Category: Informed Comment

Our Biggest Enemy Isn’t China. It’s Right Here at Home. | The Smirking Chimp

The greatest danger we face today is not coming from China. It is our drift toward proto-fascism. We must be careful not to demonize China so much that we encourage a new paranoia that further distorts our priorities, encourages nativism and xenophobia, and leads to larger military outlays rather than public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic research on which America’s future prosperity and security critically depend. The central question for America—an ever more diverse America, whose economy and culture are rapidly fusing with the economies and cultures of the rest of the globe—is whether it is possible to rediscover our identity and our mutual responsibility without creating another enemy.

Source: Our Biggest Enemy Isn’t China. It’s Right Here at Home. | The Smirking Chimp

Sociopaths and why we elect them

The problem is that Critical Thinking is Democratic, slow, complex, reasoned, and solutions delivered from the bottom up. Neoliberalism is fast, simple, and laid on a foundation of division, fear, doubt, and simple solutions that only need to be promised not delivered from the top down. The best way to counter a sociopath isn’t another sociopath

The long-term solution – unlikely while vested interests find sociopaths useful – is to educate people to look beneath the surface. Most progressivists have intuitively practiced this all their lives. Educate everyone, particularly young people, to think critically, question everything they hear, and collect and weigh any evidence before accepting its veracity. Educate to raise intelligence, which steadily increased throughout the 20th Century… until neoliberalism dumbed us down, kept us anxious, and sold us stuff for (temporary) relief; repeat. While narcissistic sociopathy cannot be shifted, laboratory experiments suggest that conservative, fear-driven attitudes might be. So the answer is to educate to shift them early. And the best way to expose the Trumps and Qs of the world, researchers say, is to publicly counter their spin and find genuine leaders to support. It’s hard to argue with that. Where are they?

Source: Sociopaths and why we elect them

Who do you trust? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Albo has all the characteristics of a politician who has given long service to his electorate, party, and country. He has held several portfolios and has served as deputy Prime Minister. However, his main attribute is that he has a clean slate without scandals: Nothing on which Morrison (or the media) can pin a controversy. In other words, he is more trustworthy than Morrison. And that, of course, also applies when words like decency, transparency, lying, honesty, morality and fairness are used to describe a political candidate.

Source: Who do you trust? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

What About The Other Secret Trial? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

A few weeks ago, various Australian MPs were expressing their outrage at China for holding secret trials. I understood their concern. Secret trials are something that should be reserved for the enemies of capitalism and not something that those lefty Chinese should be engaging in.

Dutton wants access to encryption and the weakening of privacy to catch criminals operating on the web. In the same breathe Morrison is bragging that he was a big player in the encryption sting that netted 800 crims worldwide. Proof enough that Dutton is asking for overreach and something he doesn’t really need the weakening of our privacy. Proof further, that this LNP government is our Dark Net.

Source: What About The Other Secret Trial? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Burrito Economics | The Smirking Chimp

Everyone ought to celebrate when those at the bottom get higher wages. The typical American worker hasn’t had a real raise in four decades. Income inequality is out of control. Wealth inequality is into the stratosphere (where Jeff Bezos is heading, apparently). If wages at the bottom rise because employers need to pay more to get the workers they need, that’s not a problem. It’s a victory. Instead of complaining about a so-called “labor shortage,” Republicans ought to be complaining about the shortage of jobs paying a living wage. But don’t hold your breath,

Source: Burrito Economics | The Smirking Chimp

Being woeful gets the thumbs up! – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Hey, LNP supporters, which category do you fit in? Rich and self-serving? Working- or middle-class, pretentious and totally misinformed or just incredibly dumb, politically disconnected and gullible? Either or, an appalling government and an equally appalling prime minister gets the thumbs up from you guys. Sad.

Source: Being woeful gets the thumbs up! – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Scott Morrison gained power through a lack of due diligence

Companies do due diligence on key appointments. Why not nations? Voters who pay attention in the Australian electorate are in the curious position in 2021 of realising that the present occupant of the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been subject to minimal due diligence. Morrison assumed the role of Prime Minister in a backroom party spill just before the 2019 Election. Because he wasn’t expected to win that election, little attention was paid to where he came from or what he had done before his surprise ascension into the top job.

Source: Scott Morrison gained power through a lack of due diligence

World’s Most Powerful Imprison Julian Assange for His Virtues — Not His Vices | The Smirking Chimp

The criminal ruling class has all of us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It has abolished the rule of law. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It seeks the consolidation of its obscene wealth and power. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically of course, I say, “Off with their heads.”

Source: World’s Most Powerful Imprison Julian Assange for His Virtues — Not His Vices | The Smirking Chimp

If The Morrison Government Had Been Historical Figures… – » The Australian Independent Media Network

As we seem to have entered a phase where the level of spin in the country is so great that Shane Warne would have struggled to get a game in Prime Minister’s Eleven, I’ve started wondering how the various politicians in the Morrison government had been born in previous times.

Source: If The Morrison Government Had Been Historical Figures… – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The Wealth Supremacists | The Smirking Chimp

ProPublica’s bombshell report on America’s super-wealthy paying little or nothing in taxes reveals not only their humongous wealth but also how they’ve parlayed that wealth into political power to shrink their taxes to almost nothing. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, reportedly paid no federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Elon Musk, the second richest, paid no taxes in 2018. Warren Buffett, often ranking number 3, paid a tax rate of 0.1 percent between 2014 and 2018. The real scandal is it’s legal.

Source: The Wealth Supremacists | The Smirking Chimp

Attempting to tame the juveniles in the play pit – or at least their stupidity – is a thankless task – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. Suppose a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information necessary to exercise this right. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist. ( John Lord )

Source: Attempting to tame the juveniles in the play pit – or at least their stupidity – is a thankless task – » The Australian Independent Media Network

When America’s richest men pay $0 in income tax, this is wealth supremacy | Robert Reich | The Guardian

FILES-US-SPACE-BLUEORIGIN-BEZOS
(FILES) In this file photo the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos (R) gestures as he addresses the Amazon’s annual Smbhav event in New Delhi on January 15, 2020. - Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced on June 7, 2021 he will fly into space next month on the first human flight launched by his Blue Origin rocket firm. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother,” Bezos said on his Instagram account. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The super-rich have bought armies of lobbyists to keep their taxes minuscule and to create tax loopholes large enough to drive their Lamborghinis through

Source: When America’s richest men pay $0 in income tax, this is wealth supremacy | Robert Reich | The Guardian

Woeful media equals woeful government – » The Australian Independent Media Network

I’ll bang on about this until my last dying breath. It is the abject failure of our Fourth Estate (the mainstream media) to fulfil its democratic role and hold government to account. Worse, on top of that they run a protection racket for their favoured horse in the race; the LNP.

Source: Woeful media equals woeful government – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Regulators ignore marine noise pollution from oil drilling – Michael West

Marine noise pollution

Noise pollution from drilling for oil and gas offshore devastates marine life, affecting not only food sources but oxygen levels. But neither the federal government nor NOPSEMA, which has environmental responsibility for approving offshore projects, takes such damage into account. Suzanne Arnold reports.

Source: Regulators ignore marine noise pollution from oil drilling – Michael West

The Beginning of the End of Democracy as We Know it? | The Smirking Chimp

So without Manchin, is the For the People Act dead? Probably, unless Biden can convince one Republican senator to join him in supporting it. Would Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins be willing to do so and buck the voter-suppressing, Trump-dominated GOP? Or will history record that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to democracy than Democratic senators are in their support for it? The optimist in me says Romney will do it because he’s an institutionalist who’s appalled the authoritarianism that Trump has unleashed in the GOP. The cynical realist in me says no way.

Source: The Beginning of the End of Democracy as We Know it? | The Smirking Chimp

A disaster is headed our way if we remain so ambivalent about our vote – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day This Government’s performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society. Surely performance or lack of it must mean something.

Source: A disaster is headed our way if we remain so ambivalent about our vote – » The Australian Independent Media Network

U.S. democracy at risk as Republicans condone Capitol riot

As Republicans refuse to investigate the Capitol attack and continue to embrace Trump, America remains at high risk of further political violence, writes George Grundy. THIS TIME there’s no doubt as to the protagonists. Donald Trump and senior members of his family and Administration fomented a violent attack on the United States Capitol, on the day the 2020 election results were due to be certified by the United States Congress.

Source: U.S. democracy at risk as Republicans condone Capitol riot

No, Small Isn’t Beautiful

Anti-bigness types are not anti-capitalists, but their diagnosis of the problem with the current mode of production is quite similar to anti-capitalist diagnoses. Under a conventional capitalist system, a relatively small group of affluent people (the capitalist class) owns and controls the productive apparatus of society, and a much larger group of non-affluent people (the working class) must submit themselves to work for the former group, with the penalty for non-submission being death via starvation. This is an unequal and unfree way to organize a society, full of coercion and ripe with potential and actual abuse. The socialist solution to this problem is to have the working class collectively take ownership and control of the productive apparatus of society away from the capitalist class. Put differently, socialists want to replace rule by the few (oligarchy) with rule by the many (democracy), not just for the government but also for the economy.

Source: No, Small Isn’t Beautiful

The ‘Quaranteens’ – ABC News

Screenshot_2021-06-06 'I have no concept of where I should be in my life socially and emotionally'

We are Australia

What life’s like for young Australians who turned 18 in a pandemic. By Meghna Bali, Maddy King and Ange McCormack / triple j Hack Updated 6 Jun 2021, 9:58am Published 6 Jun 2021, 5:55am Share this story In the future, we’ll look back at 2020 and remember it all like a blur: the lockdowns, the late-night press conference panics, the toilet paper shortages, the Netflix binging and the sourdough-starting, the anxiety, the loneliness, the grief. Young Australians who were in their last year of high school will remember it as a generation-defining disaster.

Source: The ‘Quaranteens’ – ABC News

There are consequences for reneging on a major promise – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day Having the ability to admit that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.’ ( john Lord )

Source: There are consequences for reneging on a major promise – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Why the PRO Act is Critical | The Smirking Chimp

Something I’ve just learned about Amazon – one of America’s most profitable and fastest-growing corporations, headed by the richest man in the world: According to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Amazon warehouse workers sustained nearly double the rate of serious injury incidents last year as did workers in non-Amazon warehouses.

Source: Why the PRO Act is Critical | The Smirking Chimp

Dead galahs collateral damage in fight against mouse plague

galahs mouse plague nsw

An investigation by the NSW Environment Protection Authority has confirmed numerous bird deaths in western NSW were caused by the consumption of mouse bait. The finding follows reports of native birds suspected to have been poisoned in the state’s central-west.

Source: Dead galahs collateral damage in fight against mouse plague

The Greatest Danger to American Democracy | The Smirking Chimp

The greatest danger to American democracy right now is not coming from Russia, China, or North Korea. It is coming from the Republican Party. Only 25 percent of voters self-identify as Republican, the GOP’s worst showing against Democrats since 2012 and sharply down since last November. But those who remain in the Party are far angrier, more ideological, more truth-denying, and more racist than Republicans who preceded them. And so are the lawmakers who represent them. Today’s Republican Party increasingly is defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions. Last Friday, 54 U.S. senators voted in favor of proceeding to debate a House-passed bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes and events of the January 6th insurrection. This was 6 votes short of the number of votes needed for “cloture,” or stopping debate – meaning any further consideration of the bill would have been filibustered by Republicans indefinitely. So there will be no investigation.

Source: The Greatest Danger to American Democracy | The Smirking Chimp

‘Our Entire Democracy Is Now at Risk’ Because of GOP Attacks, Warn 100+ Scholars | Common Dreams News

Protestors in support of former President Donald Trump gather outside Veterans Memorial Coliseum where ballots from the 2020 general election wait to be counted on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix. The Maricopa County ballot recount comes after two election audits found no evidence of widespread fraud in Arizona. (Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

More than 100 scholars of democracy on Tuesday released a joint “statement of concern” calling on Congress to combat ongoing GOP attacks on voting rights and ensure fair and free future U.S. elections with federal legislation. Published online by the think tank New America, the scholars’ statement comes as Republican lawmakers nationwide continue to propose and enact state-level voter suppression bills. This past weekend, Texas House Democrats staged a walkout to block state Senate-approved legislation widely denounced by voting rights advocates and other critics across the country, including President Joe Biden.

Source: ‘Our Entire Democracy Is Now at Risk’ Because of GOP Attacks, Warn 100+ Scholars | Common Dreams News

When what I do know is only surpassed by what I don’t – » The Australian Independent Media Network

I suppose it’s impossible to know everything, but I know that Australians should make a more meaningful attempt to know something about their everyday politics. About what’s going on in the world, particularly their homeland.

Source: When what I do know is only surpassed by what I don’t – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Forget Coal, Joel And The Latest Poll: Elections Are Won With Maslov – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Snigger at that if you think I’m being ridiculous, but remember that this is the government that had Dan Tehan tell us that the vaccine rollout “wasn’t a race”. Why not? Well, because the Melbourne Cup is a race, so…

Source: Forget Coal, Joel And The Latest Poll: Elections Are Won With Maslov – » The Australian Independent Media Network

You are being manipulated politically. Here’s how. – » The Australian Independent Media Network

This is the last in my series on ‘manipulations,’ and since I have been throwing a lot of mud on who does it, it would seem fair if I explained how they do it and why we should fight it.

Source: You are being manipulated politically. Here’s how. – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery lags behind comparable nations

It is not just Scott Morrison and his ministers disseminating dubious data. The head of at least one federal department is making factually questionable assertions of a political nature, writes Alan Austin.

Source: Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery lags behind comparable nations

The damage done by inequality – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The great advantage of having retired, is the time and opportunity it provides to see how things could be improved. The first observation relates to the ability to compare progress – or otherwise – over time. One unfortunate example is the very obvious increase in inequality. I can remember, back in the UK in the 1950s and ’60s, that the top tax rate was 90%. Should any modern government seek to raise tax rates to such a level nowadays, all hell would break loose!

Source: The damage done by inequality – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Deconstructed Podcast: Losing the Asymmetric War

Republicans in Arizona are hoping to overturn their state’s presidential election result, creating a template that they can apply in Georgia, Wisconsin, and beyond. Meanwhile Sen. Mitch McConnell (to no one’s surprise) is making it clear that no Democratic policy objective is going to make it past his filibuster. Does a strategy of legislative obstruction and retroactive electioneering hold any promise for the party? Activist Lauren Windsor and former Senate staffer Eli Zupnick join Ryan Grim to discuss.

Source: Deconstructed Podcast: Losing the Asymmetric War

False prophets and snake oil will fail coal communities

Coal mining is in decline and its days are numbered. Pretending otherwise will not help miners and their families.

Joel Fitzgibbon is trying to walk both sides of the street on coal and climate. As everyone knows you can’t. This week the Labor member for the federal seat of Hunter asked whether his party had the “agility” to appeal to residents of progressive inner Sydney and Melbourne suburbs and resource-rich regions. Two-faced politics rarely succeeds, certainly not over time and on issues as serious as climate change.

Source: False prophets and snake oil will fail coal communities

You are being manipulated much more than you think – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent anything that makes us feel secure. Yet change is, in fact, part of the very fabric of our existence.( John Lord )

Source: You are being manipulated much more than you think – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Suppressing wages is economic vandalism in the current climate

The Fair Work Commission must reject calls for “wage restraint” from the business lobby at a time when many are banking record profits – with some even pocketing Jobkeeper allowances – at the expense of struggling workers. Emma Dawson reports.

Source: Suppressing wages is economic vandalism in the current climate

Workers Matter and Government Works: Eight Lessons from the Pandemic | The Smirking Chimp

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to declare the pandemic over in the US, and presumptuous to conclude what lessons we’ve learned from it. So consider this list a first draft.

Source: Workers Matter and Government Works: Eight Lessons from the Pandemic | The Smirking Chimp

On How there is no Restaurant Worker Shortage, only a Shortage of Safe Jobs with Adequate Pay

No wonder there are shortages of workers at the wages and working conditions employers are willing to offer. If you believe in its omniscience, the market is signaling corporations and businesses that employers must offer more.

Source: On How there is no Restaurant Worker Shortage, only a Shortage of Safe Jobs with Adequate Pay

Workers matter and government works: eight lessons from the Covid pandemic | Robert Reich | The Guardian

Alex Olvera, 15, is vaccinated with Pfizer by Rickeyva Foster, left, at a high school in Los Angeles.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to declare the pandemic over in the US, and presumptuous to conclude what lessons we’ve learned. So consider this a first draft.

Source: Workers matter and government works: eight lessons from the Covid pandemic | Robert Reich | The Guardian

You are being manipulated because purposeful social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right. ( John Lord )

Source: You are being manipulated because purposeful social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Mining lobby exaggerates taxes and royalties paid by $45 billion – Michael West

Mining royalties Australia

The mining industry has exaggerated its contribution in taxes and royalties to Australian governments by an estimated $45 billion over the past 10 years. Callum Foote reports on the findings of an independent research project by Michael West Media.

Source: Mining lobby exaggerates taxes and royalties paid by $45 billion – Michael West

Now for some constructive criticism – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Every human being has certain basic needs, and it should be the task of the government to do as much as possible to ensure those needs are met.

Source: Now for some constructive criticism – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Black Mark on Red Cross: decision to ignore 5c test for contaminated blood proved fatal – Michael West

The Red Cross. Infected blood scandal

It is 1986. A blood test to screen for non A, non B Hepatitis, costing just 5 cents per test, has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of contaminated blood being collected and given to people needing transfusions. It is not a specific test, so it also rules out a small percentage of healthy donors due to occasional false positive results. Blood banks throughout the US are using the test for medical, ethical and legal reasons. What was Australia to do? Queensland’s Blood Service started using the test but no other Australian blood service did so. Many thousands of people were infected as a result. Elizabeth Minter reports in this third of her series on Australia’s infected blood scandal.

Source: Black Mark on Red Cross: decision to ignore 5c test for contaminated blood proved fatal – Michael West

Farming is an industry based on science so why do they elect Luddites? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Agriculture has a huge role to play in both the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. It is in their best interests to lead the way to a sustainable future and there is enthusiasm to do so from this generation of farmers. So why do they keep electing Luddites?

Source: Farming is an industry based on science so why do they elect Luddites? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Tim Wilson epitomises so many things that are wrong with the Morrison government – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Tim is the archetypal Liberal. No expertise other than self-promotion, jobs for the boys, rapid u-turns for political expediency, maximise your expense claims, deals for mates, feather your financial nest, and get your photo taken a lot. He will probably go far. And isn’t that … so disappointingly inadequate?

Source: Tim Wilson epitomises so many things that are wrong with the Morrison government – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Israel’s big lie: This isn’t self defense — it’s a war crime, aided and abetted by the U.S. | Salon.com

main article image

Nearly all the words and phrases used by the Democrats, Republicans and the talking heads on the media to describe the unrest inside Israel and the heaviest Israeli assault against the Palestinians since the 2014 attacks on Gaza, which lasted 51 days and killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, are a lie. Israel, by employing its military machine against an occupied population that does not have mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery and command-and-control, not to mention a U.S. commitment to provide a $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over the next decade, is not exercising “the right to defend itself.” It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime.

Source: Israel’s big lie: This isn’t self defense — it’s a war crime, aided and abetted by the U.S. | Salon.com

The budget: A layperson’s dilemma – » The Australian Independent Media Network

My thought for the day At the time of the election, the coalition will have been in power for nine exhausting years and want another three. What as a legacy do they have to show for it? Has this Government raised your standard of living? ( John Lord )

Source: The budget: A layperson’s dilemma – » The Australian Independent Media Network