4thofeleven: (Default)
So, Australia's finally on the path to same-sex marriage! Yay!

And, this being Australia, we're doing it in the dumbest possible way! Yay- aww.

See, it's become obvious that same-sex marriage is only a matter of time, and it's becoming increasingly untenable to delay it any further, not to mention it being kind of embarrassing to be one of the last holdouts in the West.

And, hey, our Prime Minister at the moment is pretty socially liberal, and the opposition would fully support a same sex marriage bill, and there's no constitutional issues like there were in Ireland. So, no problem, right?

Oh, except our Prime Minister is also holding onto power by the skin of his teeth, with a majority of just one seat in parliament and constantly declining polls. So... basically, he's got to sell his soul to the social regressives in his own party to stay in office. Instead of just having a bill go through parliament, we're going to have a national plebiscite on the issue! That won't be legally binding. And which members of the government have said they won't necessarily respect if it returns a 'yes' result.

Oh, but they can't actually do that, because a plebiscite would require senate approval, and they don't have the numbers – Labor and the Greens basically feeling it would be a complete waste of time and money, that government money would be used to fund a 'no' campaign, that it would just be nasty and divisive for no benefit, and can we just pass a bill already?!

So, what are we doing instead? Well, we're having a voluntary postal survey! It's not a plebiscite because it's being run by the Bureau of Statistics, not the Electoral Office! Who may or may not actually be capable of running something on this scale! And it's going to cost tens of millions of dollars! And conservative members of the government have said they still won't respect a 'yes' vote unless it wins overwhelmingly! And it may well be unconstitutional to do an end-run around the senate like this!

So now the question is, is it even worth legitimising this sort of hateful nonsense by participating, or should we just boycott the damn thing? At this point, I don't even know. Basic rights shouldn't be put to a poll, especially not such an amature-hour half-assed one like this. And Labor probably will just pass legislation for same-sex marriage when they win office next anyway. On the other hand, if we are going to have this idiocy, better we win it... I honestly don't know. I want this to succeed, but I can certainly understand the impulse to boycott.

On the plus side, Bill Shorten's really impressed me with his statements against the poll and in support of the LBGT community. So maybe there's still some hope that Australia's government won't always be held hostage by its worst representatives...


Nov. 11th, 2016 06:57 pm
4thofeleven: (Default)
We're going to be debating this election for a long time. We're going to be living with its consequences even longer. It was incredibly close – a few percentage points in a handful of states, and we'd be talking about the Clinton Landslide, and most of the world would be celebrating this public repudiation of Trump and his vile brand of bigotry and ignorance.

Let's not forget that as we struggle through these dark times. We're not done for. There is no permanent Republican majority. There are still enough voices of sanity to swing the pendulum back and salvage what remains.

And for those of us outside America particularly, we need to remember this. The last few days, I know I've had to remind myself not to judge all Americans for the actions of a few. Trump did not win with a majority; he did not even achieve a plurality of voters. The silent majority remained silent – and, we can only hope, is and will be horrified by what has been unleashed and will, in time, stand against it.

Let's not be too optimistic; the tide of fascism, of populist nationalism, the politics of hate – they're all gaining in strength. In America, in Britain, in the Philippines, across Europe. But they remain a minority, and one that can still be fought.

And let us not forget that this was not an election won cleanly. This was an election tainted by Russian propaganda, by Wikileaks' idiotic grudges, and in the end, almost certainly swung by a partisan hack who used his position to add weight to an illusory scandal. We should not accept the hatred Trump spews under any circumstances, but under these, for him to claim any sort of mandate is farcical. Do not let anyone forget this.

For those of you in the United States. You are not broken. You are not defeated. You have a party that will – and must – oppose Trump and his agenda. You have the numbers to ensure they will. The world still hears your voice. Do not let yourselves be silenced. Do not let them advance without a struggle. If the arc of the universe no longer bends towards justice, then you must force it back towards it.

Maybe I'm a fool to still have hope. Maybe.

But sometimes that's all we have.

And all we need.


Nov. 10th, 2016 12:17 pm
4thofeleven: (Default)
Maybe we were wrong.

Maybe it was always a sham. Debates and policies, respect and civility, truth and reason. Maybe none of that ever mattered. Maybe anyone could have done what he did, they just always thought they needed the rest.

Maybe there was never any more to leadership than being the loudest voice in the room.

Maybe we just wanted to believe that somehow naked demagoguery didn't work any more, that we'd become better than that.

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Maybe we should have remembered that progress was just a story we told ourselves to bring order to chaotic events.

Maybe we were foolish.

Maybe we'll get a second chance.

4thofeleven: (Default)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has weighed into the debate on Scottish independence by saying those advocating for a break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice or freedom...

…“I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, not the friends of freedom, and that the countries that would cheer at the prospect of the break-up with the United Kingdom are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

- Advocates of Scottish independence not friends of freedom and justice: Tony Abbott, The Age
Damn it, he saw right through me! Alright, I admit it – my vague support for a peaceful secessionist movement and its efforts to achieve its goals through democratic means was, in fact, entirely based in my undying hatred for freedom and justice, and my desire to usher in a nightmarish future where the island of Great Britain is home to two stable, democratic, largely English-speaking first-world countries instead of just one.

Still, I think it’s going too far to claim all supporters of Scottish independence are driven by such things – surely some are honest men and women, merely pawns of the sinister Gaelic cabal? Perhaps – just perhaps – Mr. Abbot doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about?
4thofeleven: (Default)
Things Tony Abbott, newly elected Prime Minister, has said over the years:

"If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss." - 2002

"I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak." - 2009

"I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons" - 2010

"Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia." - 2010

"Climate change is absolute crap" - 2010

"Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage." - 2010

"There may not be a great job for them [Aborigines] but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done." - 2010

But, hey, at least he'll stop the boats, right?
4thofeleven: (Eden)
Oh dear, it looks like every far-right xenophobic minor party is running candiates in this electorate. Working out which of them to preference last is going to be difficult...
4thofeleven: (Default)
There’s a Falun Gong/Anti-Communist China protest pretty much permanently set up near where I do my shopping, and I took a look at their signs today to see what, specifically, they were protesting. There were, as you might expect, signs protesting the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the lack of respect for human rights in China, but the largest single sign was not exactly what I was expecting.

As far as I could tell, their primary complaint about the government of the People’s Republic of China was that… it agreed in 1991 to cede its claims to parts of Outer Manchuria and Mongolia lost to Russia by the Qing Empire in the mid-nineteenth century.

Truly, the most contemptible act committed by the PRC.
4thofeleven: (Default)
So, everything old is new again, as another leadership challenge brings down a sitting PM, and brings to an end a long, strange three years of federal politics.

I am willing to forgive Rudd a multitude of sins if his return means we avoid the prospect of Prime Minister Abbott. If he loses though… if he loses, it’ll be a loss of his own making, after three years of leadership challenges, leadership debates, factional infighting, and undermining of the government from within.

Of course, Rudd and his backers won’t share all the blame – there’s also a media that wanted Gillard gone from the beginning, and a culture of misogynistic bullying both inside and outside of parliament that never accepted a woman in the top job as legitimate. The fact that Labor managed to hold onto power in 2010 and, largely, managed to govern fairly well for the last three years was an incredible achievement, with all the cards stacked against them. If Labor pulls off another victory this year despite its problems, it will be a real statement of just how unpopular the Coalition’s policies are, that they can’t scrape by a win even against a Labor divided against itself…

It’s probably going to be another decade before either major party risks putting a woman in the top job, and Gillard’s departure from politics is an incredible waste of talent and skill. As I said, I’ll forgive Rudd if he can pull of a victory – but I’m not going to be celebrating either.
4thofeleven: (Default)
There are two things I remember about the lead up to the Iraq War. The first was how the justification seemed to change every week. It was about terrorism. It was about weapons of mass destruction. It was about democracy. It was about this, it was about that. A new rationale would come out, would be rejected, and it would be replaced by another just as flimsy. “Yellowcake Uranium from Africa” and the “forty-five minutes” claims were punch lines almost immediately, yet none of this seemed to stop the drumbeat to war. There was no sincerity about the process; nobody believed Bush or anyone on his team really believed any of this, all that mattered was that they could find some excuse, any excuse, that could withstand scrutiny long enough for the war to start.

The second thing was the protests. They were everywhere, but everyone knew they were futile. It just seemed like part of the ritual of the war, part of the performance that had to be held before the war could start, the illusion of dissent and debate. I think to a lot of people, the start of the war itself was almost a relief; at least now discussion of the war could be based in something real, something that was really happening, rather than the bizarre performance that preceded it.

Forget September 11. This was the formative political event for a lot of people today; the realisation that the powerful would do what they liked regardless of the consequences, regardless of the protests. That the idea of liberal democracy has become something else, some strange mockery of its values, that we’ve reached the point where it’s no longer necessary to quash dissent – tolerate it long enough, maintain the pretence of discussion, and then proceed with whatever you wanted in the first place.

I don’t know how we can break out of that process again, or if it’s even possible any more to halt tragedies like Iraq when the powerful have set their minds to it...
4thofeleven: (Default)
Julia Gillard calls Abbott on his mysoginy, double standards, and general ass-holery

Hopefully people will listen to this, and Abbott's pathetic attempts to improve his image with women without ever altering his nasty attitudes or behavior will be seen as the sham they are...
4thofeleven: (Default)
So. The world-wide protests against the film The Innocence of Muslims has reached Australia, with violent protests in Sydney this weekend. Don’t want to weigh into that issue, but I do want to comment on one thing that’s come up during reporting of the story.

Flags and symbols... )

4thofeleven: (Default)
So, Rush Limbaugh believes the Batman villain Bane – created in 1993 - is a reference to Mitt Romney’s job at Bain Capital.

I can only say that this is really all Romney’s fault for choosing to work for a company that sounds like a comic book supervillain already. I mean, come on, ‘CEO of Bain Capital’? That’s some sub-Captain Planet wordplay. Were the names ‘Malice Industries’ or ‘Nemesis Finance’ already taken?
4thofeleven: (Default)
We all like the narrative of the popular uprising toppling the evil dictator; dealing with the political vacuum that results is a far less popular theme. Case in point, Egypt’s elections. Personally, I’m less concerned with who ends up winning than whether the military ever plans on giving any meaningful power to the elected government. Still, it is a little disheartening to see the Egyptian revolution end in a contest between an old regime loyalist and a religious hardliner.

One thing that has struck me is the reason it’s come down to these two choices – the lack of unity among the liberal/secular/revolutionary block, who failed to support a single candidate for president and whose votes ended up divided between half a dozen candidates. It occurred to me that this wouldn’t have happened in Australia – our instant run-off system eliminates candidates one by one, rather than eliminating everyone but the top two. In an Australian system, the smaller parties would have been able to form alliances among themselves, and could well have ended up with enough combined support for one of their candidates to take a majority of the vote. Even if the candidates couldn’t have come to an agreement, the voters still would be more likely to direct preferences towards other liberal candidates rather than towards the hardliners and conservative candidates.

To my knowledge, instant run-off voting is only used at a national level in Australia and New Guinea. I can understand it not being a perfect choice for new democracies. It is more complicated – Australian elections have a much higher than normal rate of invalid ballots being cast – and the added complexity of interpreting the ballots could be a problem in close elections or cases of electoral fraud. Still, it does solve some of the problems of elections with large numbers of candidates, and would eliminate problems such as Egypt, where large but poorly organised factions can feel excluded entirely from the final choice. It’s a shame the system hasn’t caught on more.
4thofeleven: (Default)
The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye.
- whitehouse.gov

I should note that this denial says nothing about UFOs originating inside our planet. Clearly, the White House is covering up the existance of the Mole People of the Hollow Earth!
4thofeleven: (Default)
Today, in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi met his end in what, one can hope, is the end of a brutal dictatorship and the beginning of a free, open and democratic society.

Today, in Melbourne, riot police used force to shut down peaceful protests against the unelected elite, in preparation for the arrival of the monarch.
4thofeleven: (Default)
I'm pretty cynical about the current government, but I've got to say, the flood of scare campaigns from the opposition trying to convince me that the Greens are secretly calling the shots has done wonders to reassure me.
4thofeleven: (Eden)
Another election, another long delay before the results are known. While a hung parliament is still a possibility, though, it seems to me pretty much inevitable that the Liberals will take power.

I suppose if we have to have a Liberal government, Baillieu is at least tolerable. And the state Labor government needed a kick in the pants. I’m not convinced these results are part of a national trend – considering Victoria actually swung towards Labor in the federal election, I suspect this result reflects more that the electorate feels it’s time for a change. And there are more than enough local issues for people to be dissatisfied with – the complete mess that Myki turned out to be, for example…

Disapointing that the Greens did so poorly – though with both parties failing to make preference deals with them, and Labor seeming to spend more time campaigning against them than the Liberals, hardly surprising. Plus, in a close election, you get a decrease in third party votes, due to people failing to understand how our electoral system works…

Plus, I have a theory – see, I didn’t vote Green. I voted Sex Party, with Greens as a second preference. The Sex Party seemed to pick up about 1.5-2.5 per cent of the vote everywhere they ran candidates, and those votes had to have come out of somewhere… I’m wondering if there was a small swing towards the Greens that doesn’t show up in the figures because just as many traditional Green voters switched their first preference to the Sex Party.
4thofeleven: (Eden)
Julia Gillard has just scraped back into office as Prime Minister after the independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott announced they would support Labor to form a minority government.

 - Windsor and Oakeshott hand power to Gillard

Thank the gods; Labor needed a kick in the pants, but I wouldn't have been able to stomach Abbott as PM...
4thofeleven: (Eden)
A SENIOR Federal Liberal MP was forced to apologise to independent MP Rob Oakeshott after calling and claiming to be the "devil" when his pregnant wife answered.

The MP's apology left the family stunned when he said he thought he had been speaking to one of Mr Oakeshott's young children.

It is the second such incident in as many days involving Coalition MPs reportedly harassing independents.
Furious independent Rob Oakeshott harassed by rogue Liberal MP
So, do the Liberals not want to form government, or what?

And who the hell thinks "Sorry, I thought I was harassing your small children, not your wife!" makes you sound better?!
4thofeleven: (Default)
You know, I've despised Barnaby Joyce for a long time, but I wasn't expecting hatred of him to turn out to be the biggest single factor in Federal politics...


4thofeleven: (Default)
David Newgreen

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