Saturday salon 10/3

1. WA elections

I haven’t followed the WA election closely, but the main impression is of chaos and farce. Newspoll has Labor ahead 54-46 TPP, with Labor winning 34 of the 59 seats in the lower house on a uniform swing. One Nation has tanked from 13% to 8% over the last six weeks.

Colin Barnett’s punishment for the upper house preference swap deal with ON was having to explain the reasons to the media 35 days in a row.

One Nation essentially imploded towards the end, with sackings, infighting and resignations. Crikey reports that One Nation HQ in Qld demanded:

    an extraordinary level of control over its candidates, including kicking candidates off their own Facebook pages and demands that they cull their followers lists to approved people only.

Yet they may still end up with the balance of power in the upper house.

At one stage I felt sorry for a WA ON candidate who was being pestered by the ABC over what he thought of Hanson’s views on vaccination and Putin, as though those topics would be foremost in voters’ minds.

It’s ON’s first run on the ground since their re-emergence at the last federal election. Senator Ron Boswell fought ON the first time, says the LNP need to fight her directly now and govern for the centre.

    “I said to my colleagues last week, you stupid bastards, you are governing for two weeks out,” Boswell told Guardian Australia on Tuesday.

    “All you are worried about is getting your next piece of legislation through. You’ve got to do that but when Sinodinos said she is nice and she is better than she was, I thought you’ll rue that day.

    “Because all you are doing is legitimising people voting for her. Making it safe for people to vote for her.”

Perhaps ON will implode all by themselves. Certainly they are showing their limitations.

2. Is Trump is ill?

No, says Dr Allen Frances it’s just bad behaviour. He says:

    Donald Trump is unlike any other president in US history. The country has had its share of stupid presidents, impulsive presidents, lying presidents, ignorant presidents, narcissistic presidents, bellicose presidents and unpredictable presidents.

    But never before has one so fully embodied all these undesirable traits. And never before have the institutions of US democracy appeared so fragile in the face of autocratic attack.

Frances says there are several petitions, signed by many psychiatrists, saying Trump is mentally unwell and should be removed from office. He says:

    I strongly oppose these initiatives for several reasons. But the main one is the inaccuracy of the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) diagnosis: Trump may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill.

    I wrote the criteria for NPD for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which guides mental health diagnosis in the US and beyond. These require not only that the personality features be present, but also that they cause clinically significant distress and impairment. Trump appears to cause severe distress in others (rather than experiencing it himself) and has been richly rewarded (rather than punished) for his self-promoting and self-absorbed behaviours.

    It also unfairly stigmatises people with mental illness (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Trump (who is neither) and it is an insult to the dignity of their sometimes deep suffering to compare it with his petulant tantrums and petty disappointments.

    We must avoid the frequent mistake of confusing mental illness with bad behaviour. Most people who lie, cheat and exploit others are not mentally ill, and most mentally ill people do not commit dishonourable acts.

That’s not quite the end of the matter, as this account at Vox and this one in The Guardian make clear.

Narcissism, like other mental disorders, is on a spectrum, and it’s a bit arbitrary just at what point a personality trait tips into a disorder. Nevertheless, many psychiatrists are concerned enough to break their usual rule about diagnosing outside the clinic, and commenting on public figures.

3. Looking for a leader

Essential Report this week showed voting intentions pretty much unchanged with Labor leading 53-47 TPP. However, the polls on who would make the best leader were a bit of a riot.

For the Liberals, it was Don’t know 28%, Malcolm Turnbull 20%, Someone else 18%, Julie Bishop 17%, Tony Abbott 10%, with Christopher Pyne, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton scoring 2% each.

Turnbull was at 42% in December 2015.

For Labor, the massive winner was Don’t know with 35%, followed by Bill Shorten at 21%, Someone else 16%, Tanya Plibersek 13%, Albo 11%, Chris Bowen 3% and Tony Burke 2%.

On penalty rates 57% think business will pocket the savings, while only 24% think business will employ more people. 51% think the government should legislate to protect penalty rates, while 31% think it shouldn’t.

20 thoughts on “Saturday salon 10/3”

  1. Trump might end up impeached because of his failure to meet the constitutional requirements for divesting his businesses to avoid conflict of interest.
    It would be very hard to get rid of him on grounds of insanity, in part because of the difficulty of getting consensus amongst experts on this issue.

  2. Only 2 impeachments have passed the US HoR, both Dems, neither got a 2/3 majority in the Senate.
    Trump Derangement Syndrome ( TDS ) and Election Deniers ( EDs) are what the ” Doctors ” should concern themselves with, inwardly and outwardly I recon.

  3. I think impeachment won’t happen unless Trump is in serious legal trouble.

    I think the tea party crazies in the Republican Party are possibly scarier than Trump and can do real damage to the American people.

  4. As far as I’m aware, impeachment is a long, slow, fairly unwieldy process in the U.S. (unlike Brazil and South Korea, for example).

    On balance, I think it’s valuable for stability and continuity that it’s a long, slow process. A poor system if it could happen on a whim.

    On the other hand, doubtless American citizens want integrity in their legislators [take note, Mr Wiener]. In Westminster polities we have the ” motion of no confidence” which in extreme cases can be brought on swiftly. Then there’s an election. We don’t just get the Deputy installed as PM.

    And then there’s the unseating of the Dear Leader by his/her party: Mr Abbott, Ms Gillard, Mr Rudd, Mr Hawke; Mrs Thatcher, etc.

    Mr Clinton was threatened with impeachment for lying under oath. Mr Trump would never do that. But if he were to be impeached for some tweet, at least he couldn’t hide the evidence. Unlike Mr Nixon tried to, with his sacking of the Special Prosecutor, Night of the Long Knives, and refusing to hand over his secret recordings of Oval Office conversations.

    ahhhhh ain’t reminiscin’ grand?
    Old Tricky,
    almost never lost a trick!!

  5. John Birmingham sums up #45 (paywalled unfortunately):

    Because it seems to me, three months into Donald Trump”s unpresidented reign of error, that the big mistake wasn”t a minority of the American people electing him. The big mistake was not hiding his fucking phone as soon as they did so.

  6. Electoral Commission results suggest that ON has a good chance of picking up one or more MLC seats in non-metropolitan areas. However, this is not a given and depends on how the preferences fall.
    You wouldn’t guess it from the commentary but the Greens are running no. 3 overall ahead of both the Nationals and ON. (Upper and lower house.)

  7. Yes, the Greens vote is up a bit, and look like picking up an extra upper house seat. The big story, though, is the Liberals tanking by nearly 16% and much of that going straight to Labor.

    The second big story is that ON fell away compared to pre-election polling.

    There must be implications for preferencing in the Qld election, and Turnbull should take from it the fultility of chasing votes on the far right.

  8. It’s difficult to say exactly what caused the WA result I guess, but it looks like middle of the road voters may have punished the Libs for their deal with ON.

    So rather than ‘ordinary Australians’ shifting towards the Trumpist/far-right phenomenon, they may be reacting against it. It would be good to see the same thing in Qld – given that Labor won the last election, it seems possible that ON’s support in Qld is over-rated just like it was in WA.

    I wonder if there is some reason that causes a bias towards ON in polling?

  9. Vale Muslim lawyer, government advisor Ko Ni, assassinated at Yangon Airport (Rangoon) by shooting at point blank range.

    Aung San Suu Kyi has reportedly gone into hiding.

    Long live democracy in Burma!!

  10. OK, Black Comedy.

    Think of it as a political parody where Abbott is Jerry, Fiona is the car industry, Lisa is the carbon price, and Alison is Gillard. If only Abbott had taken his pills.

  11. On Trump, as you know I like my history and made some historical comparisons of Trump with past political leaders including in Roman times on here previously. It recently occurred to me that in proto-democratic times of the greek city state of Athens, there ruled a character that some describe as the biggest jerk to ever live in the Classical Age – Alcibiades.

    Sure enough, when I googled to find if someone else has made the comparison, I came across this “The one Trump comparison you haven’t heard yet” in The Conversation non the less.

    The then Athenian political situation, just as the current American now suits Trump, it was a world ideally suited a young statesman named Alcibiades. Alcibiades was an Athenian billionaire with a larger-than-life personality to go with it. One of his biographers wrote:

    Such was his charisma that even those who feared him or were jealous of him fell victim to his charms.

    “Like Trump, Alcibiades knew that the more he courted controversy, the more he would grab the limelight – and the more people would listen to him when he spoke up in the Athenian Assembly, where the important issues of the day were decided by majority vote.

    Alcibiades didn’t deny he was a showoff. Instead he boasted of the benefits that had come to Athens as a result of his extravagance and high visibility. For him, as for Trump, politics was always personal.

    “A man who thinks highly of himself should not be expected to lower himself to the general level of mankind,” he asserted. “Those who are fortunate show contempt toward those who are unfortunate, and that’s the way it is.”

    The enigma behind Alcibiades and Trump is the charismatic hold they have over their supporters.

    How did it end all for Alcibiades and Athens, he became a defector and ultimately died in a hail of arrows. Where as Athens ended up being taken over by oligarchs for a few decades. But really, to get the clear picture you should read Thucydides account of those ancient events.

  12. I don’t know that I’d call the One Nation result a flop unless you agree the greens flopped.
    Given ON contested only 35 seats and got about 9% in those, around the same as the greens in all but 1.
    Neither got a electoral seat.
    LGR looks to be G3/ON2.

    An established party of some 27 years did about the same as ON did in less than 3 months.

    Nothing for a green to crow about.

  13. Wow, I’ve been out in the wild west this week, haven’t caught up with US politics.
    Trump pays more tax as a % of income than Obama and Bernie Sanders !?!?
    That can’t be correct, tell me it ain’t so.

  14. It ain’t so Jumpy.

    It is a standard trick used by climate denialists. Find one data point that suits a preferred position and talk as though it is a trend.

    One twelve year old tax record cherry picked almost certainly by Trump himself says only one thing,…..the US public is being played for fools by a con artist.

    History will put Trump in the same class of “leader” as Robert Mugabe.

  15. There is a thought that this one may have been leaked by the Trump mob, as it was marked as client copy.

  16. Well played Trump, use their bias against them.
    So embarrassing for Madcow and MSNBC.
    Id have thought Obamas legacy had more in common with Magabes.

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