Tuesday 11th of December 2018

flotsam and jetsam...

a the cricket

We float on an ocean of triviality. Just when one sea of flotsam clears we sail into another.  Now Hollywood actresses are recalling distant memories of how such and such an actor or producer went for a grope in the dressing room. At a time when we should be saying good-bye to Buckingham Palace and leaving that problem to the Poms we are bombarded with news of the royal family.  We are back in the dark ages when the editorial staff of the Australian Women’s Weekly were under orders to include a royal story in every issue on pain of death or, worse than death, a lecture from Ita Buttrose.

Deeper in the ocean under all this garbage runs the current of the great debate around the question that has been asked since Aristotle.  How does the economy actually work? I’m not an economist but I can read and write and my mother named me after Jeremy Bentham so I have an unfortunate genetic predisposition to meddle in politics. I’m familiar with most of the economic theories going back to the Physiocrats and they all make a contribution to our understanding.  The problem arises when a theory becomes gospel and its adherents neglect to read the earlier theories.  This is a weakness throughout the social sciences and perhaps in the hard sciences too.

Malcolm Turnbull is a well-read gent so it is reasonable to assume that he too has read the economic theories and that he is familiar with the classic paragraph that governs his thinking today.  This is the paragraph of our times and it is often quoted from the letter Keynes wrote to Hayek on 28 June 1944 congratulating the Austrian on publication of The Road to Serfdom, with a famous reservation.

“You admit here and there that it is a question of knowing where to draw the line,” wrote J.M. Keynes. “You agree that the line has to be drawn somewhere (between free markets and planning) and that the logical extreme is not possible.  But you give us no guidance whatever as to where to draw it.  In a sense you are skirting the practical issue.  It is true that you and I would probably draw it in different places.  I should guess that according to my ideas you greatly underestimate the practicability of the middle course.  But as soon as you admit the extreme is not possible and that a line has to be drawn you are, on your own argument, done for since you are trying to persuade us that as soon as one moves an inch in the planned direction you are necessarily launched on the slippery path which will lead you in due course over the precipice.” (to totalitarianism)

As is common in the human condition Malcolm Turnbull’s strength is also his weakness.  He is a barrister by trade and as such, a master of the art of debating, in which the speaker is trained to argue with equal ferocity the positive or the negative case, without necessarily believing either side of the story, indeed not necessarily believing in anything at all.  In other words, young Malcolm is pragmatic rather than dogmatic.

This is likely a good thing at a time when conventional wisdom is falling apart.  As the year closed we saw an extreme example of Twinkle-toes Turnbull in action.  One day the Prime Minister was a small-l liberal supporter of the gender marriage issue.  The next, his government announced the Gary Johns appointment, such a spectacular sop to the Coalition’s lunar Right that only the most brazen of barristers could have kept a straight face.

Looking at today’s politics, especially in America, the writer who comes to mind is not Keynes but Trotsky.  In his History of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky quotes General Zalesky describing his fellow officers in the High Command of the Czar’s army in 1917. “Much adventurism, much ignorance, much egotism, intrigue, careerism, greed, mediocrity and lack of foresight, and very little knowledge, talent or desire to risk life, or even comfort and health.”

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the news not seen in your daily doses of news...

In his book ‘Dangerous Allies’ Malcolm Fraser warned us how we can be drawn into US conflicts that are of no concern to us. We have seen that in  following the US into disastrous wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan , Iraq and Syria. Malcolm Fraser spoke of  our ‘dangerous strategic dependence’.

We are ‘joined at the hip’ to a country that is addicted to  permanent war. In recent decades most of Americas’ wars have been  failures for themselves and countless millions of innocent people.

But the failure and torpor continues . Politicians and the military in both the US and Australia try to reassure us that it will be better next time or at least the time after that! As a  frightened country  we cling child like  to a declining,erratic and dangerous protector

What disaster is necessary to force a fundamental rethink by  Ministers,the Opposition and all their senior advisers.?

The US has a long history of involvement in wars. In the Washingtonblog.com in May 2014, and which was carried by the SMH, it showed the number of wars that the US had been involved in since its independence in 1776. The data was well documented. According to this report, the US has been at war 93% of the time since 1776. It added –

  • The US has never had a decade without war. The wars have extended from its own Hemisphere to the Pacific to Europe and most recently to the Middle East.
  • The only time the US went five years without war (1935-40) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.
  • The US has launched 201 out of 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII.
  • The US is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending. The next largest spenders as a proportion of GDP are China 8.2%, Russia 4.1% and the UK and France 3.6%.
  • The US maintains over 700 military bases or sites around the world in more than 100 countries.In our region it has powerful military bases in ROK, Japan , a growing Marine basing in Darwin. and of course intelligence gathering at Pine Gap .

In 1953 the US ,with British collaboration overthrew the democratically elected Mosadeq government in Iran in the cause of oil interests. Just think how the region might be now if that had not happened. A year later the US engineered the fall of the Guatamalan government in the interests of the United Fruit Company

The US  has espoused anti colonialism but  the Philippine American War 1898-1903 was a classic attack on a republic that was turned into a US  colony.As American Indians tell us ,Americans speak with forked tongues when it comes to honouring treaties.

And the same war story goes on today. The US has spent over $3 trillion  in Iraq, made the situation worse and destabilised the whole region.

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an honest, open dithering...

If it was a deliberate baiting of Turnbull, the tactic succeeded. After swatting Keating away as "barely coherent", Turnbull began mulling aloud over the  question of 'what next' once the Queen's reign ended. If the issue became "live" again, Turnbull postulated, there would need to be an "honest, open discussion about how a president would be elected".

He went on: "You've got to have that discussion and it may be that a plebiscite, maybe even a postal survey, given the success of the marriage postal survey, could be one way to deal with it." Critically, he left open the question of when this might happen, suggesting "the next opportunity … would be after the end of the Queen's reign".

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good luck for 2018...

2017 has been widely regarded as being even worse than 2016, which was itself commonly thought to be the most worst year in history at that time. I am sure you can remember why many thought so: Trump, wars, bombings, natural disasters, crises, Brexit, Alt-Right, climate change, wars on renewables, RWNJs, mainstream media, Dutton, Abbott, Turnbull, whatnot...

We would love to tell you 2018 will be better than 2017, but the early signs are not good. I mean, even in his New Year’s Eve tweet, Trump continued his unhinged attacks.

Maybe Donald will be impeached in 2018? Probably not.

But let’s focus on Australia for a moment.

There has only been two big stories in the media so far this year.

One was about how much ordinary Australians are paying in their tax to fund “welfare bludgers”. This was in response to an FOI request to the Australian Tax Office by former Anti-Union Minister Eric Abetz. The mainstream media charitably ran with this in the Christmas week, from 28 December 2017. It ran on all TV channels and newspapers and is still a live topic today. As you’d expect, it was run with the most vehemence, vitriol and bitterness in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp propaganda sheets.

As Michael West wrote in an excellent article on this subject:

“Average taxpayers are handing over $35 every week to prop up aged pensioners,” said the Daily Telegraph in high indignation. “Prop up”? Do these pensioners really deserve to be propped up or shall we just put them out on the streets?

This “prop up” language from an organisation which was ranked as the number one “Tax Risk” in Australia by the Tax Office, an organisation whose pay TV outfit Foxtel pocketed a cool $30 million hand-out from government last year and has paid zero tax for three years on $8.4 billion in income.

West continued:

When they released the tax transparency data before Christmas, showing many of the biggest companies in the world pay little or no tax here, the government snuck the release out half an hour before the denouement in the same sex marriage vote. The media dutifully missed the story.

This year, the Tax Office data showed 354 of Australia’s biggest companies have now paid zero tax in three consecutive years on a combined total income of $911 billion. It should be said that some of these have a bona fidereason for not paying tax, an industry downturn or large tax losses. Most don’t.

As it is the season, we can only hope these media organisations make this New Year’s resolution, “We will give up drinking, smoking and republishing tendentious government press releases”.

Good luck with that, Michael!

Then there was the other classic witch hunt over “South Sudanese youth gang violence” in Victoria. This was launched by Malcolm Turnbull as he stood cheerfully in sky blue polo shirt in front of the ocean in Sydney on New Year’s Day.

and lying during his, moi, himself, election campaign...


Ramping up his rhetoric in order to win the election, Turnbull said Labor's plan would "devalue every home, every property, in Australia".

It would "smash up home values", "pull the rug out from under the property sector".

It was "a big sledgehammer" aimed at the property prices.

Except that the Treasury didn't think so, and had spelled out its reasoning in a memo delivered to treasurer Scott Morrison as Turnbull was sharpening his lines.

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the rich bastard is trying to punish the poor...

The Australian Council of Social Service is mounting a last-ditch lobbying campaign to convince Senate crossbenchers to oppose the Coalition’s welfare overhaul, warning the changes will reduce payments for up to 80,000 people. 

Last week, the Australian reported the Nick Xenophon Team senators were close to offering a lifeline to the Coalition on its welfare bill.

The legislation introduces tougher penalties for jobseekers who fail to comply with their obligations, and removes protections for those who find themselves unable to apply for social security on time. 

The future of the legislation looked uncertain late last year, due to widespread opposition to the controversial plan to drug-test welfare recipients.

The drug-testing measure is now likely to be removed from the bill, and the NXT say they have secured concessions from the Coalition, including $40m in extra funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

But Acoss is still attempting to prevent NXT support, at least for what it deems the worst parts of the bill. The president of Acoss, Tony Reidy, said that included the introduction of a demerits point-style compliance scheme for jobseekers on Newstart and other unemployment payments.

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Xenophon always makes bad dodgy deals for pitiful gains and self-aggrandisement... Let's hope he and his team won't this time...


the king of flip-flops...

IF ANYONE had seriously thought that the year ended well for the Prime Minister, promising renewed leadership, enhanced authority and clearer policy direction, his rapid advance and equally rapid retreat on the republic would have brought them back to ground. The new year had barely begun before the reinvigorated Turnbull, buoyed by the rare success of the same-sex marriage legislation, showed himself to be no different from the previous year’s disappointing model.

On the morning of 1 January, Turnbull surprised everyone by unilaterally declaring his support for a renewed push towards a republic, floating the prospect of a postal survey to gauge popular support. By early afternoon the same day, duly chastised by his internal party critics, he had rescinded it. It was an exceptionally swift political U-turn – even for this Prime Minister – and a brutal reminder of how far the once brash, uncompromising, staunch republican has fallen. In just four hours, Turnbull had revealed the extent of his political humiliation — a leader unable to control his or his party’s agenda and reduced to a supine shell of the man who had promised so much.

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and coal in his trousers...

Cleaning out piles of bumf from the office at the beginning of the year, Gadfly unearthed a charming booklet issued by Trumble in the 2007 election campaign, when he had not long held the job of minister for the environment and water in the death throes of the Howard junta. 

Thumbing through the glossy document, printed on recycled paper and using vegetable-based inks, one could not help but wonder about all those dreamy visions for a better tomorrow. Fresh from signing the go-ahead for the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania, Mal told his constituents: “I believe that nothing is more important to our future, and the future of our children, than working to preserve our environment.” 

He touted the magnificence of his $10 billion plan for water security in the Murray-Darling Basin, only to stand by later as PM and see it shredded by the known root vegetable Barnaby Joyce

He also claimed to be “a passionate advocate of the need to address climate change”, yet has gone on to sidle up to the coal industry and appoint Josh Frydenberg as the minister who speaks out of both sides of his mouth. 

What happened to the man who in 2007 wrote in bold font: “I believe environmental decisions must be based on science – not ideology or political grandstanding”? 

Today we have no clean energy target, as recommended by Doc Finkel, no cap and trade scheme, and carbon that is free to roam untaxed.


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I have the same problem with a "white" person...

Melbourne’s African-Australian community is bracing for more negative attention and harassment following a television current affairs story that claimed police would not admit the city was in the midst of an “African gangs” crisis due to political correctness.

Presented by reporter Alex Cullen, Channel Seven’s Sunday Night story featured an interview with Elaine French, whose workplace, a Toorak shop, IMP Jewellery, was robbed by a trio of men in October 2016 and five men in January 2017.

French told how the two robberies had ruined her life, saying she could not go to the shops because if she “ran into a coloured person I’d be having a panic attack again”. In the second incident, three underage offenders were sentenced to 18-month youth supervision in June last year, according to a report by News Corp. 


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Gus: I was robbed once by a white person on the telephone, so every time I see a white person and a telephone, I panic...


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turnbull is tampering again with sandpaper on the ball...

Malcolm Turnbull has said there is “real concern about Sudanese gangs” in Melbourne and defended earlier remarks by Peter Dutton suggesting people were afraid to go out for dinner in the Victorian capital because of the fear of “African gangs”.

On Tuesday, Turnbull defended the home affairs minister’s remarks in January, while insisting his government had “zero tolerance for racism”. 

The prime minister’s comments come amid escalating campaigning by the Coalition on immigration and crime in the lead-up to both the super Saturday byelections on 28 July and the Victorian state election later this year.

On Monday, the Liberal senator Dean Smith used the fact Australia’s population will soon tick over to 25m to call for an inquiry into population growth, while Dutton injected the immigration debate into the byelection campaigns in Longman and Braddon by boasting that permanent migration has fallen on his watch.


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more bullshit from turnbullshit...

THANK DOG for the good humour of Twitter. If it wasn’t for the comic relief offered by intelligent tweeps, I’d likely want to beat myself to death with a brick rather than face the horror show that is Malcolm Turnbull’s tenure in The Lodge.

With his attack on migrants and refugees from African backgrounds, the Fizza has outdone himself in terms of debasing his reputation for the sake of a few more months as Prime Minister.

"There is certainly concern about street crime in Melbourne. There is real concern about Sudanese gangs," Turnbull told 3AW.

When he was pressed to provide evidence, this was his lame response:

"I've heard people, colleagues from Melbourne, say there is real anxiety about crime in Melbourne.”

Yes colleagues, like Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, who himself recently stoked the racist flames with his support for a very dodgy campaign leaflet that was distributed only a few days before Malcolm "misspoke".


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