1. Free speech has its limits
Yassmin Abdel-Magied found out that speech in Australia is not free if the political right do not agree with what you say, or when you choose to say it. She does some part-time work for the ABC, so it was front page on the Daily Tele and:
- Conservative commentators Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson have both questioned whether Abdel-Magied has the qualifications to hold her job at the ABC.
Acting PM Barnaby Joyce said the ABC should take “further action” against Abdel-Magied. The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has labelled her a “disgrace”, Senator Eriz Abetz called her comments “reprehensible” while Liberal MP George Christensen called for her to be sacked, adding that “self-deportation should also be considered”.
What did she do to deserve this?
Seven words on Facebook:
“Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)”
Facebook is not a public medium, so she can say what she likes within reason. She took the post down, in response to objections from her Facebook followers, it seems, but outside that I don’t think it should have been news.
Right wing free speech warriors seem to support free speech only if they agree with what you say.
Meanwhile in Adelaide, Kaurna elder Katrina Ngaitlyala Power got some flack after she gave a Welcome to Country referencing the “invasion”, “slavery” and the “stolen land” of her ancestors.
Ms Power later defended her comments, saying she wanted to give “voice to all the Aboriginal people that have fought in war”.
She said only “truth telling” of history could see black and white move forward together.
Nevertheless, perhaps not the best strategy. Free speech fine, but a welcome speech is hardly the time to poke people in the eye.
2. Trump watch
Trump has reached his 100 days in office, when people usually pause and contemplate what difference the new president has made.
ABC RN’s Drive program talked to Michael Medved, conservative American radio show host, author, political commentator, and a staunch member of the Never Trump movement.
I loved his quote from Otto von Bismarck, along the lines “God has a special providence for drunkards, imbeciles, children and the United States of America.” Turns out there are various versions, probably misattributed, and around before Bismarck.
Medved said Trump had appointed one Supreme Court judge, failed to destroy Obamacare, messed up a meeting with Angela Merkel, whose name he couldn’t remember, and the rest you know. He said the media – TV, newspapers, radio – had become vastly more popular and profitable, as a third of the population followed every move with adulation, for a third it was a living nightmare, and a third were confused and dicombobulated.
Trump has changed 180 degrees in some respects. He’s now patched up his relationship to China, fallen out with Putin, says he’ll renegotiate NAFTA rather than tear it up, and will pay for the stupid wall with Mexico. Getting Congress to pay for it may be harder.
Medved said Trump’s cabinet appointments were excellent, but the people in his office were awful and should be nowhere near the levers of government.
Trump thought being president would be easier than being a real estate mogul, but he was wrong. His staff, the ones Medved finds so awful, are making it easier by presenting only one option rather than several (full story here).
Tweets continue to flow (460), along with executive orders (25) and visits to golf courses (19).
3. Good debt, bad debt
ScoMo says this year’s budget will distinguish between “good” debt and “bad” debt.
The idea is to balance the budget for ongoing expenditure, like health, education and social security, but to allow debt where it is going to earn money and build the nation.
In his farewell address, former RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the economy would only be pulled out if its malaise if “someone, somewhere, has both the balance sheet capacity and the willingness to take on more debt and spend”.
“Let me be clear that I am not advocating an increase in deficit financing of day-to-day government spending,” Mr Stevens said.
“The case for governments being prepared to borrow for the right investment assets – long-lived assets that yield an economic return – does not extend to borrowing to pay pensions, welfare and routine government expenses, other than under the most exceptional circumstances.”
Rob Burgess says the new rhetoric is a jarring shift from the imbecilic ranting of Abbott but not before time.
Anthony Albanese says it’s what Labor the Reserve bank and economists have been saying, but:
- warned the government’s “ill-advised” decision to create an infrastructure unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, rather than relying on the independent Infrastructure Australia, risked pork barrelling.
It seems the NBN is the model. Phillip Coorey says the much-vaunted inland rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane will be on the agenda, and almost certainly the second Sydney aiport at Badgery Creek. Other projects could include a gas pipeline from central Australia to Moomba and Snowy Hydro 2.0.
It sounds as though the focus will be narrower than Glenn Stevens had in mind, concentrating on assets that produce tangible revenue.
Government ownership is suddenly visionary rather than intrinsically bad.
4. Medical muso
Eight years ago guitarist Andrew Schulman temporarily died while suffering anaphylactic shock after pancreatic cancer surgery. They got his heart going again, but things looked grim. The physician says no-one recovers from terminal acidosis. In a coma with lactic acid built up and leaking out of his tissues, you don’t survive that.
In desperation is wife suggested putting his iPod in his ears and playing him music. In 30 minutes he started stabilising, by evening he was out of danger, and three days later he came out of the coma.
The music was Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion, his favourite piece.
Now wih the hospital’s participation he plays music to the worst cases, with great success. It doesn’t work every time, but often the results are dramatic.
He instances many cases, including a woman who was in a hyper state of ICU delirium, who had been held down by three nurses for two hours. Ten seconds in, and the woman relaxed. Music is particularly good for balancing the brain. Bach is best, he finds, but he’s also had success with Gershwin and The Beatles.
It seems music was not some later addition in our evolution, rather it was a fundamental part of our evolutionary story, deeply involved in becoming who we are.
Follow the link and listen to Schulman’s playing, or read the transcript.