“Did you hear about the terrorist who drove a vehicle into a crowd of people?”
“The one in Barcelona? Yeah it was all over the news all weekend. Couldn’t miss it.”
“No, the one in Charlottesville.”
“Oh I heard something about that, but was that terrorism?”
“Let’s see. A guy used lethal violence against civilians he perceived as political enemies. That fits most definitions of terrorism.”
“Why isn’t it being talked about the same way as London or Barcelona?”
“Do I even need to answer that?”
“Sadly, you don’t.”
From this side of the Pacific, Trump’s inadequacy seems incredibly self-evident and when they are not worrying about the spectre of nuclear war, many Australians laugh condescendingly about how any Americans could still vote for Trump. It is hard to overstate the role of Fox News and its even more malignant cousin, Breitbart, in explaining this phenomenon. They push a narrative so far from reality you can scarcely understand how people believe them. But obviously they do.
But before we congratulate ourselves for not making the same mistakes, let’s make sure such praise is deserved.
I’ve voted in more elections that I can remember, but even so, today I took a few minutes to ensure my electoral details were correct. If Brexit taught us anything, it’s that when you don’t take part in voluntary voting processes you leave yourself open to awful results.
So my message to anyone reading this is please do the same and check your enrolment at www.aec.gov.au. Actually it is more than this. Make sure you are enrolled to take part in the plebiscite AND make sure you vote YES!
I don’t think there is anything new to write criticising Trump (at least until his next set of tweets). That is all being covered pretty well from many angles, so I‘ll just make a couple of comments here about what might happen in the future.
While I always leave open the possibility for him to surprise me- rarely a week goes by that he doesn’t surprise me to some extent- I believe there is a very real likelihood that Donald Trump will not see out the full term of his presidency.
Whether he is impeached for his connections to Russia or resigns amidst staggering public disapproval, increasing bipartisan hostility from Congress and an inability to enact legislation, the likelihood of a Pence administration taking over before the next election seems to strengthen with each passing week- especially ones where Trump refuses to condemn Neo-Nazis.
The federal Liberal Party is truly pathetic, but never let it be said they won't explore all options to avoid doing the right thing.
So now we are spending 120 million on a national opinion poll (calling it a plebiscite is a little generous). I’m not going into the idiocy of such economic vandalism, as that is pretty self-explanatory.
I wrote last week that the Coalition's marriage equality circus could somehow be the end of Turnbull as our Prime Minister. The released transcript of his conversation with Donald Trump shows it will not be a sad day when he does go (although none of his likely replacements are any reason to cheer).
If you haven't read the appalling transcripts, published by The Washington Post, here is a link.
It is hard to fully comprehend this lack of humanity towards vulnerable people. Turnbull's words make crystal clear the fact that the victims of our illegal offshore detention facilities have been thoroughly checked and are no threat to the country. The only reason they continue to be held in cruel and unsafe offshore detention is for appearances.
The contrast couldn’t be more obvious. Two politicians discover they have dual citizenship and resign apologetically. Two more discover the same thing, but take no responsibility and employ any means of desperate sophistry they can come up with to cling to their jobs.
It is often commented that you never really know what politicians stand for because you can’t trust their word anyway. Certainly the Abbott and Turnbull governments have sunk to a new low in this regard and I appreciate why people find it difficult to judge politicians on their policy promises these days.
But you can also judge people and the parties they represent on their character. And in this regard you couldn’t find a more stark difference than over the recent dual-citizenship debacles.
Two years ago one of my first articles on this site considered the arguments for and against marriage equality. Since then, nothing has happened to change the fact that there is no reasonable argument for denying same sex individuals the right to marriage equality.
In that time a large number of countries around the world have actually realised this and changed their laws accordingly- with little reported consequences other than a number of people were happier. Who would have thought?
And yet it is being reported this week that this could be the issue that finally detonates the Turnbull government.
There is a reason cars have a reverse gear.
Sometimes we have to go backwards in life and right ourselves, before we can keep progressing towards our goals. If everything was easy and we never had difficulty or faced failure or challenge, we would actually lose a lot of satisfaction from life, I suspect.
But this can be easily forgotten.
While he may come across as a bit of a jerk, Bernard Tomic is undeniably a very good tennis player, not that you hear much about that. I am certainly no fan of his, but I can’t help feeling the guy gets a bit of a rough deal with the media, perhaps exacerbated by the public’s fascination with celebrity villains. But he hasn't done himself any favours with his latest behaviour.
Islamaphobia was one of the first topics I wrote about on this website and part of the reason I started writing.
I have never heard of Prue MacSween until now and I was happier that way. From best I can make out, she seems to be something of a one trick pony when it comes to getting headlines through statements designed for shock value. For this reason, I am not going to dwell on her disgusting behaviour overly because I don’t want to reward it with more attention than trolls like her deserve.
I feel like it is important to be a little cautious throwing the label of ‘Nimbyism’ around as some measure of it is perfectly natural. We would all prefer that necessary changes and developments required to meet the needs of our growing society, came at no cost to us personally.
So I get that everyone has a right to object when proposals may impact them. But sometimes you have to be willing to give up a little bit for something that will mean a lot more to others. I don’t think it is unreasonable that we ask people to show a little empathy for others in these circumstances.
If Yoda from Star Wars was asked about the Liberal Party, he might say, “The hypocrisy is strong in this one.”
Seriously, I would actually feel sorry for Christopher Pyne- if I’d seen any evidence that he or his Coalition colleagues could feel human emotions.
But this week’s drama is hard to comprehend. Pyne dared to admit (in private) that the LGBTI community should actually be entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples and a few days later there is pressure on Turnbull (and we know how resolutely our PM stands up to backbench pressure) to remove Pyne from the frontbench. It reminded me of several months ago when Josh Frydenberg had the effrontery to suggest the government might consider actually letting energy policy be informed by science and implement the ETS that had been recommended. He was quickly put back in his place, suitably chastised for making statements not in agreement with Coalition policy, just as Pyne appears to have been.
Courting controversy through offensive statements is no accident for Pauline Hanson. It is a deliberate strategy. Aside from her core constituency of racists and Islamaphobes, she has flirted with anti-vaccers, men’s rights activists and climate deniers among others by making statements that no reasonable politician would.
But even so, I was still surprised by her ignorant denigration of autistic students in parliament yesterday.
I remember being quite shocked and asking myself, “Did I really just read that?” To my autistic friends and former students let me say clearly, Hanson's appalling words speak volumes about her and those who vote for her, but are no reflection on you.
The issue of crowded, under-resourced classrooms in schools is a real one for teachers, especially when they include students with highly challenging behaviours. But conflating this issue with autism specifically was both weird and unnecessarily cruel.
I haven't been shy about criticising the Coalition for the way they have been failing us, but I won't give the ALP a free pass just because they are in opposition. I said in a recent post that the lesser of two evils is often way better than the alternative, but on some policy areas it really isn't much better at all.
Considering how quickly they are simultaneously trashing our economy, our climate and our international reputation, I can’t wait to see the back of this government. And it would be great if our political landscape was simple enough that I could say (whilst I actually vote independent) I preference Labor ahead of Liberal because I agree with Labor’s policies. But like many things, the truth is more complicated than that.
I wonder what elite female athletes are making of the various dragged out pay disputes in a number of high profile men’s sports, including AFL, NRL and cricket.
Having made that comment, I am going to focus on men’s sports in this article (arguably following the lead of advertisers, administrators and broadcasters), and will add my thoughts on the pay discrepancy around women’s sports in a separate article.
I instinctively support the players when I hear about these kinds of disputes. They are the ones we pay to watch after all. But after thinking about it a little more deeply, I am not sure that is really as compelling an argument as we might assume for why they should receive a larger proportion of the revenue.
Has anyone else noticed that our budget-conscious government never hands out millions of dollars for no reason (unless it is to the coal industry)?
So how can our government’s agreement to pay 70 million dollars compensation to the detainees of Manus Island (and another 20 million to the lawyers that represented them) be anything other than an admission of guilt and mistreatment?
I had an interesting conversation with someone recently that started when they commented that they wouldn’t argue with someone who they thought was “too smart for them.” This is not the only incarnation I have seen of people with a lack of confidence in their own intelligence so, fully aware of the inherent irony of this post (it is like the old joke, “Get confident, stupid”), I thought I would have a go at tackling this type of thinking.
Being able to think for yourself and decide your own opinions is one of the privileges of being alive and in Australian society we are lucky enough to also have the right to publicly express that opinion (but not to hypocritically expect others not to challenge us). It would be a shame to waste such a gift by slavishly conforming to the opinions of those we think of as more intelligent, knowledgeable or educated (as Tony Abbott’s Rhodes Scholarship proves, there is a big difference between intelligence and education). There is no shortage of people out there actively trying to dictate your opinion according to their own agenda (as I am doing right now), so it is pretty important you think carefully about things that are important to you, so that you aren’t manipulated by others (hello, News Corp).
Okay I am using the title a little facetiously as it isn’t the kind of thing you would usually find in my writing, but I do want to write about inspiration today.
My friends Maddie and Jill (aka Mumma Bear) are running their first marathon next week. It is pretty damn awesome! I went for a run with them on Saturday and got excited and inspired all over again.
I don’t follow British politics too closely, but was happy for Jeremy Corbyn after his party’s unexpected resurgence in last week’s election. In the last few years, the poor guy has endured treasonous white-anting from within his own party and some of the most viciously partisan coverage from the right wing press, who loudly proclaimed him an unelectable terrorist sympathiser.