Mark Dreyfus for the ALP said in a statement:

“The truth is that the Morrison government is trying to delay this debate for as long as possible because it does not want a national integrity commission.”

In the looseness of political speak you might say that with Sports Rorts, the stacking of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, the indiscretions of Angus Taylor, new allegations of expense rorting by Stuart Robert, Dan Tehan and Simon Birmingham, fresh accusations that, prior to the last election: “the Coalition had awarded 97 per cent of first-round funding for the Export Hubs Initiative to Liberal or National seats” and the illegality of Robodebt you might understand why the don’t have the stomach an integrity commission.

What is branch stacking?

“Branch stacking is a term used in Australian politics to describe the act of recruiting or signing up members for a local branch of a political party for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of internal preselections of candidates for public office, or to inordinately influence policy of the party.”

It is not wholly the domain of the Labor Party.

A Google search will give you examples of Liberal Party branch stacking. In fact former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull openly devotes, in his book “A bigger Picture” a lot of words on how he won preselection for the seat of Wentworth with branch stacking.

Of the Liberal Party, Wikipedia also tells us that:

“Commentators and authors within or formerly within the Liberal Party of Australia have claimed similar activity in their branches has had a similar effect. A recent example of alleged branch stacking within the Liberal Party occurred in 2017, with Liberals in Victoria claiming that members from within the party’s religious right were stacking branches with Mormons and Catholic groups in a drive to pre-select more conservative candidates.

A similar situation was reported in 2019, with allegations that members of the Liberal Party’s hard-right faction in Sydney were attempting to engage in branch stacking in order to erode the support of factional rivals, which included sitting Liberal members in several safe state and federal seats.”

Here are some other examples:

Queensland’s Liberal National Party has changed its rules to block factional stacking of the party organisations leadership positions.

‘Absolute pain’: Internal division exposed in Liberal feud.

Among the allegations now gripping the LNP are branch stacking, unfair party expulsions and suspensions, and the use of star chamber-like ­candidate vetting and disciplinary hearings to fortify a small group of officials against the rising power of the new membership.

Moggill LNP successor linked to branch stacking, Bruce Flegg says:

“Branch stacking claims ‘completely false’ LNP state director Brad Henderson said in a statement the claims of branch stacking were “completely false”. “The LNP understands Dr Flegg’s disappointment following the state executive’s decision regarding his pre selection.”

I could go on but I think I have made my point. Branch stacking is a means of gaining political power, usually by people without apathy or the intelligence to gain it honestly.

All political parties should do whatever is necessary to rid themselves, under their rules, of fools like Adem Somyurek.

For me Daniel Andrews acted with appropriate haste to rid his party of this vile man with the vile tongue.

I just wish the federal Liberal Party had the guts to clean up its own act and introduce an anti corruption commission.

The only thing left for me is for someone to ask 60 Minutes how he or she placed those mikes, assumingly without permission.

My thought for the day

Wouldn’t it be good if in our parliament, regardless of ideology, we had politicians whose first interest was the peoples and not their own.

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A dilemma of monumental proportion

For many, the decision to attend a #BlackLivesMatter rally would have been a no-brainer. For others it would have been a struggle, but could one easily put aside one’s conscience in favour of marching?

For the more serious-minded attending such a rally where their presence would be at odds with sound medical advice and warranted political instruction … it would have been a dilemma of monumental proportion.

For Health Minister Greg Hunt it was not a dilemma:

“… Greg Hunt was expressing the considered expert medical advice he had received when he said if there is someone who is infectious in the midst of a crowd like that then it “can have a catastrophic impact”.”

Others would have seen it as a unique opportunity to protest the monumental injustices including colour of the skin they had inherited from birth, and the discrimination that is often associated with it.

Which leads me to the question: How could 432 Indigenous Australians have died while they were in police custody, yet no one was responsible? It’s not possible.

We follow those in America and say #BlackLivesMatter and that is the truth of it.

Although in Australia I think we blend our protest with other matters like respect, fairness, equality and a few words in our constitution that say our First Nation People were first among us.

Then of course comes the standard of our governance and the decline in our democracy.

Amidst all this protesting we must ask ourselves a few questions; for example, why does it take the death of an American for us to recognise our own problem?

Is it OK to protest the deaths of Aboriginal people in custody while our government and health authorities advise against protesting, warning of the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus to hit us.

The only way you can come close to understanding this ethical dilemma is to try and understand both points of view. Here are a few of the arguments from both sides:

Against the Protests

Unsurprisingly, in this corner we have the government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last Thursday acknowledged during a radio interview that Australia also had problems “in this space” (Black deaths) that ineeded to be addressed, but insisted those issues were being dealt with and “we don’t need to draw equivalence here.” Adding that:

“We don’t need the divisions that we’re seeing in other countries – we need to stick together and look after each other.”

And then we have the Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann ‘attacking’ the protesters:

“… Mathias Cormann in an interview on Sky News on Sunday launched a full-throated attack on participants of Saturday’s events in several cities because the protests proceeded in contradiction of current health advice to avoid mass gatherings.

“It’s quite irresponsible what we’ve seen there,” Cormann said. “As I think about the heartbreak of families who haven’t been able to attend funerals for their loved ones because they were doing the right thing by taking the health advice, my heart just goes out to them.”

“I mean, as they see people going recklessly to these sorts of demonstrations, that must be just awful for them to watch. I think it is incredibly selfish. It’s incredibly self-indulgent. And yes, it does impose unnecessary and unacceptable risk on to the community.”

For the Protests

Australia’s most eminent Indigenous academic Professor Marcia Langton called out the:

“… systemic inaction on Indigenous deaths in custody, using her Queen’s Birthday honour to call for urgent action.

Since the royal commission’s final report in 1991, more than 400 Aboriginal people have died in prison and the Indigenous incarceration rate is double what it was 30 years ago.

Professor Langton said she felt some of the deaths should have resulted in criminal charges.

“There have been no convictions — no convictions — of any police officer ever for killing (or assaulting) Aboriginal people.”

So, on the one hand you would have to say that the health warnings were in keeping with previous warnings, which had been obeyed and were very successful.

On the other you would have to acknowledge that 432 First Nations People have died while in the custody of police, someone was responsible, and people want to know why. There had never been a greater opportunity to protest that point.

Who can blame our Indigenous brothers and sisters (and those who support them) for raising their voices? For seizing the moment.

For those who see the point of view of the health professionals but still wish to protest during the course of a pandemic raises questions of conscience and ethics.

How can you do this while a virus is attacking everyone?

Paul Bongiorno succinctly sums up the case of both sides of the argument:

“The health risks were real, but so was the injustice and discrimination the protesters were calling out.”

For those who understand the point of view of the Indigenous Australians it raises the same questions of conscience and ethics.

Can’t you just stop killing us ask the dark skinned people?

“Ethics is only possible because we can act against our nature, based on our conscience. It stops us from simply describing what is likely to happen, and allows us to make judgements about what should happen. Of all the ways you might act, which is the best? Of all the possibilities, which one should you bring into reality?” (What is Ethics?)

My thought for the day

My ethics cannot understand my heart but I know my conscience does.

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Trump talks of God, but acts of evil

Brandishing a Bible in his right hand the President of the United States of America stood in front of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

What was the symbolism of this act that has so bewildered Americans of faith, both black and white?

He had cut a pathway for his entry with teargas and rubber bullets.

That this nation, which was founded on the annihilation of one race and the enslavement of another should then claim that God was on their side is a mystery to me.

Since its founding the state, with the blessing of the church, has sought to disturb the daily lives of its black people and inflict violence upon them.

It then, with God on its side, declares the authority of the American Empire and those with white male flesh.

Was this the metaphor Trump was using? Was it that he believed he had God on his side despite the extraordinary reaction to the murder of George Floyd?

Was the Bible, upside down and back to front, just a prop, and was he really speaking to every Christian on the religious right saying God is on my side? (In other words, ‘I want your vote’).

An aside before I move on:

Upon hearing some improved job figures last Friday President Trump said

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying there’s a great thing happening for our country. It’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”

The man is crazy.

But let’s put that aside for a moment while I fill you in on some reactions to George Floyd’s death.

The Episcopal bishop of Washington Mariann Edgar Budde, who oversees the church Trump visited, told the Washington Post that she was “outraged” over the president’s conduct.

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop …”

Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona said:

“This is an awful man, waving a book he hasn’t read, in front of a church he doesn’t attend, invoking laws he doesn’t understand, against fellow Americans he sees as enemies, wielding a military he dodged serving, to protect power he gained via accepting foreign interference, exploiting fear and anger he loves to stoke, after failing to address a pandemic he was warned about, and building it all on a bed of constant lies and childish inanity.”

While the Rev. William H. Lamar IV the pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. had this to say:

“Trump’s contrived excursion from the Rose Garden to St. John’s Episcopal Church, was then, far more than a photo op: It was the latest in a long line of acts that wed the church to the state in ways that evidence the conundrum of faith that has always been present, but is now more pronounced. When Trump dislocated the protesters from Lafayette Square, he actually cleared them from a space designed to commemorate the violence and victory of the Revolutionary War; he stood in front of a church whose history is rife with complicity in such settler colonial violence. Episcopal Bishops Michael Curry and Mariann Budde rightly decried his actions, but there are no clean hands in our faith.”

The story of Jesus has been so dismantled by the evangelical right that it bears little resemblance to the one of the Bible. He was, in essence, the world’s first socialist. A revolutionary hunted by his adversaries. He unashamedly acted in the service of people and personal fulfilment.

History shows that during the civil rights movement white evangelicals – rather than supporting their black brothers and sisters – actually opposed Martin Luther King Jnr.

Billy Graham was of the view that racial harmony would only be achieved if the nation turned to God.

The phrase “born again” came into being in the 1970s, as did the “opposition to abortion and the rise of the Moral Majority.” They sought not only moral but political power and Ronald Reagan was to be the avenue by which they obtained it.

It’s unsurprising that:

“White evangelical support for Donald Trump is still at 73 percent, and more than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016.”

Was this terrible Bible-raising stunt – carried out in the most despicable circumstances – a wake up call to the evangelicals?

All through this sordid act of political pandering to the far-right of his base Trump would have been asking himself just how he could exploit this tragedy for his own political gain.

As has been shown, violence is a personality trait of the President. His overriding concern since the beginning of the pandemic, for example, has been one of self-interest.

You can almost see the words going around in his head:

“I can use this tragedy to fire up those of my base who are the most racist and violent.”

Trump’s first reaction to a problem is always violence. Recall these threats:

Trump is without doubt suffers from malignant narcissism, a term:

“The social psychologist Erich Fromm first coined the term “malignant narcissism” in 1964, describing it as a “severe mental sickness” representing “the quintessence of evil”.

He characterised the condition as:

“… the most severe pathology and the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity.”

It is too noted that:

“Edith Weigert (1967) saw malignant narcissism as a “regressive escape from frustration by distortion and denial of reality”, while Herbert Rosenfeld (1971) described it as “a disturbing form of narcissistic personality where grandiosity is built around aggression and the destructive aspects of the self become idealized.”

When you read these two characterisations, who comes to mind? The President of the United States, of course. And the reason he was holding a Bible is apparent. It was to remind the evangelicals that God was on his side … their side.

I believe that a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems. That does not however mean that faith doesn’t have a place.

The thing though is that in holding up the book as though it were a prop in a bad play is that he exposed himself for what he is. A charlatan. When asked, he couldn’t quote a single verse of scripture.

We know very little, if anything, of the role Christianity has played in his upbringing and adult life.

We know that he was raised as a Presbyterian and has cited the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, a pastor and the author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” as one of his earliest influences. I still have that book in my library and it is more about motivation than spirituality.

I am often staggered with the vigour American atheists use to confront religion. However when one examines the conduct of religious institutions in that country I cannot say I am the least surprised.

He is on the record as saying he attends church at Christmas and Easter, and rather conveniently says the Bible is one of his favourite books.

Other than that, little is known. Perhaps because there is little to know.

Conversely the man who died, not only read his Bible, but lived by it.

Reverend Dr Michael Jensen rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, Sydney puts this perspective:

“The Bible holds up a mirror to human nature and human society. It tells us (as if we needed telling right now) that all is not well. And one of its chief targets is political and religious hypocrisy. To display religious piety while ignoring the poor and the oppressed is the worst of sins, biblically speaking. Jesus was especially critical of exactly this.”

My purpose in quoting Michael Jensen is not to assist Christianity in its teaching but simply to highlight what happens when either religion or politics highjacks the other.

Or worse still. how toxic it becomes when you toss into the recipe a narcissistic power hungry fool like Trump.

My thought for the day

I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

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The greatest showman, or the greatest threat?

Last Tuesday I watched the greatest ever political-showman address the American nation – or more likely – his political base.

With black solemnity, President Trump tells the nation that he will stop the domestic acts of terror. He will do so with greater violence. He will dominate the streets.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) is well remembered – among other things – for this famous comment:

“The duty of a true Patriot is to protect his country from its Government.”

Trump said that America was founded on the rule of law. The forefathers would be turning in their graves. America was founded on freedom!

The protests spread like a festering ulcer across the United States making a vain attempt at overcoming an unpretentious and legitimate frustration over decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the USA.

Trump, in characteristic fashion, was condemning the violence he and his capitalistic ugliness were ultimately responsible for.

Condemning the violence of the protesters and promoting his.

Not once in his callous speech was there a hint that the protesters might have a point. That the knee had been bent over inequality and injustice for too long.

There is no offer of peace from the leader of a once great nation, no extending the hand of reconciliation, just showmanship.

There was none of the persuasiveness of Kennedy or Clinton or Obama. The showman ended it with a walk to a church outside The White House. A very special place, he said. The symbolism couldn’t be missed. God was on his side.

The only people he impressed were the racists themselves. God bless America.

“Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

He didn’t include the police and military.

His empathises on the Second Amendment (right to form MILITIAS and BEAR ARMS) made the hairs on my arms stand on end. Was he seriously suggesting that militias were a possibly.

When a nation grows so powerful it tends to abuse its power, then slowly becomes authoritarian.

He talked about the protesters, rioters, and looters, for almost his entire speech. He spoke about George Floyd for 10 seconds.

As Trump claimed to be an “ally of all peaceful protesters,” federal police were violently clearing them out of the way with tear gas to ensure the president had a clear pathway to a church.

There with a Bible upside down, he posed. It was the showmanship of the dictator, with a dose of Hollywood.

My thought for the day

When you push people beyond their capacity to understand their victimisation you can hardly expect them, during demonstrations, to behave rationally.

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“Shut up. It is I, POTUS who speaks”

Although he doesn’t read or present well, President Trump made a fair fist of showing regret at the murder of Minneapolis citizen George Floyd at the hands of its law enforcement officers.

He did the right thing and instructed the FBI together with Department of Justice to move quickly to investigate the incident.

Sadly, that’s where it ended. The metaphor (representing the suppression of people of colour, holding them down refusing to hear their muted calls for help) of a bended knee on the throat of the victim was being shown all around the world, and with the victim’s last breath so went any lasting admiration I ever had of the United States of America.

But Trump, unable to maintain any form of dignity, quickly returned to the base instincts of the depraved and again began tweeting.

The objects of his decadent thinking were the Minneapolis citizens – who whilst engulfed in riots and surrounded by flames – protested the death of one of their citizens.

It was as if the pent up fury of racism had found another gasp of protest.

Trump tweeted his evilness defining the protesters as thugs and the mayor as being from the “very weak Radical Left” and that when “the looting starts, the shooting starts.” It was so inflammatory that Twitter hid it from view on the grounds it was “glorifying violence” – The President had been censored. The remark was one he conveniently saves for occasions like this and this “looting, shooting” remark had its genesis in the racial unrest of the 1960s.

Then last Friday, while the world looked on at the total despair of its black citizens whose lives, in the land of milk and honey, were looked on as being of less value, expressed themselves, with violence and fury, the President of the USA called a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

But Trump, as men of his ilk do, was intent on changing the subject. He would do so by shifting the blame for his coronavirus response and withdraw the US from the World Health Organisation.

There would be no mention of George Floyd and no mention of the protests at all. It was the coward’s way out, and he is well-practised at it.

On the same day some hours later he appeared conciliatory; “I understand the hurt, I understand the pain,” he said.

They were the words from a man without an empathetic bone in his body. A man devoid of any common decency – unable to find words that would console a nation that was dripping blood from wounds that he alone had opened.

No sooner had he said, “I understand” he was tweeting his usual insaneness using Twitter to divide the country:

“In Democrat cities you can get arrested for opening a business, but not for looting one.”

Presidential candidate Joe Biden, by way of contrast issued a subdued message:

“The original sin of this country still stains our nation today, and sometimes we manage to overlook it…

“We just push forward with the thousand other tasks in our daily life, but it’s always there, and weeks like this, we see it plainly that we’re a country with an open wound. None of us can turn away. None of us can be silent.”

Former president Barack Obama also released a statement urging white Americans to remember that “for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ – whether it’s while dealing with the healthcare system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”

(If this tweet is difficult to read, see larger copy of message at the bottom of this article).

As I write, the protests and the looting is spreading across the country. With a pandemic on its back and over 100,000 dead America needs leadership of the kind that brings people together. Galvanises their thoughts and gives them hope.

All they have in Trump is a narcissist, a megalomaniac of immoral mouth of gross indecency.

He is a sick deluded man of no redeeming features, full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny. A deluded pathetic liar unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world.

He sees complex problems and impregnates them with populism and implausible black and white solutions.

 

He is a person of limited intellect and understanding only capable of seeing the world through the prism of his own wealth.

The far edges of knowledge seem to have passed him by. Matters requiring deep philosophical consideration seem utterly beyond him.

His opinions on subjects of internal and international importance are so shallow that one would think he spent the entirety of his youth in the wading pool at the local swimming pool, or six years in grade 6 and never academically advanced.

He is a crash through politician with a ubiquitous mouth. Trump remains an incoherent mess who bounces back after every disaster thinking he has been impressive while those around him are laughing their heads off.

Entertaining in a uniquely American way he might be to the hillbillies but leadership requires worldly character.

America has an undisputed ignoramus of first world order, as President.

A man who cannot bring himself to speak the word sorry nor mention the name “George Floyd.”

All that comes from his pursed gutter lips is the bile of hatred, vengeance, violence and revenge.

The political, cultural and intellectual discourse of American politics has been so effectively muted by the contamination of those who would seek power for power’s sake has all but been erased.

The American exceptionalism in the land of milk and honey that Presidents spoke so proudly of now belongs to a bygone era.

The people of this once enlightened society feel betrayed by a lack of leadership, of vision.

Capitalistic neo-liberal ideology has won the day and we have given up. The words we use to describe these events, the austerity, and the lack of transparency; uncontrolled capitalism and the death of truth are of themselves devoid of concern and fight.

Sure, America has advanced but the price is gauged by the exploitation of the poor and middle classes. The price the country has paid for its progress is measured in wars and seductive illusions about culture.

Advancement is about a perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.

And in their powerlessness Americans have listened to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix our democracies.

It’s called long-suffering irrationalism. The people no longer have the patience or desire to soberly examine policies that effect lives and politics has been relegated by the media to a 24/7 sideshow.

Americans who cannot see that the great American dream has ended hear the voice of Trump. Those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future.

What used to be a beacon of light to the free world, “the American Presidency” is now but a reminder of the decline of a once great nation.

The far Right has gained a foothold because the people have become dissatisfied with capitalism and democracy.

The government produces slogans and promises repetitively until the people are conned into believing them. They deal in the illusions of social progress and prosperity. They refuse to acknowledge any reality that might concern us about the future. That is what Trump is doing now.

In the November election the people will either not vote at all, or vote for extremists. Few people trust politicians or have faith in government.

Americans live a life of permanent malaise and think little about what makes the nation tick.

It is on the verge of democratic collapse. Politicians have little incentive, or even the capacity to change the democratic structures because they are so locked into neoliberal corporate capitalism.

To quote an old but timeless article from 2016 by Chris Hedges titled ‘American Irrationalism’, he writes:

“Life is lived in an eternal present. How we got here, where we came from, what shaped us as a society, in short the continuum of history that gives us an identity, are eradicated.”

How has it come to what we are seeing now? America has allowed itself to believe the lies of the right, not being interested enough to vote and perpetuating the malpractice of racism.

It fell for the mantra of hatred, inequality, violence and fear that was so delicately indoctrinated in them for decades.

The people permitted themselves, to believe all the bullshit, and incoherent absurdities mouthed by self-serving politicians.

The people also decided to disbelieve science and facts and instead trust their feelings.

In short, they allowed themselves to be deceived into believing that poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the people demand it. Unfortunately, we have forgotten just what that means.

My thought for the day

Presenting facts to people who have reasoned by virtue of their feelings that they are right is totally futile.

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Letters from the Queen’s secretary on a touchy subject

To people of my vintage it seems like yesterday that these events in the history of Australia’s democracy took place.

Those of us who lived through it see it through reflective battle-weary feelings.

An unelected representative of the Queen, the Governor General John Kerr, had dismissed a democratically elected government.

How was he able to do such a thing? Why did Prime Minister Whitlam accept his dismissal with such feebleness of spirit? Why wasn’t he on the phone to the Queen straight away?

Kerr was considered a Labor man. Was his betrayal longer in the making that everyone thought? There are many questions that have never been answered.

Fraser and Whitlam later became good friends. Did the Palace want Whitlam gone?

1975 is but a thought away but it lays heavy on the hearts of those on the left who believe that some sort of palace conspiracy took place.

Well, we won’t have to wait much longer now that the High Court has ruled in favor of historian Jenny Hocking in her bid to secure correspondence between the Queen and former Australian Governor General Sir John Kerr regarding the dismissal of Gough Whitlam:

“The high court on Friday ruled that the commonwealth was wrong to withhold the so-called “palace letters”, a series of more than 200 exchanges between the Queen, her private secretary and Kerr, the then-governor general, in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal of Whitlam, the then-Australian prime minister.”

It is believed that the exchange consists of some 211 letters Jenny Hocking is calling on the National Archives of Australia to immediately release them.

I expect there might be some last minute quibbles about procedure but the public interest demands little delay.

After all the full history of the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australia’s history demands the truth; a truth that has never been told.

For me personally it will bring to an end many years of frustrated suspicion that there was more to it that meets the eye. Even a total 211 letters suggests a certain depth of plotting never explained.

Our nation should be forever grateful to Jenny Hocking for the four years of persistence she has shown in obtaining what are critical documents in our history. She writes that:

“To have them closed to us, not even through our own laws or regulations, but because of an embargo by the Queen, that has just been a really terrible situation.”

Hocking in her research had previously found evidence that the Queen was indeed aware of Kerr’s intention to sack Whitlam.

The Queen was in fact fully briefed and involved in the deliberations. She believes the palace letters could reveal what the Queen said and the extent to which she influenced Kerr’s actions.

I still recall the state of shock the nation was in at the time. There existed a state of disbelief that a pompous twit and piss-pot like Kerr could dismiss a man of Whitlam’s stature.

All of it was of course was shrouded in the political machinations of the time. The blocking of supply by Fraser and Whitlam’s mishandling of the economy, which by today’s standards would suggest that the past four Prime Ministers should have been sacked.

For those who had come of age in the 1960s and 70s, Whitlam’s dismissal generated an intense personal anger and became the genesis for the lack of trust now shown for politicians. For those more directly involved it became a life and death confrontation with the principles of what constitutes a democracy and an ambiguous constitution.

As grotesquely as these events came upon us so did they disappear leaving a gaping unsatisfactory hole in the rights or wrongs of the dismissal. I expect the contents of the letters will not be revealed for a couple of weeks but I’m excited by the prospect of some holes being filled. In the meantime, The Conversation’s Anne Twomey gives us a couple of points to ponder:

“[Firstly], the queen never personally engages in correspondence with her governors-general. All correspondence goes through her private secretary, and it is he (as they have always been male) who responds to the governor-general.

[Secondly], in times past, when the governor-general was a member of the British aristocracy or upper classes, there was a “personal” element to this correspondence.”

This changed when Governor Generals were appointed from Australian citizenry.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile truth often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for the long-term prosperity of a progressive democracy.

PS: Essential reading – Dr George Venturini’s epic series, Beyond the Palace Letters.

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What a “couldn’t care less” lot we are

What a laconic couldn’t care less lot we are. Even when we get agitated over something we rarely make a ripple on Bondi beach.

The last time I can remember us getting a wee bit pissed about a something of importance was the marriage equality debate when we told the politicians enough unfairness was enough and to just get on with it. Then Turnbull claimed the credit.

It is true, I think, that we have a morbid distrust of seriousness and we are less enamoured by a sense of occasion than others. Although Anzac Day and sport may be the exceptions that generally raise our collective nationalism, but otherwise we remain indifferent in the face of things worthy of protest.

So forgiving of bad governance have we become that we have twice voted back in the governments that have been spectacularly unscrupulous without the blink of an eye. On current reckoning we will even allow them to wreck the planet without the slightest resistance.

Our national character is of loudness, speaking our minds when the situation demands it, so long as it doesn’t interrupt something more important.

Understanding the sovereignty of our Indigenous folk has been a thought for most, too difficult.

We still cling to the monarchy with childlike fascination and a republic is a threat to the celebrity of it.

Domestic violence is a crying shame but like many other things we sit quietly and say little. The same can be said of our underlying racism.

Suicide, the scale of it, explains the utter hopelessness we have created with our vision of what life and society is.

Men, those younger than I, seem to be narcissistic unfeeling creatures who derive pleasure from what life can give them rather than what virtues their maleness can give the world.

The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of the world.

Rightly or wrongly religion is dying. We are replacing it with the worship of celebrity. The young, in particular, adore people of the most mediocre endowment as if they were gods to be deified. Royalty, sports and television stars fill this category.

Our politics is confrontational, even ugly, and in the last 20 years or so has done its best to uphold our larrikin anti-authoritarian nature.

We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?

In trying to describe what ‘Australian culture’ is we are confronted with the contradiction of an incredible culturally diverse nation. Our immigrants come from all over the world with one in four Australian residents being born outside of Australia.

Few understand the rich cultural diversity immigration has given us because politicians of the ilk of Tony Abbott have taught them the political value of hatred.

We have not yet grown into, or obtained the truth, that people are just trying to find a place in the world where they can be secure and loved. Our reputation around the world, perpetuated by the likes of Peter Dutton on immigration, is pitiful.

I guess that what I am trying to say here is that Government is responsible for all the laws made at a national level, state government at a state level and local councils at a community level. That’s three levels of government for 25 million people.

As a result of the political malaise we find ourselves in the government has been unable to govern to a standard befitting the needs of this nation. Its first problem is it’s standard of leadership. The second its quality of representation where one wonders how many MPs got past pre-selection n the first place. The third, of course, is that economic decisions have human consequences. That economics and society are  interwoven.

Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.

Examples of the government’s inability to govern arise every day. Last week we had an almost total breakdown in diplomacy with China.

China is an emerging power while the US under President Trump is vacating its once held position as leader of the free world.

China is speaking to the world in its own language and we are failing to comprehend.

We should remember that China, in rescuing millions of its people from poverty in 30 years or so has performed a miracle of sorts. To my knowledge it has never started a war but is now saying that it won’t be pushed around by the likes of Trump and Morrison.

Our government, instead of using words of understanding to China, seems intent on climbing aboard Trump’s hateful bandwagon. The leader of China is at least sane whereas the leader of the USA should be encouraged to get in as much golf as possible.

This is not to say that they are right in their actions. They are not. We are in a new phase of our relationship with China.

It says that it is incumbent on us to choose our words more carefully or pay the consequences.

The more we say the less the better about Chinese diplomacy.

After 19 attempts to arrive at an energy policy our government has reverted to old technologies to resolve this issue.

Even in the face of calamity it cannot bring itself to admit it was and is still wrong on climate change. Christiana Figueres – considered the world’s top climate change negotiator – commented that:

“I am deeply pained by the attitude of the current Australian government: that still after the worst disaster that has ever hit the planet, the bushfires in Australia, that this government is still denying climate change and denying the fact that there is a lot that Australia can and should be doing.”

Another display of incompetence occurred last week and remains a bone of contention: How on earth was the error of Job Keeper/Seeker not picked up earlier? It seems incomprehensible and a better explanation is required.

We now end up with the following:

  • On Job-Keeper the PM announced a spend of $138 but is actually spending $70b.
  • On the drought fund the PM announced $7b but is spending $2b. On the Bush Fire fund it is $2b with the actual at $250 mil.

The government has become accustomed to making announcements without putting in the hard yards of meticulous planning. I expected Morrison’s speech on Tuesday May 26 to be much the same – and I was correct – but I hope he is successful for the sake of the common good of the nation. Having said that, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

My thought for the day

People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep seated.

 

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We are being conned if we believe the government

In my recent article I concluded with:

Confronted with the fact that no one wants to invest in coal, what do you do? One is you set up an inquiry, stack it with lovers of the clean black stuff, and call it the ”King review.”

The idea is to grab some cash from the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, as well as Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

In their findings you have the inquiry recommend that the funds be opened up to provide funding to heavy emitters and fossil fuel projects.

Not a bad plan. After all, it wasn’t the intention to use the funds in this way.

They are not just environmental vandals but straight out corrupt con merchants. Angus Taylor makes a good crook, it would seem. Or at least he knows how to get away with things.

I wanted to expand a little on the subject of this con job. You see there was a time when Australians didn’t like being conned.

“Don’t listen to him, he’s a con artist,” my folks would say.

I can vividly remember that phrase. As a teenager we seemed to apply it to everything. We sort of instantly knew when someone was bullshitting.

Now it seems we have lost that instinct and are now a gullible lot ready to believe whomever and whatever we are told.

If you didn’t read pertinent articles in The Guardian, The Age (paywall) or News24 you wouldn’t have a clue as to what the Coalition is doing. You might if you watch Sky After Dark and wanted a warped version of the truth.

After committing the worst possible domestic violence on our part of the planet, the Coalition decided to have a review of their existing madness, with men who in part created the environmental vandalism and go back to the past and use discredited technology.

Having spent a decade proving their incompetence these same idiot politicians now speak of the virtues of gas as being some sort of gentle nurse to the raped victim.

As Katherine Murphy wrote in The Guardian:

“Politicians and their advisers used to talk up the virtues of gas as a transitional fuel, and they used to talk about carbon capture and storage (CCS) as technology that governments needed to invest in to drive the transition to low-emissions economies.

The great botch-up is now well past infancy, and Australia’s record on climate and energy is a disaster so profound it’s still traumatising backstage protagonists years after the stadium rock wreckers have left” the crime scene.”

We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

Allow me to bring you up to date. The Coalition is proposing that after appointing a committee headed by former Fortescue boss Nev Power and others of the same persuasion, who in turn have probably been instructed on what to conclude; propose to spend heaps of your money on a gas-fired revival of manufacturing.

Conning the Australian people is really that simple. They do it all the time and people don’t care or don’t know. Paddy Manning in The Monthly reported that:

“Environment groups reacted with alarm, and independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall has called on the federal government to bring industry groups together to canvass their views on stimulus measures, arguing that the COVID-19 commission’s decision-making processes lacked transparency

Manning reported that:

Shadow climate and energy minister Mark Butler welcomed the roadmap’s step away from coal, but described the document as the Coalition’s 19th energy policy – and one that was light on details. “Minister Taylor has pulled a hamstring making sure that his anti-renewable colleagues know that expensive new coal is still in the mix, while also tipping his hat to expensive and dangerous nuclear power,” said Butler.

“… shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon told Sky News, the roadmap appears to imply that CCS could keep the ever-contentious Liddell power station operating in his Hunter Valley electorate. “It’s just ludicrous to suggest that you can retrofit any carbon capture and storage system to a more-than-50-year-old coal-fired generator,” Fitzgibbon said.”

Once again a political donations-focused government seems determined to do nothing about climate change.

Absent is a price on carbon and nothing about a new regulatory strategy and there isn’t any room for a sizeable public investment.

And God help us! Talk about going back to the past. It even talks about big role for carbon capture and storage. You know, that technology that was going to change the future and give us clean coal.

Goodness knows how many millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on this obscenely expensive yet failed technology over the past 10 years.

The Prime Minister made a proper clown of himself in his handling of the summer fires, and the punters told him so.

During the coronavirus pandemic he made up a lot of ground. However, with climate change he finds himself, on the one hand, between his job, party donations, the backbench, the cabinet, and a squillion-dollar fossil-fuel industry that has he and his government by the short and curlies, and on the other hand what is best for the planet and its people.

It is not as though the government is without options. If it had the intestinal fortitude it could use a COVID-19 recovery that would drive full-time sustainable jobs and growth on the back of a low-emissions transition that would last 50 years or more.

The other option is to use the recovery to continue with fossil fuels and pretend (lie your way through it) that in a time of great uncertainty you had a moment of gas led fossil fuel enlightenment. Jobs versus the environment.

History tells me they will take option two.

My thought for the day.

In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.

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Nothing to show

Nothing to show: A year in power … Nothing to show. Two years as PM in August … Nothing to show. Three terms in office … Nothing to show.

Monday, May 18 marked the anniversary of the Morrison government’s election win, and Scott Morrison is fast approaching two years as serving as Prime Minister. In addition, the LNP will be on their way to concluding three terms of governance.

So how has this period advanced Australia as a nation? Well, the simple answer is it hasn’t. Are we likely to see from Morrison any bold ideas that will inspire us to be better than we are? Conversely, what did Abbott and Turnbull achieve? Turnbull claims marriage equality but I put that down to social protests.

What has Morrison done in his two years at the helm that would get you excited? It is fair to say that at present he is confronted with a pandemic and is being applauded for his efforts. Rightly so, but all he has done is to follow the advice of science and the experts. Not hard.

When Labor was confronted with a similar economic problem (the GFC) to what the coronavirus is doing, Morrison as much as denied the GFC’s existence.

Turnbull, in his book, describes Morrison as a pragmatic professional politician with a plan for winning but not for governing.

1 You have to wonder if he is a man for the times. One not of necessity a brilliant intellectual, but a man who could see what lay ahead for the next 5, 10 or 20 years and could drag from those around him the ideas and willpower to get us there. A man like Anthony Albanese has those qualities.

But instead we have a government that doesn’t want parliament to sit because it is paranoid that someone from the opposition might throw a curved ball at them. Nobody knows.

Not even our most senior public servant knows. Paul Gaetjens had to take some fairly basic questions on notice at Senate hearings on COVID-19 last week. Take these for example:

“Do the decisions of the national cabinet have to be ratified by the full cabinet? Do they bind the states and territories? How, exactly, is it different to the Council of Australian Governments? Are all of its workings covered by cabinet confidentiality?”

Just as suss is this mysterious committee known as the NCCC or National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to be headed by the Prime Minister’s mate’ Nev Power, who was a former head of Fortescue and is to be paid the princely sum of $267,345 for doing 6 months work which is yet to be defined.

However his chief executive, Peter Harris AO (a former chairman of the Productivity Commission), padded up at the Senate and admitted that the NCCC’s processes were somewhat “opaque.”

Opacity is a word that best describes the government’s attitude toward accountability. Hardly transparent at all.

The NCCC has no commissioners with expertise on clean energy but an abundance of folk with ties to fossil fuels that are set to push for a gas-fired recovery, as the ABC has reported.

2 The Trade Minister’s counterpart in China won’t return his calls because we are saying silly undiplomatic things about them. We have been playing “deputy sheriff” for the US for so long other nations resent it.

China has now slapped an 80% tariff on our barley to remind us that diplomacy is – sometimes best done in-house rather than shouting in the streets.

3 The Prime Minister’s self serving indignation over the Sports Rorts Affair and Angus Taylor’s self-indulgent incriminations are making the government look pathetic in terms of parliamentary obligations and standards.

The inquiry into the rorts prior to the election tells us that the prime minister’s office asked Bridget McKenzie to seek Scott Morrison’s “authority” for intended recipients of $100m of sports grants and coordinate the announcement with Coalition campaign headquarters.

The Australian National Audit Office to the Senate inquiry gives evidence that contradicts Morrison’s claims that McKenzie, the former sports minister, was the ultimate decision-maker.

It also confirms that changes for the grant program were not made after parliament was dissolved.

On 27 February, Morrison told the House of Representatives that “there was no authorisation provided by me as prime minister on the projects”.

This article by Paul Karp in The Guardian gives a thorough account of the sequence of events and it would be difficult not to conclude that the Prime Minister has certainly mislead the Parliament and should resign.

He won’t of course because integrity has gone out of fashion.

There still remains of course the question as to the grants constitutional validity.

But then it would seem that no one resigns for misleading parliament anymore. It’s just another example of the declining standards of political integrity in this country.

4  Is our government treating students who would make an enormous contribution to our Universities and our economy fairly? Why are they standing in food lines?

5 What is the real figure of our unemployed and underemployed?

Employment, underemployment and unemployment will be a problem for years to come and trying to spin the figures as they have been doing for some time will only make matters worse. The million the government says they have created only ever kept up with immigration and didn’t create any “new” jobs.

There will be no snapback as Morrison predicts. One reason being that it is not known how many jobs will be lost from companies that just go broke for any number of reasons.

Paddy Manning writes in The Monthly 15 May says:

“The official employment figures show that a staggering 2.7 million people (one in five working Australians) either left employment between March and April or had their hours reduced. The participation rate – people working or looking for work – fell back to the level it was at before the China boom took off in 2004, with half a million people giving up job seeking altogether.”

Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s shadow Employment Minister responded to the ABS figures, saying they were a picture of the economy a month ago, and would get worse.

Labor called on the government to expand the JobKeeper programme to include others (such as casuals) but the suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears of conservative ideology.

We can expect the job figures to become increasingly worse in the months to come.

The Prime Minister says he wants a business-led recovery but a recovery by any means might be a better idea.

6 Some businesses wont even comeback let alone snapback. The Prime Minister has yet to lay before the Australian people a plan to take us forward, to take the opportunity of creating new economics that

7 I have no doubt that the government will use COVID-19 as an excuse for doing nothing on climate change. “It will have to wait,” will be the spin.

Monday night’s ABC Four Corners revealed in chronological order the blameworthiness of our politicians on this most serious of matters.

Take these quotes for example from The Guardian’s report on the program:

“Ken Henry, the Treasury secretary between 2001 and 2011, said the question the government should be asking itself on climate was how to put a cap, or limit, on national emissions at least cost to the country.

“The answer to that question – and everybody will tell this – is an emissions trading scheme,” he said.

Martin Parkinson, a former secretary of Treasury and the now defunct climate change department, said it was incorrect to categorise carbon pricing as being “about taxing people”.

“The carbon price is actually about creating the right sort of incentives to develop the technology and then use it,” he said.

On national climate policy, Parkinson said: “What climate policy? I mean it’s basically … it’s a mess. It’s incoherent and has been for a decade.”

Peter Shergold, the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in the final years of the Howard government, was asked what he would say to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, if he held that position now.

He said he would tell him: “My sense, prime minister, is that there is a mood to follow such leadership if it exists. Tell it honestly, and tell it truthfully, and don’t try and pretend there are not going to be costs imposed on industry and costs imposed on individuals, but it is worth that for the sake of your children and your grandchildren.”

Now you would think that these fellows would know a bit about the problems of climate change and how to address it, but our friend Angus and the Prime Minister seem to know more.

Confronted with the fact that no one wants to invest in coal, what do you do? One is you set up an inquiry, stack it with lovers of the clean black stuff, and call it the ”King review.”

The idea is to grab some cash from the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, as well as Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

In their findings you have the inquiry recommend that the funds be opened up to provide funding to heavy emitters and fossil fuel projects.

Not a bad plan. After all, it wasn’t the intention to use the funds in this way.

They are not just environmental vandals but straight out corrupt politicians. Angus Taylor makes a good crook, it would seem.

You should read this. It is absolutely scandalous.

To answer the implied meaning of my headline I simply say that this Prime Minister and his Ministers are so ineffectual that they are incapable of fixing anything, let alone guide us into the future.

We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

My thought for the day

At the last G7 conference the Prime Minister described himself as a “conservationist.” In Australia we know that all the evidence suggests he is an environmental vandal.

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Alan Jones: A rat from the feral right

People like Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Andrew Bolt worked out long ago that there is money in hate-filled rants.

They are the peddlers of verbal violence and dishonesty and the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy.

With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers such as these seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

It says something about the moral sickness of a supposed enlightened society when people like Jones and Bolt et al – members of the exclusive Rats of the Feral Right Club – want the right to abuse each other, in the name of free speech, enshrined in law.

To make big money in NSW talk back radio one has to be more outlandish, more tantalising, more seductive, more flirtatious, more provocative, more outrageous and more offensive than your opponent and have a desire to maintain a brutal dominance.

That’s exactly what Jones has done for 35 years. He would not have survived in Melbourne. We are not easy victims of filth.

Bolt can only maintain a small television audience and without The Herald Sun and his syndications he would be little known. Jones has also been a flop in the medium of TV.

I often speculate about how much better a society we would be if people took the risk of thinking for themselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the Murdoch media and its money for outlandish comment spewing from the mouths of men like Jones.

All they do is politically prostitute themselves in the forlorn hope of being relevant.

Let’s have a brief look at some of Jones’ history.

Thirteen years ago the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that the broadcaster 2GB and Jones had broadcast material (specifically comments made by Jones between 5–9 December 2005) that were “likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity.” They were talking about the Cronulla riots.

Yet our Prime Minister said this of him:

“You’ve always spoken your mind to everyone, including me, and we’ve had one or two disagreements, but you’ve always done the right thing for your country.”

To hear our leaders from the Prime Minister down give such effusive praise to a man so divisive that he would set Australian against Australian – and not give it a second thought – was sickening.

Later, Jones was “convicted of breaching the Children’s (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW), by broadcasting the suppressed name of a juvenile witness in a murder trial.”

It didn’t stop Tony Abbott from gushingly tweeting this when learning of Jones’ retirement from radio:

 

We continue …

In 1998, Jones claimed on-air that rugby league referee Bill Harrigan was biased. Harrigan sued Jones for defamation and, in 2001, was awarded damages of $90,000.

Yet Nine chairman Peter Costello said Jones had a “unique” place in Australian media.

He is guilty of lying about climate change “…human beings produce 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said.

Yet according to advertising guru John Singleton, Alan Jones is the “best broadcaster in the world.”

He has retired suitably, on another lie, perhaps? That being that ill health has forced him out. The truth is that his advertisers had had enough. They deserted him in there droves. The SMH reported that after:

“He was forced to apologise after telling a Sydney Young Liberal fundraiser in 2012 that Ms Gillard’s father “died of shame”, commentary which caused the broadcaster to temporarily suspend advertising after more than 70 companies walked away from the breakfast show.

A jacket made from chaff bags and signed by Mr Jones was also auctioned at the event. Mr Jones had previously said on air that Ms Gillard should be “put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea.”

Then there were the comments made by Jones about New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ms Ardern last year when he said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down her throat” following Ms Ardern’s warning at a Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu that Australia “will have to answer to the Pacific” on climate change.

And let’s not forget his aggressive treatment of Opera House chief executive Louise Herron telling her she should resign.

A fair dose of misogyny, I should think.

He lied about the Grantham floods. In doing so he defamed many ordinary people especially members of the Queensland-based Wagner family. They received 2.7 million in damages.

He has the dubious record of having had more complaints upheld by the communications watchdog than any other radio presenter. He has had to make more apologies for his lying and insults than John Farnham has made comebacks. Each time his audience has increased.

He leaves a litany of lying as long as Tony Abbott’s.

It includes lying about the NBN roll out and police blockading truckies during his infamous and failed Convoy of No Confidence in 2011.

Other than the 35 years he has spent in radio he has been a teacher where his apparent liking for teenage boys has been well-documented, as has the notorious moment in a London toilet.

He has been a speechwriter for Malcolm Fraser, a political candidate and coach of the Australian national rugby team for which he was awarded an Order of Australia in 1988.

Also well documented was the cash for comment revelation in 1999 that he sold his opinions for millions. He should have been sacked on the spot. But he was protected by those that he made millions for and by an audience with short memories

But what is it that occupies the minds of men that they need be so malevolent in their thinking? That the power of persuasion with reasoned thought and debate no longer suffices.

What is it in the backgrounds of people that causes their narcissism and their inability to accommodate difference or equality?

Is it the sins of the fathers that invite their racism? In the media, is it loyalty to the despot?

Why is it that the megalomaniac Alan Jones with his vile gutter speech attracts a huge listing audience?

Why is there this preponderance of right-wing attitude? This alignment to neo-conservatism and nationalism? Why have we allowed ourselves to be saturated by extremism? Why do those who feel unrepresented and unheard think their problems will be reconciled by the likes of Jones?

Perhaps the answer can be found in materialism. Or in an entitlement society. Maybe it’s those elements of Christianity who believe in a gospel of wealth.

Perhaps the deliberate assassination by the political and religious right of science has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the death of truth, as we know it. Jones, after all,  thought climate change was a hoax.

Maybe it’s the preponderance of right-wing propaganda in our media. There are, to my knowledge, no left wing shock jocks. Whatever it is why are they so feral about it? Well I’ll have a bit of a stab.

With the media I believe it is the threat of annihilation and in turn, profit. Social media and the advent of bloggers are now threatening their power and influence.

But the mystery to me is why the middle and the deprived classes of society think their lot will be improved by listening to the vile thoughts of Alan Jones.

I’ll leave this with you. Do watch:

My thought for the day

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.

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