Category: Informed Comment

It feels like an upheaval, but precious little has changed

Flooding in Byron Bay earlier this month.

Marles refused even to offer a position on the inherent desirability of new coal-fired power stations, leaving Anthony Albanese to clean it up the next day by saying “I don’t think there’s a place for coal-fired power plants in Australia, full stop”. Now we learn of a group of some 20 pro-coal Labor MPs (including nine frontbenchers), calling themselves the OTIS group, meeting in secret without Albanese and with the aim of bringing Labor to a more coal-friendly position.

Whether this is merely an informal gathering or a more concerted lobbying attempt, it underscores Labor’s limitations on climate politics. This is a fifth of the party who probably see far greater political peril for Labor in distancing itself from coal than in making peace with it.
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So, politically, what exactly has this summer changed? The Coalition is still split on the issue, meaning that a serious climate policy is not an option because it will tear the government apart from within. Meanwhile, it’s unclear precisely where the current policy vacuum will hurt them electorally.

And Labor seems to agree enough with that assessment to continue to be spooked by the damage it sustained last year in coal-mining seats. It’s worth monitoring how this evolves from here, because right now, the signs are that this is the summer that changed everything in politics, except what really counts.

via It feels like an upheaval, but precious little has changed

We don’t need more political gamesmanship – we need integrity – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Hang the names out so we can see them (ODT)

We don’t want another party vying for a centre that keeps moving further to the right. We want people with integrity who make decisions based on expert advice about the best interests of the nation, not on how to appeal to people who will never vote for you.

via We don’t need more political gamesmanship – we need integrity – » The Australian Independent Media Network

“Keeping the bastards honest”: Was it just a passing fad that lost its way? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

via “Keeping the bastards honest”: Was it just a passing fad that lost its way? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

What next for Donald Trump?

Trump easily avoided a guilty verdict in his Senate trial for abuse of power and obstruction of justice and, in the same week, was praised by Republicans for a State of the Union address in which he didn’t fall off the stage. Dr Martin Hirst reports.

What next for Donald Trump?

Australian democracy is at risk. If we want to save it, we must all play a part | Katharine Murphy | Australia news | The Guardian

Clive Palmer billboard

Sports rorts. Unlawful robo-debts. More than $80m in election donations. Is this the governance we want?

via Australian democracy is at risk. If we want to save it, we must all play a part | Katharine Murphy | Australia news | The Guardian

Australia needs a sovereign wealth fund like Norway for the next boom – electrification – Michael West

What we need it would seem is not a Sovereign Fund but a Global one.(ODT)

When BHP calls nickel a once in a lifetime investment opportunity, it pays to take notice. At stake is the future of mining in Australia. So, it’s time to learn from history, writes Tosh Szatow. Let’s not squander the next boom, electrification, like the last, a minerals boom whose profits were whisked offshore by a cabal of multinational tax avoiders.

via Australia needs a sovereign wealth fund like Norway for the next boom – electrification – Michael West

Iowa Should Be a Warning — It’s Time to Switch to Paper Ballots | The Smirking Chimp

This computerized debacle also deepens concerns about the DNC’s apparent digital incompetence in the face of the extremely sophisticated, hugely funded online campaign already underway from Trump and his high-tech backers.

Iowa 2020 is the ultimate early warning: We can do better. With Donald Trump ready for another apocalyptic term, our survival depends on it.

via Iowa Should Be a Warning — It’s Time to Switch to Paper Ballots | The Smirking Chimp

America: Land of Make-Believe | The Smirking Chimp

If what happens in courtrooms across the country to poor people of color is justice, what is happening in the Senate is a trial. If the blood-drenched debacles and endless quagmires in the Middle East are victories in the war on terror, our military is the greatest on earth. If the wholesale government surveillance of the public, the revoking of due process and having the world’s largest prison population are liberty, we are the land of the free. If the president, an inept, vulgar and corrupt con artist, is the leader of the free world, we are a beacon for democracy and our enemies hate us for our values. If Jesus came to make us rich, bless the annihilation of Muslims by our war machine and condemn homosexuality and abortion, we are a Christian nation. If formalizing an apartheid state in Israel is a peace plan, we are an honest international mediator. If a meritocracy means that three American men have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the U.S. population, we are the land of opportunity. If the torture of kidnapped victims in black sites and the ripping of children from their parents’ arms and their detention in fetid, overcrowded warehouses, along with the gunning down of unarmed citizens by militarized police in the streets of our urban communities, are the rule of law, we are an exemplar of human rights.

America: Land of Make-Believe | The Smirking Chimp

The “sound economic management” of the Coalition has increased net debt by 250% – » The Australian Independent Media Network

via The “sound economic management” of the Coalition has increased net debt by 250% – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Why Democrats share the blame for the rise of Donald Trump | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

Donald Trump speaks in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Great Divider knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos, evangelicals against secularists, keeping almost everyone stirred up by vilifying, disparaging, denouncing, defaming and accusing others of the worst. Trump thrives off disruption and division.

But that begs the question of why we have been so ready to be divided by Trump. The answer derives in large part from what has happened to wealth and power.

via Why Democrats share the blame for the rise of Donald Trump | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

Doing it for ourselves – » The Australian Independent Media Network

So don’t let the government get away with claiming that it can’t afford to pay for these services. Don’t allow it to laud the efforts of well-meaning, altruistic Australians without demanding an explanation of why the private altruism was necessary. We have a government for the purposes of providing healthcare, emergency management, social welfare and a host of other social provisions that we can’t do on our own. We expect our government to provide these services without fear or favour, to the needy regardless of how loud or visible they are.

If our government is not doing these things, it is not fit for purpose. So why exactly does it exist?

via Doing it for ourselves – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Anne Ruston – what a shocker – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Australia’s answer to Margaret Thatcher. Appointing Anne Ruston as Families and Social Services Minister is up there with the sickest of cruel jokes.

At a forum with single mothers discussing being pushed into poverty, Senator Ruston dismissed the idea of raising Newstart in the most callous of ways.

“We can’t just keep on adding money to this bucket, because we’re not making a difference,” she said. “Giving (people) more money would do absolutely nothing … probably all it would do is give drug dealers more money and give pubs more money.”

“We’ve got to be fair to the people who pay for it.”

Holy shit Batman. Did she not realise who she was talking to?

 

via Anne Ruston – what a shocker – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Is Bernie “Trumpian”?

But Bernie is the only internationalist in the race. He’s been outspoken in criticizing the US war machine, working across party lines to end the war in Yemen and even criticizing past US interventions in Latin America. Though he hasn’t been as radical on immigration as some supporters would like, he’s articulated a clear critique of Trump’s cruel policies. Compared to 2016, he has been far bolder about identifying as a person from a working-class immigrant family, raised by people who faced genocide abroad as well as poverty and discrimination in their chosen country.

It’s no surprise that he’s enormously popular among American Muslims and Latinos. While Trump’s war on immigrants is intended to appeal to provincial elites who disdain the global poor, and to divide the white American working class from its immigrant counterparts, Bernie’s support of immigrants represents a genuine socialist solidarity with the international working class.

Is Bernie “Trumpian”?

Noam Chomsky Is the Antidote to Trump’s Facism

Rather than practicing unquestioning allegiance, Chomsky recommends active questioning, telling Scheer, “You don’t love a state and follow its policies. … You criticize what’s wrong, try to change the policies, expose them; criticize it, change it.”

Chomsky was referring to Israel, but he could just as easily be talking about America, or even Americans’ attitude toward their preferred candidates. For his clear-eyed analysis of America under Trump, his decades-strong willingness to challenge authority and admit uncomfortable truths, and boundless intellectual energy, Noam Chomsky is our Truthdigger of the month.

via Noam Chomsky Is the Antidote to Trump’s Facism

The Disaster of Utopian Engineering

the best evidence indicates that the wishes of ordinary Americans [have] little or no impact on the making of federal government policy. Wealthy individuals and organized interest groups—especially business corporations—have … much more political clout. … [T]he general public [is] … virtually powerless. … The will of majorities is … thwarted by the affluent and the well-organized, who block popular policy proposals and enact special favors for themselves. … Majorities of Americans favor specific policies designed to deal with such problems as climate change, gun violence, an untenable immigration system, inadequate public schools, and crumbling bridges and highways. … Large majorities of America favor various programs to help provide jobs, increase wages, help the unemployed, provide universal medical insurance, ensure decent retirement pensions, and pay for such programs with progressive taxes. Most Americans also want to cut “corporate welfare.” Yet the wealthy, business groups, and structural gridlock have mostly blocked such new policies. …

via The Disaster of Utopian Engineering

Today I am supposed to feel proud – so why am I so angry? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

But most of all, I hate being lied to.

So no, I don’t feel proud today. I feel angry at how a great country is being destroyed by political hacks whose only goal is to keep their nose in the trough.

Today I am supposed to feel proud – so why am I so angry? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Comedy without art (part 6) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

What mattered, in that it was useful for electoral purposes, is that stigmatising a minority community may gain votes. Race-baiting and dog-whistling are where Australian politics comes from. It has been so for a long time. Whether it was the original invaders treating Indigenous People like value-less fauna, and later on like ‘savages’; the enactment of the Influx of Chinese Restriction Act enacted in New South Wales in 1881, followed in time by other jurisdictions, because of ‘moral panic’ over Chinese miners; the discrimination against Irish because of the ignorant assumption that they were all Catholics and thus potential fifth-columnists; the internment of Germans as ‘enemy aliens’ during the first world war, and of German, Italian and Japanese ‘enemy aliens’ during the second world war; the mind-twisting obsession with ‘Asian crime gangs’ in the 1980s; or the anti-Lebanese and anti-Muslim sentiment which fuelled the Cronulla riots in late 2005, and the present Islamophobia fuelled by another ignorant, Pauline Hanson and her followers and imitators, Australia has wasted most of its historical efforts demonising one group or another.

But there is no improvement on the horizon, and not for want of trying.

via Comedy without art (part 6) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Impeachment trial should remove any lingering doubt: Republicans are beyond redemption | Salon.com

Screenshot_2020-01-24 Impeachment trial should remove any lingering doubt Republicans are beyond redemption.pngForty-two percent is a terrifying number, because it’s about more than Trump. That number represents the percentage of Americans who have, it appears, wholly rejected reasoned discourse and democratic values. Due to the quirks in our electoral system that give disproportionate power to rural and suburban areas, and due to voter suppression efforts from the GOP, that 42% will likely control the Senate for the foreseeable future and will quite possibly win the presidency again in 2020.

via Impeachment trial should remove any lingering doubt: Republicans are beyond redemption | Salon.com

Murdoch’s Massive Media Australia-on-Fire Disinformation Crusade | The Smirking Chimp

Despite James Murdoch’s speaking up against the company’s climate change denial, nevertheless, the award for the Most Dangerous Disinformation and Misinformation Crusade goes to the Rupert Murdoch Media Empire for its tenacious and tireless climate denialism, as exemplified by its broadcast and print outlets in Australia during that country’s bushfire catastrophe.

Murdoch’s Massive Media Australia-on-Fire Disinformation Crusade | The Smirking Chimp

He ‘Has Receipts’: Reporter Breaks down Why ‘Honest’ White House Officials Are Concerned about Lev Parnas | The Smirking Chimp

via He ‘Has Receipts’: Reporter Breaks down Why ‘Honest’ White House Officials Are Concerned about Lev Parnas | The Smirking Chimp

As prophetic as I may be – » The Australian Independent Media Network

I don’t see myself as being particularly gifted in prophetic wisdom, but on at least three occasions in 2019 I said that it would take an event of catastrophic proportion to wake the Australian population from its malaise over climate heating.

That it has happened gives no pleasure to my words. That they make for a catalyst for action does.

The unsurprising drop in Scott Morrison’s approval rating confirms my prediction that the public mood for action is as hot as the flames that have caused so much devastation.

via As prophetic as I may be – » The Australian Independent Media Network

China’s ridesharing giant DiDi makes Uber look like a driver sweat shop – Michael West

Chinese drivers are earning well above average income while Aussie Uber drivers can’t make minimum wage. Marcus Reubenstein reports.

Source: China’s ridesharing giant DiDi makes Uber look like a driver sweat shop – Michael West

How much will it cost – the ridiculous hypocrisy of Morrison and Frydenberg – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Oh you mean like when Labor steered us through the Global Financial Crisis emerging as the strongest economy in the world?

via How much will it cost – the ridiculous hypocrisy of Morrison and Frydenberg – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Green Bank Besieged: CEFC, coal and the Giant Vampire Kangaroo – Michael West

CEFC

The Big Four banks and Macquarie, big Liberal Party donors all, have received over $2.3 billion in taxpayer-backed funds from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. That is almost one-third of every dollar ever invested by Australia’s green bank. Anthony Klan investigates dramatic rise in CEFC funds to the Big End of Town, particularly Macquarie, which coincides with a sudden rise in affection from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This is Part II.

via Green Bank Besieged: CEFC, coal and the Giant Vampire Kangaroo – Michael West

Australia fires: Climate change, our greatest threat, is overlooked by defence expenditure

Australian Defence Force troops and members of Forest Fire Management Victoria clear felled trees on the Princes Highway just outside Genoa.

Moreover, there are basic questions such as why we are building inferior French-designed subs instead of leasing from the US; or why have we made ourselves more of a target for terrorists and the likes of Iran by having joined wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the US armada in the Straits of Hormuz; or why would we contemplate an additional “national guard” to handle disasters.

All this rather than assigning national disaster responsibilities to all three arms of the ADF – for transport and logistics, recovery programs, our own fleet of water-carrying aircraft.

via Australia fires: Climate change, our greatest threat, is overlooked by defence expenditure