Archive for October, 2011

Retail politics: last refuge of the incompetent

October 26, 2011 32 comments

You hear quite a bit about “retail politics” these days, usually in reference to how popular a given politician is and how they’ve “got their finger on the pulse”.

But I think it’s gone well beyond that now…well into the realms of fantasy and make-believe and it’s something that Abbott appears to have based his entire public persona on.

With the current poll-driven media and media-driven polling performing a nice little circle jerk of insularity and self-reinforcement, Abbott has latched on to this as his tool of choice and the media have done everything in their power to help him as much as they can.

The traditional retail politics meme of public meet-and-greets and I’m-one-of-the-common-people town halls has degenerated into photo ops in high visibility vests and gutting fish while spruiking the last three word slogan or “stop the …” idiocy.

Abbott doesn’t even pretend to listen to the “punters” any more…it’s all about him telling them about the latest hot button issue as propagated via the MSM/polling headlines.  And to rub even more salt into the wounds, it’s all about what he will destroy and opposed to what he will create…he will repeal the carbon tax, he will rip up the NBN; no word on what he will do for the good of the nation…it’s all about what he will do and say to get into Government.  He is the ultimate short-term visionary, only saying what he needs to say to get into power with no thought for what will happen beyond that point.  All you need to do to confirm this is have a cursory look at what he says he will scrap and what he says he will implement…currently he needs to find $70bn to do all this.  and he has the nerve to say the current government is wasting money.

So with the media’s active assistance in giving him wall-to-wall coverage of his stunt related idiocy or with their passive assistance in not scrutinising him as befits an alternative leader, Abbott is spiralling downwards in ever increasing circles because the polling indicates to him that his tactics are working, leading to even more idiocy being displayed, leading to an increasing dumbing down of politics in this country.  Of course, with offsiders like Hockey and Joyce you can’t help but emanate stupid, but to actively court it is another thing.

And the coup-de-grace?  His ham-fisted efforts at the Clubs Australia thing last night where he “predicted” he will repeal the pokie legislation in government.  He’s so pissweak that he can’t even promise it but can only “predict” it.  Good look on a potential Prime Minister…someone who’s too gutless to make a promise 2 years out from an election.  We really need those leaders who are too wishy-washy to make a committment to something.

Mind you, I’m sure it will get next to no coverage todays anyway.


Worst. Opposition. Ever

October 14, 2011 19 comments

Opposition.  By itself the definition of the word is pretty straight forward.  But apply it to politics and capitalise it and it has a whole other meaning.

To mind, the Opposition has a vital role in the process of Government by highlighting policies that do not benefit the nation and working to amend or defeat those policies.  They also have a duty to the populace to be seen as a credible alternative Government…this doesn’t happen by flicking a switch when the election is won, it happens by showing that they have credible alternatives to Government policy.  Now all of this should be an absolute breeze in a minority government…with several unaffiliated Independents to work with it should be a doddle to convince some of them to support your alternatives…particularly if they are of a conservative bent themselves.

Which brings us to the current Coalition opposition.

To date they have not been able to stop a single piece of legislation going through the parliament of this supposedly “do nothing” government.

On top of this they have not clearly articulated any credible alternative to government policy.  The “pay polluters not to pollute” policy has been widely discredited by anyone with any knowledge of the sector to be laughably inadequate and in the long run massively more expensive than the government policy.  Couple this with the Green Army and tree planting (which will require more arable land than we currently possess) and it’s easy to see that the Opposition’s environmental credentials are a joke.  On economic matters (traditionally the Coalition strongpoint) they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory either.  They would have delayed the stimulus packages (if they had bothered to stay awake to vote for them…I’m looking at you TA), leading us to a worse situation than we currently have.  And despite economic gurus the world over lauding us for the state of our economy, the Opposition and their media enablers (or is it the media and their political puppets) persist in telling us that the sky is falling in and we’ve never had it so bad.  No wonder the rest of the world looks at us and shakes their heads in disbelief.  And finally let’s look at technology.  Not content with slagging off the NBN as a white elephant and stating that “no-one needs to download movies that quick” and “I’m happy with my current speed”, these Luddites try to insist that fibre to the node couple with wireless is a better solution.  Well despite the fact that wireless will never be better than fibre IN THIS PHYSICAL UNIVERSE, this is the epitome of short-sightedness and shows their complete disinterest in nation building.

In short, this Opposition has “apparently” thrived on mindless negativity, fear-mongering, empty slogans and poisonous rhetoric and in conjunction with a fawning media pack have convinced the public that the Government are useless.

But when you strip away all the spin and emotive language and focus on the facts, what have they actually achieved?  No Government ministers have been stood down, no politicians have been sacked, no legislation has been amended in their favour, no legislation has been blocked and most importantly no early election has been called.  For all Abbott’s bluster and vitriol he has yet to do anything at all in this Parliament.

What he has done is show how completely unsuited the Opposition would be to being in charge.  They have no credible policies of any note…anything they do have is simply recycled Howard era policies or total bullshit.  Abbott will promise the world to get into power but cannot afford to fund all of his policy brain farts, hence the $70 billion funding shortfall.  He has a front bench completely devoid of any talent at all…can you imagine Julie Bishop giving a speech at the UN, or Joe Hockey at the G20…my eyes bleed just thinking about it.

And now finally the Government has employed some political judo and turned Abbott’s propensity to say No to everything against him in a spectacular manner.  By dropping the Migration Act amendment legislation they have in one swoop legitimised onshore processing and given themselves a handy stick to beat Abbott around the head with i.e. “he wouldn’t agree to the legislation so that’s why all the boats are coming”.

Personally I think it’s disgusting that asylum seeker’s lives can be used as a political football and that they should embrace onshore processing wholeheartedly, but can understand why they’ve gone this route.  The hate media and Coalition racists like the despicable Morrison have whipped up the inherent racism and xenophobia of the public to such a degree that it would be suicide to go that route.  Instead this way they get to blame Tony for all the new boat arrivals to appease the rednecks, but at the same time get to backdoor in onshore processing to appease the compassionate…they could pick up the votes from both sides.

Of course, this is all dependant on the facts being aired and going by the current state of what is laughingly called journalism in this country, it’s a big ask.  After all, what was the front page lead the day after the momentous passing of the carbon tax?  The Gillard -Rudd congratulatory peck and even more speculation about leadership changes.  Even after a journalist has admitted there is no actual indication that this is a potential, they still keep peddling it out.  Their desire to inject controversy and drama into even the most mundane of things to try to generate hits/sales/ratings does the public a massive disservice.

I believe the best thing to be done is to sack every Canberra press gallery journalist (particularly those so-called doyens of the press) and get a bunch of journalism graduates on the job.  You know they’ll be hungry and out to prove themselves so who best to try to get some decent information instead of rampant speculation.  As long as you give them a thorough warning about not writing crap it could be a winner…after all it can’t be any worse than the shit we currently get.

So in summary, channeling the Comic Book Guy, the Coalition are the WORST. OPPOSITION. EVER…and hopefully doomed to stay there for a long, long time.  After all, they do need the practice.


UPDATE:  Excellent summary of Abbott’s “abilities” by Jessica Irvine

Politics and life

October 7, 2011 7 comments

I’ve been a bit erratic with blog posts recently, mainly due to my reaction to the current state of Australian politics and media.

I’ve actually become a bit depressed that it’s all very much same-old, same-old day in day out.  Government does stuff, Abbott pulls a stunt, Hockey makes a goose of himself,  Morrison acts like a racist prick, rest of opposition practices being invisible, media praises Opposition for being useless negative pricks, media slams Government for using word out of context…blah blah blah.

This got me thinking a bit meta and wondering, what sort of person takes something they have no control over or something that will affect them in a major way so seriously?

When I was growing up I was never seriously into politics…it was just some background noise on the periphery of my life.  My parents never really divulged their particular flavours, though after I turned 18 and was going to vote for the first time I’m pretty sure they pointed me towards Labor…so it could be like a genetic condition :).

It has only really been in the last few years that it has become of some interest to me, and I’m pretty sure that coincides with the media trying to treat it as some sort of daily contest or battle to the death.  Of course, when this first started they were reasonably even handed about it, but these days they’ve gone completely mental and are seriously pushing the regime change barrow…and not just the lackwits at Limited News.

Just prior to the last election I was having dinner with my folks and the conversation rolled around to the election and I was shocked to my core to find out that they had both become LNP supporters.  I tried to find out why they turned, but all they did was trot out the traditional LNP talking points about Labor being bad with the economy, recycled dribble from the Oz about Labor failures, and how the NBN wouldn’t help them at all.  The gist I got was that because the government wasn’t doing anything for them, they didn’t want to vote for it!

It came to me that this wasn’t such an isolated condition either.  My in-laws are rabidly LNP and routine parrot the crap they distill from the Curious Snail.  I occasionally had a discussion or two with the father-in-law about politics, but the wife hates it and voices get raised so that has been nipped in the bud, and once again the underlying theme has been that because the government is not giving them anything or is making them pay their way, they don’t want to vote for it.

Is this indicative of the conservative mindset?  Is it a case of “I want mine and if you’re not going to give it to me you can get stuffed”?  Are they really so unconcerned with the bigger picture?

I know a lot of the right-leaning people will say that they pay taxes so they should get something in return, or they’ve worked hard all their life and they deserve something, but are they really that blinkered that they don’t care what happens to our society as a whole?

Is it so hard for them to understand that if the public health system isn’t fixed, then later on in life when they are older and need treatment they may have to pay through the nose for it…not easy to do when you are retired.

Or that if the public school system doesn’t get adequate funding, then people are going to have to pay for private schools, putting an unwelcome financial drain on the family,which in turn drives the quality of the public school system down even further in a vicious circle?

Is there something wrong with me because I think that government should be trying to help everyone, not just the special interest groups?  Is it weird to think that the carbon tax is a great idea because it give the polluters incentive to lift their game while compensating those who are most likely to be affected by price rises?  I personally will be out of pocket, but to me that is an incentive to make my own house greener to curb costs.

Or on something like the pokies pre-commitment scheme.  I have a relative who has a gambling problem and yes, it is pokies that are the issue.  The problem I see with poker machines is not that they are gambling, but that they are designed to extract the maximum money in the shortest possible time while keeping you entranced and oblivious.  These things are cashing in on the video game age by displaying the flashy graphics and giving the illusion of interactivity and control, but in effect you may as well walk over to the cashier and just give her your money.  Although the proposed scheme won’t stop gamblers losing their money, it gives them the chance to slow it down, and hence think about it when they hit their limit.  As for those who say they’ll just move to the TAB, this is total shit.  The pokie player will have no patience for the TAB as there is no instant result for them, good or bad.  The pokies are all about the instant fix.

I’ve found that my politics have tended to crystallise around the traditional Labor values…generally trying to achieve the greatest good for the greatest amount of people, coupled with steering the nation towards the future. Things like improving public health, better funding for public education, improving infrastructure…to me these are the things that a government should be doing, things that can’t be left to private enterprise as it won’t be done to suit the maximum number of people.  A perfect point in case is the NBN.  There is no way a private enterprise would consider doing this…they wouldn’t push it to the regional areas because it wouldn’t be cost effective, they would charge like wounded bulls to recoup costs ASAP, and they would try to get away with the minimum possible to achieve some sort of result.  Instead we have a future proof infrastructure being laid down to be complemented with wireless for the 7% of the population that won’t have access.

I’ve digressed a bit, so to get back on track I’ve often wondered when reading articles/posts/comments from the conservative viewpoint why they can’t see what I see.  Do they really think that giving rich bastards more tax breaks will help the worse off in society?  All they need to do is look to the US to see how much the trickle-down theory sucks.  Do they really think that the NIMBY attitude is all life is about?  I know I shouldn’t think of them as evil, but you really have to wonder sometimes when you see conservative commentators twist and manipulate things to suit their own worldview.

So to sum up, I am right and those who disagree with me are wrong conservatives are idiots can you ever really understand the motivations of the other side, or is it like dealing with another species?


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