Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America ahead. The Arizona Republic editorial board endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

We reproduce the following with comment or embellishment.

“Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

What Clinton has (and Trump doesn’t)

The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting.

Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not.

Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. Donald Trump does not.

Clinton knows how to compromise and to lead with intelligence, decorum and perspective. She has a record of public service as First Lady, senator and secretary of state.

She has withstood decades of scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians. The vehemence of some of the anti-Clinton attacks strains credulity.

Trump hasn’t even let the American people scrutinise his tax returns, which could help the nation judge his claims of business acumen.

Her flaws pale in comparison

Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State was a mistake, as she has acknowledged. Donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of State raise concerns that donors were hoping to buy access. Though there is no evidence of wrongdoing, she should have put up a firewall.

Yet despite her flaws, Clinton is the superior choice.

She does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies. Her approach to governance is mature, confident and rational.

That cannot be said of her opponent.

Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down.

Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads.

That’s beneath our national dignity.

When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.

Whose hand do you want on the nuclear button?

Clinton has argued America’s case before friendly and unfriendly foreign leaders with tenacity, diplomacy and skill. She earned respect by knowing the issues, the history and the facts.

She is intimately familiar with the challenges we face in our relations with Russia, China, the Middle East, North Korea and elsewhere. She’ll stand by our friends and she’s not afraid to confront our enemies.

Contrast Clinton’s tenacity and professionalism with Trump, who began his campaign with gross generalities about Mexico and Mexicans as criminals and rapists. These were careless slaps at a valued trading partner and Arizona’s neighbor. They were thoughtless insults about people whose labor and energy enrich our country.

Trump demonstrated his clumsiness on the world stage by making nice with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto only a few hours before appearing in Phoenix to deliver yet another rant about Mexican immigrants and border walls.

Arizona’s been there on immigration (it doesn’t work)

What’s more, Arizona went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels. It led our state to SB 1070, the 2010 “show me your papers” law that earned Arizona international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration.

Arizona understands that we don’t need a repeat of that divisive, unproductive fiasco on the national level. A recent poll shows Arizonans oppose both more walls and the mass deportations Trump endorses.

We need a president who can broker solutions.

Clinton calls for comprehensive immigration reform, a goal that business, faith and law enforcement leaders have sought for years. Her support for a pathway to citizenship and her call for compassion for families torn apart by deportation are consistent with her longtime support for human rights.

Clinton’s equality vs. Trump’s lack of respect

As secretary of state, Clinton made gender equality a priority for U.S. foreign policy. This is an extension of Clinton’s bold “women’s rights are human rights” speech in 1995.

It reflects an understanding that America’s commitment to human rights is a critically needed beacon in today’s troubled world.

Trump’s long history of objectifying women and his demeaning comments about women during the campaign are not just good-old-boy gaffes.

They are evidence of deep character flaws. They are part of a pattern.

Trump mocked a reporter’s physical handicap. Picked a fight with a Gold Star family.Insulted POWs. Suggested a Latino judge can’t be fair because of his heritage. Proposed banning Muslim immigration.

Each of those comments show a stunning lack of human decency, empathy and respect. Taken together they reveal a candidate who doesn’t grasp our national ideals.

A centrist or a wild card?

 Many Republicans understand this. But they shudder at the thought of Hillary Clinton naming Supreme Court justices. So they stick with Trump. We get that. But we ask them to see Trump for what he is — and what he is not.

Trump’s conversion to conservatism is recent and unconvincing. There is no guarantee he will name solid conservatives to the Supreme Court.

Hillary Clinton has long been a centrist. Despite her tack left to woo Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton retains her centrist roots. Her justices might not be in the mold of Antonin Scalia, but they will be accomplished individuals with the experience, education and intelligence to handle the job.

They will be competent. Just as she is competent.

If a candidate can’t control his words

 Never in its 126-year history has The Arizona Republic editorial board endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate over a Republican.

Trump’s inability to control himself or be controlled by others represents a real threat to our national security. His recent efforts to stay on script are not reassuring. They are phoney.

The president commands our nuclear arsenal. Trump can’t command his own rhetoric.

Were he to become president, his casual remarks — such as saying he wouldn’t defend NATO partners from invasion — could have devastating consequences.

Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, a thug who has made it clear he wants to expand Russia’s international footprint.

Trump suggested Russia engage in espionage against Hillary Clinton — an outrageous statement that he later insisted was meant in jest.

Trump said President Obama and Hillary Clinton were “co-founders” of ISIS, then walked that back by saying it was sarcasm.

It was reckless.

Being the leader of the free world requires a sense of propriety that Trump lacks.

Clinton’s opportunity to heal this nation

 We understand that Trump’s candidacy tapped a deep discontent among those who feel left behind by a changed economy and shifting demographics.

Their concerns deserve to be discussed with respect.

Ironically, Trump hasn’t done that. He has merely pandered. Instead of offering solutions, he hangs scapegoats like piñatas and invites people to take a swing.

In a nation with an increasingly diverse population, Trump offers a recipe for permanent civil discord.

In a global economy, he offers protectionism and a false promise to bring back jobs that no longer exist.

America needs to look ahead and build a new era of prosperity for the working class.

This is Hillary Clinton’s opportunity. She can reach out to those who feel left behind. She can make it clear that America sees them and will address their concerns.

She can move us beyond rancour and incivility.

The Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton for President.”

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-1-58-32-pmlam-roastSad news today from Hollywood that Naomi and hubby Liev Schreiber are splitting up after 11 years together.

We had hoped they might be one tinseltown relationship to actually make it, as they obviously have a lot of time for each other and both seem extremely nice people.

Anyhow, we wish their family well as they tackle the situation as well as the inevitable Hollywood insider interest.

It just reminded us that Naomi first came to the world’s attention in this iconic Aussie TV commercial.

Her nascent talent shines out in the thirty second spot as do her natural, fresh-faced good looks. And her Aussie accent, which has now pretty much vanished.

May you live in interesting times ...

May you live in interesting times …

Expect major news regarding the UK Labour Party in about half an hour from now.
Possibly the most dramatic news in UK politics in generations. Or a storm in a tea cup. We shall see.
You heard it here first.

streicher

 

Comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles – three of which may be poisoned, so best to discard the whole bowl – is an idea that has deep roots.

The concept of one bad apple threatening the peace of society dates back at least to 1938 and a children’s book written by an especially nasty demagogue called Julius Streicher, called Der Giftpilz, or The Toadstool, in which a mother explains to her son that it only takes one Jew to destroy an trump handsentire people.

Active in politics from 1919 onwards, Streicher’s arguments were primitive, vulgar, and crude but he believed in what he said and was an uninhibited, wild agitator, to whom masses would listen; which was what mattered to the Nazis and their backers.

streicher hitlerIn November 1923, Streicher participated in Hitler’s first effort to seize power, the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. Streicher marched with Hitler in the front row of the would-be revolutionaries and braved the bullets of the Munich police. His loyalty earned him Hitler’s lifelong trust and protection; in the years that followed, Streicher would be one of the dictator’s few true intimates.

As well as “The Toadstool”, Streicher also published a newspaper that Adolf Hitler loved to read, Der Stürmer. The newspaper published anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-communist, and anti-capitalist propaganda.

In 1933, soon after Hitler took power, Streicher used his newspaper to call for the extermination of the Jews.

One of Streicher’s constant themes was the sexual violation of ethnically German women by Jews, a subject which served as an excuse to publish semi-pornographic tracts and images detailing degrading sexual acts. These “essays” proved an especially appealing feature of the paper for young men. With the help of his notorious cartoonist, Phillip “Fips” Rupprecht, Streicher published image after image of Jewish stereotypes and sexually-charged encounters. His portrayal of Jews as subhuman and evil is widely considered to have played a critical role in the dehumanization and marginalization of the Jewish minority in the eyes of common Germans – creating the necessary conditions for the later perpetration of the Holocaust.

This “Otherisation” is today eerily repeated in the claims of Donald Trump that “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” And also arguing that all Muslims must be refused entry to the United States because they are potentially terrorists.

Do such statements resonate? The evidence is they do. In just one reported event, two brothers reportedly attacked a 58-year-old Hispanic homeless man in Boston, breaking his nose and urinating on him, in mid-August. They allegedly told police they targeted the man because of his ethnicity and added, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” After the GOP candidate was told of the attack, and instead of denouncing the act Trump said his followers were “passionate.” Later (no doubt after taking advice) the Twitter-friendly presidential candidate tweeted about the incident, saying he would “never condone violence.” Yet Trump has denied protesters their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, assembly and dissent; currently at least three protesters are suing Trump after being manhandled and physically abused at his campaign events. Peaceful protestors have been verbally abused, manhandled, pepper-sprayed, beaten and kicked by Trump supporters. Trump has repeatedly talked about the virtues of punching and otherwise abusing protesters. At one rally he encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters. He offered to pay the legal fees of his supporters who attacked protesters. He expressed his personal desire to punch protesters, although one late night comedian observed that Trump seems more like the evil mastermind who would stroke a white cat while someone else does the punching.

Streicher’s attitudes were so disgusting he even offended many of his fellow Nazi leaders. For his twenty-five years of speaking, writing, and preaching hatred of the Jews, Streicher was widely known as “Jew-Baiter Number One”. In his speeches and articles, week after week, month after month, he infected the German mind with the virus of anti-Semitism, and incited the German people to active persecution. Each issue of Der Stürmer, which reached a circulation of 600,000 in 1935, was filled with such articles, often lewd and disgusting. As we now know, the mood of terror created by Streicher and others resulted in the industrial extermination of millions of people as state policy.

juliusstreicher225Julius Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. Yet his pivotal role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors’ judgment, to include him in the indictment of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal – which sat in Nuremberg, where Streicher had once been an unchallenged authority as Gauleiter. Most of the evidence against Streicher came from his numerous speeches and articles over the years. In essence, prosecutors contended that Streicher’s articles and speeches were so incendiary that he was an accessory to murder, and therefore as culpable as those who actually ordered the mass extermination of Jews (such as Hans Frank and Ernst Kaltenbrunner). They further argued that he kept them up when he was well aware Jews were being slaughtered.

He was acquitted of crimes against peace, but found guilty of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death on 1 October 1946.

With various histrionics on the scaffold, Streicher was hanged in October 1946.

The consensus among eyewitnesses was that Streicher’s hanging did not proceed as planned, and that he did not receive the quick death from spinal severing typical of the other executions at Nuremberg. Kingsbury-Smith, who covered the executions for the International News Service, reported that Streicher “went down kicking” which may have dislodged the hangman’s knot from its ideal position. He stated that Streicher could be heard groaning under the scaffold after he dropped through the trap-door, and that the executioner intervened under the gallows, which was screened by wood panels and a black curtain, to finish the job.

The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is this Monday evening, in America. It will make interesting viewing.

Lorries drive along a protection fence, preventing access to a circular road leading to the port of Calais. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

Lorries drive along a protection fence, preventing access to a circular road leading to the port of Calais. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

 

The story of the youngest-ever refugee killed trying to enter UK from Calais should be made into a movie. It would change people’s minds about the topic overnight.

The fifteen-year-old Afghan boy  – who cannot be named until his family in Afghanistan are officially informed of his death – was trying to stow away on a lorry in Calais.

He was technically eligible to receive asylum in the UK but the paperwork had been taking a long time to come through.

Paperwork. Government code for “deliberately dragging our feet to avoid our legal responsibilities and pander to sick, anti-refugee sentiment”.

He was out with his cousin, a 17-year-old refugee staying in the same camp, in the early hours of Friday morning. The two boys managed to climb onto the roof of a lorry. Witnesses said the driver noticed them and swerved from left to right to knock them off.

We ask: How is that not murder?

The youngest boy was thrown to the ground, in the path of oncoming traffic. Witnesses told Care4Calais.org he was run over three or four times. It’s also been reported the drivers didn’t stop to check on him.

Other refugees came to the aid of the boy and police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. When police noticed the body they called an ambulance, but he was dead by the time it arrived, 15-20 minutes later.

Again: the boy had a legal right to claim asylum in the UK. His brother is already resident in the country so he should have been given permission to join him, but he was fed up of the feet-dragging of the authorities responsible for his papers.

While he waited he was living in squalid conditions and had begun taking matters into his own hands, trying to hide on cross-channel lorries and even creeping onto the axles of vehicles.

The as-yet un-named young boy.

The as-yet un-named young boy.

Friends and relatives said he was desperate for an education.

He’d fled Afghanistan months earlier, aged 14, after the Taliban prevented him from attending school and tried to force him to become a suicide bomber.

His father feared for his life and sent him away.

The teenager had already travelled through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Germany. Imagine. A fifteen year old. Imagine he was your son.

“He was a kind boy with a good mind, he was trying to learn English in the camp and hoping to go back to school when he reached the UK,” said Abdul, an Afghan friend from the camp.

Calais-based charities say his death is the 13th this year and he is the third child to have died.

“Every day the British and French governments continue to delay taking appropriate and timely action more and more desperate children and adults gamble with their lives. This senseless loss of life must stop,” said Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais.org.

Be part of the solution. Share this tragic story. Change minds.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-50-39-pm

This is one very possible outcome for the USA presidential election.

It shows Clinton winning by 308 electoral college votes to Trump’s 191, crucially giving Florida to Clinton, plus North Carolina and Pennsylvania. A couple of states are left as toss ups.

The rationale for the above map is quite simple. We do not believe Trump can win a Latino heavy state in Florida (29 precious votes), and Clinton is ahead in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina (which in the two last elections were toss ups, won once each by each side, but where court actions to disallow Republican voter restrictions may tip the state to Clinton, and where she also holds a 2% opinion poll lead currently). Trump cannot really find a path to the 270 electoral college votes he needs without Pennsylvania, and whilst his raw appeal may swing some disgruntled blue-collar votes to him, it will be destructive of the Republican vote in the more liberal city suburban areas.

You can have your own fun speculating on various scenarios here.

 

trump__clinton

 

So far so good, but it’s all pure speculation at this stage, of course. There are plenty of days to go, all of them with potential trip ups for both candidates, and both candidates are hugely unpopular anyway. We happen to think the televised debates will see a very startling poll bump for Clinton, the first of which is next Monday night in America, at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. We think Clinton – who is fearsomely bright – may wipe the floor with Trump, who isn’t. But we may be way wrong. Clinton has a habit of appearing stiff and starchy, and that won’t play well against Trump’s famously informal style.

Still, we think she will effectively expose what a nonsense the man is intellectually, and that, as they say, will be that. If there’s a “gotcha” moment, it will be very clear.

But that isn’t really what this article is about.

This article is really to discuss the nightmare scenario that America is actually splitting – psychologically and emotionally, if not literally – into two states with strongly opposed views. One made up of the industrial north, the east and west coasts, and one made up of the centre of the country. It’s very clear to see in the map above, which with a few wrinkles will almost certainly be roughly what the country’s electoral map will look like after the election.

Is the Union actually under threat once again?

We must remember that the United States descended into a civil war that was essentially a conflict over slavery, but more essentially a conflict over the economic influence and wealth that slavery allowed its practitioners. (Concepts of “states rights”, incidentally, have comprehensively been shown to be an intellectual red-herring as regards the cause of the war.)

America is today divided into two states economically again. Much of the (much more populous) north and the coasts are leaving the centre behind as regards economic recovery, and where that is not the case, lugubrious amounts of Federal monies are pouring in to take up the slack. The centre, and much of the south, mostly much more agriculturally-based, feels neglected. And angry.

Where the centre is doing well economically – Texas, for example – there is little latent enthusiasm for the Union, and even a spasmodic resurgence of arguments that the State would do better on its own. Much of the centre and South is still virulently “anti Washington” and “anti Establishment” – opinions that have largely remained unchanged since the conflict of the 1860s.

So what does this mean for America’s future?

One obvious outcome is that it becomes increasingly difficult to see how the necessary reforms can be enacted to allow America as a whole to take advantage of its recent economic growth can be made – certainly not with the general cross-aisle agreement that would be necessary. The atmospherics and mutual dislike will simply be too fierce.

Yet whichever party wins in November there simply has to be a concerted attempt to reverse the massive Federal Government debt – and the debt held by States – but a country riven by division is very unlikely to agree a program to do much more than slow the growth in debt, which is all the Obama administration and the Republican Congress have managed to achieve in the last eight years. That achievement is to Obama’s credit, but it isn’t enough.

A country cannot live “on tic” forever. A fact realised in Australia, where the conservative Government and socialist Opposition just agreed a package of spending reforms.

In foreign policy, America still faces very serious challenges in the Middle East, and especially with a newly assertive Russia and China. The country needs to be essentially “speaking with one voice” to effectively address a whole morass of scenarios that threaten world peace.

Then there are the core social attitudinal differences. The centre is overwhelmingly Christian (and fundamentally so, to a large extent), the north and the coasts are much more socially liberal and culturally diverse. As both parties seem to lose any sense in which they are competent economic managers, so people increasingly eschew making a judgement about that, and vote on the basis of other matters, despairing of anyone’s ability to “make America great again”. So matters such as abortion, and LBGTI+ rights, assume a higher significance. In 2016, opinions on those and other matters could hardly be more divided.

Whatever the result in November – and we still believe it will be a strong win for the Democrats – the incoming party will have a massive job putting America back together again. And we are not at all sure that they can. Exactly how that would play out is yet to be seen.

Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly

 

First of all let it be said that of the thousands of versions of Hallelujah performed since the genius Leonard Cohen wrote it, Tori Kelly nailed it at the Emmys as she provided the soundtrack for the In Memoriam section. She made the song her own, and her effort deserves to be added to the list of great performances of that seminal tune.

There were so many great names on the list of great talents that we have lost in the last 12 months. It’s always a sad moment. This year we reflected on Anton Yelchin, Steven Hill, Al Molinaro, the immortal Garry Shandling, taken from us so soon at just 66 and himself a three-time host of the Emmys, the ineffable talent of Alan Rickman who was also snatched from us ludicrously young before his three score years and ten were up, Wayne Rogers, David Bowie, Academy Award winner George Kennedy, Gene Wilder (we cried the day he died), and Prince. And the list rolled on.

But the name that caused us to gasp – as we hadn’t noticed his death in the news, and he was always a favourite of ours – was Wayne Rogers.

Rogers became instantly one of the most famous actors in the world for his role as Captain “Trapper” John MacIntrye in the ground-breaking series M*A*S*H, surely one of the mostrogers2 original TV comedy dramas ever written, and certainly one of the funniest. Millions still enjoy it today, in endless re-runs, and it is as fresh as ever.

What we didn’t know was that he was also a regular panel member on the Fox News Channel stock investment television program Cashin’ In having built a successful second career as an investor, investment strategist and advisor, and money manager.

Rogers was a prolific actor, appearing on television in both dramas and sitcoms such as Gunsmoke, The FBI, Gomer Pyle, The Fugitive, and he even had a small role in Cool Hand Luke. (The same movie where George Kennedy won his Oscar, coincidentally.)

He co-starred in various “Western” series, too.

When Rogers was approached for M*A*S*H, he actually planned to audition for the role of Hawkeye Pierce. But he found the character too cynical and asked to screen test as Trapper John, whose outlook was brighter.

L-R, Alda, Rogers and co-star Loretta Swift.

L-R, Alda, Rogers and co-star Loretta Swift.

Rogers was told that Trapper and Hawkeye would have equal importance as characters.

This changed after Alan Alda, whose acting career and résumé up to that point had outshone that of Rogers, was cast asscreen-shot-2016-09-20-at-3-39-49-pm Hawkeye and proved to be more popular with the audience. Rogers did, however, very much enjoy working with Alda – who continues to enjoy a stellar career – and with the rest of the cast as a whole (Alda and Rogers quickly became close friends), but eventually chafed that the writers were devoting the show’s best humorous and dramatic moments to Alda.

When the writers took the liberty of making Alda’s Hawkeye a thoracic surgeon in the episode “Dear Dad” (December 17, 1972) even though Trapper was the unit’s only thoracic surgeon in the movie and in the novel, Rogers felt Trapper was stripped of his credentials.

On the M*A*S*H* 30th Anniversary Reunion Television Special aired by Fox-TV in 2002, Rogers spoke on the differences between the Hawkeye and Trapper characters, saying “Alan and I used to discuss ways on how to distinguish the differences between the two characters as to where there would be a variance … my character was a little more impulsive.”

Rogers had considerably reduced his natural Alabama accent for the character of Trapper. He succeeded Elliott Gould, who had played the character in the Robert Altman movie M*A*S*H, and was himself succeeded by Pernell Roberts in the M*A*S*H spin-off Trapper John, M.D.. In the end, after just three hugely popular seasons, Rogers left M*A*S*H. Mike Farrell was quickly recruited for the newly created role of B.J. Hunnicutt, opposite Alda.

After leaving M*A*S*H, Rogers appeared as an FBI agent in the 1975 NBC-TV movie Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan, and as civil rights attorney Morris Dees in 1996’s Ghosts of Mississippi. He also starred in the short-lived 1976 period detective series City of Angels and the 1979–1982 CBS series House Calls, first with Lynn Redgrave (both were nominated for Golden Globes in 1981, as best actor and best actress in TV comedy, but did not win) and then later with actress Sharon Gless, who went on to co-star in the CBS-TV crime drama series Cagney & Lacey with actress Tyne Daly (coincidentally, one of the House Calls co-stars was Roger Bowen who played the original Colonel Henry Blake in the MASH movie). Rogers also appeared in the 1980s miniseries Chiefs.

Rogers then guest-starred five times in a recurring role on CBS’s Murder, She Wrote. He also worked an executive producer and producer in both television and film, and as a screenwriter, and a director. He also starred in several other successful tele-movies and cinema releases.

Rogers never lost his trademark good looks or his cheerful grin.

Rogers never lost his trademark good looks or his cheerful grin.

Rogers began to test the stock and real estate markets during his tenure as a M*A*S*H cast member and became a successful money manager and investor. In 1988 and again in 1990, he appeared before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary as an expert witness, testifying in favour of retaining the banking laws enacted under the Glass–Steagall Legislation act of 1933. He appeared regularly as a panel member on the Fox Business Network cable TV and in August 2006, Rogers was elected to the board of directors of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., a Fortune 1000 manufacturer of semi-conductors and electronic components. He was also the head of Wayne Rogers & Co., a stock trading investment corporation. In 2012, Rogers signed on as the new spokesman for Senior Home Loans, a direct reverse mortgage lender headquartered on Long Island, New York.

Reflecting his huge volume of successful Tv and film work work, Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

After some years living in Florida, Rogers died on December 31, 2015 from complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 82.

Well done, that man. A good life, well lived.

Yes, we are aware of the fact that we have recently argued for greater civility in politics.

But frankly, with the best will in the world, politicians are sometimes just total dickheads.

Then again, their electorate can hardly complain too much.

respect

Honestly, we despair, Dear Reader.

Australian politics is … different.

Lambie

An outspoken Tasmanian senator has compared her conservative counterpart to an “angry prostitute” – before apologising to sex workers.

Independent Jacqui Lambie has a history of clashing with government senator Cory Bernadi.

Senator Bernardi was this week critical of Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who had a travel bill paid by a Chinese donor.

But Senator Lambie compared Bernardi’s outrage to a “prostitute lecturing us about the benefits of celibacy”.

“Before I receive unfair criticism from the sex workers, I apologise to them profusely for comparing them to Senator Bernardi – I know that is a really terrible low-down thing to do,” she told the Parliament.

“Prostitutes are far more honest, sincere, humane, compassionate and better bang-for-buck than Senator Bernardi will ever be able to deliver.”

‘Different universe’

Senator Bernardi, one of the ruling Liberal Party’s most vocal right-wingers, laughed off her colourful comments.

The thoroughly dislikeable Senator Bernardi, who some are calling "Australia's answer to Donald Trump." We think that's more likely to be Pauline Hanson, but there we go.

The thoroughly dislikeable Senator Bernardi, who some are calling “Australia’s answer to Donald Trump.” We think that’s more likely to be Pauline Hanson, but there ya go.

“God love her,” he said. “She operates in a different universe to the rest of us. But I’m pleased Senator Lambie has acknowledged that I’m not for sale.”

The conservative politician also said that Senator Dastyari’s position as manager of Opposition business in the parliament was “entirely untenable”. And Attorney-General George Brandis has called on Senator Dastyari to explain a string of payments by Chinese interests, suggesting he may have been “compromised”.

Senator Dastyari insists the payment was properly declared and has since donated the amount to charity.

Meanwhile, we are all left laughing gently and appreciatively at Senator Lambie’s straight talking. Or to put it another way, as Australians are wont to do, “That woman calls a spade a f****** shovel.”

This is not the first time Ms Lambie has attracted attention for her colourful comments. She once described on talkback radio her ideal man as well-off and “well hung”, attracting approbrium and applause in roughly equal measure.

As we have said before, we rather like Ms Lambie, without agreeing with barely a word she says or an opinion she holds. On the loathsome Cory Bernardi, however, she is spot on.

Testing times for the Government with its plan to hold a nationwide vote on “gay marriage” (or “marriage equality” as it is better termed).

With the Nick “Team” Xenophon votes in Parliament now definitely against the plan, Labor will be extremely unlikely to back the plan, even if there was ever any rarely chance of them doing so. They could, theoretically, still decide to abstain, allowing the Government to escape with a win on the floor of the Senate by default, but their current rhetoric would seem to make that unlikely, and they would be roundly criticised for allowing a measure to pass that they have stated categorically they believe should be scrapped.

Our view is that the Government will still “test” the Parliament with a vote – judging that a defeat in Parliament will be less damaging to their stocks than just giving up on on their manifesto pledge altogether.

The likely breakdown of votes can be seen below, courtesy of The Age’s neat Senate-working-out interactive map, assuming Family First vote in favour of the plebiscite as their last best chance to get the people to reject marriage equality, and we are basing Lambie’s likely vote on the basis of her earlier statements that Australians should have the right to vote in a referendum on gay marriage but she would ‘fight like hell’ against any changes.

 

 

Looking dicey for Turnbull gay marriage vote.

Looking dicey for Turnbull gay marriage vote.

 

Assuming the above scenario works out then it seems virtually impossible for the Government to avoid a free vote on the topic in Parliament as an alternative to the plebiscite, though when that might be is problematical. They could theoretically take a bill to reform the marriage act to the next election, so they can claim a mandate to make the necessary changes if they win again, but that would seem to drag out what has already been a marathon national debate way too far.

There is clearly a mood in the country for change, even though pockets of strong and principled resistance remain. But the case has now been argued endlessly and surely the reform side has won.

As one caller to talkback radio in Melbourne put it last week to the relevant government minister, “For heaven’s sake, just get it done!”

Yes, that was us.

All of which also frees up a staggering $160 million which was going to be wasted on a non-binding vote to be spent on something else, or at the least chucked back into the empty government pot to go towards reducing the deficit. That sweetens the pill for the Government somewhat: umpteen million taxpayers will be pleased.

harred

“Haters gonna hate” goes one of the more popular phrases doing the rounds on the internet currently.

This fascinating – strongly recommended and well-researched – article from the BBC tackles one of the most pressing issues facing modern democracy.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160823-how-modern-life-is-destroying-democracy

It argues that the brutal tribalisation of Western democratic politics – the ever widening gap between left and right that also sees both those “wings” of politics more extreme in reality as well as simply being perceived as such – is partly a function of the way we live now, and perhaps especially interestingly, that the algorithm-driven marginalisation of readers into ever more narrowly targeted discussion groups on social media is a major factor.

In other words, the more time we spend on Facebook, the less we are exposed to competing points of view, and the more rigid we therefore become in our opinions, because we are constantly exerting confirmation bias on ourselves, and receiving it from those who agree with us. What’s more, the stronger the confirmation bias the less likely we are to accept opposing evidence. Even facts don’t make any difference to the opinions we hold.

As we replicate this social media bias into our daily lives with our friends’ groups, the same effect is multiplied.

All of which bodes ill for the institution of democracy. Democracy only survives – only works – when there is a broad, implicitly accepted consensus that disagreement isn’t just healthy, it is actually the oxygen that nourishes democracy. Debate is good. It’s more than good, it’s how wisdom is created. It’s also how agreement is built between competing groups exerting different pressures on the system. With no debate, whichever side is stronger merely overthrows the other, and the other becomes angrier and more likely to resort to non-democratic methods to achieve their desired outcomes.

The number of friendships shattered by the emotions released over “Brexit” must pass into tens of thousands, or more. And it isn’t good enough to say “well, they can’t have been very good friendships to begin with”, because we can observe that many were. But the tensions raised, especially via the debating tactics used, essentially told people that their side were angels and the other side demons. In most cases, of course, that simply wasn’t true.

The current American presidential election has descended into by far the least edifying contest in living memory.

No, Hilary Clinton is not a perfect human being any more than her husband was. Yet neither is she the epitome of evil and illegality that she is accused of being by many on the right. Discussion of her intended program is virtually banished in pursuit of relentless personalised character attacks. Similarly, Trump has said plenty – and done plenty – that warrants forensic analysis, and his character is legitimately under question. Yes despite his strangled syntax and rubbery policy positions, it also cannot be denied that he has tapped into a rich and deep vein of anti-establishment angst that deserves to be heard and understood, lest it spiral beyond the system and into the realm of civil disobedience and worse.

There have already been glimmerings of a rejection of the very notion of civil society in America, to left and right. This is extremely worrying, as the country’s nascent economic recovery is very fragile, and the rest of the world relies on it becoming locked into place. That requires stability.

 

hitler

 

What we need is a return to courtesy. To a willingness to concede that the other side might have a point. Not a mindless dumbing-down style of courtesy that means we tolerate people saying any old nonsense – as we have argued often, free speech never was – and never should be – considered to be absolute.

We need the people to demand courtesy of our political leaders, and we need the people to demand that they operate with transparency, ethics, and respect for their opponents. That they argue the merits of a policy position, and not just the morality or motives of their opponents.

We need, in effect, to demand more of our leaders; we demand they do much more than enthusiastically follow whatever lapse into tribalism we exhibit. A great truism is that ‘We get the politicians we deserve”. So getting better politicians means we have to say, loud and clear, that we want to elevate people who can look beyond stoking the fires of tribalism – yes, even to the point of putting those fires out, and even if they serve an electoral purpose.

They get paid the big bucks. We have a perfect right to expect more than self-serving populism in return.

girl runningA friend writes to Wellthiswhatithink with an encouraging and uplifting story of humanity shining through in a crisis.

Like most countries in the West, Australia has its own concerns about relations with our Muslim community, and concerns about the problems in the Middle East; this little story shows a kinder side of the problem.

“With the Olympics in full swing we recently took the kids to Doncaster Athletics track for practice – watching Usain Bolt had inspired them! – and there were a few people doing laps.

I noticed a little girl (no more than about eight or nine) running around the track on her own.

Suddenly I heard the most horrific screaming coming from the back straight of the track. I turned around and saw the little girl hysterical, screaming and crying and red all over her face then I realised that the poor little thing had lost concentration – the clever folk running the stadium place a metal barrier about four feet of the ground at two different points of the track allegedly to protect the first two lanes – and the kid had run face first into a metal pole.

I ran over to her (shocked that others were just standing there and watching) and her face was really swollen. She was shaking, screaming and had blood pouring out of her mouth, two teeth knocked, blood pouring out all over her face and clothes. The pain and distress must have been terrifying.

With a couple of kids of my own, I knew the most important thing was to calm her down. I told her she was going to be ok and placed my daughter’s shirt to her mouth to stem the bleeding and she basically started to faint as I carried her back towards the main entry looking for her family.

By this stage all my guys were with me and I sent them off to find the parents. By now I was frankly getting very concerned for the child’s safety. Suddenly an ashen faced woman and her equally pale young son came running towards me speaking a language I didn’t recognise. I tried to explain that we would take her to the Community Centre (which I noticed was open and had a small group inside) which was next to the track.

When we got to the Community Centre a group of young Muslim families were having afternoon tea (dressed in their traditional clothing) and they helped take the child from me, and one of the group (who might have been a Doctor, as he certainly seemed to know what he was doing) took charge and they started to help revive the child.

I asked the mother of the little girl what language they spoke and she said, in stumbling, broken English but loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘Hebrew’.

I didn’t say anything more and they continued to stem the blood from the girl and care for her.

The ‘Doctor’ didn’t look up from his work, but he had heard the mother. He just said, very quietly and intently, almost to himself but I knew he was talking to me, ‘We help everyone’  and they continued to do what they could. Nothing else was said and they washed the blood from the child’s face, and I was mightily relieved to see that she was now conscious again, and a lot calmer.

I advised the Mother to take the child straight to the Royal Children’s Hospital and she was so incredibly appreciative – she said thank you in her own way to all the people that helped and took the little girl off to the hospital.

I must say we were all shaken – and covered in blood, also – but it just goes to show that people really are people, whatever their social or racial background, and they will help others in need, and I felt genuinely touched by what I saw.”

We thank Simon so much for sending us this encouraging anecdote. Coming in the week that also saw that heart-rending photograph of the little Syrian boy sitting dazed and bloodied on a chair having been pulled from the rubble of an air strike, it struck us as well worth re-publishing.

If only – if only – we could all always see the human beings – the children – in our stories. Every one of them an individual. Frightened. Hurting. Deserving of our care.

Innocent.

rubble

 

Anyone, anywhere in the world, can donate directly to the Red Cross in Italy via this link https://www.ammado.com/fundraiser/italy-eq/donate

You can donate anonymously, or attach a message, as you wish.

And we urge any readers of ours who can who are in Italy to donate blood. The need is very urgent. Locations in the area are below, or enquire at your nearest hospital.

 

blood donation

 

Facebook has set up their Safety Check feature for people in the area to let friends and family know they are safe.

You can help by sharing this information, too. Please post a link to this blog on your Facebook, Twitter or other feeds. Thank you.

amatriciana-17510_lOne of the two main towns devastated by the quake is the home of the Amatriciana recipe, shortened to Matriciana by some people, a hugely popular pasta dish enjoyed by people the world over.

Sadly, many people killed in the terrible event were actually visiting the area to enjoy a festival of the famed dish of bacon/ham, chilli and tomato.

Here’s one idea: if Amatriciana is one of your favourite dishes, then maybe donate whatever a dish of it would cost you in your local pasta restaurant? That’s what we’ve done.

Our prayers and sadness for the people of this beautiful region.

dichro

We’re biased, of course, as this blog is from Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, but it’s a really interesting article about an utterly beautiful product and we thought it was well worth sharing.

Enjoy!

Click here: http://jenieyolland.com/everything-wanted-know-dichroic-glass/

Includes links to classes where you can come along and learn to work with the glass yourself. Such fun🙂

 

Thanks to Kiss FM we now know that ten popular Melbourne restaurants have been penalised with more than $325,000 in fees for operating filthy; cockroach infested kitchens.

The restaurants were prosecuted in 2015 for reasons ranging from failing to protect food from pests to handling food in an unhealthy manner. The majority were Asian dining ventures.

The biggest fine was given to Post Deng Cafe in Little Bourke Street which was hit with a fine of $50,000 plus they had to pay $3442 in costs.

It is now under new management but in May 2015 it was convicted of ‘’unsafe food handling, failing to take all practicable measures to eradicate and prevent pests, and failing to ensure it was clean enough that “there was no accumulation of food waste, dirt, and grease.”

Other restaurants that have been prosecuted are:

Raramen – Glen Waverley – $19,000 – live cockroaches, flies, rodent faces all found.
Cafe Student Curries and Pizza – Clayton – $67,500 (including costs)- inadequate pest control, poor food storage.
Pabu Grill and Sake – Collingwood – $45,000 – 19 breaches of the Food Act.
La Casareccia Pizza Restaurant (aka Grillers Steak and Ribs, Bubbles Seafood, My Room Service), 653 High St, Thornbury — fined $40,000
Dumpling King, Westfield Doncaster Food Court, Doncaster — fined $25,000
Healthy Noodle, 1905 Dandenong Rd, Clayton — fined $17,000
Dees Kitchen, 19 Pier St, Dromana — fined $15,000
Wendy’s Bakery, 473 Whitehorse Rd, Mitcham — fined $7500
Hills Noodle Shop, 585 Station St, Box Hill — fined $4000

Extra flies with that?

Ironically, we do have a tinge of sympathy for these outlets, whilst being very pleased to see the problems picked up.

When we wuz a yoof, we worked as a cook in a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, holiday camps and on a fruit and veg van doing the rounds of major hotels.

More than once, we failed to duck a full-blown hosing down in one particular kitchen where once a week the head chef would literally take a fire hose to the place, in an attempt to stay the right side of the inspectors. It’s a stressful topic.

In today’s dog-eat-dog world (if you’ll pardon the pun) it’s hard for small restaurants to make a great living – the market is over-supplied, the owners and staff are frequently exhausted, and frankly if we all live one metre from a rat (as we are told we do) and in a warm climate, which we do, it’s damn near impossible to be sure that there are never, ever droppings or a bloody cockroach somewhere.

Yes, yes, we all assume kitchens are dirty places – and some are – but many owners fight a long and often losing battle trying to to the right thing.

Most of us head to Asia and chow down at street stalls and shanty town restaurants where the health standards are … well, less than perfect. And most of us survive, albeit sometimes with an upset tummy for our sins, although that is most likely, frankly, to come from eating salad vegetables washed in unclean water.

BTW, if there’s a couple of guiding rules for eating in Asia, it’s:

  • Don’t eat anything that isn’t piping hot
  • Don’t eat any fruit, vegetables and salad that you haven’t washed yourself.

We once nearly died in Whenghou, but that’s another story.

As for these Melbourne restaurants, we’re sure they’ll pick up their game, and so they should. But some of the fines are swingeing, and these are, when all’s said and done, small businesses. It’s not exactly an incentive to open a small eatery, is it?

Father takes his kids to a theme park before shooting them in the head, and his wife. And himself.

http://time.com/4452939/mark-short-murder-suicide-hershey-park/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

river

Calling all musicians, of all types, everywhere in the world.

Please find below some song lyrics that I just wrote.

This is what you might call a social media experiment. And a cultural experiment.

They’re yours. So long as you put them to music. Use them freely. I want to see what you come up with.

Some dead simple rules to follow:

If you use them, send me a sound file. To steveyolland@yahoo.com, please.

They’re copyright to me, but they’re offered to you to use freely. Just acknowledge where they came from in any public performance, whether online or in any other way.

There is only one proviso to the above.

If you make MONEY out of them, then you split any money you bank with me, 50-50.

Have fun!

 

THE RIVER IN MY HEAD
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
Over the rocks that lie there cracked
It falls, and runs in squalls.
The river in my head
It never stops, it never dries
I think it’s gonna run forever
Till it washes me away
One day
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
It sweeps away the careful bridges
See those snowfalls. See the windfalls.
There’s a river running in my head
It tumbles and it calls
Gonna have to swim for safety
Reach the safety of the walls.
The river in my head
It never stops, it never dries
I think it’s gonna run forever
Till it washes me away
One day
One day
One day

img_3023

An open letter signed by 50 Republican national security experts has warned that nominee Donald Trump “would be the most reckless president” in US history.

The group, which includes the former CIA director Michael Hayden, said Mr Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president.

Many of the signatories had declined to sign a similar note in March.

But in response, Mr Trump said they were part of a “failed Washington elite” looking to hold on to power.

The open letter comes after a number of high-profile Republicans stepped forward to disown the property tycoon.

Mr Trump has broken with years of Republican foreign policy on a number of occasions.

The Republican candidate has questioned whether the US should honour its commitments to Nato, endorsed the use of torture and suggested that South Korea and Japan should arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

“He weakens US moral authority as the leader of the free world,” the letter read. “He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the US Constitution, US laws, and US institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” the letter bluntly states.

In a statement, Mr Trump said the names on the letter were “the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess”.

“We thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place,” he continued. “They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold on to their power and it’s time they are held accountable for their actions.”

Despite Mr Trump’s typically contemptuous dismissal, among those who signed the letter were people of impeccable credentials, such as John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence and later deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who was also a former deputy secretary of state and former president of the World Bank; and two former secretaries of homeland security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff.

The letter echoed similar sentiment shared by some Republican national security officials in March, but the new additions came after Mr Trump encouraged Russia to hack Mrs Clinton’s email server, according to the New York Times.

Mr Trump later said he was “being sarcastic” when he made the remarks about hacking his rival’s emails.

Some of the latest letter’s signatories plan to vote for Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton while others will refuse to vote, but “all agree Trump is not qualified and would be dangerous,” said John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to former Secretary of State Condi Rice who drafted the letter.

The open letter follows a fresh round of Republican defections in the wake of recent controversy surrounding Mr Trump.

Lezlee Westine, a former aide to President George W Bush, announced her support for Mrs Clinton in a statement to the Washington Post on Monday.

Wadi Gaitan, a prominent Latino official and chief spokesman for the Republican party in Florida, announced he would leave the party over Mr Trump’s candidacy.

Trump
Some Republicans remember their heritage:

Dear Members and Alumni,

In every presidential election since 1888, the members and Executive Board of the Harvard Republican Club have gathered to discuss, debate, and eventually endorse the standard-bearer of our party. But for the first time in 128 years, we, the oldest College Republicans chapter in the nation, will not be endorsing the Republican nominee.

Donald Trump holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses –from racist slander to misogynistic taunts– is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel.

If enacted, Donald Trump’s platform would endanger our security both at home and abroad. Domestically, his protectionist trade policies and draconian immigration restrictions would enlarge our federal deficit, raise prices for consumers, and throw our economy back into recession. Trump’s global outlook, steeped in isolationism, is considerably out-of-step with the traditional Republican stance as well. The flippancy with which he is willing to abdicate the United States’ responsibility to lead is alarming. Calling for the US’ withdrawal from NATO and actively endorsing nuclear proliferation, Donald Trump’s foreign policy would wreak havoc on the established world order which has held aggressive foreign powers in check since World War II.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Donald Trump simply does not possess the temperament and character necessary to lead the United States through an increasingly perilous world. The last week should have made obvious to all what has been obvious to most for more than a year. In response to any slight –perceived or real– Donald Trump lashes out viciously and irresponsibly. In Trump’s eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, failing, idiot –and that’s just his “fellow” Republicans.

He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.

Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.

Millions of people across the country are feeling despondent. Their hours have been cut, wages slashed, jobs even shipped overseas. But Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to fix that. He has a plan to exploit that.

Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children. 

President Reagan called on us to maintain this, our shining city on a hill. He called on us to maintain freedom abroad by keeping a strong presence in the world. He called on us to maintain liberty at home by upholding the democratic process and respecting our opponents. He called on us to maintain decency in our hearts by loving our neighbor.

He would be ashamed of Donald Trump. We are too. 

This fall, we will instead focus our efforts on reclaiming the Republican Party from those who have done it considerable harm, campaigning for candidates who will uphold the conservative principles that have defined the Republican Party for generations. We will work to ensure both chambers of Congress remain in Republican hands, continuing to protect against executive overreach regardless of who wins the election this November.

We call on our party’s elected leaders to renounce their support of Donald Trump, and urge our fellow College Republicans to join us in condemning and withholding their endorsement from this dangerous man. The conservative movement in America should not and will not go quietly into the night.

A longtime student of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 

De Tocqueville believed in the United States. Americans are a decent people. We work hard, protect our own, and look out for one another in times of need, regardless of the color of our skin, the God we worship, or our party registration. Donald Trump may not believe in that America, but we do. And that America will never cease to be great.
The Harvard Republican Club

FEEL FREE TO SHARE WIDELY

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 4.22.40 pm

80 Shia Muslims from the minority Hazari sect were killed Saturday and over 300 mutilated by IS in car bomb attacks on their peaceful demonstration in Kabul.

Be interesting to see how it occupies the news cycle in the West over the next couple of days. Or not.

Haven’t heard a word on it anywhere. You?