Thursday, November 26, 2009

The personal and the political

As the various posts under G-BIT can testify to, I am entire pro-gay rights. On marriage, anti-discrimination, child adoption, etc, I am on the side of equality and social justice. On the opposing trench of the culture war are the ‘mo foes: from secular rednecks who believe gays to be ‘sick’ to religulous folk who believe Leviticus 20:33 to be the entirety of the Bible.

Previously, I’ve seen this as a political issue; that of social justice and human rights prevailing over logical fallacies and moral self-righteousness. As gay issues don’t affect me directly, I’ve never seen them as a personal matter. However, this has now changed. One of my friends came out recently (alright, so it was actually months ago, but I’m lazy, OK?). Now, for me, the issue of gay rights suddenly has a face. What was once merely a political movement is now a fellow human being (from now on known as Miss A), who is still a second-class citizen because the cowardly government is too afraid to do what is right, for fear that it will lose the Christian Right vote. Even though passing pro-gay rights legislation (such as those mentioned previously) would in fact be popular and probably boost the ALP’s vote, the party’s ear is firmly tied to that of people and organisations who dedicate their lives to ruining those of others (hmmm, what does THAT remind me of?).

As the title suggests, what was once a political issue has now become very personal. There are people who believe Miss A isn’t worthy of the same basic human rights they take for granted; that she is fundamentally evil human being because of something as otherwise trivial as her sexual orientation. Understandably, I take this as personally as she does. For this reason, the brutality and hatred that lies within the anti-gay populace now seems much harsher and more pointed than it previously did. The good folks at the CDP, the ACL and the AFA want to force Miss A back into the closet so she fits into their myopic view of ‘family’. If she resists, this same folk have set up organisations to ‘cure’ her of her orientation. These ‘pro-family’ forces have the capacity to do tremendous damage to Miss A’s life if they have their ways in gay rights legislation, and, on a wider scale, Australian society’s views on gay rights.

And that’s where the ‘pro-family’ hypocrisy of these organisations comes to an absolute head; they are entirely anti-family. These organisations work to divide parents against their children by repeating countless lies about homosexuality-that it is evil, that it is changeable, that it is the product of emotional child abuse, and so on. This has broken up countless families as misguided parents have rejected their children. If Miss A ever wants to start a family of her own, these same ‘pro-family’ groups will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent her from getting married, undergoing IMF treatment or adopting children, under the mantra that depriving gays of their rights is best for children and society.

Ultimately, Miss A has done me a tremendous favour-not simply for being the fine person and friend she is, but-for me-giving only the strongest reason to remain committed to the rights of gays, bis, intersexes and transgenders. Thankfully, if past civil rights movements are anything to go by, time is is most certainly on our side.

The Liberal Party and the political wilderness

I can't say I don't enjoy watching the Liberal party tear itself apart these days. The moderates-Turnbull, Hockey, Robb-desperately trying to keep the party together, whilst Mad Monks, Mavericks and Crazy Uncles are doing their best to keep the Coalition as unelectable as possible is better than most paid entertainment.

The one thing possibly better than this is the quiet knowledge is that this is the result of the Australian Reagan, John 'the Rodent' Howard. His desperate refusal to hand the reigns to Costello and his push to the far-right (economically speaking) with WorkChoices doomed the Liberal Party to defeat. His refusal to sort out the factional war between the small-l Liberals (such as the green Turnbull and humanitarian Georgio) and the hard-right Liberals (Abbott, Tuckey, all of the Nationals) meant that these factions would inevitably turn on each other in defeat, and will doom the party to many years in Opposition. That the Liberals' lord and saviour could become their Reaper is a truly scrumptious thought.

As far as I can tell, there are two predominant factors that led to that fateful defeat now two years ago; Australia's political apathy being broken by climate change and WorkChoices, and Labor's leader. Kim Beazley was to Labor as Brendon Nelson was to the Liberals; would make a solid frontbencher with a sizable portfolio, but fundamentally unelectable as leader. This helped Labor lose the 1998 and 2001 elections. Later, Labor went in the opposite direction with Latham, which scared the electorate so much Howard was handed the balance of power.

Australia apathy enabled Howard to survive despite the corruption that his government enabled; children overboard, Iraq, the dogged refusal to accept responsibility and the his indifference towards Indigenous Australians to name a few. In his last term, however, a 'perfect storm' began to build. WorkChoices wasn't selling; it was turning many voters off. Then, the issue of climate change finally hit with bushfires and the ongoing drought. All of a sudden, voters were shaken from their sleep and didn't like the government they saw; screwing over the workers and the environment to please big business and big coal. 'Good economic management' wasn't worth this.
Finally, Labor put forward Rudd, an electable, pleasant-looking leader, who rivalled Howard in political smarts; differing from the Liberals in climate, industrial relation and Indigenous policies, and the same everywhere else, thus maximising ALP chances. Labor was now electable. Howard tried to remake himself as more of a lefty by making 'aspirational' carbon-reducing goals and placing Indigenous Australians in the preamble of the constitution, but it (thankfully) wasn't enough. The only slim chance Howard had was to resign and allow the slighty-less-unlikeable Costello to run, but the Rodent enjoyed the power too much to give it up. After all, what if Costello was able to win? Howard would become the coward to jumped ship when it all became too difficult, with Costello becoming the new Reagan. And that simply wouldn't do. Instead, Howard took the party to the inevitable defeat. Quickly after, most of the brain-Howard, Costello, Downer-jumped the sinking ship

So now, the Liberals are in disarray, pulled at the seams by the warring factions. The only way for the party to pull itself together is (ironically) to tear off the rotten limbs-splitting from the Nationals, and purging the party itself of the hard-right. They'd be more at home in the DLP or One Nation anyway. The moderates, however, are unable and unwilling to do so. The Tuckeys and (Bronwyn) Bishops are called 'Howardites' for a clear reason; mindless loyalty to the dear leader. Turnbull, as much as he may want to modernise the party, knows that doing so would be seen as a betrayal of Howard's principles. This would reduce the party's support from the right, which is unfathomable, as Labor has already reduced Liberal (and next year, is set to take more) from the centre.

Hopefully, the Liberals' reformation won't happen for a long time. Labor, in Rudd's me-tooing push, now occupies most of the Liberal party's positions (tax cuts and marriage, anyone?) and is establishing itself, if anything, as the mainstream conservative party. With the Liberal party floundering, the Greens have a chance to fill left-wing party vacuum. Here's hoping they take it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Super fun happy lucky Higgins by-election candidate summery!

Yesterday, most of the Higgins candidates meet with a few community members, who answered various questions regarding climate change. Party-wise, there was the Sex Party, the Greens and One Nation, whilst several Independents spiced up the evening with their zaniness. Disappointingly, Kelly ‘Runner-up in the Bronwyn Bishop lookalike contest’ O’Dwyer, John ‘familyfamilyfamily’ Mulholland of the DLP and Isaac ‘fight tha power!’ Roberts of the Liberal Democrats weren’t there. In hindsight, that's probably a good thing, as Kelly and a certain anarchist Independent would've probably killed each other.

Fiona Patten, Australian Sex Party:
Excellent. Presented herself extremely well, stating that she was no expert and relied on the climatologists to tell her what was going on. Was very friendly and approachable (I even got to talk to her! **squeals like a six year old**). 9/10.

David Collyer, Australian Democrats:
Fine representative for the Dems. During one of his speeches, made a statement along the lines of “If the scientists are wrong, then we’ve merely pushed for green living earlier than we would have. If the scientists are right, then we only have on chance at this” which was brilliant. Only problem was that he quite often referred to Democrats’ green successes in the past (such as on the Franklin River), which came across as mildly wanky. 8/10.

Steve Raskovy, One Nation:
It took a while to get over the thought of a Hungarian refugee standing for One Nation, but he did a decent job on climate issues. Only problem was that he took a while to actually answer questions, which grew rather annoying. Delivered one of my favourite quotes for the night-“Water is the blood of the earth.” 7/10.

Joseph Toscano, Independent
Anarchist and self-proclaimed “radical”, was popular in his often snarky attitude (such as referring to Steve Murphy, a climate change sceptic as a “flat-earther”). Gave some excellent remarks, such as, regarding the coal industry’s free carbon credits, “People are compensated for doing the right thing. Coal companies are the only thing in the world which are compensated for doing the wrong thing!” Humourously, got on extremely well with ideologically-opposed One Nation's Steve. 8.5/10.

Steve Murphy, Independent:
To give Steve credit, he came to a climate change forum knowing that he would be extremely unpopular (if not lynched). Understandably, he was usually on the defence, but did a reasonable job at defending his policies, despite the constant jeering he suffered. 7.5/10.

Clive Hamilton, Australian Greens:
Ironically, out of all the candidates, I remember Clive's performance the least. However, I can’t remember anything terrible he said, and he cleared up the Holocaust comments from an article in Crikey, which I feel was important (given that the comments, wrongly interpreted, did sound very extreme). 8.2/10.

Peter Brohier, Independent:
There’s no way this guy isn’t a cover for the CEC. 2/10.

And that's a wrap. Chances are, I'll be voting 1. Greens, 2. Democrats, 3. Sex Party, 4. Joseph, 5. Liberal Dems, 6. Peter, 7. Liberals, 8. DLP, 9. One Nation and 10. Steve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

OK conservatives, I'll make a deal with you.

The Left will stop 'worshipping' Obama when you lot relieve yourselves of your collective, undying hard on for Reagan.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's wrong with a little mob rule?

Just when you thought raw Labor incompetence had pushed all swing voters (briefly) into the Liberal camp, the coalition still manages to fuck it up. This time, Ted and co have gone into popularist meltdown, directly appealing to mob mentality by allowing juries to determine sentences.

There isn't much for me to write on this subject, given that Captain Lefty has done all the work for me*. Even so, this isn't so much as shocking policy (which I'll get to) as it is what I call 'base populism.' That is, a political party will adopt a populist policy that appeals to a person's basest instincts; in this case, brutal vengeance. This is a clear sign that Vic Libs are as adrift now as they were ten years ago. Instead of designing a political platform to challenge Labor (paradoxically both easy and hard, given Labor's current incompetence, and that the political differences between the two parties are wafer-thin), Ballieu has gone for the easiest option of appealing to an angry mob.

And now for the policy itself: this is some serious FAIL. The types of Australians who make up juries (myself included) have very little idea of how sentences are determined. Certain parallels can be drawn to the Queensland Libnats and their idea of allowing volunteers to work with the mentally ill. That is, people who don't have the proper qualifications would be put in situations where you need proper qualifications in order to properly handle said situation.

Here, a 'race to the top' of ridiculously harsh sentences is inevitable. Judges are under pressure to increase sentences, lest they be branded as 'out of touch' and 'soft on crime' by the media barons that be. As Captain Lefty has pointed out, News Ltd readers have an exceptionally poor knowledge of what sentences actually constitute-as far as they are concerned, anything less than life imprisonment in an Indonesian jail is getting off scott free. And I'm willing to bet my fictional fighter plane that life imprisonment in the closest Australia has to an Indonesian jail is exactly what these uninformed juries would advocate for.

Jeez, Ballieu, I know that between John Hewson and Jeff Kennett, Liberals are terrific at losing unloseble elections (not that I'm complaining), but they've always done it by accident. There's no need to try to lose next years election; the factions will do that for you.

*Wordpress would be much less of a pain in the arse if clicking on a tag took you to a list of that blog's posts under that tag, not the entire-fucking-ty of wordpress itself.