1. ABC goes big on white-inner-city-leftie-blokes-behind-desks related programming
And it’s all coming out of Melbourne, according to the Betoota Advocate. You can see what they mean!
Betoota, as you may well know, has a population of zero, in the middle of nowhere, but has an air strip and a race track. Each year Betoota hosts the Channel Country Ladies’ Day, which I think is actually three days.
2. USA yesterday’s hegemony
China now ranks ahead of the US in new global leadership poll. A Gallop’s poll of residents of 134 countries and regions around the world shows that approval of US leadership is currently at just 30%. That’s slightly behind China’s 31% approval rating.
- While China’s rating has remained steady since last year, the US approval rating has fallen nearly 20 percentage points from the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency and is now even 4 percentage points lower than in the last year that George W. Bush was president.
An astonishing article by Umair Haque at Eudaimonia says we’re underestimating the American collapse. He has identified what he calls:
- the social pathologies of collapse — strange, weird, and gruesome new diseases, not just ones we don’t usually see in healthy societies, but ones that we have never really seen before in any modern society.
He has five, I’ll give you three.
First, at time of writing America had 11 school shootings in the previous 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That just doesn’t happen elsewhere, not even in Afghanistan or Iraq.
- Costa Ricans now have higher life expectancy than Americans — because they have public healthcare. American life expectancy is falling, unlike nearly anywhere else in the world, save the UK — because it doesn’t.
Third, “nomadic retirees” live in their cars and chase seasonal work at Amazon or Walmart or wherever, so they can continue to eat until they die.
I understand that people who live in their cars in the US are not regarded as homeless.
Haque is saying that you can’t put what is happening in a global or historical perspective, because it’s outside the norm.
America first, I guess!
Trump’s idea is to spend $1.8 trillion on infrastructure while giving away $1.5 billion in tax cuts.
Obviously we await Lisa Simpson, who is elected president, but only after Trump ascends to the White House and mucks everything up.
Yes, I know the economy is said to be going well, said to be, the sharemarket is going gangbusters, and President Trump gave a State of the Union Address which because he kept to the script sounded presidential.
3. Politics begins again
Politicians will assemble to govern our fair country again next week. No doubt Newspoll will take a sounding on what the people think. Essential is already back at work, with their last poll showing Labor ahead 54-46.
This time last year we were wondering whether Malcolm Turnbull would last the year. It is now obvious that he will stay the course. I think there is a concerted strategy now to present him as presidential:
That was his speech in Toowoomba, spruiking regional jobs and tax cuts and his vision for Australia.
Seems Turnbull has given up doorstops, leaving the hand-to-hand combat to the likes of Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison.
Other than that, the LNP are clearly prepared to play hardball on the citizenship eligibility issue. There is a 100% chance that Susan Lamb will be referred to the High Court and around zero chance that any further government members will follow now that the LNP majority in the HoR is restored.
If Bill Shorten loses a by-election or two his leadership will be under pressure.
4. Cabinet files farce
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has owned up to losing two cabinets full of Cabinet files that should have remained under wraps for 20 years, but instead ended up at the ABC, which has created a special website. Among the shocks they revealed:
- The Australian Federal Police (AFP) lost nearly 400 national security files in five years, according to a secret government stocktake contained in The Cabinet Files.
- Nearly 200 top-secret code word protected and sensitive documents were left in a safe in the office of senior minister Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election.
The 195 documents included Middle East defence plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia’s neighbours and details of counter-terrorism operations.
For clarification, the documents left in Penny Wong’s office did not go anywhere. It’s just that they could have.
Australia’s defence information-sharing partners must be having second thoughts.
Strictly speaking the ABC should have returned the documents to the government, or called the AFP. However, I think the ABC did well to publish some of the stories, just to concentrate the minds of the responsible authorities.
We should also be thinking about new security laws being proposed which would have criminalised the staffers at the ABC for receiving the documents.
Given the juicy nature of some of the stories, some are asking whether cabinet documents should be secret for as long as 20 years. The argument is that cabinet advice and discussions need to be frank and fearless, and can’t be so if their words are going spread abroad. Perhaps 15 years would be enough.
5. Eddie’s van
This Rotary document tells how Rotary try to help the more than 100,000 people who are homeless in Australia. Denise, a lady it is my privilege to know, has been helping out with Eddie’s van (see p.8) over the last 17 years. The van is owned by St Joseph’s College in Spring Hill next the Brisbane’s CBD where the teachers and senior students provide breakfast to about 70 homeless and otherwise socially and financially disadvantaged people every morning.
The van had been idle from the end of November to the beginning of February. Enter Denise and helpers:
Here’s another photo:
The bloke on the left isn’t there to have breakfast.
6. Super blue blood moon