Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Mama said there'll be days like this -a political singalong for Matt Canavan

Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, my mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
I went walking the other day and
Everything was going fine
Met a little boy named Billy Joe
And then I almost lost my mind
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, my mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, my mama said

Read more: The Shirelles - Mama Said Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

And if you are in a singalong mood you might fancy some other Political Singalongs

Monday, 24 July 2017

Donald Trump, the Baron Munchausen of our time, brings back memories of Sir William McMahon

At the weekend Kellyanne Conway, one of the US President's attack dogs, went on television to argue that lies told by her boss Donald Trump are ok because ‘he doesn’t think he’s lying’.  Think Progress described the amazing interlude:
On Sunday morning’s broadcast of CNN’s Reliable Sources, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway continued to wage war on the media—and CNN specifically—by arguing the network shouldn’t be so critical toward the president because Donald Trump simply doesn’t know any better.
Conway took umbrage with the media’s insistence on covering such “non-stories” as the president of the United States continually lying to the American public. After host Brian Stelter argued that his network was committed to covering the many scandals emanating from the White House, an incredulous Conway pushed back, demanding to know what “scandals” Stelter was referring to.
“The scandals are about the president’s lies,” replied Stelter. “About voter fraud; about wire-tapping; his repeated lies about those issues. That’s the scandal.”
Despite overwhelming evidence that the White House is indeed lying in both of those cases—there is zero evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that 3 million people voted illegally, or that his office was wire-tapped—the administration continues to promise “investigations” into both matters. But Conway’s response on Sunday was a new approach to how the administration handles allegations of lying.
“[Donald Trump] doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues, and you know it,” she said.

Host Stelter quickly pointed out that just because a person doesn’t know they are lying doesn’t mean what they said isn’t a lie. What it probably does mean is that the lying President is a modern day Baron Munchausen.
The idea that a person can believe that something is true simply because them saying it makes it true was introduced to me years ago by my old and late good friend Jim Killen just after he was sacked from the federal ministry by William McMahon. "He's got Munchausen syndrome" said Jim which sent me off to discover what that was all about. 
In those days the Encyclopedia Britannica would have been my source but these days Wikipedia tells a similar tale about the real Baron and the fictional one based on him.
In some of his best-known stories, the Baron rides a cannonball, travels to the Moon, is swallowed by a giant fish in the Mediterranean Sea, saves himself from drowning by pulling on his own hair, fights a forty-foot crocodile, enlists a wolf to pull his sleigh, and uses laurel tree branches to fix his horse when the animal is accidentally cut in two.
Munchausen rides the cannonball, as pictured by August von Wille.
In the stories he narrates, the Baron is shown as a calm, rational man, describing what he experiences with simple objectivity; absurd happenings elicit, at most, mild surprise from him, and he shows serious doubt about any unlikely events he has not witnessed himself. The resulting narrative effect is an ironic tone, encouraging skepticism in the reader and marked by a running undercurrent of subtle social satire. In addition to his fearlessness when hunting and fighting, he is suggested to be a debonair, polite gentleman given to moments of gallantry, with a scholarly penchant for knowledge, a tendency to be pedantically accurate about details in his stories, and a deep appreciation for food and drink of all kinds. The Baron also provides a solid geographical and social context for his narratives, peppering them with topical allusions and satire about recent events; indeed, many of the references in Raspe's original text are to historical incidents in the real-life M√ľnchhausen's military career.
Because the feats the Baron describes are overtly implausible, they are easily recognizable as fiction, with a strong implication that the Baron is a liar. Whether he expects his audience to believe him varies from version to version; in Raspe's original 1785 text, he simply narrates his stories without further comment, but in the later extended versions he is insistent that he is telling the truth. In any case, the Baron appears to believe every word of his own stories, no matter how internally inconsistent they become, and he usually appears tolerantly indifferent to any disbelief he encounters in others.

President Trump and his promises - a six month review

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Fixed four year terms - with Turnbull and Shorten it's the blind leading the blind

In 1988 Australians voted on a referendum proposal to amend the constitution to provide four year terms for the House of Representatives. The change needed a majority of votes nationally and support in a majority of states. And the result? 32.92% in favour nationally with a majority in no states at all.

Now admittedly there were a few additional factors back in 1988. Other items were on the referendum agenda and the four year fixed term proposal of the Hawke government included the reduction of a normal Senate term from a six-year fixed term to a four-year fixed term As well there was a plan to introduce simultaneous elections for both Houses of the Parliament. It was not possible for the voter to support only one of the questions being dealt with. 

From memory Senators were not that keen on the idea of losing a couple of years from their job security. They were out and about advocating a "No" vote. This time will Messrs Turnbull and Shorten be proposing a two year extension rather than a two year reduction? Plenty of scope should they do so for minor parties to campaign for the "No" vote.

My guess is that the referendum will not come to pass as this pair of leaders have not thought through the problem of actually being on a winning side.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Clever fellow that Nick Xenophon - actually appealing to the Australian centre

Some evidence this week, if you needed it, that Nick Xenophon's Team is more in touch with your "average" Australian than any of the other parties in the federal parliament. Research firm JWS Research set out to find what Australians regard as the sensible centre. And it discovered the answer is slightly more ‘right’ than ‘left’ and slightly more conservative than progressive.
Here are the key survey questions and the results:

JWS summarised the results of its full survey as:
Relative to how they rate the main federal political parties, Australians view themselves as sitting somewhere in the middle, as:

  • more left leaning and more socially progressive than the Liberal-National Coalition and One Nation 
  • more right leaning and more socially conservative than Labor and The Greens 
  • more right leaning but similarly moderate on social issues to the Nick Xenophon Team (and this trend is even stronger in South Australia). 
Similarly, relative to key federal politicians, Australians place themselves as:
  • similarly right leaning but more socially progressive than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 
  • less right leaning and far more socially progressive than former Prime Minister Tony Abbott 
  • more right leaning and more socially conservative than Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

What a surprise - another political staffer to join the Senate

The Senate ranks of what we can call career politicians is now nearly two thirds. 
The choice tonight of Slade Brockman, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann's former chief of staff, to represent Western Australia takes the ranks of former political staffers in the Senate to 30. Toss is another 10 Senators who worked as trade union officials and that's 40 out of the total of 74.
To those ranks of the career politicians probably we should add the eight Senators who were state or territory MPs before sitting on the red Senate benches. That takes the careerists to a 65 per cent share.

Paper takes a stand against the way Canberra is run

It took the paper a couple of days but The Canberra Times has finally given the local trade union movement a clip around the ears for the extraordinary attempt by Unions ACT Secretary Alex White to control Labor members of the Legislative Assembly.

In its editorial this morning headlined UnionsACT's delusions of grandeur undermine the standing of the Barr Government, the paper suggests that if a union group wrote to Labor members of the Federal Parliament demanding to be told in advance if they were planning to meet with people it didn't like they would be laughed out of the room.
The probable responses from former leaders such as Kim Beazley, Paul Keating and Mark Latham wouldn't be fit to print.
The fact UnionsACT allegedly feels comfortable in making such a demand on Labor members of the Barr Government in regard to the Master Builder's Association indicates one of two possibilities.
The first is that, as the Opposition frequently asserts, the Territory is in the thrall of a group of faceless trade unionists who constitute a secret "state within the state" and have the power to tell elected Labor MPs what they can and cannot do.
The second is that UnionsACT has delusions of grandeur.
It is to be hoped hubris, and not the existence of a secret cabal, is the proper explanation for this remarkable demand. Either way, it can only be viewed as a serious assault on the integrity and credibility of the Labor-Greens coalition.
ACT Labor, which is dependent on the pokies revenue from the union owned social clubs for its electoral war chest has made a rod for its own back by previous concessions to the local labour movement.
A Memorandum of Understanding between Unions ACT and the Government, initially signed in 2005 and renewed several times since, allegedly gives the unionists the right to pick and choose who is awarded state-funded contracts.
While both Mr Barr and Unions ACT have asserted this is not the case and that the union group is only "consulted", the terms of the MOU indicate otherwise.
Government agencies are required to to refuse work to firms that do not provide undertakings to comply with work safety laws above those implicit in the contract and under relevant legislation, do not recognise the local unions as the representatives of the workers and do not agree to facilitate a range of union activities.
The closeness of the links between the Government and the unions has been the cause of grief to the local ALP in the past. Then Police Minister, Joy Burch, stepped down in early 2016 over allegations about contact between her chief of staff and CFMEU ACT secretary, Dean Hall.
Earlier this month Unions ACT raised eye brows when it launched a robo-calling campaign against Liberal MLA, Andrew Wall.
Mr Wall was targeted after he objected to school students being given union membership application forms during union-run safety briefings.
That was interpreted by some as being an attempt to intimidate an elected member.
Mr Barr would be wise to publicly reject the latest UnionsACT demand at the first available opportunity in order to put the Government's independence of thought and action beyond all possible doubt.