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Tag Archives: Julian Assange

Dropped Investigations: Julian Assange, Sex and Sweden

Sex, the late Gore Vidal astutely observed, is politics, and not merely from the vantage point of those who wish to police it. In the case of whistleblowers, claims of aberrant, unlawful sex serves the purpose of diminishing credibility, tarring and feathering the individual and furnishing a distraction. Forget what was disclosed; focus, instead, on the moral character of the person in question. The rotter could not have been good anyway.

In the case of Julian Assange, the stench of accusation (never charge) of sexual assault clung stubbornly. “The road to Belmarsh and 175-years in prison was paved in Stockholm – and so it will be remembered,” tweeted the Defend Assange Campaign.

Then came the announcement from the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson: the Swedish investigation was being laid to rest. “The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

This did not mean Persson would let Assange off without a blemish on character. Some stain still had its place. “I would like to emphasise that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events. Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation.” Despite no charge or trial, untested accounts are still being permitted to linger on the historical chronicle.

The effort to get at Assange via the sexual channel has been sporadic, arbitrary and inconsistent.  In 2010, Assange was accused by two women of rape and sexual assault following a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm. One of the women, Miss A (Anna Ardin), claimed that Assange had fiddled with a condom during sex. Miss W claimed to have been penetrated by Assange without a condom while asleep. The accusations were also supplemented by claims of unlawful coercion and molestation, though these had run their course by 2015.

The initial phase of prosecution lacked conviction. Stockholm chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, was unimpressed. She immediately cancelled the arrest warrant claiming no “reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation. One of the accusers would also say that he had not been raped. But another chapter was being drafted. Claes Borgström, taking it upon himself to represent the two women, persuaded Marianne Ny seize the reins. The case was re-opened. All of this took place under the cloud of claims that US-Sweden intelligence sharing would be compromised if Assange was sheltered in Sweden, and the very pointed views of Sweden’s military intelligence service that WikiLeaks posed a threat to the country’s soldiers in Afghanistan under US command.

In 2017, the tired effort was shelved. With the storming of Ecuadorean embassy in London and the forced eviction of Assange, prosecutors again got a burst of inspiration: the investigation was re-opened for a second time. The exercise seemed redundant, given that the United States would be having first dibs with its effort to extradite the publisher.

Over time, the sexual angle to the issue morphed into a crusade, becoming, intentionally or otherwise, a means to demonise the efforts of Assange and WikiLeaks.  It aligned neatly, consistently, and even conspiratorially, with the recommendations of the US Army Counterintelligence Centre within the Counterintelligence Assessments Branch in its March 2008 document “Wikileaks.org – An Online Reference on Foreign Intelligence Services, Or Terrorist Groups?” As WikiLeaks relies on “trust as a centre of gravity by protecting the anonymity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers,” it was possible that “identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this centre of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.”

Sexual misdemeanour was always going to be a formidable vehicle by which this could be executed. For Yana Walton of the Women’s Media Centre, the issue was condensed and simple: “Rape is rape is rape is rape, and should be prosecuted as such.” Such arguments ignored the defective processes behind the Swedish prosecution, the refusal to conduct interviews with Assange in the embassy, and the obsession with physically having him present in Sweden.

Beyond that was the point made by WikiLeaks, now gruesomely evident, that the United States would seek to have Assange delivered into its custody the moment he reached Swedish soil. Claims of sexual impropriety were subsequently sharpened to suggest that Assange was never a political prisoner in the embassy, let alone an agent of radical transparency.

In May this year, Caroline Orr’s less than considered scribbles parroted the US Department of Justice line that Assange “wasn’t a prisoner at all. He wasn’t being pursued for bravely standing up for truth; rather, he was hiding from it.” Very generous of Orr to know something others do not.

In suggesting her own understanding of the truth as unimpeachable, she proceeded to take a leaf out of the covert manual of whistleblower demonization, using misogyny as her preferred weapon. Being one naturally meant you could not speak, let alone shout truth, to power. “Assange is a misogynist who spent nearly seven years living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London because he didn’t want to return to Sweden to answer to two women accusing him of sex crimes. Regardless of your feelings toward WikiLeaks, this is a major part of Assange’s legacy – and it matters.”

On his apprehension, British Labour MP Jess Phillips was appalled by the idea of women’s issues being “the political side salad, never the main event.” In responding to Assange’s arrest, “the political establishment slapped us around the face.” Speaking collectively as voice of the slapped, she found the debate about how best to deal with the Australian publisher one that ignored “the fact that Assange, for seven years, evaded accusations of sexual violence in Sweden.” Not a sliver of acknowledgment about Assange’s status of political asylum was made. Assange was merely a creep worthy of punishment.

Philips’s own tendency to trim the record was evident, ignoring the obvious point that the sex allegations (and not charges, as she mistakenly implies) were very much placed in the foreground to take discussions away from WikiLeaks and its disruptions. The bigger picture, which she dismisses as a case of “big boys playing toy soldiers”, was cluttered with the ongoing US investigation that finally confirmed its presence in April this year.

As with other figures with historical freight, Assange is a character flawed and troubled, hardly your card carrying Women’s Libber or gallant knight. The ramshackle motor of history is not operated by saints; to even assume that level of purity and clean living suggests a degree of shuddering naïveté. But the stuttering Swedish prosecution, shelved then restarted, was never based purely on the dictates of conscience and the pursuit of justice on behalf of the claimed victims. Sex is politics, and from the start, the Assange prosecution, from Washington to Stockholm, was and remains, political.

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Case Mismanagement in London: Julian Assange, Political Offences and Surveillance

While Australian journalists bonded and broke break in condemning national security legislation that some of them had previously supported, one figure was barely mentioned. Julian Assange was making his first public appearance since April for a case management hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court.

Those in attendance were disturbed. Craig Murray professed to being shaken. “Every decision was railroaded through over scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.” His condition had deteriorated: receding hair, premature ageing, lost weight. Some cognitive impairment seemed to have set in: incoherent trains of thought, a trouble to articulate and recall events.

By the end of the session, we were left with a few points of consideration. The first, as ever, remains that British justice is, at best, a ceremonial cloak that continues to operate in the shadows of power. Observe formalities, but do away with the substantive matters.

The second is an unfolding international dimension that links private security firms, the US intelligence services, and Ecuador in what can only be described as a political effort to eliminate a one of the most recognisable figures of publishing in recent memory. He must be done away with, mentally and physically eroded as person and being. Spiritually, he must be snuffed out.

With odds firmly against him, Assange’s defence team were keen to impress district magistrate Vanessa Baraitser on two grounds: that they be granted a preliminary hearing on the issue of whether the extradition might fall foul of the US-UK Extradition Treaty of 2003; and that they be granted a postponement of the February 24, 2020 full extradition hearing.

The latter point was based on two grounds: Assange’s acute legal isolation in Belmarsh prison and emerging evidence arising from a Spanish investigation currently underway into a surveillance operation on Assange when resident in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. The material gathered there might prove critical to the defence, not least of all its evident illegality.

When Assange was asked by the magistrate whether he had understood what had transpired, he gave the sort of reply that one would justifiably expect from a bruised, ailing political prisoner. “I don’t understand how this is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t access my writings. It’s very difficult where I am to do anything but these people have unlimited resources… They are saying journalists and whistleblowers are enemies of the people. They have unfair advantages dealing with documents. They [know] the interior of my life with my psychologist. They steal my children’s DNA. This is not equitable what is happening here.”

Magistrate Baraitser was not exactly feeling generous, though she did relent in granting a two months extension to Assange’s defence team, ostensibly to give them time to consult evidence emerging from Spanish investigative proceedings.

The Spanish angle on this is critical, concerning, in the words of the WikiLeaks press release, “clandestine operations against Assange, his lawyers and doctors and Assange’s family, including at the Ecuadorean embassy.” These centre on the conduct of David Morales, owner of UC Global SL, a Spanish security company charged with protecting the Ecuadorean embassy in London when Assange was its famous tenant.

Morales is being investigated by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s High Court, for allegedly ordering the surveillance of Assange’s conversations in the embassy, including those with his lawyers, and passing on material to US intelligence services. Morales, keen on being as comprehensive as possible in this endeavour, specifically requested his team to list “the Russian and American citizens” visiting Assange, material of which was sent to a File Transfer Protocol server in the company’s mother ship location in Jerez de la Frontera. The storage material there comprises data from phones, details on professions, and matters of nationality. Rather damnably, employees who worked for Morales’ company have revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency had access to the server.

The case being presented against Morales is a true cocktail of breaches: privacy violations, the violation of lawyer-client privilege, bribery, misappropriation, money laundering, and the criminal possession of weapons.

Morales was arrested in Jerez de la Frontera on September 17, but as the investigation is under seal, relevant material had not surfaced till this month. That said, the rather seedy resume of UC Global SL was already common knowledge, with an investigation by El País revealing the existence of a surveillance apparatus created by the company with the specific purpose of targeting Assange.

While Baraitser permitted the defence extra time to incorporate material arising from these revelations, she refused to postpone the date set for the full extradition hearing, scheduled for February 24, 2020. The matter will, however, be revisited during the December 19 case management hearing.

What the magistrate did not discuss was the evident intransigence of British authorities who have frustrated efforts by the investigating Spanish Judge José de la Mata to question Assange. On September 25, the judge sent a European Investigation Order (EIO) requesting a video conference with Assange, who would be a witness in the case against UC Global SL. The EIO process, which came into force in Spain in 2018, is designed to ease the laborious processes behind the customary transfer of evidentiary material from one EU state to another. But the United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA) has decided to stonewall the application, claiming that “these types of interview are only done by the police” in the UK. Nor was the request by De la Mata clear, either in grounds or on the assertion of jurisdiction.

Baffled, De la Mata has pressed the issue in determined fashion, citing previous examples of international cooperation treaties, and noting that restrictions on videoconferencing only apply to the accused, not a witness. “We also provided a clear context for our case, describing all the events and crimes under investigation.” On jurisdiction, the matter was also clear: the suspect was Spanish, the victim (Assange) had filed a complaint and the crimes in question (unlawful disclosure of secrets and bribery) were also crimes in the UK. Quod erat demonstrandum.

The district magistrate also cold-shouldered hearing preliminary arguments as to whether the extradition request was barred by the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty. Lawyers representing Assange noted in their court submission that the Extradition Treaty “was at the time contentious, reducing the number of safeguards that might prevent extradition, in particular safeguards from the UK to the US.” Despite much weakening on the subject of citizen protections, one section in the treaty remains unaltered. Article 4(1), retained in the 2007 ratified version, makes the point that, “Extradition shall not be granted if the offence for which extradition is requested is a political offence.”

The US prosecution is positively larded with political implications. Each of the 18 charges against Assange has, at its core, an allegation of intent, namely to obtain or disclose US state secrets in such a way as to damage the security of the United States. Given that state of affairs, the defence sought to advance three grounds: that the court had jurisdiction to determine the issue of whether the charges were political in nature; that the court rule that the offences were such, pursuant to Article 4 of the Extradition Treaty, and “for that reason alone, extradition should be refused in the case.” The magistrate was not so obliging, either in listening to the grounds or giving reasons for her refusal.

Back in Assange’s home country, the editors of News Corp, Fairfax, the ABC, SBS and The Guardian, held hands in their damning campaign dubbed “The Right to Know”. Death to cultures of secrecy, they proclaimed. Onwards transparency warriors. But as with much in journalism, it is slanted, specific and skewed, ignorant of some of the most far reaching changes in the industry in the last decade. Assange remains indigestible to their sensitive palettes. Should he be extradited and convicted, their campaign will come to naught, a mere sliver of after-the-fact protest.

Perhaps fittingly, Australia has produced two notorious figures associated with journalism. They lie at two extremes of the information spectrum: Rupert Murdoch (yes, the same man behind News Corp), who continues to traffic in tits-and-bum titillation and demagoguery, influencing elections through such organs of demerit as The Sun; and Assange, who prefers revealing official secrets through WikiLeaks and, his accusers sneer, influencing elections.

At least some Australian politicians have taken the very public step of not only supporting Assange, but suggesting he return to Australia. It took some time, but this cross-party group have realised that behind the Imperium’s quest to punish the human face of WikiLeaks is a political purpose marked by the ugly, ghastly visage of the national security state.

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Moral Bankruptcy and Civil Liberties in Modern Australian Politics

The Abbott Government’s gradual destruction of our civil liberties is not something we should be taking lightly, writes Daniel Ellery.

Almost 20 years ago, the President of the United States of America at the time, Bill Clinton, signed an act that has had considerable ramifications around the globe; The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Act, which effectively rendered the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 all but useless. The Posse Comitatus Act was created to limit the powers of the Federal Government in using its military personnel to act as domestic law enforcement personnel. It ensured that the Government could not use military personnel or military force to police domestic matters in their own country, essentially prohibiting a state of Martial Law.

In 1993, the FBI in conjunction with the U.S Military stormed into a compound owned by an Evangelical Christian group in Waco, Texas and killed 76 innocent people. Among the casualties were over 20 children.

There have been ominous signs supposing our fragile civil liberties have been increasingly at risk both in the United States and to a lesser extent, here in Australia, for a number of years. A popular type of Government has emerged in the last few decades which at the forefront are represented as a sort of Draconian fear campaign. Tony Abbott is quite fond of often using the Argument that Terrorists are lurking in our own backyard. Again using our Western neighbour and ally as an example, a November 1995 CNN Time Poll found that 55% of surveyed American citizens believed that the Federal Government had become so powerful that it posed a threat to ordinary citizens. 10 years later, we are seeing ever increasing evidence to support that current civil liberties have to be scrutinised very closely here in Australia.

Abbott stated in a speech in September 2014:

“Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.”

Another seemingly ‘hyped-up’ speech made about National Security in February 2014 can be seen here. The Prime Minister claims that “the threat to Australia is worsening” and that “the number of potential home grown terrorists is rising.” Claims that back the Government’s decision to raise the threat level to high, suggests that “a terrorist attack is likely.”

In speeches to the Australian Nation in 2003, Prime Minister John Howard and Prime Minister Stephen Harper both made incredibly similar presentations. These speeches were regarding the United States’ constant harping about Saddam’s so-called ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. These speeches, spoken by two different leaders said, at stages, word for word the exact same thing. One could blame an incredibly lazy Public Relations team that felt a quick copy and paste address to the nation would either go unnoticed, or that people would not care or see any issue in this. However the issue here is that these were two leaders of different countries saying the same thing, and both bowing to another country’s Foreign Policy issues (U.S.A). In short, this excerpt shows just how serious this address was:

“It is inherently dangerous to allow a country such as Iraq to retain Weapons of Mass Destruction, particularly in the light of its past aggressive behaviour. If the world community fails to disarm Iraq, we fear that other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can have these most deadly of weapons and that the world will do nothing to stop them.”

“We should not leave it to the United States to do all the heavy lifting just because it is the world’s only superpower. To do so, I believe, will inevitably undermine one of the most important relationships that we have.”

We now know that the speech to invade Iraq was based on lies the United States had told about Saddam Hussein and Bush’s foreign policy is one that the vast majority of Americans now reject. Howard admitted in an interview that he felt pressured by the force of the language in the 2002 American National Intelligence Report, and was “embarrassed” to have acted on the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ intelligence. One politician, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, even went so far to say “that Howard should consider himself quite lucky that, conceivably, he hasn’t been tried for conspiracy to commit mass murder.”

A book aptly named Perpetual Peace for Perpetual War highlights a ghastly resemblance between a speech from a ‘Pre Osama’ text to a speech made by Adolf Hitler in 1933, which enabled an act for the protection of the People and the State, The speech was made after the infamous Reichstag fire which the Germans had secretly lit. Hitler’s act reads:

“Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and associations; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”

Adolf Hitler had a nation of people following his every word; he was the greatest salesman and marketer of the century. His was by far the most influential and repressive propaganda campaign in history. When fear is used by a Government, it is used as a form of control and repression and in turn causes anxiety within society. This creates a willingness to listen and obey anything to make that fear, worry and anxiety cease. People go to great lengths to manage anxiety. The Government of the United States has used fear campaigns extremely well to control the masses in the wake of terrorist attacks, and we are seeing it again in 2015.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Prime Minster Tony Abbott has used the phrase ‘Death Cult’ over 346 times when mentioning the Islamic State. By using fear campaigns and scare tactics, he has stirred parts of the Australian public into an irrational frenzy, turning closed-minded bigots into blind racists and confusing the minds of the young and old alike. The Government has created a sense of division we can’t help but feel, with the Abbott party’s acts described as an “unprecedented power grab” by Greens Senator Penny Wright:

“Peter Dutton’s proposal that he alone should have the power to strip away a person’s citizenship on suspicion alone is preposterous, unworkable and only goes to show how extreme this government really is.”

“The Abbott Government is seeking unprecedented power to bypass the courts, throwing out the most basic democratic right we have”.

One can’t help but feel a slight comparison of Tony Abbott’s speech to Hitler’s in the light of recently proposed and passed laws, including but not limited to the surveillance of telephone and internet data (through metadata collection of ordinary citizens), and other such legislation like the Border Force Act passed in May, which could see teachers, doctors and security staff jailed if they speak publicly about what they have witnessed. Outlaw motorcycle gangs have also been made the target of heavy raids recently, which suggests the scope of surveillance goes far beyond ‘terror’ suspects. The Government’s abandonment of Julian Assange in 2010 after the full scope of Wikileaks became apparent being yet another example of how these laws can be used to prosecute future whistle-blowers.

In June 2015, Tony Abbott publicly attacked the Australian Broadcasting Commission after the ABC aired an episode in which an Australian man convicted of threatening Commonwealth officials appeared on the popular Q&A program:

“I think many, many millions of Australians would feel betrayed by our national broadcaster right now, and I think that the ABC does have to have a long, hard look at itself, and to answer a question which I have posed before – whose side are you on? Whose side are you on here?”

Abbott seems to plant the idea into the heads of the Australian public that our National Broadcaster may not be ‘on our side,’ or somehow is a terrorist sympathiser by giving a platform for free speech to someone speaking out against recently proposed citizenship legislation. I’m reminded here, of George Orwell, who wrote, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”

After the 1993 attack on the 76 innocents living peacefully in their commune in Waco, Texas, there was a retaliation attack, dubbed the Oklahoma City bombing in which Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of 11 counts of murder and conspiracy. In a statement to the court before the ruling passed, McVeigh quoted a section of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis’s dissent, “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example.” Brandis goes on in his dissent to say “Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means, to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal, would bring terrible retribution”.

Abbott recently made a comment about the Australian court system regarding the Greens Party ‘win’ on the Carmicheal Coal mine. He argued that Australia has “a problem as a nation” if the courts could “be turned into a means of sabotaging” such projects. The president of the NSW Bar Association, Jane Needham, struck back at these claims with a scathing rebuttal expressing her concern that Abbott had criticised the Federal court system and had shown a clear lack of understanding as to how the system works. Needham stated:

“The courts are not the servant of the Executive – any such implication is inimical to the basic principle of the separation of powers, which is fundamental to our Westminster-style system of government.”

“The courts exist to make decisions according to the law, not to further the interests of particular individuals or organisations, including government. They are an independent arbiter of disputes, and politicians need to understand and respect their non-partisan role.”

The breakdown of civil liberties is something not to be taken lightly. Laws infringing on privacy like the collection of metadata sets a dangerous precedent in Australia. Laws passed after the terrorist attacks, of which were largely provoked by the U.S. have slowly hacked away at the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens in the Western world. This is an area that must be watched with careful attention, as laws are passed quietly every day. Not everything is published in the articles you read or the news you hear, especially in the large media outlets who choose what information they wish to disperse. The power is in the people’s hands, and our moral and ethical standards must be scrutinised.

We must be led by a Government that personifies moral strength in an increasingly morally bankrupt world. A Government must remember that in a democracy, the people’s voices must be heard justly, listened to, and acted upon; otherwise it is nothing but an oligarchy. With a current Government that many feel to be going backward rather than forward, one must ask what Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party really care about more. National net profit means nothing if we have nothing left to live on. If our beautiful landscapes fall to ruins in the hands of a few who hunger after nothing but power and money, then I can’t help but feel that the apathetic and nonchalant members of society will also have the proverbial blood of the land on their hands. The same can be said if we allow politicians to hold our civil liberties to ransom. Terrorism is not a joke subject, but neither is degradation of our right to a free, sustainable, and just world. We have to find a healthy balance between staying vigilant and seeing through the veil of government deception. The people need to fight for a democratic society and understand totalitarianism before it erodes our most basic human rights.

If Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party can be given one concession, it is that they have hopefully shaken the trappings of apathy and indifference from the Australian public.

 

Exposing the lie of politics

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

It is no surprise that when it comes to trust, collectively politicians rate very lowly. And individually there are many politicians that we definitely do not trust. Yet they continue to win our votes, if not our trust. In this guest post, Sir Scotch looks at this baffling phenomenon.

The well-known and quite rightly often maligned Readers Digest, over several years, have surveyed Australians, for the 50 professions they trust most. The list goes like this from the 2013 survey:

1.   Firefighters26. Builders
2.   Paramedics27. Alternative health practitioners
3.   Rescue volunteers28. Plumbers
4.   Nurses29. Mechanics
5.   Pilots30. Accountants
6.   Doctors31. Shop assistants
7.   Pharmacists32. Truck drivers
8.   Veterinarians33. Charity collectors
9.   Air traffic controllers34. Professional sportspeople
10. Farmers35. Bankers
11. Scientists36. Financial planners
12. Armed Forces personnel37. Airport baggage handlers
13. Police38. Clergy (all religions)
14. Dentists39. Lawyers
15. Teachers40. Tow-truck drivers
16. Childcare workers41. CEOs
17. Flight attendants42. Taxi drivers
18. Bus/Train/Tram drivers43. Journalists
19. Locksmiths44. Talkback radio hosts
20. Hairdressers45. Real estate agents
21. Postal workers46. Sex workers
22. Waiters47. Call centre staff
23. Computer technicians48. Insurance salespeople
24. Security guards49. Politicians
25. Cleaners50. Door-to-door salespeople

What does the list say about us as a country, as voters and as human beings? What are we able to learn from the way people vote, compared to the way people give credit, to people who would generally interact with them at some stage in their lives, though not necessarily, all that often, that politicians are only above door to door salesmen in those “trusted professions”?

Likewise, the most trusted people list, has several politicians in it, and that really is what we are about here. Why do Australians vote for folk they don’t trust, enough to admit to a survey taker, that they don’t trust them?

The first on the list is Malcolm Turnbull, at number 68, who is more trusted than Julian Assange. A funny outcome considering the normalcy of us, as voters expecting politicians to also be liars, since the two go hand in hand, and on any reading of the work of Julian Assange, who if one is to be completely fair, is the exact opposite, despite what is said by Rupert Murdoch and his tame typists, doing everything they are told.

It was Assange who brought to us the actual truth of the governments we elect in terms of their activities, after having spent years being told by politicians what they think we want to hear. Kevin Rudd appears just after Assange, again, a supreme obfuscator and liar, certainly in league with the Murdochracy, yet his trust rating is below that of Assange. Do punters actually know what Assange represents or are they dependant on the lies of the tame tabloid typists? The answer to that in simple terms appears to be a resounding “yes”. Without Murdoch and his co-conspirators, we are uninformed as a country. What a worrying situation!

Worrying, I’m thinking? Perhaps that’s why ethical politicians feel some control over media access makes sense.

Less ethical politicians of course, who tend to pop off to New York on the Murdoch cheque account, from both sides of the political divide it has to be said, don’t see it as an issue if the only paper/s in a whole state, come from one single self-absorbed egotistical octogenarian nabob, who isn’t even an Australian, (to avoid taxes not because of some high moral objection to Australian law or system), and the punters (you and me it could be said but I don’t buy his bullshit rags), is the framing device used to manage the entire Australia Conversation. And we accede to this? We are fools. Another correspondent a couple of weeks ago took me to task on the subject of the hyper generalisation inherent in “we get/have the government we deserve”. I have thought long and hard about how to assuage his disquiet at my generalisation, especially when I talked about the “water cooler conversation”, when we who see ourselves as “activist” in terms of our displeasure at the work of that failed priest currently occupying The Lodge, are given an opportunity to actually have a say to colleagues about the state of the nation.

My view is we don’t care to expose our distrust in case someone reports us to the boss, or holds us up as “agitators”, though in reality, that is what we need to be. We need to expose the negativity of a government for the corporations, such as we have had since Paul Keating first wound a French clock in an Armani double-breaster.

Lincoln, at Gettysburg opined, “. . . and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But what are we, Australia, left with of that great hope?

Government by people we don’t trust, of people they don’t know, for people they don’t care enough about, to listen to, or ask what do we want from them. And we fail to call them to account!

Rather in secret little circles in darked back rooms in carefully managed blogs and fora, we cry out for “justice” but fail to act for those afflicted in PNG as a direct result or our inaction. We call for transparency, but ask little of the plans for the “TPP”, which stands ready to strip away more of our rights as members and citizens of a sovereign state. We ask for honesty, and then vote for Clive Palmer “because he offers some alternative to conservative politics”. I am yet to see an example of that.

We lie to ourselves as Australians. We lie to others, wearing the same cloak of humanity we had earned after Vietnam, failing to see the similarities between two wars fought for the US, with no other purpose, than to feed the industro-military swamp, which is the American economy.

Even our national anthem is a lie, but we still sing it at the football. We are afraid of change, a normal state for a conservative voter.

We are afraid of the pitfalls a new direction may bring. We are afraid of everything, but we still vote for people we don’t trust, who have proven themselves to be liars, time after time, we allow the same biumvirate of accession to the will of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to “guide” us on our way to hell.

Some vote Green, but the vote is meaningless we are told, even though almost 12% of the population vote for them. Why is the 12% so meaningless? Labor gets into bed with Bob Brown and
others with ethics and vision, and are immediately held up as some sort of traitors. But no one, even Antony Greene, of the ABC, can explain why that vote is wasted.

It appears to me that there is seems no offence that can be committed by our current government and opposition, which can be held up as an example of outrageous and egregious conduct. We are now seeing some of the minutiae of the goings-on in foreign affairs in the Carr/Gillard regime, where it was important enough to diarise that the carrier of choice had the effrontery to not provide pyjamas. We find the old Foreign Minister holds himself up as the success of the day when Australia got a spot on the Security Council of the United Nations. He fails to mention in his memoir that the process of getting that seat took longer than the time that the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd process was in play, but is happy to accept responsibility.

I am moved to remember, that Rudd himself also held up his hand as being responsible. All lies.

So we’re left with the question “what does the government have to do to get to a point where Australia realises that we’ve been had?” The short answer is exactly what they are doing now, without having to worry about the question being asked in the first place.

At what point will Australians realise that government is not being conducted for them, for their families, for their futures, for their country or for much else with anything approaching value. Government is in fact being conducted for the betterment of United States corporate interests and the re-election of the main offenders and little else.

 

Careless whispers nothing to dance about

In my years of being old enough to know what an election campaign is, I cannot recall one so inundated with media tales of what unnamed persons have to say.

The number of stories quoting unnamed Party sources, primarily on Labor’s side of the political coin has been nothing short of staggering – nameless “ministers”, “senior party officials”, “party heavyweights”,  “senior sources”, “powerbrokers”, “spokespersons” and the rest of that particular journalistic nomenclature.

It’s been incredible.  For my part, I’ve been deeply cynical and skeptical about it.  It was much easier to believe that a biased media was just making stuff up.  Mind you, in truth, there’s no way to show they are.

Then came the Gillard leadership spill of June 2013, about which there had been whispers aplenty.

On top of that, we’ve come to learn that Kevin Rudd has a weaker bladder than Julian Assange.  The journalists were seemingly vindicated.

But that leaves me, as a Labor supporter, with a terrible reality to face: Labor personnel are actively undermining their own party.  It beggars belief but it seems to be the only alternative to media mendacity.

Has the relationship between Labor and journalists become too cozy, too personal, too endowed with self-interest and ambition to be tolerable?  Or is Labor just politically inept?

Of course, the relationship between politicians and the media is a complex and important one, but I can’t help but think it’s become something corrosive to our political culture and especially dangerous to Labor.

Generally speaking, Journalists are supposed to report the news, not be part of it.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail ran a story today posing the question of whether it would have been better for Labor to have gone into the election campaign with Julia Gillard.

whispers

Courier Mail Website

Now, the story is pure, tabloid schlock, and goes so far as to use a manipulative photo taken from the funeral of Joan Child (Australia’s first female Federal Speaker), presumably just so they could slip in the Slipper.

It’s not the first time that the Courier Mail, or News Limited generally, have disrespected this sombre occasion in their opinion pieces.  But the interesting and pertinent thing about the story is that it contains multiple quotes from unnamed Ministers and “powerbrokers”.

Just two months since the Labor Party dramatically switched its leader, some senior members of the Government are now complaining that Ms Gillard would have performed better than Mr Rudd.

 

The minister said Ms Gillard would have slowly improved Labor’s vote, while under Mr Rudd it soared and then plummeted.

 

“One of the questions that will be asked is would Gillard have met Rudd on the way down? In the end, we’ll never know,” the source said.

 

“She made mistakes, no doubt, and she made mistakes under pressure. But she was much cooler under pressure and she coped with a greater intensity.”

If based on recent history, we’re forced to accept that these quotes are real, one has to wonder out loud: what the hell is going on?

Why would senior Party figures be speaking to members of the Murdoch press in such a fashion at a time when Labor is busily pushing the idea that News Limited is out to get them?

Why would they be saying things to journalists that they know will result in damaging “news” stories?  Are they mad?  I simply cannot fathom it.

I invite readers to offer their speculations and theories.  Heaven knows I could use a theory that doesn’t have me catching flies, mouth agape.

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