The Show MUST Go On.

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Life is a highway. Are you going my way?
I’m on a journey. I hope you can come too.

That journey is to effect the sort of change in the Labor Party which I think we can all agree is needed if it is to survive & prosper as a Progressive Social Democratic political party, onwards through the 21st century and beyond.

As someone who gets to see politics in the raw in NSW, I think I am qualified to say my piece about what has occurred as the 43rd Parliament drew to a close, and I hope that you respect the fact that I have thought long and hard about the situation we have all just lived through and which the party finds itself in with respect to Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard exchanging roles yesterday, and I hope you respect my perspective.

You don’t have to agree with it, just respect the fact that it is neither a knee-jerk, reflexive lashing out, or a requiem for the ALP that some might expect or demand, just my perspective. A different perspective.

In fact, I’m not going to make a comment either way about the manner in which Kevin Rudd came to get back the position of Prime Minister. That has been hashed out ad infinitum and we all have an opinion about the propriety of that action and the manner in which JGPM (for she will always be that to me, I coined the acronym after all on Twitter), was relentlessly undermined by forces within her own party, the media and the Opposition, which includes their mouthpieces in the Conservative Think Tanks. That’s a given, and a shame that it had to occur to the nation’s first female Prime Minister, and that it coincided with the advent of 24/7 News media in this country. They have to have something to comment on, dissect, analyse and pontificate about in an increasingly obvious partisan way.

Such is life. We do it too, and those in glass houses shouldn’t cast around for stones at a time like this because to continue to express rancour now only expends our energies needlessly and for short term existential gain. Not the sort of long-term productive gain which can really lead to us vanquishing our common enemies.

Who are they?

Firstly, and foremostly, it is the Coalition.

In a very short space of time, we of the Progressive bent will be facing them in the trenches, and we had better get our acts together I say, in double-quick time, if we are to have a chance of defeating them. That’s all that counts right now.

Bitter recriminations are fine, and all well and good in the short run but only serve to hobble the cause we all believe in, in the long run, if we let those feelings eat away at our souls. That way lies an ineffective and divided rabble, and a heart-breakingly thumping win for the Conservatives. With all that would entail in a draconian policy sense.

So, yes, Kevin Rudd was an A-Grade A-hole, and so were the Cardinals and the other assorted Rudd Rats. I think we can all agree that their behaviour was reprehensible, and they too are our enemies within.

Which is why I have decided not to resign from the Labor Party, as others have. I have decided that Kevin Rudd and his acolytes & congenital chancres within the Labor Party may be having their day in the sun in the Labor Party now, but the cause of reform drives me on to the horizon beyond them and is the greater good which I have decided to keep working for, inside the party.

As I said to a couple of ladies up my way when I first joined the ALP, you can get upset about things and yell from the sidelines, or you can run onto the field as part of the team & get down and dirty with the rest of them and fight for what you believe in and do your best to kick goals and produce the sort of results you think should be being achieved.

“History is made by those who turn up”, as Tony Windsor said. So I’m going to keep turning up because I am on a personal crusade, with the Labor Party as my vehicle, for what I believe in. I have succeeded in sidelining some of the malign forces that we all detest in my local area, which has prevented them from having a platform on the national stage, and we have got a better representative as a result. Also I believe that if I stick with it I can do my bit to fulfill the legacy of JGPM in the party, as Tanya Plibersek appears to have decided to do also, and stick around to vanquish the malign forces and see them replaced by those who represent the qualities we respect.
I do.

If I don’t and I give up and go away I think that I would feel worse. I do.

I also think Julia Gillard would approve because we are staying to stand and fight another day.  Nothing good is ever easy, and the past 3 years and the last 3 days have shown me me that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and the show MUST go on. They might have won the battle but they will not win the war.  I fight on.

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Talking At Cross Purposes About Unknown Knowns and Known Unknowns.

Jersey Boys

I was reading one of the ‘Best Longform Articles from 2012’, brought to our attention by Leroy Lynch and Magickle. Specifically, ‘Jersey Boys’ by Jeffrey Goldberg, from ‘The Atlantic’ magazine:

href=”http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/jersey-boys/309019/”

It’s basically an investigation about 2 of New Jersey’s most famous sons, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican and self-confessed ‘biggest fan’ of Bruce Springsteen, and ‘The Boss’ himself, Bruce Springsteen.

The article describes how one, the Republican, can’t understand how the other, a wealthy Democrat supporter, can be that way, when, as he sees it, Bruce Springsteen is the embodiment of the Republican ideal, a self-made man.

So, I thought I would give the Springsteen ‘Right of Reply’, from the Progressive Left perspective, if I may be so bold. As ‘The Boss’ is busy touring the world right now, and coming to Wayne Swan’s home town of Brisbane pretty soon too I believe. At which event I’m guessing Wayne swan will be in the front row!

So here I go.

Now, the article starts out by making an interesting point:

‘…most politicians-certainly most politicians of national stature-are either too dull, or too monomaniacally careerist to maintain fervent emotional relationships with artists. And when they do, the objects of their affection often resemble them ideologically or dispositionally-‘

Take the lyrics of the Springsteen song that is quoted in the article:

“Workin’ in the fields / Till you get your back burned / Workin’ ’neath the wheel / Till you get your facts learned / Baby, I got my facts / Learned real good right now.” He screams the song’s immortal lines: “Poor man wanna be rich / Rich man wanna be king / And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything / I wanna go out tonight / I wanna find out what I got.”

Now, it’s interesting to note the dichotomy of political belief as it relates to these 2 men & how they take different meanings out of the words of this song.

Chris Christie believes it exemplifies “The American Dream”, of starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. And no party enables the American Dream better than the Republican Party. That is, that the poor man working in the field aspires to be rich, that’s what motivates him to keep working in the field until his back burns. So that one day he might climb to the top of the greasy pole, and that he may become the rich man.

Then, as a rich man, he will keep aspiring to be more than that. He will aspire to be ‘king’. As in, in modern parlance, a CEO, PM or President. And that is fine and admirable according to Christie, and most modern Conservatives.

However, where I think Springsteen differs, is in the kicker in the tail told in that song, via the line:

‘And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.’

Springsteen is saying the ‘king’ wants to keep the man in the field, workin’ neath the wheel, till his burnt back is broken.

Chris Christie doesn’t question the ‘Power at all costs as you rise to the top’ mentality. Springsteen does.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Springsteen had a few modern media moguls and politicians, like Rupert Murdoch & Silvio Berlusconi, in mind, when he wrote that line.

Men mainly. Though mannish women, like Margaret Thatcher probably would qualify also, whose sole aim in life has been to seek to rule as much of everything as they can, and destroy, denigrate, divide and conquer, those who try and get in their way.

Chris Christie, and most Conservatives, see nothing wrong with this at all. It is the purest manifestation of their ethos, which basically amounts to bare-knuckle Social Darwinism.

However, I believe, as most Social Democrats do, that Springsteen questions this mentality, and what’s more, disdains it utterley and completely.

For what does it benefit a man, if he does not benefit the greater good? The Common Weal. And that he cannot bring relief to his fellow man with good deeds?

Such as paying your fair share of tax, which then provides public services for the needy, and allows government to give them opportunities they cannot afford to provide for themselves, in order to better themselves?

As opposed to Christie’s idea that you only get what you take, or break your back to get.

That’s why Chris Christie doesn’t get why Bruce Springsteen stoically refuses to join the ‘Club of Kings’, even though Christie thinks he can explain it, when he says, “You want to know what he’s saying?”, Christie asks. “He’s telling us that rich people like him are fucking over us poor people in the audience, except that us in the audience aren’t poor, because we can afford to pay 98 bucks to him to see his show. That’s what he’s saying.”

Well, where do I start with that lot?

For a start, I don’t think Bruce Springsteen would take too kindly to a Republican Governor, who has slashed taxes for the rich & services for the poor, and who seeks to smash the Working Man & Woman’s collective voice, the Union, in their joint Home State of New Jersey, paraphrasing what Bruce Springsteen means with his lyrics, or how he manifests a hypocrisy with them by his actions in being a wealthy person, who sings songs about the poor’s struggles. By telling others, who can afford ~$100 for a ticket that they are poor, and downtrodden by ‘The Man’, as manifest by Christie and his plutocratic mates in the Republican Party.

No mention, of course, about how it may well be the case that a lot of the ticket purchasers could have put aside the equivalent of $2/week from their Minimum Wage jobs, for a year, just so they could afford to see Bruce Springsteen play live.

No, simply because they can still afford a ticket, that means they are not as badly off as Bruce Springsteen makes them out to be, according to Christie. A telling, and common, current Conservative mindset.

Maybe Bruce Springsteen understands better than Chris Christie exactly how these people came by the money for the tickets, and he expresses his sympathy and empathy in his songs?

Also, what Chris Christie, and most modern Conservative politicians, doesn’t understand, is that a wealthy individual does not have to abandon his principles and beliefs, nor empathy for the plight of the poorly-paid worker or the indigent who have fallen on hard times, or the disabled…just because he is a wealthy individual himself.

I mean, that’s the core difference between these 2 men. One believes that being a high-wealth individual disqualifies you from sympathy for the poor devils, and you are a hypocrite, therefore, if you seek to speak to that.
And then there is the other one, who believes in the eternal struggle against the wealthy in society, in order to get a better deal for those who don’t have as much, due to whatever circumstance, and so sees it as his duty to campaign to force the wealthy to share a little bit of their fortunes with those less fortunate. Even if you are one of ‘The 1%’ yourself.

Therefore, maybe, because Springsteen knows that Christie will never be able to comprehend this basic fact, is why he has no time for him. And never will.

I mean, Chris Christie is the living, breathing embodiment of the (fat) kid who never wanted to share, and thus is the walking, trash-talking epitome of today’s global Conservative Manifesto:

‘I got mine. You can go fuck yourself!’

THAT WAY LIES MADNESS

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:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/26/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill

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.’

http://sebaspace.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/a-letter-to-rebeccakadaga-from-a-supportive-gay-ugandan/

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:

http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/hobby-lobby-will-defy-federal-requirement-p

‘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.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/pastor-launches-anti-multicultural-party/story-e6frf7jx-1226080120408

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’.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/28/junot-diaz-current-gop-is-a-shelter-for-a-lot-of-messed-up-and-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.