Archive for category Politics

Democracy In Montana

Now you all know I lay heaps of shit on the USA, and in particular the hillbillies that can come from the place I grew up. But there are pockets of resistance even in a seriously “Red” state that Trump won by a significant margin in 2016.

They have this tradition in the western USA of universities of making signs out of white rocks on the mountainsides to advertise say an “L” for Loyola University or a big “M” for the University of Montana.

So, see what some inventive folks have done to welcome Trump to a campaign rally in Missoula today.
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I’m With That Dick . . .

. . . or why the ABC should have all its funding eliminated for censoring me.

OK, in case you missed a very good Hard Quiz Last night in which Jim showed how to play (spoiler alert – by being a freak in his level of knowledge on his special subject AND on how to play game to win) you should try to catch it on iview, or wherever you stream or download content regularly (even, YouTube apparently) Here are the players:

Me on Hard Quiz

OK, so my decision to try to get on the show was one of those really long considered decisions I have made in my life, prompted by someone sitting next to you while watching season 1 and saying, “You should go on that show, you’re a fucking smartarse”

Having really no response to that, and a computer in my lap at the time, I logged into the advertised site, answered a few details about myself, took a quick test, and bada bing, I’m in. OK, so it was a bit more detailed than that, as after the quiz I had to do a Skype interview with a producer and take another untimed test in person. Now, since I live in the remotest part of the earth, and doing it all remotely, I’m thinking I might have been the only person in the west that applied and they let me in to meet a regional diversity policy foisted on the show by a Senate Estimates Committee.

But, sitting in the green room with Jim and Carolyn I found out that they went to auditions in person in Sydney and Melbourne, with lots and lots of other people. So apparently the tests were a little harder than I thought, or there definitely IS a regional diversity policy. I was congratulating Jim after the taping about what an obsessive level of knowledge he had about the Rockford Files, a pretty obscure US tv show from the 70s. It turns out that he had only picked it so that it fit his plan to not just go on Hard Quiz, but to WIN Hard Quiz. He binge watched every old episode of the show (122 of them), wrote himself out ‘hundreds of pages’ of test questions and answers and memorised them, and also binge watched every episode of Hard Quiz to plan his tactics (when to answer fast and when to think a bit). Now that’s some commitment.

So, it was a really fun experience, but I now have to side with Dick Smith and Pauline Hanson to demand that all of the ABCs funding be cut for censoring me. Why? Well, they cut out both of my zinger lines, one of which would have fulfilled one of my lifelong ambitions of cursing on national television, and the other because it was too “political” obviously. Dicks.

In the introductions, Tom asked me “Why did you pick thermodynamics? So that no one could steal off you”. I said, “No it was just an obscure area of my university degree that I found myself repeatedly needing to explain in the past 20 years in order to discuss with people how things like climate change are real and clean coal is bullshit”.

Then, after the perpetual motion machine answer yo see int he episode, I said, “Thats also a lot like how clean coal works.” This is a 100% true and provable statement, and also funny (well, to me)

Now the ABC could not claim that they cut my first line due to content (the word shit) because Tom curses all the time, uses sexual innuendo like a maestro, and in fact said the work “fuck” later in the same episode. So clearly they are trying to stifle factual funny comment that disagrees with their alt-right view on climate change, ‘clean coal’, ‘cold fusion’, and anything else they disagree with. This is why they don’t meet their existing charter or the recent changes in media law that requires them to present material “based on the preponderance of evidence”.

For, if they were to do that, they would have to give me my own half hour show for a season (or maybe just a 1 hour special on 11 Feb) to lampoon complete unscientific crap like clean coal , and basically do a man-crush puff piece on J Willard Gibbs. I could probably get Andrew Dice Clay to narrate. But I digress.

So fuck the ABC and cut all their funding I say, as I have direct evidence of their extreme anti-science censoring of me. Who would have though that nonce Dick Smith would be correct?

Finally, to add insult to injury, they caused me to waste something like 2 to 3 minutes of my allotted 15. Bastards.

So, join my revolution. When I was a young fellow, I heard the world’s comic genius George Carlin identify the 7 words you can’t say on TV, and made a goal to do so. If you want to try, he also identified an excellent alternative. What you want to do is get on TV, but not be the focus of the camera, like in the shot but behind the presenter. And you want to mouth (not say) “I hope all you stupid fucking lip readers are looking in”.

Enjoy your day. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

The word you are looking for is ‘repulsive’

So, finally we may have reached the point where Trump will lose significant support and endorsements for using language that was so vulgar and mysogynistic that even stalwart supporters reacted negatively. I believe that there will be a significant number of wives and girlfriends of white supremacists that will secretly vote for Hillary. Plenty of his core white male support will also have wives, daughters or mothers that could be the target of behaviour like that displayed by Donald Trump, and will also be repulsed by it.

I actually reckon that his campaign had jumped the shark last week when people started leaving his event about half way through the 40 minute rant after he was 80 minutes late. But hopefully this latest revelation is the end of him in this election. The racism, sexism, and bigotry to virtually every constituency I can think of already displayed didn’t seem to do it. Nor has the documented evidence of his poor business skills or the proclivity he has displayed to defraud anyone he encounters in business.

But his final failure is clearly the fact that he is a pathological liar. That’s right, a liar so complete that he believes his own lies and is deluded enough to think that audio, video or written records will somehow disappear, or can be explained away as some conspiracy theory.

Spy magazine clearly nailed it when they dubbed him a short fingered vulgarian in the ’80s.

Precisely what is wrong in the world

I note from the ABC the recent closing of the article on the Pluto flyby:

Following its encounter with Pluto and its satellites, New Horizons will continue its one-way journey. . . . Its radioactive power supply will last into the 2030s; NASA wants to focus investigations on two more objects in the Kuiper Belt but will need to secure more funding to make that happen.

With all the stupid shit we fund in the world, we can’t even find a couple million bucks to continue examining the world around us. Truly doomed as a species at this rate.

Love Your Work Jen

This is exactly how it works here in Australia in relation to taxing mining, addressing climate change and other issues, and she says it more succinctly than a 3 page rant from yours truly.

Attribution: Jen Sorensen

Issue of the Day – Asylum Seekers

Some previous background on this issue can be found in an earlier post The Cruelty Index, and the associated video of the same title on YouTube.

This is a really tough issue, because we definitely want to be firm with lawbreakers, but not resort to cruelty, incredible amounts of monetary waste, or becoming international lawbreakers ourselves. Unfortunately this is exactly what we are doing with this government, or the last, for that matter. But there are solutions.

You can take it from me, or go to a more reputable source, like Mr. Julian Burnside QC, who published details of an approach that is fair, just, and not cruel or wasteful of money around the time I was last talking about this.

It’s personally an issue I have been trying to put forward solutions to since 2000 when the Howard government was throwing out “Babies Overboard”. I sent my ideas in writing in great detail at the time to a bloke named Mark Latham, who was trying to become the next Prime Minister at the time. But they were ignored, as the non-intelligent are prone to do with good ideas.

Actually, I am being unfair to Mark, as I don’t think the ideas even made it to the man himself, but I did get them into a brief exchange with the aide that operated his email account.

As an immigrant myself, I wanted to come up with a proposal that is:
• Firm on lawbreaking. In this case the people smugglers who operate boats for money to deliver asylum seekers to Australia;
• Humane and in-line with our international obligations;
• Fair from the perspective of the average Australian citizen; and,
• Fiscally sound, and even beneficial to the country in the medium term.

The first part of my solution is firm application of the law to people smugglers, who I believe can be classified as pirates under the law of the sea. The Australian Navy or Customs vessels that intercept asylum seeker boats shall take the vessel under control, capture and take all personnel on the vessel into custody and safety scuttle the vessel at sea. All passengers shall be taken to the nearest safe port where the government is a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. In many cases this will be Christmas Island, as a lot of our SE Asian neighbours are still not signatories to the convention, and frankly ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Once all vessel passengers are onshore, they shall be processed to determine valid asylum claims, criminal records, and complete health screening. This will include interviews with all passengers to make every effort to identify the people smugglers.

People smugglers will go into mandatory detention and prosecution, regardless of their age and have all assets stripped. Children amongst this group will be returned to their family in their home country, where this can be established, and after full interrogation and processing. Adult people smugglers will get life without parole, or the harshest penalty allowed for pirates following successful trial.

All remaining vessel passengers will be classified as refugees and processed for relocation to an acceptable interior location until such time as their asylum claims have been fully processed and put on a basic allowance from Centrelink. Housing can either be purchased on the basis of the allowance, or provided from surplus accommodation available in a host location.

Any local government area can apply to host refugees up to a limit of a small percentage of their population, if they can demonstrate availability of work for a portion of refugees they want to take. Infrastructure upgrades from the federal government to local communities will be made available to ensure the refugees can be housed, provided basic health care and schooling (mandatory for all ages unless proficiency in English and a skill can be demonstrated) where they will be hosted.

Any refugees being hosted on a temporary basis that are found to break the law in a significant way, or are serial offenders in minor lawbreaking will be sent to mandatory detention and deportation/prosecution at the first opportunity available. In short, fit in or fuck off.

All refugees will be allowed to work, pay taxes and fund superannuation, in a manner similar to people on 457 visas. Refugees that have valid asylum claims assessed will be provided with residency visas that require them to stay in the original hosting community for a period of at least three years, prior to being free to move anywhere they choose. Businesses and states that want to sponsor temporarily hosted refugees may apply to do so as they would people on 457 visas and relocate them for work.

If conditions improve in the home country of refugees during the period of temporary hosting to the satisfaction of the Australian government, refugees may be returned to their home country at no cost to themselves. Any refugee that wants to voluntarily return to their home country in the period from initial processing but before the three year period of temporary hosting is up may be returned to their home country at no cost to themselves.

This is a fair, firm and economically beneficial system that meets our international commitments and is no picnic for refugees. It should be applied to all, regardless of their manner of arrival. It will also be economically beneficial to Australia in the medium to long term because it can be statistically demonstrated that immigrants (regardless of their reason for arrival) cost a country a small amount in the first several years they are here, but pay back into the system much more in the 5 to 10 years after that. Don’t trust me on that, look it up. Immigrants, especially refugees, are extremely grateful to have an opportunity to start fresh, and can be educated on our rule of law, the benefits of learning English, and often bring skills and capabilities with them that we need. How much would some small towns with seasonal harvest work benefit from a workforce that was available and interested? Often refugees are also doctors, tradies and intellectuals like artists. We can use all three of those in small towns, or at least all the ones I remember.

In summary, we need not be a pushover to resolve the issue of asylum seekers, and can absorb them in a manner that is organised and beneficial for both the host and the refugee, while dealing appropriately with criminals.

An Honest and Fair Mining Tax

Hey, today I want to talk to you about a serious issue that we have been mislead about and had ignored in serious examination by the media. I want to talk to you about how the public is regularly screwed out of taxes and fees the government ought to be collecting on big mineral extraction businesses. Because the mining industry spent $20 million on an ad campaign when we last spoke about the mining tax, the labor government wimped out, and let mining lobbyists write the legislation, so you know what that said. They all paid little or nothing on that in the first year it was in.

The miners ads said that if we put mining tax (actually called the minerals resource rent tax) up the economy would collapse, and Australian businesses would all go down, when the mining industry closed up all over the country. Real wrath of god type shit.

The truth is, the mining tax should more accurately be called the resource super profits tax (RSPT), and here is how it was supposed to work in its original form:
1. First up, it gives a fair rate of return for the mining company. They pay no resource super profits tax until
they get 6% return on capital back themselves as profit. You’d have to be Warren Buffet
2. After that, the Australian public, which owns the finite resource, is given a 40% share of the profits.
3. It eliminates a confusing bunch of confusing royalties and fees paid to the states at present, and all royalties
presently paid to the states would be rebated.

But let’s look at the main point of contention, the 40% rate. A RSPT would not “kill off mining and related small businesses” as claimed by the mining industry ads. How do I know this? Because it has happened before, and right here in Australia. Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Australia set the tax rates on all the offshore gas we are now developing for shipment to eager customers.? . . . . . Yeah, I didn’t think so, but it happened, believe me. And guess what, the guys moving the LNG are paying a super profits tax very similar to what is proposed for land based mineral extraction under the RSPT.

So on April 5, vote the Australian Democrats, because the resource super profits tax is just part of what we call sustainable prosperity, and a fair return for all of Australia.

The Wash Up

It would appear that the Sports Party candidate, that received 1/3 less votes than the Australian Democrats at 1900 votes, will take a seat in the Senate for Western Australia. He will take a seat along side other micro-party candidates in NSW (Liberal Democrats), VIC (Motoring Enthusiasts) and QLD (Palmer United). Travesty? Comic Opera? Conspiracy?

Hardly. And all I can say is let’s hope our Sports Party single-issue guy from WA and the motoring enthusiasts guy from VIC bring enough of the crazy to replace Barnaby in the Senate, as NSW has moved that nut job to the House. Given that there was no website available during the campaign, and the only profile of the guy Wayne Dropulich is confined to a couple of newspaper articles in June, we are only finding out about him now slowly, and you can see him only now starting to clam up and start thinking about how to craft the rest of his policies to his party’s best advantage as he is interviewed on The 730 Report.

Now, I am certainly not saying there is anything wrong with the system we have, even if it amounts to someone basically winning the lottery on occasion, and requires us to find out what a guy like Senator-elect Dropulich thinks on matters such as macroeconomics, science, tax, equity and social issues, etc. after he takes his seat. That problem should be corrected by the fourth estate doing their fucking jobs during an election and not after. But I digress. No, the real problem that needs to be addressed is not single-issue parties, which you would hope the public could look past themselves, but rather the corruption of the existing system that is going on.

In short, I wonder if I am more scared of what I do know about Clive or the Lib Dems, or what I don’t know about Wayne?

Clive is doing exactly what I moved to Australia 22 years ago to escape, the purchasing of elected positions directly with large amounts of advertising resulting in a large amount of free media by rich individuals. I am sure I need not educate you on the average cost of winning a senate seat in the USA, and you will see directly the direct corrupting influence of too much money on public politics. Beware of the Jabba the Rinehart Party next election cycle.

The other serious corruption that is likely going on which is the generation of single-issue ‘feeder’ parties that purposely then funnel their preferences by design into the main party with a broad range of positions that may not be acceptable to the people originally casting their vote for an issue such as smoking, fishing or even fluffy bunnies. The Lib Dems have been most recently exposed for this behaviour by Crikey, which I don’t think meets the spirit of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, and obviously the libertarian single-issue parties appear to tend toward less government involvement in their model to a point that risks anarchy and takeover by autocrats. But the sunlight he gets should sort out David Leyonhjelm of the Lib Dems, the same way it did Steven Fielding.

Fortunately, I suppose, we have a healthy and sound enough democracy to withstand either of these corrupting influences, or whatever Wayne brings to the senate.

The real issue, then, is that the press really aren’t doing their fucking jobs during and before an election. When a party is registered in any state, someone in the press should build a scorecard on them, and require it to be basically a full one, or stop saying their name at all in free media that they cover as news. The Australian Democrats got exactly ZERO free media in the last election cycle except (to my knowledge) one radio interview in SA. Not complaining, just a fact. However, if the press actually did its job in the lead up to an election, people would know that a party is only running on one issue, and isn’t serious (unless they decide they are) and then not cover them further. Similarly, they should cover the Australian Democrats in exactly the same way, and then not mention us again unless our message is compelling.

I understand being excluded from most coverage if our message is deemed crap and people no longer want to hear it, but I don’t accept being excluded because we won’t be part of the freak show, or spend enough money to justify coverage as news.

Now, on to a bit of analysis and a potential taste of the way forward. I have been having a look at the polling place level numbers on the primary vote here in WA to see what effect, if any, the effort expended in the campaign was effective. We did election activities (forums, distribution of materials and retail campaigning work) in Brand, Perth, Swan and Pearce electorates, and here are some graphs (c’mon you know you love graphs) below with some discussion below.

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Basically I see this:

•  Where we were able to have a person working polling places, we doubled our vote (or possibly even tripled it if you take into account the slant of the overall vote at the location.
• Where we were able to get signs and information up through the 5 week campaign we tripled out vote (basically just on name recognition.
• There are pockets of Australian Democrats support out there that we need to focus on as a critical mass to move us forward

So, all in all some encouraging findings that point to identifiable things we can do in the next three years to get us back to polling in the 3-4% range at a minimum next time round.

Campaign Wrap

Other than working the polling station tomorrow, my senate campaign wraps up today with one more video message.

My first (and probably only) attempt to win a public office has been a very educational experience, a whole lot of work, but also a lot more interesting than I thought it would be, especially the parts I thought would be the worst, like retail campaigning in the street.

From next week, I will resume my regular no holds barred critique of the new government, which is bound to be bad regardless of the outcome.

Why I’m Your Guy

Hey it’s a sunny pleasant day today in Perth, and so I moved outside campaign HQ today to shoot today’s video. It’s all about the positive message in today’s pitch, even though the grumpy old bastard the message comes from hasn’t changed.