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Tag Archives: Obama

Only in America: Looking at Trump from ‘Down Under’

As a young boy born in the year of the bombing of Pearl Harbour I have been privy, in my growing up in Melbourne Australia, to witness the way in which the United States insinuated its post-war mentality into the Australian psyche. Whether born at home or overseas and whether for good or ill, Australians became Americanised.

Perhaps, I should pause here, lay my cards on the table, and even offer a disclaimer. I confess I haven’t visited the American mainland. Honolulu is as far as I have ventured. There, I was suitably impressed by the hospitality of the people, struck by their obesity, and disillusioned by their ignorance of all things not American. I find them often crass, as well.

As an example, I recall a sightseeing expedition one Summer day on the magnificent Sydney Harbour. The ferry carried a dozen or so American tourists. As we rounded an estuary we encountered a large yacht race approaching us; their vibrant, colourful spinnakers in full sail. The scene was breathtakingly beautiful, but the loud Americans, more interested in the value of the mansions that dotted the cliffs, spoiled the moment.

On the other hand, I have a number of American Facebook friends with more developed sensibilities, some of whom I speak with regularly on Skype or telephone. These individuals are politically attuned to the downward course America is taking. In heartfelt conversation, they express their despair at the decline of what they once thought – rightly or wrongly – to be the greatest nation on earth. What they once regarded as an enlightened society strengthened by freedom of expression they now question as they see these same constitutional protections used by the Right to foment hatred.

Like me, they believe that in an enlightened society the need to legislate one’s right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

They mention the land of milk and honey and wonder why their fellow citizens still believe in the great American dream. They ask themselves if it was all just propaganda, a myth to distract the majority from the wrongs perpetrated against the minority.

Again, I had better pause lest you fail to grasp where I am heading. In Australia we have a saying, “Only in America.” It’s a phrase we say when something outrageously good or bad happens, as though such excesses can occur only in America. It might be violent racism, another Columbine, kids being slaughtered – any preventable, tragic loss of life that repeats time and again for which no remedy is forthcoming. All of this is beyond the average Australian’s capacity to understand. In contrast, we also use “Only in America” as a term of endearment when some outstanding achievement occurs: a significant scientific breakthrough, a sporting record, a foot touching the moon’s surface.

How is it, we ask, that the most technologically advanced country in the world is descending into the moral abyss of unscrupulous, partisan political skulduggery and unbridled capitalism?

Capitalism as practiced in the U.S. does not allow for an even flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

Australians once applauded Americans for their ability to disagree on policy issues yet reach bipartisan agreement through compromise for the sake of the country at large. What happened?

Ronald Reagan gained power and legitimised the rise of Neo-conservatism and the Christian Right. This trend continued under George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and their cohort of ideologues. Believing America to be superior in every way to all other countries, they drove the U.S. towards a more aggressive, interventionist foreign policy and tried to reshape the nation domestically in their image, as well. Sadly, the Americanisation of Australia continues apace and our politics are now increasingly informed by the same corrupt and duplicitous mindset.

In 2013, following four years of leadership turmoil in the Labor Party, Australians in their absentmindedness elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

Neo-conservative Republicanism had crossed the oceans and invaded our Australian way of life; a culture that once had fairness at the core of its being. It is now a place where less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware.

Conservatives fed them all the bullshit they needed to hear. And the menu generally contained a fair portion of Americanised persuasive untruth. And the lying from Abbott began in earnest:

“Let’s be under no illusions: the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

With that statement and many more like it he took Australia into far right conspiracy theory politics.

After two years the public, and indeed his party had had enough of the politics of fear and replaced him with the more moderate and sensible Malcom Turnbull. Ironically though it now has a center left leader leading a far right party.

So emphatically poor of political morality is the U.S. now that there is a distinct possibility that an ill of mind billionaire entertainer in Donald Trump might trump a second grade movie actor to become the next president.

How a man of such ill repute, threatened by two countries to be disallowed entry, could even be nominated beggars belief. It even questions the sanity of those who would contemplate his election.

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

Only in America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I have, I make no apologies.

Wow. Only in America.

Its not as though there aren’t alternatives. America could elect its first women, Hillary Clinton, as President. She has knowledge, an abundance of experience and the quintessential quality of resiliency in the face of failure. She is no quitter.

On the other hand a man like Bernie Sanders has a way of grasping the intestines of an argument and presenting a plausible answer that is simple to understand, and at the same time enthuses and leads people into an all embracing narrative that inspires.

If character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life, governing moral choices and personal and professional conduct. Donald Trump is devoid of it. He is nothing more than a walking talking headline for all that’s unscrupulous about American politics.

Character is also an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of a presidential campaign. His transparency is there for all to see. We sit before our televisions and watch his antics and ponder at the gullibility of the American people and say . . .

“Only in America”.

Mind you, we would say that about the quality of the Republican candidates, the power of Rupert Murdoch, the evilness of Fox news, of repugnant gun laws and the NRA who seem to have power over who is elected, the Republican hatred of Obamacare and the disdain for science and the utter contempt religion and televangelists have for logic.

So much so that I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

We become bewildered and confused when Americans describe themselves as the great democracy, yet few bother to vote and in an election can only do so on a work day. We are apt to laugh. We think that’s an absurdity. A contradiction of democratic principles. Is it really Government of the people, by the people, for the people as Lincoln proclaimed? “Only in America“, we whisper.

When talking about character I cannot but mention President Obama. Was there ever a president so constrained by his own Congress?

Republicans and the right-wing media with all their propaganda have sought to create a fictional President who is the opposite of the one known outside the States. Twenty five per cent of the population still believe he is a Muslim and a large percentage, including Trump, still believe he was born outside the States even though the facts prove otherwise.

Such is the power of the right-wing media (Fox News) and an accumulation of feral shock jocks. The GOP (the Republicans – the ‘Grand Old Party’) is even accused of deliberately not passing bills in order to make the economy worse. In fact, 54 Conservative Tea Party members actually signed a pledge to oppose everything the President submitted to the Congress. 33 Bills were put forward to outlaw Obamacare.

There are those who say that President Obama was, Indeed, a good man and a fine executive, but found himself under the “constraints” mentioned but was unsuccessful because he was not aggressive enough in standing up to the Republican Congress. Lyndon Johnson would have pushed similar policies on the domestic front but would have realised greater success because he was a “bastard” and master of the political deal. I cannot vouch for the veracity of that but in fairness it is worth mentioning.

However, we in Australia wonder what this remarkable man might have achieved had he not had so much obstruction.

When in his State of the Union address he ventures this observation.

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have a go at it, you’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

We look on with incredulity and listen to the sound of silence from the right and say . . .

“Only in America”.

Around the world we are at a point in time in our history where ‘change’ demands it be listened to. Where the events of recent times scream for it. It only requires a voice to demand it on behalf of the people. American conservatives will soon have to realise that for the good of the country their politics will have to change. That they cannot resist change in the foolish assumption that they can make permanent that which makes them feel secure. They must realise that change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.

But what is it that occupies the minds of men and women of the conservative right that they need be so malevolent in their thinking? That the power of wit, truth and persuasion with reasoned thinking and argument no longer suffices. That sledgehammer thinking will win every argument. What is it in the backgrounds of these people that causes their narcissism, their inability to accommodate difference or equality?

Is it that hatred is simply passed on from one generation to another? Is it born of ignorance?

There are in my view three psychological types: those who know; those who know when they are shown; and those who have no interest in knowing because of their inheritance of hate. They are the feral Philistines.

Conclusion

On Facebook last year during a discussion on gun control (a subject in which I find even the most moderate people lose all sense of objectivity) a person who I shall not name suggested that I had no right to comment on the subject because I wasn’t American. When I questioned him as to whether free speech was only gifted to Americans, he rather angrily shouted, in print, words of obscenity at me. I retorted that I felt that our support, fighting side by side in every major conflict, with America gave me every right. And I did.

We were of poor Irish background and my education didn’t extend much beyond primary school. My world view, and sense of social justice fermented in my youth and came to fruition over time and was influenced by the injustice I both saw, read about, and experienced.

Although we embraced the mother country it was American culture and politics that was to shape my future.

By the time I turned 21 I was firmly in the camp of social democracy. American music was my passion. American film my entertainment. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck opened my eyes to the injustices of the world.

JFK was my hero as was Bobby later. This quote still resonates with me:

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

The United States has given us many things. Some things I have at times detested like its blatant racism and interventionist foreign policy but at the same time admired its preparedness to act as international policeman. We have both grown from immigration and are the two most multicultural countries in the world. There is a shared commonality.

Please continue to give of yourself America but under no circumstances give us Donald Trump. He represents everything that is wrong with your politics and we don’t wish to inherit any more of it. Enough is enough.

And recently came the news that Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump. My eyes moisten. Days later she blames Barack Obama for her son’s arrest on domestic violence charges. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Only in America.

 

Australia’s gun laws are the envy of Obama

I like this ‘Your Say’ section. I can have a say, basically, and keep it simple.

So keep this simple I will.

With some ultra Right-wing politicians calling for the relaxation of the guns laws which were introduced by John Howard after the Port Arthur massacre, it’s probably a good time to hear from the president of a country whose gun laws are the same as those few politicians – and some of our citizens, I assume – are calling for.

Australia’s strict gun laws are considered a role model for Obama, who presides over a country that arguably has more gun deaths than any other, and who has had the unenviable duty to deliver statements on gun violence 15 times. When’s the last time an Australian prime minister has had to do that?  Howard, 1996.

Anyway, this little snippet from an article in The New York Times, ‘How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings‘ is worth throwing out there:

In the continuing debate over how to stop mass killings in the United States, Australia has become a familiar touchstone.

President Obama has cited the country’s gun laws as a model for the United States, calling Australia a nation “like ours.” On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has said the Australian approach is “worth considering.” The National Rifle Association has dismissed the policies, contending that they “robbed Australians of their right to self-defense and empowered criminals” without reducing violent crime.

The oft-cited statistic in Australia is a simple one: There have been no mass killings — defined by experts there as a gunman killing five or more people besides himself — since the nation significantly tightened its gun control laws almost 20 years ago.

This was not the first occasion on which Obama praised our gun laws:

After the shooting at Umpqua Community College, a visibly angry President Obama pointedly noted the contrasting responses in the United States and its allies to gun violence.

“Other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” he said on Thursday. “Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”

And we have idiot politicians here who want our gun laws relaxed.

I shake my head in disbelief.

They need to speak to Obama.

The wrong side of history

“Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.”

 It’s been three weeks weeks since Vladimir Putin dropped his 50 megaton truth bomb on the United Nations General Assembly, exposing Washington’s mischief in the Middle East and calling for decisive action against any and all terrorists operating in Syria, in full cooperation with the elected government and under charter of international law. In this time Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the SAA have achieved what the US and its coalition partners had failed to do in 18 months of reckless bombing, wanton destruction, and untold human suffering – ISIS has been all but destroyed. Ground forces are now entering the clean up phase, and word has it Saudi helicopters have begun evacuating rebel fighters, presumably moving their assets on to Yemen.

The bombing of the MSF hospital in Kunduz Afghanistan has done little for US credibility, and after Ban Ki-Moon’s recent shock suggestion that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate and that they should probably go home, one would expect to see Obama running away with his tail between his legs. Adding to the chorus of dissent, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has called out Washington’s effort to oust Assad as both “counterproductive” and “illegal.” With no moral ground left to stand on, surely no one would expect an escalation at this point? And yet this seems to be exactly what we are seeing.

While Putin has been wiping the floor with ISIS, the US has been wreaking devastation on Syria’s civil infrastructure, conducting bombing raids on power stations and water treatment plants in scenes eerily reminiscent of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In a move that’s either brazenly audacious or just plain sadistic, the US State Department has accused Russia of bombing up to six hospitals in Syria, but refuses to provide any evidence to support its claims. Meanwhile the US has airdropped 50 tons of weapons to moderate opposition head choppers fighting the ‘Assad regime’.

In what could be the ultimate provocation Obama is now putting boots on the ground in Syria, committing 3000 troops in an advisory capacity to the aforementioned ‘moderate rebels’. A more cynical person might question if these troops were not being deployed as human shields, or for even more nefarious ends, since any American casualty cause by a stray Russian missile would undoubtedly lead to the kind of direct confrontation that the Washington war hawks cheered on by Senator John McCain and cold war policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski are openly spoiling for. I guess if this fails there is always the option of shooting down a civilian passenger jet, but let’s not go there, just yet.

With millions of refugees flooding into Europe and people perishing in their thousands attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Nobel laureate and warmonger-in-chief Barry bin-Hussein O’Bomber can no longer pretend that this war has anything to do with human rights. Without so much as a fig leaf of decency to cover its fetid plans Washington continues to demand Basher al-Assad’s removal as a condition of peace. Meanwhile recent polling suggests that Dr Assad retains the support of 80% of Syrians. US motives have been laid bare. This war has no more to do with liberating the Syrian people from a brutal dictatorship than with ridding the world of the CIAs pet terrorists. Like so many countries before it, Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, The Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yugoslavia, Somalia, the list goes on and on, Syria is being punished for daring to exercise an independent foreign policy, something which US hegemony does not tolerate.

If there was ever any confusion over sides in this conflict, the battle lines should be now clearly visible. Since Russia has begun flexing its military muscle the Saudi Islamists have made their call to arms, while further north in Erdoganistan, thanks to a well timed terror attack, the Muslim Brotherhood now has majority it needs to continue its military offensive on Syria and genocidal attacks against the Kurds. The Israelis have already sold the drilling rights for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, while Cypress has been signed into the EU just in time to deliver a $300bn water pipeline through Turkey to Israel. Meanwhile the North Atlantic Terror Organization positions its nuclear and biological weapons arsenals ever closer to Russia’s borders.

In his devastating takedown of US foreign policy in front of the UN General Assembly, Putin reminded his colleagues of Russia’s crucial role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, while hinting at a more subtle subtext. Just as the West created Hitler, applying pressure from above and below at a cost of millions of lives, so too the US has created ISIS to do its dirty work in the Middle East. Lest there be any doubt, Putin makes it clear, speaking of both Islamist rebels and the US backed coup which ousted the legitimate government of Ukraine: We know their names, we know who pays them, and we know how much they are paid.

In a recent interview with Kerry O’Brien, Paul Keating observed how the West through its policy toward post-soviet era Russia had created Putin, who has now turned around to bite them on the tail. Apparently that which doesn’t kill a bear makes it stronger. Trade sanctions have forced Russia to mobilise its workforce and increase domestic production while reaching out to other countries which refuse to be bullied by Wall Street and its military, forging stronger ties between the BRICS nations. At the same time we are seeing a shift in economic power as emerging industrial economies prepare to overtake their colonial masters. (China for example now holds the tender to deliver over priced nuclear energy to Britain.)

Recent posturing in the South China Sea suggests that the US is preparing for a war on two fronts, and if history is anything to go by, this will not end well. The US certainly has a gift for overplaying its hand, and in trying to squeeze Germany and Russia at the same time it may have done exactly that. Amid the ongoing refugee crisis which threatens to destabilise Europe, Angela Merkel has called for trade sanctions against Russia to be lifted immediately. While any move to embolden Russia should be welcomed by sane people everywhere as an alternative to US military and corporate domination, it may be cold comfort as we edge ever closer toward the likelihood of nuclear extinction.

 

The end of American exceptionalism?

By Mike Mizzi

Accusations of everything from being a Muslim Brotherhood plant in the Whitehouse to arming and instigating the growth of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, or to the possibility of purposely fermenting WW3, the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama has been anything but dull.
Sometime next year an election will be held in the USA to find a new resident for the Oval Office but in the meantime the US has to contend with one of the most abrupt and seemingly speedy rise in recent times; that of the claim to power of Russia.

During his UN General Assembly speech, Russian president Vladimir Putin criticised and castigated Americans for the mess they have created in the Middle East. Like a cranky patriarch chastising a wayward child, Putin spread the verbal picture of the situation in Syria and Iraq out for the world to see and then asked the Americans; “Do you realise what you have done?

It seems a bit ingenuous of Putin to make such comments considering his country’s ongoing support for the dictatorship of Basher Al Assad in Syria which has caused the deaths of 250,000 human beings, most of who were non-combatant civilians.

So what are we seeing in Syria and Iraq? Is this another cold war or a flash point to a hot war between American and Russian proxies?

Putin dropped a bombshell recently when he suggested it was the Americans who were the author of ISIS in the region. Mind you, such suspicions have been circulating on the internet for months, if not years.

Of course Putin knows that his reputation has been dealt a vast uplift since taking on ISIS in Syria and he has been invited to do the same in Iraq. Iraq! Isn’t this the US centre of operations in the Middle East post the ousting of Saddam? Not for much longer it seems, as the Russian bear slaps mercilessly at the American eagle, clipping its wings in the theatre of Syria by destroying the operations centres of its ISIS hordes. Or perhaps we have just been sucked in by Russian propaganda. Whichever way you look at it, American uni-polarity and sole superpower status has been dealt a blow from which recovery will be slow and difficult considering Obama’s seeming weakness when it comes to decisive application of US force in the Middle East. Facing dissent from both the left and the right on the issue of wars and the money they consume, which many think could be better spent on things like roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other necessary infrastructure in the USA, Obama is presenting himself as a president who is frightened to use American power decisively to win a war in Syria and rid the region of Assad. Unlike Bush and his single minded pursuit of Saddam and his regime’s downfall, Obama has left the attacks on Assad mostly up to a small group of local “rebels” and an army of foreigners from the Salfaist world to do America’s dirty work.

The obvious question here is, has Putin sounded the death knell to American hegemony and exceptionalism?

Putin’s success have shown he is a master strategist. He has stopped the absorption of Azerbaijan into the NATO umbrella, brought Crimea back into the Russian Federation, created a strong alliance with China and forced the halt of ongoing expansion of the US bases in Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan.

Image from facebook.com

Image from facebook.com

A popular cartoon which went viral in the Muslim world has a Russian bear bedecked with the colours of the federation’s flag striding confidently while three figures, one representing ISIS, another the CIA and another the rebels cowering behind a rock.

This cartoon has attracted comments which laud the new Russian ascendancy as being the balancing power needed in the world to check US military adventurism. So far it seems, at least in Syria, Putin has moved his pawns and knights to the fore while Obama dithers as to which move he will make next.

Finding her voice in all this is EU leader Angela Merkel who, in the spirit of real politick, recently said, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be involved in peace talks to end the Syrian war. “We have to speak with many actors; this includes President Assad, but others as well” Merkel said. “Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia”.

Her leaving out Israel is telling in its obtuseness, seeing as Israel has been actively supporting both sides of this conflict in what amounts to a hedge bet.

Whichever way the Syrian war pans out one thing is certain. The geostrategic polarity of the world will never be the same. Obama has overseen one of the swiftest declines of American influence and power for decades and his disengagement with direct military action may be a policy we will see from the USA for a while now. The question then will be, how far will Russia go in assuming its new status?

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 3 October

1 An observation:

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved”.

2 Tony Abbott is the worst liar to ever have led our nation. His current round of radio interviews serves only to reinforce the public’s view of his lack of character, judgment and leadership.

3 Turnbull’s accession as Prime Minister seems to have cut the supply of crap to the shock jocks and other associated feral right wing commentators. It would be a shame if they went out of business altogether.

Turnbull’s focus on rhetoric at this early point is a sign only of a government acting carefully and slowly, as it should. It is no reason to be cynical. And his words are the right words, mostly; they give some reason for hope that Australian politics might be reinvented. I hope my side of politics is up to the challenge.

4 The news that Malcolm Turnbull plans to ditch Abbott’s harsh tone toward Muslims is to be welcomed. Abbott with disguised propaganda baited them at every opportunity.

5 Rosie Batty takes on Malcolm Turnbull over detention centers: “They must be shut down” she says. Of course she is right but he won’t act.

obama

6 I have never seen President Obama so angry. If ten people were killed in Australia, it would consume national attention for weeks. In America, the news cycle is likely to move on within days because fatal shootings have become almost routine. And that, in turn, is due to a complete failure by the political classes to change gun laws, even in the face of frequent tragedies and overwhelming evidence that gun restrictions work. The US might be the most technologically advanced country in the world but they are morally bankrupt.

Sunday 4 October

1 The most damaging indictment of Abbott’s post Prime Ministership comments so far is that he still believes his 2014 Budget was a fair one. He may have pledged there would be “no sniping” in his final prime ministerial conference. But he didn’t say anything about self-serving interviews, did he?

2 If Tony Abbott could justify having a Royal Commission into Unions for no other reason than political vindictiveness then surely Malcolm Turnbull should commence one into the Financial Planning of banks. How many lives have they destroyed as a result of bank corruption it makes Unions almost saintly?

3 Malcolm Turnbull’s managed to call a terrorist act by a 15 year off boy for what it was without vilifying Muslims and creating racist I’ll feeling. What a stark contrast to the manner in which Tony Abbott would have reacted.

4 Economic summits, Green papers, white papers, dunny papers, meetings, conferences, inquiries, advice, lobbyists, vested interests, ideology, budgets etc etc etc. Come on, Malcolm, it’s time for some action.

jeb5 Jeb Bush responds to Oregon mass shooting by saying “stuff happens“.

“Look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not always the right thing to do”.

Bad stuff happened in the Bush family. That’s for sure.

6 It looks like only two refugees will now be settled in Cambodia at a cost of $55 million. Your taxes at work.

Monday 4 October

1 Dick Smith says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be “ratting on typical Australians who pay their tax” if the Coalition goes through with plans to shield large private companies from having to disclose how much tax they pay. Their excuse is that disclosing their tax affairs would place them at risk of kidnapping and ransom attempts. What bull.

2 A phone hook up with Muslim leaders the PM and other concerned parties following the shooting by a 15 year… old boy has impressed the Muslim community. A bit different to Tony’s approach.

3 Switching from Insiders to The Bolt Report on Sunday was an experience. Mind you, I only lasted five minutes. It has transformed into the anti-Muslim anti-Turnbull hour. I think he realises Turnbull’s natural inclination toward thoughtful intellectualism and reason will be unsuited to his particular audience.

4 An observation:

“We expect democracy but we don’t demand it”.

5 State governments are being encouraged by Morrison and Coreman to open up the delivery of health and education services to the private sector. Private enterprise might do a lot of things better than government but it should never be let near health and education. When profit becomes the sole motivator the system fails everyone. They adhere to the privatisation of everything.

Tuesday 6 October

1 Andrew Bolt is reported to have said. “I have never understood why Rosie Battie is an oracle on violence against Women”. Invites a rhetorical question doesn’t it? Anyone dare me.

2 Water has been discovered on Mars. The bigger question however, given the way the affairs of life are conducted is – is there any intelligence on earth?

3 Isn’t it a pity that Peter Dutton couldn’t pursue the perpetrators of violence against asylum seekers on Nauru with the same vigor he shows for whistle blowers.

And now we are told that the Nauru government says 600 refugee claims to be processed in a week. Really, how is that possible? Does that mean that they will become permanent residents of Nauru? They won’t be settled in Australia. Where else could they go? What an immoral cop-out by an immoral Government. A life sentence on an island that has no future.

4 Tony Abbott didn’t lose the leadership of the Liberal Party because he was a failure or because he was “a woman hater” or a “crash-through insensitive bully with no people skills” or “too loyal” or “a homophobe”.

The real reason was because he listened to people like, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny, Tom Switzer, Gerard Henderson, Paul Sheehan, News Corp editor Col Allan, The Australian editor-in-chief Steve Lewis, Michael Smith and Maurice Newman. Whoops, I nearly left out Rubert and the IPA?

Then he wondered why middle Australia could only conclude that he was the weirdo they always suspected he was. That’s why Abbott failed, and you don’t have to be a leftie – not even a little bit – to think so.

5 Morgan Polling has the LNP a mile in front of Labor at 56/44.

Wednesday 7 October

1 Hate to be cynical but the US has never signed a Trade Agreement that hasn’t in the first instance advantaged them. All the countries involved have said that they are winners which of course by definition is impossible. It is said that the agreement captures 40% of world GDP but no one mentions that 25% of that belongs to the US. Looking forward to the fine print. And because no independent assessment has been made how do we know the truth of its supposed benefits? As the saying goes; Look for the devil in the detail.

2 It seems Tony offered Malcolm the US Ambassadorship earlier this year. So he knew he was in danger only a year into his term.

3 The Prime Minister says it is inevitable that Sunday penalty rates will have to be cut. Why? The tourist sector has grown by 13%. Someone’s doing something right.

4 To those who have interpreted my support of the change in Government as pro Turnbull let me say this: My personal political philosophy is and has always been centred on the common good. I am particularly adhered to the following: “each according to her/his ability, to each according to her/his need”. Only the Left can deliver on that.

5 A billion dollars on armored combat vehicles. I thought we had a spending problem. Oh, I see; it’s just on things like education and health.

6 Tuesday’s weekly Essential Poll has the LNP 52% and Labor 48%.

Thursday 8 October

1 Malcolm Turnbull has always been a user of public transport. It is hoped that this form of mass transport might get a higher priority by his government than the silly conservative ideology that only supports roads.

2 Tony Abbott confident his time as PM will be ‘well appreciated’ as time goes by. We might need a search party though.

3 Liberal MPs believe the party’s federal director Brian Loughnane is set to resign in the wake of the recent leadership spill. Mr Loughnane is married to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin. Given her performance I suppose his position also had to become untenable. A Nutt job is set to replace him.

4 America spends more on defence than the rest of the world combined and is the largest manufacturer and supplier of arms. At the same time it is expected to act as the world’s policeman. How is it possible?

5 Clean energy investment has risen by 8 per cent in the US, 12 per cent in Japan, and 35 per cent in China last year alone. In Australia, however, under the Abbott Government’s overtly pro-fossil fuel/anti-renewables stance, it went backwards by 35 per cent.

Investment in large-scale renewable projects fell by a staggering 88 per cent. Two million jobs were created in the renewable sector globally while Australia’s clean energy sector contracted over the same period, shedding 2300 full-time positions.

An observation:

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

6 on the same subject. Rival banks are under pressure to match the ANZs tough new lending policy on coal.

An observation:

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

7 I read this morning that gay marriage would deliver a boost to the national economy worth at least $500 million a year in additional weddings alone, a major bank has calculated. Perhaps Conservatives should treat it as an economic issue. Then they might pass it.

Friday 9 October

1 Three weeks into a change of leader and the angst has gone out of Australian politics. My anxiety level has decreased. The shock jocks have so far lost their absurdity and a quieter discourse has developed. The Labor Party is even announcing policy.

2 Bill Shorten unveils an ambitious well-thought out plan to turbo-charge major public works infrastructure projects. These will include such contested developments as the $11 billion Melbourne Metro urban rail project – to which federal Labor had already committed – and Sydney’s Airport to Badgerys Creek line.

The full list:

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Light Rail on the Gold Coast The planning work on the Ipswich Motorway, from Darra to Rocklea Fast-tracking the Pacific and Bruce Highway packages Airport Rail for Badgerys Creek, connecting the Western and South lines The Melbourne Metro Upgrading Tasmania’s Midland Highway Investing in public transport in Perth, such as the Metronet plan The Gawler Line electrification.

3 Hillary Clinton now opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership. Something she was instrumental in setting up. It’s the drugs component that concerns her. It concerns me also and it’s about bloody time the Government let us in on what’s in this contentious deal.

4 Turnbull is still in trouble on the Climate front. Hunt and Abbott wanted to get rid of the Climate Change Authority altogether but now it seems it may get a reprieve. Only problem is that they are stacking the board with members sympathetic to the Coalition. The authority’s former chair, Bernie Fraser resigned last month and had described the government’s post-2020 carbon reduction efforts – a pledge to cut 2005-level carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 – as putting the country “at or near the bottom” of comparable countries.

An observation:

“Personally, I find the most objectionable feature of conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge, science in other words, because it dislikes some of the consequences which follow from it”.

5 The Smorgon family has topped the 2015 “BRW Rich Families List”, with estimated wealth of $A2.74bn. The combined fortunes of the 50 families on the 2015 list is $A41.18bn, compared with $A40.1bn in 2014. Many families on the list are expanding into the property development sector, after making their fortunes in other industries.

There are families and then there are families.

6 Could it be that Asylum Seekers on Nauru will end up in the Philippines?

7 Murdoch suggests US President Barack Obama is not a ‘real black person’. That’s not bad coming from someone you would hardly describe as really human.

the week that was

And this is the week that was.

New EPA rules are a breath of fresh air

By Dr Anthony Horton

As part of the Obama Administration’s push to implement stricter environmental regulations, the US Government has announced a nationwide ground level ozone limit of 70 ppb. As the ground level ozone concentrations across the US are so variable, the 70 ppb limit will be introduced as early as 2020 in some regions and by 2037 in others.

The 70 ppb limit was determined following an EPA review which included more than 1,000 published studies since the last review in 2008. The ultimate aim of the revised limit is to significantly improve public health protection which will result in fewer premature deaths and lower reported absence from school and work. The EPA estimates that the benefit could be in the order of $3-6 billion per year in a decade, outweighing the compliance cost of $1.4 billion.

Ground level ozone is formed as a result of a series of chemical reactions involving a variety of sources including vehicle traffic and industrial areas. It is known to affect the respiratory system and to result in individuals having difficulty breathing and suffering airway inflammation. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated that the limit provided protection for people that are susceptible to the effects of air pollution and that it was the EPA’s job to set science based standards that facilitate that protection.

It could be said that ozone is one pollutant struggling to gain and maintain attention in the face of the extensive discussion of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Ozone is symptomatic of cities with rapidly growing populations, a reliance on cars as the primary weekday mode of transport and Governments that lack the political will to tackle traffic congestion and to require industry to move towards best practice emissions control technology and ensuring that environmental monitoring is conducted appropriately as per operating licence conditions.

The EPA is to be applauded for revising the ozone limit from an environmental as well as health perspective, as ozone is a significant pollutant in city areas around the world. However, as significant as ozone is, it is important to recognise that there is more to the ozone phenomena than identifying sources and reducing emissions from those sources using a range of mechanisms or regulatory instruments.

An appreciation of the local weather conditions (eg. seasonal temperatures and predominant/prevailing wind directions) is obviously important, as the prevailing wind directions throughout the year will influence in what direction and how far those emissions travel and where they will ultimately impact the community.

In May this year Infrastructure Australia highlighted the need for significant investment to avoid potentially crippling congestion in Australian cities, with Sydney home to seven of the worst road corridors in the country. Their report put the price of congestion as $13.74 billion in 2011 and estimated that the price by 2031 could be as much as $53 billion.

The report discussed a number of roads that require urgent attention in order to underpin Australia’s productivity and employment growth going forward, and a number of initiatives including the use of tolls and other pricing.

I can’t help but wonder the extent to which ozone concentrations could increase between now and 2031 in Australian cities under the scenario painted in the Infrastructure Australia report. By extension I wonder what the cost of these higher ozone concentrations in terms of health and lost productivity would be, and why this wasn’t looked into either as part of this report. Based on the ever increasing knowledge with regards to the health impacts of air pollution and the increasing level of interest from the general public as evidenced by scanning social media, I believe strongly that it should be discussed in Australia.

Granted we probably have more than our fair share of blue skies in Australia compared to some other countries, however that shouldn’t be a reason not to raise the issue of ozone and other air pollutants. Many pollutants are formed as a result of complex reactions in the atmosphere and may not be detectable by the naked eye, however that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be investigated or aren’t as potentially (or even more) harmful than the pollutants we may be able to see.

The recent Volkswagen revelations that spread rapidly around the world may be the catalyst that promotes a discussion of air pollution. From my perspective it is difficult to see how an issue that is receiving as much attention as it is would not prompt people to think about where those emissions end up-ultimately in the air around and above them, and, given that we breathe that air, what the cost of breathing that air may be. I for one would most definitely welcome that discussion.

This article was originally published on The Climate Change Guy.

rWdMeee6_peAbout the author: Anthony Horton holds a PhD in Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours and a Diploma of Carbon Management. He has a track record of delivering customised solutions in Academia, Government, the Mining Industry and Consulting based on the latest wisdom and his scientific background and experience in Climate/Atmospheric Science and Air Quality. Anthony’s work has been published in internationally recognised scientific journals and presented at international and national conferences, and he is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal Nature Environment and Pollution Technology. Anthony also blogs on his own site, The Climate Change Guy.

 

The pigeon and the chessboard, or why Obama should probably stick to golf.

A statement allegedly made by Russian President Vladimir Putin about U.S. President Obama has gone viral on the World Wide Web. The statement was, “Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.”

The first item in my newsfeed this morning was an article explaining why Angela Merkel would like to see trade sanctions on Russia lifted. In an even more unusual twist, information has also come to hand that France and Germany may have plans to join Putin’s coalition in Syria. Now you’d think that bombing terrorists in Syria would be like shooting fish in a barrel, and yet some reports suggest that Russia managed to take out more IS targets in the first day of its air campaign than the US has in an entire year. Understandable when you consider who has been arming and training these terrorists.

Mr Putin seemed to take brinkmanship to a whole new level in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week. His scathing attack on US exceptionalism was diplomatic but uncompromising as he warned America to stop acting out of imperialistic ambitions, and his bold commitment to carbon reduction provided the perfect sting in the tail of what was by any measure a glorious middle finger salute to his hosts. Poroshenko walked out, and while Obama tried his hardest to sound defiant, he couldn’t help but appear to be on the back foot. The subsequent meeting between the two leaders is said to have been a frank discussion in which little was resolved, despite running an hour over time. Mr Putin’s masterstroke tho was the Q&A which followed. “As far as I know Obama and Hollande are not Syrian citizens,” he reminded an eager press, “and can’t decide Syria’s future.” He went on to speak of the need to work within the framework of international law in resolving geopolitical conflict, namechecking Australia and noting that all uninvited incursions into Syrian airspace are actually illegal. “Of course Russia, France and Germany work in the Normandy format,” he said, with any implied sarcasm lost in the translation.

Barely 24 hours later Russia had begun launching air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria. The air campaign is predicted to last three to four months, and at the current rate ISIS and its affiliates will be lucky to see out the year. The western media propaganda machine is now in full swing, with Washington running a hard line that Russia is playing a dangerous game, and making a “catastrophic mistake” according to Kerry, which “could lead to Syria being destroyed.” These words incidentally were spoken just hours before the bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz which killed 19 civilians including 9 hospital workers and injured dozens more. An apology has since been issued by NATO, citing ‘collateral damage’. Needless to say this could not have come at a worse time for Obama.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has urged the US military to stay out of the way in Syria, to which Kerry has responded with a firm and resounding no-siree, arguing that their support of the democratically elected Syrian government puts Russia and Iran alone against the world. The reality however may be just the opposite. With more Putin devotees signing up by the day, it may well be Washington which now finds itself isolated. It seems the US-Saudi plan of unleashing controlled chaos on the Middle East is rapidly unravelling, and ISIS and its affiliates are starting to look more and more like multi-billion dollar stranded assets.

In exposing this duplicity Putin has lifted his head above the parapet of geopolitics and proven himself a world leader to be reckoned with; a man who doesn’t mince his words and whose actions are spoken loudly. No doubt the US will still try to knock over all the pieces and shit on the board, but maybe we can all rest a little easier knowing there’s a new cop on the beat.

 

Julie Bishop’s Epiphany on the Road to Damascus

It comes as welcome news that Australia is set to abandon its opposition to Bashar al-Assad as part of a durable peace settlement in Syria.

The recent military escalation by Russia and reported sightings of Chinese war ships in the Mediterranean in the last week must come as something of an embarrassment to the war hawks in Washington, and the knives may well be out for whichever rookie secretary forgot to register the war on terror as a trademark. Still this has done little to change the tri-partisan rhetoric coming out of Canberra. “I don’t for a moment shy away from the comments that we have made in the past about the illegitimacy of the regime.” “President Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his own people, and the death and destruction in Syria is appalling and at unprecedented levels”, Ms Bishop recently said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In hearing these remarks I can’t help be reminded of the outrageous claims and bald faced lies which led us into war in Iraq in 2003. Whatever happened to all those weapons of mass destruction which Saddam was stockpiling? Was he able to secretly shield them from UN weapons inspectors with an invisibility cloak? Perhaps the same cloak that Dr Assad is using to hide his chemical weapons arsenal? Or the one that Iran is evidently using to conceal its uranium enrichment program? Not to put too fine a point on it, but when the executive director of Human Rights Watch is leading the cheer for the removal of the legitimate government of a sovereign nation state which currently enjoys the support of 80% of its people, one might wonder if we are being told the whole truth.

Having taken part what now seems like an age ago in the rallies against the 2003 invasion of Iraq – the biggest protests Australia has seen since the Vietnam War, I’m more than a little miffed at the lack of public outrage at Australia’s compliance in 2015. Perhaps the media is doing a better job of selling its lies and deception this time around, but so far I remain unconvinced. I am tired of the blatant propaganda surrounding this illegal war. I’m tired of the persistent references to “civil war” in a country which is clearly being attacked by outside forces. I’m tired of hearing the government of Syria constantly referred to as “the Assad regime”, and carnal knowledge of dead animals aside, I’m well tired of David Cameron referring to Bashar al-Assad as a butcher.

So far as Washington’s support for terrorists is concerned, there’s no putting the cat back in the bag. I have argued this extensively in other essays, but it doesn’t take a political analyst to see that Obama, Netanyahu, Ergdogan, Salman and Abdullah before him have been working hand in glove with various terror groups to destabilize and ultimately remove the Syrian government for their own nefarious ends. Washington’s war hawks have bypassed congressional appropriations by directing their client state Saudi Arabia to deploy radical anti-Syrian (and often anti-US) militants against Assad, unleashing a wave of terror on the region. Playing both sides against the middle may have some merit in games of strategy, but willingly supporting terrorists who commit atrocities against civilians by any other name is still a war crime.

Of course there are many players in this proxy war, each with their own interests: Obviously there’s the US and its allies, who in their relentless quest for world domination just can’t seem to keep their grubby hands out of other people’s business. In their latest adventure, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in collusion with Wall Street insiders had contrived to control the entire region’s oil and gas reserves and to weaken Russia and Iran by selling cheap oil to China.

There’s Russia, whose soft underbelly comprises almost every country ending in ‘stan’ from which Islamist extremists might enter its borders. Already feeling the squeeze of tough trade sanctions since the shooting down of MH17, this manipulation of the oil market, despite weakening its economy, will likely strengthen its resolve.

There’s Israel, a newly created, US backed, militarised rogue state whose original British colonial design includes not just the annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza but of all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates including parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (The plan for Greater Israel involves the Balkanization of surrounding Arab states, beginning with Iraq, which is to be divided into Shia and Sunni territories and a separate Kurdish state.)

There’s China, an emerging superpower now lumbered with a stalling economy and forced to choose between a ready supply of cheap oil and the prospect of the war in Syria spilling into Iran, Southern Russia and eventually breaching its own western borders.

There’s Germany, which seems to have embraced the prospect of close to a million new low paid workers with the same enthusiasm with which it welcomed the surge of cheap skilled labour at the close of the Soviet era (an attitude perfectly consistent with EU ambitions to enforce human misery through austerity.)

And then there are the endless hordes now beating a path to Europe in what’s been called the biggest mass movement of refugees since WWII. It’s not just the Alawites, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities once protected under Syria’s Ba’athist government who now face a grim future, but the entire Syrian population, of whom more than half are now internally displaced or have fled in fear for their lives. Pray tell what conceivable form of ‘regime change’ would ever allow these people to return to their homes?

Syria was and is the last secular nation state in the Middle East, and as has been argued by many, not least President Putin himself, it is for the people of Syria and nobody else to decide who will govern them. Russia is now working in concert with Iran, Hezbollah and other regional partners to end the horror brought to bear by Washington’s incessant meddling, and while Obama still condemns Russia’s strategy as “doomed to failure” and continues to demand Assad’s ultimate resignation, this outcome is looking increasingly less likely.

While China’s last minute arrival is obviously a game changer, it’s not like the US were never invited to the party. Putin’s attempts to forge an alliance of nations to deal with the growing threat of global terror have never specifically excluded US participation, but with the US demonstrably the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism, it does make things a little awkward. As well as Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army, the new coalition looks likely to include all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO); Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, and Tajikistan. This poses an obvious question right off the bat. Is Washington really afraid that Russia’s intervention will make matters worse in Syria? Or rather that putting an end to ISIS once and for all might render the US irrelevant?

What emerges from this picture is a strong sense that Washington’s war hawks are losing, or have lost, their grip over Middle East politics. The Iranian moderates who are inclined to cooperate with the West for economic reasons are naturally allied to Russia where the Syrian ISIS threat is concerned; the Gulf monarchies seem only too happy for Russia to broker a peace between warring Shi’ite and Sunni factions, and with Russia now flexing its military muscle, Netanyahu is hardly likely to be spoiling for a fight either.

Whether or not any of this could lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East it’s too early to say, and with the likes of Carly Fiorina now set to trump Trump for the GOP candidacy, and Hilary Clinton still a likely choice for the Democrats, Washington’s campaign for global hegemony is unlikely to end any time soon. It does however seem that we may have reached a turning point. Could the battle for Syria prove a victory for peace and diplomacy in an increasingly multi-polar world? Or is this how WWIII begins?

Experiment in terror: Islamophobia and the politics of illusion.

“Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secrecy the human dress.”

– William Blake: A Divine Image

In an awkward social situation I was recently challenged to debate the proposition that Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology. #facepalm #whitepeople. This seems to be the default position of a lot of conservatives, and one can easily see its appeal. What’s not to fear about a triumfulist, supersessionist ideology which divides the world into Muslims and infidels, and Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites, who’ve been murdering each other in God’s name for 1400 years? If this is really the way we look at the culture and polity of the Middle East then perhaps we may need to adjust our glasses and dust off the history books.

The fertile land to the east of the Mediterranean has been a war zone for millennia. The Bulgars murdered the Macedonians who murdered the Phoenicians who murdered the Romans who murdered the Persians who murdered the Assyrians who murdered the Hittites who murdered god knows who in their conquests of Anatolia and the Levant. For all its alleged brutality, the Muslim conquest of the Arab world is but one chapter in a history which spans the rise and fall of empires. Let’s not forget the millions of Muslims who would be murdered by the papacy under its holy inquisitions, their children forced into slavery in the New World. If history is indeed written by the victor, then the proposition that Islam was spread by the sword is a eurocentrism egregiously unabashed of the log in its own eye.

There is a period familiar to most of us which European history refers to as the Dark Ages (evidently darker for some than others.) While Europe under the Holy Roman Empire had become a sophophobic monoculture obsessed with death and purgatory, the Arab world was enjoying its renaissance, embracing a newfound pluralism equal parts Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek Philosophy. While Christians were sacking libraries, drowning witches and burning heretics at the stake, cities like Baghdad and Damascus boasted libraries, museums and academies, and were the birthplaces of modern medicine, algebra and astronomy.

Some would argue that the argument over patriarchal succession which would divide the followers of Islam into Sunni and Shia has been the primary cause of conflict across the Middle East since the seventh century CE. Some might also argue that pigs fly. Despite the hundreds of holy wars fought on land and sea, the glorious kingdoms of the Azeris and the Ottomans owed more to their policies of inclusion and modest taxation than conquest, conversion and subjugation. Then, as now, military expansion was about the control of resources, meaning as long as they paid their taxes people were generally free to worship in whichever way they chose.

The emergence of Wahhabism in the 18th century is a different story. Set against a background of British and French colonial expansion and ongoing territorial disputes with the Ottomans and Safavids, the doctrine of One King, One Faith, One Mosque became a rallying cry under which the al-Sauds would conquer the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and establish theocratic rule across the Arabian Peninsula.

No one had predicted that the Turks would ally themselves with the Central Powers in WWI, or that the Hashemites under Faisal bin Hussein would become our proverbial enemy’s enemy. Victory for the allies saw the final curtain fall on the Ottoman Empire and marked the end of the Arab dream of independence. The spoils of war were divided among the victors (Britain and France) and new territories carved out from traditional lands, while the status of regional powers was downgraded from formal statehood to little more than tribes waving flags, as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir would later quip.

The House of Saud’s moment finally arrived in 1932 when Abdulaziz Ibn Saud united the Arab kingdoms of Najd and Hizaz to form modern Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy with Wahhabism as its official religion. The discovery of oil in 1938 was a fait acompli which would give the Saudis influence over western economic and foreign policy, and in 1945 the greatest protection racket in modern history was put in place. The US Military Training Mission was an arms-for-oil deal which guaranteed military co-operation and the protection of the Saudi Royals in return for a controlling interest in the global oil market. In 1971 Richard Nixon finally tore up the Bretton Woods agreement in a financial coup d’etat which established the US dollar as the world’s indispensible oil currency. The US has continued to have a very close relationship with Saudi Arabia ever since; so much so that when 19 Saudi hijackers flew jet planes into the World Trade Centre buildings on September 11 2001, the US responded by invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the 2003 invasion of Iraq has been universally touted as a monumental clusterfluck, the descent into stone age barbarism which followed was not the result of religious extremism or sectarian violence, but rather a long term strategy for the Balkanization of Iraq and Syria into three new territories representing their ethnic majorities: Sunni, Shia and Kurdish. More than a decade of aggressive foreign policy; of interventions, assassinations and torture; of rape and pillage and wanton destruction of Iraq’s industrial potential has seen this goal all but fulfilled. Now it’s Syria’s turn.

Just like its predecessor al Qaeda, Islamic State is a creation of US intelligence and Saudi manpower. Oddly enough its recruits are less likely to come from the ranks of disaffected youth loitering in the dark corners of the internet, and more likely to be death row prisoners from Saudi gaols pumped full of fenethylline and other psycho stimulants. The joint air campaign by the US and its British, French and Turkish allies, far from being designed to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS, has systematically targeted civil infrastructure and created a refugee crisis which is now creating tensions in Europe – all according to plan.

In his book Children of the Days, Eduardo Galeano tells the story of March 9, 1916, The Day Mexico Invaded The United States.

“On this early morning in 1916, Pancho Villa crossed the border with his horsemen, set fire to the city of Columbus, killed several soldiers, nabbed a few horses and guns, and the following day was back in Mexico to tell the tale. This lightning incursion is the only invasion the United States has suffered since its wars to break free from England. In contrast, the United States has invaded practically every country in the entire world. Since 1947 its Department of War has been called the Department of Defense, and its war budget the defense budget. The names are an enigma as indecipherable as the Holy Trinity.”

The US is not only the most militarized country on earth, but far and away the biggest state sponsor of terrorism. With billions spent on proxy armies armed to the teeth with the latest weapons technology, entire governments can now be removed at arm’s length. Whether it be deposing a socialist president in Africa or Latin America, or a demolition job in lower Manhattan, America’s attack dogs stand ready and waiting.

In his 2004 documentary mini-series The Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis paints a bleak picture of how our political landscape has changed in recent decades. From the ashes of 9/11 came a new golden age of opportunity for the political class. Empowered by mass hysteria, our leaders learned that their jobs would now be safe as long as they promised to keep us safe. Yet far from keeping us safe, the last 15 years have seen an exponential increase in terror attacks throughout the world. With the cold war barely over a new enemy has already emerged, this time not a great empire or a great army, but a shadow.

As heroic tales go, there is none more epic than an apocalyptic clash of civilizations. And who needs Stanley Kubrick to bring it to life when you have an iphone and an internet connection? Shock footage of brutal executions permeates our daily news feeds, while playing further to our fears is the suggestion that the Middle East is now exporting terror; that the waves of refugees flooding into Europe are a Trojan horse which ISIS will use to spread its message of hate throughout the world.

Pandora’s box has nothing on the hell on earth George Bush heralded in when he proclaimed his absurd War on Terror. But with the forces of darkness now unleashed, what happens when the mission is accomplished? Who will call off the dogs? Is there a plan for containment? An exit strategy? Do Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Hallande and Erdogan have a secret safe word? Or has perpetual war been the plan all along?

Like the U-boats, bombers, machine guns and tanks of WWI, and the Atomic bomb that ended WWII, the spectre of terror and the power of mass media are devastating new weapons in the hands of the global industrialists and their government whores. The war on terror is a farce. ISIS is a patsy – a straw man being used to justify a shameless war of aggression. In Nazi Germany we saw the power of propaganda to stigmatise a religious and ethnic minority. Do we really want to go there again? Blaming Muslims for problems of integration and failing to contain jihadism plays well with right wing media pundits, but seriously, one might as easily blame the Jews for the holocaust.

 

 

 

More Than a Market Correction: China in Transition

Denis Bright invites responses about the long-term significance of the structural changes in China’s economy and its global financial outreach. Future implementation of such changes can be steered by Chinese leaders themselves or imposed from outside by joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on terms that are not completely acceptable to China. The latter option would require a more corporate-led style of economic development. Evidence of the significance of the forthcoming structural changes in the Chinese economy is far from complete. The author is open to feedback on the issues raised in this article.

Chinese financial market jitters (FT Online 28 August 2015)

Chinese financial market jitters (FT Online 28 August 2015)

As global financial markets stabilise after recent volatility, news services have rushed to offer explanations of the recent downturns in Chinese financial markets.

There is little doubt about the extent of China’s market correction. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Chinese government were ready to use up a tiny portion of accrued foreign currency reserves to prevent a free-fall in the market.

News networks around the world tried to explain the significance of China’s market correction.

Germany’s DW News on 29 July 2015 sought clarification from Dr Sandra Heep of the Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies (MERICS) in Berlin on the significance of China’s market corrections for both China and the wider global economy.

The extent of the potential market volatility put Dr Sandra Heep on the spot as the eye of a financial storm was approaching. With her expertise in longer-term economic analysis, Dr Sandra Heep was careful not to join in the guessing game to predict tomorrow’s financial markets.

 

Seeking longer term perspectives for China

Months before in 2014, Dr Sandra Heep in her prior research position at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Freiburg University was able to be more forthright about the structural changes needed to complete China’s successful transition from its current status as a developmental economy.

Dr Sandra Heep’s broad interpretations of China in transition as the world’s second largest economy are readily endorsed by the news releases from China’s leaders themselves and economic data from independent sources.

More high tech future and global financial outreach for China? (Financial Times Online (London) 25 August)

More high tech future and global financial outreach for China? (Financial Times Online (London) 25 August)

Although China is now the world’s second largest economy, it may be reaching the limits of its sustainability as a global workshop for the supply of a full array of goods and services.

China’s current status comes with great social and environmental costs as noted by Dr Sandra Heep in her interpretation of China’s capacity as a developmental state with a considerable degree of state planning in its economy.

As a developmental state, China is still identified with the suppression of the purchasing power of lower paid workers, arrested improvements in environmental quality and the sheer cost of living challenges in congested cities.

Long Island, New York: Property haven for Chinese elites? (FT Online 31 August 2015)

Long Island, New York: Property haven for Chinese elites? (FT Online 31 August 2015)

Ironically, many other developing countries within the TPP network share similar problems which are excused by advocates of the market model as a necessary transitional phase.

Mexico is a prime example despite its long-standing free trade agreement with Canada and the US under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since 1994.

China also lacks a fully globalized banking system on the scale of financial operations in the US and some Western European countries.

A section of Chinese economic elites are able to distance themselves from the real life problems of a transitional economy. The situation was similar in the earlier generations of industrialization in Britain, Germany and the US.

Prestige property investments in US or Australia are staked out by these economic elites as appropriate hedge assets.

The challenges of economic diversification and global financial outreach

The leaders of the real world China are probably enthusiastic about steering the economy in new directions. However, questions must remain about the appropriateness of the TPP’s market model.

China’s vast foreign currency reserves can be used to foster more dynamic forms of social market capitalism with an outreach into finance, infrastructure investment, environmental sustainability and development assistance.

Pragmatic neighbours like Russia as well as the countries of Central Asia and the Middle East are usually prepared to take advantage of China’s expanded international outreach.

Official Chinese investment could also bankroll longer-term projects in both the Australian private sector and future government sponsored sovereign wealth infrastructure funds along the lines of Temasek Holdings in Singapore.

To Australia’s credit, our support for China’s diversification is evident in the presence of Treasurer Joe Hockey at the inauguration of the expanded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing on 29 June 2015.

The extent of Australia’s role in the bank will be determined largely by the commitment of the next incoming government. AIIB will not be fully operational until 2016.

Significant for China is the presence of countries from Central Asia and the Middle East along the Silk Road Land Bridge to Europe.

Europe itself is represented by all the key economies, including the UK.

Israel has also joined the AIIB. This country has benefited from the investment of Chinese technology in urban transport.

The positive implications for peace and stability in the Middle East from this investment by Chinese infrastructure firms are immense.

There is no long-term reason for the exclusion of strife-ridden countries like Iraq and Syria from this investment outreach after UN-sanctioned peace initiatives.

Proposed Silk Road infrastructure for Central Asia (World Bulletin 2014)

Proposed Silk Road infrastructure for Central Asia (World Bulletin 2014)

Such positive commercial changes might be thwarted if China was forced to drift back to a pure market oriented financial system. Such infrastructure investment is always a long-term commitment.

This cannot be assured in a financial system which is preoccupied with short-term futures with a trickle-down capacity to benefit legitimate investment.

In this sense, the current negotiations to finalise the TPP present a dilemma for China.

While undoubtedly well informed of the TPP negotiations, China is not one of the core partners of an avowedly market oriented investment and trading network.

The challenges posed by the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) for China

It is for the China’s current leadership to decide just how to respond to the current TPP drafts which will greatly empower business corporations by internationalizing competition laws.

TPP drafts contain embedded assumptions about the superiority of the market model of development and of the carrots available from the trickle-down benefits of new corporate investment in each of the participating countries.

The hegemony of rogue elements in global financialization processes is also a temptation for China to take a similar path to economic diversification along the pure market model.

Professor Gerard Epstein of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst explains the mechanisms of these financialization processes which have become the ground rules for successful international finance.

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the late Professor Peter Gowan of the International Relations School at London Metropolitan University gave a similar but more detailed synopsis of the challenge of rogue capital flows in Crisis in the Heartland. This article is readily available online. (http://newleftreview.org/II/55/peter-gowan-crisis-in-the-heartland).

Changing the protocols for China’s global outreach

The US sponsored Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU impose a fundamentally different style of economic development and global outreach for China.

China’s key financial institutions must operate within the prevailing rules for international finance. The more interventionist approaches of China’s Asian Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS Group of Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China itself are still minor players on a global scale.

China’s hesitancy to join the TPP negotiations has its parallels across the Pacific Rim where the internationalization of competition laws and intellectual property rights has its own detractor in most countries.

Without the release of the TPP negotiation drafts by Wikileaks in 2013, most political leaders would still remain silent about the implications of the voluminous chapters on intellectual property rights and investment protocols.

Wikileaks Press Release (https://wikileaks.org/tpp-ip2/)

Wikileaks Press Release (https://wikileaks.org/tpp-ip2/)

In the words of WikiLeak’s Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

While China’s leaders might hesitate about the benefits and costs of future participation in the TPP, the proposed internationalization of competition laws in favour of business corporations across the Asia Pacific Rim has also been a divisive issue within the Obama Administration which depends on the support of organized Labor in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In order to gain approval for current drafts of the TPP Treaty, President Obama needs to rely on the support of conservative Republicans for endorsement of the treaty in the senate.

Writing in The National Interest on 6 July 2015, Sean Mirski with a background at the Harvard Law School made the following observations about the impact of the TPP.

At first glance, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks much like any other trade deal. By increasing trade and investment among its partners, the TPP sets out to stimulate a higher rate of economic growth in the United States and among many of its Pacific friends. As with similar treaties, the TPP has been the subject of controversy in the U.S. Congress, which very nearly killed a key piece of legislation necessary to America’s ratification of the agreement. But while American lawmakers attacked and defended the treaty largely in narrow economic terms, they appeared to disregard its main strategic promise.

Besides creating jobs, the TPP may also alter the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific. The treaty will increase the rate of economic growth in the United States and in an array of friendly nations while simultaneously diverting trade flows away from Washington’s greatest competitor, China. More important than any of these absolute changes in economic output, though, is the relative change in national power, itself the product of economic might. Whereas trade is often discussed in absolute terms, relative gains are more important in the often zero-sum world of international politics. If the TPP can change the trajectory of American power relative to China’s, it may be the single most important factor in whether the United States retains its “indispensable” role in the 21st Century.

The National Interest 6 July 2015 available at (http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-trans-pacific-partnership-china-america-the-balance-13264)

These comments from an articulate writer with close links to the US intelligence community provide justification for further discussion about the geopolitical role of the TPP as a vehicle for the return of old balance of power strategies for the containment of China.

With China outside the current TPP draft deals, its business and investment agencies must ultimately compete on the terms of investment protocols decided by the TPP across the entire Pacific Basin.

Taiwan’s potential membership of the TPP provides an additional twist to the current economic diplomacy and has security implications for the stability of the Pacific Rim.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan strongly endorses its unilateral participation in the TPP without reference to China:

The TPP aims to establish a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st century challenges. It currently has 12 members, including the US, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Mexico, Chile and Peru. Most of the TPP members are Taiwan’s major trading partners, accounting for over 30 percent of our foreign trade. Thus, the significance of joining the TPP cannot be overemphasized. President Ma Ying-jeou has announced our resolution to join the TPP and we have won support from the US and Japan, with both countries publicly welcoming Taiwan’s interest in joining the TPP. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its representative offices overseas have taken bilateral relations as the cornerstone and are making every effort to garner the support of other members pursuant to our accession to the group (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of China (Taiwan) 2014)

Data from the Center for East Asia Policy Studies shows the vast economic capacity within a TPP that included Taiwan. South Korea is likely to be added to the matrix.

Center for East Asia Policy Studies 2014

Center for East Asia Policy Studies 2014

Thwarting the economic diversification of China on its own terms through the formula proposed by the TPP investment in the Pacific Rim would be a triumph of short-term politics over international peace and stability if Chinese leaders continued to be shut out of the negotiation processes.

Added to the challenges of future economic diplomacy are the separate but near identical territorial claims by both China and Taiwan over sections of the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Under current co-operative arrangements between the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Government in Taiwan and China, the Taiwanese proposal to resolve territorial disputes and fishing rights might gain some traction within China itself.

Such claims would be taken more seriously if both Taiwan and China presented a joint submission as part of a One China Additional Systems Approach as with the resolution of Hong Kong’s closer association with China almost 20 years ago.

The window of opportunity facing the TPP Negotiators and Australia

The window of opportunity is closing on this pragmatic arrangement with Taiwan. Local opinion polls are highly favourable to the opposition right-wing Democratic Party in Taiwan as the presidential elections approach on 16 January 2016.

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan inspecting US made military hardware

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan inspecting US made military hardware

President Obama will go down in history as one of the greatest of negotiators if a Win Win Win can be developed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US in September 2015. This trifecta would have to be a deal which is totally acceptable to China, Taiwan and the US.

Meanwhile it is in Australia’s interests as a responsible middle power to maintain an independent voice in the resolution of the problems posed by the TPP and the sensitivities of China towards the resurgence of Taiwan as a nation state.

Prime Minister Abbott’s support for the prevailing texts of the TPP is hardly Whitlamesque.

Opposition to the current draft of the TPP comes from both sides of the political spectrum across the Pacific Rim.

1973 Postcard from Beijing: A precedent for a constructive role for Australia

1973 Postcard from Beijing: A precedent for a constructive role for Australia

Rural lobbies in New Zealand and Japan are delaying the final draft from the political right.

Organized Labor in the US fears job losses in key swing states which must be won by the Democratic Party to keep the Republicans out of office in 2016. In these states, Democratic representatives and senators are cautious about opening up the domestic economy to more overseas competition.

The exclusion of China from the TPP negotiations also hinders its financial outreach across the Pacific Rim as a major economic superpower.

This locks China into its current workshop of the world status. Forcing compliance from China with TPP protocols can contain this economy’s sustainable growth rate and build-in a lower potential threshold for future Australian exports, service agreements and financial ties with a weaker than necessary China.

In this context, Australia can afford to be more proactive in seeking more Whitlamesque amendments that bring China into the TPP on fair terms and conditions. Given the pockets of discontent with the current TPP negotiators, Australia can win goodwill in most countries across the Pacific Rim by becoming a more independent player in both economic diplomacy and the containment of security concerns.

denis brightDenis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). He has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. His specialist interest is the impact of contemporary globalization on the delivery of progressive public policies.

 

 

Abbott, the Great Battologist

Reading Barry Cassidy’s article in ‘The Drum’ this week, I learnt a new word: Battologist, which means ‘wearisome repetition of words in speaking or writing’. Perhaps there are many of you out there who knew of this word but, unlike Cassidy, never thought to apply it to our prime minister, Tony Abbott. Or perhaps you did, but never told me.

I think it fits perfectly, particularly the bit about being wearisome. How often, in sound bites graciously granted to us by the commercial television networks, do we groan as we descend into a mediocre slump listening to another wearisome, repetitious monologue from this man?

I have often thought, while suffering through this tedious monotony, that he does it as a delay tactic, forcing us to endure this absence of interest, this mind-numbing routine, while he presses home the point.

But of late, I have come to the view that he does it to hide the fact that he really has nothing else to say; that he’s waiting for another thought bubble.

It’s something many politicians do when speaking in Parliament. I thought they did it to reward themselves for saying something they thought was so eloquent it deserved a repeat performance, or to hear themselves above all the shouting and abuse that flies from one side of the chamber to the other.

But no, Barry Cassidy has led me to see it differently. In all previous governments of my experience, there was a narrative, a clearly defined storyline that one could identify, if not agree with, that set a government apart from the Opposition. This is what gave them their mental script. But Abbott and his government have none.

They simply make it up as they go. Policy on the run, disaster management (if you could call it that) on the run, they govern for the day, the hour, even the minute, but never for the future. The future, it seems, will take care of itself.

battologyThe Abbott government really is a policy vacuum. I can just see its leading lights at the next election telling us that they have stopped the boats, got rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax and little else. It will be the mother of all negative campaigns. ‘If you don’t vote for us, you’ll get Labor’, ‘Labor will drive us into bankruptcy’, blah, blah, blah.

I doubt there will be one visionary item on their agenda. They simply don’t think that far ahead. As Cassidy so rightly points out, they have lost any initiative on the economy, climate change, employment, debt and deficit, same sex marriage and asylum seekers. The government has no teeth to bite or chew over these issues anymore.

Abbott the battologist, has reinforced this view time and time again, repeating himself constantly, but saying nothing inspiring, nothing new. Likewise his body-english betrays a cave-man element; the apeman-type rolling of the shoulders, left to right as he marches down the parliamentary corridor and the meaningless arm movements when he stands at the podium.

How I long for an orator, a statesmanlike leader, an Obama, to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of our present mediocrity. In the absence of that, who is there that will give us an eye into the future, a vision, something to show we are moving ahead? Silly question, I know.

My alternative offering is to reverse the process. Let the people lead the politicians. Let us look again at those areas where neither party has the initiative, where neither party has the advantage. I propose we put a short questionnaire to them. They may not know the answers but it could go a long way toward starting a national conversation. We should make it simple with a yes, no, or ‘one word’ answer:

You choose your favourite subject and submit 5 questions you would like answered. The other topics are: climate change, employment, asylum seekers and national security, or you could nominate a pet topic of your own.

questMy questions below, are on the economy.

Do you believe that running a national economy is the same as running a household economy, only larger?

If the government spends more than it taxes, does that mean it has to borrow the difference?

Do you believe that when a government spends less than it taxes, that the difference is money saved for the future?

Do you believe that a sovereign government can ever run out of money?

What comes first, taxes or spending?

Perhaps asking the right questions will inject some inspiration, some life back into this wearisome, repetitious, near-carcass like animal we call government. I suspect, however, it will only show up the hollow nature of their battology.

 

It’s Time for Abbott to Step Down

Surely when Alan Jones, one of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most fervent supporters, gives him a grilling on radio, it is time to say enough is enough. For whatever reason the talkback radio host found it necessary to take Abbott to task on the issue of the free trade agreement with China, it was enough to ask: if his friends are unhappy, isn’t it time someone tapped him on the shoulder?

On Insiders Sunday November 15th, Malcolm Farr summed up his thoughts: “Tony Abbott is a man who should not be left alone with his own mouth.” The comment was made in reference to Abbott’s opening remarks to the leaders of the G20 on the weekend about the $7 GP co-payment, the carbon tax and stopping the boats.

It was that, and Abbott’s attempts to exclude climate change from the G20 agenda that made him look foolish. Laura Tingle said it well enough in the Australian Financial Review. “Unfortunately for our Prime Minister, however, Barack Obama has delivered a rather humiliating exercise in power politics over the weekend: showing how leadership and power lies in setting and controlling an agenda.”

blew it

Obama expressing disbelief?

If Abbott ever had a golden moment to look every inch the statesman, it was the G20. He blew it in breathtaking fashion. Surely there must be a point where the collective mental health of the nation takes precedence over the choice of a national leader. How much more are we expected to endure?

If ever a supportive media had the chance to make him look worldly, it was at the G20, but even they could not do it. We saw him, warts and all, make an idiot of all those who voted for him and have the rest of us reaching for the Prozac. Then, on Monday night at a dinner to host the Chinese president, he confused China with Tasmania.

The thought of having to endure another two years watching this man stumble from one gaffe to another while continuing to lead our country, is asking too much. We deserve better. Whatever misgivings people may have had about Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard, surely those misgivings must pale into insignificance when placed alongside the recurring examples of ineptitude displayed by this man.

For a moment, let us look beyond the sheer dishonesty that is the trail of broken promises. As unfair as they are, as economically unsound and unlikely to work as they are, his government would not be the first to play that card. Let us look beyond the appalling treatment of asylum seekers, a policy decision based solely on the belief that it gave his party an electoral advantage.

Let us look beyond his extraordinary approach to the issue of climate change. Let us put some of his utterly stupid remarks about coal to one side for the time being. Let us look beyond the possibility that he is, and has been, ineligible to stand for parliament in the first place, because of Section 44 of the Constitution which prohibits those holding dual citizenship from being candidates.

These are all issues we can debate but which are overshadowed by another. The question all LNP members of parliament should be asking is: does this man demonstrate the qualities and mental capacity necessary to lead the nation, or is he simply a figurehead, a puppet attached to, and dangled by, other more powerful interests who take advantage of his inability to articulate a coherent narrative?

bizarreWhen one addresses that question and places all his bizarre comments, his misguided sense of equality, his inability to express an original thought, surely they must scratch their heads and wonder: is he the best they have to offer?

If they cannot nominate an alternative, then they too must all be seen as incompetent and tarred with the same brush.

That then leaves the only alternative: to demand of the Governor General that he be replaced.

It’s not as if he would be the first. As unlikely as that is to happen, however, it is as clear as it is appropriate. If the man himself was willing to put the country ahead of his own personal ambitions, he would step down.

The latest Newspoll would suggest the majority of voters agree.

Stop pandering to minority groups!

More damn minority groups! (Image from gettyimages.com)

More damn minority groups! (Image from gettyimages.com)

Far too many minority groups are being given special privileges! I suspect it may be because of these special allowances that we now have one of those “special” minorities in the White House, and I know, the politically correct would prefer I didn’t mention that Obama is one. When a group is in the minority, they should accept it and just try to fit in. Basically, we have an alarming tendency to allow people to wallow in their difference, as the US President frequently does. He even jokes about his left-handedness!

We all know that right-handedness is the correct way, and all this pandering to the politically correct just wouldn’t have been tolerated in the fifties. We are all one society, so I think all people should be treated the same and not divided into groups. However, now the left-handed are refusing to integrate, and becoming exclusive. There are even shops dedicated to being left-handed. For example, I found this on the internet:

Lefty’s online left hand store has the world’s leading and most extensive selection of Left-Handed Products designed specifically for left-handers. Since 2008, our left-handed buyers have researched and commissioned custom left-handed merchandise ranging from left-handed scissors, left-handed pens, and left-handed notebooks, to left-handed office and school supplies, left-handed childrens’ writing guides and shoe tying instruction cards, to left-handed kitchen tools and equipment. We have collected the most fun left-handed sayings, which we print on T-shirts, left-handed mugs, left-handed portfolios, and lots of other items.”

Some may call it tolerance, but I see it as an attempt to destroy our right-handed way of life. Left-handed people should just learn to be right-handed. It’s a right-handed world after all.

 

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