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Category Archives: Your Say

“Dead souls”

The title of this piece is from the Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol.

“The purpose of the novel was to demonstrate the flaws and faults of the Russian mentality and moral character. Gogol portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These people are typical of the Russian middle-class of the time” (Wikipedia).

I believe we have reached a nationalist age level (if not yet an adult one) of maturity where we will have to confront the moral and ethical vacuum resident in our national communities. The decline of moral and ethical politics over the last few decades is a reflection of deep-seated flaws in the social contract between the structural/social classes in the community. The lack of interest in examining the moral and ethical standards of those members that have been elected to Parliament in the last few elections demonstrates a set of principles of integrity sadly lacking in the electorate.

The emphasis by those candidates on economic reward for choosing them over their opposition even after accusations of scurrilous moral or ethical behaviour shows a keenness in the communities more for financial blackmail than for social good – in short, it demonstrates that the voter base can be bought – and once an object is bought, it is “owned” by the purchaser.

“In the Russian Empire, before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners had the right to own serfs to farm their land. Serfs were for most purposes considered the property of the landowner, who could buy, sell or mortgage them, as any other chattel. To count serfs (and people in general), the measure word “soul” was used: e.g., “six souls of serfs”. The plot of the novel relies on “dead souls” (i.e., “dead serfs”) which are still accounted for in property registers. On another level, the title refers to the “dead souls” of Gogol’s characters, all of which represent different aspects of poshlost (a Russian noun rendered as “commonplace, vulgarity”, moral and spiritual, with overtones of middle-class pretentiousness, fake significance and philistinism)” (Wikipedia).

Hence we have a governing class of politicians who juggle their policy mandates to suit their class economics, with little consideration for those from the working classes who suffer grievously from such decisions. We saw tens of thousands of household incomes lost through the cancelling of subsidies for the car industry, while billionaires in the mining sector were granted personal tax relief. We saw other tens of thousands of household incomes lost through outsourcing to overseas interests those jobs in IT, banking, airlines servicing, telecommunications, manufacturing and energy while stripping away funding from higher education and trade training here at home … purely to satisfy the barefaced lie that it would “save the bottom line in the budget”. We see hundreds of thousands of workers on cheap labour wages brought into the country on temporary visas to satisfy dis-loyal employers hunger for cheap labour.

The people who are “managing” this chaos of class-warfare, are of the same pedigree who sent us in the space of one hundred years into two World Wars, a depression in between in the 1930s, stultifying conservatism of the Menzies era culminating in the gross destruction of a war in Vietnam, the betrayal of the National Political Trust with the Whitlam Dismissal, an unlimited farrago of credit driven by a shonky stock market surge in the 90s (“go on, have a go … it’s going gangbusters!”) , followed by the inevitable Global Financial Crisis of the 2000s and now another blundering about with absolutely no idea of direction by another conservative government as we head to a crisis of Global Warming and yet they STILL spruik the benefits of burning coal over renewables. These people who are managing us are the private school, elite university trained bozos of the upper-middle class who talk like they have both descriptive nouns and money to burn but in reality do not know shit from clay … their arsehole from their elbow.

Seriously … they do – not – know – shit – from – clay … but they do know which side of the bread the butter is on and by Christ they spread it thickly when it suits themselves! This clueless class has had its moment in the sun. “MOMENT!” did I say … they are baked f#ckin’ dry! … They are already struggling to lie their way into the next election and only a lack of clear choice will give them a chance. There needs to be an indelible line drawn under the rule of middle-class politics … they are finished … they have proven over time that they cannot govern, only rule, they cannot manage, only demand and they cannot advance into the future, only retreat into a fantasy world of their own delusional past.

There needs to be secession from middle-class-capitalist politics to more equitable management of social contract of working-class politics. The trade unions and representatives of the indigenous peoples along with honest representatives of commerce and industry (cough! cough!) need to be brought into the inner circle of governance … no longer a single Head of State, but rather a “Tetrarchy” head of four to divide the nation into four governing quarters combining with State Governments.

With this form of governance, there is more chance for those of the educated working-class to step-up to positions of responsibility through Local or State Authorities via Union activity or Indigenous or cultural serving abilities. This will also put an end to “charismatic leadership”, where the oleaginous main-stream media can promote an individual from the LNP of doubtful moral and ethical quality to rule the nation … as the only way to the top will be through channels of merit, a path more than not denied by intellect and ability to those from the private school system.

The time of sole middle-class politics is ended, the chaotic voting patterns seen in recent elections of both Houses has left us with a host of wannabe crazies with no hope of redemption and less of usefulness cogitating on bills and laws totally beyond their limited imagination.

There is only one class of citizen with the experience and life-skills inherent in their workaday lives to understand truly what depth and responsibility a social contract requires..that is the working-class..pure and simple … time to reject the failed idiot sons and daughters of the wealthy and bring in new blood and hope to the chaos of Australian politics.

“The institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture; as, for instance, in feudal Europe or feudal Japan. In such communities the distinction between classes is very rigorously observed; and the feature of most striking economic significance in these class differences is the distinction maintained between the employments proper to the several classes…” (Thorsten Veblen; The Theory of the Leisure class).

To the Lighthouse

A new year’s reflection …

“One must forgive the young their foolishness, for without them, there would not seem so much wisdom in old age” (Socrates).

Ah! … Friday nights, didn’t we look forward to them. But we were young and carefree in those days. A group of us young bucks would meet after work at the Seacliff Hotel on Fridays and imbibe of the amber fluid and see what came of the evening. We were mostly working lads, so our thirsts were dry and encouraging.

I happened to be the first there that night, so I’d only taken my first drought of beer and settled back one-arm-on-the-bar surveying the scene, when in walks Mark. Mark was a big stocky fellow then, before the years and a beer-gut increased accordingly.

“Another schooner please, Noela.” I said to the barmaid before Mark reached me.

“G’day, Mark. How’s the land lie?” I greeted him.

‘Hrmph! Not much better than yesterday … ta, Noela.”

“Why the long face? Say … I heard you bought yourself a car!”

“HAD, you mean … past tense … an’ I only had it three days!”

“Righto then,” I turned and put both my forearms on the bar-top …. ”out with it … what’s the dirt?”

“Bloody Mick!” Mark spat the words out.

“More!” I demanded.

“Last night we were in here having a drink,” he started … (I motioned to Noela for a beer for myself and nudged the coins on the bar and gave her the wink and a sign to keep refilling them). ”You know then that car I got from one of Mick’s mates who was going back to Sydney or somewhere and it had a “yellow canary” on it for bald back tyres? Well, Mick suggested I buy the car ’cause I could get it for a song.” Mark paused for a drink and a sigh, then continued …

”But I haven’t even got a licence … I said to him … ’You’ll get one one day,’ said Mick ‘and until then I can drive you around, since I don’t have a car.’ Mark rolled his eyes … “Say! Have you heard about Mick’s car?”

“I have not” I replied.

“Ah! … it’s another story. I’ll tell you later … he smashed it anyhow … again!” Mark waved his hand as if to erase the thought from his mind.

“Well,” he continued “I’d had enough beer by then to be a little bit foolish, so between one thing and another, I bought the car … ‘64 Falcon … green … I think!”

Mark sighed and plonked his hand down on a packet of smokes which he flung the lid off in an angry gesture and lit one up ecstatically.

“A man’s a fool!” he philosophised.

“Well, we were in here last night, me, Mick and Jim … You know Jim … the bullshit-artist? Yeah, that’s him! Me and Jim and Mick, just where we’re sitting now … and the car’s there outside the window in the street and I was feeling a little proud, I admit it, I’d never owned a car before, you see?”

“Anyway … (yes thanks, Noela) … we’re sitting here an’ Mick leans over to Jim and me and whispers like it was a national secret: ‘I know where I can get a good “deal” tonight’ ”

“Oh yeah!” I said “Where; The Brighton?”

“Yeah … good heads … good price too!” Mick was keen. Suddenly, there was “Brain’s” face hanging over my shoulder..”How much?” Brain asks.

I tell you, if there’s even a sniff of dope within half a mile of Brain, he’s on to it. And God! Doesn’t it look like he’s full of it! If it can be smoked, drank chewed or injected … but then I ‘spose that’s why he’s called “Brain” … Oh God! … His eyes!”

“How much?” Brain repeats himself. He’s standing there trembling like a distempered dog … anyway, between the long and short of it, we scrape our money together … I lent Brain his share … and we send Mick to buy a bag.”

“He gets back about an hour later lookin’ like he’s smoked half of it away. He gave us the nod from the door and we all finished our beers and went out to the car. He showed us the “deal”.

“And the rest, Mick!” Jim said. He knew Mick like he knows himself, eh? After a good deal of threatening from us he handed over some more he’d kept ‘ for commission’ he said.”

“Well, we decided to got up to the lighthouse and have a couple of joints. Mick’s driving like he usually does, so he does a few ‘ring-a-rounds’ on the grass and we park and smoke away. When we decided to go, Mick does another bunch of 360s just to make an idiot of himself and then goes and slides the car into a ditch on the slope and gets stuck … of course, you know Mick; plants his foot till smoke’s pouring off the tyres!”

” ‘Hold on dickhead!’ I shouted, ‘we’re not going anywhere like this … we’ll have to get out and push’ … we were standing at the boot, all off our faces as it was … ’No, Mick … YOU … stay in the car and steer … OK? Yeah, right ‘ ”

Well, there we were, an the stars were shinin’ … shinin’ an’ the lighthouse light is goin’ blink … blink … FLASH! … jeez, y’ was a beautiful night … so it took us a little while to notice the grass had caught on fire under the car..probably off the muffler up it went! WHOOSH!

’Mick, Mick,’ we yelled (shoulda’ kept our mouths shut!) an he got out just in time.

Man … we were panicking. Brain was freaking out, he just stood there moaning, ‘Oh man, oh man’ … and staring.”

“I’ ll go to a house’, I shouted, ‘and call the fire brigade’.

I tell you I went to four houses over the other side of that gully before someone would listen to me. I don’t blame them on reflection, I dunno what I was sayin’ … and the people in the forth house could see the problem without me babbling a word. He just looked over my shoulder and the grass on the whole side of the hill was on fire. I heard the sirens then and it was all over bar the shouting. When I got back to the fenceline, Jim, Mick and Brain were standing there silhouetted against the flames. Jim went into bullshit mode and started to detail about how it reminded him of “when he used to burn the sugar-cane crops up in Bundaberg” … I told him to ‘shuddup, Jim … just shuddup!’

“Well, that was last night. This morning, I wasn’t feeling too good, but around comes Mick to pick up me an’ Jim an’ we drive up to the lighthouse to see the damage. The car’s a write-off, gutted except the rear-end and the boot … you know those new tyres I put on to get the coppers to wipe off the “yellow canary”? … Well, someone stole both wheels … must’av been the only thing on the whole car worth saving … and to add insult to injury, I’m standing there, really depressed an’ thinkin’; ‘ well … at least I owned a car for three days! ‘ … suddenly Mick makes this gasping sound, like a sharp intake of breath, leaps to the passenger-side door, throws it open and flips open what remained of the glovebox.”

“Oh SHIT!” Mick cried painfully … ”There was a whole “deal” in that glovebox!”

“Man … I coulda’ wept. ”Mark shook his head disbelievingly. His hand plopped down again on his smokes.

“Two pints this time thanks, Noela”. He sighed.

A work of art … or … the art of work?

The motivation for this piece came from four flat-box displays of ladies embroidered cotton/lace handkerchiefs. I had purchased them some years before at a garage sale for the pitiful sum of fifty cents each box … one from Nth Ireland, two from Switzerland and the other from China. Looking at them in their tissued, flat boxes, with the delicate lace-edges folded into diamonds or squares, the brilliant white contrasted with the small embroidered flowers and sundry delicate patterns, I thought them too, too beautiful to be used other than as a display. So I made four frames and placed those “works of art” behind glass to be admired rather than soiled. I could imagine the girls or women hard-at-work, worrying over those pieces of cloth. Pieces of work became pieces of art … hence the title of this article!

I am an artisan (tradesman) … my father was an artisan (stone-mason) … the people who made those hankies were artisans, a multitude of people producing, constructing, moulding, knitting and on and on are artisans … coming from the French; “without art”.

Getting back to my father – the stone-mason – in his employment around Adelaide he built many stone walls and such. He built that curving weather wall along the Glenelg foreshore … by the sideshows (it is gone now). He told me years later that if I was to go to one particular place along that wall, I could see, shaped within the stone work, a map of Italy, with all the provinces in varying shades of stone, built cunningly into the wall! Indeed; a cunning stunt! Artisan becomes artist!

So perhaps it could be proposed: Who stationed “artists” and “artisans” in their prospective environs? What are the boundaries of these environs, ie; when does artisan become artist and vice-versa? Can art be interpreted as the “one-off” piece of deliberate intent? If an artisan uses his craft skills to produce a “one-off” article for decoration or beauty, does that one piece become a work of art? Likewise, if the artist takes a “one-off” work and by reproductive prints, mass-produces many images, does that work then become craft?

Are there then any boundaries to “art”? Does art exist in itself? Or is it an adjunct to physical existence … and not a separate construction of the imagination? And if it was, then surely every wicked creation, every insidious act could also be construed as a “work of art” alongside sublime desire! For wasn’t it Alexander the Great who volunteered that “war, is the greatest art”?

Perhaps the boundary between Art and the Artisan can be adjudged as; Artisan being a measure of one’s craft skills, whereas art; the measured, skillful baring of one’s soul! While there is chance of ridicule in the former, there is every chance of absolute condemnation in the latter. How deeply we choose to express one or the other is perhaps a judgement on one’s personal strength of character.

Recently, I was told an anecdote by an acquaintance at a familial gathering where he inadvertently revealed the true story of the deliberate killing of a pet dog … a terrier belonging to one of the members of that gathering when he was a young man who left home to go overseas and left his pet terrier in the care of his father. Here is the gist of the email exchange (I have removed names):

To ‘B’

“What a fuckin’ great story there is in there about the terrier … oh, fuck!, ’B’, you could place it just as you tell it; in the closed environment of a parlour (not the balcony … too casual) replete with a tad of your “tee hee-ing” … but not cruelly, rather as innocently unaware … until … until the sudden realisation … oh … the sublime sorrow of it all … you have to do it, ‘B’. It almost writes itself! ‘J’ “

(Reply from ‘B’)

“Ummm …er! I thought that’s what I have done … written the story! The balcony was where it happened, we were all around a table, it stopped being casual when the story sank in. Why would I change anything?”

To ‘B’

“To me it was an anecdote … sure, it has the ingredients of a story … it has the characters and the core ingredient of the emotion for a story … but told in such a banal way … such things are but the peripherals of what creates a “hunger” for a reader seeking insight into the feelings of both (in this case) the perpetrator of the core cruelty, the sudden awareness of the victim whose dog it was … and … most importantly … for “he” (in this case being you: the teller) who inadvertently blurts out in all innocence, the act of brutality against not just the dog, but vicariously, against the man’s own son in which it now becomes obvious (at least to a sensitive reader) that the killing of the poor terrier was the father’s “killing” of any feelings for the homosexual son … and here was “you”, in an age far removed from the act, delivering that final death-blow that perhaps and I suspect the father had calculated long ago you would one day do … a cowardly act from “beyond the grave” on the father’s part.

I remember being told of an act of cruelty against animals by this gross workman on a building site, that I can never forget … but the extra cruelty that he inflicted with his wanton act is that I feel I cannot tell of his brutality to any other person, lest I too in cruelty then deliver that horror of imagination of witnessing the distress of the animal. The bastard has inadvertently gathered me into his confederacy of cruel secrecy.

To me, the “telling” of a yarn is, if it is done properly, like delivering a singular present into the hands of the reader or listener … and as we know, sometimes the best, most valuable presents come in the smallest of packages.

Sure, you have told one story … but to me the “real” story lurks underneath the familial gathering there on the balcony … Reg’s … Joe.”

Can everybody be an artist … or is there art for everybody? I’m certain the answer is “yes” to both … although there may not be a market for everybody’s “art”! There is a risk of mockery in too much display and, I’m sure many of us are aware that the road between flattery and mockery is very short and very straight! But here again, the depth of soul-baring would, I’m sure, lift that sublime piece towering above the dross, such is the power of sincerity and in the end, there being so many avenues of material, visual or musical expression these days, the Andy Warhol claim of 15 minutes of fame may just be around the corner for all of us. The big question is: Would you want it?

The failed experiment

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

Marx’s original concept of class is that:

There is only the working class and the capitalist class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost and Indulgence: Gloating over New Year’s Celebrations

The gloating over the forthcoming New Year celebrations has already commenced. The first big city to feature on the roundups in each news segment as the year is ushered in tends to be Sydney, self-proclaimed global city in the antipodes, ever keen to rub its vulgar confidence into the noses of rival Melbourne. And, for that matter, every other city since costly fireworks and light displays matter in the image table.

In the time zones where the new year festivities feature with clockwork regularity, Sydney is the first flash, the initiator of the world into another fairly meaningless measurement known as a year, humanity’s effort to combat all swallowing eternity. Organisers are interviewed confident that the display will be the “greatest ever”. 

The problem with such an absolutist catch-all cliché as “greatest ever” is that it surely cannot happen each year. This improbability hardly bothers those behind putting together the event, whose job prescription eschews originality. The Sydney NYE committee, organisers and propagandists, find it entirely feasible that each event is surely greater than the other, and spread this gospel through media outlets without irony. Such optimism, such naked advertising! 

This, after all, is an occasion to forget the year that was, to forget woe, crimes against humanity and barrel scraping politicians, appalling decisions and missteps and perhaps most importantly, forget the scruples about the environment and the heating planet.

Everything touching on these celebrations resembles self-promotion at its most cringe worthy, so much so it deserves the tag of grotesque. Even newspapers join the ride, casting aside editorial judgment in favour of back slapping confidence. “After a year that many were happy to leave behind,” went the Sydney Morning Herald at the start of 2017, “an estimated 1.5 million people packed the foreshore on Saturday for a double bill of fireworks climaxing with the world famous midnight pyrotechnics extravaganza.” These lines are already being copied to be re-run on the first day of 2018.

That account was more overawed than shocked at the sheer profligacy on display. The Roman Emperors equated displays of extravagance with the worthiness of power. The modern city bureaucrat equates firework displays with the desperate need to have a mention in every significant news outlet in the world. There were seven tonnes of fireworks used at the Sydney Harbour bridge show the last time, including 12,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and some 100,000 or so individual pyrotechnic effects.  Millions had been expended ($7 million in one count).

These are not costs all are oblivious to. Even some of the blinded can attain a glimmer of sight.  In 2015, a glummer assessment from the Australian Financial Review noted that the Sydney Harbour fireworks display would “cost ratepayers more than $900,000 – or $45,000 per minute – this year, up 40 per cent on the cost five years ago.” 

The hefty $45,000 figure was arrived at after considering the initial “kids’ fireworks” component at 9 pm (children of all ages need convincing) lasting eight minutes, with the midnight extravaganza for the older ones going for a longer 12 exorbitant minutes.

Behind every bread and circus act is a political figure wanting to sooth and pacify, if for not for any other reason that old fashion tried bribery. Even before the concept of the ballot was invented, the approval of one’s rulers has been sought at intervals, if for nothing else than keeping citizens (or subjects) orderly and satisfied. 

While Australians are known for occasional attacks of puritanical wowserism (the country’s head scratching drinking laws, its classifications scheme for film and television count as notable examples) no one wants to be accused of being an anti-fireworks warrior on the city council. 

The AFR documented the response of a City of Sydney spokesperson, who claimed that the fireworks on the New Year’s Eve was “money well spent”. Going back to August, not a single councillor was willing to demur to expanding the budget for fireworks. There would be an influx of spectators; money would be spent, or thrown about, revenue generated for the city’s coffers. Other enterprises would also benefit: extortionate room costs from ideal vantage points, inflated prices for share-rides.

Not all are convinced by this bounty. In 2015, Lisa Nicholls petitioned the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to “donate Australia’s New Year’s Eve fireworks money to our struggling farmers”. Far from the metropolitan centre of celebratory Sydney were those “who put food on your table and clothes on your back”. They risked “losing everything” after another year of crippling drought. 

“How can we sit back on New Year’s Eve,” urged the petition, “and watch millions of dollars literally go up in smoke for a few minutes of our viewing pleasure when this money could do so much towards helping these farmers, the backbone of our country, to fight another day?” At its close, the measure had received 33,704 supporters. Ah, those unsatisfied spoilsports and irascible party poopers.

Such shows of indulgence must come with warnings of care. This has been a year of the spectacular mowing down incident, the murderous vehicle assault, the endangered tourist. Urban terrorism is alive and well, as are the placebo reassurances of the police. It’s all to do with bollards, come the officials. But this is a show for which no cost will be spared. The punters will be out. The pyrotechnics shall go on. Most of all, the City councillors will be happy. 

A process of recovery

Having been in the building trade for most of my working life, I have had several experiences of being called in by a agitated home owner to redeem or recover a job gone bad after the sacking of the original building contractor. I’m not talking multi-storey here, just your average housing extension or renovation. There is a process to this recovery that is much the same as the approach to many like scenarios of, say, failed health, failed business model, even or perhaps in this analogy most especially; failed politics.

The first thing to do is to make an assessment on the customer who called you in … you have to ascertain if the failure is perhaps a fault of the client interfering too much in the structure or the materials quality … this can sometimes happen where a client tries to get the builder to stretch spans between structural supports to gain more open space, thereby weakening the support loads of trusses or beams. Sometimes a customer will “have a mate in the game” when it comes to getting materials … and that could be structural timber with no or lower grade structural quality … things like that, where a good builder or trades-person will pull the client up and refuse to do such things … but in the case of the dodgy builder, sometimes anything goes and the job becomes a nightmare of dodgy work, chaotic coordination of trades and a general trash-site of rubbish and bits and pieces. I’m sure many of you have seen such in your travels … in short; managerial failure.

Once you have satisfied yourself with the clients credibility, you close the site while you do a thorough stock-take of: status of work completed, structural quality of work done, in hand materials stock-take and site tidiness and access for bobcats and any trenching work first needed … you then get hold of your own reliable subbies and set to work drawing up schedules and timelines … and you are then on the road to recovery … some of these measures can involve sacrificing off-cut materials left around and while useful, only congest the site and make it dangerous for clear procedure and they have to go into the big, blue-bin. A small loss for the greater gain.

Australian politics is now at the “failed dodgy builder” stage. We have the LNP in government which has to be the equivalent of the “Dodgy Bros’ Constructions” in every sense of word and deed. If they were in charge of building (which they are!), if they were in charge of contracting out (which they are!), if they were in charge of organising, timetabling, costing and supplying for basic infrastructure (which they have been!), the nation would be the equivalent of your average basket-case building site chaos (which it is!), where not only has the owner been trying to cut corners with materials, cut costs with dodgy contractors, but also giving the builders carte-blanch with the credit card which has been used to fleece the account to purchase holidays in the Cayman Islands, apartments on the Gold Coast and buy bling jewellery in Harrods Department Store! (Which they have!)

The road to recovery would demand the above standard response: first, sack the builder!, second, remove costing and quality and structural control from the builder’s jurisdiction, and third, set the building inspectors onto the builder and financier and seek legal redress!

This mob of LNP ministers and government would have to be the most corrupt and incompetent collection of useless good-for-nothings ever brought in to run any sort of project. There is not one area of expertise where you could point to and say that there is a competent minister doing a good job. Not one! Not from the Prime Minister or his department, neither Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Defence, Communications, Health, Education, Employment, Environment … and the list goes on and on … not one competent minister, nor one moral or ethical standout in the entire government. And don’t give me those who pushed for the SSM vote … that was just a one-off and they read the public mood … or else they would have buckled as they have done so many times before.

No … we now have a “rubbish builder” Government, who has made a hash of the job and needs to be sacked, removed and audited for charges to be brought against it. We have the equivalent of the builder who is unlicensed, unqualified and incompetent to do the job. Just like we had Attorney General Brandis who hid his incompetence behind reams of legal jargon, Minister Hunt who sheltered under his deceit of environmental sympathy and Senator Cash who has charge of job skilling, but who has not done a honest days work in her life and then we come to the Foreign Minister who just isn’t and we must conclude with Minister Pyne who always works best playing the “straight man” to his leader; Turnbull’s buffoonery!

Writing as a tradesman witnessing such mind-numbing political stupidity when it comes to doing the job right, I have come to both disrespect and resent that class of person who, coming from tertiary education into politics as a lawyer, accountant, business manager or as some other vague qualification not in the least useful to the everyday world of the common citizenry, yet are seemingly chosen from their peers, holding high that slip of paper stating manner of tertiary degree, PhD or Managerial Certificate that appears to be enough to give them almost ecclesiastical status in the public eye … while we of the working classes had to stitch and slave and study our way to education via the late-night glow of the desk lamp after both a day’s hard physical work and getting the children to bed. And even then, when we do obtain at least enough proficiency of language to make our tumbling thoughts plain and concise, we get picked up mockingly on our grammatical mistakes that are made to seem equal to a crime of capital proportions … when in reality … in real reality … those members of the Government (and, sadly, some even of our own representative side of politics) most praised by a sycophantic media and positioned cheerfully on our screens to lie and deceive at every opportunity, in truth they really wouldn’t know shit from clay … S-H-I-T from clay.

Time for the educated working class to take command and start the process of recovery of this nation … truly … sincerely!

I’ll give the last word (not that he deserves it, but because he says it best) to that old bluffer, Malcolm Muggeridge:

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down … Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over – aweary, battered old brontosaurus – and became extinct.”

The Life of Brian to be outlawed?

By Terence Mills

Just before Christmas Scott Morrison, without any provocation, came out and said that in 2018 he will fight back against discrimination and mockery of Christians and other religious groups in what appears to be a bid to take over from Tony Abbott and position himself as the leading religious conservative in the Turnbull Government.

Mr Morrison has also promised to play a leading role next year in the review of religious protections currently being undertaken by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.

It’s not clear why Scomo found it necessary to come out with this declaration right now but it seems possible that, after several years of issuing dire warnings about the spiraling government debt and expanding deficit and the need to cut spending and boost government revenues, he is finding it confusing to now be promoting corporate and personal tax cuts. I have to sympathise with him as I too find it difficult to get my head around the rationale of that economic conundrum.

Do you remember when we had a debt ceiling limiting how much the Australian government could borrow? The statutory borrowing limit was created in 2007 by the Rudd Government and set at $75 billion. It was increased in 2009 to $200 billion, $250 billion in 2011 and $300 billion in May 2012. In November 2013, Treasurer Joe Hockey requested Parliament’s approval for an increase in the debt limit from $300 billion to $500 billion, then the formal debt ceiling was abandoned altogether. Just as well as gross government debt has now exceeded $550 billion – more than double that inherited from those profligate drunken sailors in the Labor Party – and the annual interest bill is in the order of $18 billion.

So, if you were Scott Morrison wouldn’t you adopt the look over there policy and redirect the national focus away from fiscal management and call for us to rally under another banner for a new cause, in this case a religious crusade?

The odd thing is that Morrison and the Coalition have in the past strenuously argued in favour of absolute freedom of speech and opposed any protections for those who may be offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by another person or a group of people based on the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group. That’s right, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was utterly offensive to the Coalition and impinged on their absolute commitment to unfettered freedom of speech. But now they appear to want to introduce protections which are almost identical but apply to religious groups, particularly Christian groups but inevitably if they get their way those protections will have to apply to all believers. I’m not sure that the IPA and Pauline Hanson will be happy about that.

What worries me most is that the Ruddock Enquiry could lead to the formation of a religious police squad as part of the Dutton SS with blokes in polyester suits and clip-on ties ranging through the suburbs seeking out clandestine DVD copies of the Life of Brian. I’m going to hide my copy in a cover of Susan Boyle sings Christmas Album 2015.


By Kyran O’Dwyer

What is it with these self-opinionated, privileged fools and their pathetic ‘minders’ (the mainstream media (MSM))? For more than a year now, we have had a ridiculous ‘discussion’ based on a very shallow premise. We are, apparently, in the midst of a ‘Constitutional Crisis’ because applicants wanting to represent us are stupid. They don’t understand or comprehend basic questions, even when the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) spells it out for them. The subject has gone off the boil since the two recent by-elections but it will, inevitably, resurface when the next crop of miscreants make their appearance and the legitimacy of those not referred is questioned.

Apparently, their stupidity is exacerbated by a party system that does what no average Australian would do. Trust an aspiring politician to tell the truth or exercise due diligence. We sure as shit don’t expect it of them when they get elected.

And this is a crisis?

What absolute garbage.

The Constitution remains largely unchanged since its inception. Sect 44 has not been altered by so much as a comma since its inception. As a matter of fact and record, this internetty thingy has made it easier, not harder, than ever before to ‘check things out’. Particularly such difficult things as where your parents were born, in the off chance you made it to adulthood without ever knowing. How the feck is that a crisis?

The only crisis on display in Australia at the moment is that we have the most appalling pack of miscreants occupying seats in our Federal Parliament (for which they are obscenely compensated, given their competence, or lack thereof) and that they are willfully aided and abetted by a media preoccupied with a distraction of ‘who is worse than who’.

Anyone nominating for a seat in the Federal Parliament has to make a declaration including, but not limited to, the fact that they are not a dual citizen. The bar is not set particularly high in this regard. The precedents from 1992 and 1999 were sufficient to enable the AEC to modify and refine the handbook for candidates, which they have done regularly. There is an excellent run-down on the recent history of this farce on the RMIT/ABC Fact Check site which is worth a look in its entirety. It details the two previous cases. More clarity has been added by the recent cases which should make future adjudication easier. On the most recent decision, there is this;

“The High Court apparently aimed for an outcome that gave certainty and stability.

Some key points:

  • The key is the date of nomination. All reasonable steps to renounce other citizenship have to be taken by that date.
  • Ignorance is no excuse: a person will be caught by section 44(i) even if they were unaware they had dual citizenship. The court said:

“[T]o accept that proof of knowledge of the foreign citizenship is a condition of the disqualifying effect of s 44(i) would be inimical to the stability of representative government.

“Stability requires certainty as to whether, as from the date of nomination, a candidate for election is indeed capable of being chosen to serve, and of serving, in the Commonwealth Parliament.”

  • A person does not need to have sought out foreign citizenship. The court rejected the view of former Justice William Deane in Sykes v Cleary that section 44(i) should be limited to cases where the “relevant status, rights or privileges have been sought, accepted, asserted or acquiesced in by the person concerned”.

It said “the approach taken by Deane J draws no support from the text and structure of section 44”.

  • A candidate needs to go to the effort of finding out their citizenship status. The court said:

“[W]hile it may be said that it is harsh to apply s 44(i) to disqualify a candidate born in Australia who has never had occasion to consider himself or herself as other than an Australian citizen and exclusively an Australian citizen, nomination for election is manifestly an occasion for serious reflection on this question; the nomination form for candidates for both the Senate and the House of Representatives requires candidates to declare that they are not rendered ineligible by s44…

“In the nature of things, those facts must always have been knowable.”

“A candidate need show no greater diligence in relation to the timely discovery of those facts than the person who has successfully, albeit belatedly, brought them to the attention of the Parliament.”

  • Whether a person is a citizen of foreign country is “as a general rule, answered by reference to the law of that country“.
  • All reasonable steps have to be taken under the relevant foreign law — it is not enough to make a “reasonable effort”.

So, why would I, or anyone else, feel exasperated by these fools and their minders?

Here’s why.

In all of the conversations about this crisis, there has been feck all discussion about the process. Shouldn’t we be asking how do we make aspiring liars more accountable, rather than less accountable? The current conversation is nothing more than an exercise in excusing their stupidity and reducing their accountability.

And, just as importantly, what penalties should be either enforced or imposed?

As best as I can find out, when a candidate completes their declaration, there is very limited access to it or any disclosures contained therein in public forums. Notwithstanding this, the process to dispute the content is restricted to a 40 day window and the dispute must come from a voter in the relevant electorate.

Under Sect 47 of our Constitution these disputes should be considered by the relevant House. This function was passed to the High Court when it was appointed as the Court of Disputed Returns.

Under Sect 46 of the Constitution, penalties are imposed for false, misleading or incorrect declarations.

Now, if you can believe it, a false declaration is a criminal offence and can incur a penalty of incarceration up to one year. Additionally, there is provision for a £100 ‘fine’ for each day of occupancy of a position which you are not entitled to.

This has been clarified and updated by Sect 3 of the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975, which is referred to in the ‘Fact Check’ article.

Then there is the letter of demand for those who have occupied an office which they were not entitled to, sent by the Finance Department. As the ABC queried;

“So, will they be forced to repay their salary and entitlements?

Federal politicians are paid pretty well — the average backbencher earns a little over $200,000 and that is before you add on their entitlements and superannuation.

But the short answer is “no”.

When a member or senator is disqualified, the Finance Department will calculate how much they have earned over their parliamentary career, and ask them to repay it.

But by convention, the government of the day almost always waives the debt on request.”

How about we make these fools accountable and require government agencies to do nothing more than their job? They can do it. The precedents are Slipper and Thompson. The government spent millions of dollars to recover thousands of dollars.

As far as I can ascertain, as these are procedural changes, Constitutional amendment is not required. Many changes have been investigated by previous parliamentary committees. The current committee on Sect 44 is hearing of one possible solution by the AEC.

It would be logical to go further. When an aspiring candidate completes their application, it should be fact checked by the AEC. In the event there is insufficient proof of any claim, the AEC should have the necessary authority to request further and better particulars. If need be, investigative functions could be handled by the AFP, if they are not too busy with media exercises for the government, or ASIO, in the event that overseas verification of citizenship status is required. Once this has been done, let the AEC publish a candidate’s full paperwork for scrutiny.

In the event that false or misleading statements are found, charge the miscreants.

If that sounds severe, it is appropriate to take pause and consider the hapless Centrelink claimant, or asylum seeker, or any other claimant of government entitlements (as opposed to privileges), and the penalties imposed on them for the slightest of misdemeanour. These penalties have been decided by politicians and, in many instances, upgraded and harshened by this current crop of miscreants. Them asking for leniency is a request the average voter should not entertain.

As to the current farce, what should we do with those caught out so far? Why aren’t we discussing the full disclosure by the Finance Department of all letters of demand issued to these miscreants? Why aren’t we demanding that the debt be collected?

In the off chance that sounds harsh, there are only two words needed to validate it. Robo-debt.

As to who should or should not be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns as a result of the current farcical handling of this current farcical situation, this is no longer a political decision. The current process has been established by our fearless PM, requiring everyone to complete a declaration and supply the necessary paperwork. He is currently trying to politicise the process by revisiting the right of parliament as to who should be referred and who can refer them.

Our PM has required that everyone submit a declaration with the necessary paperwork. Let’s make it easy for him. Anyone who hasn’t complied gets referred.

There’ll be a few. Both from the Senate and the House of Representatives.

If they have stated there is an overseas familial link and have not provided paperwork to show ‘reasonable enquiry’, refer them. As for that fool, Leyonhjelm, he should be considered for contempt, given his outright refusal to comply with the request.

Oh, and as a side issue, Abetz has provided his paperwork. He has been in the Senate since 1994. If you look at his tab, it states;

“Attachment 3 – Certificate of Renunciation obtained in 2010”

Under which he has helpfully added;

“(obtained during High Court proceedings in 2010 to confirm previous renunciation)”

Did anyone check? The ‘previous renunciation’ appears to be a photocopy of a carbon copy of a letter dated 26/11/92 addressed to ‘The German Embassy, Canberra, ACT, 2600’. The contents of the alleged letter is farcical. He says he renounces his German citizenship and, if there are any problems, the Embassy should get back to him.

The jackass from one notion was ridiculed for his e-mail equivalent to an equally nonsensical address. One can only wonder if Abetz got a letter from the Finance Department for his occupancy of a Senate seat from 1994 to 2010.

The final bit of the Fact Check link is interesting.

“The registers will be maintained for all future MPs.

However, the disclosure regime is not expected to protect existing MPs and Senators who failed to comply with section 44 of the constitution.

In these, and subsequent cases, the High Court will remain the final arbiter.

If the Parliament refuses to refer someone to the court, a member of the public can do so, and claim $200 a day for attending the hearing.”

Now, I’m not a lawyer, let alone a Constitutional lawyer. And for historical (as opposed to the MSM weapon of choice, hysterical) perspective, it is important to note the Constitution was unleashed in 1901.

In 1901, there were 3.7 mil Australians (the Indigenous weren’t included) of which 77% were born here and 23% were born overseas. At that time;

“Income figures were not collected in the 1901 Census but were estimated from various sources at the time. For 1901, the mean annual income per inhabitant (including children aged under 15 years) was £46.”

When the Constitution was framed, the number of people born overseas was much the same as it is now. Way back then, it wasn’t a problem. How the feck can this suddenly be a problem now?

As for the penalties, clearly our forebears wanted them to be significant. If the estimate of a year’s income was £46 and the penalty was £100 per day, it could easily be assumed that our forebears had less tolerance for fools. The intent of the penalty could not be clearer.

This isn’t a crisis. It’s a farce. What else would you expect from this government?

As for the media riding ‘shot gun’ and pretending to be doing their job, AAARRRGGGHHH …

Death by a thousand cuts. Republican style.

By Peter Mcc

US politics is looking pretty interesting at the moment. There’s a lot of conjecture about whether Donald Trump will survive his current difficulties but with so many players involved and so many options available there are plenty of variables involved and it’s worth reflecting on what is going on at the moment.

Some folk who have had enough of Donald Trump are feeling that things are going to hell in a hand basket but I think they’re overlooking a couple of important factors in this matter, and they should not be too depressed.

Trump’s hyper-aggressive challenge to anybody who has a crack at him is deceptive. You should never confuse loudness and certainty of view with actually being correct. There is no link between the two. Even the most ignorant person can be sure of their facts in spite of reality and usually they have more confidence than those with a more considered view. But having said that it is quite a successful tactic to use against people in US politics. Folk are simply not used to somebody lying out right, but the good news is eventually the penny drops  and folk start looking  at actions rather than listening to words. The problem is it takes some time to get that sorted out.

The first thing that folk should consider is that when it comes to the professionalism of Donald Trump himself, and also his lawyers, it’s a pretty sorry looking picture. Some of his lawyers are the most inept ever seen in modern times. There has been some discussion around Donald not paying his bills consistently so of course he loses the services of professional lawyers and he has ended up with the country bumpkins he has at the moment. Then there is Donald himself. Anybody investigating Trump has probably the easiest prosecution job in the world as far as evidence collection goes. He regularly tweets himself into a corner and then has to do a whole lot of backtracking to try and get his arse out of harms way. The first job in the morning of the people investigating Donald is to check the Twitter feed and see what else he has dobbed himself in for. It’s quite laughable except for the amount of damage that he is doing to the US debt levels.

The thing that makes this unpredictable is the Republican Party. In a more sensible environment a political party would keep a bit of space between themselves and bizarre characters like Donald in an effort to preserve their credibility, but somehow they have lost their way as far as protecting themselves. Instead of keeping a healthy distance between themselves and Trump, they are allowing themselves to be bullied into supporting him, then doubling down on that investment when things go even more pear shaped.

I guess it could work, but all things being equal, that’s going to bring them a world of pain in the longer view. Even if they could suppress the Twitter feed it would still be a struggle but seeing as they can’t even control that, they are totally exposed to any brain fades that Trump suffers. And that’s almost a daily as the pressure builds.

It’s almost unbelievable that the Republicans have lined up against the special prosecutor when in earlier days they kept clear of drinking the Richard Nixon Kool Aide. But in those days they seem to have had higher ethical standards and felt like they owed the voters respect. That is no longer the case. Now they are basically playing politics as a game of controlling government instead of going in to do the right thing and look after the country. With the latest tax breaks they have a huge amount of debt being piled up on US taxpayers and the lowest incomes will be the ones who bear the brunt of that, while those at the top take the tax breaks and laugh all the way to the bank. If that isn’t disrespecting lower income Voters then it will do until something even worse comes along.

Can it work? I think it’s highly unlikely when you add the character of Trump to the ineptness of his legal team, and some of the supporters in the Republican Senate team seem to do more harm than good when they try to help. Donald looks more like a tin pot dictator from some 3rd world country. Robert Mugabe comes immediately to mind. Obscenely wealthy, ruling with an iron fist, taking legal action against opponents, encouraging his supporter base to use violence against his opponents, milking the tax system for every last cent, and shouting fake news any time his behaviour is pointed out. He’d like to be a God but he’ll settle for King. You can get away with that in Zimbabwe where expectations are low, but most Americans have come to expect a higher level of integrity from their politicians, and when they realise how damaging the divide and conquer tactic is, there will be a price and the Republicans have to pay it.

So what’s the state of play at the moment? What might we expect?

Donald’s off to play a few rounds of golf over Xmas but traditionally this is the time of year when mischief is carried out. It’s great to do it when the media watchdogs are on their break or when folk are otherwise distracted. That’s when you bring out the politically risky stuff. It is possible that Trump might decide to sack the special prosecutor, perhaps on Boxing Day, but I think overall that is too thoughtful a play. Trump is more of a knee-jerk kinda guy which is why he gets himself in so much trouble.

But he is hard to predict so if I was working for a real media outlet in the US, and by this I mean a non-State run media outlet, I’d consider that I may be facing an early return to work if Trump decides to act. It is possible he could wake up grumpy one day and make the call without thinking things through, and if he does, the Republicans have a huge problem on their hands. Do they double down on Trump, or do they face facts and realise that you can’t fool all the people all of the time. Already US voters are showing that the Republicans are on the nose and they really suffered in recent elections. Even losing seats that they felt were unlosable. If Donald tries to use his executive powers against Democracy then the Republicans will have even more problems on their hands.

If they think Trump has damaged them so far then just imagine how much worse that will be if they decide to prop him up when he really should be facing the full power of US law. Imagine going to the voters having supported a US President who was more interested in appeasing the Soviets than protecting Americans from Russian interference? Imagine if someone acquires Russian Intelligence files that show Trump has been compromised? If that were to happen, Putin would immediately throw Donald under the bus. His tactic is to have the US so stirred up that there is blood in the streets and exposing Trump would beautifully bookend his wildly successful strategy. Putin’s strategy of breaking up alliances so he march into the Ukraine is working flawlessly and he may even be able to make his move this year. I’m guessing Vlad laughs himself to sleep every night.

This article was originally published on 1Petermcc’s Blog.

A Box of Spoons

Here is a “story” to tide you over for Chrissy.I hope you enjoy it … ‘aveagoodone!

There is innocence in childhood that has the capacity to reduce a complex situation to the simplest of solutions. It has its own shining beauty in that it need not be corrected, nor adjudicated upon … just to be sure that such innocence will be perhaps, irretrievably lost once past the “coming of age”. But then, surely, each age has its attractions … even old age can offer a “safe harbour” for memories of the child we all once were.

At my mother’s passing last year, I came into possession of all her archived household accounts and diaries. They were meticulously kept, from 1962 – 2014 … right down to the last cent. Her correspondence, however was not so conscientiously maintained … they were bundled or loose, in no discernable order of from any particular author … and all in a big box along with pamphlets and postcards. So it was no surprise to me when I came across one envelope that had written in one corner in her perfect script; “Keepsakes”.

Upon examination of the contents, among snippets from Aunt Lou of South Africa, or some distant relatives (on my father’s side) in America, there was a small cut square of wrapping paper … a faded yellow in colour with the print of two bells tied with a flourished ribbon and the script; “Your Wedding Bells” half circled above them.

This piece of paper ‘rang some bells’, if you’ll excuse the pun … and begging your indulgence, I’ll tell you the story. “How do I know the story so well?” you’ll ask after it has been told. You see, like all those childish adventures and miss-adventures that come to the attention of parents, they are told and re-told and repeated with some embarrassed amusement, right into our adult lives at every Christmas or family gathering … but then, one has to fill in the subtle details from memory of one’s own actions in the “adventure”!

It went like this:

A Box of Spoons

It’s a curious cycle that has parents giving their offspring Christian names that would elevate them, if only in nomenclature, above their poverty-enriched status. So was the only child of Ruth Hogben given the name “Alistair” at birth with a surety of decision that stopped short any debate on other possible names for her child. “He is to be named Alistair” she spoke wearily after the birth, then lay silently to feed the child. Ruth Hogben was a single parent in a “Trust” house on the fringe of the southern suburbs of Adelaide. How and why she was without a male companion shall remain a mystery … that is not our story.

“Damn poverty!” she would grumble to no-one in particular, “Oh to have a little extra money … even to buy some decent cutlery rather than this mish-mash of rubbish!” And she cast a plain steel knife into the dishwater.

Alistair heard this complaint many times as he grew up to his six years of age, so it formed an impression on his gentle child-mind that associated knives and forks and spoons with a degree of wealth. When his mother went shopping at Tommy Johnson’s 4 Square grocery store, he would wander out the front of the market to gaze into the plate glass window of the jeweler next door. But not at the expensive, glittering baubles of diamonds and emerald rings and bracelets, nor at the expensive timepieces. No, he stared hungrily with sweaty hands flat pressed against the glass at a set of glowing silver cutlery all embossed on their handles with delicate textures that mesmerised the tender-mind of the boy. And the fact that they were embedded in a rich, red plush of crushed velvet that itself seemed to shimmer was an added bonus. Oh how he would love to be able to make a gift of that set to his mother! If he stood there too long staring, a frowning face would inevitably appear above the cutlery set and a hand would make shoo!, shoo! away motions that would send Alistair backing slowly away over to the store door to wait for his mother.

There were two major events that affected Alistair’s life, both to the frustration of his mother, one was his susceptibility to asthmatic or bronchitis attacks, which with the croup in his lungs and the fits of coughing would keep him home from school for days at a time. It had even put him in hospital overnight a couple of times so that now, when he had an attack, a district nurse dropped in to check on him. The other event, one that brought rapture to Alistair’s heart was the opening, in a nearby gully of a mega council rubbish dump. Alistair became, to his mothers concern an inveterate “tip-fly”. He would descend onto that refuse heap every spare moment that the council men weren’t there (for it was “forbidden to scavenge”) to pluck little treasures from that miasma of debris. He would come home with a box full of trinkets and toys and, of course, always a little “something for Mum!” And! … and, despite her distaste for the subject, a certain curiosity would compel her to look into his “treasure chest” of swag.

“What have you got this time?” she’d ask as her eyes scanned the collection of knick-knacks. And Alistair would rummage expertly amongst them hummingly to produce a little treasure for her … for her he found it, a piece of colourful patterned china? A bauble of a cut glass vase perhaps? a book of verse (she loved verse, he knew). And his mother would smooth his hair with her hand and plant a kiss on the top of his head in thank you and place the trinket or whatever up on the “special shelf”.

Ally would smile happily, but always at the back of his mind was that lingering awareness of his mother’s concern for what she called “their poverty” and that elusive set of cutlery, one day he would bring her a set of cutlery, he was sure he would, for in his child mind, there was nothing to distinguish this throw-away society from all that in the shops on the high-street. The measure of wealth was to him nothing more than the collection of material things … of trinkets … of glitter and shine.

Come one winters day when the rain rattled on the glass of the window next to Alistair’s bed fit to drive even the hardiest birds to cover, Alistair gazed up from the picture book that was to amuse him as he lay resting from the latest attack of croup. He coughed a hacking, phlegmy cough that bought his mother in from the kitchen.

“Ah, dear, dear,” she fussed with the crumpled bed clothes and placed a warm moist hand on his forehead. “How’s my little chap then?” she cooed automatically. Alistair shrugged. “I’ve got the nurse coming today to look at you,” she consoled, “you just lie down and rest till she comes” and with one last smoothing down of the blankets she left the room.

Rest? Rest? Tell a six year old boy to lay and rest when, if not for the blasted coughing, he could be out in the wild … rest! From out of his window Alistair could at any time see down across the open sweep of paddocks to the gully that was the dump. Hardy scavenging seagulls would on most days circle like vultures then settle on the heaps of domestic garbage to feed. The site drew Alistair’s attention like iron to a magnet.

“It doesn’t look like the men are working now it’s raining,” he thought, “I might be able to sneak down for a look.”

This logic resolved his boredom and he quietly slipped out of bed and dressed for adventure. He opened his window carefully and climbed through into a bush of pelargoniums, the boy was free! His many trips to that El Dorado had worn a track through the grass and around the sparse, wild-olive trees that dotted the paddocks. As he got closer to the tip, each olive tree had a clear patch around its base furthest away from the cyclone-wire fence of the tip. Here he’d spy out the ground. The way was clear, the men were not working with the steady rain, they would be in the shed. Raindrops dripped from the dark leaves of the olive tree down Alistair’s back, he shivered in reaction, but he didn’t really notice the wet; he had other distractions! He crept to the fence and along to the large corrugated iron shed that housed the bulldozer. There were a lot of old nail holes in the sheeting, to one of these Alistair put his eye as he had done on many occasion. Two men sat at an old table in the shed, they were playing cards. Alistair listened:

“Where’d you get these cards from?” one man asked mockingly.

There was a moments silence.

“Found ’em t’ other day,” the other grumbled while in deep concentration on his cards. After a few cards were thrown down and others picked up, one threw his cards triumphantly on the table.

“Full house,” he boastfully cried, “Kings high!” and he smiled. The other frowned quizzically then nodded. ‘

“Not bad,” he said “I’ve only got five aces!”

“What!!” the first man exclaimed in disbelief.

Alistair left them at this point to argue the toss and seeing that they were involved in other duties, he made for his goal through the steady rain. He had gathered a few little ‘lovelies’ in his swag when he came across a jumble of wrapping papers and discarded ribbons amid confetti and used papers plates. The whole lot was next to a pile of rancid domestic waste. He poked about amongst the wedding debris (for that is what it was) with his seasoned eyes searching for booty. Then, all at once, amongst the scrap paper wrapping, he plucked out a small box, a card-board box about six inches square and one inch thick, it had a buffed crimson lid. He shook it, it rattled dully, he pondered on its’ contents and tried to guess, he played this game often, coins? buttons? No, too solid, nails? No too few! give up … carefully he eased the crimson lid off and gazed into the container.

Gosh! His eyes glowed with delight. He quickly closed the lid and slipped the box under his shirt less it become more rain speckled in his box of loot. His box! No, mustn’t forget that and he picked it up, he’d got enough now, yes! Oh how wonderful! he turned to sneak back home, gloriously happy, wait; paper! Wrapping paper everywhere!, he snatched up a piece that had “Your Wedding Bells” scripted over it, along with a length of white ribbon and he ran over to his spot at the fence which he crawled under to make for home … home, there past the shed with the huge silent bulldozer smelling of dust and diesel and the two men laughing inside, home, past the dark olive trees and across the grassy paddock home, home, and how he ran, the grey clouds tumbled and the rain streaked in silvered incline toward his house … home!

The district nurse had arrived, Ruth showed her in and led her down to Alistair’s room. He wasn’t there! And his window was ajar!

“Oh lord! Where can he be?” Ruth exclaimed, but she had a pretty good idea. “Boys, they’re the hardest things in the world to keep in one place!” and she moved to gaze out the window. She couldn’t see him, but she knew he wouldn’t be long.

“He … he must have gone to look at something,” she explained weakly, “I’m sure he’ll be back in a minute … would you like a cup of tea while you wait?” The nurse looked at her watch and remarked that yes it was near lunch time anyway. and yes a cuppa would be nice..ta! so they both adjourned to the kitchen.

Alistair crept up to his window and climbed through … he coughed harshly … his mother heard and excusing herself went to investigate. She found him standing at his dresser wrapping a package, drops of water fell onto the rug under his shoes.

“Ally … Ally … where have you been? Why, you’re soaked! And … and … your shoes, they’re filthy!” Alistair gave scant attention to his mother’s angry remarks, but thrust out a small, hastily wrapped package toward her. Ruth was taken aback by the tactic, she gazed dumbly down at the package that had “Your Wedding Bells” emblazoned on the wrapper.

“It’s for you Mum,” Alistair quietly but eagerly offered. He stood there soaked to the skin with the length of white ribbon he had no time to use, dangling loosely in his hand.

“It’s … it’s a … ” But no! … He wouldn’t tell her what it was, though one look at his wide-eyed expression and you could see he was dying to tell, he bit his bottom lip to stop himself and handed his mother the package, then clasped his hands together eagerly.

As Ruth took the clumsily wrapped package, the paper unfolded itself like petals of a flower to reveal a small box about six inches square and one inch thick, its’ lid was a crimson wash, speckled with rain-drops that raised welts on the smooth surface. She gazed wonderingly down at the box.

“Open it Mum, it’s for you. I found it for you.” Ruth gently praised open the lid and her mouth formed a little “o” with an accompanied sigh. Alistair crowded next to her and peeked into the box also. There, embedded in a plush of rich, red crushed velvet lay six bright, shiny silver tea-spoons, all embossed on their stems with delicate textured patterns that mesmerized mother and son, a soft glow from the single filament light in the ceiling reflected spangles up into their eyes.

“It’s a box of spoons Mum.” Alistair whispered, “a box of spoons for you to have so now we won’t be so poor,” he said keenly.

Ruth looked to her son standing there all a tremble and took him into her arms. She smoothed and kissed the top of his head and murmured more to herself than to him.

“I never knew how rich we were.” The nurse called down the corridor, Ruth quickly stashed the spoons. They put Alistair back into bed and the nurse attended to his needs. He was ordered to stay put in his bed. Alistair snuggled down into the depths of his blankets and smiled contentedly at the thought of his days glory. He listened to the hum of conversation between his mother and the nurse in the kitchen, the chiming of the spoons against the side of the tea-cups as they stirred their brew rang an angelus in his heart.

“Oh, what lovely spoons” the nurse cooed syrupy, “where did you get them?”

“Oh these?” Ruth replied nonchalantly, “Why, they were a … a gift, from someone … someone very special to me.” Alistair pulled his knees up to his chest, he coughed several times. His mother listened to the nurses chatter and cocked one ear to listen to her child’s coughing she nodded big-eyed at something the nurse had said, but at the same time sighed comfortably, for those coughs had a particular sound, the croup was easing,

Alistair was on the mend.

The Leopard is dead

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” says Tancredi, the young nephew of Fabrizio, the Sicilian prince and central character of “The Leopard” … a very influential book by Giuseppe de Lampedusa.

Tancredi is an opportunist who understands what he needs to do to climb the social ladder in modern Italy. As he tells his uncle, the Prince; “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. In other words, if the upper-class wants to keep living a rich lifestyle, they’ll need to adapt to the changing world. The story unfolds toward the ending of aristocratic rule in that part of the world in the time of the Risogimento in Italy as Garibaldi’s troops swoop into Sicily to complete the unification of that nation and marking the beginning of the end of many if not all aristocratic rule throughout Europe.

“Most of the novel is set during the time of the Risorgimento specifically during the period of history as Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of Italian unification, swept through Sicily with his forces, known as The Thousand. The plot focuses upon the aristocratic Salina family, which is headed by the stoic Prince Fabrizio, a consummate womanizer who foresees the upcoming downfall of his family and the nobility in Italy as a whole but finds himself unable to change the course of history.” (Wikipedia)

And indeed, history has recorded that change from aristocratic rule to upper middle-class domination … one could rightfully call it a tyranny of banker’s economic slavery … that has grown from an ideology steeped in the almost hard-core blue-print of genetic greed stamped on some of the most flawed elements of human evolution … a class evolved from a malevolent hunger to have and have and have more than their fellow people for but one vicious end … to dominate through a system of ”reward/punishment” the political and economic powerhouses of the western world.

They have conquered. But they hold power by a thread … a pernicious contract. The power of the upper middle-class resides in capital and only is a bluff of the most extraordinary reach, encompassing personal domestic finances of the home, local business exchange activity, states, territory and national treasury economic policy … each morning we wake to the financial reports and stock market fluctuations, as if they were the life-blood of our very existence … and with the control of money reaching so far into the personal well-being of our lives, perhaps they now are! I see my children as young adults now … struggling with home ownership, credit debt for what my generation would see as trivialities (communications/entertainments, holiday travel etc), lured deeper and deeper into a world of easy credit exchange and banker’s spiel so that their now fragile employment opportunities are too valuable to risk with reckless protest against the very swindle of wages reductions and casualisation of job opportunity.

Consider carefully the subtle intrigue of the advice of Maecenas, one of those original constructors of this malignant middle-class power his counsel to the new Emperor Augustus:

“And do not, I beg you, be afraid of the magnitude of the empire. For the greater its extent, the more numerous are the salutary elements it possesses; also, to guard anything is far easier than to acquire it. Toils and dangers are needed to win over what belongs to others, but a little care suffices to retain what is already yours. Moreover, you need not be afraid, either, that you will not live quite safely in that office and enjoy all the blessings which men know, provided that you will consent to administer it as I shall advise you. And do not think that I am shifting the discussion from the subject in hand if I speak to you at considerable length about the office. For of course my purpose in doing this will be, not to hear myself talk, but that you may learn by a strict demonstration that it is both possible and easy, for a man of sense at least, to rule well and without danger.

“I maintain, therefore, that you ought first and foremost to choose and select with discrimination the entire senatorial body, inasmuch as some who have not been fit have, on account of our dissensions, become senators. Such of them as possess any excellence you ought to retain, but the rest you should erase from the roll. Do not, however, get rid of any good man because of his poverty, but even give him the money he requires. In the place of those who have been dropped introduce the noblest, the best, and the richest men obtainable, selecting them not only from Italy but also from the allies and the subject nations. In this way you will have many assistants for yourself and will have in safe keeping the leading men from all the provinces; thus the provinces, having no leaders of established repute, will not begin rebellions, and their prominent men will regard you with affection because they have been made sharers in your empire.” (Cassius Dio: The Roman Histories, Maecenus’ advice to Augustus).

Such “advice” has been the hallmark of the process of selection of those sympathetic to the aspirations of that class of economic tyrants in seeking the “consciousness of kind” down through the ages … and if they cannot skim them from the lowest filth of society, they will “manufacture” them in the private schools and colleges of the nations, turning the heads of the young and gullible toward a world of promised riches, bling and cruelty … maintained by a servitude of henchmen hopelessly and futilely aspiring to become themselves, one of the “elite” order of absolute bastardry of the upper middle-classes.

We have but one cause to devote ourselves to if we wish to redeem this planet’s environment, this planet’s sustainability, this nation’s dignity and this people’s honour … and that is to remove the entrepreneurial/speculative middle-class from holding total power in our democracy. Their ideology of economic command has led them to use the monetary system, a system constructed initially for nothing more than convenience of exchange of goods and commodities for an accepted value in currency (gold or silver etc) and by their greed of accumulation and political control along with the now domination of ability to appoint and direct officials of bureaucratic oversight of excess of power, they have totally corrupted that very democracy that has with tolerance, allowed them to wheedle, bribe and brutally take command of governance where they can. They have over-reached their acceptable influence.

With the many examples of financial chicanery being exposed not by the oligarchic mogul controlled mainstream media, but by social media and courageous whistle-blowers, we now see just how far property and monetary possession has corrupted that class so that there is deliberate action to limit inquiry and investigation and ability to collect taxation and remuneration to the State. There is an action in operation by some of these people that could equate to treason by the now members of the very senators and ministers that hold government. The wealthy are writing the laws that restrict inquiry into the habits of the wealthy:

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” …

If we want things to change, things cannot stay as they are. The upper middle-class has to be torn down from their positions of power before that power corrupts completely, our nation.

Voting Compulsory? Not if it makes you feel Morally Corrupt!

By Terence Mills

Voting is compulsory in Australia, right? Well, not quite. If you believe that it is your religious duty not to vote then you don’t have to. It’s one of the many privileges granted to those of a religious persuasion but if you or I decide not to vote because we conscientiously believe that those being put forward for election are a group of mongrel twits, we get fined twenty-dollars and the High Court will so find. Well not so quick, an enterprising man in New South Wales, who I have never met but with whom I have a great feeling of empathy, had a close look at the Commonwealth Electoral Act, section 245 (14) where it says:

Without limiting the circumstances that may constitute a valid and sufficient reason for not voting, the fact that an elector believes it to be part of his or her religious duty to abstain from voting constitutes a valid and sufficient reason for the failure of the elector to vote.

In an exercise is in logic reminiscent of the Life of Brian a magistrate in NSW has determined that:

Person: I think it was ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’

Woman: What’s so special about the cheesemakers?

Man: Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

No, sorry that actually was Life of Brian but it will serve to illustrate the point, to which I will return. What actually happened was that the man has won a legal battle in a New South Wales court after being prosecuted for failing to vote in the 2016 federal election, saying that voting would have left him feeling “morally corrupt”. A powerful argument when you look at the quality of the candidates on offer in New South Wales at the last election. The man admitted that he didn’t vote in the July 2016 election but pleaded not guilty to failing to vote without valid and sufficient reason.

Relying on section 245 of the Electoral Act the self-described agnostic said he believed in “freedom” an ideology that forms the basis of his view of life and his moral framework. The magistrate said fair enough and dismissed the case against him, finding that the man had provided evidence of a valid and sufficient reason not to vote.

Now, this judgement has a massive potential impact on the enquiry that Philip Ruddock is chairing into Protections for Religions and Religious Beliefs. How so? Well it demonstrates the fact that a conscientious belief or an ideology such as “freedom” or agnostic or atheistic beliefs need to be protected equally as much as other beliefs provided that they are conscientiously held. So, as we know, in the national census  a large number of people said that their religious belief system centred around Jedi Knights a belief closely aligned with Scientology but without Tom Cruise. An even bigger group said “none of the above” clearly indicating a more intellectually based belief system not relying on symbolism, funny hats, silly walks or omnipotent beings.

So, returning to the Life of Brian analogy, when the act says if an elector believes it to be part of his or her religious duty to abstain from voting, it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any belief system that is conscientiously held, and if you feel that voting for the candidates on offer will leave you feeling morally corrupt then you have every reason to abstain.

I have no doubt that Philip Ruddock will take this into account and extend such protections to all of us.

I rest my case!

“No future for youuuuuu!”

Stumbled across a YouTube clip from 2007 of the Sex Pistols playing their “Retirement Fund Tour” at Brixton to a rabid frenzied crowd of several thousands. The band pumped out this cacophony wall of sound that was both incomprehensible yet totally in-sync and in tune with the frenzied mob … a truly wonderous experience. They knew all the words … the pauses … the nous and the required volume of roaring that at times even drowned out the exaggerated magnification of Johnny Rotten’s microphone. Here, see it now with “Anarchy in the UK”.

One has to say the raw energy pumped out at that concert is something to both behold and to be wary of. Sure … while the band may presume that the energised mass of people are fans, there is also the hint that here was an energy beyond the control of the band that could be captured by another demagogue more sinister than mere music … watch them perform “God Save the Queen”.

There is an energy and demand in that roaring mob that reaches beyond mere entertainment … there is the definite intent of political direction … a fierce and unbridled frustration that will one day have to be confronted and will confront our false sense of security. One could claim that politics has taken unintended control of the movement.

What has the Sex Pistols to do with local politics, you could be asking about now. I say it has to do with control of public mood … who can create the frenzy … who can bring it to their use and how is it kept under control. For while that particular band has created with their particular brand of words, mood and driving music the catalyst for the outpouring of energy, one has to admit that the public mood extrapolated since punk music hit the scene has captured both the performers and the driving beat and pumped it up into a working-class anthem for disquiet and discontent way above the limits of that band and many others … the rhythm and the drum-beat has become the foot-falls of unrest that now permeates through the working classes of the west … the brutal countenance of their features have become our own “Faces in the street”.

I would suggest that what we are witnessing with the elections of many shit-for-brains political minnows throughout the western democracies, is not necessarily a backing of right-wing policies by the working-class, but a totally rebellious “IN – YOUR – F#CKING – FACE!!” statement that wants to shove it right up the clackers of those managerial middle-class political parties that in the end do so effing little for the working-class, they might just as well not exist! So in voting in those gormless delinquents like Trump, the LNP, The Tories, PHON, and a host of sabotaging, destructive bastards, we are seeing the breaking up what could be seen as a political system heavily weighted to serve the 1%, by turning the most destructive elements of managerial middle-class against itself! So it might as well be ALL destroyed as to be left in place to rot and demean the living standards of the poor and vulnerable. “What evidence for such cynicism?”, you cry!

Well, here in Oz … you look at these last two by-elections held in what could be called “well to do” seats. In the first we saw Barnaby Joyce, not even trying to attend any public forums or questions from the public … because as was eventually revealed, he had been acting and was evidently accused by his own daughter through a loud-hailer from his own promotions car of sexual improprieties more suitable to a drunken, front-bar lothario than a high-ranking minister in the federal government. He disgraced expected community standards, family trust, and common decency while acting and then seeking to represent that very electorate whose moral and ethical principles would normally come down like a ton of bricks on such disgraceful behaviour … if those voters of that more affluent regional centre maintained any sense of moral propriety and decency to throw the bum out of his seat. But they didn’t … and in doing so demonstrated to the rest of the nation that community morals and ethics can be trod underfoot for political expediency. And we have to question most severely the MSM whose moral integrity would evade those most obvious indecencies by the sitting member, yet would brazenly plaster in a mocking slander over that entire front page of one of its shit-sheets, the theatrical face of an actor accused on the most flimsy of grounds and most vacuous of evidence of a moral impropriety. The hypocrisy is breath-taking!

Likewise in the just completed Bennelong by-election, where that reasonably affluent electorate cast aside any concern for the greater benefit of the nation and returned an obvious useless time-server and so restored the confidence and parliamentary numbers to a totally corrupt government that will continue to pursue the poor, vilify the desperate and broken and continue to betray the state. What can you expect from the vast majority who can see this happening under their nose and as a snub to their worries and cares … all formulated and delivered by a MSM who would hold the secrets of Barnaby’s degeneracy, and promote by avoiding to mention those water policies that now demand a Royal Commission into the very region that is under Barnaby’s braggadocio bias. A MSM that avoids all the difficult and shady areas of questioning of the “born to rule” side of politics and then creates perfidious imagery to slander and debase the progressive side of politics, all for the benefit of that tax evasive 1%.

Whichever way you want to read it, the economically better-placed middle-class has right-royally screwed over the working classes … and will continue to do it as long as we have this top-heavy management system that both refuses to expose the criminal element in our political system and an electorate that continues to vote in those members most efficacious to their requirements. There is now a divide so obvious that it could seem that the only way of breaking the impasse is to use the democratic system … now corrupted by the middle-class and its creatures in media and politics … to bring down and destroy to the very foundations that tottering facade of lies and deceit that tries to pass itself off as “good governance”. F#CK THEM ALLLLLL!!!

Consider the famous “speech” made by Calgacus to his troops before battle with the Romans:

“Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of; Government.. they make a solitude and call it peace (ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant)…” Tacitus: Calgacus’ Speech to his Troops (A.D. 85)

No future … No future for youuuuuu!

Electoral Business or Funny Business

By Terence Mills

The nagging question of politician’s expenses constantly raises its head with still no clear understanding of what is legitimate ‘electoral business’ and what is a personal frolic or a party knees-up. What we need is an arbiter on political expenses, a person who settles a dispute or has ultimate authority in the matter. I know who that person should be, she makes these sorts of determinations on a daily basis already. I am of course talking about my wife and life-partner.

I first became aware of this latent talent when Bronwyn Bishop chartered a helicopter to take an 80-kilometre flight from Melbourne to a golf course near Geelong for a Liberal Party fundraiser. Instantly my wife was quite emphatic and unequivocal that this was either a personal expense or a Liberal Party expense but in no sense did it warrant you and me digging into our wallets to fund this jolly. Whilst Bronwyn ducked and weaved and prevaricated for some weeks before reluctantly paying back the money she still maintained that it was quite legitimate for us to pay and that obstinacy eventually pushed her out of the job as Speaker and ultimately out of politics: a quick phone call to my wife would have sorted this out on day one.

Recently it was revealed that newly elected Deputy Nationals leader and gun-lover, Bridget McKenzie charged taxpayers $2279.67 for an overnight trip from Melbourne to Sydney to attend a knees-up for the Shooting Australia Awards of Excellence in February this year. She claims this as electoral business even though she is a Senator for Victoria. Senator McKenzie charged $1611.12 for business class flights, $268.55 for official cars and $400 for her overnight travel allowance. She classed the trip as electorate business which could imply that she wouldn’t have gone otherwise but I think we know different.

According to Senator McKenzie the travel was justified because of her role as chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group – but parliamentary friendship groups like the Tony Abbott Funny Walks group and the Peter Dutton water-boarding for beginners group are informal bodies that do not come with any public spending entitlements.

Instantly, when my wife was apprised of this situation she determined that this was a personal frolic and in no way did the parliament, the Victorian electorate or the Australian nation gain any perceivable benefit from this event and accordingly my wife determined this to be one that Bridget would have to cough for.

A little more scrutiny was required to sort out what was going on when Gina Rinehart flew Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop and Teresa Gambaro to Hyderabad in India in her private jet. This was to celebrate the wedding of a grand daughter of G.V. Krishna Reddy a gentleman with whom Mrs Rinehart was about to clinch a $1 billion coal deal. This group of pollies collectively claimed more than $12,000 in “overseas study” allowances to pay for flights home. After flying in a private jet from Hyderabad to Malaysia, Mr Joyce claimed a $5500 flight home for him and his wife from Kuala Lumpur.

“My study period in this country was only of one day’s duration,” Mr Joyce wrote in an obligatory report about his study tour, “but it was of great assistance in familiarising myself with Malaysia”.

After much consideration my wife determined that the purpose of the trip to India had been for a wedding knees-up which has nothing to do with the governance of Australia and Mr Joyce’s study trip to Malaysia was a red-herring and he could have gleaned ample information about Malaysia from a simple Google search. Thus, this was a personal expense to be born by the Joyce family and personally by the others and not by you and me.

The case of then Health Minister Sussan Ley was very quickly sorted by my wife on day one. Sussan had been scuttling up to the Gold Coast on a regular basis to view real estate and ultimately bought an $800,000 apartment, as you do.

Without missing a beat my wife called out from the kitchen “where’s her electorate?” When I told her it was Farrer in New South Wales, it was a slam-dunk. As my wife pointed out, when we visited Tasmania to have a holiday and check out the local eateries did we ask Mr & Mrs Aussie Battler to pay for the trip? Of course we didn’t”.

After much obfuscation Sussan eventually conceded that she made an “error of judgment” by charging taxpayers for the Gold Coast trips and she eventually refunded costs incurred on the four taxpayer-funded trips. She said that her decision followed a conversation with the Prime Minister in which he said she had not met the standards he expects of ministers. My wife pointed out that a quick phone call to her would have sorted the matter without all the associated nastiness. It has also been noted by my wife that the PM’s standards he expects of ministers has reached rock-bottom and may have been scrapped entirely after Michaelia Cash was engaged in deception and dodgy doings turning the AFP surprise search of AWU headquarters into a media event out-rating The Block.

My wife has serious concerns about the costs to the taxpayer of what is known as the annual pollie pedal a charity event that has cost us almost $10,000 in flight and travel expenses for Tony Abbott and some of his coalition mates to go on a bike ride. In 2014 Kevin Andrews and the member for the electorate of Parkes, Mark Coulton claimed $4,603 between them for the duration of the ride. Andrews also claimed flights to and from Sydney at the start and end of the ride, and Andrews’ wife also flew in to Sydney at taxpayer expense at the beginning and end of the ride.

My wife quickly points out that if she is out volunteering or collecting for a charity appeal she doesn’t expect some sugar-daddy (also known as the Australian taxpayer) to pick up her expenses or pay for her lunch. She would be telling these biking buddies quick-smart that they need to fund these capers out of their  generous parliamentary salaries.

As a generous gesture my wife has agreed to accept phone calls and texts from politicians, who are having trouble working out who should pay for their holidays, their lunch or their Christmas shopping. She will be available at the local Westfield where she gets free WiFi between nine a.m. and noon on weekdays. We will naturally expect reimbursement of expenses for providing these services and there will of course  be the mandatory study trip. This will probably involve a visit to Bali for the purposes of studying volcanic activity on that island: it will probably take about ten days in July and will require business class travel, five star accommodation and other perks which fall within the category of parliamentary entitlements – Barnaby has promised to give us some tips on that.

Notes from an expert survivor

Of the 400 hundred or so recommendations in the Royal Commission’s final report on institutionalised child sex abuse, two were at the forefront of discussions in the MSM and social media yesterday.

These were the alleged role of celibacy in causing pedophilia, and the call by some churches for women to be given more authoritative roles in their institutions as a means of curbing the sexual perversions of some churchmen.

Both of these arguments, to my mind, minimise the gravity of the crime of sexual assault of children by claiming that making celibacy voluntary and hauling in a few women to clean up the mess, pedophiliacs will be brought under control. This is a ludicrous, and to survivors, an insulting notion.

The argument minimises the sexual assault of children by implying that this crime only occurs because men resort to raping children when they are denied access to adult sexual partners. Give every man a sexual partner and there will be no more pedophilia. This attitude demonstrates a profound ignorance of the psychology of pedophilia. It is not a crime to which men resort because they can’t, for whatever reason, have adult consensual relationships.

A survivor, if she or he can speak of it, will describe to you better than anyone else ever can, the demeanour of the pedophile in the moment. It is very specific. It is pathological. It is entirely predatory. It is secretive and it is threatening. It is everything consensual relationships are not.

The claim that celibacy is an indicator of pedophilia comes about as a result of the Catholic church winning hands down in the numbers of sexual abusers in institutions. People are, quite reasonably, searching for explanations and the most glaring difference between the Catholic church and other institutions is its demand that its priests are celibate. This demand, it is argued, leads to priests sexually abusing children because they have no other outlet for their needs.

However. Hundreds of thousands of children are sexually abused in non institutional settings, and by members of their families and family friends. The overwhelming majority of the male abusers in such situations have access to adult sexual partners, and they are not celibate. It is gravely misleading to peddle the suggestion that celibacy is an indicator of or a precursor to the sexual abuse of children.

It occurs to me that blaming Catholic celibacy for the majority of child sexual abuse is yet another means of ignoring the admittedly challenging reality that ordinary men walking amongst us, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, men you might eat Xmas dinner with, men you might work with, men you might have a drink with at the club, ordinary sexually active men with partners and without, rape and sexually abuse children.

It is also yet another means of ignoring the children and adult survivors who’ve endured the attentions of such men.

In my opinion, the celibate priesthood community does play a role in the Catholic church’s global pedophile ring. It offers protection and support. It feeds, shelters and clothes them. It gives them unlimited access to children. It covers up for them, denies survivors’ experiences, grants them the comfort of the confessional without any fear of being referred to authorities for the crimes they confess. The Catholic church and its celibacy protocols enable pedophiles to enact their fantasies, however, they do not cause pedophilia.

Again, if you consult a survivor on her or his experiences you will unfailingly hear similar accounts of the specificity of the offender’s behaviour, details that bear no relationship to adult consensual sexual encounters, details that indicate a particular and predatory mind-set, peculiar to those who sexually abuse children. That such a mind-set is “caused” by celibacy is not believable, and the experience of hundreds of thousands of survivors of non-celibate offenders is an ongoing challenge to the theory.

Likewise, the notion that more women in positions of authority in churches will somehow prevent child sexual abuse is not borne out by the experience of victims in non institutional and familial settings. There are women aplenty in these settings, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, grandmothers, the majority of whom are unable or unwilling, for very many complex reasons, to prevent a child being sexually abused. The notion that parachuting women into middle management in the churches will stop any pedophile in his tracks is insultingly ludicrous. It will not.

The other theory raised yesterday is that child sexual abuse is “only psychological, not physiological.” “It has nothing to do with sex.” “It’s not about sex, it’s about power.” As if a power dynamic is absent from consensual sex, which it is not, and only rears its ugly head in child sexual abuse.

The definition of sex is not solely consensual sex. Even when it’s rape driven by the desire for domination and brutality and power over, it’s sex. A criminal sex act is about sex. Sex can be very, very nasty, and it’s still sex.

Child sexual abuse has everything to do with sex. Perpetrators take physical pleasure and gratification from abusing a child. They do this because absolute control and power over a child is a sexual turn-on for them.

The abuse is the expression of their sexuality, a sexuality driven by the need for total control, secrecy, self-gratification, and domination over a defenceless child. It is absolutely misleading to claim the sexual abuse of children has nothing to do with sex. It has nothing to do with consensual adult sex. But to imagine that sexual predators experience no physiological stimulation is entirely wrong-headed.

Again, ask a survivor. If he or she can bear to speak of it, we can describe the physiological reactions of the man who raped us. We can tell you how he sought his pleasure, the quickening of his breath, the demands that we touch him and where and how, and in many cases, his orgasm. It is physiological. It has everything to do with sex. Sex is not simply defined by a consensual experience of it, and it adds to the marginalisation, confusion and suffering of survivors to claim that what we experienced had “nothing to do with sex.” Our bodies know differently. Our minds know differently.

I have no idea what is meant when, from the safety of their armchair, someone assures me that a pedophile’s actions have nothing to do with sex, and that it’s all psychological for him. That is not my experience as a survivor, and my experience trumps your armchair expertise.

In fact, many commentators on this topic would do well to remember that survivors’ lived expertise trumps any of their opinions.

None of us ever forgets the specificity of the demeanour of the perpetrator. It is unlike anything else. It is unforgettable, and most of us have no wish to describe it, for our own sakes and for the sake of others. We know, better than anyone else ever can, what we are dealing with here. We know, better than anyone else can, the depths of depravity a man must inhabit to sexually assault a child, because we have seen it, and felt it. That knowledge haunts us for life.

“Giving women more power in the church and ending celibacy will stop pedophilia” said no survivor ever, and with very good reason.

Thank you for reading this.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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