Weekly salon 26/8

1. Watch out Richard Di Natale!

Lee Lin Chin is coming to get you.

Not sure you can see this so I’ve done a screenshot:

2. You can’t put pig on a lipstick!

Quote of the week from George Christensen:

    You can’t put pig on a lipstick (sic) and pretend it’s the homecoming queen.

Incoherent at the best of times, but out-did himself in talking about the NEG. Definitely not drunk.

You might see and hear it here, but here’s a screenshot.

He’s definitely serious, and it was indeed the issue that broke Turnbull’s PMship in the end.

3. Longevity of PMs

This image has been floating around the intertubes:

I think this one, which appeared in an article by Laura Tingle, is probably more accurate:

It puts Turnbull in the fat tail that runs from John Gorton to Edmund Barton.

Much has been said about the reasons why Canberra has become the coup capital of the world.

I think it is good that we can remove prime ministers who are unsatisfactory. Compare, for example, how hard it is to remove a president of the United States.

The one easy thing we can do is for the Liberals and the Nationals to follow The Greens and Labor in involving party membership in the process of selecting a leader. This has, I think, stabilised a Labor Party previously addicted to and distracted by factional plotting. The Liberal Party seems now open to the idea.

4. Did they do anything for us, or were they just in it for themselves?

Tim Colebatch recently wrote:

    In politics, disunity is death. Labor is already an odds-on bet to be in government within months. A disunited Coalition could be facing a long period in opposition.

    That is now its normal place in Australian politics. In the thirty-five years since Bob Hawke led Labor to victory in 1983, Labor has governed most of the time, at national level and in all six states. The Howard era was the outstanding exception; but John Howard has been the only Liberal leader since 1983, federal or state, to win more than two terms.

    Once the natural parties of government, the Liberals and Nationals have become the natural parties of opposition. And many of them are at home in that role. As Norman Abjorensen has argued, politics on the right has become “a form of cultural protest” as much as a movement that aims at winning political power.

An interesting statement. In view of the rotating doors since 2007, what have been the main achievements?

Rudd achieved a lot by his own account, but notable achievements included restoring balance in industrial relations, saving us from the GFC, seriously tackling national infrastructure which was decaying rapidly, starting the NBN, although that was Steven Conroy really, who had to catch the plane to Dubai so that he could talk to Rudd on the way. On climate, we joined Kyoto, did pink batts (not a bad program) and Kevin Rudd busted his gut in the UNFCCC Copenhagen where he was one of three PMs designated ‘friends of the chair’. Rudd reckons the Chinese ‘ratf*cked the whole thing, which they did with India, Brazil and some other countries. Rudd came back exhausted, probably didn’t sleep for 72 hours, was never the same again, walked away from the CPRS and the rest is history.

Gillard achieved a lot, including climate change, which I praised in It’s simple, really and criticised in Assumptions underlying the CEF package:

    The CEF is a better-than-nothing start which aligns us with the level of ambition of those countries taking action or making pledges on climate change mitigation. Unfortunately when seen against the real problem it remains a half-hearted and anaemic attempt.

Gillard also achieved MySchool, the National Curriculum (something that Dawkins tried in the 1980s), uncapped university places, thus creating a world-class education export industry (but don’t mention quality), Gonski, the NDIS and much more.

Abbott destroyed as much as he could of climate policy, the NBN and more and achieved stopping the boats and border security, except that was done mainly by Scott Morrison – and a string of trade deals, which Labor had been working on. Then he destroyed the car industry.

Turnbull? You tell me. He kept the show rolling, sold out on climate change, jobs and growth kept growing, (as did debt) though without any pay rise for most, and some tax cuts in the out years to small businesses. And he kept the Liberal Party together until it fell apart.

This leaves aside the social agenda, where Rudd said “sorry” to the stolen generations, which Peter Dutton boycotted, where Gillard started the institutional sexual abuse inquiry, and Turnbull was dragged reluctantly to do something about same sex marriage and an inquiry into the banks. Abbott set up a Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption under Dyson Heydon, designed to get Bill Shorten, but it failed.

5. Why is Turnbull so happy?

As he left he said:

    It may surprise you on a day like this but I remain very optimistic and positive about our nation’s future, and I want to thank the Australian people for the support they’ve given me and my government over the last nearly three years.

He has a close family, for one. However, I have a theory that he practices some form of yoga meditation. Julia Gillard did. Tony Windsor said he could not understand how Gillard, after an excoriating Question Time, could be so focussed and on task.

I believe Turnbull does some kind of breathing/meditation practice, although I can’t find it on the net. There is plenty of it about. There are 550 (literally) different ‘mindfulness’ apps you can download from the net, if you have a spare minute or two. The whole parliament got a burst just before Turnbull took over.

However, when the 2016 election results came in, whatever he was doing to achieve equanimity broke down. It was a pivotal time. His election margin was supposed to give him the authority to lead his riven mob. Instead he remained hostage to the ‘conservatives’, using his lawyer skills to represent positions he had no personal commitment to. In the end this communicated inauthenticity which gave him negative personal ratings in the polls.

6. Border security the key to ScoMo

We are told Scott Morrison is a social conservative voted against same-sex marriage and likes to joke about how he created Lara Bingle of the tourist ad “Where the bloody hell are you?” fame.

Whatever his virtues and strengths, for me at present his border security record defines him.

Scott Morrison owned the border security issue, which he weaponised and conducted like a war.

A very effective policy, if you do not think about and have no care for the people on the boats that are turned back and what happens to those members of the human race. The Turnbull government has also maintained a rigid position on those we are persecuting on Manus Island and Nauru. It’s called instrumental ethics. We punish the innocent as a warning for others to stay away.

If Labor wins office and does not move quickly to resolve the ‘Pacific solution’ I believe there will be an internal eruption.

Right now we can’t keep our own people safe. Stevan Utah, who infiltrated the Bandidos bikie gang, has just been granted given refugee status in Canada.

48 thoughts on “Weekly salon 26/8”

  1. Sorry this took so long. If you read it you will understand why.

    Have to do a few other things, get some exercise, and than come back and look at the comments threads. Can’t do three things at once!

  2. Whatever his ( ScoMo* ) virtues and strengths, for me at present his border security record defines him.

    That seems a very narrow personal Overton window to me.

    {* my bold }

  3. Damn!, no B-quote to illustrate the first sentence was from Brian.
    Sorry for any confusion.

  4. Nice one GC though( #1)) . it’s not a spooneristitc gaff, not sure what that’s classified as.
    Next week “ You cant turd a polish “

  5. But I hear Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird*.
    ( * no scientific evidence this is possible, just saying)

  6. Jumpy, Overton window indeed!

    I’m not limiting discourse. OTH ScoMo, which I’ve decided to use for short, has shown the limits of his compassion, and his view of who deserves to be treated with humanity.

    It goes a bit further than that. About 15 years ago I read an exposition by Desmond Manderson on the philosophy of the Jewish theologian Emmanuel Levinas about ‘care of strangers’.

    It’s a complicated story, but how we respond to strangers seeking our help defines us and can diminish us if we respond inappropriately.

    On ScoMo generally, I warmed to him a bit after seeing Annabel Crabb’s kitchen cabinet thing on him. He’s more than a narrow fundie.

    He is robust as a personality, so I’m hoping he will just tell ministers to bugger off if they come up with stupid proposals like coal-fired power stations.

  7. Leaving aside the quaint native political ceremonies of a Third World colony for the moment – the most exciting detective story of the decade has just had a new development:
    DNA analysis of bone fragments from a child has shown that she was a Denisovan-Neanderthal hybrid.

    One problem seems to be that all the material evidence on Denisovans seems to come from the one cave. Wonder if it might be worthwhile subjecting a lot of Neanderthal remains from much further west to DNA testing? It may well be that a lot of Neanderthal remains, assumed to be pure Neanderthal simply because they were found in association with DNA-proven Neanderthal remains, were something else. Serendipity being what it is, who knows what surprise await us if such extensive DNA testing were carried out. Expensive? Of course, but a far better use of the world’s wealth than squandering it on useless war-toys, on uncomfortable and ugly mansions or on more Trumpery.


  8. Deary me!
    56:44 on 2PP

    I hear that the new Environment Minister once worked in the mining industry. This is a step forwards, people. Rocks are an important part of our planet’s environment. In fact, the rocks provide a sure and solid foundation for everything else.

    Where would the rivers, seas and forests be without rocks to undergird them? Where the atmospheric dust without regular volcanic replenishment? How can you possibly have continents without rocks?

    [Hansard extract]
    “Crystals, diamonds, gold, beach sands, and indeed soils, Mr Speaker! Members opposite may mock, Mr Speaker! I stand for the boulders of this wide, rock-strewn land. Terra Australis, Mr Speaker. And Terra does not mean koalas and rare parrots!! No indeedy. We must raise the rocks, inspect them, and then if profitable, process and export them. We must build, but we must build surely“.

    (Minister feels tug on sleeve. Colleagues ask her to sit down.)

  9. Look, this is a bit different.
    More in the tradition of the “Saturday Salon” of ancient times, where posters could just about say anything.

    From “The Onion”.
    (US satirical website)

    DINKELSBÜHL, GERMANIA—Stressing that he simply found the boorish displays to be beneath him in every respect, pretentious peasant Hans van Leden repeatedly insisted Friday that he never stoops to watching beheadings. “Frankly, I’ve always thought there was something a bit crass about frittering away your time in the churchyard with the rest of the masses, gawking at the decapitation of some heathen or other,” said van Leden, noting that he far preferred the intellectual rewards of listening to the “true majesty” of Gregorian plainchant to the lowbrow fare of flayings and impalements that his fellow field laborers somehow brought themselves to enjoy.

    [… but…. it’s not that I’m prejudiced against Germanians, nor indeed ‘pretentious peasants’.]

  10. She may not want the position but Lee Lin Chin is duty bound to don the mantle of Prime Chinister and to grasp the sceptre of Chief Minister too. It is the only way dignity and honour can be restored to our highest public offices after the school-yard squabble.

  11. Today I was in the bush and took a fall. I ended up shoulder charging the base of a polythyrene rain tank, but my right hand hit a besser block to break my fall.

    Nothing broken, but a strained knuckle joint on my index finger, and my wrist has also been strained. Every key stroke hurts!

  12. We’re sorry to hear that, BB.
    You have a deft touch with phrases: ‘shoulder charging a tank’.

    I recall shoulder charging a tree stump in the yard after taking a wild swipe at an aggressive bee. The shoulder felt very sorry for itself, not having been a rugby shoulder in earlier times.

    Best wishes for a good recovery.

  13. Thanks, Ambi. Later last night it became apparent that the main trauma was actually in my wrist. Happens I’ve got one of those stretchy wrist support sleeves, leftover from the last time, which would have been 15 years ago or more. It’s noticeably better this morning. My body is a good healer and doesn’t seem to want to give up on me yet, so here’s hoping.

  14. He needs to look up the definition of “ fascism “ though,

    a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

    and maybe mention an example of a system he prefers over Capitalism to compare.
    But Capitalism bashers never do do they.

  15. I’ve read zoot’s link with interest. Excerpts:

    80% of American live paycheck to paycheck. 70% have less than $1000 in savings. A third struggle to afford even healthcare, education, and shelter. As a result, America’s seeing what Angus Deaton calls “deaths of despair.” The suicide rate is skyrocketing, and longevity is falling, as people who can’t cope with the trauma appear to be simply giving up on life. It is no mistake to say that capitalism is killing Americans — and yet, Americans are tragically wedded to capitalism.


    What’s really going on here? “Growth” has turned predatory. American economics supposes — because it assumes capitalism is the best solution to everything — that growth is always good. But growth is not always good. Not just because it eats the planet (though it does) — but in this case, for a more immediate reason. Capitalism isn’t just eating the planet. It’s eating democracy, civilization, truth, reality, the future, and you.

    Jumpy, are you saying his depiction of what is going on is untrue?

    What would you do about it?

    Whether or not it is strictly fascism or has many of the characteristics of fascism is moot and not all that relevant. The situation is godawful.

    No-one I know has an alternative to capitalism, but many say it needs to be civilized. That requires concerted action by the nation state and by nation states acting together.

    Many countries are doing better at civilizing capitalism than the USA.

  16. I’ve been out shopping for an ergonomic chair and succeeded in finding a lot of stuff I wouldn’t buy.

    I’d planned to do a new Weekly salon tonight but forgot we are going out tonight for an early Father’s Day meal with our son.

    So it will happen when it happens.

  17. Jumpy:

    and maybe mention an example of a system he prefers over Capitalism to compare.
    But Capitalism bashers never do do they.

    You may be surprised to learn that the key feature of our system is that it, in practice, it is a constitutional democracy. As far as I know the constitution does not insist that economic activity has to be capitalist. Fortunate given that our economy includes a mix of government, community and individual economic activity as well as capitalism and not for profit activities. Government economic activity includes businesses such as running public transport that could be done by others. Labeling our society as “CAPITALIST” seems to be another example of capitalist propaganda.

  18. Ok then, Umair is totally correct, America is god awful, it’s all Capitalisms fault and the definitions of words he uses multiple times is moot and irrelevant.

    Probably best if a wall is built to protect the millions of innocent bushwalkers from accidentally wonder into the hellhole every year and get trapped there.

  19. New Salon now here. I’d written it as a page rather than a post which is what those links on the LHS column are, although it didn’t show up there either.

  20. Jumpy, you are carrying things to extremes in order to discredit them, which you often do.

    I have a sister in Toronto, and can assure you no-one wanders into the USA. And the border officials don’t care how long it takes to process you at the check-points.

  21. 80% of American live paycheck to paycheck. 70% have less than $1000 in savings. A third struggle to afford even healthcare, education, and shelter.

    To appropriate his favourite tactic of false binaries, Jumpy is obviously arguing this is the best of all possible worlds.
    I would suggest these poor souls are no longer on the road to serfdom, they have well and truly arrived.

  22. No need to call it a hell hole, but life expectancy has fallen for the second year in a row, which is not supposed to happen in developed countries. It wasn’t all that high to begin with.

    The big problem seems to be with the opioid epidemic among black men, which says something about how the society is functioning.

    Infant mortality was the worst of 20 comparable countries studied, and:

    children between the ages of 15 and 19 were 82 times more likely to die from gun-related homicide in the U.S. than in the comparison countries.

    Jump, you might check out how they are doing with food insecurity and homelessness, and report back to us.

  23. And it has to all be the fault of Capitalism, got it.
    Nothing at all to do with failed socialist policies that have eroded the family unit. Ok.
    And I suppose the most corrode and dangerous Cities in America are run by Republicans too.

    Brian, you may want to read something from Thomas Sowell, anything.

    In Australia, drugs on the PBS have more overdose deaths than illegal drugs and alcohol combined.

  24. Mr J

    Difficult to discern the “socialist policies” that you claim have been implemented in the USA.

    Do you mean the kind of ameliorist social welfare provisions very common in Europe and the Anglosphere, dating back to the early 20th century in some cases (“food relief”, dole, soup kitchens, public hospitals). If you are thinking of policies implemented in NZ, Australia, UK these are “mixed economies” as John pointed out, social programmes often introduced by social democratic parties then continued in most instances by subsequent conservative governments.

    At no stage have NZ, Australia, UK, Canada, USA, Sweden, West Germany, Norway or Denmark etc had a Communist government. Various types of democratic socialist parties have held government at various times.

    The US Democrats have had a small “socialist” rump at times. Democrats fought against the CPUSA in the 1948 Presidential election and all through the 1950s and 1960s. There was an official Socialist Party in the US many decades ago; it was very unsuccessful in elections, overall.

    Perhaps I misunderstood your comment?
    Were you just slinging slander after all?

  25. In Australia, drugs on the PBS have more overdose deaths than illegal drugs and alcohol combined.

    And in the US legal drugs kill more people than illegal drugs.

    What does that have to do with capitalism’s failure to provide a large proportion of US citizens with adequate shelter, food and health care?

  26. Jumpy: Sweden, Australia and the US all have economies dominated by capitalism but there are enormous differences in the level of social justice within these countries. You have to look at the history, demographics and environment of these countries to try and work out how they have ended up where they are.
    Mateship is part of our history and that affects our attitude to social justice and the valuing of fairness.

  27. Jumpy

    Thanks for the Wikipedia link.
    I reckon it is entirely consistent with what I summarised.

    I was more interested in whether socialist policies had been implemented in the US, than in whether or not the Communist Party had been at loggerheads with the US Trotskyites in the 1950s. (Isn’t that a very minor footnote in American political history?)

    Now I do acknowledge that the socialist Mayors of Milwaukee, and Eugene Debs’ one million votes in 1920 are solid, factual pieces of evidence.

    But what, pray tell, are they evidence of??

  28. Jumpy the link you provided says that in the US:

    the socialist movement remains marginal, “almost unique in its powerlessness among the Western democracies”.

    On Thomas Sowell, Google told me he was from the Chicago School, and I might also like to look at Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek among others. There were three recent Twitter quotes. I agreed with one of three.

    His Wikipedia article tells me quite a lot, including that his “latest is another triumph of crackling observations that underscore the ignorance of our economists and policymakers.” Also that “he draws causal inferences without rigorous methodology,[58] publishes work that lacks credible sources[59] or omits references entirely,[60] and makes contradictory comments about academia and intellectualism.”

    Also he reckons gun control laws cost lives rather than save them.

    Then he was “strongly critical of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and officially endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries” but “would vote against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the general election, due to fears about the appointments Clinton would possibly make to the Supreme Court.”

    Tell you what – if it rains again for two weeks the way it did in 1996, from memory, when we got 32 inches in 10 days, I’ll give him a go.

  29. Brian

    I’m shocked! Are you hoping for another Brisbane Flood?

    Or just slow, plentiful rain that soaks deep into the parched soil, starts to fill dams with steady, gentle runoff that doesn’t erode topsoil; cooler days, good Spring crops and garden growth… /rain fantasy

  30. On the other hand Jumpski, if you can indicate how these fringe socialist micro-parties have somehow infiltrated or infected the mainstream Parties, and influenced Congresspersons (not always in the Kama Sutra sense), or Party election programs, then go ahead and do so.

    Popular Front governments were elected in Spain and France during the 1930s. As far as I can recall, no such President or Congressional majority has ever been elected in the USA.

    In Australia we had active Stalinist and Trotskyite groups (and Maoist, Anarchist, Henry George, League of Rights, etc.)

    In the 1940s and 1950s, communist parties in Australia still advocated the seizure of power by the working class, along Bolshevik lines. They denounced the ALP, as betrayers of working men. They portrayed Parliament as a bourgeois sham, ruling for the capitalist and monopolist predators. They claimed to be dinky-die revolutionaries. An heroic vanguard. Pure, selfless and correct.

    I have seen an argument that, during the 1950s and 1960s, when Communism was anathema to most Aussies, the Communist front groups, e.g. “Peace Councils” [where genuine commos hoped to influence and perhaps recruit non-commo persons, or sympathisers] also witnessed another effect: because the commos were attempting to use the front organisation to appeal to wider segments of folk, they had to moderate their messages. And this became such a habit (or necessity) that some individual commos finished up holding views that were much less militant than before. Even accepting the Parliamentary Road to Socialism!!

    Oh, the horror.

  31. Ambi, on the rain, I grew up on a farm where it was often too dry, so too much rain for me is never enough!

    On that occasion an ‘eastern low’ just sat off the coast in late April/early May and just kept spinning it in.

    Then in 2010 again in May, from recollection, we had over 18 inches in 27 hours. Remember someone near the creek had a refrigerator land on their lawn.

    On those occasions it was almost enough.

  32. Just back to the good old USA, I’m reading a book by Barbara Ehrenreich and it is lacerating.

    When she were young if you had a strong back you could get a job in the USA to support a family. She says the poorest 20% of white people are really in trouble, blessed if they can live in a trailer park or tent city, and life expectancy for poor white males was reducing by a year per year for a while, in part because many were topping themselves.

  33. Bl***y hell, Brian (I mean on the USA). A hollowed out middle class; less full-time or permanent work for blue collar folk; a low minimum wage; low pensions or savings, and costly medical services.

    It’s not pretty and (if you will forgive a jibe) Hillary didn’t get near having a solution.

    “Serfdom” is a very unpleasant word, zoot.

    On rain: when Bob Hawke broke the Vic drought in 1983, we had five inches in about an hour, and the runoff hurtled down our bush track, across the lawn, and lapped at the back door. Much frantic sweeping with a yard broom. All three adults very busy for a few hours. No flood.

    Within days, the drainage on that lawn was revised to prevent a re-occurrence.

    Good for the rainwater tanks, but.

  34. “Serfdom” is a very unpleasant word, zoot.

    Indeed it is, and (just a personal observation) I believe Marx was firmly against people being reduced to that condition.
    Unfortunately, unregulated capitalism in the USA has given rise to an emerging neo-feudal society where people, even those working multiple jobs, can’t afford adequate food, shelter or health care. That’s close enough to serfdom for me.

  35. My American son has commented that some of the families sleeping under plastic inn San Francisco parks have full time jobs.
    The basic wage there in $US is about half the Aus basic wage in $Aus. We found that it cost us about the same in $US to get things in the US as it did in $Aus to live in Australia.
    Watched the Bannon interview on 4 corners last night. Cunning as a s..house rat who understands how to exploit the woes of the low income whites into votes for the Republicans. Says that the democrats, who used to be the party of white working class people, has deserted this base.
    The Democrats have become the party of the educated middle class.
    Labor has to compete with the Greens (educated middle class but concerned about inequality) in some traditional Labor seats and against an LNP that wants to boost its votes in some areas by appealing to the feeling of rejection by working class people by a Labor party that is becoming more educated middle class in its outlook.

  36. Spot on, zoot.

    John, a friend’s aged Dad in the US has a part-time job packing supermarket bags because his retirement income is inadequate. He is not a big spender.

    Was it in the US that they had what folk called “The American Dream”?

    So often in recent decades the US is widely seen as a bad example: pollution, low minimum wage, gun violence, expensive health care, old-fashioned and suspect voting systems, disenfranchisement, etc.

    Of course it’s not all bad: Eugene V. Debs received a million votes in the 1920 election.

    Last night was the first time I had seen Mr Bannon interviewed. An interesting bloke. Pity Sarah kept interrupting him. Pity Sarah wasn’t up-to-date on how Marine Le Pen and the new generation have changed the character of her party.

    But youse can’t have everything.

    BTW, a South Aust Liberal Senator cites as an instance of bullying within her Party: being told to show her ballot paper to another Senator, during what was supposedly a secret ballot. Silly Senator!! That has been standard practice, rigidly enforced by factional heavies in the ALP, for many decades.

  37. I heard a discussion of the practice of tipping last night. They were saying workers in the US depend on it, and minimum tip if you din’t like the service was 10 or 15%, I forget which. But expect to pay about 25% more and the Internal Revenue authorities tax workers as though they do receive it, which turns out they don’t always, especially if someone gets really generous.

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