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So if you don't know Australian politics, we have a talkback radio host by the name of Alan Jones. If you think 'Rush Limbaugh in Oz' you'll have a pretty good approximation: a roughly human-shaped lump of hatred and bile.

Who Jones is and why he's in the media. )

There's a lot more to be said about the "died of shame" incident, and I'm not going to attempt to say it here. But amidst the coverage, it was mentioned that the event included a fund-raising auction with various humorous items: Speedos signed by Tony Abbott, a pair of fishnets signed by Alexander Downer*, and a chaff-bag jacket signed by Alan Jones.

The jacket is donated by one "Simon Berger", a name which you probably don't recognise. He's a "community and government relations manager" for Woolworths, former adviser to an Opposition leader, former volunteer on Bob Dole's presidential campaign, and a would-be Liberal Party candidate.

I went to school with him. I've forgotten a lot of my classmates, but I remember Simon well. He was always outspokenly conservative - enough to stand out even at an expensive private school where Canberra politicians sent their kids - but despite the gulf between our political positions, I liked him and thought he was a decent sort of guy - we weren't close friends, but I'd certainly have called him a friend.

Now I'm watching the Twittersphere rip into him, calling for Woolies to sack him over this incident, and I wish I could defend him. I'd like to say "you don't know him, he's not all bad".

But I just can't. I'm sick to death of Jones' penchant for inciting violence, and this last week has left me with even less patience for the woman-hating bile spewed by Jones and his ilk. I can't call Simon Berger a friend after this; endorsing misogyny is a hard boundary.

Yesterday somebody on Twitter mentioned that they were at the AFL final and found themselves standing in line for the toilets next to the Prime Minister - I have my issues with Australia and indeed with Gillard, but I'm immensely proud that we still have a country where that can happen. I don't want to lose that.

*If anybody knows how one signs a pair of fishnets, please enlighten me.
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It's no secret that my political sympathies lean towards the left, and I don't have a lot of time for Tony Abbott and his ilk.

But credit where credit is due:

John Cormyn, Republican senator from Texas in what may be the first time I've ever used the words "Republican senator from Texas" in a positive context: legislating to reduce the horrendously-long backlog in processing of rape evidence.

Closer to home, Warren Entsch, a member of the Coalition who's been a long-term advocate for LGBTI rights here. I will note: he voted against the recent equal marriage bill, and I was disappointed to see that, but the article I've linked gives some explanation of his reasons for that decision. (I'm not sold on the arguments, but I can accept that he's sincere about them; it's a disagreement about strategies rather than objectives.)
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Via Gegi:

WI senator Glenn Grothman on the repeal of 'equal pay' laws:

"You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true."

buh... gah... wha...?

I note that his hypothetical example starts with a lawyer earning $200k/year. I'm not sure why he didn't just cast Paris Hilton as the hypothetical wife and have done with it?

On the one hand, I hope these guys get a short sharp lesson on the fact that women aren't just 50% of the population, they're 50% of the voter base.

On the other, if regressive bullshit like this can fly, maybe they have a solution for that problem too?
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Was going to email my Congresswoman and ask her to oppose SOPA, but while looking up her contact details I found she's way ahead of me on that one. So I just sent her a thank-you instead, because sanity should be encouraged.
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Because I'm getting tired of seeing the "Gillard is a liar, nobody voted for a carbon tax" line trotted out:

Yes, pre-election Gillard said "no carbon tax" (don't have the quote handy). If we'd elected a majority Labor government, and then they went ahead and instituted a CO2 tax, that would make Gillard a liar.

We did not elect a majority Labor government. We elected a large Labor minority, a large Coalition minority, and a small-but-significant Green minority (whose voters sure as hell DID vote for a CO2 tax), with the result that no one faction could form government in their own right.

When that happens, somebody has to make a deal. This involves a thing called "compromise". The way compromise works is that two groups accept that neither of them is going to get EVERYTHING they wanted, so they figure out what trade-offs are acceptable. There are a lot of ways in which this could have happened:

- Coalition decides that of all the things they're opposed to, the carbon tax is the worst. They are so convinced of this that they're willing to lose the election as long as they can block the CO2 tax. To this end, they make a deal: they will support Labor on supply bills and confidence motions, making it a viable minority government (not dependent on Greens or independents), in exchange for no carbon tax and conscience votes on certain issues.
- Coalition decides that while they're not wild on same-sex marriage, it isn't as bad as a carbon tax. They make a deal with the Greens: in exchange for Greens support on supply/confidence, they will introduce gay marriage but NOT the carbon tax. Greens aren't happy about this but Abbott persuades them it's the best deal they're going to get.
- etc etc etc.

None of those things happened. Labor decided that "no carbon tax" was less important than some of their other priorities. The Greens decided they were willing to accept compromises on gay marriage and on the extent of a CO2 tax, if it meant at least some progress on these issues. The independents decided they also were willing to accept some compromises (although they're not the subject of this post). Tony Abbott decided that compromise is for tree-hugging pansies.

Result: Labor voters get most of what they voted for. Greens voters get a mild carbon tax, plus requirement for all MPs to consult with their constituents on gay marriage (but without any obligation to DO anything about it). Coalition voters get an object lesson in how parliamentary democracy works, which they are free to study or ignore at their discretion.
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Saddened beyond measure by these stories. It's bad enough that we park our asylum seekers out in the middle of nowhere for years while they're "processed".

But the ones who died in the voyage, to bury them there? So that when their relatives do finally get recognised as legitimate refugees (as most do) and start to find a place in Australia, they have to travel maybe five thousand kilometres to visit those graves? It should never have happened, and for Scott Morrison to try to revive it is just loathsome. (I will give credit where it's due to Judith Troeth, Joe Hockey, and a handful of other Coalition members who showed some basic human decency and refused the dog-whistle.)

multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias,
ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum.
Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum
tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.
lederhosen: (Default)
Something I will remember this Saturday:

THE ALP has secretly recorded the personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians - including sensitive health and financial information - in a database being accessed by campaign workers ahead of this Saturday's state election...

Voters on the Electrac database contacted by The Age all confirmed they had not given authority for details of their political activity or attitudes, or contact with their MP, to be filed... [some people on the database] are listed as having passed information to their MP about ''corruption in high security prisons''... Political parties and MPs are exempt from privacy laws that restrict record-keeping by others including government departments, the police and local councils.


(The article notes that the Liberals also use a similar system, but the details are unclear.)

In other news, RIP Frank Fenner, who oversaw the WHO's eradication of smallpox.
lederhosen: (Default)
I keep meaning to link to this: [personal profile] 17catherines has been doing a roundup of all the minor parties & independents standing in Victoria, so those of us who insist on numbering every box on the Senate paper can figure out what to do with those odd little parties we've never heard of. Useful!
lederhosen: (Default)
...seeing morons in comment sections repeating "A vote for [minor party] is a vote for [major party]". This makes me want to clobber them with the electoral code until they understand and can recite the following facts:

- In the House of Reps, you are required to list all your preferences yourself. So after you vote for [minor party] you can just as easily send your prefs to [rival major party].
- In the Senate, you have the option of distributing your preferences as you choose, ignoring the party ticket. Minor parties are legally required to determine a default flow of preferences, but the leader of at least one minor party has publicly encouraged people to decline that and decide for themselves how their preferences will flow.
- Because the Senate is based on proportional representation, a vote for [minor party] is quite likely to be a vote for [minor party]. Due to the way Senate preferences work, this can just as easily count against [major party that minor party prefs] as for them.

Nothing against people arguing for their chosen candidate/party*, but can we at least stick to the truth? Or is that a stupid question?

Actually, most of this election is making me grumble. Although I was amused tonight to discover that my uncle is running for Senate, on what may actually be a reasonable platform.

*unless their choice sucks, of course.
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Nature reports:

Medical personnel on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) participated in experimentation and research on detainees during interrogations following the US terror attacks of 11 September 2001 according to an independent report released today. The actions documented in the report took place during the administration of President George W. Bush and contravene principles of research ethics set out in the Nuremburg Code, including those explicitly stated by the US government... a former US Air Force interrogator in Iraq and author of the book How To Break a Terrorist, says: "It's shocking. This was a feedback cycle. It was a process of doing something, measuring it and then reinserting that into the process. Which the report says is the definition of experimentation."

(Yes, I am aware that some of this experimentation - not all - was directed at keeping the prisoners alive so they could be tortured - sorry, "enhancedly interrogated" - further. That doesn't even begin to excuse this.)
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Via [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll: family-values politician brags about affairs with lobbyists, in conference room set up for recordings.



Impressive failure of integrity and intellect there, methinks. (There is some speculation that the guy he's talking to may have set him up, but still. Even Jim Hacker knew the rule that all microphones are live.)
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(Not sure whether to use my politics icon or my maths icon for this one.)

Since a couple of y'all have been discussing this: there has been much mention of the alleged fact that 70% of African American voters in California voted for Prop 8. But how reliable is that number? Read more... )

Well, then

Nov. 5th, 2008 05:30 pm
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ObGalaxyQuest: "That was a hell of a thing." I'm a cynic and I'm not expecting it to start raining fluffy kittens just because Obama got in, but still, this makes me happy.

I had to wince at this comment from fivethirtyeight.com, though:

"First African American president of ANY INDUSTRIAL COUNTRY."
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FEDERAL public servants are systematically sanitising the Wikipedia entries for federal politicians and have shown MPs how to change their entries.

Obviously this is wrong and public servants shouldn't be running clandestine PR for politicians, but the thing that concerns me most is the implication that our elected representatives are too dumb to figure out what the 'edit' button does on their own.
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Via RISKS: "Some federal air marshals have been denied entry to flights they are assigned to protect when their names matched those on the terrorist no-fly list..."

Yay!

Apr. 30th, 2008 06:21 pm
lederhosen: (Default)
Rudd honeymoon not yet over, as far as I'm concerned:

The long battle by gay and lesbian partners for the same legal and financial rights as de facto heterosexual couples is about to end, with the Rudd Government planning to remove inequalities in 100 areas of the law.

The federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, will announce today that the necessary legislation will be introduced when Parliament resumes next month for the winter sittings.


(And yes, no doubt there will be teething problems - you can't change a hundred laws in a hurry without introducing a few glitches - but this is LONG overdue.)

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