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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.

Day to Day Politics: How time flies when your incompetence creates havoc

Monday 23 January 2017

1 How time flies. Thursday 26th is Australia Day. A day conspicuous for the arguments it raises as to whether it’s the best day to celebrate it or as some Indigenous folk would say it’s “invasion day”. It’s also the day we celebrate the selection of the Australian of the Year. A person of great accomplishment in one way or another.

It is also unofficially the day that the political gloves are taken off and the combatants get down to business. Yes, time does fly. On this day last year I wrote:

“Leading your Party in Opposition must surely be a job you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. It’s a thankless, powerless, task that has few positives but comes with enormous expectations from those who follow you.

The media focus is on the incumbent and often a 10 second grab on the nightly news is about all one can expect. Often you are damned if you support something with bi-partisan intent or damned if you don’t.

Your followers have a ‘Why doesn’t he stick it up em’ mentality that is laced with an unrealistic desire to win every argument along the way.”

Having said that, the Opposition Leader this year does have a lot of ammunition to fire at the Prime Minister. I don’t intend to get into the ongoing debate as to if Bill Shorten is the right man to lead the Labor Party.

What I do know is that both sides had better take the Trump factor seriously. The frustration with Australian politics is at breaking point and it will only take something even miniscule to tip the Australian politic on its laconic head. It’s a trust crisis that is causing systemic community breakdown. According to the 2017 Trust Barometer by Edelman, Australia is experiencing a steady year to year meltdown in the trust of politicians. Only 37% of our voters trust the Government. Only 32% trust the media. I expect the likes of Bolt and his cohorts of the same ilk are responsible for that.

The left can do much to lift the country out of the malaise it’s in. It could make a series of commitment’s that would lead to a more inclusive people’s democracy. There is no shortage of ideas on how this could be accomplished.

The right have governed so poorly that it is solely concentrated on repairing things it has stuffed up. Just look at the mess they made over the Christmas New Year period. So much so that it has no policy agenda for the year. The Coalition reeks with internal dissent just waiting for Bernardi or others to break ranks and blow it apart. Its leader is beholding to extremists.

Its policies on climate, the NBN, NDIS, the economy, marriage equality, Offshore detention, expenses, Centrelink, pensions, and a multitude of others are in a complete shambles and now they are talking about raising the Medicare levy that will bring in an extra $4 billion a year. The question is will they spend it on health.

How time flies. The budget is due in 4 months and the Government hasn’t yet had its so-called Zombie bills from 2014 passed by the Senate. Surely they cannot just leave $13 billion in the budget and pretend it’s real.

The fact is that Turnbull can only ever govern to retain power and a Government that does that isn’t worth voting for.

2 For Turnbull, the value of having a moderate, popular and charismatic leader in Mike Baird in NSW, Australia’s most populous, state was immeasurable.

3 The grubby James Ashby whispered in the ear of the famous redhead and she turned a human tragedy into an argument against those of another race. In itself another tragedy. She is now known as the Government tea lady. Given her propensity to vote for all things conservative the title fits well. She has not yet apologised

4 On top of that another grubby individual David Leyonjelm made a totality inappropriate remark on the same subject. Both he and Hansen are unworthy of being taken seriously about anything.

Well its free speech and it does show people up for what they represent. This is what he said about the Bourke street disaster where 5 people were killed be a deranged driver.

“Probably one of those semi-automatic assault cars.”

5 ”More than a million women march and protest against Donald Trump”

600 Marches in 57 countries screamed the headline on the Huffington Post web page. The many videos from around the world were truly astonishing. The crowd in Washington alone was arguably larger than at Trump’s inauguration the previous day. Women of the world made their point.

New Press Secretary Sean Spicer disagreed with comparisons with the Obama and Trump inauguration crowds, stating that the Trump’s inauguration was the largest crowd ever witnessed. Which of course is probably the first of many whoppers he will tell in the next four years.

President Trump also lambasted the media:

“Now, that’s not bad. But it’s a lie,” he said about his crowd. He falsely claimed there were people stretching from the steps of the Capitol, where he spoke, along 20 blocks back to the Washington Monument.

“So we caught them and we caught them in a beauty and I think they’re going to pay a big price,” said Trump.

Now any fair-minded person comparing pictures of both would have to say that the President was also lying. Now in the totality of things crown sizes may not be all that important but when Presidents lie we are duty bound to call them out.

This is likely to occur daily over the next four years. If you differ you are a liar in Trump’s mind.

My thought for the day.

“Those who say that everything happens for a reason have a lot of explaining to do.”

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump report No 7. The inauguration.

Saturday 21 January 2017

By the time you have read this Donald Trump will have been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

In the many articles I have read I am yet to come across any writing that adequately explains just what it is in the American psychology that has led them to commit this most licentious act of electing Donald Trump as their president.

Where else in the world would people deliberately elect as their President a man who is an acknowledged racist, sexist, a sexual predator, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a conspiracy theorist, a bully, an imposter, con man and would-be dictator?

Only in America.

In my view he will be a disaster for America and the rest of the world. His history has always been that of a lewd controversial man, a narcissist of the worst kind. Scandal has been as much a part of his life as is the daily necessity to eat. He has bought together a bunch of malevolent like-minded people to help him achieve his aim of ”making America great again” but in doing so has never really explained what he means.

It is but an empty slogan designed to rekindle another slogan ”the great American Dream’’ If so America has picked the wrong man to do it.

It is a dream that most American’s now see as an illusion, one that was perpetrated on them by those of little understanding, who really believed that if you achieved success by making money, you elevated yourself to a superior economic class.

”Only I can make America great again,” he said.

America has picked the wrong man. A man at war with everyone.

Before the inauguration Trump – from inside the world of his own self-importance – was trumpeting that it would be the most successful, best attended ever.

Robert Reich former member of Bill Clinton’s Cabinet had an opposing view:

”Trump insists “people are pouring into Washington in record numbers” for his inauguration, and brags about his “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.” But according to Elliott Ferguson, president of Washington’s convention and tourism bureau, the “level of enthusiasm” and demand for hotel rooms has not reached that of previous inaugurations. In fact, some hotels have reduced the minimum-night stay from four nights to two. Other hotels are only half full. “It’s been much, much slower than anyone would have anticipated for a first-term president.”

An estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people are expected to travel to the Washington on Friday – far below the estimated 1.8 million who came when Barack Obama took office – and it’s not clear how many are coming to celebrate or to protest. Trump’s transition team has been running advertisements on Facebook and Twitter “personally inviting” people to come to the inauguration, with a video of Trump promising that the concert will be “really fantastic”

As I perused the American media the day after the event and I read his speech the thing that strikes me most is the naked popularism he employs. It tap dances on every word. The American people have taken charge of Washington but it is he who will make the decisions. Only he can make America great again.

The man who owns America spoke thus:

”Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.”

His speech is full of the same grandiose rhetoric of the election campaign. There is no explanation of how these things will be achieved and who will foot the bill. Just words that await unwarranted applause from a man with few principles.

”That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.”

The absurdity here is that his speech is full of what he thinks is wrong with America. A speech that overlooks the fact that the country is entering a period of economic prosperity and that we live in a vastly different world to the one he wants to take us back to. America, as Australia found out is simply not competitive with other countries in terms of manufacturing.

”What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

I’m assuming then that the people will demand that he pay tax, release his tax record, place his business in a blind trust and refuse to benefit from overseas business interests as demanded by the Constitution.

”You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Well they didn’t come in their millions and he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

”From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

”Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.”

”We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.”

History has already judged and it shows that what we need is more internationalism and less nationalism. The world dislikes America for the superior view it has of itself.

Will the consumers of America accept the higher cost of living that goes with protection? And when other countries reciprocate, what then?

”We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.”

Does he mean America will enter yet another war they cannot win?

”There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.”

Well firstly the law seems to do an awful job if your skin is black. The people kill each other to the tune of 35,000 folk a year and yet he is in favour of the guns that do so. God always seems too disinterested to intervene.

”Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.”

”We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.”

It was thriving before the World Financial Crisis hit, cause by real estate folk of his ilk. How can the world be freed from disease when he plans to eliminate funding for childhood inoculation against disease.

And to ”harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow” you first have to believe in science.

”And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator .”

”Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.”

Like many of his statements I am not exactly clear as to what all of this meant.

Personally, I don’t want America to be great. I just want them to be one of many in a peaceful international community.

But when a President says every decision he makes in his four-year term will be “America first” you have to be a little frightened of what it will cost other nations to make them so.

My thought for the day

”It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who don’t.”

 

Day to Day Politics: A Hunt for good health policy without lying.

Friday 20 January 2017

1 The Prime Minister’s appointment of Greg Hunt as Minister for Health is a clear indication that the Government thinks it’s vulnerable in the portfolio. Of course a National Health Scheme is anathema to a true blue conservative. As is a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Having said that though they have no choice other than to accept the public’s long-term acceptance of our National Health Scheme.

Selecting Hunt has twofold reasoning. Firstly, there is no doubt he has the brains for the job, and secondly, he also has the ability to look straight down the lens of a camera and with boyish charm and an amorous grin tell the most outrageous lies. His repeated assurances that the Great Barrier Reef was in excellent condition defied belief, but many believed him. Behind Abbott he would be the Coalition’s best liar.

In the Environment portfolio he was so well-practiced at guaranteeing we would meet our targets with a ridiculous Direct Action plan and the fact that he was lying got overlooked. Of course we now know the truth of the matter. We will not be meeting our targets.

Conservative commentator Judith Sloane writing in The Australian said:

“Newly-appointed Health Minister Greg Hunt failed to achieve much-needed changes to Australia’s renewable energy target in the environment portfolio. Hunt is a dealmaker, which means he is completely unsuited to the health portfolio. Hunt is unlikely to make meaningful progress in curbing the rising cost of health services and achieving more effective use of taxpayers’ money.”

Then of course Hunt is also embroiled in his own expenses scandal, reportedly ripping $20,000 of the taxpayer to pay for many Queensland holidays for him and his family.

In the Health portfolio he will attempt to create the same mythical illusions as he did in Environment.

Malcolm Turnbull said Hunt was ”ideally suited” to health because he had ”strong policy, analytical and communication skills, developed over a very long frontbench career”.

An observation.

“Never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen”.

2 Now I would like to canvas some issues that I have, due to lack of time allowed to slip through to the keeper.

The IPSOS poll certainly reinforced the worldwide disillusionment people have in the democratic system of Government. It found that people wanted strong leaders prepared to take back a system of governance that has left them down. They want power taken back from the elites, the rich and privileged.

What an indictment it is when 70% of the population believe the nation “needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful” and nearly half believe “to fix the country, we need a strong leader willing to break the rules” the survey found.

Over two-thirds (68%) believe “the economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful” and 61% believe “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me”.

A few observations.

“The peoples of all the nations of the world increasingly seem to be having less to say about their destiny”.

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

“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”.

3 In another act of deception The Australian reported on Tuesday that research conducted by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science – and commissioned by Matt Canavan, the Federal Minister for Resources – showed Australia could cut its emissions by 27% if it replaced its existing coal power stations with the more efficient “ultra-supercritical” technology.

If true, that would get the country close to its 2030 target, which is a reduction of 28% below 2005 levels. The Guardian corrected them with this:

“However, a summary of the analysis seen by Guardian Australia suggests the new coal technology – under a very expensive demolition and construction program – could reduce Australia’s emissions by 12% at most.

In fact, to reduce Australia’s emissions by 27% by relying on reductions in the electricity industry alone, the sector’s emissions would need to be reduced to almost zero. Australia’s entire electricity sector only accounts for about a third of its carbon emissions”.

4 Another hottest day on record and a poll finds that 90% of country Australians  believe they are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. And 46% think that coal-fired power stations should be phased out.

An observation.

“How can one man hold the future of the planet in his hand while the remaining leaders kowtow to him?”

5 In an interview with the ABC former MP Tony Windsor has said that any attempt to reform our Political Process has to include the use of associated entities for political donations.

He is of course correct. There is much to clean up including the lobbying process. And  80% of Australians think we should have a corruption watchdog.

6 NSW Senator Brian Burston looks set to represent One Nation at Trump’s inauguration. Malcolm Roberts couldn’t go because of a medical condition. I’m told he respects the science behind the diagnosis.

7 The Australian Christian Lobby, in a submission to the Senate committee examining Marriage Equality, says that Marriage Equality will lead to gender confusion.

“If marriage is a child-centred institution it reasonably follows that [it] is not a category of relationship that can reasonably apply to same-sex relationships, which do not bear even the possibility of producing children”.

But gay folk seem to raise some nice kids.

8 Seriously, Donald Trump is preparing to de-fund child vaccination in America.
After forming the Presidential Panel to review vaccination, he will be forming the Presidential Panel to review climate change.

After that, Trump is likely to form a Presidential Panel to review the Moon landing hoax, chemtrails, and the Jewish Holocaust … and birther theory.

9 Retired worst ever Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives blames the downfall of Sussan Ley on Socialism.

My thought for the day.

“I don’t mind the criticism but please don’t do it on an empty head”.

Day to Day Politics: So Bill, you were listening?

Thursday 19 January 2017

1 It was only last Friday in my piece “Where are you Bill” that I enquired as to where the Labor leader was. I also suggested a popular thing, amongst others, to do, would be to advocate for a National ICAC of something similar. Almost on cue Tuesday he advocated for an inquiry into the viability of such a commission.

Where are the headlines that shout ”Shorten advocates ANTI corruption body?”

Shorten was robust in his support saying that any reform needed to go beyond an independent parliamentary expenses system.

He supported “an open and honest discussion” about whether Australia should have a federal Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC).

“For me, reform doesn’t just stop at parliamentarians’ expenses,”

“It must include greater transparency, greater accountability on political donations – and no discussion about electoral reform and rebuilding the confidence of Australians in the political process can take place without having an open and honest discussion about a federal ICAC.”

“Before the last election there was a Senate committee set up to examine the existing capacities of the anti-corruption regime in Australian federal sphere of government.”

He referred to a Senate Committee that lapsed after the last election. That inquiry received written submissions and held two public inquiries in April 2016, but lapsed before a final report could be handed down. It  received little media attention.

“We need to get that Senate committee back going again.”

“We need to demonstrate to Australians that we’re working for them, not just for ourselves.”

There is no reason why, with the support of Labor, the Greens and crossbench senators Nick Xenophon, and others that a Senate inquiry could not be set up.

There is genuine overwhelming public support for some sort of inquiry. With trust in politicians at an all-time low it would be in their own best interests to go beyond a Senate inquiry, which often go nowhere, and support a fully independent one. We are sick of the scandals and constant allegations of political corruption.

Labor should get cracking and announce that a National ICAC with bite will be part of its policy platform for the next election. Shorten has a chance to lead on policy as he did prior to the last election and would be foolish not to take up this opportunity.

An observation.

“The simplest way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth’’

I read recently that since 2013, 20% of Conservative politicians had been sacked for corruption or misconduct. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the figures but if true, its appalling. If you add the NSW Labor Eddy Obeid scandals then you would be correct in declaring that we are being governed by crooks.

An observation.

“Governments who demand the people’s trust need to govern transparently to acquire it”.

Shorten also said:

“I think it is no surprise that Australians get frustrated with the mainstream parties because they perceive that they are all the parliamentarians are behaving in the manner that we have seen the former health minister behave in,”

“I will work with Malcolm Turnbull to reform the expenses regime of parliamentarians.’’

“If he doesn’t have changes ready to go when parliament starts, we will be up for making those changes.”

One would have thought that when an Opposition leader supports a standing commission to look into corruption within our political system that the media would come out in support. Why aren’t all the journos writing endless columns about Labor’s enlightened preparedness to tackle corruption within the political system? Why isn’t  the news full of stories and interviews with Shorten outlining Labor’s plans for reform?

My cynical mind tells me two things. Firstly that the media isn’t much interested in having taken away from them a major source of controversy and regular gutter stories that suits the thirst for scandal. Secondly, how fair dinkum is Shorten. Does he really want a department or commission overseeing politician’s ethics? Given the words he has used who is going to hold him up to it.  Why wouldn’t Labor be doing their own policy work? And of course the Government wouldn’t be open to declaring where their donations come from.

It will take more than a few fine words spoken in the midst of an expenses outrage to achieve an equivalent to ICAC. It would take a determined effort by those in the Labor Party who are of good conscience who want to see the once noble profession of ”Member of Parliament” really mean something. That when the term ”Honourable member” is used that it would have some appreciation, some servitude attached to it.

2 The first post-Christmas Polls are in and you would have thought that given the controversies during the holiday period the government would have taken a hit. It wasn’t to be. At the risk of repeating myself yet again Polls this far out from an election are useless other than for determining how people are thinking at the time.

The Essential Poll has Labor on 53% and the Coalition 47% which is how they closed 2016.

The ReachTel poll of 2,126 Australians for the progressive political campaign group GetUp shows the Coalition trailing Labor 46% to 54% in two-party preferred terms.

One Nation has improved its vote whereas the Greens have slipped.

Overall the Government doesn’t seem to have suffered much for their incompetency. Well not as much as they deserve to. The only reason I can give any credence to this the more than average amount of sun over the period.

My thought for the day.

‘Time never diminishes the crime’

 

Day to Day Politics: A Government full of liars. No kidding.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

I learnt at an early age that if I deliberately lied or even lied by omission, or I tried to deceive, it would inexplicably, in some implausible way shape or form come back to haunt me. After several costly lessons that severely bruised my conscience I modified my idea of what truth is. I cannot say I had a road to Damascus experience and a rod of puritanical enlightenment struck me but I certainly became aware that intentional lying didn’t have much of a future.

An observation.

“Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie .I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth but there is no harm in it”

And so it is with the Turnbull Government. They enter 2017 telling a string of lies, omitting things the people are entitled to know or are just deliberately trying to deceive us. Unlike me, and I imagine many others, they have failed to recognise the futility of their crassness.

The use of data matching techniques against fraud for example can be a legitimate tool of Government. They are not foolproof and were not intended to be. However, in the full knowledge of this the Government deceptively sent out debt notices knowing that the system originally designed to catch fraud was being used to actually raise revenue from overpaid Centerlink clients.

In the middle of it all, the targeting of people who had made errors that they weren’t even aware of came the Sussan Ley debacle where politicians were mindful that they were ripping off taxpayers in claiming expenses that in all conscience they shouldn’t have.

All with the rules they shouted but they had been sitting on a report for well over 12 months with 29 recommendations of how to fix the problem, hoping that it would just go away and they could continue to lie and go on with their rorting. Why is it that after the Brownyn Bishop “choppergate” scandal, when the public were more than just pissed off did they have an enquiry and then forget it.

It’s strange that now they can, after being found out telling lies about their more recent expense claims that they can act almost instantaneously. And its even more strange that after ”choppergate”  the pollies made no effort to tone down their claims.

As I said in my opening remarks. It always comes back to bite you.

Having said that, the government MP Steven Ciobo reckoned that voters ”expect ” politicians to claim travel entitlements to attend sporting events.

Another lie.

Any comparison between the Centerlink scandal where the ordinary citizen was being asked to provide evidence of their own honesty and MPs wilful dishonesty, tells us all we need to know about the decline in the virtue of fairness and our democratic principles.

The Government in its typically conservative hatred for those less fortunate want to blame their own incompetent handling of the economy on those on welfare. It’s a “just get a job” attitude whilst knowing that for every available job there are 19 applicants. They are good at perpetuating lies. Even ones by omission.

The social services minister Christian Porter in 2017 was so keen to perpetuate the myth that people on welfare were just overpaid incapable slothful grubs that they were being too bighearted to, or were just rorting the system. Oh what terrible lies they tell, full of elitist crap.

Remember the time he said a single mum with four kids was better off on welfare than if she had a job.

The fact of the matter is that they are using a Labor designed programme designed for another purpose to collect revenue. They knew it had flaws but went ahead with it anyway. Deceitful bastards. They know there is $2.1 Billion dollars to be had over four years from this. No wonder they signed off on a programme that would raise heaps of cash but at the same time vilify the poorest in the community. What an immoral untrustworthy fetid lying government we have.

An observation.

”Honesty isn’t popular anymore. It doesn’t carry the weight of society’s approval it once did”

On top of that Human services minister Alan Tudge told another lie when he said that the scheme had recovered $300 million since July 2016 when in fact the amount was a figure only identified as debt.

And so, like one day bleeding into the next the citizens of our poorly governed country were, over Christmas and the new year, able to compare a Government intent on fleecing the poor to raise revenue with MPs fleecing the taxpayer to feather their own nests.

On the subject of MP’s entitlements Mr. Tudge had this to say:

“I don’t think, in relation to some of the examples that I have seen in recent times, that people have deliberately sought to defraud the system.”

On the subject of Centerlink debt he said this last year of a person who appeared on channel seven:

“We’ll find you, we’ll track you down and you will have to repay those debts and you may end up in prison.”

The Government after the Christmas break continues to try and hoodwink the people with its lies and omissions. Sussan Ley has lost her job and looks like being replaced with another of dubious character. Arthur Sinodinos is no stranger to controversy having stood down himself during the Independent Commission against Corruption’s investigation into Australian Water Holdings.

Whilst his evidence was cleared by the commission it is doubtful if a jury at the local pub would have done so.

The Government starts the year with a scandal with a minister buying a $795,000 investment property and claiming travel expenses to do so.

At the same time they resist any move to water down negative gearing and attack housing affordability.

As if the Ley scandle wasn’t bad enough we had Julie Bishop claiming entitlements to attend a polo match just to prove how out of touch they really are.

It is said that they are the most educated government Australia has ever had. Now that may be true but it’s a pity the parents of all of hadn’t instilled in them that telling the truth is fundamental to society’s wellbeing. Collectively I don’t think the conservatives have ever gathered together a larger group of liars together in one parliament. Turnbull is a hypocrite on the Republic, marriage equality and Climate Change. Joyce is a liar by omission for not releasing a report into moving a department into his own electorate, Sinodinos cant pass a pub test. Julie Bishop lies about her travel expenses as has Sussan Ley. Brandis and Morrison, what does one say. Hunt has frequently lied about Climate Change. Steve Ciobo, Pyne, Chester and Cormann on travel expenses. Porter as identified in this piece.  Did I mention Dutton. Oh, and the biggest for lying by omission must surely be Frydenberg.

My thought for the day.

”Have we reached the point in politics where TRUTH is something that politicians have convinced us to believe rather than TRUTH based on factual evidence, arguments and assertions?”

Day to Day Politics: Confessions of an Honest Conservative

Tuesday January 17 2017

Author’s note.

This is a work of political fiction I wrote a couple of years ago. I have brought it up to date so that it captures today’s political environment.

A Conservative Conscience.

We had been friends for as long as my now aged mind could remember. Long before politics became part of the natural discourse of our everyday lives. We had maintained a closeness that formed during childhood, manifested itself in adolescence, through puberty into adulthood.

I suppose it was our individual upbringing that created our political differences. Louis Martin-Smyth or Lou as I called him was born of parents who, well in my opinion at least, thought that they were better than others. Both spoke with confected accents born of Englishness. Fortunately this hadn’t rubbed off on Lou but their political ideology had. Not only that but they had insinuated monarchist values on their children together with a form of Church of England Christianity that had a social purpose that had little to do with practicing the faith. Typical of moderately successful English immigrants they had adopted an air of pomposity reserved for those who think they are above their station. Yes Lou was a son of those who think success necessitates an aloof conservative conviction.

Processed with a brilliant mind Lou was destined to become a surgeon. At University where I was also doing Law we often crossed paths on opposite sides of argument in our respective debating teams or conversely when on the same side competing against other universities. We formed a formidable team.

We both believed that debate was not necessarily about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It was an exchange of facts ideas and principles. Or in its purest form it was simply the art of persuasion.

It remains an unexplained mystery as to why he attended a government school although I suspect it had something to do with frugality. As for me I was born of Irish parents with an implicit dislike of conservative institutions and the draconian poverty they imposed on common people. I felt the morose struggle my parents felt. I abhorred the victimisation that was perpetuated on their lives and I was determined to help the less fortunate through law. Social justice would become my life’s work. They liked Lou and openly encouraged our friendship. Conversely his parents always made me feel uncomfortable. Lou was constantly apologising for their dislike of anything Irish. Something they would have been better off leaving in the old country.

In all fairness Lou, who could be best described as an old-fashioned conservative, felt a similar moral disposition. It was just that we saw the achievement of our aims though the lens of different political philosophies. Until recently that is. Well I guess our relationship started to break down during John Howard’s term of office. It’s hard to pin point really. I know he abhorred Howard’s decision to go into Iraq but I suspected there had to be more to it than that. The bond between us gradually fritted away to the point where we had little to say to each other and our regular dinners were now non-existent.

What were once friendly and often animated discussions that could be both a joy and a trial were long gone? I confess the loss of his friendship left an unpleasant void in my life? I had made in the past couple of years many overtures of reconciliation which were all met with negative responses. I longed for the times when our discourse was full of philosophical elasticity. When we wouldn’t give an inch each way in argument but in doing so respected the others view. We played intellectual gymnastics that often sent us both in pursuit of ideas and thoughts not previously considered. The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas, we both felt, needed to be re energised and that it was incumbent on the young to become involved”

If I were asked to define what it was he admired most in conservative values it would be this.

He believed in personal responsibility. Government he thought got in the road of allowing people to accomplish their goals. He was for free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. He thought the role of government should be to provide people with the freedom necessary to pursue those goals. That Conservative policies should generally emphasise empowerment of the individual to solve problems. And as a conservative he was cautious about change or innovation, in politics or religion. He deplored, which I found contradictory to his profession, the adaptation of new technologies. In addition he thought change should only happen incrementally so as to protect social norms. He agreed entirely with Margaret Thatcher’s statement that ‘’there is no such thing as society, only individuals making their way. That the poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich’’

I on the other hand, as a passionate progressive Social Democrat I believed in the same free market system but one which government regulates. I was convinced that government must protect its citizens from the greed of big business. That unlike the private sector, government should be motivated by the collective public interest. The common good in other words. I also believed that Government direction in all areas of the economy was vital to level the playing field and bring about social equity. I hated the inequality that the greed of capitalism was inflicting on the world. Having said that I had recently formed the view that Marx might have been right about capitalism and that we might be witnessing the beginning of its end. Further I believed that personal ambition was best advanced by government providing the platform for individuals to advance according to both their ability and need.

My attempts to bring us together continued for some years but in the end I just gave up and eventually I lost contact. The Rudd and Gillard Governments came and went and Tony Abbott was elected Prime Minister of Australia in November 2013. He proved to be a divisive, negative and ineffectual leader. So much so that I often wondered what Lou’s opinion of him might have been. Then one day while waiting for my next appointment I was scrolling through my emails when one caught me by surprise. On the subject line were the words ‘’Private and Confidential’’

A slight uneasiness in my chest reminded me that I had an appointment with my GP mid-afternoon.  I began to read the email but was interrupted by the voice of my receptionist Kaye.

”Your next appointment is a little early. Do you want to see him now”

”Who was it again”

”Brian Skidman The pro bono case”

”Ah yes. Send him in”

My mind left the email as Skidman entered my office.

An hour later I regretted taking on his case. He was an ungrateful sod who expected everything and showed little appreciation of my efforts. Still in my view he was the victim of a great social injustice that I intended correcting.

I told Kaye I had a 3.30 doctor’s appointment and wouldn’t be back for the rest of the day. Before leaving I forwarded the email to my home computer so I could read it later. At the conclusion of Dr Ward’s examination he had a worrisome look on his face.

”Something wrong” I said.

”Well your blood pressures is elevated. You have pains in the chest. Your cholesterol is far too high”

”I’ll write a referral to a cardiologist”

”That bad”

”Well it’s not panic stations but you need to be checked out. And sooner rather than later”

When I arrived home I filled a glass with whisky and dry went to my study to read the email. The glass of whisky reflected itself in the screen and the irony didn’t escape me. Christ it’s from Lou I said under my breath. It must have been three years since we had had any contact.

The email was addressed ‘Robert John Falkiner. Attorney at Law’.

I have no excuses so I won’t try to justify my treatment of you by using any. You were such a good friend and I feel a great remorse for rejecting you. During the Rudd and Gillard periods I just could not understand your defence of them. To the point where I thought you had become irrational. Whilst I deplored Abbott’s indecency and negativity toward Gillard which was unarguably misogynistic and unforgivable I did feel at the time that she was a poor leader. Now with the benefit of some history with which to judge them I realise that I had not taken in the broader implications of a hung Parliament and other factors into account. When in 2013 the media, particularly Murdoch, promoted Abbott as Australia’s savoir. I fell for it. After his election all the lies and backflips of the election campaign became apparent. They’re all documented so what I say will be of no surprise to you. Indeed some of them have been spine chilling, economic mismanagement, and an ignorance of science that is beyond thoughtful examination. Recognition of a new economy that true conservatives should be openly embracing. And as a doctor I have simply not been able to ignore legalising human rights abuses and the efforts to hoodwink the population on national security. And any conservative worth his salt would be aghast at the Governments lack of transparency and the efforts to make all things secret. This is not the conservatism that I adhere too. It is something that borders on fascism. Then came the rorting of entitlements and the attempts to stifle all opposition. Not to mention the deliberate attempt to make free speech the domain only of those who support the government.

Now I realise that this man Abbott was not a Liberal in the true sense. He duped the people with his lies and is continuing to do so since Turnbull replaced him. I have been a gullible fool. I know I was lied to, I feel like an idiot, but I don’t want to feel like an idiot and own my mistake because I am a conservative but I have no other choice if at the very least I am to be honest with myself. Having the ability to admit that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge so it is with that in mind that I admit I was wrong.

Abbott had the best tactic for the underwhelming intellect and stunted emotionally developed person to grasp, and that is ridicule, divisiveness and patriotism. Abbotts finest leadership quality was that he could reach out in the voice of the alpha male, to all of the beta males and provide recognition and praise for ignorance, bullying and the, dare I say it, ever so conservative position of looking backwards for the future.

At the time, when Turnbull disposed of him I felt that he had done the nation a great service and I saw a ray of hope. But it was not to be. In spite of all the promise Turnbull had shown he turned out to be a hypocrite who tossed away all his values for the sake of the Prime Ministership. I could go on and on but i’m sure you are up to date with all the machinations.

Well that about covers it for me my friend. At this point I have been a gullible and possibly even naïve fool to have believed in this excuse for leadership in the first place. More importantly though is the fact that I let down a rare form of friendship. For that I feel an immense guilt, if not pain.

Kindest regards

Louis

Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we are able to discern and understand the potential for the good within us I thought to myself? Against my better judgement I refilled my glass and pondered the ramifications of the contents of the email. I closed my eyes and allowed my thoughts to cross-examine themselves. Then I remembered I had to make an appointment with the cardiologist and took the referral envelope from my coat pocket. When I opened it, it was addressed to Mr. Louis Martin-Smyth Cardiologist. 3 Collins Street Melbourne Vic, Australia.

My thought for the day.

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved”.

 

Day to Day Politics: Change is a process, not an event.

Monday 16 January 2017

For my post 15 January 2016 I wrote the following: “How interesting it is when we look back and analyse the progress or lack of it that has been achieved”.

1 Yesterday, I copped a bit if flak (on Facebook) from people who thought I was doing a bit of Billy Bashing when I offered some advice on how the Labor leader should confront an election year. I did so because I for one am sick of the political scam that takes place in Australia every three years, or every day for that matter.

Australian politics has for some time been suffering from the longevity of sameness. I advocate a change in the way it is practiced. It is time for us to re evaluate  just what it is we want from our democracy. We don’t have a representative democracy that is participatory and that administers for the benefit of all.

Because change is anathema to the conservative mindset it is more difficult for them. For progressive democrats it should be uncomplicated.

Anyway, I was simply putting a point of view that going through the motions of a bland boring promises, promises, and traditional election campaign year would not achieve a Labor victory. I pointed out that being emphatically brazen by giving back the democratic process to the people just might.

We are at a point in time in our history where ‘change’ demands it be listened to. Where the events of recent times scream for it. It only requires a voice to demand it on behalf of the people.

The definition of servitude needs to be indelibly engrained into the minds of those seeking election and the self-serving attitudes that now exist need to be purged from the minds of our current politicians.

For too long we have suffered the indignity of insulting propaganda from all parties. So much so that if it wasn’t for compulsory voting no one would bother. An example is Bill Shortens three week tour to tell everyone he thinks an increase to the GST is a bad thing. Now I happen to agree, but really. It’s not a Coalition policy and possibly won’t be. I find that sort of electioneering insulting.

In the same way as I have the deplorable policy announcements of the Government while we have all been at play.

What bullshit they perpetuate when they say that they never underestimate the intelligence of the Australian people.

Yesterday I suggested that Shorten take a leaf out of the Bernie Sander’s book of how to do politics.

People like Sanders have a way of grasping the intestines of an argument and presenting a plausible answer that is simple to understand, and at the same time enthuses and leads people into an all embracing narrative that inspires.

Others like the ill of mind conservative Donald Trump see complex problems and impregnate them with implausible black and white solutions.

We live in a society of our own making. One in which the cult of personality is the doorway to political success. All I am suggesting is for Shorten to take the bull by the horns, turn politics on its head, show Australians a new politic, embrace the people and present an inspirational narrative of how he sees the future. The same old, same old, way of politics will not see Labor in Government. It needs the ‘wow, he would do that factor.’

2 If only President Obama had control of the Congress what a difference he might have made to that country. Pre Reagan I admired the bi partisan quality of their politics.

This from his State of the Union address:

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have a go at it, you’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

3 Conversely they may be on the brink of electing a man that two world leading countries are considering banning entry to. To think that the Republican Party could ever consider a man like Trump as a nomination to run for the Presidency illustrates just how low the GOP have fallen.

4 Fairfax reports that new parents in low-paid jobs stand to be $10,500 worse off under a Turnbull government paid parental leave plan intended as a compromise on cuts proposed by Tony Abbott, according to new university research.

The research, commissioned by women’s group Fair Agenda and conducted by the University of Sydney’s Women and Work Research Group, shows mothers who work in healthcare, teaching and retail could lose between $3942 and $10,512 under the compromise policy.

One can’t help but think that the real agenda of the conservatives is to shift wealth from the bottom 97% to the top 3%.

5 “It is vitally important, both as a matter of social justice and political reality, that structural changes are seen as being fair across the board”.

”That means not only must tough decisions be justified, but that the burden of adjustment is not borne disproportionately by one part of the community.’ There was once a women who said ’please explain”.

”There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.”

Crisis support service ‘lifeline’ recorded more than one million calls for help in 2015, the highest number in its 52-year history, and its busiest four months on record from September to December (Peter Shmigel ~ lifeline)

6 And so it seems that, after one week, I have finally managed to catch up on the Day to Day political musings of our politics. My reverie is now broken. Nothing has changed. We are still being subjected to everyday propaganda from our politicians and our media. We are being badly governed. Injustice abounds. Lies manifest. The powerful seek more of it. Capitalism wants more profit. Turnbull’s prescription is innovation but is led by others. My despair is sullen but my hope untouched.

My thought for the day.

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact”.

PS: Change takes time. We are now another year on. What progress have we made.

 

Day to Day Politics: A tale of two Presidents.

Sunday 15 January 2017

A President without precedence.

He always sounds angry at someone or indeed the world. He lies, often contradicts himself, is inarticulate, sometimes incoherent and most certainly never presidential.

Controversy follows him like a dog on heat. He refuses to comply with matters like revealing his tax returns and divesting himself of private interests as is the normal convention.

But none of it seems to do him any harm. He is Trump. He owns America.

Donald Trump’s one hour press conference a few day ago proved beyond any doubt that his demeanour as President of the USA will be the same as he displayed during the election campaign. His personality will guarantee scandal after scandal during his term of office.

When he enters the oval office in a little over a weeks’ time America will have arguably its first tweeting racist, sexist, bullying, homophobe, xenophobe, conspiracy theorist, and sexual predator as its 45th President.

Vulgarity will enter this most prestigious room.

Oratorically nothing could display the difference between the outgoing President Obama and the incoming President Trump than a farewell speech full of dignity and grace with trust in a future American democracy. And a press conference by Donald Trump full of crass bitterness and hate for all those who oppose him..

TRUMP: ”But as president, I could run the Trump organization, great, great company. And I could run the company ― the country. I’d do a very good job, but I don’t want to do that. I’m the only one who could do that.”

OBAMA: ”You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”

A president with dignity.

President Obama had to overcome many things during his tenure. Things that become blurred when the writers of political history write their opaque pieces of Obama legacy. None more so than being black. There are those who in their ignorance resented a black person in the white house. When confronted with it he displayed remarkable calm and composure. Always the personification of cool.

The day he entered the White House he inherited a World Financial Crisis caused by the greed of capitalism and two wars caused by a lie and revenge for 9/11. On top of that George W Bush had given $3 trillion in tax cuts to the rich and spent another $3 trillion on the Iraq war.

He controlled both the Senate and the Congress for only 5 months. On top of that the Republicans pledged that they would oppose everything he put up.

Donna Halper, professor of political communication, media historian, author, and former reporter writes that:

“As another commenter noted, there was no official “sign on the dotted line” pledge.  But as Republican stalwart Newt Gingrich has verified, there was a secret meeting of key Republicans not long after President Obama’s election, where they vowed to obstruct everything the new president would try to do; and this was also reiterated in Mitch McConnell’s admission that the party’s goal was to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.”

OBAMA: ”I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.”

TRUMP: ”Now, I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t. And if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.”

OBAMA: ”For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. … And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.” 

TRUMP: ”As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences. They already are. … You [CNN] are fake news.”

In his farewell speech Obama displayed a diplomacy, a thoughtful discretion of discourse that awakens hope and possibility. His speech was typical of a man full of a poise and dignity that had never wavered for eight years despite many crisis’s and unforeseen events. One can only wonder what he might have achieved had he got the bi-partisan support the American people deserved.

In contrast the incoming President found it necessary to infiltrate his press conference with paid staffers who clapped and cheered on cue. It was a performance of an undignified man, lacking poise and diplomacy. This crass excuse for humanity will soon have in  his grasp the most powerful position in the world.

You got what you voted for America. May the God that so many of you believe in, forgive you.

OBAMA: ”In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter ― then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible.”

” I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon, a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can.”

TRUMP [end of news conference]: ”These papers are all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into trust to be run by my two sons that I hope at the end of eight years, I’ll come back and say, ‘Oh, you did a good job’ . Otherwise, if they do a bad job, I’ll say, ”You’re fired.”

My thought for the day.

”It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.”

 

Day to Day Politics: Character and Leadership. How does Turnbull stack up?

Saturday 14 January 2017

It is probably fair to say that you cannot be a good leader without character. Character is the defining point of leadership.

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.

There are many examples of leaders without character. Hitler, Stalin, Nixon etc.

In the recipe of what makes a good leader there are many ingredients. Self-awareness is one. The innate ability to know who you are and what your capabilities and limitations are.

The need to have the aptitude to motivate people with your vision. Often the art of leadership is the ability to bring those otherwise opposed to your view, to accept it. It is also about delegation, empathy and understanding. It can also require from time to time the making of unpopular decisions.

Decisions like going to war. However when they consistently imply the leaders own morality and spiritual beliefs they are more akin to autocracy.

Most leaders want to be popular but some will forego it for power. Getting things done for the common good is also a fine quality of an excellent leader. Another important feature of leadership is the ability is to be able to change one’s mind when circumstances change. And the skill to explain why after listening to the views of others.

To break a promise or change one’s mind in order to serve the common good should be viewed as courageous leadership rather than a sign of weakness. Having the grace to say I was wrong is another quality rarely seen.

An observation.

“Having the ability to admit that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.”

The one characteristic often missed in the recipe of exceptional leadership is the ability to listen.There are many areas of policy where the leader of this nation isn’t listening. He most certainly isn’t listening to the world’s best climate scientists. He certainly isn’t listening to economic experts who say that his direct action plan will do nothing to limit climate emissions. It is also the case that the Prime Minister refuses to listen to a majority of Australian citizens in favor of sexual equality and gay marriage.

I’m not sure just what percentage listening plays in the qualities and character of a good leader. I am convinced though that it is a major and necessary one if the common good is to be served.

The only people the Prime Minister appears to be listening too are those of the far right of his party who, without their support he wouldn’t have a job.

We have a leader of characterless, un listening qualities intent on imposing on the Australian people the moral views of the conservative far right that are from a time past, and a political ideology wedded to the elitism that shapes it.

2 The expenses scandal seems to have trapped so many MPs, especially Ministers that you could almost say if Sussan Ley is sacked you could make a case that she had been treated unfairly.

Given the seriousness of the scandal one also has to wonder why the Prime Minister isn’t out there defending his troops. Everyday reveals someone else with their snout in the swine’s fodder.

Although his absence may have something to do with more serious matters like a budget out of control. Yesterday it was announced that the NDIA had a $3.7 billion hole in it.

Or it may be that when in trouble Conservatives drag out the ageing scare bunny of Homeland Defence. Anything that creates a distraction but as usual it’s creating the perception that ISIS is about to invade.

3 Almost the perfect segue from my piece on Bill Shorten comes this from the Roy Morgan Daily News Summary. I told you he was a policy wonk.

“Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will soon unveil the Australian Labor Party’s new policy, whose focus will be growth in employment. He will travel to seats in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, mainly in regional areas, which Labor considers to be particularly important. Labor expects the next federal election to be held between August and December 2018.”

4 Did you know that all Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy and they achieved it one year ahead of time?

My thought for the day.

“The peddlers of verbal violence and dishonesty are 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 seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

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.

In a democracy the right to free speech in given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.”

PS. As I close the news comes through that the Health Minister has resigned. I defer to item two.

Oh, and did I tell you that I got my notification for the NBN install 27 January? The notice was cast in language that sort of suggested it might not work.

 

Day to Day Politics: Where are you, Bill?

Friday 13 January 2017

Conventional wisdom would have it that while a Government is conducting itself in a fashion that will lead to its eventual downfall you do nothing to interfere with it.

Nevertheless, the political watchers are starting to get restless. “Where are you, Bill?” they ask. Is it reasonable given that everyone needs a holiday? I assume that’s what he is doing.

However, in politics you never let an opportunity pass you by. Since Christmas we have had the twin debacles of upsetting pensioners with deductions to their payments and humiliating letters to Centerlink clients demanding repayments, and the Sussan Ley scandal of MPs ripping off the taxpayer with unjustified expense claims.

Instead of taking advantage of the Government’s folly, the Opposition leader has been missing completely. Fact is he often goes missing and people wonder why. Most times I have felt it a good idea because it gives the public an opportunity to become familiar with other Labor MPs. Chris Bowen does a commendable job in this regard. Others take his absence as a sign of weakness, disinterest or simply not being up to the task.

I take it that being the policy wanker he is that is exactly what he is doing, formulating policy. In this case though it seems he has allowed an opportunity to pass him by. With public distrust of politicians at an all-time low and Governments mishandling of these issues cemented in the voters’ minds one would have thought that Shorten might have circumvented whatever he is doing and taken advantage.

So people are once again questioning his merit as opposition leader. However, it has to be said that Shorten surprised everyone with a better campaign than Turnbulls in the 2016 election ‘He came within a whisker of winning.

So much so that he gained much prestige and respect from the people and the media. As it turned out he was the policy wanker I thought he was.

The areas of education, health and social welfare were big winners for Labor and if he is to continue as Labor leader he must promote an activist image on all these policies together with the NBN and Climate Change.

Having said that it is fair for people to question his credentials. Many would agree that in terms of charisma he doesn’t have a lot going for him. He is drearily stoic on television, a wooden personality at best. He is at his best when angered by criticism of undeniable Labor ideology. He is Labor through and through whereas Turnbull is supposedly a leftish Prime Minister leading an ultra-right party.

And why would Labor want to change when it looks certain the incumbent is likely to lose the next election or possibly not be Coalition leader anyway.

On all the policies that count Labor has the better credentials. Education, Tax, Health, Marriage equality, Climate Change and even the Economy which is traditionally the Coalitions stronghold.

He also has the advantage of leading a united party who have learnt the lessons of revolving door politics. At the moment Bill Shorten despite all his shortcomings is a better prospect to lead Australia.

The danger as I see it for both parties is to ignore the lessons of Brixite, Hanson and Trump where the punters expressed in no uncertain way their dislike of conventional institutionalized politics. To do so is to invite a tidal wave of disaffected voters voting for minor extreme right parties and independents.

Labor suffers from an emptiness of explanation that requires attention. What does Labor now stand for in the new political world where traditional politics has been given the thumbs down?

Shorten must convince the lost voters who have left our democracy to return. He has to turn Labor ideology on its head, shake it and re-examine it. Then reintroduce it as an enlightened ideology-opposite to the Tea Party politics that conservatism has descended into.

Somehow the lost voters must be given a reason to return. A reason that is valid and worthwhile. A reason that serves the collective and engages people in the process, and a politic for the social good of all – one that rewards personal initiative but at the same time recognises the basic human right of equality of opportunity.

Shorten needs to promote a robust but decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent, and where respect is the order of the day. A political system where ideas of foresight surpass ideological politics, greed, disrespect, and truth. Where respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

With the government currently unable to do anything right, internal rumblings, and threats of crossing the floor or forming another party I don’t see that Labor needs to replace its leader. It just needs to sit tight and allow the Government to dig its own grave. Oh, and think about what Trump’s victory really meant.

My thought for the day.

”The right to vote is the gift our democracy gives. If political parties (and media barons, for that matter) choose by their actions to destroy the people’s faith in democracy’s principles and conventions then they are in fact destroying the very thing that enables them to exist”.

 

Day to Day Politics: The other point of view.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Author’s Note.

Today I have given over my post to some friends who have some thoughtful things to say on a variety of matters. Its only for today.

Tim Dixon on ”Welfare overpayments v GP’s expenses”. (Tim has a sardonic sense of humour).

”As part of the Government’s welfare overpayment crackdown, numerous individuals have been exposed as rorting the taxpayer purse, claiming exorbitant COMCAR and travel allowances, attending the PM’s private New Year’s function and making trips to purchase property on the Gold Coast.

In a bid to rein in overspending on payments individuals were not entitled to, the Turnbull Government has taken a harsh approach in investigating incorrect use of taxpayer funds. The system is proving to be very effective, already generating compliance notices for several Government Ministers making questionable claims on monetary benefits.

Following allegations Health Minister Sussan Ley purchased property on a taxpayer funded trip, today four Ministers come under fire for claiming entitlements to eat rock oysters, quail breasts and fat stacks of cash at the PM’s private New Year’s party.

“Our aim is to ensure people get what they’re entitled to – no more and no less. And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system,” Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said on the issue.

Ministers affected by the overpaid entitlements crackdown have been assured they will simply need to stay on hold for 4 hours, find proof of travel and pay slips from up to 6 years ago and use a non-functioning online system to prove their entitlements were correct.”

Peter Morris on his ongoing battle to access the ”NBN”. (Peter is a fellow thespian and a fine actor).

”So here’s where the NBN is at. Technician drives 13 hours from up near Newcastle to clean up the debacle being created by the so-called techs of NBN. Opens node box on side of house connects his Telstra phone device and busts into laughter. The idiot has swapped all the wires around and reconnected us back to adsl as well as land line. He then advises after returning from NBN box around the corner the smoker hadn’t even connected us at the box. Problem is these untrained bastards get around $69 per 9min connection and either don’t get it right or are not doing what they’re supposed to do. The poor old Telstra man has to fix the cock ups, cop the abuse from angry customers for half the wage. More people need to get up and make the government accountable for this shit type of service not to mention all the $$$$$ going to these useless pricks doing the initial install. 😡😡😡😡😡”

Stuart Whitman on ”Considerations on a Parliamentary Republic”. (Stuart has written for The AIMN on previous occasions).

”I have been committed to an Australian republic as long as I have been politically conscious and I remain so but recent developments in America are changing my views on how that republic might be constituted.

Australia is all but a republic in name now, and Australians are probably more republican in our egalitarian and meritocratic ethos than many actual republics. The symbolism of clinging to the British monarchy though stunts our …potential in the longer term.

The monarchy might be perfectly fine for the United Kingdom with its centuries of entrenched class structures, and privilege and deference. But it is alien to Australia.

That’s something the Australian Republican Movement should take into account given what appears to be its recent tendency to repeat its mistake of 1999 appealing to an elitist section of the Australian population and obsessing about window dressing and symbols in contrast to making a substantive case for constitutional change. We won’t become a republic if the ARM doesn’t reach out to monarchists to persuade them, or to bring the populace with us by speaking to the concerns and needs of grassroots Australians.

We have the potential to be a great power, a great force for good in the world but that can’t happen fully while we are content to live in the shadow of a bygone era or a foreign power. The second wave move towards an Australia republic though must also fully address issues of constitutional and democratic renewal, rights, and the state’s relationship with Indigenous Australians. It must move beyond superficial patriotic appeals as occurred last time to really grapple how we will achieve “Advance Australia FAIR”.

In addition to these considerations at home, the recent trajectory of the American republic though has given me pause for thought about how an Australian republic should be constitutionally framed.

In the republic campaign leading up to the 1999 referendum in Australia I sided with those wanting a model of a directly elected president. Having watched the rise of Trump and the sinking into oligarchy of the American republic my views are changing.

Australia has one of the oldest democratic constitutions in the world. And while there is room for improvement and modernisation in our constitution it has provided over a century of democratic stability. It’s in essence the “if it ain’t broke” argument proffered by monarchists. Australian republicans really do need to have a persuasive response to that challenge.

How do we ensure the continuity and flourishing of our parliamentary democracy should we become a republic? How do we reflect in our constitutional arrangements those core Australia values of equality, fairness and merit? And how might we frame an Australian presidency so as not to repeat the mistakes of other republics where power has been so abused?”

Henry Johnson on the 7:30 Report.

”Is Stan Grant staying on as presenter of the 7.30 Report? Hope so.”

Peter Wynn on ”Sexism and Sussan Ley”. (Peter is a Facebook friend).

”A good friend of mine suggested, and not without justification, that Sussan Ley is being targeted because she’s a woman, when men have done far worse. Okay, Ley’s actions make Chopper Bronnie “Let’s Allege A Socialist Conspiracy” chartering a chopper and charging the taxpayers $5,000 look like tickling the till, BUT, what she has done is not as bad as Captain Empty Head Clown Shoes’ charging the taxpayer for the most expensive roll of toilet paper one could buy (aka Battlelines) or charging the taxpayer for being seen in pedaling a bike wearing Lycra on a charity ride whilst staying in motels. It also makes Banana Brain from New England’s junket to India for the wedding of an associate of Queen Rinehart and a “research” trip to Malaysia producing an assignment that wouldn’t impress a Year Two Teacher look meek and mild. And let’s not forget, the electorate of Warringah was stupid enough to re-elect Captain Clown Shoes despite not knowing the difference between a place to store things and a medication you insert in your bum, making ridiculous Captain’s calls, such as Knighting A Prince, and being the most regressive, misogynistic Minister For (Should Be Against) Women, the country has ever seen! Yes, Chopper Socialist Conspiracy Bronnie and Harper’s Bizarre RAAF JET Chartering Death Stare’s actions were small fry compared to Sussan Ley’s actions, but Sussan Ley’s actions are small fry compared to Captain Empty Head Clown Shoes and Beetroot Banana Brain’s actions, yet they retained their seats and positions. The Labor Party needs to ensure it is beyond reproach or else the Empty Heads on the Far Right may shift towards a nasal-voiced redhead who is a cancerous blight on the body politic of Australia, who, while she’ll never defile Kirribilli, will, along with the self-entitled Liberals, ensure that the joke is on Australia for electing them.”

Stephen Tardrew about ”The dysfunction of society”. (Stephen often puts a finer gloss to my writing).

”Thing is this is we need a general across the board view of the dysfunction of a society that no longer respects science, logic and rationality letting the religious ideologues, left and right, gain great political influence. It is a global US phenomena and to try to give weighted value to either political party is like trying to pick between two irrational and self-serving narcissists. The two-party system is a big fail while neoliberals and non-conservatives run riot increasing inequality, injustice and redistribution of wealth upwards. There are so many lies that people no longer know who the hell to believe so they opt for the most belligerent and egotistical. The whole of government is composed of very wealthy and super wealthy elites isolated form the real hardship in the streets. At Least Sanders could see it and could have beaten Trump. The point is it is no longer left and right but your particular variety of inequity and injustice, one maybe slightly more rational, however the end result is continued injustice, inequality and endless warfare. Seems like a Catch Twenty Two to me.”

Toni Tarikson on ”The American voting system”. (Tony is also a Facebook friend).

”I am completely floored by the American Public.  Their voting system needs to change so that everyone is forced to partake of their right to have a say about who gets “the top job”.  Their laws, particularly regarding their “right” to carry a firearm and to defend themselves with a firearm, are antiquated…and override a human being’s right to safety. Much of the public couldn’t be bothered to vote, couldn’t decide, so chose to do nothing…the vast majority who did actually turn up to vote picked Clinton but somehow trump, the most crass narcissist on earth, got in. Something stinks in the country of America. Too much attachment to TV? Too much love for the old western movies?  Too much dependence on the drugs?  Too much love for having too much? Too much need for power? The fact is that trump has no frigging idea what to do, how to act, what to say, how to feel respect for others, how to share his toys with his playmates, how to think and speak rationally; how to think or analyse, how to be tactful towards others, how to be kind, caring or compassionate…all he does is talk about himself;  all he cares about is money and how he can acquire it and anything else he wants, and how he and the women that surround him, physically look….because it is all about him!  He is shallow, yes, narcissistic; not very bright. He is antagonistic, a bully, crude, rude and a racist. Yes, he is a child. And a nasty spoilt brat of a child at that!  Yet…he was allowed to run as a presidential candidate!  Go figure! It’s too late for Donald trump to grow up. Way too late …fingers crossed the USA will not be another of his failed businesses!”

My thought for the day.

”I am willing to share whatever wisdom I have with anyone who has the heart to listen on condition that they share theirs. Everyone has some proportional to their life’s experience”.

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump Report No 5. What else can you call him?

Wednesday 11 January 2017

As is my habit each morning I arise at 6 am, post my daily article and then turn my attention to catching up with the news of the day. I check in on The AIMN then I read the headlines in The Australian. I don’t subscribe but it gives me an idea of what the right are saying. Eventually I get to The Huffington Post and the Washington Post to find out what’s going on in America.

The amount of headlines with the word ‘Trump’ in them is truly amazing. It’s as though America has woken from a nightmare and finally realised that it’s for real. They do have a man of doubtful sanity as their president-elect.

This headline confirms it:

‘Donald Trump has responded on Twitter to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech, calling her an “overrated actress” and a “Hillary flunky”.’

Overrated, now that’s not bad coming from a president-elect who can’t even get a singer of any distinction to sing at his inauguration.

At least Streep is good at what she does, in my view arguably the best ever, and she does not claim to be something she’s not.

What she did was to show him no respect. You can call him racist, sexist, a sexual predator, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a conspiracy theorist, a bully or anything else but what he craves most is respect and that includes Hollywood. Remember his tweet:

“I should have many Emmys for The Apprentice if the process were fair.”

It seems he is going to govern in the same way he campaigned. Using Twitter to broadcast his most personal feelings to the world in the most sarcastic and insulting ways possible.

While he is doing this he is not only showing himself of for the fool that he is, he is also demeaning the highest office in the land if not the world.

Everyday there is not a blog or major newspaper I read that is not full of headlines that scream out the sheer foolishness of his decisions and his daily remarks.

Here are some examples:

“Donald Trump Denies Mocking Reporter for His Disability, Even Though It Appears He Did”

“Reince Priebus: Donald Trump Won’t ‘Meddle’ With Social Security and Medicare”

“Trump insider Jared Kushner chases a massive Chinese deal for family firm”

“Chuck Schumer Threatens Confirmation Delays For Trump’s Cabinet Picks Over Ethics Reviews”

“4 of 9 Trump Nominees Set For Hearings This Week Haven’t Completed Ethics Disclosures”

“Donald Trump Avoids Blaming Russia after Intel Briefing”

“Former CIA Director Won’t Advise Donald Trump Anymore”

“Russian Reactions to Hacking Accusations And Sanctions Follow A Traditional Pattern: Deny Then Distort”

“Russian Reactions To Hacking Accusations And Sanctions Follow A Traditional Pattern: Deny Then Distort”

“Trump to name son-in -law Jarod Kushner as senior advisor”

“The Trump’s team’s embarrassing defense of fraudulence”

“Trump advisors begin tax talks with Speaker Ryan tonight”

“Russia aimed to influence US election, top spies tell Trump – and rot won’t go away”

Director Of Government Ethics Office Is Alarmed Trump Cabinet Picks Haven’t Been Fully Vetted”

“Joe Biden Tells Trump: ‘Grow Up, Donald’ ”

“Time to be an adult”

“Kellyanne Conway Says Donald Trump Shouldn’t Be Held Accountable For the Things He Says”

I can assure that these headlines from the past couple of days are typical of the hundreds that have graced the pages of the American media since his election.

About the wall.

The President elect now says that any money spent by US taxpayers on a border wall will be repaid by Mexico. Now that’s not what he said during the campaign. Of course not. Now he just denies everything.  Trump said the media had twisted the story.

It’s a ploy. The man with no integrity is using lies all the time.

Trump said that he had approached Congress to pay the $14bn (11bn) bill for the wall project but clearly his campaign pledge was to make Mexico pay for the construction.

About Julian Assange.

2017, Trump tweets a quote from Assange about how easy it was to hack the DNC, and follows with “why was the DNC so careless?”; a clear implication he agreed with the Assange quote he just posted.  Two days later, Trump whines that the evil “media” made it sound like he agreed with Assange … which he clearly did.

About the climate.

Instead of moving on from Paris and setting meaningful targets for lower emissions and plan for just energy transitions we now have a climate denier in the White House, who ties his nation’s future to finding new ways to extract and burn carbon and an Australian government which is not a whole lot better.

Every Trump cabinet minister is also a denier. 17 of them.

About Sarah Palin.

Trump has officially announced that Sarah Palin is to become the new Science and Technology Adviser.

For too long has the Chinese narrative over climate change kept our economy in a rut. It’s time to open the pumps and as I like to say: Drill, baby, drill!”

(Sarah Palin, former Alaska Governor).

This American post is doing the rounds of social media. I cannot put a name to it because I’m unaware of  who the author is. So with apologies here it is:

“Please understand that I am not mad at you because Clinton lost. I am totally unconcerned that you and I have different ‘politics.’ And I don’t think less of you because you voted one way and I another.”

“No, I think less of you because you watched an adult mock a disabled person while addressing a crowd and still supported him. I think less of you because you saw a candidate spout clear racism day after day and still backed him. I think less of you because you heard him advocate for war crimes and still thought he should be given the reins of government. I think less of you because you watched him equate a woman’s worth to where she landed on a scale of 1 to 10 and still got on board. I think less of you because you stood by silently while he labelled Mexicans as criminals and Muslims as terrorists.”

“It wasn’t your politics I found repulsive. No, it was your willingness to support someone who spouts racism, sexism, and cruelty almost every time he opens his mouth. You sided with a bully when it should have mattered most, and that is something I will never be able to forget.”

“So in response to your post-election expression of hope, no, you and I won’t be ‘coming together to move forward.’ Obviously, the president-elect disgusts me; but it is the fact that he doesn’t disgust you that will stick with me long after the election.”

My thought for the day.

“Most problems that society faces arise from the fact that men have never really grown up”.

PS: It’s Trump’s America now. Time to get over your attachment to facts.

 

Day to Day Politics: Ley an amateur compared to Abbott.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

1  Further to my piece ‘Come on, Malcolm, confront the bastards‘ comes the further revelation that Sussan Ley had secured finance ”several months” before she bought the $795,000 unit suggesting that it wasn’t, the spur of the moment decision she said it was. Her statement that she had ”not planned nor anticipated” the decision now cannot be believed. She was lying.

In addition she has made a number of trips to the Gold Coast (27 trips where there are unanswered questions, including two that took her to the Gold Coast on New Year’s Eve in 2013 and 2014.) that on the surface seem rather dodgy.

Then we find out that the trips were to attend functions run by Sarina Russo, who just happens to be one of Australia’s richest women, and that her companies won multimillion dollar contracts under the Abbott government.

Starting to stink a little. Oh, and she is a donor to the Liberal Party. No wonder politicians don’t want a national ICAC.

On the evidence thus far there seems to have been a deliberate attempt to make false travel claims and the matter will not be resolved until one, the Prime Minister sacks her or two, the rules are changed.

Such rorting of the system cannot be allowed to continue. Her answers so far have been totally inadequate and make a mockery of the PMs statement that he hopes that MPs “speak more plainly and with more candour to the Australian people in 2017?”

Labor’s Health spokeswoman, Catherine King said that:

”If Malcolm Turnbull is willing to turn a blind eye on this type of conduct, it shows exactly what type of leader he really is.”

Although both sided of politics have been doing it for yonks it is the right that have been the biggest abusers.

Tony Abbott flew around the country to promote his book and Pollie pedaled his way around the country at the taxpayer’s expense. The Drum married the dates of Abbott’s national book promotion tour with his travel expenses claims and guess what?

The taxpayer also paid his expenses to compete in the Port Macquarie Iron Man, and attend the weddings of former MPs Sophie Mirabella and Peter Slipper.

There was another time in Melbourne where he was late for a fundraiser and when he apologised it was because he had to visit a hospital to justify claiming overnight expenses.

If the Prime Minister now won’t confront those of the wacky right and start taking control of his party he never will.

Well as I write I’m interrupted by the ABC saying that ”Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced she was standing aside without ministerial pay while an enquiry into her travel expenses by the head of his department Martin ParkInson.”

”The secretary will thoroughly investigate the travel claims and the Minister has assured me that she will promptly provide all information and assistance sought by the secretary for the purpose of this investigation”.

“Australians expect the government to deal with these serious matters very thoroughly and in accordance with the Statement of Ministerial Standards”.

“I expect the highest standards from my Ministers in all aspects of their conduct, and especially the expenditure of public money.”

So then I had to re write most of it.

How it is at all possible that Ms Ley could possibly wrangle her way out of this is anyone’s guess. But the higher principle is how much longer it is going to be before a set of rules is instigated that will satisfy MPs that they are being treated fairly and at the same time placate the public. The parliamentary enquiry 12 months ago made 29 recommendations. None have been acted on.

See Kaye Lee’s post on this very subject.

And I wonder how you would be feeling waiting on one of those nasty Centerlink letters.

2 In the area in which I live we are due to switch to the new NBN on 13 January. Here are some Facebook comments from friends in my suburb. If I disappear after that date you will know why.

A Good old NBN disconnected my work number during preps in November then switched both lines around and patched my work number into home line 2 weeks if no work at home. 😡😡

B Yep! Agree Pete. I’m at day 3. 😡

C Aussie have been good Gav and can see the connection all the way to the green box around the corner, but where old mate from the nbn did the plug and play is where it stops. Common thing apparently fkn awesome. 😩

D My connection is complete apparently… now I have to wait for an SMS to finalise it and “connect” the box … the kids HATE it!

E I’ve had that text and plugged in and bam no connection, I hope you have a win as my three are not happy Jan

F oh great … looking forward to that then… NOT!!

G I have Internet Peter Morris but have no home phone since they did it … it’s dead.

H I’ve heard it’s not much faster, but better than nothing Peter. Hope they get it sorted quickly

I Took us two months Pete and that was with contacting the ombudsman and Russel Northe’s office who stepped in on our behalf. Next door took 4 months (and they had no fixed phone line either) – plus we only get one bar of reception on our mobiles. Disgraceful. There was already NBN here when we moved, it just had to be switched on. There was a dispute about our address between NBN and our provider (not that we knew this because neither of them would talk to each other – until Russell North’s office stepped in) even then it was another 3 weeks before it was connected. Nightmare – I feel for you.

3 You would hardly think that Cory Bernardi would ever be a chance of joining One Nation now that it appears they have done a backflip and banned homophobia.

My thought for the day.

”Wouldn’t it be good if in our parliament, regardless of ideology, we had politician’s whose first interest was the people’s welfare and not their own”.

 

Day to Day Politics: Come on, Malcolm, confront the bastards.

Sunday 8 January 2017

There was a time in Australian politics that ministerial conduct was important. So significant that Ministers could lose their portfolio for the simplest misdemeanour.

In John Howard’s first term as Prime Minister he lost 7 Ministers after introducing a Ministerial Code of Conduct. The code required members to divest themselves of share portfolios and to tell the truth in Parliament. Tell the truth. Gee that’s a laugh.

Of the seven, Bob Woods resigned over a questionable expense claim. As Prime Minister, John Howard certainly came down hard on those who didn’t obey the rules but later, because he was losing so many Ministers, he softened them.

The question is of course is: ”What’s to stop Malcolm Turnbull from acting?”

And the answer is that the right-wing of the party won’t allow it. In the case of Health Minister Sussan Ley there is a clear breach.

Documents show that Ms Ley travelled from Sydney to Brisbane on 9 May  make an announcement at Wesley hospital of $1.3bn in funding.

“All above-board” I hear you say. You are correct to this point. Then she jumps on another plane to the Gold Coast where she says, or more correctly a spokesperson says she met with local health stakeholders about access to new medicines. Strangely no one seems to know who they are.

“The Minister met with patients on the Gold Coast, however, because of patient confidentiality and sensitivity reasons she does not intend to provide any more information on this meeting.”

Then after staying the night with her partner at the taxpayers’ expense she, on the spur of the moment decides to purchase from a Liberal Party donor, a unit worth $795,000.

It was ”not planned nor anticipated” the spokesperson said.

Well sorry, try pulling the other leg. Doesn’t even require a pub test. The practice of arranging official trips to coincide with private business is common. Attending a party fund raiser and having a conversation with a minister is also practiced.

The Ministerial Code of Conduct clearly prohibits the use of public office for private purposes.

”Ley’s explanation that the purchase ‘was not planned nor anticipated” is woefully inadequate and an insult to Australians,” Opposition shadow Catherine King said.

This of course comes at a time when the Government is attacking people’s pensions, their welfare benefits and desperately trying to justify their savage cuts to Medicare by claiming they are living within their means.

Barnaby Joyce the unqualified acting Prime Minister said:

”If they made a purchase, even though I admit it is a substantial purchase, that’s not the reason she went to the Gold Coast. She went to the Gold Coast for work.”

In recent times both sides of Parliament have been guilty of the most outrageous claims cumulating in Bronwyn Bishop’s infamous helicopter rides. It must stop.

If Turnbull has any decency, even a scintilla of leadership he would sack her. He won’t of course because he is a weak leader and the far right see it as their divine right, stemming from of a born to rule mentality, to rip off the public purse.

What is unforgivable is that the rules never change. Turnbull is in charge, ”change the rules.”

To say it has been a bad start to the year for the government would be an understatement. It’s a shocker.

“Common Malcolm show some leadership. Con front the bastards.”

My thought for the day.

”Governments who demand the people’s trust need to govern transparently to acquire it”.

 

Day to day politics: Why do they make fools of themselves?

Saturday 7 January 2017

At the beginning of each year I have a discussion with my grandchildren to address ways in with they can improve themselves. I don’t exclude myself from this yearly ritual more commonly known as New Year’s resolutions.

On my mind was to try to seek a greater understanding of those who differ in philosophical political thought to me. I am what I self-describe as an empathic political democrat or commongoodist. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs is how I see it.

It’s something you are more likely to find on the left of politics than the right. After all the right seek to serve those who have, whereas the left seek to serve those who have not.

I haven’t gotten off to a very good start with it, the resolution. You see I find it hard to understand why it is when commenting on something someone has written, just why they need to wander off in a different direction by changing the subject or being sarcastic for the sake of it.

Here is an example from Facebook.

I wrote a piece for The AIMN titled The Trump Report No 4.

Michael Carter wrote “your whole article is based on a wrong premise. You just make yourself look silly”.

I asked him a number of times to explain what he meant but all I got was a continuation of “you make yourself look silly” in the most sarcastic way.

Then on Thursday of this week on this blog we had some rather thoughtless comments from Mark Delmege who was of the view that I should be writing about his chosen subject rather than mine which was Donald Trump. He thought I should be writing about the Obama administration. Undeterred he ignored me and  began his own conversation. Anyway the thing got somewhat out of hand and our editor was forced to block him.

At the time I was at the movies watching La La Land and when I got home and read his comments I thought there must be some correlation between the two.

But in all seriousness I often wonder if technology and social media has just opened a pathway for nutters like these two to opine their drivel.

In the first instance Michael Carter didn’t have one iota of interest in the subject. His intent was just to play intellectual gymnastics with me but at my age I set a high bar that he was unable to jump.

These of course are only two. On Facebook I have to deal with them every day. Fortunately on The AIMN we seen to have gathered some excellent, what I shall call, professional analysis experts. People who offer encouragement but are at the same time are prepared to critique in a way that is objective and considered. Importantly they call a spade a spade with an eye always on the manners of discourse. If they don’t, they are tolerated to a point, and then dispatched to God knows where.

Arguments can break out at any moment on any post and it can be lively.

Often I find that people’s opinions are based on their feelings or values rather than any understanding of the subject and the difficulty is in separating the two. Or often they place their feelings before the facts or just choose to ignore them altogether.

So it is rather difficult trying to understand the other person’s point of view when you are confronted with the aforementioned examples.

An observation.

“There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind”.

In the case of Mark Delmege his only intention was to hijack the discussion. Unfortunately for him his anger in not being able to do so was confronted by some astute minds who well and truly put him in his place.

So my new year’s resolution is of to a bad start because, well to tell you the truth,I don’t mind people having a different opinion to me but I do get annoyed when they create their own facts to support their view. Or with an empty head.

Plus of course when you have been following politics for as long as I have the pub test as we call it is  sometimes more conducive to the truth than other forms of judgement. Like the drivel from a conservative journalist or the ratbag commentator on this blog or in the media.

My thought for the day.

“We can learn so much from people we disagree with that it is a wonder we don’t do it more often”.

Footnote. I’m not sure I believe that anymore.