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Coming Soon to a Screen in your Area: The Danger of Political Fairytales

We are constantly learning about yet another mass shooting in the US. However, these tragic events have recently been occurring with such rapidity it can be difficult to keep track. As a result, Aussies have largely stopped paying much attention.

But I am not implying this is callous – or even unusual. Precisely the reverse. It is an entirely understandable reaction. We are all constantly watching ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ waving guns about on our tele, so it is disturbingly easy to push all of these ‘stories’ about mass shootings and the proliferation of guns into this same frame of reference. I do it all the time.

I read an awful lot of American newspapers. Yet even so, I normally just ‘blip’ over the many local ‘crime’ stories about gun crime and mass shootings as they are simply too disheartening. But sometimes, when the debate regarding the regulation of firearms bleeds into the political press and election coverage, it becomes a little difficult to ignore the topic. Hence this article.

But I am not writing about gun crime in the US per se. The ultimate aim of this short muse is to consider how discussion of this matter – as well as many others – has now drifted into the realm of the absurd, and why and how this is dangerous. But one thing at a time.

This is initially a story about the new emergency order that the Democratic Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, recently issued. An emergency health-order that suspends the right to carry firearms in public, in and around Albuquerque, which is the state’s largest city.

The Governor explained that she had issued the order in response to a recent spate of shootings, including a suspected road rage incident outside a minor league baseball stadium that killed an 11-year-old girl standing on the sidewalk and critically wounded another in a vehicle; a 5-year-old girl fatally shot as she slept in a motor home; and the murder of a13-year-old girl, by a14-year-old boy, with his father’s gun.

Before considering the response to the issuance of this order, it is helpful to closely examine the claims being made by the Governor. Certainly, these tragic murders are horrific. But does the current situation warrant such an intervention? I went looking for a bit of context.

Albuquerque is not a large city, especially by American standards. With a population of about six hundred thousand it is comparable in size to Newcastle (if you add the Maitland district). Also, while Albuquerque is a more dangerous place to live than is commonplace in the USA, the same is also true for Newcastle. Over the last two years, Newcastle has generated a murder rate that is five times the average for the rest of NSW. In total, there were five murders in the Newcastle district in 2021, while in the preceding year there were four.

These statistics have generated concern but nevertheless, Australians are not generally too worried about getting shot. Even those living in Newcastle. And when the stats are interrogated, this seems a perfectly rational response. The total number of murders in Australia has been in the range of 300 to 350 per year (for the whole country) for the last two decades, with guns being involved in only about 21% of these homicide incidents.

Then there is the situation in the similarly sized city of Albuquerque. In recent years there has been a recent surge in homicides all across the USA. While arrests for most forms of criminal activity have either been static or falling, instances of murder by firearm have become almost commonplace most towns and cities across the USA. Albuquerque is emblematic of this trend.

Just like the rest of the country, Albuquerque has also been experiencing a murder by firearm ‘surge’. So, as the Wall Street Journal observes:

Despite the largest single-year increase in homicides on record, the overall violent crime rate in [in Albuquerque, in] 2020 remains relatively low by historical standards.

In fact, Albuquerque police records indicate that in 2023 alone, there have already been 73 homicide cases opened, involving 77 victims. Moreover, 83% of these murders involved the use of a firearm. This indicates a murder by firearm rate that is at least fifteen times that of Newcastle.

Consequently, it is evident that the USA is, oddly, both the most rigorously policed country on the earth, as well as being very near the head of the pack in the both the rate of gun ownership and death by gunshot. Yet while any other relatively unbiased observer would thus likely conclude that there is – more than likely – at least some connection between these factors, that does not seem to be the case in much of the commentary in the US. The New Mexico Governor certainly makes such a connection. Additionally, I would suggest that any reasonable observer would likely deem her response as being modest.

The order issued by the New Mexico Governor is only for thirty days, and only applies to carrying weapons in public in Alburquerque. Nothing else. Yet the instant response was dozens of highly armed citizen protestors, marching into the Civic Plaza in the centre of the city, carrying high powered rifles. All before the New Mexico Attorney General, Raúl Torrez, publicly declared that he would not uphold the governor’s public health order, or defend it in court, thus immediately sparking a political war within the local Democratic administration.

The order instantly provoked both partisan and interparty criticism. Some of it ludicrously passionate. Some of it just ludicrous. Mostly it has become a story about the traducing of constitutionally enshrined rights by an overzealous public officer. One picture (published by the Associated Press) features April Polichette, at a ‘Second Amendment Protest’ meeting in Albuquerque, holding a sign that asserts boldly that: ‘The right to bear arms is what keeps us all safe.’

Which brings me to the crux of this missive. Which is that it is evident that much of the media coverage in the US, of a great many topics, is passionately unhinged. I suggest that we have to guard against a similar situation developing in Australia.

For example, the carrying of firearms in public is a constitutionally protected ‘right’ that was invented by right wing activists during the nineteen sixties. All of the jurisprudence up to this date indicates that the second amendment is (as the plain text of the amendment indicates) all about ensuring that the various US states could have their own little armies if they wanted them. Not a great idea, but certainly not as stupid as the idea of allowing every individual citizen to carry around an assault rifle in public. Thus, when I comment that this ‘right’ to carry arms was invented in the modern age, I am simply stating a fact. It does not exist before nineteen sixty. The second amendment does not say that everyone should have the right to carry a gun. The writers of the amendment did not intend for the second amendment to mean that everyone could carry a gun. Nor did those who voted for the amendment ever think that this might be the case.

But more significantly, just because the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller, to entirely renovate the interpretation of this amendment, does not thereby mean that the whole of American history and jurisprudence has also been altered. Nor does it mean that reality has been suddenly re-ordered in accord with right wing ideology.

Yet all of the responses to the order by the New Mexico Governor, from both the right and the left of the political spectrum in the US, has nevertheless been focused on the removal of these ‘rights. The whole basis of the discussion thus implicitly cedes to the right wing the ability to rewrite the past and be shielded from scrutiny. Consequently, I suggest that any discussion of gun control in the US should always commence with a simple acknowledgment that these ‘rights’ are manufactured, for political purposes. That the Federalist Society first stacked the US Supreme Court with partisan political figures and these individuals changed the interpretation of the second amendment to suit their personal political predilections. Yet even though all of this is undoubtedly the case, going by the coverage that is usually provided this issue in the US, the right wing have largely succeeded in rewriting history. Orwell would be astounded at their audacity, yet it seems to work.

In all the US press the proposition that the second amendment protects the right to own and carry a gun – any sort of gun – in public, is now simply assumed. Even though, throughout the ‘wild west’, virtually every town had a law that strictly prohibited the carrying of arms in public. So, all that the Governor of New Mexico is proposing is a return to the status quo circa 1880. A return to the good old days where a similar, quite commonsensical measure was ruthlessly enforced, for the good of everyone in town. (Those paying attention will likely understand that just such a town ordinance is at the centre of the story in the Shootout at the OK Corral.)

Yet the wholesale rewriting of American history and jurisprudence is rarely even mentioned in the mainstream media in the US. Or the takeover of the Supreme Court by a partisan group of religiously inspired nutters. Which brings me to the moral of this essay, which is that we need to reign in the more egregious, ideologically inspired claptrap that often passes for commentary in our media, in Australia; before it is too late to even engage in such a discussion.

The toxic impact of a purely partisan ‘mainstream’ media environment is made manifest in America. It should stand as a warning. The American press is now cut into two separate parts and a similar chasm is developing in our country. It will result in a situation here, just like in the US, where all of the press is chock-full of partisan ideologues, lecturing their partisan audience, on exactly why they should be outraged and regarding exactly how outraged they should be (ie, always very very outraged).

We are already seeing a similar disconnect between reality and the media narrative in some parts of the media in Australia, especially regarding topics such as the upcoming Voice referendum. For example, Marcia Langton labelling much of the recent coverage of the Voice debate in Australia as being racist is nothing more than stating the bleeding obvious (see The Great Australian Gaslighting). Yet instantly, the entire media pack in our country have descended on poor Marcia. Just for describing reality.

I do not want to pretend that the mass media has been better in the past. But I am asserting that we can, and should, aspire to a more nuanced and fact-based media narrative. More importantly, I suggest that we collectively need to revisit the idea that press agencies in our country are expected to be politically aligned. It seems to counter to the public interest that the many different press agencies in the west have decided to not only cover politics but also become politically active.

That these aspirations seem to be naive simply serves to illustrate how low our common expectations have sunk. But unless we begin to look at the coverage of news and current events as being a core and important issue, and take steps to stop our current slide into partisan nonsense, then our Australian media environment may very soon become as hopelessly gridlocked and fractured as in the US.

This is why the current discussions regarding curbing the instances of misinformation and disinformation in our media are both necessary and should be applauded by all Aussies, regardless of their political bent. But these regulatory measures can only be viewed as a starting point. There is a need to move to decentralise our media and unwind the massive monopolies that currently exist. The good health of our democracy depends on cultivating a healthy press environment.

The stakes are high. Big Brother is not just a scary tale. Nineteen-eighty-four is not in our rear-view mirror. Just as in America, very soon parts of our media may also become so utterly detached from reality, that half our population will begin agitating for renovations to our law, in accord with a brand new and improved history of Australia; fashioned just for us out of whole cloth, by News Corp, the Evangelical Church, and the Industrial Arms complex of the United States of Australia.

Have a nice day.


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The Great Australian Gaslighting

We are all accustomed to being fed nonsense by the right-wing. Sky News after dark is largely untouched by common-sense, decency, or journalistic balance. When reading the Australian, or the Telegraph, we all share an expectation that we will likely need to wade through a swamp of ideological claptrap. But it does not have to be this way.

Once upon a time these same media outlets at least pretended that they were trying to be ‘fair and balanced’. There was a sometimes-indistinct line drawn between commentary and the ‘news’. It was a blurry boundary, but it was there. However, in recent days, in their ‘coverage’ of the impending referendum, it seems that the whole of News Corp has been given over to gaslighting. In all their outlets the pending question is never described as being a referendum formulated in response to a grassroots movement, it is ‘Albanese’s referendum’. Or ‘Labor’s referendum’. The LNPs hand in developing the idea has been erased from history. As has any hint of non-partisanship. Instead of a relatively powerless advisory committee, the Voice is depicted as being the plaything of rich aboriginal city-slickers, who are all Labor stooges.

Moreover, the dog-whistle is just about deafening. Every tired old racist trope has been given a further airing. Often many are trotted-out in quick succession. For example, today in the Australian (behind their paywall), Maurice Newman advises his readers that:

If the proposal is carried, a small racial minority will have constitutional privileges denied the majority of Australians. It will permanently define our system of government as one country, two systems. It will establish a platform for the politics of envy. The very expectation of race-based benefits is no doubt reflected in the latest census, which recorded a 25 per cent jump in those identifying as Indigenous.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart may be well-intended, but its authors are open to the charge that it’s really about more power and money for elites. After all, Indigenous people are anything but voiceless now. Indeed, in the past 15 years, thousands of Indigenous voices have been heard and tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, together with royalties and service payments, invested where the collective voices recommended. It is not clear how an additional voice will improve Indigenous lives.

It is a wonder the sun doesn’t momentarily dim every time Newman opens his mouth! I will not canvass any more of this article as further exposure could very well cause actual brain damage. And it would provide the article and author with a degree of consideration that they do not warrant. Plus, the details are entirely immaterial. There is no actual intent to deliver a message – just stir the possum. These many articles are designed to support and reinforce the torrent of racist bullshit and nonsense that is being given voice in the threads of these newspapers and all across the right-wing swamp. These are not articles designed to inform but rather inflame.

Which brings me to the nub of this article. The difficulty with political commentary such as this is that it commonly hides behind the proposition that all that is being advanced is merely an ‘opinion’. So, even though the author is presenting puerile and tangibly insulting claptrap which is quite obviously designed to reinforce many of the commonplace lies that are currently circulating within the right-wing media, it is not illegal (even though it is palpably dishonourable and despicable). Nor should it be illegal. What is needed is to address the root cause of this problem, which is that we only have two large media conglomerates in our country, one of which is a right-wing outfit, while the other is a far-right wing organisation that is owned by Americans and is run from America.

I feel passionately about the need for media sector reform as that is the only way to effectively banish this sort of hateful rhetoric from our mainstream press. It results from allowing just one or two players to have an outsized impact upon the social discourse. Regulating what can be said by any given journalist is not going to address this sort of problem. The problem is not the language but rather the tacit and sometimes enthusiastic pedalling of falsehoods via a massive megaphone. We need lots and lots of smaller megaphones.

Regulating the minutiae of the press is not an option, simply because it does not work. It will not address this problem. The right wing in Australia know that they are pandering to a racist minority and they carefully, yet quite consciously, craft articles such as that quoted above, which are all dog-whistle and no substance. These many utterly objectionable articles are not being written by fools, nor are they being read by fools. A racist dog-whistle is being sounded gleefully and its meaning is being clearly understood. If you change the rules then the tune being played will simply change – yet the noxious intent and the facility to do mischief will remain. As Marcia Langton observes,

They’re very clever falsehoods. They appeal to the long-held tropes of discrimination. You know, we’ve heard words like ‘squalid’, ‘underbelly’, ‘maintain the rage’ thrown about. It’s as if, you know, the frontier wars were still happening. It’s very disappointing that so many Australians have been deceived…

But I am not as forgiving as Marcia. I know that many of the people who are throwing these racist tropes about are doing so quite deliberately. Yes, many readers are being deceived, but many others are enthusiastic about being given the chance to air their repugnant racist views in public without drawing down upon themselves any well-deserved derision.

Thus, we are all witnessing the Great Australian Gaslighting of 2024. It may or may not be successful. But regardless of the outcome of the referendum, these last few weeks have served to illustrate just why there is a pressing need for a Royal Commission into the media sector.

During the last few weeks, the Murdoch newspapers have been quite deliberately, and successfully, stoking racial division and disharmony in Australia. Which demonstrates the disproportionate degree of influence that is currently being welded by News Corp; which is a foreign controlled entity that is based in America. The influence of this media group is palpable. Consider that at the moment, the right-wing forces in our country are not in government anywhere on the mainland or in the federal sphere. Yet despite this overwhelming rejection by the Australian public, our media is still chocka-block full of the concerns and fears of the right-wing conservative rump.

Very few Aussies are far right-wing conservatives, yet we nevertheless have an entire segment of the press in our country, including several major masthead newspapers, that enthusiastically embrace and openly advocate for such an ideological position. As a result, it is evident that News Corp is acting as a political player and not just a disinterested media concern. For the entirety of the last year, the actual federal opposition in Australia has been News Corp – not the LNP.

This is an unacceptable situation. So, I would suggest that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the behavior of News Corp during the last few weeks demonstrates that the right-wing press is currently a clear and present danger to our national interests.

The gross concentration of media ownership in our country is a problem that must be addressed soon. The existing monopolies must be broken up. The ability for one corporation to own large segments of both print and broadcast media, in several states, must be eliminated. We must return to the days when we had laws that served to supress the development of just these sorts of media monopolies. After all; there were laws in place to guard against the situation that we currently find ourselves in. Laws that were progressively watered down and abolished in response to the many lies that were sold to us by these same media magnates.

Those with long memories will remember how, over the course of several decades, the need for both horizontal and vertical integration in the media sector was sold to us by these big media conglomerates as being necessary. We were confidently informed that the only way to ensure that our media sector would not fail in the new digital world was to allow the big players to get bigger. So, for twenty years, we were all constantly fed a diet of unadulterated bullshit.

Despite the massive concentration of ownership that we now enjoy, all of the negative outcomes that we were warned about have nevertheless still come to pass. Most of the newspaper groups have disappeared and all of the large newsrooms have been merged. Almost all of the small regional newspapers have been bought up by the bigger players, then shuttered. Thousands of journalists have been laid off. And now we have only two huge media corporations left standing. Which is the worst of all possible outcomes – unless you are an owner or shareholder a media conglomerate.

The current referendum debate concretely demonstrates that the current media environment in Australia is not serving our national interests. At the moment, the whims of one non-Australian media owner, living in another country, are serving to dictate the nature and content of much of the social and political discourse of our country. As a consequence, our social discourse is becoming less civil and more extreme. Due to the baleful influence of News Corp and its deliberate spreading of misinformation and racist claptrap, after this referendum is over, regardless of the outcome, there needs to be a reckoning.

That the political thuggery has become quite overt is well illustrated by another article in the Australian today (also behind the paywall), in which the top corporate contributors to the ‘Yes’ campaign are listed as if they are guilty of war crimes. The article invites the reader to deride the corporations and their leaders, which are all named and shamed individually. The inescapable inference being that it would be a dandy idea if all of the readers of the newspaper boycotted these companies. Which, I would suggest, are just the sort of transparent mafia tactics that we can all live without.

The political thuggery has become overt. There has to be pushback, to not do so would be dangerous.


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A World Without Trump: The Great Orange Flameout of 2024

It’s going to be huuuge. The election campaign in the US of A, next year, will be bigger than Ben Hur. However, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that many commentators are talking shit.

The media is obviously struggling to cope with the dawning new reality. Namely, that Trump is political toast. That point where all the chickens come home to roost has at last arrived. You have all been asking ‘Are we there yet! Are we there yet!’ And now we have arrived. Thus, anyone who cares to look out the window will notice that everyone who is familiar with Trump’s travails is either giggling, looking for a new job, or changing channels.

Don’t take my word for it, just weigh the scenario for yourself. Donald Trump is now facing more than several criminal indictments and has already been told, nicely, by at least two judges, to please stop abusing judges, counsellors, prosecutors, and those testifying against him. He has largely ignored these requests.

How long do you think it will be before Trump lashes out at a prosecutor or a judge in a way that simply cannot be ignored? I suggest that by the time we all get around to Christmas lunch, we will already be sick of hearing about Trump being locked up, yet again, for contempt.

Others have done all the same sums. The Governor of Florida, at the moment running second in the Republican primaries, is currently being very, very careful with his words. I just heard one otherwise fairly rational commentator observe that this is odd, considering that he is thirty points behind Trump. ‘So why is he behaving like a front-runner?’ he asks.

I find this disappointing. It indicates that this poor fellow is so deeply engaged in beating up on Trump that he has failed to realise that Trump is already a political corpse. Guvnor De Santos knows this. He knows he is actually the front runner. That Trump is no longer in the race.

For those who are failing to pay attention: let me explain the bleeding obvious in simple terms.

The only people left in America who actually like Trump are a few far, far right-wing politicians, the consumers of right-wing media, and some of the entirely non-informed. Everyone else hates the chappie. Even the owners of the far-right media are ambivalent. You get the sense that they prefer their fascists to be a little more coherent and a tad more competent.

Therefore, while I believe that the election campaign will be huuuge, it will not match the spectacle of Donald Trump v the rest of America, as he flames out in a huge fireball of angry indignation and incompetence.

The numbers do not lie, and the numbers currently indicate that Trump, even should he stumble anywhere near an election campaign, would have snowballs hope in Hades of winning. He is currently the most actively hated person in America.

A substantial majority of women dislike Trump. Along with democrats, teachers, students, unionists and anyone who has ever worn a Che Guevara tee-shirt. But while these people dislike him intensely, it is generally not nearly as much as many Republicans. This is because, ever since the first wave of conspiracy obsessed, flag-waving, MAGA crazed fans crashed through the doors of the Republican Party, in 2016, the Republican Party of America has been engaged in a civil war. Most of the Republican old-guard have since come to hate Trump with a greater passion than even the Hilliary deprived. They are no longer in charge of a staid and feared bastion of power. (See The real fight is between America and the Trump cultists; and America is kicking butt). Worse, the bastion has fallen to weirdos with a bunch of stunningly weird ideas. Which is fair-enough for a Republican, but in this case these strange ideas all serve to benefit only one person, not the 1%. Which does not make any sense?

Yet still, for now, the right-wing media remain captive of their own audience. They are hemmed in by the truly loony far, far right-wing media outlets, so they have to ever feature Trump, and ever repeat that they truly and dearly love the fellow. They have to eternally explain that if you listen to him carefully, in just the right way, then he makes perfect and enduring sense. And, of course, they must ever profess that they believe he will win. But even on the couch at FOX n’ Friends you can sense that they know the end is nigh. Soon the knives will be out.

Indeed, very soon it will become almost impossible for anyone, including the right-wing press and crazed Trump critics, to sustain the fantasy (or nightmare) of a potential Trump victory.

The most important number has nothing to do with presidential popularity, but rather Trump’s extraordinary and growing unpopularity. In January of this year even the most favourable polls had Trump’s disapproval numbers in the low fifties. But in recent days polling shows that a tipping point has been reached. His supporters are all jumping ship. On FiveThirtyEight the average of polls shows that in just a couple of weeks Trumps unpopularity has soared, from the low fifties into the low sixties, with a corresponding drop in his approval numbers. Plus, these polls are looking backwards a couple of weeks, and he has hardly had a good ten or so days.

I know that we have all been hearing about the imminent downfall of Trump for what feels like forever. But Trump is currently older than Reagan was when he completed his second term, is currently under massive pressure, and very soon may even be forced to pay for his lawyers out of his own pocket.

The sharks are circling ever closer. As soon as Christmas, I humbly suggest, Trump will be out of the running, dead, or in goal.

But regardless of how the end game unfolds, you can be assured it is about to commence. Thus, a world without Donald Trump is nudging ever closer. I promise. Yes, kiddies; we are nearly there.


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We have the media we want

I know they are coming for my stuff. I read the Telegraph.

Aboriginal, gay, unemployed single mothers stalk our streets. Refugees flood our beaches. Transgender porn fills libraries and small businessmen weep in the street while being beaten by communist Union Officials. All while Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian and assorted other hordes are all poised. Plus, Aboriginals want my suburban block.

But even so. We have the media we deserve. It has been created to sell us what we want. To pander to our particularly vacuous modern brand of fear and loathing.

In 2018, Steve Bannon observed that: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

But this seemingly pithy observation serves to distract from the actually tragic reality. Namely, it is impossible to flood the zone with shit. It is already flooded with shit. Well before there was a right-wing media the modern broadcasting landscape was already a barren wasteland studded with noxious cesspits. Yes, in one far corner there is a rarely accessed little door that is labelled ‘The real world and rational commentary’. But nobody is interested.

So, while we attack ‘the media’. The reality is that we already have precisely the media that we want. Our media is full of very sick and perverted ideas and people because our society is full of sick and perverted people. We only like to pretend we are ‘nice’. (Get over it.)

As a baby boomer, like all my peers, I respond instantly to fear and loathing. Our generation was going to change the world. We would forsake the military industrial complex that had enslaved earlier, less enlightened generations. We would tear down hypocrisy, religion, and bigotry.

Yet while the dream lasted just a fleeting childhood, it has haunted us all ever since. We cultivated a phantasm of hip skepticism and now all we have left is disenchantment and disbelief.

The new millennium has thus been especially difficult for boomers. We had corporately pledged to live fast and die young and pure – until we inherited. Then we caged the chickens and set aside actively believing or not-believing. It was complicated. After all, why go to all the bother of believing in things when you have cable? It is much easier to occupy a shallow and fleeting attention-span with porn, action movies, and lectures on the need to be terribly, terribly afraid.

So – we are the media. Every caricature you see selling hate and DazzTM on the tele is just a pale reflection of someone living on your street. Television is full of horribly ill-informed and shallow creeps simply because society is full of horribly ill-informed and shallow creeps. There are few deep thinkers simply because we don’t spend time thinking. We are not a population of thinkers. We collectively crave for distraction and entertainment; not information.

We like to think that we are good scholarly people, who like to watch and listen to ‘good’ media, but we are not. In fact, we are a bunch of morally and intellectually corrupt creeps – and so our media is jam-packed with morally and intellectually corrupt creeps. But they are photogenic and charismatic creeps.

Yes, right-wing media channels are fashioning output carefully tailored to a receptive audience. But so are the rest. So, if ‘the media’ is atrocious, it is because we – collectively – are atrocious. Moreover, if we want to continue with an actually democratic system, where everyone has both a media and a voice, then we will always have a media that is chaotic, partisan, and flooded with ‘shit’. Until we become some entirely other sort of animal that is not snarky, horrible, ill-informed and intellectually corrupt. In other words: something entirely non-human.

Until then: Viva la chaos.


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Bidenomics: Four Charts (to upset the doubters)

I do not believe that the President of the US is personally responsible for the state of the US economy. No rational person could believe such a thing.

However, lots of right-wing commentators want to assert that Biden is single-handedly destroying the US economy. They propose that the advent of ‘Bidenomics’ has led to soaring inflation, growing unemployment, stagnant wages, and a stock exchange headed south.

This is bullshit. All of it. The correlation between who might be president, and the condition of the US economy, is tentative at best. But even if there was a direct and uncomplicated correlation, the whole ‘Bidenomics’ narrative is still bullshit.

The next time a right-winger wants to spout nonsense about ‘Bidenomics’, first refer them to the following four charts, then advise them to either piss-off, or stop parading their ignorance in public.

While such an exposure to reality is unlikely to stop them talking bullshit, it will make you feel better. Plus, you will have avoided the need to talk any further with a fool.








Stock Market:




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Great Moments in Jurisprudence: The Cheese Guy and Trump

One of Trump’s co-defendants –the (very soon to be) ex-lawyer Mr Chesebro – just took a metaphorical swing at the Prosecutor, and hit Trump.

As you may be aware, Fulton County in Georgia is hosting a trial of 19 defendants on racketeering charges. Lawyers for the Boss of the crime syndicate, one Mr D. Trump, have indicated that they believe a trial date in early 2026 would likely be suitable. Pointing to a mountain of evidence that they say they need to sort through to be able to adequately defend the action.

This sort of delaying tactic is commonplace in racketeering cases. But in this instance it would likely be unpersuasive. This is because, the claim that there is a need to carefully read every document in evidence is a bit of a furphy. After all, the vast bulk of the evidence in question (for all of the defendant’s involved) is made up almost entirely of their own documents. But even as the lawyers were thus shaping up for a battle regarding the scheduling of the matter – it was all overtaken by other legal events.

After an especially long lunch (it must be supposed) a group of the Crime Boss’s lawyers got together and worked out a bold and cunning strategy to get all of the charges – against everyone – dropped. It was a new strategy that hinges on Georgia’s Speedy Trial Act.

In the right-wing press it has long been celebrated, as a fact, that Fani Willis (the Prosecutor) has rushed to lay these many charges for purely partisan political reasons. Therefore, the case is only half-prepared but she is nevertheless rushing to lay charges so that this can interfere with Trumps political campaigning. So, the lawyers for the crime syndicate decided to use this obscene haste and lack of preparedness against the prosecution. They would tell Fani Willis to ‘put up or shut up’. They would force the prosecutor’s hand.

The Speedy Trial Act of Georgia requires that, upon application, someone who is charged with a crime (that does not attract the death penalty) can demand a trial within ninety days of their charging date. Otherwise, the prosecution has to drop all the charges.

Thus, a group of lawyers acting for the Cheese Guy filed a motion demanding a severance of his case from that of the other defendant’s, and a speedy trial. Fani Willis was going to be exposed for a fraud and would have to either go to trial utterly unprepared or drop the charges.

Unfortunately for both the Crime Boss and the Cheese Guy, this strategy was flawed. While the commonsense and everyday knowledge of the right-wing media has been endlessly proposing that the Prosecutor has hastily cobbled a case together, in just the last five or so minutes, from fond aspirations and bluetack, this is incorrect. Who could have guessed?

Instead of being ambushed, in response to the application by the Cheese Guy, Fani Willis just said ‘Yes’. But not just for the Cheese Guy. She is ready to go on all counts as soon as the court might please. Apparently, it seems that her whole office has been carefully and methodically compiling a detailed case against all of the defendants for at least the last two years. The prosecutor therefore informed the court that she agreed that a speedy trial, for everyone, would be an absolutely fab idea.

So, a couple of days ago the judge ruled on the application and issued a case specific scheduling order. In the order he declares that:

‘due to the Defendant’s timely Demand for Speedy Trial filed August 23, 2023 (Doc. 5), scheduling [for all the cases] will occur on an expedited timeline.’

The judge set Chesebro’s trial for Oct 23. He also indicated that because all the other defendants have a similar right to a speedy trial, firm trial dates for all the accused will also be set on this date. Yes, the Cheese Guy is right; it is essential to guard against impinging on the civil rights of the defendants.


So, due to this great moment in modern jurisprudence, Trump and Co will all go to trial very soon after October the 23rd. Moreover, this is an outcome that is actually far worse than it might appear at first glance.

The Cheese Guy will now likely get a separate trial, prior to the rest of the cases being heard. The first trial will therefore be one lonely lawyer, all by himself, facing charges of conspiracy to commit impersonation of a public official, conspiracy to commit forgery, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Which is a case featuring a mountain of evidence that is fairly easy to lay out. The Cheese Guy was the person who came up with the phony electors scheme in the first place. He was the one who then sold it to the rest of the conspirators. As a consequence, the whole of the case against the Cheese Guy is spelled out in his own memos and power-point slides.

As one commentator at the Washington Post observed:

Chesebro authored a Nov. 18, 2020, memo recommending an alternative slate of electors in states where litigation was still pending. In a Dec. 6, 2020, memo, Chesebro advised that they could drum up phony electors in six states to give Vice President Mike Pence the opportunity to throw the election to Trump.

The outcome of this attempted ambush is, therefore, that now the judge is obliged to try Trump and co promptly, and that this series of trials will likely commence with an action against one unlikeable lawyer, with unconventional ideas, that features lots and lots of simply damning evidence, instead of a trial featuring Trump. Instead of a popular politician, the accused will be a lawyer. Plus, the defence now has very little time to prepare as the Speedy Trial clock is now ticking.

Trump usually shoots himself in the foot but it seems that he is now also outsourcing the task to his lawyers. It is almost enough to raise the proposition of an appeal on the basis of inadequate counsel (which is a bit of a damning commentary on the nature of the advice that Trump and Co seem to be receiving).

Stay tuned for updates…


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Trumpty-Dumpty or Wishful Thinking?

Trump has been astoundingly successful. He is a narcissist. He desperately craves attention. And he gets it in spades.

Ever since trundling down the elevator in his eponymously named Tower, Donald Trump has smiled, scowled and scuttled across a billion tele screens. He has featured in a zillion newspaper articles.

Everywhere you might want to glance, Trump inspired craziness is unfolding and a worried group of protesters are protesting. Trump is compulsory.

Resistance seems not only pointless, but impossible. Our media is Trump obsessed and Trump dependent. Everything – politics, sport, comedy and cooking – is Trump themed. I haven’t googled it, but I am nevertheless sure you can buy a Trumpsicle, at least somewhere in the good ol’ US of A.

Some rip large chunks of hair from parts of their shivering liberal carcass. Others drink. Some saner citizens have simply winked out of digital existence, and presumably now live entirely ignorant, happy, non-Trumpified lives. (The cowardly lucky bastards.)

However, do not despair my fellow liberal snowflakes, there are some vague indications that the era of wall-to-wall Trump coverage may only last another ten or so years. That maybe (I know it is a difficult thing to conceptualize) that somewhere – way off in the distant future – there may yet be a media and entertainment world that contains just a tiny tiny wee bit less Trump. (I know! But can’t we at least dream?)

I have launched this optimistic kamikaze-like diatribe on the basis that, even way out in the furthest reaches of Rightwingistan, the tone of the media discussion has recently slightly altered. While the strange language used in these parts still seems (to the uninitiated) no less hysterical, an odd hesitancy can now be discerned. The couch at Fox ‘n Friends currently spends far more time examining the southern border, and Hunter Bidens’ bedroom, than they do Trump, per se. Whole minutes now elapse without seeing or hearing the Donald.

Plus, I was watching the massive, all-station coverage of the little brouhaha that erupted outside the courtroom a few weeks back, when Jack Smith hauled Trump up on charges of inciting nastiness and mayhem. As Trump and anti-Trump silliness was erupting all around, a small group of Trump supporters, all wearing red hats and Trump regalia, were clustered around a laptop watching baseball.

Trumpty-Dumpty will fall. But not because anyone will see sense. Or because the justice system will eventually catch up with the fellow.

Trumpism will pass into history very quickly because it is becoming boring. And the viewing public can put up with bullshit and silliness, conceit, corruption and utter lunacy; but when you become boring and predictable then people start tuning out.

The middle-class, short attention span of the American viewing public will rescue the world.

(OK. I agree. We’re fucked.)


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The real fight is between America and the Trump cultists; and America is kicking butt

All those readers of the press who have a life are generally depressed about events in the US. This is because there seems hardly enough time to pay attention to the torrent of bad political news coming out of America. We are all constantly being bombarded by updates on Trump’s legal travails, all the murky details of Hunter Biden and his laptop, and sundry distressing stories about a feeble President who might very well be at deaths door.

But those of us who don’t have a life, and instead endlessly troll the media to avoid interacting with actual people, have time enough to glimpse an entirely different America. An entirely different country to the one that is commonly depicted in the Aussie press.

First of all, how many Aussies would realise that the US is currently enjoying a booming economy? With the annual inflation rate slowing to 3% in June (which is the lowest since March of 2021). Or that the unemployment rate is currently the lowest it has ever been in the history of the Republic? Or that the stock market keeps hitting record highs? Or that during the last six months the number of people crossing the southern border has dropped 22%? Or that there has been a boom in wages across the country? Or that construction spending on factories has soared nearly 80% in the last year. Or that (according to the Census Bureau) public works spending has increased (13.6%), with electric power projects booming (up 36.7%), as well as conservation and development projects (up 30.1%), and expenditure on highways and streets rapidly increasing (up 20.4%).

I would suggest that most of this positive information has managed to entirely bypass most Australian readers because the papers in our country commonly paint an entirely different picture. (For reasons that I talk about endlessly elsewhere…).

This also means that Aussies are generally unaware that the battle between a Trump dominated GOP and the Democratic Party, and the legal travails that are slowly smothering Trump, adds up to less than half of the important political story.

In Aus we have a right-wing press that totally ignores the ‘big picture’ politics in the US. It is focused, instead, on presenting commentary on the happenings in the federal political scene.

Consequently, our papers present the politics of the US in a simplistic fashion, as being all about the GOP v the Dems. But this commentary (which is generally deeply partisan) usually fails to assist an Aussie in understanding the domestic context within which these remarks are being made. Which is to say, all of this commentary generally fails to describe many things that American readers would consider to be ‘bleeding obvious’ but which are nevertheless hardly ever mentioned in the Australian press (including the matters earlier canvassed as well as those that follow).

I would suggest that Aussies could also be forgiven for not knowing that there has been an ongoing civil war inside the GOP – between the Trumpers and the Traditionalists – that has been raging for the last ten years.

The Trumpsters are not interested in compromise. This is mainly because, unlike earlier right-wing populist groups like the ‘Tea Party’ Patriots, the Trumpsters are not at all interested in policy, or even politics. They are only interested in the world that Trump has promised. And in the south, over the last ten years this group has ruthlessly pushed the traditionalists out. Which means that the GOP grip on their southern strongholds is slipping.

When Trump arrived on the scene, the GOP heartland in the southern states had long been secured by a history of solid local support and a host of gerrymandered seats. This, and the distortions provided by an odd electoral college system, had long allowed the Southern GOP to hold onto office pretty much regardless of what the population might want to say as well as maintain a disproportionate amount of influence federally. All of which requires planning and organisation.

Then Trump arrived.

For an Aussie audience it cannot be overstated how important it is that about fifty-five percent of the really attached Trump supporters in the US are generally uninterested in politics. Which is to say, prior to Trumps’ descent of the escalator, they were unaffiliated voters. These people are interested in and attached to Trump, not the GOP.

This influx of newly interested activists into the ranks of the GOP had an initial effect of boosting the hype, the vote, and the GOP coffers, across the US. It got Trump elected. But then momentum faltered. Mainly because the Trump Presidency was a success ONLY for the newly enthused loony right and their media boosters – for everyone else, both in the US and elsewhere, it was an evident disaster.

This is the part of the story that is bleeding obvious to any American, but which is generally missed by Aussies. In the last ten years, events have entirely refashioned state and federal politics in the US. When Trump arrived on the scene the southern strongholds of the GOP appeared secure. Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Georgia, Arizona, Mississippi, and Florida (amongst others) were the ideological heartland of Republicanism. These southern states were run by authoritarian and ruthlessly efficient political machines and were backed by a consortium of corporations and very rich individuals.

Then Trump failed dismally, and a civil war ensued.

Too few Aussies are aware of how significant it is that virtually every person who gave evidence at all of the impeachments, were GOP traditionalists. The informants were people that Trump had appointed, not Democrats.

Then Trump was defeated in 2020 by GOP Traditionalists, not by Biden.

Then most of the sixty cases that Trump subsequently lost were heard by judges that Trump had appointed, in states that are run by the GOP.

Then Roe v Wade made the whole thing very real for all the Americans who hadn’t been paying attention. Suddenly, the dog had caught the car. Nobody was happy.

At once politics was vitally important for young people who were not political or religious. As well as everyone related to them.

The Roe v Wade rejection has been the biggest setback the GOP has faced in the modern era. Trump and his acolytes, and the ideologues at the Federalist Society, as well as the rabid high court justices, all failed to appreciate that the distant prospect of a ban on abortion was a wonderful thing. But the reality is precisely the opposite.

Ever since the Roe rejection, the GOP hold on state politics has been slipping. Because the once reliable GOP political machinery in the southern states has recently been replaced with a series of dinky-toys being ridden by amateur Trump cultists, so the response to the disaster of Roe has been to double down on Trumpist purity and conspiracy theories. Thus, even the Wall Street Journal (run by Rupert) has guardedly acknowledged that the whole southern GOP enterprise is currently teetering on the edge of an electoral cliff. In an article today a staff writer observed that:

“In Colorado, Dave Williams, the new head of the state Republican party, has attacked Republicans he deems insufficiently conservative. In June he announced he had negotiated an agreement with the Colorado Libertarian Party, which would stay out of certain races. “The Libertarians will only stand down if we recruit and nominate candidates who are more pro-freedom than not,” he said in the statement.

In Georgia, the fallout from the 2020 presidential election has state GOP officials fighting each other over whether pro-Trump Republicans who worked to overturn President Biden’s election should be purged or praised.

State GOP parties in Arizona and Minnesota are struggling financially.

In Michigan, the statewide party organization has embraced conspiracy theories and far-right political views. The party website, for example, has a section pledging to stop what it deems a global cabal. “The Democrat party, in direct partnership with China and globalist organizations, has abandoned Detroit and the working class,” it says.

“The new folks don’t even consider us Republicans anymore,” said John Truscott, once an aide to former Republican Gov. John Engler.

“I would say they’re running it into the ground,” he said of the new party stalwarts, “but it’s already imploded. They’re out of money, they can’t do anything.”

So, take heart, my friends. Always remember that the whole Trump fiasco has been written, conducted, and wholly staffed by the Republican Party and the Trump cultists. Democrats have only really had walk-on roles during the last few years. And do not be misled by the narrative that being pushed by much of the media in our country about a big GOP v Dems stoush.

The reason that all the nonsense coming from the US often sounds so histrionic and implausible is – because it is. The right wing and their media backers in the US have been engaged in a losing battle with the rest of America.

Ever since Trump was booted out in 2020, the whole GOP card castle has been falling apart. So, whenever you see something in the media about the fight between the GOP and the Dems, do not be fooled.

The real fight is between America and the Trump cultists; and America is kicking butt.


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Forty years after my first and only arrest for cannabis – not much has changed

Forty years ago, while living in a share-house in Port Stephens (north of Newcastle, NSW), I arrived home from work one evening to a house that was suddenly and inexplicably littered with drug paraphernalia. Of course, I immediately gathered most of it onto the coffee table in the loungeroom and puzzled over it. Then, after a very official pounding on my front door, the house was suddenly full of coppers.

Initially I was interrogated about the bongs, pipes, syringes, and bottles of pills that I had helpfully laid out for them on the coffee table – all before a constable walked in carrying a small planter containing two cannabis seedlings. After which, suddenly and magically, all of the paraphernalia, syringes, bottles of pills, and even any hint of their existence, simply disappeared. I was transported to the Newcastle lockup and charged with ‘Cultivating Indian Hemp’.

When I fronted court the next morning the police helpfully provided the Magistrate with a transcript of a confession that I had (purportedly) made. It seems that I had admitted to conspiring to grow several hundred cannabis plants in the nearby bushland and that I had been planning to sell the drug in the township. Nevertheless, the police had heroically nipped this dastardly conspiracy in the bud. They had also reluctantly decided to proceed with only a cultivation charge, instead of also adding a ‘conspiracy to supply’ charge (but inquiries were still ‘ongoing’).

The Beak scowled, declared that I was so very lucky that I only had driving and alcohol convictions on my sheet, otherwise I would be ‘banged up smartly’. But because this was the case, he was going to ‘go easy’. All before fining me $2900.00 and giving me just one month to pay. (So, adjusted for inflation, in 2022 dollars, I was fined $12,796.19 for two cannabis seedlings that did not even belong to me). Moreover, in those days, if you couldn’t pay a fine you were locked up until you had ‘cut the fine out’ at the rate of $85 a day. Consequently, a month later I showed up at the Silverwater Penitentiary to cut out my fines.

In the same week that I was imprisoned, Dr Kerr opened the National Organization for the Reform of Marihuana Laws (NORML) office (in Seaforth) in Sydney. So, immediately upon release, I fronted at the office and signed up to protest the cannabis laws. A few decades later I would be part of the founding of the HEMP Party. Another decade on and there would even be members of state legislatures that are part of the cannabis law reform movement.

But the moral of this story is hardly uplifting. Four decades after my one and only cannabis charge, not much has changed. The BIG LIE – that cannabis is a dangerous drug – still dominates in our politics, press and social mythologies. The police might be more subtle in their oppression, but they still terrorize cannabis users every day of the week. Being ‘verballed’ in a court room might be a thing of the past, but otherwise law-abiding citizens nevertheless continue to be hauled up before the Magistracy and gaoled or fined on the basis that the state is protecting them from harm.

Four decades later many of my personal circumstances have changed. I am now an academic lawyer. I teach other lawyers about the ‘Philosophy of Law’ and ‘Constitutional Law’. But I am still at the mercy of these unjust and ridiculous laws. I still have to travel overseas to be able to smoke a cone without fear of arrest. I still cannot enjoy a joint legally in this country. And while the politicians rarely still refer to cannabis as being a ‘moral hazard’, the BIG LIE nevertheless still persists. These hypocrites continue to perversely insist that they are protecting us cannabis users from ‘harm’ – by gaoling and fining us!

They can shove their phony concern up their tight sphincters for all I care. This is because, despite the passage of more than forty years, the same knee-jerk bigotries are still everywhere on display.

The bullshit persists, even though, in the intervening years, it has also become obvious to almost everyone in our society (aside from politicians and lobbyists), that every cent spent on policing or regulating the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis, on the basis that these laws are needed to protect us from ‘harm’, is simply money thrown away. Most Aussies now fully understand that our leaders might as well be burning huge wads of cash in a forty-four-gallon drum, on the steps of parliament house, and justifying it on the basis that they are keeping us ‘warm’.

So, in recent times I have given up on even pretending to be tolerant of all of the bullshit. In recent encounters, whenever any elected official begins to talk bullshit about cannabis in my presence, they are at once interrupted and asked about the ‘harm’ they are proposing to protect me from? I also ask why they seem to show this phony concern about the health of the citizenry when talking about cannabis, but not when talking about rugby, alcohol, paracetamol, fishing, aspirin, parasailing, horse-riding, or sugar?

I then ask them to tell me precisely how it is dangerous? Also, where and when did any particular instance of harm occur? In other words, they will be invited to name just one person – on the face of the globe – who has been killed or maimed by cannabis use, ever.

I feel that such intolerance is warranted. I am simply well past engaging in any sort of hypocritical charade with a bunch of ill-informed liars and fools. I suggest others follow suit. Cannabis is a relatively harmless recreational drug and therapeutic herb. I will no longer watch as moral purists and political partisans continue to highjack the debate and flood the zone with bullshit.

We need to acknowledge that we are not participating in a ‘debate’ that is being undertaken in good faith by all parties. Cannabis law reformers are advocating for the facts; opponents of cannabis law reform are engaging in fear-mongering.

If a politician in 2023 is not aware of the truth, they need to be voted out of office as they are grossly ignorant. If a politician in 2023 continues to insist that cannabis is a dangerous drug – they need to be voted out of office on the basis that they are knowingly lying to the Australian public.

I just want to be able to have a quiet toke at home and not be hassled by the coppers. But four decades of being polite has achieved precisely nothing. I still have to hide my cannabis use. The liars and fools remain in charge. If you think cannabis should remain illegal, and say so in public, you are either a fool or a bigot. So will loudly invite you to mind your own business and stop talking crap.

I reckon the time for tolerating bullshit is waaay past.


Free the weed: VOTE #1 LCA (Legalise Cannabis Australia).




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Big Media: Perhaps its grip is loosening?

This week 2GB Radio in Sydney got knocked off its number one perch. This right-wing gabfest has been at number one in the Sydney marketplace since 2004. It lost its spot to KIISFM which is an entirely non-serious enterprise. This is an important milestone. It marks a shift in the reading/listening/watching habits of the Australian populace; a change that will become ever more notable in the coming months and years.

People in Aus are beginning to consume different sorts of media, in different quantities, in a manner that is entirely predictable. These changes accord with both communications’ theory and the observations of economists over the last decades.

In simple terms, when an economy is flush with cash, then people broaden their habits and attitudes and commonly buy a lot more media products, of a wider variety. Also, the international, national and economic news components of the media all seem to grow and expand during these periods of economic good fortune.

However, when liquidity in a society dries up the populace commonly respond by not only reducing the amount of media being consumed but by also becoming less tolerant of (what are commonly perceived of) as ‘non-mainstream’ ideas and propositions. (If anyone wants to look into this phenomenon further it is normally referred to as the ‘Overton Window’ Hypothesis.)

In simple terms, as people see their economic opportunities shrinking then they tend to not only move towards a greater consumption of ‘mainstream’ non-news narratives, they also become less tolerant of what are perceived as ‘marginal’ or ‘special interest’ propositions (especially those that are ideologically or politically based). Consequently, people start to change their ‘news’ consumption habits and begin to look more towards local and regional news and coverage of local events, and also commonly consume a lot less international and national news.

So, while other sectors of the economy only have to deal with economic factors, when times go bad, the big media owners also have to contend with a change in attitudes of the population. With Nine and News it will likely make for a perfect storm. How long will these owners (overseas owners in one instance) put up with the parts of their conglomerates that are bleeding money?

The slush of cash that had been sloshing around has suddenly dried up. And while low interest rates and high liquidity is a situation that is conducive to a highly concentrated media marketplace – vertical integration along with buying up all of your competition only works when there is enough money for the big, centralised parts of the business to support a host of smaller loss-making operations.

Regional and local papers will be sold off first. Plus, newsrooms across the country will further consolidate, with several major mastheads being edited from the one centralised location (which has been happening already, but which is a process that will be accelerated in the coming years). Yet these commercial realities will also be exacerbated by the change in media habits that was earlier discussed.

The vast majority of Aussies are (in colloquial terms) far to the ‘left’ of both the government and the press. This is of particular concern for the Nine and News group which publish a range of mastheads that are way out of step with the opinion of the vast majority of the populace. These papers will either have to shift to a more centrist editorial position or become less ideologically and politically focused. Moreover, at the same time, as ownership once again diversifies in the print and online spaces, then the power of these big media monopolies to dictate the content of the ‘news’ will also diminish.

The shift to regional and local consumption will also have implications for the big companies. In many cases the closure of a local paper that is owned by one of these big corporations will allow space for a locally owned enterprise to once again spring up. Thus, while the current financial downturn is not a good thing for individuals it will likely be of benefit to our regional media environment by forcing the divestiture of many failing titles, thus allowing these local and regional markets to once again be serviced by small (and far more agile) regional owners – who will likely include a diversity of news sources and opinions in the place of the relatively uniform product that is currently available.

For many of us who are quite exasperated by the incredible media ownership concentration in our country these are all welcome developments. Yet it also needs to be observed that the prospect of an easing in the obscene levels of media ownership concentration in Australia are unlikely to be the product of any government action. I seem to get the feeling that our political class are more worried about their careers than the health and wellbeing of the community in general (but perhaps I am just an old cynic).


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The Sickening Hypocrisy of our Cannabis Laws

‘Excuse me sir.’ I had fallen asleep in a park, under the cool shade of a huge fig tree and I was being shaken awake by a policeman. Apparently, the park was closing and I had to leave. So, I stood up, gathered up my stuff and turned towards the entrance.

‘Is that your cannabis, sir?’ The policeman was now pointing to a small wooden bowl and a clear plastic packet, sitting by the side of one of the buttress roots of the fig. At once I felt a familiar rush of adrenaline. I had been half-asleep, now I was suddenly wide-awake.

However, the copper was quite evidently just concerned that I had forgotten my weed. I laughed and thanked him profusely. It was only a small packet of ‘Blueberry Haze’, but it was an unforgettable toke and I would have been upset to have lost it.

No – this is not a fantasy. This happened to me only a month ago; in Thailand.

If this same had happened in Australia, the policeman would not have been as polite and I would have been unlikely to have had a pleasant afternoon. But, as I was in Thailand, I immediately felt safe. In this instance the policeman was actually trying to help me, not destroy my life. This is because, seven months prior to this encounter, the Thai Kingdom had entirely legalised cannabis use.

As I am extremely interested in cannabis law reform, I have been following the development of this entirely laissez-faire approach closely, as this represents the first time a large country has approached the regulation of cannabis in an appreciably rational fashion. As I write, in Thailand, if you are more than twenty years old and are not pregnant or breast feeding, you can grow, buy, sell, and consume as much cannabis as you want. There are virtually no other regulations.

The authorities in Thailand looked at all the available information regarding cannabis and decided that there was little or no harm associated with cannabis use. In other words, they were brave enough to acknowledge the facts. And since the only appreciable harm associated with cannabis seemed to be caused by its either being illegal or difficult to obtain, instead of setting up a huge administrative and regulatory apparatus to oversee a legal market in cannabis, the Thai authorities simply removed all the criminal penalties and left it to the commercial marketplace. Just like any other largely harmless product.

Seven months into this experiment in actual (not phony) legalisation, I arrived in Bangkok to tour the industry and search for any ‘harms’ that might be evident. After all, in dozens of western world countries, governments have been expending huge amounts of taxpayers’ funds on protecting the public from the danger of an unrestricted marketplace in cannabis. But now, in Thailand, there was at last a jurisdiction that could be compared to these many other highly restricted marketplaces. Consequently (I reasoned), if cannabis is now freely available in Thailand, then surely all of the ‘harms’ that we in the western world are being sheltered from would be in evidence.

Which is to say, if the moralists and anti-cannabis crusaders in the west are correct, now that there is an unrestricted marketplace of cannabis in Thailand, there will have been a huge rise in instances of mental illness, also a massive tidal wave of immorality and illegality. Additionally, the youth in the Kingdom will have begun flocking to cannabis cafes in flagrant disregard of the law, probably losing their religion along the way. So, I had arrived in Thailand to document all of the ‘harms’ that had befallen the country due to the free availability of cannabis.

As I am an academic, I wanted to make sure that I was talking to a representative sample of Thai citizens, so I designed my research project to ensure that this was the case. The ‘20/20 Project’ project asked the same twenty questions about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand, but asked a range of different people, including policemen, shopkeepers, health professionals, government officials, as well as growers, smokers and sellers of weed.

So, what were the many undesirable outcomes that were reported?

Nill. None. Nada. Zilch.

Not a single person who was approached and asked about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand could identify a single appreciable ‘harm’ that had resulted from the change in the law. Whereas they reported many appreciable benefits. The commercial sector has been boosted. The police have far more money to spend while policing a populace who have far more respect for them. In later reports I will discuss these many benefits in close detail, but for the purposes of this short article all that needs to be noted is that there were no appreciable harms.

So why is our government (amongst other western world governments) proposing to spend a fortune in restricting access to cannabis and suppressing a free marketplace in the herb? What ‘harms’ are these people protecting us from?

It is no longer feasible for a politician to argue that cannabis is dangerous or that a free marketplace in cannabis has deleterious effects. We have been lied to by the authorities for decades. Authorities that continue to argue that they have to deem cannabis illegal and spend a huge amount of taxpayer funds in restricting access to cannabis FOR OUR OWN GOOD. This is a blatant lie and can no longer be tolerated in the public forum.

It is time to end the hypocrisy. It is time to simply no longer tolerate all the lies being told in the public square. Cannabis is harmless. Cannabis is fully legal and available elsewhere in the world and there has been no break down in morality. There have been no negative health or social effects reported – period.

Stop spending my money on protecting me from imaginary harm. The only harm associated with cannabis is the unwarranted meddling of the police in lives of otherwise happy people and the expenditure of huge amounts of money for no apparent reason.

If you don’t want me to smoke weed then I will agree – as soon as you ban all other recreational drugs. Until then you can take your hypocrisy and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Free the weed: VOTE #1 LCA (Legalise Cannabis Australia).




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The failed experiment

If we don’t talk about ‘class’ the species will go extinct.

Marx’s original concept of class is that:

There is only the working class and the capitalist class.

The concept of a ‘middle class’ is a necessary fiction that is fostered by the capitalist class (who generally realise that there are only two classes – being ‘us’ and ‘them’).

If you have to work to support yourself then you are in the working class.

If you do not need to work then you are a capitalist.

The distinction pivots on the perception of the individual relating to their own circumstances, not on the degree of capital that an individual might possess.

Marx talks of a class ‘in itself’ as the objective reality of the relations of production. A class ‘in itself’ is defined by whether or not an individual must sell their labour to survive, regardless of whether or not the individual might believe they are actually in ‘the working class’ or the ‘middle or upper class’.

So the definition of a class ‘in itself’ is an objective appreciation relating to the relationship of the individual to the means of production. If an individual need not work at all then they are in the capitalist class ‘in itself’. In modern parlance we would say that they are ‘objectively’ (i.e., by appreciating the facts that are evident) in a situation where they need not work because they can comfortably and trans-nationally live off accumulated capital without diminishing the sum of the available capital. The only class that is currently ‘in itself’ and ‘for itself’ are the rich elite. (Consider that at the moment more than half the fungible wealth in the USA is under the direct control of less than ten people. Moreover, the richest .001% of the worlds population control more than 80% of the capital resources on the globe).

If it is apparent, objectively, that you cannot simply put up your feet and make a living by using your capital to generate more capital (sufficient to not only surviving but also generating a further surplus), then you are a member of the working class ‘in itself’. Regardless of what you might say yourself.

The terminology of a class ‘for itself’ is, therefore, a reference to the subjective appreciation entertained by an individual relating to their own economic and social status. In this manner, the ‘middle-class’ does exist as a class ‘for itself’ (i.e., as a social definition) but not as a class ‘in itself’.

The easiest way to work out if you are in the working class ‘in itself’ is to think about whether or not you would be ‘wiped out’ in a substantial downturn in the marketplace (think about something like a housing market and stock market crash). Capitalists retain their capital during downturns and make surpluses during upturns. This is because their wealth (stolen labour) is sequestered in fungible forms (land, plant, political hegemony) across a number of jurisdictions. Their primary calling is to accumulate personal wealth so their allegiance is to the retention of wealth (objects) not other people (subjects).

Our PM (for example) is in the capitalist class because he has a gazillion dollars squirreled away in overseas accounts. All of the capitalist class are similarly ‘economically’ rational and so ‘economically motivated’ (above all else). If you gave our PM (or any other of his class) the option of living as a worker in Australia without property, or elsewhere with their current wealth, then …

Marx theorized that revolution occurs when the degree of alienation of the working class is such that it remains impossible for the bulk of the workers to maintain their fictional self-conception as being members of a class ‘for itself’ and realise that they are simply wage takers (and part of the working class ‘in itself’). In other words, when they realise that their primary class allegiance should be to other subjects; not to a pile of objects.

In the original thesis proposed by Karl (in the unpublished German Ideology and the Grundrisse) he proposed that the ‘alienation of the working class’ will dissipate when the wage takers of society become wage setters. So, breeding a revolution has nothing to do with brainwashing people but rather the opposite. Marx proposes that social revolution begins with individual enlightenment. When the majority of the citizenry decide to objectively and communally re-negotiate what is valuable and what is ‘freedom’ – then we will have achieved class liberation.

The emancipation of society is all about the education of the individual and development of a just and equitable society that is in balance with the environmental, agrarian and industrial base’s of production.

Unless we do change our systems of distribution and common assessments of ‘value’ then we are stuffed. The human experiment will be snuffed out for want of facility and ability. Like 99.999% of all the species that have gone before us, we will pass away. Perhaps so shall consciousness. That self-aware spark of magic we think of as ‘us’ might very well fade away even before we get any real chance to become truly self-aware. I find it difficult to smile at the irony of this prospect.

It is relatively certain we will go extinct if we do not work out a system by which we can say ‘no’ to both the imperatives of capital and those of our own literature. Who will say that the current system is either rational or just? Yet so many amongst us yearn to retain our ever-failing traditions? This is simply a longing for annihilation as a species.

If you say we can never contain the imperatives and the violence of capital, upon the citizenry and the environment, then you are saying that mankind cannot survive.

Marx proposed that the central urgencies which make sense of our current system is the logic of the .0001% of the population who own virtually everything on earth. He proposed that as soon as the ‘working class in itself’ suddenly realise that there is actually enough ‘stuff’ for everyone on the planet, revolution will occur.

We either contain the ravages of ‘the rationale of capitalism’ or we fail.

We must make it impossible for individuals to gain control of large aggregations of capital and then pass this on to their offspring. This is because the rationale of capital is to make more capital irrespective of the individual, environmental and social cost.

As a species we only get one shot. Just like the 99.999% of species that went before us. But it looks like a tiny group of rich arseholes are going to entirely stuff it up for the rest. Apparently the need to be able to own sixteen cars and a house in five countries is more important than the need for fresh water and food for the children and the future of our species upon the globe.

Right at the moment I am not confident. People keep on telling me that I am the one who is a ‘radical’.

But (I keep stuttering) …
– the Great Barrier reef is crumbling and going white
– people are working ever longer hours to pay ever inflated prices for virtually everything
-we are wedded to environmentally catastrophic products that we throw away and repurchase weekly
-across the world we spend five hundred times as much on armaments as we do on feeding the poor
-our oceans are dying
-our planet is warming.

Yet the mainstream press and most of our citizenry are continuing to work hard to prop up this failing system whilst inanely prating inanities about how great the modern capitalist world is and how wonderful all this ‘economic activity’ is for ‘jobs and growth’.

What I find ‘radical’ is the sort of hypocrisy that is mainstream in our society. That we should all be happy to trade our current spurt of economic sunshine (being entertained by a tiny minority of the worlds population) for the whole of the worlds environment and the future of our species. I think that is ‘radical’.

Yet I am labelled a radical for ever trying to progress the needs of the species? By proposing that inanimate objects are not valuable. But rather that I am valuable and you are valuable. And that my time and your time is valuable. All the rest is bullshit.

I think it is radical that we are living in and fostering the perpetuation of a society where you and I – and everything we care about – can be weighed against a small pile of coinage and legal documents. And sick.

If mankind does not abandon many of its ‘cherished traditions’ then the experiment will fail.

James Moylan
Midday December 29th
(any given year on the calendar)

Fixing Our Society

Does anyone remember that we once proudly described ourselves as an egalitarian nation? Just after World War II, the Australian government wanted everyone in the world community to understand that Australia was a socialist democracy. Evatt at the UN, then later Gough here at home, were simple expressions of the majority opinion.

We were hugely proud of the fact that we were a country, where the population were the ones in control. We wanted a level playing field with ample public services for all. What happened?

We hear all the time that our democracy is broken. In virtually every debate relating to the big picture issues facing our society, just about the only thing that everyone seems to agree on is that our democracy is broken.

The pattern is obvious. The inequalities and disaffections entertained by a particular part of the citizenry are identified, listed, and then widely and loudly discussed. (Think about women, Aborigines, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, homelessness, rural services, health services, the environment, etc etc etc).

Then, having identified a range of obvious and dire problems, we implement some half-arsed idea and publicly forget about it all until the next time we again jointly and collectively fail to fix the very same problem.

Pay gap widening. Rich getting richer. Homelessness growing. Great Barrier Reef going white and crumbling. Cannabis illegal, yet super strong legal heroin widely available. Cities outgrowing their infrastructures. Housing, twenty-years plus, unaffordable. Huge concentrations of corporate power in every segment of society. Electricity ever more expensive. Workers ever falling behind bosses raking it in and vacationing in Europe.

Let’s for a moment step back from these ‘intractable’ social problems and ask ‘why?’ Why can’t we seem to address any of these problems? After all, it is not that we have not already had our best minds consider these matters and give their opinions. Sometimes endlessly. Anyone can go to the internet, right now, and track down a thousand articles and discussions relating to any of these topics, with many containing a range of rational responses, sometimes from the best minds of our generation, discussing how we might begin to tackle all of these problems.

Of course, I am not saying that any of these long-standing difficulties and faults in society can be easily fixed. But why no progress at all? Especially since it is relatively easy to also gauge the opinion of the Australian population regarding any and all of these matters. We want these matters addressed: yet nothing continues to happen.

Note that not all social problems are a difficulty. In situations where the interests of the corporate sector and the interests of the majority are aligned then we do seem to get instant government response which is sometimes incredibly effective. Think about littering, smoking, the road toll, child sexual assault, gay rights, sewage and stormwater control, etc. Aussies like a cohesive and safe urban environment and, in the main, so does the corporate world.

I despair for our current social discourse. It has become stupid, mean, and corporate. It simply does not represent the Australia that I know.

Why did our governments sell off all of our electricity and water services? Why did they sell off the Commonwealth Bank? Why did they dismantle the CES to replace it with a huge corporate sector that costs four times as much? Why do we give away all of our mineral wealth to a group of rich men? Why does none of our corporate sector pay any tax? Why are the rich getting so much richer? Why aren’t the workers getting more?

After twenty-five years of our entire mainstream media being owned and run by corporate apologists, these questions are simply not being addressed. The people who ask these sorts of questions are now sneered at and their questions absent. What did we expect?

We allowed all of our social services and structures (in media, banking, retail, health, electricity, etc) to be privatised and sold off piecemeal to the highest bidders (and every one of them with a friend in Parliament). All generally against the wishes of the majority of the population. Now we sit around griping about the rising cost of everything like a bunch of whimpish three-year-olds. We just gripe. It’s pathetic. It’s now too late. The baby-boomers have utterly stuffed up ‘our’ democracy.

Ask any mainstream politician in our land and they will tell you that the most important thing in their universe is to make sure that Australia has a ‘healthy economy’. This is simply because, for the last quarter of a century, every media outlet in our country has been unabashedly expanding their ‘business’ section to cover the entire social realm.

Until now, in our modern age, every political decision has to be ‘economically feasible’ rather than merely being socially equitable. Moreover, to point out this gross capture of democracy is no longer even considered rude. It is celebrated.

I have to accept that we no longer live in a socialist democracy. Our ‘society’ has become an ‘economy’. In other words; the bastards have won. Both major parties take their marching orders directly from the big end of town. Everyone now talks about our country as if it is a big shopping centre. WTF?

Once upon a time, there was at least the need for a modicum of stage-craft. The politicians had to at least pretend that they were acting in the interests of the majority of the people in society. But no longer. Now we have a merchant banker in charge of our land and the leader of the free world is a bigoted property developer from New York.

I think I have cause for at least mild to medium levels of dark despair and foreboding. If you are poor then, apparently, you have the option of starving to death or working hard, all your life, to just make ends meet, so as to make someone else rich. It’s up to you. After all, we are all equally free to sleep under the bridges in our land (at least out in the countryside where the municipal authorities won’t hose you down).

Anyway, why would you complain? Everyone tells us all, all the time, that we all should simply do what is in our bosses best interests because ‘capitalism won’. ‘Socialism’ was defeated. Greed is now not only good; but right. Just ask our PM, the leader of the opposition, all of the media outlets in the land, and just about every kid (under 25) who are wondering why the hell they can’t seem to make ends meet while all of their parents were able to afford to buy such beautiful homes.

None of our ‘intractable’ social problems can even be approached, let alone addressed because we sold our souls to the idea that everyone could be rich. We have turned our society into an economy and all of our politicians now work for the highest bidder. Now the flower-children are all homeowners, small business people and have generally bought the capitalist dream utterly. They all seem to think that they are sitting on a house that is worth a million dollars. A whole generation has drifted from flower child to shallow corporate schmuck in just twenty-five years. It’s pathetic.

This is why we have ‘intractable’ social problems. In simple terms, in an economy, the one with the biggest wallet always wins. And the biggest wallets in our society are very happy with the way that things are, right at this moment. After all, these intractable ‘problems’ are making them ever richer. The bigger the problem; the better the banker’s holiday. Stuff the reef.

It will now be up to the next generations to fight for the soul of Australia. There is no doubt that our descendants will look back on us and disown us completely. We have lost the plot. The baby-boomers are fools. When the 1% walk away from the smoking carcass of the Australian economy after their twenty-five years of disastrous mismanagement, they will be happy to retire to nearby their money in an offshore haven.

Then we, the baby-boomers, will have nobody but ourselves to blame. Yes, our democracy is broken. We, the smug ownership class, have allowed our system to become corrupt. We surrendered our entire free press and most of our infrastructure to large commercial conglomerates.

Ours is no longer a country run by the populace but rather the corporate sector. We have allowed the concept of our democracy to be perverted. Our children and their descendants will look back on our generation with contempt. We identified all of the problems, and carefully, one by one, totally failed to fix any of the big ones.

We allowed our society and political system to be captured by big money. For all of our constant barrage of self-congratulation, the baby-boomer generation has failed. And now it is simply too late. When our housing bubble bursts and Australia settles into becoming a third-world backwater for a quarter of a century, then the baton will not so much pass-on as be wrenched from our hands.

We have allowed our industrial base to virtually disappear. We allowed multinational corporations to export all the profits of the mining boom. We allowed our public services to be sold off, bit by bit, until we have to pay a toll even to travel from one end of a city to another. We have pissed the opportunity to make a better society, up against the wall. I am ashamed to have been born amidst such a cretinous bunch of imbeciles.

But then the baby-boomer generation have simply carried on the great tradition of mankind. In the last two hundred years, we have consumed voraciously everything we might and done our best to irretrievably damage the ecosystem on every continent, even whilst simultaneously causing a mass-extinction and a climate change event.

Hopefully, our children might do better with the little we leave behind. We cannot hope they will consider us kindly. Perhaps the best that we can hope for is that there might actually be someone still around in another thousand years. It’s a low bar but I think we might just clear it.

Happy Holidays.

I thought we worked all this out during the Enlightenment!

When President Trump announced that he would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel he did it to appease the Christians in America. Or, more precisely, the big money Evangelical donors. This is not a good development. The real problem with the current meddling in the affairs of the middle-east is not so much that the President has no idea what he is doing. The real problem is that this President is a fantasist.

Because the President lives in a world in which everyone is being deliberatively and carefully deceitful, he cannot seem to discern the difference between the personally rapacious and the dangerously lunatic. Don’t get me wrong. I want to state at the outset that people like Steve Bannon are dangerous. But Bannon is a banker and so is easily understood. It is simply class-warfare. To work Bannon out all you need is a calculator, a stock price index and to be able to feel the breeze of the current social mood on your cheek. In many ways Bannon and the traditional Republican Establishment are one and the same. They entertain much the same basic ambitions: Do what you have to do to amass a lot of money, then retire.

But the current Prez is so dim-witted that he cannot seem to understand that while most of the people he deals with, day-to-day, are just saying whatever they need to say – some are not lying. Some are actually batshit crazy.

So we return to the topic of the Evangelical Christians and all the other ‘people of the book’. The current coalition of the deluded that the US President is unknowingly appeasing are just that percentage of the population that all sane and thinking apes have been doing their best to disinvest of power since Adam was knee-high to a Neanderthal. We almost got there for a while prior the Roman Empire but the dark ages intervened and it was religion everywhere for centuries. Then we had a real crack at it during the Enlightenment. But it was only after we all had electric light and flushing loos that rationality ever really took hold. So, ever since the Industrial revolution, we have all been whittling away at the power of the ‘people of the book’. I actually thought we had finally won. Silly me.

I don’t mean to say that we don’t all like the stories. They are terrific stories. The garden of Eden. The snake. Noah and the big boat. The red-sea opening up. Moses and Commandments. Jesus whizzing about on the water. Mohammad and his flying horse. But in the modern world I thought that it was not really popular to actually believe the stories. Or admit that you believe them. At least not in public where sane people might overhear.

After all, the ‘people of the book’ (either Jewish, Islamic or Christian) are simply not working with the same rule book as the rest of us. They are not amenable to reason. The Evangelical Christians that Trump is pandering to are pretty much unknown to Trump. He probably dismisses all their ‘end-of-the-world’ malarkey as just another schtick. But some of us understand that they are deadly serious. No really! People like Sheldon Adelson should not be approached unless they are wearing a straight-jacket and muzzle. They are not just batshit loop-the-loop crazy; they want to blow up the world so they can live forever in another dimension where everything is ‘nice’ (in other words where scum like you and me are burning in hellfire eternal somewhere close at hand where the saved ones can watch on and giggle). So not just batshit crazy but dangerously batshit crazy.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Sheldon is an anti-Union, anti-Cannabis, anti-Women’s rights, anti-Modern world, evangelically inclined Casino magnate, who donated twenty-five million dollars to Trump. Sheldon was brought up, like the rest of his generation of literalist bible believers, reading the ‘Left Behind’ series of books, which are simply racy pieces of Christian ‘end-time’ apocalyptic pornography in which the Christians all win and the rest of us get to burn in hellfire eternal. Most of the rest of us understand that people like Sheldon cannot be allowed into the game. OK, being corrupt is horrible but tolerable. It is not an existential problem. Even the corrupt need a world in which to spend their ill-gotten gains. However, the batshit crazies like Sheldon are on the side of a worldwide apocalypse. They are on the side-lines cheering and doing everything they can to bring on a worldwide Armageddon as soon as possible. (Nothing could be finer than to burn in Carolina?)

It is impossible to stress this enough for a relatively rational Aussie audience: the American Evangelical Christians really do believe that bringing about the end of the world is a good idea. They talk about ‘us’ and ‘them’. They really do think that science is the product of the devil, that the world is six thousand years old, that angels exist, and they alone will live forever while everyone else is damned (and damnable). They are hoping for Armageddon. They have been betting on it and waiting for it all their lives. Some of them even think that they have to force the prophecy to come true. They believe that bringing about the end of the world is doing God’s work. Loopy does not quite cover it.

Yet notice how all of the Press coverage does not even dare to talk about the sheer lunacy that is propelling this whole situation. Why do the Christians care? According to the Evangelicals, all of their metaphysical end-of-the-world fun can’t get underway until Jerusalem is reunited under the one ruler who can then lead all of the Jewish Nation into the fires of hell to cook forever in one long parade. Wow!

I am not so worried that Trump will cause America to become debased. That is a bit like worrying about water becoming wetter. But I am worried that he might accidentally blow us all up.


Say after me; people are real. Books are fantasy. We don’t stone children to death; we don’t keep slaves; women are equal to men; sex between consenting adults cannot be ‘perverted’; we don’t live forever; people don’t die and then get better; and, blowing up the world is just not a good idea.

F’r Chrissakes. I thought we worked all this out during the Enlightenment? Sad.


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Our leaders are loyal to the citizenry? Don’t make me laugh!

The biggest kerfuffle in Aussie politics is all about the technicalities regarding ‘dual citizenship’. Our founding fathers were well aware that if an individual was going to sit in our Parliament, then it was important to know that they do not have divided loyalties. A principle which has been largely lost in the political point-scoring and bickering about paperwork. Do any of our politicians even notice the irony in this situation? What has become of us?

We, the people, need to begin questioning the obviously divided loyalties of our leaders. No one else will. The mainstream media are only interested in pissing in the pockets of their owners and advertisers. We all know the social media to be as corrupt and as stupid as the lowest common commercial denominator. Therefore, it is largely down to us. (Which, in effect, means we’re f*****d.)

What do we want from our political leaders? What is the one thing that is foremost in every average citizen’s desires regarding an elected representative? It is simple. We want a politician to put our problems and circumstances first; not that of Party, Religion, Sect, Ideology or Idol. Not their mates, their donors, their bank account, the ‘economy’, their favourite TV star, dog, or anything. How far from this simple ambition has our political system drifted?

Currently, it is almost impossible to even get elected to a parliament in Australia if you do not pledge your abiding loyalty to a political party. If you stand as an Independent you will not get any media coverage, or you will be pilloried in all the mainstream media. If your only loyalty is to the citizenry, then it is almost impossible to get elected. If you do get elected, (accidentally), you will have no power. You will not be ‘in the club’.

Yet, this is just the first of the loyalties that our politicians put well ahead of any thought for their constituents. If a constituent of Mr Turnbull is having trouble with a bank loan and walks into his office to discuss it, whose interest do you think will be at the forefront of our PMs mind? First, he will toe the party line. This will provide him with a script for his discussion. Then he will argue the case for all of his donors. But what about his private opinions and loyalties?

Our PM is an ex-merchant banker with a squillion dollars stashed away in offshore bank accounts. I would propose that this is probably Mr Turnbull’s No. 1 priority in all matters; both personal and private. The PM is an easy target of course. But if it came down to a choice between forsaking their money or fleeing Australia, how many of the people in our parliament do you think would choose their money?

I do hope you are not as cynical as me. The assessment I make is not flattering. The hypocrisy is as thick in the air in Canberra as it has ever been. The fight is as furious as ever. Yet it continues to be a fight about whose big money backers get to rule the roost. It has nothing to do with you or me. We only get to be observers (and to be ruled). And don’t doubt that most of our politicians fully comprehend both their own deceit and our continuing disdain for them. But they hardly care. They don’t have to. After all, we’re not their boss.