Category Archives: Politics

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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Tony Abbott: Making the unemployed less than human

 

In totally unsurprising news, the Australian government has open up a new front in the war against the poor. For those new to this game, this is not a war on poverty in the sense the government is trying to increase the affluence of everybody to get rid of poverty. This is the government actually targeting the poor and disadvantaged and trying to destroy them.
 
The latest salvo has taken the form of saying that people on welfare shouldn’t get money, they should get a card that controls what they can and can’t spend their welfare payments on. And when I say the government is waging this war, what they’ve actually done is roll out their proxy to present the case for what they want to do and what and see what the reaction is.
 
In this case their proxy was one of Australia’s biggest mining magnates, Twiggy Forest. Given that he had always seemed reasonable compared to the other billionaires telling the government what to do, this is more than a literally disheartening to hear him say “Listen povo, here’s how we’re going to humiliate you for your own good.”
 
And the Orwellian nature of his speech was creepy as well. When someone can repeatedly refer to taking away a disadvantaged person’s right to make their own decisions as “freedom” I wonder just how much freedom they want to impose on how much of the population. While this is being presented as Twiggy’s idea, not the government’s, Abbott and pals are barely bothering to conceal this lie. Abbott is standing right there next to Forrest as he spouts this plans and if that doesn’t tell you clearly enough this is where the Libs want to take the country, Abbott says lines like:
 
“…some of these challenges go beyond what government currently plans, but again, why shouldn’t we be challenged to think about what is currently doable?” And even more directly: “We are working urgently on this visionary report… to ensure as much of it as we can is implemented as quickly as we can.”
 
Hockey chimes in with: “The report is bold but it needs to win over community support and I fully expect that over the coming weeks and months”
 
In case you can’t decipher that barely concealed code, they’re saying “Hell yes we want to do this. We’re just scared it’s more electoral poison (on top of how we’ve screwed the pooch so far) so we’re having someone else throw it out there to give us plausible deniability. But if you morons lap it up it will be law before any of you can wake up to how evil it is.”
 
The danger here is it can sound so seductively reasonable when you’re not on the receiving end of it. When you tell hard working Australians is that all that’s happening is we’re stopping dole bludgers from blowing their welfare payments (which your tax dollars paid for) on gambling, ciggies and booze. Honestly, there are cases where it’s probably a good idea. If a family dependent on welfare is getting nothing because an irresponsible parent is blowing the money then a plan that stops this is good. But arbitrarily extending it to everyone is plain evil.
 
For those who still believe the dole bludger/job snob lie, statistics show that the unemployed outnumber job vacancies by 5 or 10 to 1 depending on your age, qualifications and where you live. So on any given day, it is literally impossible for 80-90% of the unemployed to get a job. That is the overwhelming reason people are unemployed, not that they are lazy. When you take someone who’s already in a tough situation and dish out punishment after punishment, what you are saying is “You are worthless. This is happening to you because you deserve it. You don’t deserve to survive because people who have always had what they wanted don’t like you and don’t care about you.”
 
I think I have worked out what the end game of all of this is. The one thing this government hasn’t taken the chainsaw to that they desperately want to is industrial relations. Abbott in particular wants to crush unions and give as many businesses as possible the right to take away any and all benefits from workers and sack people whenever they want. It seems clear that they are in the process of setting up unemployment to being close to a death sentence. Couple that with a world where a boss can make you unemployed on a whim and you have no protection, they can see their utopia where the ruling elite have everything they want and the grotty underclass will be grateful for any crumb their betters deign to allow them.

 

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I’m hung like the Australian Parliament

Well, we had a Federal Election in Australia this weekend and the voice of the Australian people has sounded a resounding “meh”. We have a hung parliament, meaning neither major party won enough seats to claim an outright majority – the usual way a government is formed. However this ends up (and it could take quite a while to resolve) who ever forms government will be a minority dependent on independents and Green or two to continue in government.

Besides making politics in this country a bit more interesting, the resolution might make a few people a bit more aware of the some facts about the constitution. Because it seems like a significant chunk of this country is completely oblivious to how things actually work in this country.

I got so sick of people saying during this campaign that they didn’t vote for Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. First, because the fucking morons saying they were concerned about Kevin Rudd getting knocked off by his own party were Liberal voters anyway and they hated Rudd. I am not a huge fan of lying hypocritical scumbags who refuse to admit to their true motivations.

Second, the public NEVER votes for the Prime Minister. The public votes for their local member of parliament. The leader of the party that forms government is automatically the PM and they are voted leader by their own party, not the public. And even more important, the PM is NOT the head of state in Australia. They run the government of the day but they are not the head of state.

We are a constitutional monarchy and our head of state is the Monarch of England, currently Queen Elizabeth II. On a day to day basis she is represented by the Governor General who is appointed by the Australian government (i.e our head of state is elected by nobody).   Look up November 11th 1975 if you can’t see any problems with that. So the Governor General has to agree with whoever declares they should head up the forthcoming minority government.

Here’s what’s likely to happen:

* Prime Minister Julia Gillard constitutionally has the first opportunity to form a new government, regardless of whether her Labor party has won more seats than the conservative opposition.

* Gillard would meet Governor-General Quentin Bryce and advise her of Labor’s intention to form a new government.

* Once a new government is sworn in, a parliamentary sitting would be held as soon as possible to determine whether Gillard’s new administration had a workable majority in the lower house.

* The opposition would then call a no-confidence motion to test her minority government’s support in parliament.

* In order to survive that censure motion, Gillard would have needed to reach an agreement with enough independent MPs and/or Greens to form a government, including guarantees from them on the passage of annual budgets.

* Legal experts say this process could take several weeks to play out, with Labor and the Liberal-National opposition likely to engage the independents and Greens in behind-the-scenes negotiations to see which major party can win them over.

* There is another, more unlikely scenario in the event that the opposition forges a quick alliance with independents before Gillard has a chance to consult the governor-general.

* In this case, Gillard could in theory advise the governor-general to initially swear in a Liberal-National minority government. But this is unlikely because there’s nothing in the constitution that would force her to do so – which will drive Liberal supporters crazy.

So, in short, nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. And whatever happens, it’s almost certain that the side that finds themselves in opposition won’t stop complaining until after the next federal election. Whenever that is.

And here’s my video explanation:

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Australia bans small breasts

A story getting quite a bit of mileage in Australia this week is the idea that the government has banned small breasts. What’s actually happening is we have a law that states anything that describes or depicts a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not) in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult is Refused Classification (i.e. banned).

It seems that enforcement has been stepped up recently with a lot of “barely legal” type of publications being banned. One of the measures being used to determine if a model appears to be underage is small breast size, hence the tagline being thrown around – Australia is banning small breasts. While I agree with everyone who says this law is stupid (prosecuting someone because someone thinks it looks like they’re breaking the law, even though they’re not? Really??) I wish people protesting would be a bit more honest.

The porn in question is designed to appeal to creepy types who fetishise young girls. If you can’t admit that you’re simply avoiding the truth because you think it undermines your position. And I don’t have any time for that sort of cowardice and double talk.  Having said that, the law is fucking stupid. I have no time for people who want to legislate morality – it never works.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to stop governments trying.

Still, on the bright side, it allows me to make a blog post using such search engine bait as breasts, underage girls, porn, hentai and barely legal. Not that I’m cynical or anything like that.

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