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Tag Archives: Murdoch

Our media is failing us

Our media is failing us. At a moment when one side of politics has abandoned the bases of democracy as an impediment to their grasp on power, we need journalists holding them to account rather than gaslighting the public, normalising the rot.

In the lead-up to the US midterms, national security expert Juliette Kayyem tweeted about the dangers of bad reporting, concluding, “It is 2022. Get it right. Or a new job.”

Kayyem contrasted evasive reporting about “voter fraud” claims with the kind that justly illustrates that such accusations are bogus while reporting that the claim has been made.

We face different political problems in Australia, although the media crises overlap. We too have “savvy style” reporters in the press gallery who share politicians’ cynicism. We too have access journalism (or friendship) that causes a journalist to hesitate to “burn” a source or pal. We have horserace coverage that doesn’t focus on the overview, at a moment when that couldn’t be more important. We have refuge-seeking journalism, particularly at the ABC, that cringes from examining the sordid quality of some political behaviour over the last decade. We have normalcy bias journalism that can’t step back far enough to see how radicalised one side of politics is becoming, still covering “both sides” as though both sides had equal merit. There are many reasons for this crisis, but they remain a cause for self-evaluation by self-respecting journalists.

The particular crisis for Australia lies in the fact that our two primary print media organisations – affiliated with television or radio platforms – are owned by corporate interests headed by figures who clearly see their corporations as political tools. Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch barely need detailing on this front. Peter Costello’s NineFax has been more discreet in its political deployment, and it retains some journalists who continue to practice their craft with integrity.

Print media, while an embattled format, is crucial. It is where most of the investigations and in-depth reporting continue to be carried out, providing the meat upon which the electronic media feeds.

The cooperation of Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun and Peter Costello’s The Age with a floundering Victoria Liberal Party in the final weeks before the state election has been a truly shocking display of the state of Australian “conservative” politics and its allied media.

The Age has deployed the leak of IBAC documents to hint at wrongdoings by the government. It is the Australian right in Victoria and federally that has fought so hard to protect the reputation of politicians, but when a strong enemy can be inconvenienced, reputational harm is suddenly desirable. IBAC reports at this stage are still being finalised: those individuals facing adverse findings are being given the chance to challenge aspects, and the findings can still be altered as a result. The purpose of this secrecy is to ensure that reputational harm does not take place until the fairest outcome is achieved. The way to achieve greater transparency is to remove the crippling limitation on public hearings only taking place in “exceptional circumstances.” You can be sure that Liberal Victoria would be crying foul if the positions were reversed.

This was exacerbated by the suspension of The Age‘s ban on “political actor” op/eds for the election period to allow a column condemning the Andrews government’s integrity by Roshena Campbell. She is a Liberal-member councillor, and wife of Murdoch mouthpiece, James.

In the Herald Sun, two appalling gambits have been played. Frontpage “scandals” have been mocked up about the car accident that was settled over a decade ago involving the Andrews family, and about Premier Dan Andrews’s fall in 2021. The latter is particularly loathsome: making hay out of the Premier’s injuries is not newsworthy. This story functions only to allude to the conspiracies that abounded at the time. The constant emphasis on the small size of the steps is intended to provoke a renewed flurry of gossip around the conspiracy that stated the injury was not a fall but the result of sensational fantasies of lurid violence.

The fact that, as Media Watch recounted, the broader media opted to chase these Murdoch non-stories relentlessly is an appalling breach of integrity and professional standards. All 17 questions at the press conference that followed were about the resolved bike event, and the evening news framed the coverage as the Premier’s refusal to answer questions, despite the fact he had given endless dutiful answers about the story at the time.

The Murdoch propaganda battalion has clearly decided that selling Matthew Guy’s opposition is beyond them; the only way to gain traction for a messy Liberal Party is to aim to destroy Dan Andrew’s continuing popularity in the state. Peta Credlin’s tawdry “documentary” about Dan Andrews will have compounded the demonising for the few who watch Sky.

At the same time as the Murdoch media chose those gambits, the Victorian Liberal Party released an advertisement directed to those conspiracy spheres that had spilled violence onto Melbourne’s streets, amongst whom the lubricious gossip had flourished. The party here allied itself overtly with that violence and suspicion of vaccines.

Throughout the worst of the pre-vaccine pandemic, the Murdoch media aimed to make our Victorian lives hellish by compounding the misery. Victoria was constantly under attack, while similar experiences in NSW garnered praise. The difference? The colour of the government. They followed this by insulting Victorians for our continued majority satisfaction with Dan Andrews and what he had worked to achieve with our cooperation. Credlin’s documentary and 17th November column in The Australian described the support as a “cult.”

The same voter-smacking agenda is underway in the American right-wing media in the wake of the midterms where the women who poured out to vote against the stripping of their reproductive autonomy are chastised for being too stupid to vote for the right in their own alleged interests. (This reflects the US’s dominant media consensus that reproductive justice would not be a midterm issue; apparently, women don’t set the news agenda.) This talking point was echoed in a pathetically trollish column for The Australian by the Menzies Research Centre’s Nick Cater. His tantrum might help drive more centre-right voters to Teal candidates.

At a moment when the east coast of Australia is once again covered in water, our neighbour Fiji is asking for the money to move dozens of its villages to safety and COP27 is taking place in Egypt, our media fails us with context-free reporting. Corporate media is barely covering the appalling revelations of the Robodebt Royal Commission. And that corporate media is working hard to grant a shambolic Liberal opposition government in Victoria, no doubt intending to capitalise on their baron’s goals in the aftermath.

We desperately need the Murdoch Royal Commission. We desperately need news media laws that balance the range of news available to Australians. Above all, we desperately need the journalists who work in these organisations to look to themselves, as Juliette Kayyem demanded. If they’ve lost the will to remain public watchdogs, they need to find themselves a new job.

This was first published at Pearls and Irritations

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“Family values” and fascist-leaning politics

The radical right, and in particular, Murdoch’s News Corp, are laundering the dirty ideas of the people deploying fascistic politics to make them seem normal “conservative” thought.

News Corp’s James Morrow recently said the quiet part out loud. In his News Corp column Fascist label for Italys PM misses the message” [paywalled] on the 28th September, he advised that “successful politicians on the right” around the world can offer Coalition politicians a game-plan for how to “cut through.” This would be less concerning if the politicians he used as models were not Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and Florida’s Ron De Santis.

Morrow disdained the label “fascist” for Meloni. He asserted that using it in her case is “to strip the word of any meaning and turns it into an epithet for anything more conservative than the most bland centre-right politics.” Whether the label itself fits her ideology, Morrow continues the radical right’s tendency to normalise the extremity of their position as merely right of centre. In this way most formerly centre-right Australians (and defeated Liberal politicians) become labelled left. The more progressive citizenry then become “socialists.” Thus is the neutered ABC denoted as activist left by the right. This constant effort to centre the Overton Window over their increasingly radical position aims to naturalise their ideology for the electorate.

Disguising this drift towards authoritarian politics as “normal” rather than a lurch towards fascism should frighten us all. We must resist the lure of that numbing repetition.

Morrow selected a number of positions held by Meloni (and De Santis) to celebrate as goals for Australian politicians. In particular, he selected: family, national identity, religious identity and gender identity.

Meloni and De Santis want national identity to be as close to monotone as possible: patriotic and uncritically supportive of a mythical nation that never existed in the way their nostalgia recreates it. In this lens, religious identity is intricately tied to that mythical national identity. Their nations are white Christian nations, they assert, whatever other versions of history will say. Anyone with a contrary story should remain invisible. There is little ambiguity in the fascist politics evoked by these dogwhistle terms.

Morrow wrote of targeting “high migration.” He is surrounded in Australian “conservative” politics by figures who proudly espouse western chauvinism and spruik elements of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy. More strident voices in this tribe, even on moderated Twitter, are discussing plans such as “when it is time to repatriate people en masse from Europe.”

In attempting to strip the “fascist” label from Meloni, Morrow aims Australian politicians at the European “traditionalists.” This, he believes, is the “bread and butter” politics that can “cut through” for families at home hoping for rescue from their children who need, apparently, to be deprogramed from “activist rot.”

His emphasis on “family” – and gender – is part of the Eastern European “traditionalist” ideology. Putin and Orban, like Meloni, both put defence of the family at the forefront of their missions. That aspect of their politics is at the core of De Santis’s repressive policies. De Santis is recorded as overtly copying these from Orban. The European “traditionalists” have worked with the “family values” religious right movement from America since the 1990s; it is not difficult for De Santis to bring them together.

To fight for “the family” sounds anodyne but is freighted with threat for many.

“Family values” for Meloni and De Santis, for Putin and Pence, means “traditional” sex roles with no deviation. Men are to be returned to their leadership of the home and the country (for all that the occasional woman manages to share power). Women are intended to abandon the civic space; their presence there is loathed as “feminism.” Abortion (and contraception) is targeted because it is seen as enabling women’s civic and sexual autonomy. It also entails the destruction of European seed for a faction that believes that Western civilisation is doomed and set to be overrun in the “Great Replacement” panic.

The greatest target for all these men, and Meloni, is gender and sexual fluidity. Just as the Third Reich aimed to purify the “sexually aberrant” from the Aryan people, these modern politicians target LGBTQI people more broadly, with the tiny trans community used as a vulnerable wedge to begin the campaign.

Selecting the targeted outsider to unify the mythologised nation is, again, classic fascist politics. While stripping women of reproductive autonomy, and the right to enter the civic space, is a threat to be feared, the implied violence (legal and physical) against the LGBTQI communities is far more concerning in the near-term. Putin uses the language of ridding Ukraine of its perverted western liberalism as part of his justification for war in the same year that American politicians have introduced over 240 hundred bills limiting the LGBTQI community. The Texan Attorney-General has said he would be “comfortable” allowing the Supreme Court to adjudicate his state’s defunct rule making homosexuality illegal. Preachers in America are demanding the right to execute, or have executed, LGBTQI people. There is no coexistence possible.

Morrow is not, to be clear, advocating that “conservative” politicians in Australia become fascist or make erasing LGBTQI Australians part of their platform. What he has said here, however, is that the way for Australian “conservative” politicians to “cut through” is to adopt the strategies deployed by their considerably more extreme international counterparts.

Morrow quoted Meloni bemoaning: why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening?” The family is neither an enemy nor frightening, except in the besieged mindset embraced by the radical right. The deployment of the word “family” to mean that women must cede equality and, more urgently, that LGBTQI people must be erased is indeed frightening.

Losing solid gold Liberal seats to progressive candidates underlines that the Liberal Party has already absorbed far too many talking points, policies and strategies from the increasingly radical and religious international right. It is to be hoped that taking Morrow’s advice would continue this political decline.

This was first published in Pearls and Irritations as News Corp is normalising fascistic politics

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The Right Wing disinfosphere and the King

There is set to be some anxiety in monarchist groups in the community as they reconcile the ascent of King Charles III to the throne with their fear. Even in educated hard right circles like The Spectator Australia’s readership, conspiracy theories about him are evident.

In the “Flat White” online part of The Spectator Australia in July, an anonymous column was posted about “Prince Charles’ ‘Great Reset.’”

The Great Reset is conspiracy theory that argues that the World Economic Forum Davos set are billionaires planning a Green totalitarian takeover. The name is derived from a WEF plan (repackaging the standard Davos message) released in June 2020 promoting sustainable development in the economic reset provoked by the pandemic. It encouraged “green growth, smarter growth and fairer growth.” The then Prince Charles was used as the face of it in the promotional video at its launch.

The Spectator column argues that the Climate Emergency is an “excuse” created “as a non-negotiable reason to dismantle the free market and democratic governance.” The author posits that governments are using Net Zero to destroy the agricultural sector and rip wealth from the middle and working classes who will then be forced to depend on handouts.

The core of the author’s vitriol is saved for “stakeholder capitalism,” a concept that is a key to the Great Reset and sustainable economics. It is the (flawed) model where businesses are pressured towards cleaner practice by ESG scores. Environmental, Social and Governance metrics are intended to balance Milton Friedman’s impact on shareholder capitalism that dictates profit is the only responsibility. These ideas are, according to the column, socialism.

The new King was, by this account, not just enacting a “betrayal of the ordinary citizen,” but of the system and his role: “to protect the constitutional monarchy from rising climate fascism and globalism (also known as international socialism).”

The author believes capitalists and entrepreneurs can solve any problems without government “climate cult” interference. The widespread failure to help Australian regions beset by bushfires and floods over the pandemic moment has been superseded by the image of 1/3 of Pakistan under water and over 30 million people homeless and without food. America’s West Coast is in dire water peril with cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix existentially threatened. The facts would seem to contradict the author’s contention. No plucky entrepreneur is likely to fix this.

The comments beneath the column are filled with more overt conspiracy theory rhetoric of this kind: “the mainstream media is owned and controlled by these same WEF loving globalists” and the “takeover agenda” of the WEF. According to these posts, the Number of the Beast was apparent in Great Reset materials. There are many reasons to disdain the self-satisfied posturing of the WEF set, but the label “fascist totalitarians” is a stretch, and the belief that they are satanic is ludicrous.

The adjective “globalist” signifies part of the association of the Great Reset conspiracy. As with so much of the “conspiracy smoothie” that has suppurated out from QAnon over the pandemic era, this term denotes the antisemitism at work. Globalists and lizard people terminology (also in play about the Royal Family) are coded antisemitism. Toxic ideas about “elites” (more antisemitism) creating a pandemic and using mandates and vaccines to destroy society in a number of different ways are at the heart of the narrative. Elite-controlled paedophilia, the QAnon central panic, is also implicit in some versions of the conspiracy.

On the swamps of social media, the “elites” are weather-engineering the floods on Australia’s east coast to displace the residents and build “smart cities” as part of the WEF “high-tech dictatorship.” A number of ugly responses to the Queen’s demise in these spaces illustrate that they placed her in the evil “elite” category.

The Great Reset conspiracy, depicting climate action as socialism linked to the WEF, emerged from the Heartland Institute. This “thinktank” at the core of the climate denial industry is a feeder of ideas into the right wing disinfosphere. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News has been a major amplifier of the fear mongering about the Great Reset and its looming socialism to be imposed by Green “elites.”

Naturally what Fox mainstreams, so too does Sky News Australia. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue has used Great Reset conspiracy theories as a case study on disinformation in 2022 Australian politics. They highlight the absurd rhetoric on Sky, where billionaires are Marxists aiming to destroy capitalism. Sky After Dark echoed Tucker Carlson and other Fox talking heads in aiming to foment hysteria about this threat to freedom. Rowan Dean described the WEF as “a hardcore leftist eco-horror show replete with quasi fascism” and the Great Reset as an end to democratic rights with a society ruled by the elite.

Pauline Hanson then introduced the Great Reset to Parliament. Ralph Babet, Clive Palmer’s $100 million dollar senator, touted reading Glenn Beck’s 2022 book The Great Reset on Facebook on the 3rd of September. (Beck apologised in 2014 for ‘helping tear the country apart” in his time fearmongering on Fox News and talkback radio. In 2021, he retracted the apology on Fox, returning to the grift.)

So social media spreads pictures of King Charles being poked in the chest by a Rothschild to convey a more blatantly anti-Semitic form of this conspiracy being promoted by Sky. The Spectator Australia funnels it into the educated right they are radicalising. All seem happy to portray the Davos billionaires, who are prinking up their free market capitalism with decorative furbelows of social justice posturing, as agents of capitalism-destroying totalitarianism.

Any attempt to create climate action that might mitigate the horrors of the worst version of the climate crisis is thus immediately discredited as a form of Great Reset oppression. Right wing Americans are taught to fear the Green New Deal as a communist threat that would rob them of all their rights. Disasters in Australia that could provoke the public to pressure for action are remodelled as the work of the elites or pretexts for totalitarianism.

This battle between the billionaires who want no action taken and the billionaires who would like to appear to be doing something without doing anything is thus transformed into an existential struggle between freedom-loving battlers and a totalitarian progressive elite.

And so King Charles’s history of support for environmental projects and sustainable development has drawn the many conspiracies about his family into the Great Reset horror. The very people most keen to display their respect for the crown are torn by their climate denial loathing of anyone promoting policy to address the crisis. It will be interesting to see how they reconcile their ambivalence.

This was originally published at Pearls and Irritations as Murdoch, the Prince/King and conspiracy theories

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Australia’s Orban Sycophants

Australians welcoming the defeat of our nascent religious right in the May election need to pay attention to the echoes of the American right-wing strategies looming ahead of their 2024 election, and the faction in Australia that shares those goals.

The religious right has looked to Putin for leadership for years now. More quietly, the ideas and strategies of Hungary’s Viktor Orban have pervaded the sphere.

In America, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson has been an outlier speculated as a post-Trump Republican candidate. Florida’s Ron DeSantis looks much more likely to win the nomination at this stage. Both men have worked to promote Hungary’s Viktor Orban’s ideas in America.

Rod Dreher, ultra-conservative American intellectual, persuaded Carlson to broadcast for a week from Budapest in 2021, celebrating Orban’s achievements and his proudly illiberal democracy to the Fox base. This year Carlson released a documentary promoting Orban’s strategies as the ideal Republican model. These apparently led into the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), America’s key radical “conservative” event, being hosted in Budapest in May 2022, where Orban told the crowd that the right must have its own media and that it should broadcast the Murdochs’ favoured performer, Carlson, to the nation 24/7.

Orban continued that his latest election had “completely healed” Hungary of its “progressive dominance” and that the authoritarian right factions of the world should unite and coordinate to “take back” all the key institutions of the West.

It has just been announced that Orban is to return to speak to the CPAC audience again in Dallas in August.

DeSantis does not so much promote Orban as create what has been described as “American Orbanism.” His people admit, behind the scenes to following and echoing Orban’s strategies. Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill which depicted any mention of anything to do with LGBTQI identity in schools as “grooming” echoed Orban’s 2021 bill focused on the same issue. DeSantis’s press secretary told Dreher that, “Oh yeah, we were watching the Hungarians, so yay Hungary.”

Orban targets minorities as a supposed threat to Hungarians and then devises laws that push Hungary further into authoritarianism to address the non-existent threat. LGBTQI people are the latest target after bigoted attacks on refugees, Romani, and non-Christians. Florida punishing Disney for its tepid pushback against anti-LGBTQI legislation echoes Orban’s strategies for punishing opponents. The primary institutional enemies are educational, media and social media. Control of the message is central.

The key appeal of Orban’s ideology, as well as Putin’s, is that they posit a white Christian – Western – Civilisation as the world’s great treasure and one that is under attack. Progressive “elites” or globalists – usually embodied in Jewish figures like the loathed George Soros – are depicted as executing a “Great Replacement” of the white embodiments of the west with black and brown non-Christians. The key appeal of his strategy is that he rejects liberalism in the existential battle to preserve the mythologised heritage.

This alliance of culture warriors is apparent in the Australian right. Morrison’s defeated government contained both the traditionalist defenders of a beleaguered Western Civilisation that Tony Abbott drew to prominence, alongside the American-style Evangelicals who are more theocratic in goal, aiming to impose national purity through government action.

Tony Abbott’s international advisor from 2010 to 2014 was Mark Higgie. His years as Australian ambassador to Hungary from 1998-2001 (before becoming our “senior spy” in London) seem to have made Orban’s career a focus for the ideologue. He echoes the same “Hungarians are free” line as Rod Dreher, but the latter when asked about the dark underbelly of living in an illiberal democracy tends to reply, I dont know much, to be honest. Like Dreher, in 2019 Higgie moved to Budapest. He writes for The Australian Spectator.

The main intellectual conduit of Orban’s ideas to the West is the Danube Institute. Brian Loughnane, Peta Credlin’s husband and former Liberal Party federal director is on its international advisory board. Tony Abbott appeared with Higgie there before the pandemic conversing about immigrants “swarming” over the borders. Alexander Downer spoke in Budapest about immigrant Bantustans. Kevin Andrews spoke about reversing declining birth rates in the west at the Budapest Demographic Summit, a “biennial gathering of ultra-conservative and highly influential decision-makers, politicians and individuals actively working to curb the rights of sexual minorities and women.”

John O’Sullivan is the president of the Orban-funded Danube Institute. He has edited Quadrant and serves as its international editor with Keith Windshuttle. O’Sullivan too has written about how the left exaggerates the discomforts of living in an illiberal democracy.

One early event that aimed to foster Danube Institute immigration phobia for a broader Australian audience was a Conversazione in Melbourne in 2016. In fact, it fostered Great Replacement fears in a local audience of the rich and powerful albeit without using the term. Orchestrated by a Quadrant writing LaTrobe academic, with O’Sullivan as a speaker and featuring a Windshuttle essay on Quadrant in the program, it highlighted the connection between that publication and the Orban-booster spirit.

Loughnane also spoke at the event, although Credlin was not present. One of the nations leading News Corp journalists appeared, presenting a speech that expressed lurid objection to Muslim immigration. (That journalist has been a guest of the Orban-funded Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Hungary, which hosted another migration talkfest in 2019.)

Fresh from the January Islamic Radicalism and the Westconference held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Brits Daniel Pryce-Jones and Daniel Johnson also spoke at the Melbourne Club that day alongside Geza Jeszensky, former Hungarian foreign minister and noted eugenicist.

Tucker Carlson is now watched by Murdoch’s Australian print editors as a guide to the beliefs of Rupert and Lachlan. Carlson’s show is pervaded with incitement to violence over the existential attacks on white Christian civilisation by the elites and their immigrant hordes; over the threat to (white) American children posed by progressive groomers particularly their teachers; over the existential threat posed by any liberal who embraces diversity and acceptance.

Dutton and News Corp’s new focus of a war on teachers in Australia has been picked up by the IPA in its “Class Action” program to stop teachers “dominating our children’s schools” with “woke ideology.” There they aim to gather “concerned parents and teachers” in a reproduction of American Christopher Rufo’s cynical moral panic about Critical Race Theory. In America, teachers are leaving the profession, exhausted partly by poor funding and the pandemic, but also by being barraged with conspiracy-fuelled hate by parents and outside groups attending school board meetings in threatening mode.

We saw Morrison fighting hard for his religious discrimination bill while neglecting crucial work, aiming to provide a tool of backlash for marriage equality. The trans sports issue was deployed in the election as an echo of the bitter American attacks on trans youth and LGBTQI people in general. The religious right here has begun to echo the fight against reproductive rights.

After the recent release of census data noted the decline in Christianity, Peta Credlin wrote in The Australian (paywalled) in full Orban mode warning of “the centrality of Christian inspiration to Western civilization.” She defined an Indigenous Voice to parliament as “anathema to the fundamentals of Christian faith” and obliquely blamed Chinese and Indian immigration for the crisis.

The combined forces of the radical right – whether Christian Nationalist in intent, or in bigoted fear of a Great Replacement, or cynically deploying culture wars – all have the capacity to distort our civic debates as they are doing at all levels of government in America. The outcome in America is catastrophic.

It is critical for Australians to watch the international right forces filtered through to our democratic project, directly from the opponents of democracy, or filtered through the American role models so central to our “conservatives.” They are not defeated here, but regrouping.

This was first published in Pearls and Irritations.

 

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What is the “mad left”?

Even before the Albanese government was certain that it would have a clear majority, the Sky News chorus had begun baying about the “mad left” taking power. What the madness constitutes is never quite made clear. It is “vibe” rather than diagnosis.

It is not to be dismissed because of that inexactitude. This is another echo of the games deriving from the American right where the so-called left is essentially unfit to hold office; only the right can form a legitimate government. The fear-mongering underpins the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as the continuing efforts to “stop the steal.”

It is further developed in the US. The intertwining of the religious right with the Republican Party has given an Evangelical (Pentecostal) infusion to the mix. In the Spiritual Warfare battle between good and evil that must be won for Jesus to return, Jesus votes Republican and the “left” is a demonic force obstructing him.

Depicting the largely centrist Democrats as a wild left is quite an achievement. Two Democrat senators owned by the right prevent most legislation being passed, let alone progressive bills. Depicting the party as the face of evil in America makes democracy impossible.

The “conservative” parties of the UK and Australia are playing a less extreme version of the same game as part of their efforts to entrench minority rule. Their policies are not in the interests of the voters they need in (approximate) democracies: culture war battles inherent to “conservative” identity must replace policy platforms to attract the majority vote.

The GOP is aided by a deeply distorted democratic structure underpinning the republic. The Tories have just passed legislation that undermines the independence of their electoral commission in a substantial blow to British democracy. The Australian “conservative” parties struggle to surmount a hurdle not faced by their UK and US brothers: compulsory and preferential voting. Disillusionment and despair are strong motives not to bother voting if it is optional. These egalitarian measures force the Australian Coalition partners to work harder to convince their bloc to vote against their own interests.

The process of undermining Australians’ faith in our strong electoral processes is underway. Clive Palmer and his conspiracy voters are overtly echoing American talking points. Ballot boxes were hidden and shady companies provided electoral management, if you loiter in this underbelly of the internet.

The fact that the Labor Party achieved a majority government at all could be considered a miracle given the barrage of propaganda and nonsense that a lacklustre press gallery churned out as election coverage. That farce crested its years of echoing Coalition talking points; the members of Scott Morrison’s inner circle of reporters to whom inside information was granted were keen to maintain this access. Only a handful still merit the professional label of journalist.

This propagandist spin continues to seethe for the more mainstream “conservative” voter. News Corp has deployed the Dog Line to howl the weakness of Labor’s victory. Sky’s Gemma Tognini wrote in The Australian that Labor’s vote was “staggeringly low” and that the idea that Labor voters “abandoned it” robbed the new government of a “firm mandate.” Somehow “sliding into power via preferences” is a sign of shoddy victory rather than a canny electorate. The Australian’s National Editor, Dennis Shanahan, wrote to remind his peers that “tears, recriminations, claims of a lack of mandate, the lowest primary vote on record or that Labor is only a hybrid government tinged irrevocably teal and green from its independent allies” are “pointless.”

They are not, however, pointless. The point is to undermine faith in our voting system, as well as Labor’s right to form government. Through the Howard years, conservatives argued that voting should no longer be compulsory. In the controversial 2020 parliamentary committee report on electoral matters, conservative voices had pushed for the voter ID laws and optional preferential voting. Happily for the Coalition, optional preferential voting would “devastate Labor.”

Unlike the UK, Australia has so far seen off these Republican-style attacks on our electoral process, but we need to remain aware of the risks. The formerly conservative side of politics is entrenching a more radical right trajectory and undermining the numbers voting combined with enraging their base are the only ways they can bring a hard right government into being.

NSW moderate Matt Kean observed that none of the lost Liberal vote went to more conservative candidates. Nonetheless, Sky’s Peta Credlin celebrated the chance to go more radical right now the so-called moderates have been flushed. Sky’s Rowan Dean berated the moderate “bedwetters” betraying the base with their Labor-lite impotence. The toxic chorus demands the Liberals embrace more radical positions.

Sky News is funnelled free-to-air into the regions drumming in this message that Australia faces “three years of hard-core left-wing government that will destroy the fabric of this nation.” It unifies the conspiracy spheres that underly the UAP vote with a resentful base. Peter Dutton’s initial speeches as Leader of the Opposition have been loaded with disdain for the capacity of the ALP to govern. This has provided amusement for the many “safe Liberal” electorate voters who turned against the Morrison government’s malign incompetence, but it is to the base that he speaks. The mythical “socialist left” embodied by the Labor Party will destroy everything.

By depicting Dutton as a “pragmatic conservative” rather than a radical right figure, Greg Sheridan aims to normalise the leader’s authoritarian political leaning. Dutton has said he thinks parliament is a disadvantage for sitting governments. He combined Australia’s enforcement and surveillance arms in one body in the mega-department of Home Affairs, and deployed them in a highly illiberal way. He victimised an out-group for the vengeful pleasure of his in-group. His pitch is to lead this so-called party of the worker against the educated elite of the left.

Like America, we can celebrate the victory of the centre left over manifestly incompetent and malevolent radical right governments. Like America, though, we should be very careful not to believe the radical right is defeated.

This was originally published in Pearls and Irritations.

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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own.

Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears. Flying blind – The silence will be deafening on FB.

Game, set and match? This is not freedom of choice. This is political censorship by default and design. The Australian media news landscape embroiled, further compromised, falling off the edge of the continental shelf and the Australian public alienated from its own local news and rest of the world, like have we all just been sent to Coventry?

This was the LNP Think Tank’s intention and a golden opportunity to fulfil their primary goal – Can you and I, can we not see this!

This guy (Josh) and his buddy (Scomo), and the whole frigging LNP camp of degenerates really need to fuck off to the casino big time. We have them now to blame for ‘all of us’ becoming news blind in Australia on Facebook and Social Media. Going against their declared political principles of free trade, freedom of information, news and free speech for a bigger prize. This is a huge setback for Australians.

This is exactly what Frydenberg and Morrison want, to silence and deafen FB or more to the point Australians who use FB to share their news, thoughts, views and opinions. By doing so they get to control the flow of news, media and opinion. The public broadcasters, ABC and SBS were never going to be free to enter these deals and you would be grossly naive if you thought smaller independent news outlets would ever gain traction on this legislation with the corporate giants – That’s not how Monopoly is played. Google have taken a different path but can you see them entering into the plethora of smaller agreements and will our government under this legislation or policy direction give a damn!

 

Image from dailymail.co.uk

 

So Frydenberg and Morrison get to spread their shit here on FB and everywhere else for free, what hypocrites. The News giants like Murdoch and News Corps get to rake in the money and spread the pain for their shit everywhere – and laughing. There will be no informed democracy and elections in this game. The Liberals are doing this, not for equity, fairness or justice, but given all the run offs and stacked consequences, as planned; giving them massive control over news, media information available, not available, accessibility on public and social platforms. Will this be good for the economy even?

The chosen ones, yes.

I don’t condone FB’s decision, but Morrison and Frydenberg knew very well this was the likely path, and why indeed should FB as a business pay for users, other people’s decisions on what they share – What kind of fucked up business model is that? What next? Will the Liberals have ‘us’ pay for shared advertising too? Actually, we already are, out of the public purse.

Would you charge me if I offered you a lift to the supermarket to get your groceries? The government (the Liberals) are raving bonkers.

Australia totally screwed on this one, folks! This is political censorship, where only the sharks profit at the expense of freedom of choice, information and information sharing, one of the founding principles of the internet, and ironically democracy, fair dinkum. Yes, the Liberals, Nationals, News Corps, big business elites et al are pushing our noses in it and our heads in the sand – make no mistake. I can’t breathe!

End game – Erosion of political and electoral public intelligence and information, control of the airwaves, right wing power grab and supremacy, come next election. Not even Trump could manage this (Foxy News versus Washington Post), but here by any other means, with a swoop of the pen, Morrison, Frydenberg and the Liberals (image source: ‘elbows kissing’ courtesy of the Australian, how ironic) are banking on that ignorance turning in their favour, like it did for 74 million Americans! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears.

Eyes to the right where we can expect the procreation of more lies, hypocrisy, false (manufactured) news and proliferation of extreme right wing and fundamentalist opinion, especially from Murdoch, News Corps, Government, corporate mining elites and big business; and sadly, Facebook and Google are deserting the public camp for consumerism in their own separate ways. Did I mention tongues and fiery pulpit of the very holy Morrison-Frydenberg spirit – Holy cow!

They say no man is an island, Australia is and has just become even more isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the LNP and our government – Regulation be damned (on this one).

But maybe we are all just about to become more creative – We can write, post and share our own news and opinion pieces with complementary piccies. Isn’t that what these social platforms and truly independent media are for?

This is democracy. Let’s get to it!

 

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Sometimes Even Censorship Doesn’t Help…

Most of you probably saw Monday’s papers which contained words interrupted by large blocks of ink suggesting that the inbetween bits had been redacted. Of course, they hadn’t because if you read the printed words, they still made sense so the whole thing was a little contrived.

Personally, I’m not sure that it was the way to go. It may have been far more effective to have printed a story with the best bits blanked out. To show you what I mean, look at the following hypothetical example:

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the (redacted). After consuming (redacted) followed by(redacted), he seemed (redacted), so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his (redacted) and started showing (redacted) to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my(redacted)!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful (redacted)!” He was forced to stop when his (redacted) went (redacted). He requested to put his (redacted) into a nearby (redacted) but he was told that it (redacted). He did manage to use someone’s (redacted).

Which, of course, is a lot more worrying than the unredacted version.

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the local pub. After consuming a hearty main course followed by a dessert, he seemed relaxed, so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his phone and started showing photos of his baby to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my boy!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful baby” He was forced to stop when his mobile went flat. He requested to put his charger into a nearby powerpoint but he was told that it was faulty He did manage to use someone’s portable charger.

Similarly, read this one about Scott Morrison so that you can see how censoring information can create a totally wrong impression.

ScoMo, as he likes to call himself, or (redacted), as many others call him, has some very interesting friends. Most people have heard about his friend, (redacted) , whose father was a (redacted) . But very few people have heard about his bestie whose part of (redacted) group which believes that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy trying to (redacted), and whose wife is on the public payroll as (redacted) , because the media have been told not to print anything about them because it’s been declared off limits by Morrison and none of them want to print anything unless the government says it’s ok.

Oh, apparently I can’t print the unredacted version of that one without expecting the police to come and ask me to hand over my computer and show them what I had in my underwear drawer…

Anyway, I can’t wait for the media to actually show the sort of courage that I’m not prepared to because I’m worried that they’d make fun of my Sponge Bob boxer shorts. Besides I’m not a serious journalist…

I trust that last sentence won’t have me sharing a cell with Julian Assange, and not just because the Ecuadorians said that he wasn’t much fun. Whatever, if you don’t hear from me, you’ll know that I’ve been (redacted) and (redacted).

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Send a peace-keeping team where it’s needed most, ScoMo

Em şîv in hûn jî paşîv in,or, if we are dinner you are supper, Armenians warn Kurds before Turkish massacres – a recurrent motif in Kurdish oral history.

 

As Donald Trump abruptly withdraws US air support and a trip-wire of US troops from North-East Syria, in the vast Kurdish-controlled triangle, locals call Rojava or “The West”, Sunday, he clears the way for Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to begin Operation Peace Spring, a long-planned, long-threatened military offensive to purge the Kurds. Erdoğan’s blitzkrieg starts Wednesday 9 October.

Turkey is pressing on with its alternative buffer zone concept, trashing the neutral corridor plan the US and Turkey say they’ve been working on for a year – at least. Erdoğan’s plan is to invade Syria and fill the illegally occupied territory along Turkey’s southern border with 2 million Syrian refugees – or “up to half the 3.6 million people”, the UN registers as currently taking refuge in Turkey. The EU can pick up the tab. Ankara’s pitch is far-fetched, impracticable and threatens to re-ignite ISIS but Trump buys it.

ISIS is more acceptable to an anti-Ataturk Erdoğan than Rojava, a Kurdish radically decentralised and democratic social revolution which embraced gender equality and inspired activists worldwide. Rojava’s the antithesis of the more common Middle Eastern patriarchal despotism. It’s easy to see why its radical egalitarian political and social structure is ideologically repugnant to the conservative autocrat Erdoğan.

On top of ancient hatreds are grafted newer layers of distrust. And on top of these are military realities. Former legionnaire and YPG (Peoples’ Protection Unit) volunteer, Jamie Williams successfully volunteered to fight with the Kurds against Daesh in 2017, he writes in The Saturday Paper. He soon realised that the Kurds were as much at risk from Turkey as from Daesh or ISIS as it prefers to be known.

Kurdish force YPG has its women-only counterpart the YPJ. Our government has provided air support to the group – yet it is linked with PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, whom Erdoğan regards as terrorists, responsible for acts of terror in Turkey. To many commentators they are one and the same group.

Propaganda from Turkey is all about fighting terrorists, spin which our own PM repeats even as civilians are indiscriminately killed in the first few days of the Turkish onslaught. Trump sets off a powder keg.

“All hell breaks loose” says The Washington Post after a Sunday phone call between the two populist presidents. Talk turns to trade and help with defence in the exhausted superlatives Trump favours. Only late in the call, does the topic turn to Erdoğan’s impending invasion and grander aims.

Trump offers a “really good package”, of F35 jets, lemons at $100m a pop, from Lockheed’s $1.5 trillion defence boondoggle, the most expensive in the world, even though Turkey will still buy a missile defence system from Russia, and keep a multi-billion dollar plan to dodge US sanctions on Iran. A presidential visit is thrown into the deal. Trump tells Erdoğan not to invade, he insists. Turkey’s actions attest otherwise.

A White House statement issued after the phone call certainly appears to confirm the withdrawal.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The US Armed Forces . . . having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Turkish officials maintain Trump privately gave Erdoğan the go-ahead. Trump ups his bluster.

Congressional Republicans erupt in protest. Trump denies all report of any such undertaking. Hapless administration officials are scrambled to explain, ineffectually, that Trump’s yes means no; the US does not consent to Turkey’s plans to invade Syria nor collude in Erdoğan’s fantasy of an Ottoman Empire 2.0.

A bipartisan group forms to devise sanctions; put Turkey’s war machine genie back in its bottle. As if.

By Monday, having provoked outrage from even the typically recumbent if not supine Republicans in the House and the Senate, Trump threatens to “obliterate” his NATO ally’s economy, if Erdoğan doesn’t stop invading Syria; rhetoric he quickly tones down. Turkey is now warned not to do “anything outside what we think is humane” – or the country will “suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy.”

What we think is humane? Pressed for time to interpret Trump’s double-speak, Ankara could do worse than glance at Amnesty International’s summary of the Trump administration’s human rights abuses in its immigration policy alone. Amnesty says the Trump administration’s policy and practices have caused,

“..catastrophic irreparable harm to thousands of people, have spurned and manifestly violated both US and international law, and appeared to be aimed at the full dismantling of the US asylum system.”

Meanwhile, a new wave of 2000 US troops is deployed in Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announces, topping up a thousand recently deployed there to pot-shot the odd drone, all part of the US bogus war on Iran which Trump & Co are trying to gin up, purely to help his 2020 re-election prospects. The troops will be on hand to “assure and enhance” Saudi Arabia’s defence and no doubt help its women learn to drive.

It’s a low blow to Canberra’s attempts to paint Trump’s capitulation to Erdoğan as consistent with The Donald’s avowed isolationism; his public wish to “get out of these ridiculous endless wars”. Someone needs to tell ScoMo and Co not to confuse Trump’s performance shtick with any deeper conviction.

ScoMo tells Nine Newspapers and others that there’s nothing to see here. The most erratic president in US history is just acting consistently. It’s all going to plan. A po-faced ScoMo claims Trump outlined his aim to withdraw troops from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq a year ago and is now acting on that message.

“I think it would be wrong to not draw an element of consistency between those statements almost a year ago and the action the United States has been taking since, including most recently,” ScoMo bloviates.

“As is the nature of alliances and friendships, you work through these issues together and you understand them together and you speak frankly to one another and you do that in the spirit of that relationship.”

Bunkum. Part of the outrage amongst even his own party, is Trump’s total lack of consultation. Left out of the loop, say Politico and others, were foreign allies, Congress even some in his own administration.

Trump is working nothing through together, ScoMo. Nor is there any element of consistency. Trump’s administration has, in fact, increased US involvement in what he calls their “ridiculous endless wars”.

US Air Forces central command reports late last month, it launched the most airstrikes in Afghanistan over a single month in roughly a decade. American troops have ramped up airstrikes in Libya targeting ISIS fighters there. And the US continues its shadow war in Somalia to repel terrorists there. The new wave in Saudi Arabia means a total net increase of 17000 US troops in the region since May.

Stung by accusations of incompetence, Saturday, Trump appears on Fox’s Justice with Janine to utter his most pathetic self-justification yet, “He (Erdoğan) was going to go in anyway. They’ve been fighting the Kurds for 200 years. He was going in anyway,” Trump professes US impotence to host Jeanine Pirro.

In doing so, Trump unwittingly confirms that he’s given in to Erdoğan’s demands. It is unlikely to boost his party’s trust or Trump’s self-appointed role as super-patriot and nationalist. His wimpy surrender to Turkey’s territorial ambitions makes America great again? Like his protégé, Scott Morrison, when the chips are down he doesn’t give a toss about principle or consistency or even plausible deniability.

As with any of our current crop of political monsters, the winner-take-all strong men thrown up by neoliberalism’s decline, sky-rocketing inequality and the rise and rise of hyper-nationalism, it’s all about political survival – at any price.

Trump needs a diversion from his impeachment narrative and Rudy Giuliani’s erratic stunts are not helping. He puts on his isolationist mask when it suits. Only Murdoch hacks and ScoMo take it seriously.

Isolationist Trump is stymied because continuous war is vital to the United States military industrial complex if not the economy, a neoliberal supreme being second only to the free market in the cult’s articles of faith. Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul – even more of an embarrassing Trump fanboy than our own PM, rushes to defend his president’s isolationism but, as with toady ScoMo, his credibility is low.

As Republicans and Democrats alike bag Trump for enabling Turkish attacks on U.S. Kurdish allies which could enable ISIS prisoners of war to escape and reform, Paul declares that most Americans would actually agree with President Trump that this is not a war that has our national interest at stake.”

Even if national interest can mean whatever you choose it to mean, it’s difficult to agree with Paul that America’s national interest will emerge unscathed as its reputation as an ally is trashed – and as the Kurdish body count mounts – so far, Turkish authorities claim to have killed 277 terrorists.

Kurdish sources claim that most of those killed or maimed by bombs and air strikes are civilians.

Does Trump give “a green light” or “a trigger” to Turkey’s military ambitions? Experts differ. Trump, himself, is increasingly incoherent and – like his disciple, Scott Morrison -consistently fast and loose and with the truth. What is certain is that the US betrays its military allies, the Kurds who have lost eleven thousand men and women fighting America’s Syrian military intervention in the last five years at least.

What is also clear is that Trump crafts a week of utter confusion over US Middle-East policy in a desperate bid to stem the growing movement to impeach him for enlisting Ukraine’s sad clown, former comic turned President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help him smear Joe Biden and the whole Mueller inquiry.

Zelensky is now rapidly running up a trust deficit in polls reported this week. His dealings with Trump; his proposals to end the Kremlin-backed war in Ukraine’s East – don’t help. Ukrainians see him less as a running gag on Ukraine’s hopelessly corrupt political system and more like a puppet of a local billionaire.

“Never get into a well with an American rope,” goes a saying, The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn reports, is spreading across the Middle East. Will Trump’s treachery also be an object lesson to Canberra?

It’s unlikely given the obsequious fawning of ScoMo’s recent Washington junket, to say nothing of Titanium Man’s subsequent mimicry of Trump on how China is a developed nation and expect no favours over Kyoto targets such as Australia enjoys. But ScoMo knows that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this week sees him morph even further into a Trump even without fake tan or combover.

On song with Donald, ScoMo also rails against “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracies” which UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, reminds our PM, Australia helped set up. The scrutiny Morrison’s government rejects is based on international standards it helped create.

We’re also backing out of the UN Climate fund, Morrison decrees, following Trump’s inspiring example. Money saved can go to the Pacific, (it would, anyway, under the fund), especially our fruit-picking Fijians who will love their rugby until Fiji’s playing fields are underwater courtesy of our heroic contribution to global warming as we squib our commitment to our Paris Agreement target with carry-over credits.

Heroic? When we take into account our exports’ carbon dioxide emission potential, Australia ranks as the world’s third largest fossil fuel exporter, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia reports The Australia Institute. Wherever our exported fossil fuels may be burnt, they emit more carbon dioxide than the exported emissions of all but two of the world’s biggest oil- and gas-producing nations.

Helping galloping Trumpism sweep the nation in their own self-righteous, dismissive way on Sunday’s ABC Insiders are Murdoch’s Michael Stuchbury and mining lobby tool, The Sydney Institute’s, merry Gerry Henderson who talk up ScoMo’s climate leadership and still find time to defend Peter Dutton for just stating the obvious about how China does not share our “Australian values”.

Gerry scotches all notion of ScoMo criticising his mentor and BFF Donald Trump.

“There is no reason why the Australian government should criticise the American President” says Henderson, airily, ignoring years of utter chaos, corruption and racist violence since January 2017.

Certainly no criticism of Trump appears in ScoMo&Co’s fabulous Dr Doolittle routine, the Payne-Morrison Foreign Policy Pushmi-pullyu duo who sing from the same ponderous song-sheet, in eerie fidelity.

“The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey’s unilateral military operation into North-Eastern Syria. It will cause additional civilian suffering, lead to greater population displacement, and further inhibit humanitarian access. While Turkey has legitimate domestic security concerns, unilateral cross-border military action will not solve these concerns.”

Take that, Erdogan and your domestic security concerns. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have put it better.

Or as Orwell warns, “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details…. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Weasel words and the vexed question of his aiding and abetting mad elected-King Donald aside, ScoMo and Co are “deeply troubled” only by having to fake moral outrage at Turkey’s turpitude. It’s a tough gig.

Causing “additional human suffering” bothers a PM who plans to revoke Medevac legislation in November? Hardly. “Humanitarian access” worries the gate-keeper of our asylum-seeker gulags both on and off-shore where mandatory, indefinite, detention is denounced by the UN as be a form of torture?

Greater population displacement worries the architect of the Cambodian Solution? A government which opens Christmas Island for one family is averse to additional civilian suffering? A key aim of our mandatory detention of asylum seekers is to punish those on Manus and Nauru or those locked up on the mainland and deprived of any social welfare payments -as a deterrent to other aspiring boat people.

Shunning the UN and similar international bodies is a retreat from co-operative globalism into barbarism. It is also, as the UN makes clear, a denial of our own humanity, a futile attempt to evade our own conscience; our sense of accountability and social responsibility.

Trump’s sudden withdrawal is a triple betrayal. The Kurds are now at risk not only from Turkey but from ISIS fighters they have captured, five of whom already liberate themselves after Turkish shelling from nearby. Kurdish fighters also face hostility from Assad’s regime – and will lose their homes to strangers.

Many of Syria’s Kurdish people live in cities and towns such as Qamishli, Kobani and Tal Abyad just south of the Syrian-Turkish frontier. By Sunday, hundreds of thousands are fleeing south, terrified by the prospect of a Turkish occupation, backed by bands of Syrian Arab paramilitaries with links to al-Qaeda type groups. CNN reports that the bombardment could displace 300,000 people. Some say more.

Operation Peace Spring is Ankara’s Orwellian title for Turkey, and its Syrian proxies’ air strikes, heavy artillery, rocket fire and land assault; a campaign to illegally annex a “peace corridor” of Northern Syria thirty kilometres deep and some say 480 kilometres along Turkey’s entire Southern border with Syria.

Some sources suggest a more modest but no less illegal 120 kilometres of lebensraum is Turkey’s aim. But how can anyone be sure? In a Rafferty’s Rules-based world of disorder only might is right.

Is this what we’ve become?

Ankara has plans to relocate two million Syrian Arab refugees from other parts of Syria it currently has within its borders immediate aim is to seize Rojava; embark upon further Kurdish ethnic cleansing. As it happens, President Erdoğan announces, he’s just discovered that the land doesn’t belong to the Kurds.

It’s not his first invasion. On 20 January 2018, Turkey attacked the Kurdish city of Afrin in Operation Olive Branch, an offensive which displaced 300,000 Kurds who lost family homes to strangers resettled from eastern Ghouta, an urban suburb of Damascus. Human Rights Watch reports that armed Syrian paramilitary groups were permitted to detain and “forcibly disappear civilians.

Nothing to fear from a “mafia, murderer and serial killer” Turkish state mobilising its armed forces to massacre more Kurds? Hurriedly, publicly walking back any commitment he has made privately to Erdoğan, Trump says he’ll keep the Turks in check; “obliterate” their economy if they try any funny stuff.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” the USA’s Tweeter-in-Chief warns Ankara via Twitter.

His Stable Genius has it all under control.

Erdogan gets a hand, meanwhile. Prior to withdrawal, CNN reports, the US persuades Kurds to dismantle fortifications and to move troops away from the border whilst helpfully giving Turkey airspace access and intelligence on the area to improve its aim – or in military newspeak, formulate its target lists”.

Our own Trumpista, Scott Morrison has only recently returned from a brief but sell-out US tour where he did a star turn as Trump’s muppet. It’s a stunt, as Bernard Keane puts it, in which all of Australia’s foreign policy is outsourced to The White House. Now ScoMo must come up with something. He fails.

He rushes to urge “restraint of all those who are involved” – lest Kurds throw themselves rashly under Turkish tanks, or rush to put themselves or their families in line of fire of bullets or mortar attacks.

It’s all in a good cause. More grandiose plans and delusions aside, Erdogan and Trump are both down in the polls. Trump happily abandons US allies, Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF) and Kurdish civilians to Turkish genocide. It’s certainly diverting attention from moves to impeach him for seeking Ukraine’s help, for his own political advantage; to dig dirt on Joe Biden’s son. He has to be prepared. What if Joe Biden should win the Democratic nomination and not Elizabeth Warren?

Trump’s dumping of former US allies ought to be a wake-up call to those who fetishise the ANZUS alliance- merely an agreement to consult in times of crisis, despite the reverence our MPs bestow upon it.

The world sees clearly both the limits of US authority and how Trump treats US allies, an object lesson unlikely to be missed by Asian nations. Yet the warning is unlikely to be heeded by ScoMo and Co. Morrison’s government and its Murdoch mouthpiece is now so much part of the Trump cult that not only does our PM’s speeches on foreign policy now mimic the US President’s pre-occupations; lecturing China on trade and climate, he reneges on Australia’s commitment to the UN Green Climate Fund.

“I’m not writing a $500 million cheque to the UN, I won’t be doing that. There’s no way I’m going to do that to Australian taxpayers,” ScoMo tells reporters, an antipodean Zelig aping Trump’s 2017 decision.

In other words, ScoMo, you’ll sell us short. Don’t copy Trump. The UN Green Climate Fund -decades in the making – was inspired by the urgent need to support developing nations in responding to the challenge of climate change. It helps developing nations curb their emissions and adapt. It provides for our children and grandchildren – and their children and grandchildren.

Above all, aping your mentor Trump in attacking the UN and other international bodies designed to promote global citizenship and co-operation, you are betraying all Australians and especially those who helped create internationalism; a set of rules and responsibilities, which might help us to act according to our higher instincts. These include resolving conflict, offering refuge, respecting human rights and applying the rule of law so that we might all benefit from a civilised international society.

The least Australia can do, for starters, is to censure Trump for colluding in Erdoğan’s invasion of Syria; giving the green light to his genocidal plans towards the Kurds. Other nations are already applying sanctions on Turkey. It is imperative we also take a stand against Erdoğan’s invasion before it is too late.

Prevailing on your BFF Donald Trump to resume control of the skies over North-East Syria would be a start while an international peace-keeping team could follow. You can send a team to the Golan Heights on Israel’s border. Surely you can also send a team where it’s needed most.

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University Woes: The Managerial Class Gets Uppity

The university, in a global sense, is passing into a managerial oblivion. There are a few valiant holdouts, but they have the luxury of history, time, and learning. Cambridge and Oxford, for instance, still boast traditional academics, soaking erudition, and education as something more than a classroom brawl of the mind. They can barricade themselves against the regulatory disease that has made imbeciles of administrators and cretins of the pretend academic class. They can, for instance, rely on their colleges to fight the university, a concept so utterly alien to others. Across Europe, the management structures wear heavily. In the United States, the corporate university took hold decades ago. Academics are retiring, committing suicide, and going on gardening leave.

In Australia, a more serious problem has become evident: You cannot expose the obvious. You cannot, for instance, expose the evident plagiarism of colleagues. You cannot expose corruption within the university, notably the sort that celebrates graft over industry. You cannot discuss the decline in academic standards, or the purposeful lowering of admission levels. The obvious, in a certain sense, is that standards will be lowered if there is a need for largesse and revenue. The natural impulse of fat cat Vice-Chancellors is to cry foul that the government of the day has not forked out from the taxpayer’s wallet. Pay the university; fund more places. Give us more funding, because we are teaching and research institutions.

The problem with this dubious formulation is that funding a university in its current, monstrous form is tantamount to giving a drug lord a state subsidy for a pool, a perk, or a prostitute. (A suitable doctoral dissertation: Compare the rhetoric of Pablo Escobar with Australian university management from 2000 to 2019. You won’t be disappointed). Vice-Chancellors of the university world are white collar criminals on par with bankers, and, like those bankers, claim they perform an invaluable service. When they fail, they are simply moved on to another institution, leaving their sludge in ample supply.

The pro-vice chancellors, the deputies, the deputy-deputies and the deputies under them, are co-conspirators in an enterprise that robs students blind and plunders the goodwill of academic staff. Never has there been a better case to start putting these types into re-education camps, the very sort that they wish academics who disagree with them to attend. Apropos on that point, it is notable that universities in Australia love sending disagreeing and disagreeable academics to counsellors hired by the university itself. Thought-crime thrives down under.

Be that as it may, the recent news that Murdoch University, a squalid outpost of obscurantism located in Western Australia, has decided to counter-sue an academic for exposing the lowering of academic standards, should come as confirmation. How utterly revolting to expose such a squalid secret! How revolting to believe that standards should be kept! (The issue here, as much as anything else, is to put to bed the snake oil language of being a “global educator”. A local non-educator will suffice).

Federal Court documents have done more than reveal that the university is seeking compensation from Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk for millions lost since he appeared on a Four Corners program in May discussing the plight of failing Indian students. It involves a counter-action against the academic, who initially filed an action under the Fair Work Act to restrain the university from disciplining him for discussing the lowering of academic standards.

The university has been rightfully punished by a decline in student numbers but insists that it “maintains admission standards consistent with the national standards for international students, along with English language requirements in line with those across the sector.” In short, the Murdoch argument is that made by those who think failure sells: they all do it, so why pick on us?

Murdoch University’s overpaid VC, Eeva Leinonen, claims to refute (is it not confute?) “the claims made by the ABC” in an email sent to students after the Four Corners program aired. She babbles incorrigibly, resorting to those nonsenses about employability and global reputation for a university that struggles, just, to be local. “In 2018, Murdoch was ranked number one in Australia for graduate employability. Employers value the knowledge and skills that you have learnt at Murdoch University.” (Leinonen is yet another example of how corruption, to be pure, needs to be imported – she cut her teeth as Vice-President in Education at King’s College, University of London).

Even Australia’s restrained whistle-blowing commentators have been a touch troubled by the arid and vicious reasoning of Murdoch University. The university, as a realm of academic protection, is a piecemeal matter in Australia. But modern management, being itself a high-functioning criminal class, has made it imperative to cast an eye on protections for those who blow that all too rare whistle on plagiarism, charlatanism, shallow standards and good, down-to-earth theft.

A. J. Brown, who wears the rather rusted crown of whistle-blowing authority in a country that has found the practice irksome, ventured the obvious in his assessment: the action by Murdoch University will stifle whistle-blowing. “I’m not aware of any situation where a university, or really… any sort of organisation, has counter-sued the whistle-blower for damages.”

Murdoch University has revealed some important, and cheery results, for those who believe that the academy, and university, remains a place of challenge and learning rather than numbers and padding. The institution, in an effort to target Shröder-Turk, is full of complaint: shovelling amounts out for investigations by tertiary regulators; lamenting the upgrade of the Immigration Risk Rating by the Department of Home Affairs. Schröder-Turk should be given a knighthood.

What is needed, in the immediate future, is a redrafting of laws in states and the Commonwealth that permits full, iron-sheeted immunity to those who expose managerial corruption. This case shows the quibbling and the lack of clarity of those who engage in what is called “public interest disclosure.” University academics fit uncomfortably within that skimpy bit of legislation known as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, but Shröder-Turk has attempted to apply it. (The provisions are so miserably weak and vague as to be ineffectual and, as the court documents note, he was “largely unsuccessful in his interlocutory application”). Nor can they avail themselves of the Corporate protections recently passed in Australia, exaggerated in their protections, but nonetheless important for having taken place.

What is astonishing is the free rein given to universities to punish and discipline their personnel for a disgusting tendency, namely, to have, and defend, principles central to teaching and research. How dare these learned types stand up for principled admission standards? Care about grades? Worry about performance? Away with those hideous farts, those people who refuse to play the corporate ball game.

We so happen to disturb an age where the university, as it has become, should be abolished. We await the madly dedicated Martin Luther in academic dress and garb to target his theses with venom against the Papacy of Management; we await the sit-ins of keen students, aware of thought, who have decided to be more than drugged consumers, leading the militant protests directed to learning, the determined opposition to expose the corporate hypocrisy of this dying animal. (Academics won’t, cowardice being their poesy and milky blood). Best kill it off now, and put us, and everybody else, out of a collective misery that serves to rob taxpayer, learner and instructor.

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Tony Abbott Changes Liberal Foreign Policy

“Let’s wait until we’ve got all the facts in before we come to hard and fast conclusions. But obviously it is the clear and settled position of the Australian Government that larger countries should not bully smaller ones, that countries should not aid people who are in rebellion against their own government and that international disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.”

Tony Abbott, 18th July, 2014

 

Waiting for the facts, now there’s a change for a start. Ok, it didn’t stop him directly blaming Russia for this tragedy before the investigations even begin, but that’s a vast improvement from when he interrupted Question Time earlier this year to announce that the missing plane was on the verge of being found.

Still, it’s an excellent move that the Liberals are now adopting the policy that “larger countries should not bully smaller ones”! This will, of course, prevent our future involvement in such events as:

  • The Vietnam War
  • Both Iraq wars
  • Our attempts to screw East Timor on oil
  • The G20
  • Trade agreements with the USA
  • Support for the Japanese effort in World War Two

As for “aiding people who are in rebellion against the their own government” – apart from annoyance at the foreign countries who may have contributed to Clive Palmer’s wealth – this probably stems from the fact that Abbott – being English – is still upset over the American War of Independence where tea was tipped into Boston Harbour, while colonials dressed as Native Americans chanted, “No taxation without representation”. The current Tea Party have drawn their name from this event, but left out the word “Boston” from their name. Similarly, in order to achieve consistency, they’ve also left out the words “without representation” from their slogan.

Now, I know some of you will object to me calling Mr Abbott “English” given that he’s lived here since childhood and that he took out Australian citizenship in his twenties. (And, as Parliamentarians aren’t allowed to be dual citizens, he’s clearly revoked his British citizenship – even though there appears no evidence of that.) However, when I complain about referring to Mr Murdoch as an Australian, I’m told that he’s born here so that makes him Australian, even if he has given up his citizenship. As Terry McCrann put it yesterday:

“In the 1960s Murdoch went to Britain, in the 1970s to the US, in the 1980s to the very different universe of Hollywood; that, and a lot more would, as they say, be and is continuing to be history.

But all through this dizzying roller-coasting cacophony of activity he never left Australia.

That’s obvious in business terms. NewsCorp is now the country’s unequalled private sector media player — bizarrely, challenged and increasingly confronted only by the nominally publicly owned but “their” ABC.

BUT he never “left” Australia in even more core personal terms. He always will be quintessentially Australian.”

So, I guess that Rupert is “Australian”; one might almost say that he’s “the Australian” – well, the only one whose opinion counts. (Who needs scientists when Rupert can tell us that the best way to deal with climate change is to build away from the sea?) Of course, we just had the celebration of fifty years of “The Australian” – that newspaper which advocates free enterprise and not relying on handouts, while itself not actually making a profit in the fifty years of its existence.

Ah well, yesterday’s front page of another Murdoch Media Misinformation unit, assured me that Bill Shorten just doesn’t get that we have to find billions of dollars worth of savings while simultaneously celebrating the fact that the Carbon Tax is gone and we’ve removed a $9 billion impost on the economy. And we also want to get rid of that Mining Tax. Because if we get rid of taxes then that’s money that the government doesn’t have and Bill Shorten doesn’t seem to get that when you get rid of taxes like that you need to find spending cuts.

(Typical Labor. When it was announced last year that they’d require people to keep log books on their business-related leased cars, they didn’t understand that this would lead to the death of the car industry because apparently most people weren’t using them for business purposes and if you stop a business rort, that’s bad for the economy – stopping rorts by pensioners, parents, the disabled, the unemployed and anyone else who may not have voted Liberal, on the other hand, is a good and just thing. And let’s face it – any money you take from the government is a rort unless you’re someone whose leasing a car.)

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why – even if they still try and remove the spending associated with it – the Liberals are so concerned with removing the Mining Tax, because, after all, it’s raising so little money, it could hardly be a disincentive to investment. And given some of the things that have been cut because of the “dire emergency”, you’d think every bit would count.

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The Murdochracy

We are fighting a war on Climate Change in Australia, we are fighting a war against the strong scientific inference of climate change. It is a sad fact, that the absolute significance to changes in the earth’s climatic cycles are not acknowledged to the broader society.

Transnational media has been allowed to access false information on false pretences to formally and informally describe scientific consensus that is neither true nor conclusive. We are living in an age where it is these pretences that lead to the revulsions in public discourse. They perpetuate evidence to the people that anthropogenic climate change does not exist. We can attribute the gradual process of capitalist change to be an overt perversion of scientific reverence. Intelligent and scientifically minded individuals resist in vain, for the conservative social stance is both triumphant and celebrated, but why?

We can look to these clues with changes in social discourse, by examining the News Limited media. By examining News Limited we can incorporate a corporate capitalist phenomena, where an innate power for financial profit has lead to a democratic override, and the winner takes all. We are living in a time where neither a strong evidential basis nor bi-partisan approach will evoke change significant to stop the transgression of the multi-faceted 70% power distributed, Murdoch media. The shocking reverence of the situation is this: what you read, what you see and what you hear is all a representation of interpretivist opinion backed up by sceptics and conglomerate news bodies who seek to mandate public discourse – without true mass media approaches. These approaches are misrepresentations of facts and figures and bias which divulge the ever condensing incorrect views of climate change. These revered and conversely public trusted tabloids are the ones that are perverting the social justice. The very same justice that leads to the dilution and unstructured social opinion that not only persuades but integrates societal ‘know how’.

For those who are aware, this is what we know: it is not just the configuration of society that controls these aspects, and the dissertation of opinion underlying strong scientific background- as well as the complete and utter reverence that science can and should uphold. It is also something else; it is the greater understanding of complex concepts that are not transcribed in a proper ‘user friendly’ way or if transcribed at all. It is the external factor, the foundations of knowledge and the complexity of interpreting this knowledge to the people. I suspect the underlying consideration that we must address is the ‘denial’ and current ignorance that surrounds corporate body structures such as News Limited and the current Liberal Government and one Tony Abbott and their stakeholders. We can only deduce from these observations, a conformist acquisition, one, where media owned adversaries seek to ignore the evidence of climate change science for, their own initiatives for the favouring of their own financial gain.

For this idea to uphold, we must take into consideration the influence that transnational media can and does have on the wider public opinion. We must transgress this idea further, and consider the elements of . . . dare I say it . . . propaganda. Yes, propaganda! Consider this: it is not without thought that we go so far as to say, political factions of propaganda are truly evident in mass media.

Propaganda, whilst alluding the attitudes of political opinion also eludes the values and emotional upheaval of individual opinion; take for instance Adolf Hitler’s approach. As far as we know, we can see these attitudes transgress to the audience through the author’s personal epitomes and consumerist views. That is, through short worded slogans and repeated headlines that seek to optimize emotional and social relevance- often termed invoking the climate of fear, for example ‘Climate change not caused by humans” and “With Climate scientists like this no wonder we doubt”. A tactic that invokes contextual wording to interpret things that tug at fear and make people go ‘wow’, ‘The media doesn’t agree with experts why?’ But, does this transgress (mass media approach) to influence and persuade individual opinion? Does this really pervert public discourse?

YES and here’s why. We have only to examine the structure of hierarchy in Australian society, to exude confidence that indeed capitalist opinion has strongly and forthright berated the notion of climate change science. How, you ask? By decreeing the factual publication that follows it, in exchange for the more effervescent emotionally charged ‘writing on the wall’ and these short worded slogans are the misperceptions that invoke the general climate of fear. The wall has become no longer responsible for initiating freethinking thought or providing factual and progressive knowledge for adequate exploration of external stimuli, that is, exploration that provokes progressions in critical thinking before one accepts new knowledge. In place we have this wall, a safe cove r- a mask if you will, one that seeks to perversely calm and elude individuals away from real danger, pushing an agenda that ignores the kind of investigative thought that brought about the uprise of modern society, modern economy and scientific progression.

Indeed News Limited has exceeded these prospects, and further constructed a consumerist approach that not only constrains the individual, but also eludes them to the incorrect information that will eventually decimate social, emotional, environmental and political/democratic structure. News Limited will elude their audience to a point of no return in which case, we will see more than a group of troubled individuals with no free thought -but a group of troubled individuals that will vote according to these allusions that have propagated in their mass media world. The result you ask? Well, it’s a group of right winged zombies who neither understand nor amend their thought as to why they voted in such a contentious (conservative) way.

For all to see, News Limited got their wish, for the first time, democracy has failed and for the first time, transnational media came, crushed, killed and decimated an audience of free thinkers. News Limited poisoned their right to execute free thought or one that would favour their way of life. For the first time ever we see ‘tradies’, ‘parents’, ’single mothers ‘, ‘pensioners’ and ‘low-income earners’, vote against subsequent benefits that aim to target the particular struggle their respective bracket represents. What has Murdoch Media done? They have allowed Tony Abbot and his pack of liberal dogs to come forth for the kill and bring about the inevitable crumble of social justice. The Murdochcracy has created a new breed in society, once and for all-this new breed has gone against their own rights, their own free will and their best interests at heart- for favour of liberal conservative factions that aim to destroy the very things they are voting against . . . sound familiar? So, the political factions that were once opposition (for good reason), are thrust into power and News Limited epitomise these views with each passing day, so now, for the first time ever – a corporate capitalist structure has finally decomposed the walls of democracy and laid foundations of misadventure to the democratic right of the people.

That is right – you heard that right! News Limited has succeeded in diluting the values of free thought, transgressing ignorance and interpretivist views that assist with the consumerist/conservative approach to financial gain. One that is not in the best interest of social discourse, the best interests of the people and… not in the best interest of scientific reverence. So . . . the bottom line – all of this is not in the best interest for exposing the truth of Australia’s Changing Climate and the struggles that are yet to come. Is it propaganda? Has the Marino Wool from our jackets been pulled over our eyes? Australia’s climate is changing, so why has News Limited and it’s Murdochcracy been allowed to decide our fate?

*Author’s note-when I say ‘climate change’ I am referring to ‘anthropogenic (human induced) climate change; therefore, the sceptics view is: denial of ‘human induced climate change’.

 

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Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugees Nauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

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The Tooth Is Out There; Dentists Part Of Global Conspiracy!

Ok, there’s a group of people who are meeting. In secret and they have a plan to do something. I don’t know what. I don’t know when. But – if you doubt me = just look at the evidence. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere of what they’re planning. None! That’s how effective they’ve been at keeping their conspiracy secret!!

The beauty of my first paragraph is that while it could be ironic, it’s also perfectly true. And that’s the flaw with so many conspiracy theories. If the organisation or group is so all powerful, why are they so bad at covering their tracks?

There are usually two responses to this. One is that they’re so powerful that they don’t care; the other is that it’s only thanks to a few intrepid individuals that the truth is coming out.

I’m sure that there are actual conspiracies in the world. While Labor, I suspect, are plotting to take government as soon as possible, I’d hardly put this in the category of conspiracy, any more than the seemingly cosy relationship between Rupert Murdoch and the Liberal Party. It’s only a conspiracy when the stated agenda is radically different from the actual agenda. In the case of Rupert and Tony, it’s clear that Ruperts aim is to dominate the world, and Tony’s aim is to help him. These things are pretty much on public record. (Why has Rupert allowed “The Simpsons” to run? Simple – he doesn’t realise that Mr Burns is an unsympathetic character!)

Now, as to fluoride in our water supply. Yep, there could be a debate about some of the health effects and whether it’s the most effective way to help children develop healthy teeth, but I didn’t really believe as some Americans did in the sixties that it was the “commies” trying to put it into the water supply to poison us all and control our minds.

And so the Facebook meme linking it to Hitler and concentration camps caught my eye. Was it possible that it was true? That fluoride was part of the communist plot to make Americans compliant idiots who’d be easily influenced by propaganda?

Well, a lengthy internet search found no evidence that there was actually fluoride in the water at concentration camps. All of the evidence about this came from people arguing against putting fluoride in the water. You know, it was sort of: “And another reason not to put fluoride in the water is that Hitler did it to keep the Jews docile”. (I would have thought that the machine guns and the dogs would have kept it fairly unlikely that they’d attempt an uprising, but no matter.)

As for the effects of fluoride, well, I could find nothing about keeping people docile. There was a recent Harvard study that suggested it could be responsible for lowering IQ, but that was mainly about children, and it pointed out mixing it with infant formula have a much higher sose than mother’s milk. It wasn’t conclusive. And as the tobacco industry and the climate deniers will tell you, until it’s conclusive, you should do nothing. (Sorry, didn’t mean to link them there. I’ll get comments now from climate sceptics challenging me to prove that they ever worked for the tobacco industry even though it says so in the CV that they put online!) But nothing to suggest that that fluoride would lower the intelligence levels in older people.

Certainly, there was no study that suggested that the Arab Spring may have been a result of a lack of fluoride in the drinking water there. Perhaps, we could check to see if revolutions are more prevalent in countries that don’t have fluoride in their water. But then it could be because the countries who don’t have fluoride in their water – or, indeed, any drinking water – have more reasons to mount a revolt.

I’m sure that none of this has reassured any of the people who are convinced that climate change is part of a global conspiracy to establish Martian rule on earth and that fluoride is responsible for the election of the past ten Prime Ministers of Australia who are all members of the sacred order of Dan Brown’s Vitruvian Man, because, after all, we know that the records of what the Germans did has been completely eliminated from public view and it’s only a few truth-seeker who’ve been able to find documentation linking everything to the Allies real reasons for wanting to stop the Nazis.

No, it’s clear really. Both dentists and scientists wear white coats. They’re all part of the same community that likes spreading misinformation. And we know how easy it is to remove the truth from the internet, so the very fact that there’s no information on how fluoride makes you compliant just proves that the dentists have suppressed it. Yes, I’ve been thinking much more clearly since I gave up seeing my dentist and restricted my fluid intake to nothing but wine. Certainly after a bottle of water, I’m usually quite placid, but after a bottle of wine the effects of the fluoride have worn off and I’m ready to rage against the machine.

Just goes to prove that you shouldn’t let a lack of evidence spoil a good conspiracy theory!

 

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Why Rupert hates unions and Gina loves 457 visas

Image from theconversation.com

Image from theconversation.com

While attempting to clean up my computer, I came across an essay that my daughter wrote earlier this year. I would like to share an excerpt from it.

Marxists see the conflict between the bourgeoisie (those that own the means of production) and the proletariat (those who sell their labour) as crucial to the maintenance of capitalism. Its function is to create an obedient, docile, uncritical workforce who will work to support the upper-class’s lifestyle and the economy. Keeping wages low, or debt pressure high, means workers will be less likely to complain or make demands. As workers struggle to provide their families with all the temptations that a capitalist society offers, they become far less likely to risk their employment, and less able to improve their situation. Even in the unlikely event that an opportunity for advancement should arise, it would often mean abandoning family and friends in order to pursue it. These factors, along with a tendency to marry within one’s own circle, combine to make movement between social classes difficult.

The current political debate surrounding the power of unions, work choices, and the importation of workers on 457 visas, could be regarded as an attempt to disempower employees thus maintaining a compliant workforce. It is difficult for an individual to risk complaining about wages or working conditions, so removing the collective voice and protection of unions means people are unlikely to make waves if, by so doing, they risk unemployment or deportation.

The process of industrialisation in the 19th century led to major changes in family life. Many things that had formerly been produced at home were now produced more cheaply in factories and families eventually became units of shared income and consumption rather than production, private and separate from the public world of business and politics. Men’s place of work was removed from the home and women’s and children’s unpaid domestic labour kept wages low allowing companies to increase profits. Women were increasingly isolated from society and children learned to obey.

Max Horkheimer regarded the family as an essential part of the social order in that it adapted every individual to conformity to authority. He argued that if men are the sole breadwinners, this ‘makes wife, sons and daughters “his”, puts their lives in large measure into his hands, and forces them to submit to his order and guidance’. Marx felt the same way stating that “Marriage is…incontestably a form of private property”. The economic dependence of the family on the father made men more conservative about radical social change which might undermine their ability to provide for their families, while the development of obedience to the authority of one’s own father was a preparation for obedience to the authority of the state and one’s employer.

During the 1960s and 70s the Western world saw a rapid period of social change in which the traditional understanding of the family began to be questioned. Feminist writers such as Christine Delphy, argued that in a capitalist society there are two modes of production: an industrial mode which is the site of capitalist exploitation; and the domestic mode which is the site of patriarchal exploitation. Marxist writers such as Juliet Mitchell examined the exploitation of workers under capitalism, pointing out that women, as they slowly entered the workforce, were doubly exploited through lower wages and unpaid labour at home. Contemporary Marxist writing argues that the family structure socialises children ‘into capitalist ideology’, which ‘prepares them to accept their place in the class structure, provides an emotionally supportive retreat for the alienated worker and so dissipates the frustration of the workplace, and impedes working class solidarity by privatising the household and generating financial commitments which discourage militant activity’ .

The role of the nuclear family in providing, perpetuating and indoctrinating a docile workforce is summarised by the following quotes. Meighan suggests that “For men, the denial of opportunities for excellence under capitalism leads…to a search for power and self-esteem in the sexual arena” Ainsley goes on to explain that “When wives play their traditional roles as takers of shit they often absorb their husband’s legitimate anger and frustration in a way which poses no challenge to the system”, and Cooper states that “The child is, in fact, primarily taught not how to survive in society, but how to submit to it”.

Changes in society have blurred these stereotypical roles. Many more women now are entering the workforce and are far less likely to marry for economic security. The availability of quality education and the explosion of information provided by the internet have made people more informed and less willing to blindly accept what they are told, and for some, it has also provided the opportunity to move from the social class into which they were born. The traditional structure of the nuclear family is also changing with much more diversity in family groups due to such factors as divorce, same sex couples, extended families, and many women choosing not to have children.

There have been other criticisms of the materialist perspective in that its focus was too limited to economic aspects, neglecting the value of and support provided in a loving intimate union, instead concentrating on the oppressive and controlling aspects of families and relationships. It tends to portray people as capitalist dupes without freedom of thought assessing them purely from a labour perspective.

While many of the bourgeoisie would still prefer, and in fact depend on, a malleable, uncomplaining workforce, family power structures are becoming less a factor in achieving this. However, our seemingly endless desire to consume and update means that economic pressures still play a large role. Even with, in many cases, both parents working, employment security usually takes precedence over job satisfaction or working conditions. Children are better informed and largely better educated and therefore have more opportunity to achieve economic independence and possibly change their social class but the rising cost of tertiary education, possible reductions in funding, and competition from overseas students limits the number who can attempt this. The burden is perhaps better shared but the outcome is in most cases the same – be happy with your lot.

Engel’s spoke of the evolution of the family as being both a catalyst for and result of the growth of capitalism. As mankind’s standard of living has improved, our desire to accumulate possessions and wealth to pass on to our families has only increased, as has our willingness to go into debt to satisfy it. Power and control is still exerted by those that own the means of production and they readily use this power to manipulate public opinion. Concentration of the media in the hands of a few like-minded individuals has led to misinformation campaigns that have amazingly ignited the workers to fight for the rights of the rich to get richer at their own expense. Family dynamics may have changed but the willingness of the proletariat to support the bourgeoisie seems alive and well.

 

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The ABC of Bias, Perspective and Reality

After telling me the way that it was, he concluded with, “Don’t think I’m racist or anything!”

I replied, “Gee, I expect that I am. I’ve grown up in a country that endorses predominantly white Anglo-Saxon attitudes. I don’t see how I can avoid some of that rubbing off on me.”

He looked at me.

“I know that I shouldn’t be, and I try to notice if I’m being racist, but I’ll bet that some the views and values that were around as I growing up affect the way I view things.. Still, the points you were making about the apology to the stolen generation strike me as quite reasonable. LIke the bit about people thinking that they were doing the right thing. So long as a person thinks they’re doing the right thing, there’s no need for an apology. It’s only when people knowingly do the wrong thing that you should apologise. Sort of like speeding because you’re in a hurry and having an accident, no need for an apology because you believed that you were doing the right thing by trying to get home as quickly as possible…”

“What the f*ck are you talking about?” he interrupted.

  • * *

From time to time, some Tony Abbott supporter will post a comment along the lines of me being a Labor-supporting looney, as though being a member of the Labor Party automatically disqualifies you from an opinion.

Pointing out the fact that I’m not a member of the Labor Party and have criticised them in the past doesn’t seem to matter. The next assumption is that I’m a supporter of The Greens.

You see, unless you support the Liberals and Tony Abbott, their logic goes, you must be biased.

Normally, I just laugh such things off or put truly outrageous arguments back. Or just thank them for their intelligent contribution and say how nice it is to hear that people are reading what I write and actually thinking about it – it’s gratifying to know that I’ve changed someone’s mind. Their abuse when they tell me that I haven’t changed their mind and that latte-sipping lefties like me should be taken out and shot enables me to tell them that I’m about to have another Chardonnay – which in case they haven’t heard is making a comeback. Probably thanks to Tony Abbott.

But lately the debate on the ABC has made me truly worry about the state of some people’s mental health.

Let me see if I can give you my perspective. Of course, it will be biased. Everyone is, because everyone has a different perspective. By sharing perspectives, we can work out whether one’s perspective is similar to everyone else’s or radically different. If the latter, why? What experiences have lead one to question the orthodox view? And through this process, we gain greater understanding and greater perspectives.

  • * *

All right, stop the bleeding heart stuff, next you’ll have us all singing “Kumba Ya”.

Why are you complaing about alleged ABC bias, didn’t the Murdoch Press attack the Labor Government ceaselessly?

The Murdoch Press is allowed to criticise the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government because it was truly incompetent – the “worst ever”.

How do we know this?

Well, the Murdoch Press told us.

Isn’t this showing bias?

No, it’s just stating the facts!

Isn’t “worst” an opinion?

Well, the Murdoch Press is privately owned, why shouldn’t it be allowed to express an opinion – are you trying to stifle free speech?

No, but on the ABC last week…

The ABC! It’s left wing bias has to be stopped.

Didn’t you just say that the media should be allowed to express an opinion?

The privately owned media, the ABC is taxpayer funded – it shouldn’t be biased

Yeah, but what’s the evidence of bias?

Their presenters often disagree with the Murdoch view. They never have a right wing perspective, as Josh Frydenberg said on ABC radio last week, backing up the point Piers Akerman made on “The Insiders” a few weeks ago.

Aren’t they a right wing perspective on the ABC?

Yeah, but they’re the exception.

Well, there’s a weekly show on ABC radio where a member of the IPA debates a more left-wing person on the events of the week.

Why couldn’t the IPA person debate without another leftie being there?? And where’s the right wing equivalent of Philip Adams on the ABC?

Philip Adams, the millionaire who writes for The Australian? Is he the most extreme example of the left on the ABC?

That just shows that the Murdoch Press give a variety of views! The ABC needs to sold.

  • * *

Of course, perhaps Howard’s appointments to the ABC were an attempt to ensure that it had no bias. Let’s see, there was his close friend, Donald McDonald, as well as Janet Albrechtsen and the “anti-blackarm- band” campaigner, Keith Windschuttle. Balanced appointments there! And Michael Kroger, ex-president of the Liberal Party.

Now, that should have helped provide some balance, I would have thought. Or was the culture so entrenched that they somehow thought that these people might be showing a bias of their own, rather than realising that – like Murdoch – they had an implicit understanding of the Truth, and any disagreement displayed an entrenched bias and a refusal to recognise the Truth.

 

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