Category Archives: Politics

Great moments in stupid

I’d long wondered how ridiculous things could with global warming deniers generally and idiots like Andrew Bolt specifically. This week showed that the answer is “fucking”. They can get fucking stupid.
This week, Bolt was shocked and appalled that the ABC hosted a panel of scientists who all agree that climate change is not just real but probably one of the most serious issues facing humanity. Bolt’s response was to let us all know, in his own words, he was an idiot.
 bolt
Thanks mate, we already knew. In his fevered paranoia, the concept of acknowledging that 97% of climate scientist agree on climate change is crazy. Listening to people who are actually qualified to assess the evidence is being blinded by credentials.
Fortunately, Andrew knows scientists! Personally! They aren’t climate scientists BUT THEY DO THE SCIENCE! And they agree with him that it’s all rubbish. Wrap your head around that if you can. This self-proclaimed idiot says listening to experts in a field is crazy because that’s just credentials but his blatant lies should be listened to because he has a scientist who agrees! So moments after belittling the credentials of literally millions of scientists, he says the credentials of his singular scientist (who is credentialed in the WRONG field) should hold sway.
I’m sure Andrew is happy to have his dentistry done by a podiatrist as well. They’re both doctors after all. And are you seriously trying to tell me feet and teeth aren’t both part of the human body? How could someone who specialises in feet possibly be unqualified to make judgements on teeth? You’re being blinded by credentials. This is the cognitive dissonance climate change deniers must deal with every day – asserting that an easily provable lie is actually the truth. It must hurt.
The latest assessment by scientists qualified in the field of climate science is there is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperatures over the last 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. However, despite the near-unanimous scientific consensus solidly supported by evidence that humans are causing climate change, Bolt’s worldview is that this is nothing but empty credentials. But if you can find a single individual who discounts this science and all of the evidence that supports it, that is “facts”. I hope you feel better now.
Another stunning entry into the annals of stupid came from the Courier Mail this week. All of the Murdoch rags decided to run disgustingly adoring front page pieces on Scott Morrison and his vile policy against asylum seekers. This act alone was an abomination (but normal for the scum tabloids) but The Mail elevated it to the profoundly clueless by photoshopping Morrison into George Bush’s place when he stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier with a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner behind him. Here is the danger of slavishly parroting propaganda: you start to believe it and forget that you are actually propagating lies and you forget when your previous propaganda has been conclusively proven wrong.
mission
When Bush stood in front of that banner, 139 US troops had been killed. More than 4,000 would die after he stood there. Nobody cares about the brown people but somewhere north of 500,000 Iraqis would die after this mission was “accomplished”. This image of Bush has come to be directly associated with failure and the hubris of ideologically driven fools who declare success only to create unspeakable horror afterwards. And the clowns at the Mail are apparently unaware of this.
On its own, the image would have been disgusting, like the one used by the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. But they have magically managed to meld the utterly repulsive with the truly stupid. Trying to drag Australia down past the gutters and into the sewers? Mission accomplished!

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Quokkas are unfair to white men

There are a lot of problems in the world but thankfully, a men’s Rights Activist has alerted me to the worst problem of all: quokkas being unfair to straight white men. This is a quokka.
quokka
Do you see the way it smiles? That’s because it’s so glad it’s destroying the privilege of white men.
This came to light after Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie suggested 3% of senate seats should be reserved for indigenous Australians so they can be assured of proportional representation in the lawmaking process. It turns out quokkas are behind this and I find the idea of these smug marsupials controlling our legislative bodies to be totally unacceptable.
A particularly insightful letter to the editor in a Murdoch paper pointed out if you followed this nefarious quokka plan to its logical conclusion you’d have to acknowledge that considering about half the population are women, about half the people representing the population should be women as well. That sounds all well and good but no quokka is going to tell me what to do.
quota
To quote from the letter… oh, wait. He meant quotas. Quotas are unfair. I got confused between quotas and quokkas. I thought he was concerned about oversized grinning rats but he is literally saying that if white men were only represented proportionally in public life rather than utterly dominating it and actively excluding anybody who isn’t white and male like they have for centuries that would be wrong. Hmmmmm.
My quokka argument makes more sense.

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Palmer United Party – good thing or bad thing?

Clive Palmer appears to have surprised some people by doing exactly what he intended to do all along. I’m more than a little confused by people who express any sort of surprise or disappointment in Palmer United Party getting rid of the carbon price and/or the mining tax. Personally I think these actions are both mistakes but they were pretty much core promises from PUP in the lead up to the last federal election. If they hadn’t gone through with them that would have been a pretty major broken election promise.
Palmer’s decision to mess around with Abbott for shits and giggles has been funny to see but it was never anything more than a sideshow. On those major policy points PUP was always going to give the LNP coalition what they wanted. Palmer just decided to bend Abbott over, repeatedly thwack his arse and make him say “Thank you sir, may I have another?” each time. And if this government is going to destroy the lives and futures of the majority of the country, we at least deserve some entertainment to go with it.
Clive’s a “character”. Which is to say that virtually everything he says and does publicly is scripted as opposed to being the real him. Some of his PUP cohorts however, seem far more interesting. Jacqui Lambie is someone I’d like an opportunity to talk to and see how open she is to exploring issues. She seems to fancy herself as “down to earth” and I have no reason to suspect she’s anything but the ordinary person she projects. I feel inclined to defend her a bit when people call her a bogan because (a) I grew up in the country and (b) I’m more than a little disturbed when people who consider themselves progressive use classist insults.
It’s perfectly possible Lambie is a horrible regressive bigoted person and I wouldn’t like her. I don’t know her so I have no idea what she is really like. While her discussing her preference for big dicks on a radio station was less than edifying, I don’t think that episode means something should be done to change her behaviour. I’d much prefer it if something was done about the absolute dreck pumped out by commercial radio stations. The most interesting thing to me about her is she’s recently been speaking out about Palmer acting like an idiot.
When Palmer was supposed to tip a bucket of water over Lambie on a TV show called The Project (as part of the ubiquitous Ice Bucket Challenge) he saw a second bucket and apparently thought they were going to spring a surprise on him and challenge him to have the same done to him. He took exception to this and stormed off and has honestly looked a complete tool whenever he has been asked to explain his reaction. Lambie’s simple response of “Welcome to my world” seems rather telling.
More than once Lambie has publicly said she wishes Palmer would be less of a clown which seems like quite a promising sign. She essentially relied on Palmer’s profile and bankroll to get elected but doesn’t seem bothered about speaking out and criticising his poor behaviour when she thinks it’s warranted. It’s far too early to see what sort of lasting impact (if any) PUP will have on Australian politics. But they seem to not like Abbott and take some delight in torturing him and that’s enough for now.

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Cardinal George Pell is a trucking terrible person

 

A late entry and the outright winner for arsehole of the week is without doubt Cardinal George Pell. While appearing (via video link) at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse he said blaming the catholic church for the widespread child abuse committed by priests was like blaming a trucking company if one of their drivers did it.

 

Well George, let me make a few points. First, you truly are a disgusting pile of festering excrement. I mean it. You are absolutely disgusting.

 

Now to your trucking company analogy. It’s impossible to tell if you’re deliberately lying and distorting the truth or if you’re so deeply evil that you genuinely don’t recognise your own culpability and that of the wider church hierarchy. If you want your analogy to be a little more accurate it would have to be a trucking company that is specifically responsible for the well-being of the children abused by its drivers and when the company discovers the widespread abuse being perpetrated by many of their drivers they actively suppress the truth and instead of punishing the drivers they send them to drive trucks in a different city where nobody knows them but they’re still responsible for protecting children but they abuse children again and you repeat this cycle for decades without ever accepting responsibility for the abuse that wouldn’t have been possible without your direct actions.

 

And that is why so many people are utterly disgusted with you. You presided over this abuse for decades and have repeatedly shown more interest in protecting the reputation of the church over protecting children being abused by priests. And that continues right to this day. The clear refusal to accept responsibility is unacceptable and hopefully the royal commission will finally call Pell and his cohorts to account.

 

It’s obvious how deeply in denial Pell is, so much so that he went on to make statements that may well come back to haunt him. Many people are rightly outraged by the callous trucking company analogy but right after this his statements included “If in fact the authority figure has been remiss through bad preparation, bad procedures or been warned and done nothing or [done something] insufficient, then certainly the church official would be responsible.” I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the point a lot of people are making. That’s why there’s a royal commission – because of the appalling reaction of the catholic church and others to decades of abuse.

 

And when I look at Pell’s comments about a trucking company I can’t work out exactly how he would come to say something so terrible. Surely he would have prepared for something as serious as appearing before a Royal Commission? Surely the church takes it seriously enough to prepare? How awful would a group of people have to be to think making the trucker analogy was a good thing? How did that go? You as an organisation have been exposed for sheltering child abusers for decades, protecting them and your reputation over the children in your care, you’ve repeatedly attacked victims and their families instead of supporting them. And somehow you are so completely lacking in empathy you decide a completely ridiculous, insensitive and inaccurate analogy is the best way for you to refuse to accept responsibility for your appalling failings.

 

PELL: OK, what should I say to the Royal Commission?

 

ADVISOR: How about “It wasn’t us, it was some random truck driver that did all that kiddie fiddling”?

 

PELL: I don’t think anyone will go for that but you’ve given me an idea. I’ll use an analogy.

 

ADVISOR: Wow, that sounds insightful. How does an analogy work?

 

PELL: I don’t say truck drivers committed all the abuse that catholic priests are responsible for but I say blaming the church itself for the priests committing abuse is like holding a trucking company responsible for individual truck drivers who assault people.

 

ADVISOR: And the fact that any responsible trucking company that knew it had drivers committing that sort of abuse would sack the drivers, turn them over to the police and do everything in their power to support and compensate the victims doesn’t undermine your point at all?

 

PELL: I don’t think so. The public’s anger at rampant abuse within the church has be growing for years but I think all we’ve needed to do all this time is to use a gratuitously insulting and inaccurate analogy to say we refuse to accept any responsibility.

 

ADVISOR: Well I can’t see any flaw in that plan but then again I couldn’t see any flaw in the plan to protect priests who were known child abusers.

 

PELL: When you consider how ridiculous the whole magic man in the sky thing is, it should be a doddle to get the suckers to believe the church isn’t to blame for the abuse.

 

ADVISOR: I am so glad none of that stuff we tell them is true, otherwise we’d be going straight to hell.

 

PELL: Word.

 

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Joe Hockey – out of touch and obnoxious

 

Looking at the constant flailing of Joe Hockey presents one of life’s big question: is he clueless or is he simply a total arsehole? Either he is inflicting his brutally cruel policies without realising the damage he’s doing or he truly despises the most disadvantaged people in Australia. Either he doesn’t realise how clueless and privileged his ridiculous comments make him seem or he actually hates the people they are directed at.
 
Let’s have a look at his efforts. First and foremost is his budget –brutal and needlessly cruel to those have least while giving bonuses to those who have most. He achieved the almost impossible – uniting disparate economists who all say the poor are hardest hit by this budget. Hockey starts by lying about there being a “budget emergency” in Australia then lies by saying his budget isn’t doing what it was obviously deliberately designed to do – hurt the poor and reward the rich.
 
The scary thing is he actually seems to believe his own lies. There’s an old propaganda trick that politicians and the media use – repeat a lie often enough and people start to think it’s the truth. It’s weird to see it work on the actual liar who has apparently forgotten that he’s lying. According to Hockey, the backlash against his budget isn’t because everyone sees how unfair it is, we simply don’t see what a good job he’s doing. Joe isn’t angry that we don’t see he’s doing what’s best for all of us, he’s just disappointed.
 
He’s followed up his budget brutality with a series of truly bizarre brain farts, each of which have made him seem more clueless and out of touch than the last. He’s really like a toddler who has had their toys taken away for misbehaving and can only respond with more tantrums. Out of the blue, one day he decides to take a swipe at renewable energy by saying the wind farm he drives past is ugly. Compared to what, Joe? An open cut mine? A coal-fired power plant? Your shrivelled and diseased soul? The combination of that comment being both stupid and unnecessary is truly mind boggling.
 
coal
 
He then says rich people are hurt most by his budget because high earners pay half of their income in tax. This statement is wrong on so many levels it’s embarrassing. A full explanation of why he’s wrong is here but the short version is it simply isn’t true. It annoys me that pretty much everyone glossed over the fact that high earners don’t pay high tax because they use accountants to game the system. Trust me, I earn quite a lot as an IT contractor and through accounting jiggery-pokery I (legally) pay about the same rate of tax as someone who earns about $60K.
 
Also, unless he’s suffered a traumatic brain injury he knew he was lying when he said it because the wrongness of his statement is absolutely basic. Apparently he thought the deal was still like it was before the election when the media was repeating his lies verbatim without challenging him with anything inconvenient like the truth. Poor Joe. It isn’t his fault everyone’s stopped believing his lies – he still believes them.
 
Then this week he says his plan to increase taxes on petrol hurt the rich more because they have more cars and drive more. He actually said “the poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases”. The first mind-boggling thing is he’s so out of touch that he thinks it’s a reasonable thing to say. Even if it was true that poorer people weren’t disproportionately affected by his policies (it isn’t true) anyone who wasn’t completely insulated from reality would have known such and obnoxious comment would only make him look more like a cigar chomping elitist. It’s so bad even Murdoch owned media are going after him.
 
hockey
 
The actual truth is that while the rich spend more on petrol in pure dollar terms, as a percentage of income it’s poorer household who spend more of their limited income on petrol. So by any reasonable definition, those least well off to start with are being punished hardest by Hockey’s policies yet again. It’s worse when you add in that many poorer people have far less options available because they are forced to live in perimeter suburbs or rural areas where there are limited jobs and limited public transport options. This essentially means many people need a car if they want to work which highlights both the wrongness and the obnoxiousness of Hockey’s statement.
 
This is yet another example of why I am so opposed to this government. It isn’t simply a case of differing ideologies and values (although I do disagree with them), it’s this air of entitlement, arrogance and how completely out of touch they are. Plus their endless lies and needless cruelty. They talk about the unemployed having a sense of entitlement while they hand of billions of dollars in benefits to their rich mates who helped them into power. No matter how many people point out they are wrong and they are hurting the most vulnerable they refuse to listen. Plus they’re a pack of absolute idiots who seem to be trying to outdo each other in some sort of insane competition to say the worst thing possible.
 
This government will go down in history as an absolute disaster. The next election can’t come soon enough.

 

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Eric Abetz – stupid, ignorant and a liar

 

I wonder if Eric Abetz is psychic? Or maybe he watches my YouTube channel. Less than a week ago, I said I didn’t hate him like I do some other members of the government. Maybe he felt left out because since then he’s done some phenomenally stupid things that seem designed to make reasonable people take a disliking to him. Or maybe he’s just stupid.
 
There’s a bunch of horrible people in Melbourne at the moment calling themselves The World Congress of Families. These ultra-right wing Christians have a very narrow view of what constitutes a family (let alone family “values”) and are pretty hostile to things like science and evidence. Many conservative Australian politicians have eagerly embraced these wackos despite the fact their view reflect only a tiny lunatic fringe of religious conservatives.  During a TV interview, Abetz repeated the utterly absurd and totally discredited views of one of the speakers, namely, that there’s a link between breast cancer and abortion.
 
That would have been bad enough but the next day Abetz decides to sink into the depths of stupidity. First he straight up denies he said it. The interview was “heavily edited”. Later changed to “they cut me off”. Actual video of the interview makes all of his denials and excuses look ridiculous. Then he cops to the whole “abortion cause breast cancer” not being true. But in the most shit eating way you can imagine. Instead of making a simple, clear statement “abortion does not cause breast cancer” he vomits out an endless stream of weasel words.
 
He says because he isn’t a medical expert he isn’t qualified to judge personally but he accepts that the majority of medical opinion says this is rubbish. Then he goes on to talk in glowing terms about the speaker who is pushing this rubbish, American surgeon Dr Angela Lanfranchi. She’s a surgeon. She does breast cancer surgery. She’s awesome. The truth is, she is a liar. She is spreading blatant lies and abusing her position as a surgeon to give false credibility to her absolutely ridiculous, religiously motivated lies.
 
Abetz rounds off his weasel drivel by saying Lanfranchi has “the right to express her views” – yes, it’s all about free speech, people. If you want to stop someone from influencing public policy and actually endangering the health of others with LIES, you oppose free speech. Here’s the thing: believing abortion is wrong because your magical sky fairy says so (or for any other reason) is a point of view and I would never say people don’t have the right to that opinion. What is happening here fails the classic “shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre” test. This is the deliberate spreading of a lie that has the capacity to cause injury to people.
 
It’s inexcusable and Abetz isn’t just wrong, he’s also a liar and a coward.
 
 
I wrote this little rant thinking about TFU Friday and it made its way into the video here:

 

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Metadata – how will the Australian Government use it to spy on you?

 

Metadata, what is it?
 
In Australia, most people are now specifically wondering what the government’s recently announced plans to retain metadata about the phone and internet usage of ALL Australians means. The simplest definition of metadata is it’s data about data. It doesn’t tell you all of the information that’s in a phone call, email or web browsing session but it gives you the parameters of these things.
 
For a phone call it can tell you the source of the call (the address of a fixed line or the nearest tower for a mobile call), the number that made the call, the same information about the recipient of the call along with the duration of the call. And some simple cross referencing will show you how often there are calls between those two numbers.
 
For an email it can show you the sender, the recipient, the size of the email (if not the actual word for word content), the format of the email (HTML etc.), the language used and the type of attachments if any. For web browsing it can include a list of the websites you visit, how long you stay on the sites and in all probability anything you download from the sites. The government seems to be trying to deny or downplay they will track the websites you visit but Attorney General George Brandis’ performance in his Sky News interview was so incompetent it’s hard to be sure.
 
So that’s the factual part of the post – metadata is a description of the data and give the parameters of the communication without providing all of the detail. It’s of obvious interest to law enforcement because it can help incriminate someone. If someone makes numerous calls to northern Iraq, regularly visits ilovealquaeda.com and downloads their instructions you might want to take a closer look at them.
 
Here’s the opinion part:
 
Malcolm Turnbull came out the day after Brandis’ car crash interview and said the plan wouldn’t track web usage and the head of ASIO made the same assertion. I call bullsh for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve worked in IT for years and any reasonable definition I’ve seen of metadata for internet use would include websites visited. Second, there’s no value in metadata that doesn’t include this identifying information – the idea that they simply want to know how long you’re on the internet (tracking the IP address allocated to you by your ISP) is ridiculous.
 
My one caveat to this would be if they were going to combine IP tracking with other surveillance they aren’t telling us about. This is exactly the sort of weasel talk I would expect from politicians – believing they can assert they haven’t said anything untrue when by any reasonable definition they are flat out lying. One technical way to do this is monitor traffic to specific websites then match the IP address of visitors with the IP addresses assigned to users by their ISPs. Hey presto, they know what websites you visit but they’ll continue to assert they aren’t harvesting this information from your metadata.
 
To borrow from the government’s “we’re looking at the address on the letter, not the content of the letter” propaganda, here’s one way they can spy on your internet activity with IP monitoring. In this analogy, the letter writer is a website, your street address on the letter is your IP address and you are you. This approach of monitoring IP addresses is the equivalent of monitoring and reading every letter a particular person writes before they send it. Then when the letter is addressed, the spies check the address and look up a separate database where they find you live at the address the letter is being sent to. In this way they argue they never opened your mail but they know the exact content of the letter you received.
 
The stated goal is to catch people doing bad things and they believe knowing more about peoples’ communications will help with this. The idea that they don’t want to know when people go on websites advocate radical and/or criminal activity is simply laughable.
 
On top of the fact they’re lying there’s the additional problem of it won’t help prevent any crime. This type of information can often help with a conviction after the fact but storing everyone’s metadata won’t help prevent crime. What prevents crime is good old fashioned police work – investigation and follow up. The mountains of metadata the government is talking about keeping is simply too much information to be useful. The police and spy services don’t have the resources, time or expertise required to make it useful. It will only be useful if they are already monitoring someone and looking for an excuse to arrest them.
 
Getting at least slightly glossed over with the focus on metadata is the other provisions around police being able to do much more without a warrant, right up to arresting people. Under these changes, if police don’t have enough evidence to convince a judge you should be under surveillance or a warrant should be issued for your arrest, they can monitor you or arrest you anyway. And if you’re one of those idiots who thinks you only have to worry if you’re a terrorist, Abbott has already specifically said these powers would be used for general policing.
 
If that’s what they’re prepared to admit at this early stage, how far will they actually go as time goes by?
 
Historically, police power has always been abused. This is not an argument for the elimination of police but it is an argument for oversight and limits to their power. Spying is worse than policing, by its very nature it is difficult to control. If people have the power to declare that something is in the national interest and top-secret, who is in a position to make sure they don’t abuse their power? Recent history with whistle-blowers revealing government surveillance that goes well beyond the law have shown that embarrassing a government invites massive retaliation. Manning in Military prison, Snowden hiding in Russia, Assange hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy. Exposing government malfeasance can pretty much put an end to any sort of ordinary life.
 
Even on a smaller scale, on top of the inherent wrongness of the American surveillance system, it’s been shown to have been abused repeatedly in trivial ways with operators regularly using it to invade the privacy of exes or even complete strangers they were interested in. And those are just the ones we know about. Are you going to tell me there aren’t some brogrammers out there using the systems to try and spy on celebrities just for giggles?
 
And for those delightfully naïve people who say “you have nothing to fear if you haven’t done anything wrong” you are living in a privileged delusion. You have nothing to fear up until someone in power wants to hurt you. And you don’t have to break the law for that to happen, you just have to represent something they don’t like. You might rightly think the current regime is your friend and they’d never do that to you. But nobody stays in power forever. Sooner or later someone who is fundamentally opposed to your views will be in power. And these laws will still be in place, but different people with different priorities and different standards will be wielding them.
 
You can’t get a clearer example of this than the number of conservative governments around Australia who have set up independent commissions to investigate corruption because they were (rightly) sure the opposing Labor party was guilty of all sorts of corruption. Then they get awfully surprised when the commission exercises its independence and investigates corruption among the conservatives. If you want to know if a law can be abused, imagine your worst enemy having the power to use it against you. Do you still feel safe?
 
If you’re still clinging to “I don’t break the law” just think “have I ever come into contact with a total douchebag in my life?” The police service, spy agencies and politicians have a disturbing tendency to contain a greater percentage of douchebags than the general population. If one of them has decided they don’t like you and want to damage your reputation they can trawl through your communications records until they find something to smear you with. And even if you think there’s nothing in your internet history that can hurt you (I think you’re lying BTW) they only need to create the impression of impropriety to do damage.
 
In these situations I’m always reminded of the words of Cardinal Richelieu – “…give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” If authorities want to convict you of something, they almost invariably will. Innocence is a matter of perception, not an objective truth. Sure, it’s brown people who have to worry most now but if you think this idea of government having unlimited warrantless access to your communications metadata is no big deal, you deserve what comes next.

 

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