41 thoughts on “Thursday Message Board

  1. Is it just me or is Australia suffering from complete policy and project paralysis? I really cannot think of anything Australia, as a nation, has done successfully since our post-GFC stimulus under Rudd-Swan and even that had plenty of faults. Even before that there have been few, if any successful policies and projects since perhaps the days of Hawke.

    Let’s see;

    Climate policy : bipartisan generated failure.
    Refugee policy : bipartisan generated failure.
    Broadband policy : bipartisan generated failure.
    Broadband implementation : bipartisan generated failure.
    Education : bipartisan generated failure.
    Power networks : bipartisan generated failure.
    Same sex marriage : bipartisan generated failure.

    The list goes on and on. Can anyone name anything Australia has succeeded at in the last two decades? I can’t. Where things still work and good things still happen, these are all legacies of far earlier policies and projects.

  2. Cognitive dissonance seems reasonable.

    Security is the key issue; when societies feel threatened they look for a defender and any defender will do.

    Libertarians may disagree but they don’t have history on their side.

  3. Noel Pearson has fired more smoke-screen rockets at what he derisively calls “false progressives.” He blames the low expectations that these (mythical) FPs set for the failure of Indigenous people to advance. He attaches an adjectival “false” to the political term “progressive,” and thinks we won’t notice who he is *really* blaming for his woes.

    Noel Pearson blames me. Or someone like me. I have *never* thought that Indigenous people were unable or incapable of thriving and flourishing, no matter their origins, as anyone who personally knows me would corroborate. I have *never* thought that Indigenous people should be left behind, ignored or considered as not worthy of having dreams for themselves of fulfilling their potential as they themselves see it.

    I am heartily sick of being the whipping boy for something I had no part in, no say in, and the rest of it. If Noel Pearson wants people to blame, pick up a bloody mirror, mate. Your favourite political lot have been in power for more than half the time you are whingeing about, but you can’t bring yourself to blame that lot, can you? Nope, in some perverse irony, you blame a figment of the imagination, the “false progressive,” for failure of neo-liberal policy’s trickle-down mantra to lift individuals from remote communities out of perceived poverty and towards prosperity.

    He blames 9/11 for the doomed failure of Bush’s direct instruction learning—not the obsessive preoccupation with invading two separate countries, at least one of which was entirely a war of choice. Nope, it was the “false progressives” that gone and dun it.

    Well, let me be the first to apologise, Noel, for my soft bigotry—another of your terms, not mine—for having such low expectations that you were doomed to fail. I am so so sorry that I caused all that trouble for you, Mr Pearson. I wish you and your endeavours every success, sincerely. Just stop sheeting the blame home to me if there are obstacles along the path.

  4. Poor Noel was the recipient of about a quarter of a Billion Dollars ($280Million +) for his failed US style Direct Instruction method and his other failed neo-liberal ideas for Cape York.

    All the media hype about out-of-control black kids running rampant at Aurukun was News Ltd driven cover for that spectacularly expensive Pearson failure (thanks ABC for mindlessly parroting that stuff without question, your new boss – Rupert Murdoch – will be very pleased with the job you’ve done on yourself).

    Just like Tony Jones’ disgraceful peddling of lies to smooth the way for the “intervention”.

    Pearson has a point about “The Left”, but it’s not the one he thinks.

  5. Further to my initial comment, the late neoliberal era in Australia, circa 1996 to present (20 years) could be categorised as a “catabolic” economic era not a “metabolic” economic era. Under conditions of metabolism, entities (biological bodies and economies) carry out tasks of growth and maintenance by acquiring and processing inputs into new forms useful for those tasks. Growth may be quantitative and/or qualitative.

    Under conditions of catabolism, entities break down complex structures, legacy structures (with built up embedded energy and other values) into simpler forms, together with the release of energy or value but this energy or value comes at a destructive cost; hence catabolism is sometimes called destructive metabolism. A starving man catabolises his muscles after his fat is gone. A freezing woman burns her furniture in the absence of other fuel. A political economy bereft of good ideas and committed to creating only minority wealth along with budgetary austerity for the many, catoblises public infrastructure and public goods for the wealth increase of the few.

    It is arguable, in some senses, that our economy entered an era of catabolism from about 1996 onward. Privatisation has tended, in practice, to be destructive of legacy infrastructure and legacy economic, social and cultural values. The majority lose socially useful infrastructure and “free” (social wage style) accessibility to it. A minority is enriched. The majority are made poorer, economically and socially. This is in relatively terms and quite in absolute terms as well. Good infrastructure is poorly maintained, run down, degraded, downsized and so on for short term minority profit motives. When it is gone, privatising forces move on to catabolise other public goods.

    This whole style of economy is a downward spiral into economic collapse. This outcome stares us in the face now. I can certainly think of nothing constructive that Australia has achieved in the last 20 years. Education policy has failed. Education is degrading. Australia slips further behind in the student outcome stakes. Power policy has failed. Power is overpriced and local networks are degrading (despite or maybe due to the over gold-plating of major interconnectors). Broadband policy and implementation have failed. Australia slips ever further behind in the speed of connection stakes. Social policy has failed. Aboriginals are further behind than at the beginning of the late neoliberal era. Unemployment is high. Underemployment very high. Youth unemployment very high. Social problem increasing, rising inequality, rising suicide rates for examples. Industry policy has failed. Ecological policy has failed. Climate change policy (a special category of ecological policy) has failed. Immigration and refugee policy has failed: it is both hugely costly and inhumane. Geostrategic, defence and war policies have failed. All our involvements have been in costly and useless (actually worse than useless) wars.

    We had a good legacy in many arenas (not all – for example aboriginal policy). We had this good legacy from an era of mostly good policy (democratic-socialistic policy) with some serious, glaring racist and sexist exceptions. We have been living on this legacy, catabolising and destroying it. We have just about burned the last stick of good stuff in our legacy stockpile. We are now closely approaching the age of consequences as it is sometimes called. The sh*t is about to hit the fan.

  6. I am in broad agreement with Ikonoclast, as usual, with one exception: The NBN was one good piece of Labor policy and the only reason it has failed is because of this complete excrescence now to be dubbed Mr. Fraudband. A Royal Commission into this debacle, as demanded by the techies, should ensure this criminal goes to jail, but he will doubtless escape to some refuge like the infamous Skase. After all, his money is already out of reach of Australian jurisdiction.

  7. @totaram
    Apparently the NBN wasn’t “innovative” or “agile” enough for Mr Turnbull and his party, but then quite a few of them had just heard of dial-up. I bet a few of his ministers got a shock when the analogue TV channels went bye-byes. Not only did they resent the upgrade to digital, but to be suddenly confronted with all those colours instead of black and white, that would have thrown them off their milky tea and cucumber sandwiches. Same deal with NBN: most of ’em couldn’t see the point of it, but since the ALP were the originators of it, the LNP just had to white-ant it.

  8. @Ikonoclast
    Well, we sure are putting more people out to live on the streets; that is a single-handed effort by conservative LNP government. The money withdrawn from true charity work is hitting home, and the tough-on-dole-recipients approach is forcing people to steal to eat. Well done, LNP, well done.

    Otherwise I’d say the NBN was a singular failure by the LNP. The other items are bipartisan messes, as you have said.

    And as a general remark to anyone who actually reads my drivel, if you see some homeless people bedding down in alcoves or wot-not, can’t hurt to give them a sandwich, coffee, or something. The government sure ain’t going to do it.

  9. @Ikonoclast
    Your #7

    Makes one nostalgic for a really good PM and government, doesn’t it – and the last one of those we had was Chifley’s.

    But the immigration (not refugee) policy has been a great success. Remember that at the time of Chifley’s government the Australian population was just a smidgen short of 7 million, now it is approximately 24 1/4 million – a 3.4 fold increase in merely 71 years (less than 3 “generations” by the old counting). Which is quite largely due to immigrants and their higher natality.

    Housing, clothing, feeding, educating and moving the vast immigrant waves are what has kept the Australian economy out of recession for the last 25 years.

  10. @Ikonoclast
    NBN failure is totally in Turnbull’s court. Don’t even pretend there’s shared blame there. It is a colossal f’up now and $54b down the toilet.

  11. CIA says it was the Russians wot dun it. They have released a report that concludes the hacking of Clinton emails and dumping on wikileaks was the work of cut-outs, doing the job on behalf of Russia. Since middle-men were involved, the CIA report stops short of saying they have conclusive evidence that Russia is the villain, but they were certain enough to state it as their consensus view.

    The interesting thing now is how does/should the USA political class respond to this? The recent attempts to get recounts done in some of the states with surprisingly large swings are more pertinent now, seen in this new light.

  12. @Donald Oats

    Noel Pearson. Those “low expectations” placed on indigenous kids need some explaining. Firstly, they don’t apply to talented indigenous kids. You don’t notice them as they breeze through uni looking just like any other good student.

    But there are bridging programmes in place at universities to get indigenous kids into uni. They haven’t done well enough at high school, so they get another chance. I used to teach in one such programme. And every year a small number of kids would show that they were good enough, and would go on to mainstream uni. But every year the vast majority of those bridging students would fail. Usually abysmally. Were they the victims of low expectations? No. They just weren’t suited to university. Whatever problems stopped them succeeding i high school did not magically go away.

    Was it a mistake to give them the chance? I don’t think so. I think it gave them a chance to see a life that they wouldn’t be living, but that their kids might. What would be a mistake is letting them carry on at uni and to have low expectations of them. To let them pass when they don’t deserve to. That is a mistake with any student, indigenous or not. You are wasting their time, and no one deserves that.

  13. @David Allen

    Not only the NBN. Without the LNP’s shameless opportunism the ALP may have been able to stick to sensible policies and get elected. With the dogs out both parties are stuffed. But the Libs let them out.

  14. Not buying the whole “fake news”, Russia won Trump the election narrative.

    To work it has to go something along these lines:

    – Democrat voters changed their vote to Republican because they read something negative about Clinton on the internet.

    – Extra Republican voters turned out and voted when they wouldn’t have, except they read something negative about Clinton on the internet.

    Remember, the entire MSM was telling the whole world for months that Clinton had it in the bag (likely to cause some voters to think they didn’t need to vote for Clinton because she’d already won).

    Also, all the original polling showed Sanders was a far better chance to beat Trump, but the DNC rigged the process and used dirty tricks to stop him (a lot of Democrat voters were well aware of this and were very unhappy about it).

    Mr Hopey-Changey/Deporter in Chief/Drone/Torture/Wall Street/Wars probably didn’t help push enough people into the ‘lesser-of-two-evils’ camp.

    This is simply the neo-con Dems trying to deflect the blame for their loss onto everyone else and taking no responsibility.

  15. Anything from the MSM that puts its highest evidence of its claims as:

    “Citing US officials briefed on the matter…”

    Stinks of in-house propaganda.

    Remember Iraq’s fictional WMDs.

  16. I’m surprised at how an intelligent man, possibly the most intelligent in Australia, has managed to lose all support and credibility from all sides of politics.

  17. @rog

    Who are you talking about? 😉 Mad Malcolm Turnbull? He is not intelligent. Suave and glozing perhaps… but not truly intelligent. Among other things, real intelligence must encompass a commitment to objective truth. Intelligence has no compass without such a commitment. Of course, not everything is accessible or judge-able by standards of objective truth. There are matters without an objective truth to them. However, there are enough matters where objective truth applies such that a commitment to objective truth is of extensive practical and moral value.

    Living in a “post-truth” world, as Turnbull, Trump and their followers do, actually means living in a fantasy world. It’s like flying a fantasy machine just as some people do for amusement when they jump off a pier in a gimcrack non-flying machine. For a while the illusion of flying might be sustained but a crash is inevitable. And on an historical timescale, the crash will be quite soon.

  18. @Donald Oats

    Do you mean that Malcontent is “..possibly the most intelligent in Australia, …” in the same way that Jennifer Oriel is self-proclaimed as “… one of the top ten smartest people in Australian universities …”

    Australia is just so very blessed.

  19. @GrueBleen
    I am pretty well certain that I met far more intelligent people while at university, even before university, so for me the statement “…possibly the most intelligent in Australia…” rides on the word “possibly”, as in yes it is possible, like it’s possible the sun won’t come up tomorrow.

    BTW, I have been blessed with the ignorance of who Jennifer Oriel is, until now. How I wish for a rewind machine.

  20. @D

    Anyone notice that, in a small photo at least, Glen Greenwald looks a bit like J.Q.? Is J.Q. moonlighting with a nom de plume? 😉

  21. It’s worth reading the article;

    Trump Makes America Goldman’s Again! – by Jon Schwarz.

  22. @D

    When governments like Russia’s, that are run more like criminal enterprises than democracies, it’s the prominent leaders who are compromised and that the secret police have dirt on that become preferred – they can be influenced behind the scenes in ways that those who have managed to stay clean (or leave no evidence) can’t. Those who can’t be bought, blackmailed or bullied are least subject to control and become the most distrusted. Not that I think Mrs Clinton is above any of those influences but if Russia’s intelligence services were digging for dirt on US presidential candidates they would not have limited their search to only the one.

    It doesn’t bode well for the USA to have a President that didn’t win the majority of votes and with unresolved international election interference allegations circulating engaged in radically changing the way governance is conducted, who seems to be willing to reject reports from key intelligence agencies as well as key science agencies. A US government that seeks to remake “truth” as it sees fit is a government that seems most unlikely to achieve greatness. Knowledge may not always be empowering – it can be damning, shaming and burdening – but decisions made in ignorance or denial of knowledge will be disempowering and can only be right by accident.

  23. @Ken Fabian

    “Not that I think Mrs Clinton is above any of those influences…”

    Why not ? What evidence can you point to that she ever was ‘not above’ those influences ?

  24. @GrueBleen
    In truth, I have no evidence either way for either Clinton or Trump. The CIA report suggesting Russian electoral interference doesn’t look good for Trump’s “mandate”. Simply preferring a pro-fossil fuels US leadership, given Russian economic dependence on their exports – I can’t imagine deep and committed concern for climate from any kleptocrats – or even a strategic preference for less competent and more disruptive President that may weaken long term US power and influence may what Russia’s dirty deeds services were about.

  25. @D

    In an election fought between Trump and Sanders, would you vote for Sanders or Trump?

    I ask because your response to the Russian hacking claims is identical to the Trump team’s response (e.g. the CIA has no credibility because of Iraq, US intelligence agencies are setting Russia up) and differs markedly from Sanders’s response:

    “The word has got to go out to Russia, any other country on earth, that we are going to protect our democracy, that cyber-security is very, very dangerous stuff, and we will not tolerate other countries interfering in the democratic process in this country”.

    “For Donald Trump to summarily dismiss all of this makes no sense to me at all.”


  26. I think Sanders would have been preferable as US president to both Clinton and Trump. But, having lost to Clinton for nomination Sanders already started walking back on some of his better positions as part of his team-playing for the Dems.

    I posted my comment before the Trump team’s response AFAIK, and in any case well before I was aware of the gist of their response.

    I think Sanders misses the point that a) there is no evidence supporting the anti-Russian narrative, and b) as far as the hack/leaks refer to the Wikileaks revelations, those documents were authentic.

    So, if truth and transparency are considered damaging to a candidate that is the greater concern for democracy than the provenance of the truthful information. The Democrats seem to be going all out to deflect blame for their loss onto others so they don’t have to take responsibility for it themselves. It looks like that tactic is working on many ‘rusted on’ Dem supporters.

  27. @D

    “I posted my comment before the Trump team’s response AFAIK…”

    This is an easily checked falsehood (how Trump-like of you)—their initial statement was released on December 9 (US time), and you posted on December 10 (both US and Australian time). But it’s interesting that you independently reached the same conclusions as Trump and his team of liars and conspiracy theorists.

    “So, if truth and transparency are considered damaging to a candidate that is the greater concern for democracy than the provenance of the truthful information.”

    So, to be clear, covert US intrusions to sway elections in other countries are fine, as long as such efforts involve the dissemination of truthful information? And it doesn’t matter if this truthful information is misreported (e.g. Podesta on the Catholic Church) or used as a basis for conspiracy theories (e.g. Pizzagate)? And you’d be against a country affected by such an intrusion carrying out an investigation into it, as Democrats and some Republicans are calling for?

    “The Democrats seem to be going all out to deflect blame for their loss onto others so they don’t have to take responsibility for it themselves.”

    What does it mean for Democrats to “take responsibility”? A whole host of institutions that are meant to act as guard rails for American democracy failed and the result is that an unhinged authoritarian is headed for the White House. What possible sense could it make to ignore this systematic failure simply to indulge the deep hatred people like you feel for Hillary Clinton?

  28. I made it clear that, in any case, I posted before I was aware of Trump’s response.

    Calling me a liar might make you feel good, but it doesn’t change the fact. Many non-Trump writers on the internet have been making similar points about the questionable merits of the story of the alleged CIA secret report as soon as it appeared.

    Give me some examples of covert US interference in governance/elections of other countries by use of truthful information and I’ll let you know what I think of them. If they are concurrent and intertwined with coups, assassinations or other coercive actions they wouldn’t count.

    Misreporting of anything is by definition untruthful to some degree, so that hypothetical isn’t useful. I’m in favour of people knowing the truth about their rulers.

    Any honest assessment by the Democrats of the reasons for their failure to win the election would be part of taking responsibility – blaming everyone else is not. For example: polls had Sanders winning an election against Trump at a time when he was talking about universal health care and education; railing against the excesses of Wall St and the need for stronger regulation and so on. The DNC ditched or watered down all those positions and more. Then they lost.

    What are the “guard rails” that failed and the “systematic failure” you are talking about, and how did they not work the way they are supposed to have in order to have prevented Trump winning the election?

  29. @D

    “Any honest assessment by the Democrats of the reasons for their failure to win the election would be part of taking responsibility – blaming everyone else is not. For example: polls had Sanders winning an election against Trump at a time when he was talking about universal health care and education; railing against the excesses of Wall St and the need for stronger regulation and so on. The DNC ditched or watered down all those positions and more. Then they lost.”

    This account might make more sense if the guy who won hadn’t run a sham for-profit university, promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with “free market principles”, and campaigned on re-deregulating the financial sector (along with just about everything else).

    The exit polls show that Clinton won voters whose chief concerns were economic.

  30. The Democrats ran the campaign they ran, with the candidate they ran and the policies they ran. And they lost.

    Please answer this:

    What are the “guard rails” that failed and the “systematic failure” you are talking about, and how did they not work the way they are supposed to have in order to have prevented Trump winning the election?

  31. Apparently the FBI and the ODNI (which sits atop all US “intelligence” agencies) are equivocating on the “Russian” angle which has been so strongly pushed by the CIA/Clinton/MSM axis.

    The bogus, anonymous, secret CIA “report” looks like it’s being hung out to dry.

  32. @D

    Again, this is Trump-level BS.

    All these agencies argue that Russia was behind the hacking; the disagreement is about proving that the hacking was designed to help Trump win.

    The conclusion that Russia wanted Trump to win can be drawn by any rational person using information in the public domain—including the one-sided nature of the attacks; Trump’s statements, policies and appointments; responses in Russia to Trump’s victory; the likelihood of Trump damaging US institutions; and so on.

  33. So the new solicitor-general was counsel assisting the building industry royal commission, which I think is sufficient to disqualify him.

    There’s a few other cases listed on the victorian bar’s profile of him… lots of immigration stuff, but no mention of which side he was taking or how successful he was.

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