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

Murdoch: forever brutal

There is much to read and know about Rupert Murdoch but there is nothing more provocative than the book by current Media Watch host Paul Barry; Breaking News: Sex, lies and the Murdoch succession, first published in 2013.

Since then we all know how his media empire is on the point of collapse, the disagreement with his youngest son over the immoral standards of his print, online media and in particular the lies it prints about climate change.

Then there is his misreading of the future of the internet and the future of Foxtel.

His bias is beyond words and his ongoing attempts to assassinate the character of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews where his publications have substituted journalism for opinion has provoked public opinion and left Victorians aghast.

Of Murdoch himself, Wikipedia tells us that he is:

“… an Australian-born American media mogul. Through his company News Corp, he is the owner of hundreds of local, national, and international publishing outlets around the world, including The Sun and The Times in the UK, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian in Australia, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in the US, book publisher HarperCollins, and the television broadcasting channels Sky News Australia and Fox News.”

Even at the age of 89 he still brandishes power as though he owns it. The ABC’s current three-part series; The Rise Of The Murdoch Dynasty has sparked public interest in the man and his empire. I posted this review of Barry’s book in 2014 and believe it pertinent to repost because it gives those with little insight into the man a clearer understanding of just how brutal he is.


Depressingly readable is the best way to describe Paul Barry’s revealing biography of Rupert Murdoch. I placed the word mongrel in the title of this piece but it could just as easily used scumbag which means a contemptible or objectionable person.

It is a story about one man. A man with a love for money, power, influence, acquisitions, wives, children and even scandal. Scandal makes money.

Covering much of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, it is fluent yet comprehensive, with a not-too-much-not-too-little approach to Murdoch’s life.

It is brilliantly written. Barry has a rare talent for the exposure of things complex and how to unravel them. What was depressing for me was the uncouthness of the man in question. He has obtained a vast fortune by printing smut and conditioning people to reading it and in doing so has displayed a complete disregard for the lives of others. His obsession with profit over anything else, even people’s privacy, is staggering. His business and personal moral corruption stands out larger than the worst of his tabloid headlines.

Having the power to elect governments is the ultimate power that carries with it the highest rewards that corruption can bring.

On three occasions I had to put the book down, so affronted was I by this vile nefarious excuse for humanity. One time was when one of his tabloid editors described the reason for his papers existence by saying: “The reason we exist is to destroy people’s lives.”

I imagine writing a book about Murdoch would be challenging. One would be tempted to be caught between his remarkable business success and the corrupt means by which he has made his fortune. Page after page is filled with carefully worded analysis of Murdoch’s business methodology. How he courted favour with the highest echelons of business and government. How he implies his instructions to his editors with a nod and a wink.

In the main Barry confines himself largely to the family machinations, succession, his longevity and the British hacking scandals.

As Barry points out, while Murdoch is alive, he could definitively resolve which of his children succeed him. But to do that he would have to step down and he almost certainly won’t, which gives the process the appearance of a slow-motion traffic accident. So much so that if he retains his health, he could be running his split empires, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, in 2033. By then he will be 102, a year younger than his mother, Dame Elisabeth, at her death last year.

The Murdoch succession represents one of the great transfers of wealth and power of our times. And it is of course, by virtue of a rigged shareholding. Set up to his family’s advantage.

There are some telling revelations detailing his relationship with his children that give insight into the indifference he shows to outsiders. The discarding of loyal business associates of many years standing if it suited his purpose. His disregard for the feelings of others bleeds its way from one chapter to another and one is left with an impression of a man without an altruistic bone in his body. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in his capacity to end relationships on a whim. He discards marriages as if by decree leaving emotional wreckage scattered around him.

But the main thrust of this book is in Barry’s reading of the testimony before the Leveson Inquiry. It well may be that the revelations that emerge from the inquiry and the ensuing trials might to some degree change or rewrite some of Barry’s assertions. But it won’t change public perception.

Barry begins with Murdoch telling the British culture committee at the height of the hacking inquiry: “This is the humblest day of my life.”

“Is it rehearsed? Probably not.”  My view is Murdoch was on message: the line appears in his prepared statement, which he tried to table and, when this was refused, he blurted it out twice.

Thereafter Barry takes the reader on a journey that gives telling glimpses into the psychopathology that infested Rupert Murdoch’s power house tabloid; News of the World.

Murdoch was, and is, so unbelievably powerful that all he had to do was crook his finger and Tony Blair instantly jumped on a jet and flew halfway across the world to attend on him and to beg assurances of his support at the height of the 1995 U.K. General Election campaign.

Barry forensically dissects the evidence with page turning urgency and tells the whole story, or stories of people whose lives have been wrecked by the tabloid malevolence of Murdoch’s slime infested world. He alludes to many of the individual hacking instances but none are more compelling than when he asks Counsel to the Inquiry, Robert jay QC, “could I test that?” and proceeds to skilfully and deftly draw (News of the World editor) McMullan out. The gist of the questions that follow is “What about Jennifer Elliott?”

In the mid-1990s, Jennifer Elliott, daughter of famous actor Denholm Elliott, was homeless and occasionally used sex work to finance her heroin addiction. McMullan bribed a police officer for information about her whereabouts. He tracked her down, and over the following months, befriended her. He then betrayed their friendship by using it as the basis is for a series of articles in (News of the World) about her situation, ‘golden girl on the red carpet as her dad goes to pick up a Golden Globe … and here she is with dreadlocks covered in dirt … offering passers-by sex in return for money.’

Think of it. A vulnerable young woman in the thrall of addiction is living on the streets. A corrupt copper tips an opportunistic reporter off as to her whereabouts. She becomes a headline. A few years later, the cumulative effect of everything shitful in her life, including, in McMullan’s words, the fact that his media exposure had ‘absolutely humiliated’ her, takes its toll and she hangs herself.

Of all the stories of the hacking scandal victims, that of Jennifer Elliott haunts me the most.

The phrase ‘destroyed lives’ has been repeatedly used in reference to the News Corporation hacking scandal. But it did exactly that. The hacking scandal was lethal. Alexander Mosley, son of Max Mosley (who testified at the Leveson Inquiry on 24 November), escalated his drug abuse and eventually died of an overdose, unable to bear the shame of having his father reported by NOTW as having Nazi-themed sex with prostitutes (heavily emphasising the fact that Mosley’s father was British fascist leader Oswald Mosley).

British High Court Judge Eady found the Nazi theme of the reports had ‘no genuine basis at all’, when Mosley sued NOTW for breach of privacy and said ‘no amount of damage can fully compensate the claimant for the damage done. He is hardly exaggerating when he says his life is ruined’.

Then there was Charlotte Church, who after years of NOTW reports about her, including her family and her mother’s mental health issues, settled her legal action against News Group newspapers in February 2012, out of concern for what a protracted court battle was going to do to everyone’s health and well-being.

Mosley and Church’s stories get the space they deserve in Paul Barry’s book.

(Note: The aforementioned is quoted from another review and I have not been able to trace its originality.)

Primarily though, this book is about a man at the zenith of his power. A man with money but no character, no decency, no morality, no ethics and one who will die with ‘the king smut’ as his legacy. A despicable man who traded in human vulnerability for profit.

But he is good at it if nothing else.

Paul Barry has done the world a favour by writing this book but I was left at the end with the puzzling question:

How is this man fit to manage any business?

My thought for the day

Murdoch Publications: Where the truth goes to die.

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Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh

1 Yet another scandal surrounding the Liberal Party. A Liberal Party donor purchases a parcel of land near the Western Sydney airport for a fraction of its true value and the Auditor General finds it to be a shonky deal.

Then we find out that the company who purchased the land is a donor to the Liberal Party. The Minister at the time, Paul Fletcher, rather indignantly says it’s the department’s fault. If not them, perhaps Labor. Certainly not us. (Just joking of course but the LNP is really laughable at times.)

It’s another one of those pub tests or seemingly corrupt transactions that we are asked to believe without question. It is unfortunate that so many of us do.

I for one ask myself a few of questions. Firstly, how come a transaction that should be worth $1 million of the $30 million his department paid for the land manages to escape the eyes of the minister? Secondly, when he found out that the buyers were Liberal donors why didn’t he abort it?, and thirdly, did any of the money find its way back into Liberal Party coffers?

At the Press Club on 23 September Minister Fletcher’s defence was ignorance. He hadn’t been given enough information by his department so therefore was innocent of any wrongdoing. He felt protected by the auditor. Whatever happened to Ministerial responsibility?

Wasn’t he responsible for making sure he had all the information he required? At the Press Club, despite all the questions thrown at him he never once admitted negligence on his part.

Never, at any time did he question that the $30 million was a lot of money to pay for land worth but a fraction of the price paid.

That being the case then the Minister and the Government showed a lack of due diligence which can only be described as unethical.

Pub test anyone?

2 As one scandal follows another, Justice Geoffrey Flick found that while acting as Immigration Minister Alan Tudge unlawfully deprived an asylum seeker of his liberty, leaving him in detention for five days because he thought the tribunal that ordered his release got the law wrong.

In what could only be described as a scathing decision last Wednesday, the federal court Judge found the acting immigration minister “engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal.”

This the judge said exposed him to both civil and potential criminal sanctions, including for contempt of court.

Justice Geoffrey Flick warned the minister that he:

“… cannot place himself above the law”, and allowed the Afghan man to keep the visa awarded to him by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.”

Tudge is considering possible appeal.

Justice Flick described the minister’s conduct as “disgraceful.”

“The minister has acted unlawfully. His actions have unlawfully deprived a person of his liberty”.

“His conduct exposes him to both civil and potentially criminal sanctions, not limited to a proceeding for contempt.

“In the absence of explanation, the minister has engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal.”

Now that’s not a bad put down for another born-to-rule clown.

3 The Angus Taylor speech at the National Press Club on Tuesday 22 September, rather than presenting a road map for our future energy and climate policies, turned out to be an ideological highway to hell.

It has taken the conservatives the best part of a generation – since Abbott’s ill-fated decision to support coal rather than renewables — to finally see the light and admit that it is not the future.

Now we, the more enlightened of our species, find ourselves in a fight over gas. How pathetic they are. When you cannot govern for the common good then you have no right to govern at all.

They just cannot bring themselves to admit that in the time of Tony Abbott they were wrong to dismiss renewable energy as a power source. And this born to rule party with their disbelief in science have advanced us not one iota.

History will judge that they and subsequent governments of the same colour have done our nation a great disservice.

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

4 There was a lot of bad publicity for the government surrounding the proposed upgrade to Australia’s National Broadband Network. Labor rightly vented its “we told you so” anger at the government. Do it right the first time and that’s the end of it.

And of course, like an echo around the Grand Canyon as soon as they are finished you can hear the words “it needs an upgrade.”

And those with all the wisdom in these matters will know that the luddites of the Liberal Party have decided, once again on ideological grounds that it will only be the rich and privileged who will benefit from the upgrade.

The ever-reliable fine print tells us that only 4,000,000 connections are expected to be upgraded by 2025.

The government is saying that upwards of six million premises could access speeds of up-to-a-gigabit under the $4.5 billion upgrade.

Don’t be fooled. It will be free to connect but the ongoing charges will be prohibitive for the average family. Try $25.00 per week.

This will of course further widen the digital divide. The rich kids will have an advanced educational tool and the less well-off wont.

So much for all the Prime Minister’s dishonest words of fairness and equality of opportunity. Oh, and did I tell you that if your digs are in an apartment or you live in a block of flats the you may not get it at all?

I’m not joking. It’s true. And they keep on getting elected. Go figure. Someone should write a book about it.

So, it appears that I was right all along and the Coalition have been so lacking in vision that they could not see Australia’s growing technology needs just a few short years ago. Fair dinkum. Give me a Bex – I need to lay down.

One can only conclude that it has been a backflip a decade in the making.

5 Well, having written all this I suppose I should end with something about the world’s greatest clown.

President Trump is one sick individual. Now he is sordidly claiming that the statement released by the supreme court justice Ginsberg’s family was actually written by Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.

“I would be more inclined to the second, OK – you know, that came out of the wind. That sounds so beautiful, but that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe Pelosi or for Shifty Schiff. So that came out of the wind, let’s say. I mean, maybe she did, and maybe she didn’t.”

And the latest is that he is threatening not to accept the outcome of the election before a debate has been held.

He maybe the greatest clown of all. And the most dangerous.

My thoughts for the day

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

* * *

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

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“Boys State”: An Australian Perspective

If you have an Apple TV as I do you will no doubt have watched this boisterous flamboyant documentary, Boys State about the youth of Texas and how they look at politics.

Being an advocate for more political education in Australian schools, I eagerly awaited the contents of this 2018 documentary.

Every year 1,100 boys in all states (there is also a Girls State) apply for entry into a one-week programme where the state legislator is simulated and the boys have to take sides and duplicate all aspects of its procedures.

It is full of over-the-top American brashness, full-on testosterone, high school bands, drums and cross-party aggression. The week is sponsored by the American Legion with oversight and guidance.

The boys are embedded into two sides: Federalist and Nationalists – which turn out to be left and right.

The doco focuses on those seeking nomination for important positions in both parties. The two groups are expected to come up with a platform and at the conclusion a vote is taken for governor and other positions.

The viewer is presented with only a bare minimum of the concept’s history. However, we do find out that Dick Cheney, Cory Booker, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton attended.

The directors, Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, don’t waste any time in introducing the main characters who are in their own way typical 17-year old’s full of their own innocence or self-righteousness and we are apt to adopt the ones we share our values with.

Ben Feinstein is a “politics junkie” and double amputee from San Antonio. He is a Ronald Reagan devotee and even has a doll in Reagan’s image. He announces his personal platform when he explains to his family that it’s bad for America to focus on “race or gender or disability” rather than “individual failings.”

Steven Garza, is Ben’s political opposite. A quiet lad of thoughtful disposition who enters soon after. Then we have Steven Striver an open admirer of Bernie Sanders and surprisingly Napoleon. He describes himself as a progressive and arrives at the conference in a Beto O’Rourke T-shirt.

At the beginning, both of the boys Ben and Steven don’t interact because they are in opposing parties. Ben with the federalists and Steven with the Nationalists. Ben attains the position of party chairman.

Steven finds himself with the two other main figures: Robert MacDougall, Austin Smiler and the sharp-witted, razor-tongued René Otero, a transplant recipient from Chicago.

The energy of the boys at times leaves one exhausted as they draw up their platforms, attend endless meetings and participate in various activities including a talent show.

With the aid of multiple cameras, the four major charismata’s journeys are tracked from beginning to end.

Despite all the emotional ups and downs of these, at times, less than mature young men the editor manages to keep the narrative tight and on point.

Each party selects its own representatives and spends time arguing its platform. Suggestions range from the ridiculous to the profound. “They won’t take our manhood away.”

Both parties adopt the right to carry arms. The right because it is indelibly etched into their foreheads, and the left do so in the knowledge that they cannot win without doing so.

The right is opposed to abortion and the left are pro-abortion.

Throughout the movie I couldn’t help but think that these boys (mainly on the right) hadn’t caught up with the fact that there are those in their country who are still striving for equality.

Indeed, some of the lads seemed like they had swallowed a narcissism pill every morning.

I wondered what the Texas Bluebonnet Girls State might think of these guys and some of their views.

More information about the movie tells us that the Legion has:

“… sponsored a program for teenagers” since 1935 and that there “are separate programs for boys and girls.” The history is complicated, and instructive. The Legion sponsors Boys State, which the organization created “to counter the socialism-inspired Young Pioneer Camps,” as its website puts it. Girls State was first presented in 1937 and is run by the formerly all-female American Legion Auxiliary, a support organization. The girls’ program isn’t as prominent as the boys’, as the filmmakers’ indifference to it suggests.”

As enjoyable as the movie is, and I plan to watch it again, I was left with the thought that without the participation of both sexes it is incomplete.

The boys themselves range from the smart-arsed American to the charming, from the gifted to the Trump-like junior buffoons but mostly they’re kids seeking political maturity.

The latter part of the movie centres on the boys seeking election as governor or the important role of Party Chairman. Robert MacDougal is a candidate who stands against the Mexican lad, Garza. He is so impressed with his opponent’s ability to convey his message that he considers standing aside for him but his campaign is already under way.

Having read the room to be conservative on “pro choice abortion” he lies about his own ideology having drawn the conclusion that:

“Sometimes you can’t win on what you believe in your heart,” he looks into the camera. “It’s a morally questionable thing to lie in politics.” He then imparts the lesson he’s learned. “It gave me a new appreciation for why politicians lie to get in office.”

For those on the left watching this political melodrama play out, it is Garza, the son of Mexican immigrants and the sharp witted and very knowledgeable African-American Otero who steal the show.

It comes as no surprise when racist propaganda is used against both boys and it also comes as no surprise that neither boy takes the bite. Otero really does have an extraordinary grasp of the machinations of state politics and uses it with great effect.

Garza has a unique willingness to listen to those who disagree with him. Together with strong personal morals (other than gun control) of all the boys he is the one that leaves you with a very lasting impression.

Of course, in politics there is always a winner and a loser. I cannot disclose who becomes the junior state governor because it would spoil the movie for you.

Something similar to Boys State is desperately needed in Australia.

My test for any movie is the length of time it stays with you and this one is yet to exit my head: 4/5

Image from YouTube

My thought for the day

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

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They built a disastrous NBN and now they think they can build a power station. Wow.

While the evidence for climate change continues to be reconfirmed by science annually and catastrophic events become the norm, I am reminded of the words of Malcolm Turnbull when he was defeated by Tony Abbott:

“Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted.

As we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”

There exists in the Coalition Party Room at least 50% of its members who are fervent climate deniers. They will have nothing to do with the science.”

Now well into their third term nothing has changed. When the world has acknowledged that renewable energy is the most cost-effective means of acquiring power the now conservative Liberal Party are wanting to build a gas-powered power station to:

“… replace the ageing Liddell Power Station by the summer of 2023–24, or else the federal government will have the Commonwealth-owned Snowy Hydro company build a new gas-fired power plant itself.”

Well it’s a threat really, by a government renowned for its almost obligatory stuff ups. Remember the NBN that the experts advised against?

Build it once and do it right, the experts said, but the government, pigheadedly went ahead with technologies now obsolete. The same experts now say they will have to write down the value of the National Broadband Network because it is under threat from 5G mobile technology that will eventually supersede its hybrid technology.

Will it end up as a stranded asset?

You will have read these quotes of mine many times before:

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

“On the NBN, the problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

So back to Gas. After this re-announcement concerning a gas-powered station it is easy to fathom how all the advice goes against renewables.

Firstly, the threat to bring down the government by the nutter brigade by those renegade back bench MPs is still alive and kicking like a tiger snake in a hessian bag.

Secondly, when all your advisers come from the anti-renewable Murdoch media, the coal industry itself or pro-mining lobbyists with connections to all and every word other than renewable, what would you expect your advice to be?

To open your mind as to who these men are, go here. There are so many mining people in government advisory positions that you could call it a one-sided argument. Note: good leaders listen to all points of view.

So, after almost three terms of governance the Coalition is no closer to an energy (this pithy announcement I believe is about the 19th try) policy or indeed an environmental one.

We’ve had an injudicious and truly madcap debate about whether the government should or shouldn’t buy a clapped out 50-year-old coal fired power plant and a threat that if the industry won’t build a new gas fired one the government will. Now that’s called socialism. Yes, it gets sillier by the day.

Matt Canavan tweeted his disappointment.

 

I’m told he was almost gassed with nearly 700 replies.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, didn’t mince his words telling RN Breakfast that the plan was more spin than substance:

“There is a plan for new basins that would be years and years away. Basins that are nowhere near connected to the gas network. There is a review of prices. We have been calling for drastic action since 2015, but there is a review of prices to manufacturers.

They talk about establishing an Australian gas hub at Wallumbilla – Wallumbilla is already a gas hub which the energy regulator only said in recent weeks is becoming more and more liquid every month … And in a development that I’m sure has the big gas industry executives shaking in their boots, the announcement also talks about a “voluntary industry-led code of conduct” to give gas customers a fair shake.

Principally, we are talking about our big manufacturers there who have seen gas prices triple over the past five years. I think we’ve learnt over recent years that reliance on the goodwill of the gas companies will not deliver any price relief.”

During the announcement the Prime Minister clearly said; “I don’t care what source the dispatchables come from.”

That got Atlassian Corp co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes a little excited:

 

What the Prime Minister effectively said is that renewables are so cheap that they don’t need subsidies, but fossil fuels do. Can anyone explain the logic in those words?

Writing in The Guardian last Tuesday Katherine Murphy said:

“So to pull all these threads together, we now manage to find ourselves in this position: the Coalition repealed the carbon price, and hasn’t managed to settle a policy framework to replace it that anyone takes even remotely seriously, which has led to investment uncertainty for many years.”

Wednesday morning I received an email from The Climate Council of Australia. In part it said:

Hi John,

“This morning the Federal Government announced a gas ‘plan’ that really stinks. 

What’s been announced?

The Federal Government has just announced it wants to waste millions of taxpayer dollars propping up the dangerous and polluting gas industry, rather than choosing to invest in a plan that will actually rebuild our economy and protect Australians from long-term threats.

The Federal Government’s ‘Gas Plan’ (1) includes the construction of a new gas power station in the NSW Hunter Valley, if the electricity sector does not replace the Liddell coal-fired power station. It would also waste $28.3 million unlocking gas basins, including the Beetaloo Basin in the NT and the North Bowen and Galilee Basins in Queensland.

Why is this gas announcement bad?

Essentially, this would:

  • Ramp up fossil fuels. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel, which means this plan could worsen climate change, and lock Australia into dangerous climate impacts, like longer more dangerous bushfire seasons, longer, more frequent and more severe heatwaves and increased coastal flooding.
  • Deliver no jobs in the short-term – when they are needed most – pushing up power bills and increasing uncertainty in the energy market.
  • Waste taxpayers’ money propping up an uneconomic industry during a recession, instead of using stimulus money to solve the long-term problems facing Australia.”

My view is that this hopeless, climate-denying government has no intention of building a gas-powered fire station. They are trying to bluff the energy companies into doing something unnecessary for their own political purposes.

Phil Corey, writing in the Roy Morgan daily email newsletter said:

“Large energy users have welcomed the federal government’s proposal to build a gas-fired power station in the Hunter Valley if energy companies fail to outline how they will replace the Liddell power station’s output by April 2021.

The policy is aimed at encouraging the sector to invest in new dispatchable energy capacity, but Australian Energy Council CEO Sarah McNamara warns that it may deter energy companies from doing so.

Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute says the government’s proposal is “unnecessary intervention and overkill”, while National Party senator Matt Canavan argues that the government should build a coal-fired power station.”

Like the NBN, they, when it comes to looking the future in the face, the government is unable to accept a changing world.

If there is just one positive to come from the event called COVID-19 it is that vital decisions are now needed that go beyond defeating the virus.

It gives us the opportunity to change many past and present wrongs. The way we use energy and its source, the way we treat the environment, the way we treat our elderly folk, the way we educate our children, the way we conduct our politics and our diplomacy, the way money relates to society, the list goes on and on.

Our decision-makers need to tell us how all these decisions fit into a comprehensive narrative for our future otherwise a very unique opportunity will be lost.

If the government really believes that gas can be a part of our future then it needs to explain just how it fits into their comprehensive long-term energy plan. The problem is: that they haven’t got one.

My thought for the day

If one day in the future our children wake to find our prosperity gravely ill. It will be because Australia’s conservative politicians during the years 2013 to 202? Didn’t believe the science of a changing climate and left you with the consequences.

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Donald Trump: The fool on the hill is full of rage

To say that President Trump is a liar wouldn’t surprise anyone. Nor would I think saying that he is the worst political liar of all time.

Saying that, with the wilful use of his lying, he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans might turn a few heads but is it not time the citizens of the land of milk and honey saw the truth of it.

This time he has admitted it. He is on the record in his own words and documented by 18 recorded interviews by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame. Woodward is to release his highly anticipated new book Rage next week.

A copy was leaked to CNN. Its revelations are astonishing. Here are some examples:

  • Anthony Fauci “… at one point tells others that the president “is on a separate channel” and unfocused in meetings, with ‘rudderless’ leadership, according to Woodward. ‘His attention span is like a minus number,’ Fauci said, according to Woodward. ‘His sole purpose is to get reelected.’ “
  • Trump expressed admiration for Nixon and is currently echoing his “law and order” election strategy.
  • Barack “I don’t think Obama’s smart … I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.”
  • The North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, thought Obama was an “asshole”.
  • Woodward suggested to Trump that white and privileged men like them need to appreciate the plight of African Americans. Trump replied, “No,” in a mocking voice. “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”
  • Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is quoted as saying that four texts are key to understanding Trump, including Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Kushner paraphrased the Cheshire Cat from the book: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.”
  • Trump bragged to Woodward about a new secret weapons system.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, told the MSNBC network dropped a bucket of truth virus on Trumps lips:

“I think what he said connotes two things. One, his weakness: he didn’t know how to cope with the challenge to our country.

“Secondly, his disdain and denial for science, which has the answers, we could have contained this early on. But bigger than all of that was his total disregard for the impact on individual families in our country.”

On 7 February Trump told Bob Woodward in a phone call that coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus”, but the message he gave to the public was very different.

He described the coronavirus as “deadly stuff” at the same time while at the same time he was publicly predicting it would miraculously disappear and favourably comparing it to the seasonal flu. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.”

Yet on 27 February he was telling the public: “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”

By 19 March, Trump had declared a national emergency but told Woodward:

“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Joe Biden used these words in response to the revelation of how Trump had misled the nation and is still doing so with no pandemic policy at all other than to just let the coronavirus run free:

“Trump was fully aware of how deadly the virus was. It was much more ‘deadly than the flu’ he told Bob Woodward. One has to ask why the President didn’t warn the American people of its dangers. Surely a basic right of any individual is to defend oneself and others in the face of death. Or does that only apply to guns.”

On 3 April, Trump was still minimising the virus. “I said it’s going away and it is going away,” he said. But just two days later, he told Woodward: “It’s a horrible thing. It’s unbelievable.” On 13 April, he acknowledged: “It’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.”

In the election race Biden is leading Trump nationally by an average of about 8 points. Recent polls have indicated that the president’s efforts to paint Biden as a “radical socialist” who couldn’t care less about crime are not changing many voters’ minds.

You can also ask “what would Obama have done” and you can bet he would have acted entirely differently.

But Trump’s first response to any problem is to lie about, or blame others. He has been doing it for months now (actually, probably all his life) and one can only conclude that once again he has failed the nation. It is a life and death failure to protect the American people.

But his villainous ego is never tamed by his actions, he told Fox News’ (his own personal channel) Sean Hannity last Wednesday that he had done an “amazing” job dealing with the pandemic. The audacity of the man!

With the election only eight weeks away and these latest revelations coming not long after The Atlantic published a piece reporting that Trump had belittled American soldiers who died at war as “suckers”. It is difficult to see the mentally deficient President recovering this time.

He describes Woodward’s book as a “political hit job.”

“If you look at our numbers, our fatality numbers compared to other countries, it’s amazing what we’ve done. We’ve been able to do something … that especially with the country the size we have, we’ve done an incredible job.”

 

 

Again, the audacity of the man.

The Guardian reports that coronavirus-related deaths in the US, which stand at more than 190,000, account for a fifth of the global total. The figure is equivalent to one death per 1,700 Americans. The US has one of the highest fatality rates per 100,000 population, at 57.97.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, only countries with higher deaths per 100,000 are Peru (93.71), Spain (63.34), Bolivia (62.51),Chile (62.37), Ecuador (62.20), Brazil (60.85).

Trump’s actions are not indictable but they are impeachable but I guess it’s too late for that now.

In the final interview with Woodward Trump said:

“The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault. It’s … China let the damn virus out.”

In saying that, I guess he said it all.

My thought for the day

It is clear that from whatever way you look at it that Trump lied and people died.

PS: For the complete list of Trump’s lies about the coronavirus click here.

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Money matters

How could we change economics so that it better reflects the expectations of a modern pluralist society? The world, in the main, and in the absence of anything better relies on a capitalistic monetary system that is undisciplined, unregulated and intoxicated with greed.

Firstly, I believe a better understanding of why money matters might help. As I see it, we need to eliminate many of the reasons we worship it. Very simply put:

  • “Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.
  • Two major types of economics are microeconomics, which focuses on the behavior of individual consumers and producers, and macroeconomics, which examine overall economies on a regional, national, or international scale.
  • Economics is especially concerned with efficiency in production and exchange and uses models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies that will maximize efficiency.
  • Economists formulate and publish numerous economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Capitalism, socialism, and communism are types of economic systems.”

It was never intended to be a measure of one’s success, or lack of it. It has never made one person better than another but it has suppressed the advancement of many.

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are.

At the root of all that is evil is greed. The want of it, the craving for it, the love of it and the power that comes with it.

Economics is not and was never intended to be a capitalist gift for those who happen to support a right-wing political ideology. Nor was it intended to be a means by which the wealthy become wealthier. Nor was it meant to be a means by which politicians could cement their power.

How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty?

Economics should be a gift used to mould a humane and rounded society committed to kindness and compassion. A system by which the pursuit of success is encouraged while at the same time acknowledging that fairness and equality of opportunity is real in economic terms.

Imagine if you will an Australia where economics has a humane face to it. Where capitalism is controlled by common good regulations.

America may be the most advanced technological nation on earth but its social progress on matters of great moral importance is still fighting its way out of the dark ages when mysticism was rampart.

The root cause of all this ill-conceived thinking is a failure to understand what an economy is.

I believe that the Morrison government thinks that our economy collects taxes and other methods of obtaining money and redistributes it, using a top down methodology.

It is this government’s view that the economy is an entity unto itself – it seems to operate somehow in a separate cloud to the rest of us. Furthermore, it is independent of the world in which we live.

That is until events wrench us back to it. For example, according to this theory, the environment is somehow in conflict with the economy rather than an essential, vital essence of it.

This theory is wrong

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a country’s wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

Invariably when I read about how successful people are. the measure is always the value of their assets.

For those on the left it has been a depressing year; losing an election that was there for the taking. A disaster no one expected.

Those on the right rejoiced at their unexpected good fortune in the belief that it was the way things should be anyway.

Then along came some blistering fires, a few floods and a pandemic with a recession tagging along. I don’t make light of these matters because they are unlike anything for over a hundred years.

There are mixed views on how well our government has handled all these matters but for the purpose of this piece let’s put that aside and look at the future.

If COVID-19 has given us anything positive it is the opportunity to look at things differently, with fresh eyes and ideas.

With a new budget coming down in just a few weeks would it be too much to hope that our government might aim for a more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.

I wish to revisit what I wrote almost a year ago:

“Indeed, would it be a little too much to expect – even hope – that this government might show a little more compassion, even love toward the elderly, those who cannot find work, or those who simply need more?

Could the government we elected – headed by a man of faith who confesses that God is love – find it is his heart to do something about the lack of it shown to the asylum seekers left on Manus and Nauru? Don’t leave the heavy work to God all the time.

Will those Ministers who share his faith with him, who also confess love as the central tenant of it, do more for the lost who walk our streets, those who hunger for food and love, or lodgings?

Will those who confess that they walk in the shoes of Jesus and those who don’t, reconsider their decisions involving, climate change, ethics, education, morality, law, medicine, population, infrastructure, water, what we can grow and many other complex issues in the knowledge that the changes they legislate will have a lasting effect on our children and their children?

My fervent hope is that love, kindness and compassion is considered in their deliberations. May your God bless you in this?

I would also hope – as I’m sure you would pray – for far less lying by all politicians given that truth is one of the commandments unto all. That its restoration be hastily elevated to its former standing.

And so, it goes for what we see on our televisions, the demonstrable hatred toward each other that you show in Question Time. Please eliminate it now, urgently.

What I ‘m trying to say here is that a true democracy cannot exist without a love for all the things that it exists for.

Love is a democratic outcome of all the thoughts that humble us. Debate in our place of democracy is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purist form it is simply the art of persuasion

By this I mean that love shames us when we seek to act without principles, but love honours dignity and mutual respect for our opponents.

Love softens hearts that want outrage, violence, bossing, bullying and sometimes love cannot be spoken, only shown

There is such a widespread disillusionment with how politics is practiced in our country that people feel powerless. That their vote means very little and they are not participants in our democracy.

The absence of love from one to the other eventually insinuates its way into society and partakes in its decay.”

We are all in this together.

My thought for the day

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages … It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom or our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” (Robert Kennedy, 1968).

 

 

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A damming report on aged care the government cannot ignore

The COVID-19 deaths in our aged care institutions has revealed the dereliction of duty by the federal government, as it is the federal government who is ultimately responsible for setting the standards for their care. This failure, however, is not a recent phenomenon. The Interim Report into Aged Care Quality and Safety released late last year was also damning for the federal government, which I reported within days of its release. It is pertinent to re-publish this article.

* * * * *

It is not as though we haven’t been forewarned about the urgent need to attend to the crisis in aged care.

Numerous reports, over many years, have shown that the sector is in dire need of attention.

That the government is so reluctant to address any of the problems brings shame on them and our nation.

For a country that has enjoyed so much success in so many areas, it is sometimes more appropriate to put this down to luck rather than industrious thinking by government.

Despite words of assertive action by the government it is hard to see that, given its reluctance to spend a dollar that might affect its need for a public relations surplus, that they will have the money to spend on aged care. And I mean real money

The interim report by the Royal Commission into Australia’s Aged Care sector found that “cruel and harmful” attitudes prevailed.

That it has been so for many years is, without doubt, a smear on the nation.

The report also said that the sector was “fragmented, unsupported, underfunded,” and very much unsafe and uncaring.

That we could be so uncaring of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens who are at the end of their lives is tantamount to a crime against humanity.

The responsibility for this shame, this “shocking tale of neglect” as the two commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs have described is the result of many years of neglect.

The report described the industry as having a “culture of ageism.”

What a way to describe the treatment of our aged seniors as the sunset of life sets upon them; a time that should be as loving as their beginning.

The Interim Report released on Thursday, listed a litany of problems that the commission described as needing urgent attention. “Unkind and uncaring,” “a shocking tale of neglect” were among the words of condemnation of the government’s inaction.

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

The report also said that Australia’s aged care sector might not be financially sustainable.

How embarrassing it must be for the minister, let alone the government, to hear these words of judgement after nearly 7 years of conservative neglect.

To say that they must feel dreadful for the appalling way they have allowed the treatment of our aged to go on unchecked would be futile.

They have done it deliberately, for several reasons, all of which relate to economics.

The first of course, and most current, is that to spend the money needed to correct what needs to be done would mean the prevention of a surplus and the second also includes the conservative philosophical principle that such things should be paid for by the individual or his/her family.

Do you think we would ever have a National Health Scheme or an NDIS without Labor? Of course not. These things are deeply ingrained in Labor’s blood.

It was only the budget before last that the Coalition removed the $1000 funeral benefit paid to pensioners to help with the cost of burying their loved ones. How pitiful. On this, the report said that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

“It is shocking that the express wishes of older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, with the supports they need, is downplayed with an expectation that they will manage. It is unsafe practice. It is neglect.”

The report rightfully confronts what it describes as our country’s “ageist” mindset, a culture that has led to an irrelevant view of how we see ageing and end of life ethics.

Too often we view our ageing relatives as a burden, an obligation, even an encumbrance without a thought for their life’s journey and our involvement in it. The report surmises that:

“As a nation, Australia has drifted into an ageist mindset that undervalues older people and limits their possibilities.”

There is a moral obligation on Australians to care for the aged that we have never taken seriously. We have allowed self-interest, even the selfishness of inheritance to invade our thinking instead of the clear-mindedness of love.

Why we find such compelling reasons to treat each other badly is beyond me.

Even when old and frail the difference between being alive and truly living can still, with proper care, be experienced.

A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds.

Although Labor are not lily-white in this area, having shown little interest when in power, it can mount a defence with its many reforms in other areas.

The Coalition’s neglect, however, cannot be excused. They need to invest heavily in those areas the Commission has identified.

This in part requires for fundamental reform of the system with more home care packages, action to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraints in the sector and removing young people with disabilities from aged care. The report concludes that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

After nearly 7 years in power, this is yet another example of just how inept this government has been. They deserve the strongest condemnation by the public and those involved in the sector.

Note. As Treasurer Scott Morrison in 2016 ripped $1.6 B.J. from the aged care sector.

My thought for the day

We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.

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Tony Abbott still makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach

1 Sir Robert Menzies and Tony Abbott remain the only two Prime Ministers who one could argue were more British than the British.

Menzies adoration of The Queen was so over the top as to be an embarrassment. Abbott’s love for the Monarchy showed up when he championed its side during the 2019 referendum.

Now we find that Abbott, who was so despised as Australian Prime Minister, that his colleagues got rid of him. Then to make matters worse his constituents voted him out of his seat.

My view of him when he was elected Prime Minister in 2013 was this:

Has Australia ever so blindly elected a man so negatively characterless?

So ignorant of truth and transparency.

So willing to endorse and foster inequality,

So insensitive to those who cannot help themselves.

So illiterate of technology and science.

So oblivious to the needs of women and the aged.

So inept at policy formation and its implementation,

So prone to the language of absurdity.

So pugnacious so confrontational, so self-righteous, in his attitude toward others.

So dismissive of those wanting equality and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

A man so unsophisticated in deep wordily acumen or discernment, yet so religiously motivated.

Yet here he bobs up, being proposed as a British trade envoy to do all the necessary Brexit trade deals.

Tony Abbott as a British trade envoy is not quite comedy but it will do for a serious giggle.

If all they expect of him is the repetitious shaking of hands and gratis smiles at garden parties then he is probably their man.

I expect that the job would demand all the attributes of a leader he never showed as Australia’s number one man.

In that role he was about as useless as an ashtray on a motor bike.

Of course, he was born in England in 1957 and later attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. So draped, was he in his Englishness, that he even, as prime minister, gave the Duke of Edinburgh an Australian knighthood.

The sheilas and blokes of good old Oz were completely gobsmacked with the decision, at the time, and demanded he get a new manager. He has been handling himself for far to0 long was the word from the main bar at Young & Jackson.

Nobody could see what services the Prince had done for us that might justify us giving the wanka a title that we couldn’t receive ourselves. I hope that makes sense.

Well unless you were still a British citizen, you were still eligible for a knighthood. Perhaps a discreet meeting had taken place with Sir Lynton Crosby. Do you get my drift?

There is nothing in Abbott’s background that suggests he is remotely qualified for this job. I mean, one wouldn’t dare put the mother country through such an ordeal.

The UK’s shadow trade secretary, Emily Thornberry was aghast at the appointment, saying:

“I just find this appointment absolutely staggering,” Thornberry said. “On a personal level, I am disgusted that Boris Johnson thinks this offensive, leering, cantankerous, climate change-denying, Trump-worshipping misogynist is the right person to represent our country overseas.”

 

 

In fresh news The Guardian reports that Abbott had admitted that in signing trade deals while he was Prime Minister he never allowed himself to become “side-tracked by peripheral issues such as labour and environmental standards.”

Which is of course in direct opposition to Boris Johnson’s insistence that “workers’ rights and environmental standards would be maintained once Britain leaves the single market and customs union.”

Just to finish off the former Prime Minister put the throttle down. In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank he said that the economic cost of lockdowns meant families should be allowed to consider letting elderly relatives with the coronavirus die by letting nature take its course.

“Letting nature take its course.” Those words make me feel sick in the labyrinth of my guts.

Abbott claimed it was costing the Australian government as much as $200,000 (£110,000) to give an elderly person an extra year’s life, substantially beyond what governments would usually pay for life-saving drugs.

Abbott said not enough politicians were “thinking like health economists trained to pose uncomfortable questions about the level of deaths we might have to live with.”

That the man could have been a priest is beyond my physical and mental capacity to cope with as I try to manage my way through this crisis.

This conservative thinking of money before lives makes … me want to vomit.

But Abbott’s proposed appointment hasn’t been the only controversy of late.

2 Last Monday, in a bid to redirect attention from the economic bad news he is about to deliver, the treasurer chucked the greatest political hissy-fit since Pauline Hanson objected to vaccinations.

“The biggest policy failure in living memory” so said the Australian Treasurer referring to Victoria’s perceived lack of a COVID-19 plan.

That is the greatest load of hogwash l have ever heard. Menzies got us involved in Vietnam. It cost our country 500 young lives and millions of dollars. Then there was Iraq.

That’s what I call policy failures.

3 Unless there is something I’m missing, I fail to understand all the goings on about Facebook and free news.

It seems to me that If I share something from a Murdoch newspaper on Facebook is it news or free advertising? A link to the newspaper ensures that you are directed away from Facebook to the newspaper in question.

Perhaps they should be paying Facebook. What am I missing?

4 Now let me move onto that never-ending question as to when we might get an anti-corruption bill. Well on Tuesday Paddy Manning wrote in The Monthly that Helen Haines, the independent member for the regional Victorian seat of Indi, put two new bills on notice in the lower house: the Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2020 and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Standards Bill 2020.

It is said that the decisions our politicians make now and upon the ending of this pandemic will shape our future for decades to come.

Therefore, we must rise to the occasion and install an integrity commission. After two years it is obvious the government has no intention of doing so.

I wish the Member for Indi all the very best.

My thought for the day

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

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Newspoll: 50/50 – Will it get any better?

A month ago, Newspoll had the two major parties 53-47 in favour of the Coalition.

Now, courtesy of The Poll Bludger we find from the latest polls that:

The Coalition is down two on the primary vote to 41% and Labor is up three to 36%, with the Greens steady on 11% and One Nation down one to 3%.

Scott Morrison’s still-healthy personal ratings are down on the last three weeks ago, with approval at 64% (down four) and disapproval on 32% (up three). Anthony Albanese is up on both approval, by two points to 43%, and disapproval, by three points to 41%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is now 58-29, in from 60-25.

What does it all tell you? Well it tells you that things can only get worse for the Coalition. As unemployment increases and the “to let” signs gradually appear on the shop fronts and factories, the Prime Minister’s tendency towards plain bullshit and lying will become ever more present.

Last week showed us just how jittery the Prime Minister – who doesn’t like criticism – really is. He doesn’t seem to think that hundreds of deaths in nursing homes is any fault of his or that his totally un-reasoned diplomacy on China should stand up to scrutiny.

Do you ever analyse what’s happening politically in our country, and abroad and just what the voice of the people is saying about it? By the ‘voice’ I mean the ‘Fourth Estate’ (the mainstream media).

Unfortunately, our lives have become controlled by the noise of this mass media. The sad thing is … that we listen.

Obviously, the aforementioned poll numbers only tell us what the electorate is thinking at that moment, not how they would vote if an election were held today.

As unemployment rises (and it certainly will), business failures and bankruptcies will rise with it and the Coalition’s chances of retaining government will decline.

“This is the recession we had to have.” Paul Keating immortalised that line 30 years ago on November 29, 1990.

There were business failures and bankruptcies. Australia relied on high levels of population growth to prop up consumption and demand, but immigration is a no no in the current circumstances

COVID-19 will be with us for some time, yet, says economist Dr Richard Denniss of The Australia Institute:

“In response to COVID-19, ‘we’ve seen the biggest reduction in population growth since World War II at the same time as the economy is rapidly slowing,’ … as overseas students and immigrant workers have stopped arriving.”

The concern at the moment is that the recession caused by Coalition policies prior to the pandemic, and worsened by it, will be so deep that any hope of coming out of it in the short-term will be about as hopeful as Frydenberg winning the player’s sprint on AFL grand final day.

We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.

At the moment the Coalition could (reading between the lines) be accused of willingly seeing more old people die in order to get the economy moving again.

When rates, wage rates and operating costs fall low enough that investors decide it’s a good time to invest again then recessions are given a chance of ending and that is what the government is trying to do. Everything is couched in lethargy.

Keeping pensions stagnant, wages low and welfare payments even lower will encourage investment.

Touching subsidies for the rich and privileged will be off limits. Instead they are hoping for a lift in what the famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, called the “animal spirits.”

“The hope is that our “animal spirits” will surge as the lockdown is lifted and liberated citizens eat, drink and be merry — causing the economy to “snap back”, to use Prime Minister Morrison’s phrase.”

Recessions are not just economic occurrences with dire consequences. They carry with them societal hardship; not only do they wreck economies but lives as well. Families under pressure often fall apart, while others battle their way through but become the dregs of society. Relationships become battlefields and people get hurt.

When we go out of our way to help someone less fortunate, we cannot avoid helping ourselves.

Domestic violence has its way and women suffer its misery.

Recessions such as this are slow to recover, change lives and change societies in ways that are often miserable.

Conservative politicians have never had any sort of empathy that would enable them to understand that an economy comes about because a society requires certain elements for it to function or let me put it this way.

The Liberal Party has always been a party of elites and would be’s. The idea that economics and society are intertwined is abhorrent to them. Economics is the domain of the rich and privileged, and society belongs to those of class and privilege.

My thought for the day

For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education, aged care and health systems are adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged.

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Trump versus Reason (or with God on his side)

My friend, Stuart Whitman wrote on Facebook that:

“Only the Republican National Convention can make the Democrats look good.

For all the Democratic convention’s superficiality and misconnection with the daily struggle of millions of Americans, they look positively competent and sane compared to the Republicans.

The Republican National Convention is a bizarre spectacle of America’s fringe right now at centre-stage with Donald Trump. They had a chance to strategically capture the working-class ground ceded by the elitist Democrats and instead decided to swing further right and indulge their outlandish conspiracy theories and talk about “cancel culture” while nearly 30 million Americans now say they can’t afford enough to feed themselves and their families.

Whoever wins this election, the average American still loses.”

You may or may not agree with Stuart’s point of view however he is correct in saying that their reluctance to target the working class is a lost opportunity.

Since the election of Tony Abbott in Australia and Donald Trump in the United States one characteristic of politics has declined to the point of obsolescence. It is “truth.”

Now you might, at this stage say “here he goes again,” John Lord talking about truth.

Essentially, you are correct and I can only hope that my repetitiveness doesn’t bore you to the point of turning off.

What I’m talking about in this instance is the political pathological liar.

Speaking of liars, check out this recent tweet from President Trump:

 

 

As a liar, Trump makes a great case study.

The American psychologist Jane Velez-Mitchell describes a liar this way.

“I’ve studied pathological liars, and anything they say, they believe, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so convincing, because they have no connection with the truth. It’s a dead issue. It’s like they’re colour-blind to the truth.

So, anything that comes out of their mouths is their reality.”

A reporter had waited five long years to ask Donald Trump one question, writes Helen Sullivan in The Guardian:

“Mr President, after three and a half years [of Trump’s presidency], do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?”

Trump responded with a question of his own. “All the what?” he said.

He looked genuinely shocked that anyone should ask such a question.

As Jane Velez-Mitchel says:

“… anything they say, they believe, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so convincing.”

Another time he asked an aid to bring some figures on COVID-19 to argue his point in an interview, and he couldn’t understand that the interviewer, Jonathan Swan (a former journalist with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and the son of coronavirus authority and presenter of the ABC Health Report Dr Norman Swan) couldn’t grasp his truth.

Trump left himself bare-arsed when he couldn’t account for the per-capita death rate, in favour of selected statistics that he couldn’t quite explain.

The reason l keep on about it is simple. Just imagine that telling lies was an accepted part of society and no one stood firm for the truth anymore. That it just didn’t matter and everybody told lies.

Imagine the quandary our everyday lives would be in. We would spend most of our time fact checking. The New York Times can hardly keep up their fact checking of Trumps lies.

My thoughts on the subject are summed up in this short poem I wrote around 20 years ago. It is with this in mind that I observe both US party’s national conventions.

About truth

Of truth we can say, we are all in need

How we use it creates the demarcation

between good, evil; right and wrong

Truth can be fragile but at times requires forcefulness

 

It can be binary or different shades of hue

We can misuse it, abuse it, distort it and with it cause despair

In discussion, we can eliminate it altogether

In debate it corroborates our assertions

 

We can manipulate it to bring about sorrow

We can leave it open to interpretation and disguise our omissions

But we can never ignore it

It is pure only when it is exempt from desires of self-justification

 

Together with rationale, it is the main ingredient of explanation

In its purity, it is the basic evidence of fact

When used to clarify decisions, it is the ultimate influence

Truth is not dependant on age or experience

 

Truth does not compromise or need illusion,

Truth never needs to justify itself. it is what it is

It can only be wise when used wisely

Is there a truth absolute? Yes

 

It’s called observable reason

You see, without truth, we cannot hope to understand what we scrutinize

Without literal truth

We cannot comprehend reason.

 

Trump speaks to God

Yes, he really did say that he speaks to God:

“During a small rally in Minnesota this week, Donald Trump claimed that God spoke to him about the state of our economy and how everything is going to be just fine. Strangely enough, the way God speaks sounds very similar to Trump. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.”

“He then revealed the conversation he had with God about the economic crisis.”

“You know what that is? That’s right. That’s God testing me,” Trump explained. “He said, you know, you did it once. And I said, ‘Did I do a great job, God? I’m the only one who could do it.’ He said, ‘That you shouldn’t say. Now we’re going to have you do it again.’ I said, ‘OK. I agree. You got me.’ But I did it once. And now I’m doing it again. And you see the kind of numbers that we’re putting up. They’re unbelievable. Best job numbers ever. Three months, more jobs in the last three months than ever before.”

As usual he had his facts wrong but he believed everything he said to be true. In my previous piece I wrote about the Christian who never goes to church. If he believes that God spoke to him then besides being pathological, he may also be delusional but many Evangelical Christians will believe him.

By saying that he spoke to God, Trump is not only falsifying evidence, in so much as ‘god is love’ you would think that his/her main thoughts would be with the 180,000 US citizens who have died from COVID-19, as well as those who are still suffering. After all, he/she is a benevolent all-loving entity. Only in America would one claim God for such purposes. It is only there that they would believe him.

My thought for the day

When you tell a lie, you deny the other person’s right to the truth.

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They know Trump is a basket case, but …

The American media called its previous election the most important ever. They did so in the belief that voters in general had become disillusioned with its democracy and the partisan state of its politics.

All are true, because after four years of Trump madness nothing has changed.

Well, that’s not altogether true because things have become decidedly worse.

If pushed a little most Americans would admit that their President is a mental cot case and Australians would put it rather more forcibly: “A dead-set wanker of the first order.”

Around this time prior to the last election I wrote a piece “Only in America: Looking at Trump from ‘Down Under”. In it I voiced my view of the Trump candidacy for President of the United States of America.

Here is a sample.

“From Down Under we see a sick deluded man of no redeeming features, full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny. A deluded pathetic liar unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world. He sees complex problems and impregnates them with populism and implausible black and white solutions.

He is a person of limited intellect and understanding only capable of seeing the world through the prism of his own wealth. The far edges of knowledge seem to have passed him by. Matters requiring deep philosophical consideration seem beyond him.

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

He is a crash-through politician with a ubiquitous mouth. Trump remains an incoherent mess who bounces back after each disaster thinking he has been impressive while those around him are laughing their heads off. Entertaining in a uniquely American way he might be to the hillbillies but leadership requires worldly character.

Is America to have, an ignoramus of first world order, as President?

It might be said that my description of Trump has descended into what Americans call hyperbole.

If I have, I make no apologies.”

And so, it came to pass that Donald Trump was elected President. “What has transpired since?” one has to ask. “What have we learnt from appointing this man President?”

1 Well his tax returns have never been made public although that might change soon despite further attempts to ever have them disclosed.

Last Thursday a federal judge cleared the way for Manhattan’s top prosecutor to get Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting a last-ditch attempt by his lawyers to block a subpoena issued to his accounting firm.

Will it happen before the election? Time (what is left of it) will tell.

2 We have learnt that all the ballyhoo about Trump’s lying (how long is that New York Times’ list of his lies now?) was in fact true. He lies like no other public figure born before or after him yet he believes his every word is sugar coated with his own fictional truth.

3 He went to great lengths to hide his college results (but called himself a genius):

“Michael Cohen revealed that, under the direction of President Trump, he had sent letters to Trump’s high schools, colleges and the College Board threatening them with legal action and jail time if they ever released Trump’s academic records.“

4 The ‘businessman’ who bankrupted 3 casinos and lost over $1B in 10 yrs. Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig of the New York Times reported that:

“By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.”

5 The ‘playboy’ who pays for sex:

“Two months before Donald Trump was elected president, his long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, made a secret recording of the two men discussing a hush payment to Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who said she once had an affair with Trump, the New York Times reports. Now the FBI has the tapes.”

6 The ‘virologist’ who knows more than Dr. Fauci. The President said:

“I would love to have the country opened up, and just raring’ to go by Easter,” he said, on Fox News. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

And Dr Fauci? What did he say? Well …

“You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do. I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.”

7 The so called ‘leader of the free world’ who said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un.

“We went back and forth, then we fell in love. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they are great letters. We fell in love,” Trump boasted during a West Virginia rally.

 

 

8 The ‘Christian’ who doesn’t go to church.

“And Americans overall don’t think Trump is particularly religious: A majority say Trump is “not too” (23%) or “not at all” (40%) religious, while 28% say he’s “somewhat” religious and only 7% say he’s “very religious,” according to a new Pew Research Center survey.”

9 The ‘President’ who committed what could amount to TREASON by turning a blind eye to allegations of Russian bounties on US soldiers. President Trump:

“… dismissed the ongoing scandal surrounding allegations of bounties being placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan as “a made up fake news media hoax” designed to hurt his reputation.”

10 The ‘unifier’ who calls white supremacists “very fine people.”

“Just 11% agree with the sentiment that it’s possible for white supremacists and neo-Nazis to be ‘very fine people,’ to 69% who say that’s not possible.”

11 The ‘philanthropist’ who defrauds charity.

In 2016 in an article for The Atlantic Connor Friedersdorf reported that:

“You said you’ve given more than $100 million to charity over the last five years,” The Washington Post’s Drew Hartwell challenged the billionaire celebrity during an interview. “But when you look into the money that was given to the Donald J. Trump Foundation,” he added, “you haven’t donated any actual money.”

12 The ‘patriot’ who dodged the draft five times:

“Trump, who attended the private New York Military Academy as a young man, received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one medical deferment after he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his foot.”

13 The “innocent man” who refuses to testify:

“President Donald Trump … said he is “an innocent man,” and also claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “illegal.”

“Cohen testified about multiple potentially criminal acts by the president and by his company, related hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and alleged artificial inflation and deflation of Trump Organization assets.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week” that he believes that Trump obstructed justice. Nadler, D-NY, also said his committee, which would lead any impeachment effort against Trump, will request documents from more than five dozen people in the president’s circle, including his son Donald Trump Jr. and top Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg.”

The President was impeached but still had refused to testify.

 

 

14 The ‘President’ who takes no responsibility. He lies and blames others but never takes personal responsibility.

Donald Trump said he will take no responsibility if Americans inject or otherwise consume disinfectant to kill COVID-19, even though he suggested it during press conference.

“No, I don’t,” the president said when asked about Maryland’s governor saying his government got calls from people asking if they should.

15 The ‘tough, strong man’ who wears makeup and hairspray.

No comment. You can see as much as I can. He also has an inflated view of the size of certain things.

16 The ‘deal maker’ who has yet to close a deal:

“Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said that where international affairs are concerned, the president appears more interested having something showy to announce than in long-term problem-solving.”

If I have opened your eyes to something new about the POTUS, that in itself is rewarding. However, the eyes of the world need to be opened to reveal the nefarious implications of voting into power this mindless despot.

The first night of the Democratic National Convention saw former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who just four years ago sought the Republican presidential nomination, making the case for Joe Biden’s candidacy.

“The former Tea Party Republican said he agreed to speak at the convention after the Biden campaign asked him to because “my Republican affiliation is outweighed by my concern about the direction of the country.”

How has it come to this?

“I will make America great again,” Trump shouted from the highest peaks of the mountain of illusion.

The American natural inclination for technology has seen them take their inventions to unprecedented levels but its economics is badly in decline and a deep and lasting recession confronts them.

They don’t seem to care and go on spending more on defence than the rest of the world put together. Debt is but a word that hinders growth.

The science of climate change shows that they and the rest of us are looking at an impending environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions.

But Trump refuses to believe it. As with COVID-19, he knows better. They don’t believe in evolution either.

Thirty-eight million people live in poverty and the Republicans have no voice against it. Inequality is a problem with only the Left acknowledging it. The Right don’t give a damn. Trump plans to eliminate pensions and Medicade.

Trickle-down economics and deindustrialisation are responsible for a huge loss of jobs, but who cares? Not Donald Trump.

The Right cling to the God of capitalism believing that making the rich even richer, will solve the problem.

Religion has a rather odd hold on the most technologically advanced country in the world,

The rich citizens and corporations seem to have boycotted paying tax. Corruption runs like rust through the community.

Donald Trump appears to pay no federal income taxes and uses his foundation to pay his legal bills.

Periodic mass killings at schools, malls, movie theatres and other public places continue but there are those who would soften our gun laws.

The problem of police committing public executions of black people in their streets is as much a truth today as it was 50 years ago.

Only a fool would deny that racism is rampart.

The reality is that it has a media that produces an avalanche of political and cultural untruths. It is based on the assumption that in a declining market it is legitimate to lie and disseminate political, intellectual and cultural discourse with a perverse sensationalism, emotionalism and pathetic dishonesty to arrest a declining market.

American media is saturated with highly paid commentators whose job it is to titillate, gossip and contaminate the airwaves and television screens with nonsensical garbage where people talk up negative possibilities. Selling advertising comes first and it’s done in any manner it can be.

Mass entertainment, both violent and sexually explicit, contaminates the cultural life of the country. American reality television conspired to produce a “reality” presidential candidate and look at the results.

“There’s no business-like show business.”

And such is his hatred of Obama, that Trump is still is trying to obliterate his legacy by dismantling all US social/health programs, environmental regulations, civil rights legislations, and the elimination of the federal minimum wage.

If he wins again, Obamacare would be immediately put to bed and
private insurance would have a ‘free ride’ over US healthcare coverage.

And Trump has promised a media/press ‘crackdown’ on contrary news reporting saying that Fox News is the only outlet that tells the truth. A lie upon a lie.

Programmes like Planned Parenthood have been abolished. LGBT laws have been overturned. Same-sex marriage has been achieved but much civil rights legislation in the US has been reversed.

Privatisation of Social Security, and Veterans Administration is becoming a reality.

By building a wall with borrowed money, President Trump has placed his nation in greater debt. And Mexico was supposed to pay.

International foreign relations have been be turned on its head.

“I will make America great again,’’ Trump shouted from the highest peaks of the mountain of illusion but whatever measure he has been a catastrophic failure.

Hundreds of millions of Americans have woken up. The dream has ended. The promise that everyone can be whoever they want to be and have whatever they want, if they would just work hard, and trust in God, is dead.

American exceptionalism in the land of milk and honey has died with it and the inclusive democracy that was once the shining light of the world has also. Americans are now just spectators, hostages to broken systems of government.

Chaos abounds and the common good is forgotten.

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

They have successfully stifled the intellectual exchange of ideas.

We the people of our enlightened societies feel betrayed by a lack of leadership, of vision.

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

And in our powerlessness, we listen to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix things.

In America the voice of Trump is heard by those who cannot see that the great American dream has ended and those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future.

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

What Australians dislike about Americans is their pomposity and self-righteousness, their know-all attitude and belief in their own self-importance – for which we have a saying; “They think their shit doesn’t stink.”

Some would say that they are the only people in the world that believe their own bullshit.

Whatever happens in America – apart from frequent mass murders – usually reinvents itself in Australia. Greed is now God. Paying no tax has become a sport with no rules. Narcissism is rampart and religion has more to say than it should.

Again, how did it come to this?

It did so because the people gave licence to themselves to believe the lies. They fell for the mantra of hatred and fear they were so delicately indoctrinated with.

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

My thought for the day

We sit before our televisions and watch Trumps antics and ponder at the gullibility of the American people and say … only in America.”

PS: To think that the Republican Party could ever consider a megalomaniac like Trump as a nominee to run for the Presidency in the first place illustrates just how low the GOP have fallen.

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When ‘sorry’ seems to be the hardest word

The Prime Minister’s sorrowful words over the deaths in aged care homes could hardly be described as those of a sincere man.

l’m sorry to say it but they lacked the necessary honesty to be taken seriously. In my view apologies should be full of sincerity, delivered with appropriate remorse and if possible with a commitment to right a wrong.

Scott Morrison – when he does apologise – usually precedes it with a cavalcade of indulgent words of self-praise intended to compliment he and his government. This he did again in his apology for the disastrous events in commonwealth-run aged care homes.

It is most unusual to hear the Prime Minister apologise for anything, but on the deaths at government-run aged care facilities he has issued one of sorrowful defiance. Not exactly an apology.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care insists that no plan existed and Morrison reckons there was. Simple, just produce it and it’s settled.

But that aside, would it not be better to decide just how much value we place on the lives of our elderly citizens who have so steadfastly served the nation, and act accordingly? Do we have to call them clients and measure their value by profit in some annual report? “I wouldn’t send my own mother there“ rings true as do all the stories we hear about these, before death, resting places.

Dennis Atkins in The New Daily reports that Morrison “copped a punch” from the Royal Commission. Counsel assisting Peter Rosen QC gave Morrison a decent foot up the Kyber Pass finding that:

“… the government had no real infection control plan for COVID-19 related problems, all of which were foreseeable.“

“He said there was complacency and hubris at a federal level stemming from a sense of self-congratulation.”

Which of course leaves me with the most puzzling of questions. That being, that at the end of their third term in office the government will have served close to nine years with three prime ministers. During that time they have committed numerous very serious misdemeanours, including the rejection of climate change. The current prime minister has a list as long as the Flemington straight. So how come his popularity sits at 68 per cent?

The Aged Care Minister, Tasmanian Senator Richard Colbeck, the minister whose name is as memorable as the deputy prime minister’s, even came out from hibernation, uttered a few words that nobody remembers, or understood, and quickly went back to sleep.

They then pushed forward Professor Brendan Murphy who had earned a reputation during the crisis and is now head of the Commonwealth Health Department.

He in turn had trouble with the authority of the Royal Commission and his evidence was lost in his amateurish attempts at defending the government’s actions and tried to outline just how “plan prepared” they were. It was a hoax of sorts.

The Royal Commissioner gave him a wrap over the knuckles with a sit still and shut up instruction.

Prime Minister Morrison himself had spent the week in Canberra rugged up against the Canberra weather and the upcoming reports. Besides the aged care pasting he was expecting another regarding the Ruby Princess. This time for not allowing evidence.

Andrew Probyn tweeted that on March 15 – four days before the Ruby Princess docked saying that all cruise ships would be “directly under the command of the Australian Border Force.”

 

 

The fact that the government wouldn’t allow senior public servants to appear at the inquiry only serves to ignite flames of doubt. That they have something to hide. Without this evidence the report must be considered fundamentally flawed.

By this time bashing the Victorian Premier had become somewhat of a blood sport. The Melbourne Herald Sun even ran a popularity poll only to find they backed the wrong horse – and reported it on page 13 of a later edition.

 

Image from pedestrian.tv

It was to become a sport without a name played out each day as though there was no greater media occupation than to find out what Daniel Andrews had or hadn’t done the day before. They even overlooked the fact that his own side were feeding the “Blame Dan” frenzy.

Morrison, in the meantime, said everyone was doing their best and he was sorry. In the background his acolytes were doing as much damage as they could.

Morrison was, as animals do, marking clear lines of demarcation. If things went wrong with roles, responsibilities and outcomes then it was Andrews’ duty to explain, but being sympathetic and sorry was his.

Morrison is and has always been a man unable to search within when he is wrong. Instead he apportions blame to others. He juts his chin to display his arrogance and regret at having to display an ounce of honesty.

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

The wrongs of the Aged Care system have been known for many years. Twenty or more reports have been delivered to government with recommendations that could have been implemented at any time. Morrison has refused to do so and won’t tell us why.

It is wrong to say that he has ripped billions from the sector because people are rapidly becoming older, consequently government spends more. The real question is are we spending enough.

For a Christian thoroughly immersed  in the empathetic teachings of Jesus he allows none to filter into his politics.

In fact, l read last week that 2601 was the current number of days that  nearly 400 innocent humans in PNG, Nauru, and  200 people in onshore detention centres had spent in detention despite having never committed a crime.

If ever you needed an example of just how cruel our Prime Minister and his off-sider in inhumanity Peter Dutton can be then you only need to look at our treatment of refugees.

Watch out for the October budget.

Unless there are worldwide changes in leadership then we can hold out little hope for massive changes in the way democracy incorporates its politics.

It all relates to a gradual rise in narcissism and inequality together with a demise in compassion that illustrates the state of the world.

My thought for the day

Our lives should be subject to constant reflection, otherwise the way forward is locked into the constraints of today’s thoughts.

PS: On concluding this piece I note that the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised “unreservedly” to anyone affected by community transmission resulting from the disembarkation of the Ruby Princess.

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Wear the bastards down – that’s what we have to do

Only our politicians could think of reasons why they in their personal conduct, their workplace and the political decisions they make, shouldn’t be investigated for suspected wrongdoing.

With that statement l inform you that a parliamentary committee made up of three conservative and two Labor MPs has, this week, rejected outright a code of conduct and establishing an independent parliamentary standards commissioner.

Movement on the proposed federal anti-corruption commission has been placed in quarantine. Earlier this year, the attorney general, Christian Porter, indicated that draft legislation had been ready for release but was delayed due to COVID-19.

How often will they use that excuse in the future?

The government has already missed several self-imposed deadlines to introduce its legislation. The model it has proposed has been widely criticised as weak as water and in need of a decent stir.

There are many and varied reasons as to why we need a Federal Integrity Commission. All in their own way demand your attention. Corruption stands out amongst them.

However, in this instance l put to you that just one wrongdoing justifies the establishment of a commission to keep the bastards honest. Of course, if you accept that it’s OK for our politicians to tell us lies, half-truths and lies by omission then you will obviously disagree.

Lying is not good under most circumstances, especially in the public domain. l have always maintained that the Australian public simply cannot expect good policy to start emanating from government until we begin to clean up the system itself. Bill Shorten committed Labor to do so but the Coalition came in late in the campaign and the voices in support were but a whisper. History shows that Labor lost and the LNP thus far has reneged on its promise.

I, like many other readers of this site, feel that for many years now the integrity of our politics has been gradually sold out by a bunch of corrupt politicians more intent on feathering their own nests than working for the people. We are sick to death of the travel rorts, the living away from home allowance, donation rorts, and ministers when they retire, walking into senior positions with companies in the same field.

Bill Shorten described:

“… restoring public confidence in Australia’s democratic system as “bigger than me versus Morrison, bigger than Labor versus Liberal” and crucial to winning back trust.”

“Because the most corrosive sentiment in democracies around the world is the idea that politicians are only in it for themselves.”

But if the commission doesn’t have authority similar to a Royal Commission, independence with broad jurisdiction, with all the investigative powers it requires and is without government interference then all will be in vain.

Why do we need a Federal Integrity Commission?

On Wednesday the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee released a report on a Greens reform proposal, which:

“… sought to establish a statutory, independently enforced code of conduct to govern the behaviour of parliamentarians.”

In its wisdom, the committee concluded that:

“Based on the evidence before it, this committee is not persuaded that the circumstances have now changed such that there is a strong argument for introducing a code.”

Lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestions, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare-campaigning and any form of untruthful communication has become the norm in the way politicians and the media converse with the public. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

That’s why we need a Federal Integrity Commission.

My thought for the day

If we are to save our democracy we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should be transparent and tell the truth.

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What a disaster the two peas in a pod have proven to be

1 The President of the United States has yet again demonstrated a capacity for vindictiveness that is beyond most people. That a man such as Trump could ever become POTUS says as much about the people of the USA as it does about Trump himself.

This time, or should I say, yet again, he has directed it at those without the power to respond.

By signing executive actions that broadly challenge the powers that separate the White House and Capital Hill. He is proposing to eliminate payroll tax. Now that might sound OK to some until you find out that the receipts from the tax goes into a fund that in turn finances Medicare and social security.

As if all the suffering from COVID-19 isn’t enough he is now, by Presidential decree, attempting to bypass Congress and make dramatic changes to tax and spending policy.

Trump says he will eliminate payroll tax if re-elected. In short this means that the United States will no longer support its citizens in the face of poverty.

Everything he does is vindictive. In my view another four years of Trump would see the USA go into such decline that it may never recover.

Of his actions he said this “Will take care of pretty much this entire situation.” What that means is anyone’s guess.

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.

2 Back to good old Aus. Conservative MPs and its media are trying to make the most of what might yet prove to be stupid mistakes by a few people the Victorian government was trying to fit into a jobs plan.

In times of crisis, even with the best intent disastrous mistakes will happen and governments of the right take much pleasure in pointing them out. Pink batts and school halls, for example.

Where they are up against it on this one is that their own government has responsibility for aged care and 68% of COVID-19-related deaths in Australia had occurred in nursing homes.

Added to this is their own deplorable record of scandal and humiliation:

A The failure of the Federal Government and the Private Health Industry to provide adequate care has resulted in as many as 162 people losing their lives.

B Robodebt has also led many poor souls to take their own lives.

C Angus Taylor has made both himself and his Government look foolish with his Watergate and Grassgate scandals.

D The Sports Grants affair that went on for months and if not for the virus would probably still be commanding headlines was of itself enough, in ordinary circumstances, be enough for a government.

E Then there were the bush fire failures with the Prime Minister taking a holiday with the embers still burning.

F Then we have an avalanche of no tender government contracts to former Liberal staffers.

G Add to the list the AFP raid on the AWU with no outcome.

H And Stuart Roberts’ Rolex and internet usage.

I Its failure to recognise faults in the financial sector.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that that enables human progress.

This Government’s performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society. Surely performance or lack of it must mean something.

It goes without saying and his popularity of 68% backs me up that Scott Morrison is a consummate politician. Albeit a rather unscrupulous one with a capacity to somehow suggest that everyone else is at fault when he obviously is.

This attribution of blame is demonstrated with Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus infections and its subsequent handling of the it. At every press conference and every interview the Prime Minister and his ministers take every opportunity to cast doubt on the Victorian Premier’s accountability but when asked if they should be accountable for the deaths in nursing homes the Prime Minister, after fluffing up the surrounds of the question, gives answers like the following, as reported by Katherine Murphy of The Guardian:

“But Morrison saw the death rate through a different prism than a prime minister having a specific, negative charge to answer. Morrison said it was terrible and tragic that elderly Australians had died, but “sadly” it was not surprising that fatalities were concentrated in aged care because elderly people were “the most vulnerable in our community.”

“The aged care regulator was also being accused of causing a “catastrophic communications failure” causing a “potentially deadly delay” after revelations it took them four days to inform the government about a COVID-19 outbreak at Melbourne’s St Basil’s aged care home.”

“Unfortunately for the prime minister, in a forum outside the press conference, the counsel assisting the aged care royal commission was less glass-half-full. In an opening statement, counsel suggested evidence would show neither the health department nor the aged care regulator developed a Covid-19 plan specifically for aged care – which sounds like a commonwealth-specific deficiency.”

Just who is accountable? Well everyone is, including all politicians. However, Scott Morrison thinks that everyone else is … except him.

The two peas in a pod I refer to have similar characteristics. They both blame others, they both lie like it’s a gift to be demonstrated.

My thought for the day

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

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From Abbott to Morrison: by God you need patience

In August 2016 I wrote a piece about dysfunctional government and how much patience was needed if one was to have any confidence in conservative governments ever reversing their incompetence.

There is probably no need for me to tell you that Tony Abbott won government in 2013 – he poured his ideology over society in a period of disastrous dysfunctional leadership that saw him warned by his party that he needed to shape up or ship out.

His answer was to say that “Good government starts today” and we all wondered why it didn’t start on day one.

It never came, of course, and yet another Prime Minister in Malcolm Turnbull not only promised better government, but a more open one that would listen and be more transparent.

Now I am a patient man, but I must say it’s not infinite. I’m still waiting for it to happen. Take for example the kerfuffle at the time over the banking sector.

Blind Freddy knew that the banks had been ripping off their customers for yonks. There is ample evidence that they had destroyed the lives of many thousands of people.

The conduct of their financial advisers was criminal and a drover’s dog knew that they had manipulated interest rates, even colluded on them.

In short, they had behaved criminally. I recall thinking at the time that if a government that was hopelessly dysfunctional can have a Royal Commission into alleged corruption in the Union Movement, why can it not have one into our financial institutions?

Well, you all know what happened after that. The government relentlessly resisted a financial services Royal Commission until the scandal became bigger than Ben Hur and the chariots of fire were let loose.

Good conservative governance requires patience. Lots of it. Which rather laboriously brings me to my point.

Seven long years after Tony Abbott spoke those now infamous words, “Good government starts today” I am still mustering every ounce of something that is very foreign to me. I am by nature a very impatient man.

And so it was when I learnt that none of the $250 million set aside for ‘The Arts’ in June had been allocated.

Art in all it’s forms is just a reflection of society.

By God, they didn’t take long deciding on the allocation of funds prior to the last election.

Now being a thespian of long-standing, a composer of poetry, short story writer and portrait artist,  I was a touch upset for those in the arts who are now unemployed. Well, I’m more than a touch upset, I’m actually filthy on the government that since the announcement by Minister Paul Fletcher on 25 June, nothing has been done.

“Thousands of jobs across Australia’s arts industry will be backed with a new $250 million targeted package to help restart the creative economy and get the entertainment, arts and screen sectors back to work, as they rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19.”

“We are backing over 600,000 Australians in the cultural and creative sectors whose work contributes $112 billion to our economy. These sectors have been hit hard during the pandemic, and the Government’s investment will play an important role in the nation’s economic recovery,” Minister Fletcher said.

Surely, in the circumstances we find ourselves, time is of the essence. Drawing up the guidelines for the allocation of funds could be done overnight. As I said the sports rorts funding was a very hasty effort. They didn’t waste any time with that.

Some six weeks have now flowed under the bridge since the announcement of the arts package. The Office of the Arts has submitted the draft guidelines but Minister Fletcher is sitting on them.

Once the Minister gives the go-ahead it will take another eight to twelve weeks for the cash to start flowing. So it will be November before anyone gets funding. Eight months after the announcement meaning we won’t see any production until the New Year.

Please forgive my impatience but I thought we were in some sort of crisis.

My thought for the day

An artist creates a sculpture alone; a painter uses a brush in isolation. But music forms a community, where the Spirit of life can be felt.

It didn’t take him long to give Murdoch another $10 million on top of the previous $30 million. Still waiting on an answer as to what for. Just be patient.

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