Archive for the ‘Political musings’ Category

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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?

It is rumoured that the hard heads in the GOP have already given up any hope of Donald Trump winning the Presidential election in November and are casting their minds to 2020 with increasing attention. They were hardly helped by the laughable plagiarism scandal of Donald’ Drumpf’s poor wife reading a speech written for her that was in part lifted holus bolus from a previous Michelle Obama speech – really, who is running this shambles? – but today’s appearance by beaten candidate Ted Cruz was a killer.

Just look at this:

 

We are by no means fans of Cruz. We just honestly don’t think he’s an awfully nice guy, and he’s a few light years to the right of our own opinions. Mind you, it was hard to disagree with any of the platitudes he delivered in this address. And watching a bunch looney-tunes red-necks booing him for sympathising with the child of a dead Dallas policeman was not the most edifying thing we’ve ever seen.

But today the chickens came home to roost as he very obviously did NOT endorse the equally loathsome Trump as the GOP’s candidate, ripping any semblance of party unity to shreds. Hardly surprising when Trump attacked his wife on a very sexist and personal basis during the campaign and also dubbed Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”. Probably a bit much to expect them to kiss and make up, although the managers of the GOP obviously lived in hope. If we had been running this convention we would have given all of Trump’s critics inside the party a week’s free vacation somewhere without Twitter or journalists, but hey, what do we know?

Anyhow, as you can see in the video, he was booed off stage at the Republican National Convention in Oklahoma after failing to endorse newly elected presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Now Cruz has been accused of ‘snubbing’ Trump during his speech, after finishing in second place in the primaries. And while his speech initially began with a standing ovation from the audience, the mood quickly changed after Cruz noticeably neglected Trump from his address.

 

Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican convention. Photo: Getty

“I want to congratulate Donald Trump for winning the nomination last night. And like each of you, I want to see the principles our party believes prevail in November,” Cruz began.

But that was the first and last reference of Trump’s name.

So as he continued, an increasingly restless audience began to realise an endorsement for their leader was not on the cards.

“We want Trump! We want Trump!” fans shouted out over Cruz, as he reminded everyone to vote in November.

 

Cruz was jeered off stage after he failed to endorse Trump. Photo: Getty

“If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience and vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution,” Cruz went on.

The final minutes of his speech were virtually drowned out by booing and chanting, leaving him to simply smile ironically and wave as he made his way off stage.

A reporter for CNN said other members of the Republican party were infuriated by the speech.

“The anger is boiling over. So much so that I am told by a source, who was in a donor suite, when Ted Cruz walked in after he said his speech, the people were so angry at Cruz that they were calling him a disgrace to his face,” reporter Dana Bash said.

 

Donald Trump looked unimpressed as he stood at the back of the arena with his family. Photo: AFP

“A state party chair was yelling at him so angrily that he had to be restrained. That gives you a sense of just how intense the anger is now on the floor.”

And Cruz’s wife Heidi had to be escorted from the audience after her husband was jeered off stage, while US Political media site FiveThirtyEight labelled the speech as a “giant middle finger to Trump”.

During the end of Cruz’s address, Trump appeared at the back of the stadium where he waved to his fans before being seated with his family.

Pass the popcorn. This party is unelectable. Not only will Clinton beat Trump hands down – a remarkable achievement for a women who has been ruthlessly pursued, pilloried and calumnised for years now, and as a result is toxically unpopular with vast swathes of the population – but it’s very likely Republicans will lose seats “up and down the ticket”. Exactly how this will play out nationally is as yet indistinct, but it’s an effect that scares Republican grandees and candidates mightily. They will lose good people, vital if the drift of their party to the wilder outreaches of the political wilderness is to be resisted.

And frankly, more fool them. After years of pandering to the “anti-politics” mob in their own party, (of whom Cruz was a leading light), Republicans have been warned again and again and again that they are converting their once great party into a basket case, and effectively transforming America into a one-party-dominated country that is bitterly – very bitterly – divided between “everyone else” and the beaten down, angry, marginalised white working class, the lower middle class, and the elderly.

The Republicans are eating themselves. It’s going to get uglier before it gets better, if it ever does.

TurnbullOne feature of the Liberal National Coalition’s nail-bitingly close win in the Australian election that deserves comment – especially as the knives are at the very least being sharpened for Mr Turnbull’s back by the right wing in his party, even if they are currently going back in the sheaths for a while – is that the Coalition didn’t just get a bare majority of seats, (or at least that’s how it looks currently, and Labor have now officially conceded defeat) but it also looks increasingly likely that they also won the popular vote.

That fact gives their election (and mandate) added credibility, unlike when then ALP leader Kim Beazley famously won the popular vote (in October 1988) but still lost.

With about 80 per cent of lower house ballots counted the Coalition has received 50.13 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis to Labor’s 49.87 per cent.

What that obscures, of course, is two very important issues: firstly, that the ALP’s primary vote remains rooted in the mid-thirty percents (currently about 35%) putting them a long way behind the popularity of the Coalition, and far from being able to claim to be a natural party of government in any meaningful sense. And secondly that although the Coalition vote fell by about 3.4% (about .4% more than we thought it would) a substantial percentage of that fall went to third parties, and not the ALP.

Apart from a slight uptick for the Liberal’s National Party partners, we also saw increases for the Nick Xenophon Team, various “Christian” parties, and a rat-bag collection of right wing independents, notably the One Nation “party” of Pauline Hanson and the likes of “The Human Headline”, Derryn Hinch, in Victoria, and Jackie Lambie in the Tasmanian Senate, not to mention the libertarian Liberal Democrats in NSW.

Far from being a ringing endorsement of Labor’s strategies and policies, not to mention Bill Shorten’s leadership, the election result actually suggests that the ALP has a great deal of work still to do. For one thing, the Greens will continue snapping away at their heels in inner urban areas (and less obviously in so-called “doctor’s wives” seats) and there are rumours they may yet take the eternally Labor seat of Melbourne Ports from its long-standing ALP member, Michael Danby. This stubborn Green campaign success may well continue to cost Labor key seats at both Federal and State levels, blunting their appearance of recovery at the very least. And despite their best efforts, Labor seem pretty much unable to inspire enthusiasm either for Shorten personally, or for their brand of conservative social democracy.

After all, a swing to the major Opposition party – in a period of worldwide electoral upheaval – of less than two people in a hundred is hardly earth shattering. And at least some of that tiny swing can undoubtedly be accounted for by the factually and morally highly dubious “Mediscare” campaign, which might have produced a tiny increase in Labor votes, but the longer term impact may be that it also painted the party as relentlessly negative and dodgy.

Attempting to sell a “positive programme” at the same time as the most relentlessly pursued negative campaign in recent memory just rang untrue in voters’ ears.

And the Coalition’s subsequent fury over what they perceived as dirty pool will have struck some sort of chord with the wider electorate, if not with ironed-on Labor supporters, especially if the Coalition avoids anything that looks remotely like privatisation of Medicare in the next three years, just as “Kids Overboard” haunted the Coalition ever after, even after it had delivered them victory in 2001. It hung like a dead albatross around the neck of John Howard until he was swept aside by the fresh face of Kevin Rudd in 2007.

The result also reveals how vulnerable Federal parties are to wayward behaviour by their State counterparts, and especially for the Labor Party. There is little doubt that the furore over the State Labor Government’s handling of the Country Fire Authority matter cost Labor seats in Victoria, normally their strongest state.

shortenSo whilst we admire Shorten’s hutzpah in visiting winning Labor seats in the election aftermath, we wouldn’t be entirely certain he is long for this world.

There will be no immediate move to replace him, to be sure, but the hard heads in the ALP – and there are plenty – will be looking at this result very carefully, including both the campaigning role of the Leader, as well as policy development. Anthony Albanese is one of the most loyal lieutenants any party leader could want, and Tanya Plibersek won’t toss her hat into the ring unless she’s sure of victory, but the greasy pole will be beckoning them both. And that’s before we factor in the ambition of a Chris Bowen, and others.

Any stumble by Shorten, any sign that he isn’t continuing to make ground on Turnbull, and pretty damn fast, too, and he’ll be gone.

 

 

 

 

Errorists – Blair, Howard, Bush.

Wear your beliefs. Change the world one shirt at a time.

Those who forget history are fated to repeat it. Don't let people forget. Buy the shirt.

Those who forget history are fated to repeat it. Don’t let people forget. Buy the shirt.

 

Head to http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431250

We also urge you to read the Guardian’s editorial on the Chilcot enquiry. It encapsulates the total betrayal of the West by its then political leadership perfectly.

At least 500,000 dead. At least 1 million displaced. The entire Middle East thrown into chaos. Decades of misery ensured. The rise of ISIS.

Head to http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431250. Wear the shirt. Don’t let people forget.

#iraqreport #iraq #chilcotreport #chilcot #auspol #uk #usa #australia #war #peace

Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly 'over-trained'.

Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly ‘over-trained’.

In yet another example of the rise and rise of “anti-politics politics”, if further evidence were needed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s election guru Antony Green is predicting that hard-right racially-biased Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will finish up with at least three Senate seats – one each from Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.

It’s early days in the Senate count, with a final result weeks away.

Either way, the expanded crossbench – now even more expanded thanks to the Turnbull Government’s decision to hold a Double Dissolution with lower voting thresholds – is set to pose a big headache for the Prime Minister, whomever that turns out to be.

Gathering together a working majority in a Senate with this many disparate groupings looks like a political manager’s nightmare.

Essentially, though, the likely winners break down like this, as far as we can surmise:

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CONSERVATIVE/RIGHT WING

Libera/National Coalition
One Nation
Liberal Democrats (except on Social Issues)
Christian Democrats (especially on Social Issues)
Family First
Derryn Hinch*
Jackie Lambie*

*But capable of springing surprises

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CENTRIST/EVEN HANDED

Nick Xenophon Team

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY LEFT OR LEFT OF CENTRE

Labor
The Greens
Animal Justice
The Sex Party (especially on Social Issues)

This is how Anthony Green suggests it could all break down, courtesy of The Age’s chief political reporter James Massola:

New South Wales: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation senator, 1 don’t know

Victoria: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Derryn Hinch Justice Party, 1 don’t know (“It’s anyone’s guess”, said Green.)

Queensland: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 2 don’t know (“It could be the Coalition, Labor, or the Liberal Democrats.”)

South Australia: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 3 Xenophon Team

Western Australia: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 1 don’t know (“Probably a second Green”)

Tasmania: 4 Coalition, 5 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Jackie Lambie (Independent)

Meanwhile Glenn Druery, the Senate “preference whisperer” who advises minor parties on how to engineer complicated preferences sways, predicted that, at this early stage of counting:

In New South Wales, the 12th and final seat would be won by Nella Hall for Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats or the Liberal Democrats incumbent David Leyonhjelm;

In Victoria, One Nation were presently in the box seat for the 12th spot but “I expect that to change and for that seat to be won by the Animal Justice or The Sex Party”;

In Queensland, the last seat would be won by a Liberal Democrat (Gabe Buckley, a campaigner against the Labor Government’s now rescinded anti-bike VLAD legislation);

In South Australia, the 12th seat could end up as a battle between Family First senator Bob Day and Labor, (although Bob Day thinks he will end up re-elected on One Nation preferences);

In Western Australia, the 12th spot could be a fight between One Nation and the National Party.

A right royal mess, we hear you say, Dear Reader? Well, you wouldn’t get much argument from anyone on that. How any Government will deal with such a fractured Senate is hard to fathom.

 

She's back. Please explain?

She’s back. Please explain?

 

The clear winners from this Senate election are One Nation, The Xenophon Team, and The Greens.

Libertarian David Leyonhjelm getting himself re-elected in NSW, when he was undoubtedly only elected the first time because he headed up the Senate voting sheet and people got him confused with the Liberals, would be quite some achievement.

And a special hat tip to Jackie Lambie in Tasmania, who was originally elected as a Palmer United Party Senator but rapidly split from the mining magnate, and has since carved out a clear role for herself in the Island State’s political pantheon, despite apparently having none of the silky smooth political skills you need to be a winner in the Great Game.

We have to say we rather like Lambie – our fellows in the chardonnay-sipping political elite will be horrified, but it’s true – without agreeing with hardly a single word she says. She is the archetypal “battler” Aussie who calls it as she sees it. She appears afraid of no-one, and determined to speak her mind as she sees fit. We need more such “politicians”.

Meanwhile the other very influential Senator re-elected will be the perfectly loathsome arch-conservative Liberal Corey Bernardi. He will be heavily involved in any move to unseat Malcom Turnbull and reinstall the utterly horrid Tony Abbott, if he isn’t already. Pass the popcorn.

Overshadowed to some extent by the recent furore over Brexit, this Wednesday the long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war will finally be released to public gaze.

blair

Social media comment on Blair has been savage.

Predictions of its contents have varied from assumptions that it will prevent any serious re-examination of the decision by obfuscating on the key facts, to speculation that it’s criticism of British Government behaviours will make very painful reading indeed, both for MPs, MPs advisors, and civil servants.

As the Guardian reports, there is a very strong likelihood that a number of MPs will use the report to conduct a very rare parliamentary process to impeach Tony Blair for his role in launching the war, which would see the former Prime Minister theoretically jailed, but would more likely be an inglorious and embarrassing end to Blair’s public career, and a permanent blight on his legacy. There might well be cross-bench support for such an action, given that Blair is viscerally detested by the left-wing of the Labour Party (and has been criticised by its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for his role in the invasion), the Lib Dems were the only major party (at that time) to oppose the Iraq invasion, and the SNP will take any opportunity to embarrass Labour. A Tory or two might join in just to enhance the embarrassment factor.

What will not be happening, despite being thoroughly warranted in our view, is any appearance by Tony Blair (and George Bush, and John Howard) at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, as the court has ruled that it can only try cases based on the conduct of a conflict, not the decision to go to war itself.

This bizarre circumlocution will see the very real prospect of individual British soldiers and commanders being dragged before the court, but not the men who sent them to Iraq. Perhaps one smart move arising out of all this mess would be to reconsider the role of the court.

The ICC  has begun a preliminary examination of claims of torture and abuse by British soldiers, after receiving a dossier from human rights lawyers acting for alleged Iraqi victims.

In the statement, the office of the prosecutor at the ICC said: “We will take note of the Chilcot report when released in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination work concerning Iraq/UK. A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process aimed at determining whether reasonable basis exist to open an investigation. As already indicated by the office in 2006, the ‘decision by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the court’s jurisdiction’.”

The prosecutor’s office said the ICC was looking at introducing a “crime of aggression” which would cover illegal invasions but that “has not yet crystallised and in any event, will not apply retroactively”.

150813151725-baghdad-blast-exlarge-169

Meanwhile the slaughter generated by the insane decision to invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein with no clear idea of how to replace him or what “success” might look like continues to wreak its toll, as the power vacuum left behind continues to stoke the fires  of internecine hatred in what was always an artificially-constructed country which should have unquestionably been divided into a Kurdish, Sunni and Shia state, with Baghdad as an international city housing a confederated EU-style parliament of sorts.

To add to the approximately 500,000 Iraqis who have died violently since the invasion, a further 125 innocents (including 25 children) were blown to pieces overnight in an IS attack on a Shia community in the Karrada neighbourhood, likely to be in retaliation for the loss of Fallujah to government forces, less than an hour down the road from the capital. At least 147 people were wounded.

As people congregated, shopped and watched soccer matches, the bomb-laden truck plowed into a building housing a coffee shop, stores and a gym. Firefighters rescued wounded and trapped people in adjacent buildings.

ISIS promised an uptick in terror attacks during Ramadan. The Baghdad assault came just days after massacres at a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, and security targets in Yemen. There have also been recent suicide attacks in Jordan at a border crossing near Syria, and suicide attacks in aChristian area of northern Lebanon.

Last month, a gunman shot up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people before he was killed, and an attacker killed a police commander and his partner in France.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Bangladesh and Yemen and there are news reports that ISIS claimed responsibility for the Jordanian attack. Experts believe the group might have conducted the attacks in Turkey and Lebanon.

Omar Mateen, the killer in Orlando, and the attacker in France both pledged allegiance to ISIS.

A second bomb exploded Sunday at an outdoor market in the Shaab neighbourhood of southeastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding five others, police said.

Both Baghdad strikes are a sign of the Sunni-Shiite tension in the Muslim world. Sunni-dominated ISIS claimed it was targeting Shiite neighbourhoods. Karrada and Shaab are predominately Shiite.

Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel, thinks the attacks will worsen and said that is ISIS’ game plan, essentially, to generate instability.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.06.21 am“They are trying to create enough chaos in Iraq itself so that the Iraqi forces will find it very difficult to actually take advantage of the forward momentum they have achieved because of their victory in Fallujah and that is a very serious issue that the al-Abadi administration is going to have to address.”

It’s hard to say “when and where they are going to strike,” he said of ISIS.

“This is a very, very difficult time. It is a very risky time, just because the political fissures are so great within Iraq that they are so easily exploitable by ISIS and its fellow travelers.”

Such attacks, like the one in Baghdad will serve to drive a wedge between the government and the people, in particular the Shiites.

“The wedge was already there and its fairly easy for them to exploit this,” he said.

There is no question, of course, that the divide between Shia and Sunni has been going on for centuries, but what is rarely said is that on occasions in the past both of the major Islamic factions have lived together peaceably for long periods as well. The invasion of Iraq set off a chain reaction of events that has now embroiled almost the entire Middle East in sectarian conflict, as well as seeing major attacks on the West.

One satisfactory response to Chilcott would be a commitment from all political leaders in the West to abjure from military interventionism and adventurism in the future, and for them to concentrate, instead, on the growth of inter-cultural confidence building and civic structures in countries that a struggling with massive problems and the difficulties of transitioning to a post-colonial environment.

Don’t hold your breath. It’s so much simpler to just bomb the shit out of somewhere. And the pretty fireworks look so impressive on TV.

A US mum is seeking $133,000 compensation after her disabled teen daughter was allegedly beaten, and jailed for a day, by airport security. Reporting (which we pass on here) certainly doesn’t reflect well on the airport, although we have not contacted them for comment and there may be another side to this story. If that comes out in coming days we will report that, too. In any event, it’s an ugly incident.

 

Hannah Cohen after being detained. Picture supplied.

Hannah Cohen after being detained. Picture supplied.

 

We all know that airport security is important in these troubled times, and staff are understandably a bit jumpy. But when a partially blind, deaf and paralysed teenager flying home from brain tumour treatment was slammed to the ground, received a bloodied face and was thrown in jail when she became startled going through airport security, we have to ask whether this anxiety has gone too far, or whether security staff are given adequate training.

As the story is being reported, Hannah Cohen was 18 when she was returning with her mother Shirley from Memphis International airport to Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee on 30 June, 2015 – a trip Shirley says they have done many times before without incident.

The young woman set off a metal detector at a security checkpoint and became confused when armed agents approached her and grabbed her arms, startling her, the Guardian reported. The girl’s mother was waiting at the other side of the security gate, wearing a mobility boot to nurse a broken foot, when she saw the harrowing incident unfold.

She said she hobbled to a security supervisor and told them: “She is a St Jude’s patient, and she can get confused. Please be gentle. If I could just help her, it will make things easier.”

Security agents told Hannah they needed to take her to a “sterile area” to do a further search. She said she was afraid, and, (very sensibly, in our opinion), suggested she remove her sequined shirt which appeared to be triggering the alert, as she had another top underneath. But officers allegedly laughed at her and instead called for backup.

When armed security arrived, Hannah became afraid. Her mother said the brain tumour left her partially deaf and blind in one eye, so she was startled easily.

“I tried to push away,” Hannah said. “I tried to get away.”

Her mother alleges the guards then detained Hannah and slammed her body to the ground, with her face hitting the floor, leaving the teen “physically and emotionally” injured.

“They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” her mother told Memphis TV station WREG3. “She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere. Another guard pushed me back 20ft, in my boot, and told me I couldn’t be nearby,” the girl’s mother told the Guardian.

Shirley said she quickly grabbed her phone from the security conveyer belt and took a photo of her distraught daughter on the ground.

The terrified young woman was then arrested and taken from the airport in handcuffs to jail, with blood dripping from her face. She was released 24 hours later.

Her family has filed a $133,000 lawsuit against the US Transport Security Administration and Memphis-Shelby County airport authority claiming Hannah was not given adequate accommodation to be screened, and alleging she was discriminated against her because of her disability.

Unbelievable: it looks like the slide to authoritarian behaviour by some security staff and police in America continues apace, or at least that’s how it appears from the way the story is being reported. At the very least, a PR disaster.

And so, Dear Reader, in this “nothing is secret” era of social media, we have Instagram to thank for revealing how at least some Aussies voted yesterday. Somehow, whilst we can’t in all conscience condone it, it does reassert ones faith in our fellow electors.

People “spoil” their ballot papers all over the world. Only in Australia is it this funny, and this bang on the money!

Meanwhile, the real election is just too fucking disastrous to comment on today. We are working up to tomorrow.

Last-Days

 

Well, Dear Reader, we made such a total, unqualified balls up of predicting the result in the UK’s ‘Brexit’ referendum, (plus a minorly wrong call in the previous UK election), that we are loathe to write this post, and frankly we wouldn’t be if we hadn’t actually been ASKED to by a bunch of folks. (Oh, you gluttons for punishment, you.)

But as regular readers will know, we have long been a fan of Malcolm Turnbull, (if not of the more wild and swivel-eyed lunatics he enjoys as colleagues) and we are convinced that come mid-evening on Saturday he will already have been comfortably re-installed back in the Lodge. Indeed, despite the breathless reporting of Fairfax/Ipsos opinion polls showing the race to be neck and neck, we actually think the Coalition will win moderately easily.

In reality, the majority of seats in the Australian House of Representatives are locked into one party or another barring an absolute political earthquake, and there are no signs that the electorate are about to deliver an earthquake. (Mind you, we said that about IN/OUT/shakeitallabout and we were dead wrong. Caveat. Get out clause. Right there.)

A glance at the betting is a good indication of the mountain Labor have to climb to even be competitive. The Coalition are 1.16 to the dollar – virtually un-backable – that’s about 6-1 ON – and Labor are 5-1 against. Only in WA are Labor expected to do noticeably better, and there just aren’t enough seats there to make a difference to the overall result. The odds are even less encouraging for the ALP in key target seats for Labor, like Deakin in Victoria, for example.

There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives. If either side of politics can win 76 seats, or gain the support of cross bench members to reach 76, then they can form government. On the new electoral boundaries, and assuming a perfectly uniform pro-ALP swing, that means Labor needs 50.4% after preferences to win 76 seats. But we don’t think Labor will achieve an overall swing of that extent, although we expect them to pick up a few seats here and there. WA looks very good for Labor, but that’s about it.

What we will see is a lot of Liberal/National seats become much more marginal than they were last time – as many as 20 may be won on 2% or less. Which puts the next election into play, but not this one. This will mean, of course, that the TV studio pundits will be frothing at the mouth for a few hours, but not really to any good purpose.

TurnbullWe predict The Coalition will lose between 5 and 9 seats. The swing to Labor will be about 2.5%-3%. And Malcom Turnbull will duly have his own mandate to govern.

One of the great political slogans of all time. As well as the other Democrats ' slogan, "Give A Damn". Which we wrote, by the way. <Historical factoid.

One of the great political slogans of all time. As well as the other Democrats ‘ slogan, “Give A Damn”. Which we wrote, by the way. Interesting factoid there.

Yes, a hung Parliament is a remote possibility under some scenarios – Labor would have to do much better than we think they will – but we can really only see four lower house minority seats again this time, maximum five (if Barnaby Joyce gets rolled), which won’t bring them into play – and anyway one of those, Bob Katter, is an ironed on conservative.

There is just a remote chance that Nick Xenophon’s candidate will upset the Libs in Mayo in SA, but again, it wouldn’t actually make a difference based on the two-party split we predict.

In the Senate, Lord knows what will happen. Even under the new voting system, it remains impossibly hard to call. The Liberal-led Coalition won’t get a majority, we can say that. We think the Greens will do well, and so will Xenophon.

And huzzah, we say. We have always liked it when the Government of the day has to patiently negotiate their legislative programme with the Senate. It keeps them honest. And humble.

We’ll know soon enough. And then we can all get back to worrying about Donald Drumpf. He isn’t going to win, by the way. That we can guarantee right now.