There’s an old saying, ‘The whole world’s going crazy!’

Well, when I look around me at how politics has gone lately, I’m inclined to agree and not think it is mere hyperbole.

You just have to look at a few recent examples from around the globe to see what I mean.

Let’s start with the most ridiculous first.

‘Swaziland media had reported Monday that the police had banned women from wearing miniskirts & midriff-revealing tops, saying they were provoking rape.’  With an example given of one woman who was told by her, male, boss to go home from work and get changed after wearing a ‘mini skirt’ to work, which was 1cm above the knee!

What is it about ‘a sense of proportion’, ‘being reasonable’, self-control & keeping it in their pants, that these men do not understand? Why the overweening urge to control women because they can’t control themselves?

It’s just crazy to think that women have to be blamed, again, in the 21st century, for what men might do to them.

Luckily, in this instance, sanity has prevailed in the government of Swaziland, and a spokesman has said that, “Government has not deliberated and taken any position to that effect in recent times or any other time, nor has it ordered the arrest of anyone wearing a mini skirt.” He said,  “The National Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland(2005) protected the freedom and rights of women in the country such that no custom may be imposed on them in which they were in conscience opposed.”

Still, it was a close-run thing, and it’s not to say that there aren’t many governments now around the world who aren’t reimposing paternalistic and stiflingly authoritarian controls over the women in their society.  Saudi Arabia, Iran, and possibly Egypt now too, to name just a few.  Plus, if you’re Homosexual in Uganda, forget about being ‘Out Loud and Proud’.

From The Guardian of November 26:

However, as a gay Ugandan blogger sardonically points out:

‘In fact, if you re-read your anthropology, [Madame Speaker], you will find that homosexuality was tolerated before the White Man came to Africa with his Bible-that foremost foreign import that our detractors love to subjectively, but liberally, quote from.’

However, what is most interesting here is that this Bill has links back into the vaulting ambitions of the powerful and ambitious men & women of America who make up the Religious Right.

That is, the same Religious Right who are waging a Christian Crusade to take back control of women’s bodies again, on behalf of the males who run the powerful organisations which make up the Religious Right, the Conservative women who facilitate their zealotry, and the political parties, mainly of the Right, through which they seek to express themselves & imprint their agenda upon the national psyche.  And which leads to outbreaks of craziness such as this in America recently:

‘Hobby Lobby Will Defy ACA Requirement for Free Contraception’

Though it’s not really ‘free contraception’ but a requirement under the US’s ‘Affordable Care Act'(‘Obamacare’) that an employee’s Health Insurance payments, taken out of their wages by the employer, must include coverage for contraception in the plan the employer uses.

However, owners of the Hobby Lobby Group do not want to comply with that mandate because THEY are devout Christians.  Even though, to refuse to comply, opens them up to fines of up to $1.3 million/day.

Just crazy stuff.  However, the Religious Right have deep pockets and they have obviously decided on the fight they want to pick with the President, his ‘Affordable Care Act’ and the mandate to provide contraception coverage in the Health Insurance Plans for employees.

But it’s delusional and offensive for the following reasons:

  • why should any employer seek to control the sexual health of their employees?
  • Since when did contraception, the Pill, essentially, become ‘an abortion-inducing drug’, as these over-bearing religious zealots are trying to claim?
  • And as one of their commenters so cleverly put it-
    Stupid Git — 12/29/12 10:06am

    I’m sure these same people would have no problem with CEO’s from companies like PIMCO and Ethan Allen telling employees what they can and can’t do based on their Islamic beliefs, right? I’m sure this isn’t just another case of the Christian Persecution Complex because they can’t live in the theocracy of their dreams. In fact, let’s make exceptions for all employer’s religious ideals:

    If you work for a Jehovah’s Witness: no blood transfusions will be covered.
    If you work for a Christian Scientist: No modern medicine at all.
    If you work for a Scientologist: No psychiatric coverage.

    Did I miss any?

Finally, where will it end?  Because these religious control freaks never stop at one success.  They always want to keep pushing the envelope further.  Pushing back against the hard-fought gains that women, minorities & the LGBTI community have made.

You only have to look around the world, as I have shown, with only a few examples, to see where they may take us if we don’t push back.

Which leads me to the Australian leg of our world tour, because I read the other day that Australia’s own religious extremists, ‘The Catch the Fire Ministries’, have started their own political party.

You wouldn’t read about it, a Sri Lankan immigrant to Australia ‘has launched a new Australian political party opposed to multiculturalism’!

However, he says it’s not a racist party it’s just Anti-Muslim(apparently he thinks Muslims are demons), and has a strongly pro-Christian ideology.  Goodness knows what he thinks about godless Atheists!  But he thinks it’s OK to want to impose his beliefs on government, and to prevent others from attempting to do the same, via government.

Which, of course, brings me to our Alternative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  Another deeply religious individual.

It’s why I can’t help wondering, when I reflect upon all these other religious ideologues from around the world & in our own country, just what would Tony Abbott try to impose on Australia & Australians as PM of our country?

He says he won’t impose his religious beliefs on the nation, but he just won’t be able to help himself I believe.  Already there are examples, too numerous to list here, from his time as a Minister & Senior member of John Howard’s Government, and since as Opposition Leader, which have demonstrated that Tony Abbott’s belief is that his core religious values are the ‘right’ ones, therefore right for the country.

This is why I thought it important to lay out just a few examples of where this type of thinking is taking the world of politics, and the world in general, at the moment, and thus why I think it is so important to defeat Tony Abbott at the next election in 2013.

I want Australia to be an island of sanity in a sea of political madness which is threatening to swamp us.

President Obama’s re-election has provided a bulwark, and Australia needs to join him in the fight against the sort of people who think it’s factually accurate to build theme parks which have humans riding dinosaurs, Fred Flintstone-style.  We just can’t let Post-Enlightenment reality be subsumed by cartoon Christian craziness, with all the evil undertones that come with it.

As a scientist, I cannot.

As American, Pulitzer Prize-winning author & MIT Professor, Junot Diaz, put it so succinctly about the Republican Party(but the same goes for all political parties like them):

“The current GOP is ‘a shelter for a lot of messed-up & toxic paradigms’.”

And, might I add, these parties are a shelter for a lot of toxic & messed-up individuals.

They must be prevented from poisoning the political well here in Australia too.

And Professor Diaz puts it so well, encapsulating what I have been trying to put into words here, when he says:

“And what is happening to communities, is not racist but specifically white supremacist oppression.”

Except, I might add, that the 21st century ‘white supremacists’ have co-opted a lot of people like Danny Nahliah, who definitely aren’t White, but who have evolved a sort of symbiotic power relationship with the ‘Middle Aged Conservative Old White Guys’, based around their religious zealotry and the defined benefits riding on their coat-tails brings to them. They’ve sniffed the wind and they know which way it is blowing.

But again Junot has a neat explanation for this:

“The racial system that has sort of got this planet under a grip, a racial system that begins with the concept of coloniality, the racial system that sort of operates, whether it’s the Dominican Republic or the United States(or Uganda, Swaziland or Australia), isn’t called racism, technically, it’s called white supremacy”, he said.  “We don’t like to call it white supremacy, because folks get real, like, iffy.  They’re like ‘argh’.  But technically, it’s that…So whether it’s the privilege of money, the privilege of gender.  I mean try to get boys to talk about misogyny & patriarchy.  Boys don’t want to talk about that.  Why?  Well, because, ‘Darn, if I talk about that, that’s a threat to my privilege’.”

And that’s why Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ‘Misogyny Speech’ was so powerful and one of the most important speeches given by any politician around the world this year.  It spoke directly to these themes, and she said it directly to the man who is the embodiment of White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Privilege and Misogyny in Australia today.  Tony Abbott.

Always with the negative waves, Moriarity…

Wayne Swan is sick of Abbott’s negative waves…

New Year’s resolution: accentuate the positive

Mr Swan, who was acting Prime Minister until the weekend, denied suggestions the government was culpable in helping to set the low tone of what has been labelled the nastiest political year in memory. ”You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mr Swan said.

”The negativity in policy and personal attacks have all been from Abbott. I mean, for god’s sake. These are the people who are now hung out to dry for their activities in terms of Mr [James] Ashby and company,” he said, referring to the Federal Court finding that Mal Brough, an endorsed candidate of the Liberal National Party, conspired with Mr Ashby to end the political career of the former speaker Peter Slipper. Despite the finding, Mr Abbott has expressed full confidence in Mr Brough.

”I’m a little surprised at the notion that there is some sort of equivalence in terms of the negativity going on … The Prime Minister in particular, in the face of enormous negative attack and enormous denigration, performed superbly. Too often that gets brushed aside in some sort of notion that it was some sort of two-way process.”

The Treasurer said hauling the political debate into positive territory next year was his ”New Year’s resolution” to ignore ”glass half empty” naysayers.

Read more:

Jacqueline Maley tries her best to tar Labor with the “negativity” tag, but it’s just not on to blame Labor as equally guilty of negativism for responding to the Coalition’s and the media’s vicious attacks.

This contention presupposes that Labor must always turn the other cheek while “color writer”s and Press gallery jabberers like Maley giggle behind their cupped hands at how clever Tony Abbott is for being a complete wrecker. If they’re in a particularly vicious mood they’ll flay Labor alive for not standing up for themselves, declaring they have no “narrative” and no guts.

Maley mentions … um… that … um … Gillard … um … called Abbott an … um … “misogynist”, without noting that he had called Gillard the same thing first, indeed he brought on the whole subject.

She also forgets to mention that Gillard flayed him alive with her response that was watched by millions, enthralled at seeing a true bully reduced to a simpering shell of a man, whose best response was to call her “a piece of work” the next day, when he thought no-one was listening.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that, at the time, Maley assured us that Gillards speech needed to be taken in um… “context” and was a pathetic attempt by the PM to change the subject?

Am I being too negative about the glamourous SMH “color writer”? Nah…

So, fair enough in my books for Swan, Combet and Gillard to respond in kind to Abbott’s negative attacks. It is inconceivable that any government, particularly this one, would seek to trash-talk the economy the way Abott and his gang have denigrated our own.

Negativity has gotten us precisely nowhere. It has destroyed confidence and it has ruined businesses. It has soured the nation and poisoned the national discourse. It has turned us into a nation of bitter whingers.

Billions around the world would love to show us how to take what we have and make something of it besides tears.

We should be celebrating Australia, not moaning that it is finished and a failure.

If this government really was “Stalinist” and we really were living in the equivalent of a Soviet State (as is so often said by the loonier elements on the right), Abbott, Hockey et al would be declared Public Vandals and Seditious Recalcitrants, put up against a wall… and shot. They have done that much damage. Thankfully (for them) we do not employ the death penalty for Economic Treason.

So, let us celebrate Australia, not denigrate it. Let’s get the message out that the promised “Election Now!” is never going to happen, and never was. We should make a New Year’s resolution to spead the good news about this fantastic country and not let the Coalition and its lazy, benighted business mates destroy it becaue they simply don’t have the imaginations to do anything else.

And let us redouble our promises to ourselves to NEVER purchase anything published by Fairfax. The sooner they go under the better, especially if they made the … um … giant mistake of … um … keeping the atrocious Jackie Maley on as an … um … paid member of staff.


UPDATE: (Cross-posted from another thread)…

So glad to see I didn’t read Jackie wrong. She obviously thought she hadn’t explained the “context” well enough in her first go at it yesterday, that her attempts at disguising her dislike for the government had been too adequately submerged in phoney balance

So today she lets us know what she REALLY … um … thinks.

“… it’s a bit cute of Wayne Swan to exculpate the government from any responsibility whatsoever for the low tone of this year’s political debate.

It was arguably Swan who kicked it all off in the lead-up to the Gillard/Rudd leadership spill in February, when he released a press statement criticising Rudd for his ”dysfunctional decision-making” and ”deeply demeaning attitude towards other people”.

That started a round of blood-letting against the former prime minister so fierce it made the Coalition look like pussies.

… it’s one thing for voters to shrug and concede the carbon tax wasn’t quite so bad as they thought it would be, quite another to embrace it as a positive reform that will set Australia up for its post-mining future, which is what the Treasurer argues it is.

Read more:

Onya Jackie!

It was all Swan’s fault, apparently.

He reacted to Rudd’s constant white-anting and carping from abroad, finally nailing for the readers and viewers just what the party thought of him.You could even say he delivered bucketloads of context and then tipped them on St. Kevin. Swan’s words flushed Rudd out, getting the supposed “political master” to challenge for the leadership…. from a mere 10,000 miles and two days’ travelling away!

The vote went Gillard’s way in a canter. We saw that all the stories that Jackie and her colleagues had been writing, telling us how dangerous Rudd was to Gillard’s Prime Ministership, how he nearly had the numbers – might have them, actually, if the crowds in the streets were any guide – were, frankly, full of shit.

The baloney substituting for “context” that Jackie and pals were writing about Rudd’s imminent comeback – a sure thing, bar the shouting – was as ersatz as a Coorey phonecall. Swan not only blew Rudd’s cover, but he blew the Press Gallery’s, who were on a nice little earner there, what with their endless yarns about “senior Labor insiders”, dates, timelines for takeovers, even entire New Rudd legislative agendas (usually involving a cave in to Abbott’s own schemes). This was going to be repealed, that was going to be amended. There’s your “context”!

And poor, inept, Wayne Swan, the ugly duckling of the Labor caucus went and killed the story stone dead by opening his trap and pointing out the Emperor (and his media urgers) had no clothes.

THAT is why Maley’s pissed off with Wayne Swan. He told us what the REAL context was, unfiltered, unabridged and unpleasant (for Rudd).

Jackie you’re a year behind the times. Give it up, sweetheart.

The waters are lapping at the feet of Fairfax…

Pathetic Fairfax have cruelled their own nest so badly that even the Bogan Boofhead himself, John Singleton, can buy in.

Singleton buys into Fairfax
MEDIA and advertising entrepreneur John Singleton has established a toehold on the share register of Fairfax Media and opened up discussions with Fairfax’s largest shareholder, Gina Rinehart.

The pair said little about their plans in a statement issued late on Friday, but Mr Singleton criticised Fairfax for a ”lack of direction” and called for a review of the group’s charter of editorial independence.

Mr Singleton did not disclose the size of his stake, but is believed to have acquired close to 1 per cent of the media group’s shares through Gutenberg Investments Unit Trust.

He and Mrs Rinehart believed that the lifeblood of Fairfax was the integrity and accuracy of its journalism, but there was no reason why a group of ”eminent and experienced Australians” should not review the charter to assess ”its relevance for today”.

Read more:

So Singo’s going to re-define the word “accuracy”? We’ve seen how that works at 2GB.

Fairfax brought this on themselves, by:

  • Alienating and mocking half their readership,
  • Consistently talking down governance and the economy, killing their own advertising revenue,
  • Sacking productive workers, keeping the old boilers on instead,
  • Running bullshit yarns about hookers and 20 year old intra-office spats,
  • Sticking to the old, cramped writing styles that are based on physical space on a printed page, when digital publication has no such restriction,
  • Having supermarket bizoids and Big End Of Town types run the board instead of newspaper people.

And so now we have it… Australia’s Queen Of Digging Up Dirt and the 2GB “Power Station” ethos are about to attempt a takeover. May as well make it official. Singleton says that buying the Fairfax radio stations is too hard, so he’s out to buy the entire company instead. It’s cheaper that way.

How did Fairfax get to the stage of being junk stock?

When you read a story that refers to a judgement of the Federal Court, yet there is no link to that judgement so you can read it for yourselves, you know the fix is in. It’s Fairfax trying to keep the opinion of its op-ed writers on top of reality.

When you see calls for Prime Ministerial resignations over some ancient hooker allegations and Peter Slipper’s lewd texts from twerps like Michelle Grattan, or phrases like “the government’s greatest crisis” (used to refer to the AWU Festival in the last two weeks of parliament… remember that?) employed by Hartcher go not only unchallenged in the paper, but rendered unchallengeable by comments being denied to readers, you know there’s no hope left.

When you hear that complete idiots like the leering Michael Stutchbury are not only employed by the AFR, but appointed to its editorship, you know the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

When you read Katharine Murphy telling her “fans” that she knows best what they want to read – “excellence in journalism” (which Kath will supply) – before running yet another beat-up on Craig Thomson, or when you spot Jacqueline Maley telling us that, when put into proper “context” the Misogyny Speech was a load of “Meh…”, a clammy sweat breaks out.

Fairfax hit the iceberg a long time ago. They were holed beneath the waterline but the first-class passengers and hangers-on kept sipping the champagne of long lunches, tenured indulgence and the churning of press releases into stenographed write-ups of whatever Tony Abbott said was a fair thing.

Gonski was released and written off as pie-in-the-sky within a 24 hour period. No explanation of its policy content was proffered. Far easier to just ask – with arched eyebrows – “Where’s the money coming from?” than properly analyze its import, or not only how it might be done, but why the Prime Minister believes it must be done. Far easier to just cut Gonski off at the knees by saying there’s probably no money, so why waste time over it?

We heard in April that Slipper’s woes were an “existential” threat to the government. Whether the allegations against him were true or not, Gillard should (supposedly) have resigned over them. We were treated to accusations of Gillard’s hypocrisy via a deliberate misinterpretation of what she said – she was arguing for the office, not the man, yet the Gallery forgot the “office” bit – when the real story was that finally someone had king hit Abbott right where he deserved. Finally, when the case against Slipper was officially adjudged to be a fabrication and an abuse of process, the reaction was: “Who cares? The damage has been done.” A few pars run on Abbott’s declaration that Brough was a decent citizen, that Labor’s reaction was “hyperventilation” put the matter to bed.

The unlamented Shaun Carney opined that Abbott would repeal all of Labor’s legislation – going back six years to Howard days – so what was the point of taking an interest in a doomed government and its reforms? This was a sure-fire way to get the punters back in the shopping malls, exuding confidence in the future. At least Carney had the decency to “take the package” when it was offered. He’s now an “associate” something-or-other-else, at one of the Melbourne universities, twiddling his thumbs, drinking his rose water.

Where was Kate McClymont when some real digging needed to be done about not only Ashby and his LNP connections, but about Kathy Jackson and her troop of thugs and rorters? How does a Union madam get to live in a $2,000,000 house? How does she get to earn $270,000-plus for running a union comprised of the poorest workers in Australia? How does a penniless chancer like Ashby get to run a case costing millions of dollars, including appeals, threats of Constitutional challenges, forum shopping, $550 per hour “public relations representatives”, top QCs, laundering evidence through the Federal Court, theft of confidential documents, phoney “sworn” evidence that never turned up, feigned illnesses and preposterous claims that could have been – and should have been – dispensed with over coffee in Meeting Room Number #3 for mediation and nominal damages (if any)?

How is it that Fairfax opinionistettes and prostateistas can, day after day, refer only to polls as the final determining factor in political analysis?

Why is it that property, sports and science writers can talk their areas of responsibility up, while the Fairfax political and economics writers can only talk their own subjects down?

How can they get it so wrong, so often, yet learn nothing from their mistakes, ruining a once great media organization in the process, trashing the investments of it shareholders to the point where a Fairfax share is now worth less than the price of a postage stamp?

The only consolation I get from any of this is that if Singleton and his “friend” Reinhart believe that taking Fairfax further to the looney right will turn the company around, then pass the popcorn. The Barbarians are at the gates: Andrew Bolt heading up the political section, Ray Hadley doing “Culture And The Arts”, Alan Jones dictating tactics to the Wallabies as “Sports Editor”, Brian Wilshire holding down the “Science” desk (“Tell us if you were ever abducted by aliens”) and Gina writing poetry that makes the efforts of Vogons sound like Wordsworth, will be just the ticket they need to see their investment dwindle into nothing. Ten Network anyone? MTR Melbourne?

Out fantasies here of chancing upon Hartcher driving a cab for a living, or Grattan selling The Big Issue outside railway stations, and perhaps Paul Sheehan reverting to flogging “Unique Water” off the back of a rent-a-truck, may come to pass sooner than we had dared to hope.