Friday, 25 June 2010

A Friday Spray

Yesterday we saw a changing of the guard at the pointy end of Australian politics. Today I both hear and read that many people out there are accusing the new Prime Minister of being a bloodthirsty, backstabbing cow. The 'cow' part is another show. No male would ever be assigned such a label. But I'm not frittering away one of this weekend's small chunks of free time to write about gender silliness.

In the immediate aftermath of yesterday's events, Facebook and Twitter, as well as the freebie rag mX carried as many brainless blurts about Julia being a backstabber as they did hollow proclamations of joy that we now had a female PM.'s great, for what it's worth, I guess. Personally, how a leader acquits themselves in such a role holds more truck with me than what kind of genitalia they have. For every moderate or outright leftie who is happy to see a female PM, I have two words for you: Margaret Thatcher.

So the 'woman as leader' thing is pretty timid stuff, as I indicated hereabouts yesterday. It's the backstabbing part I have a wee problemette with.

There seems a great deal of anger about the fact that 'we didn't vote for Julia'. For some odd reason, people in Australia think that they voted for John Howard and Kevin Rudd. They didn't. That's not how it works.

People have been moaning about not choosing Julia Gillard themselves. But the fact is the Westminster System does not provide a facility for direct election of a head of government. You NEVER vote for the PM. You vote for your member of parliament and THEY choose the leader. You vote for a government. In 2007 you voted for a Labor government which just happened to be led by Kevin Rudd. Kevin Rudd did not have a mandate to govern for three years...the Labor Government did. So changing horses midstream, as they say, is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

Ah, you say, but Julia was disloyal. A backstabber. A Brutus to Rudd's Popeye Caesar.

I say, with all due respect, what a load of hairy arse. The people who are bleating on about party loyalty are the same ones who cry foul when politicians go with party over conscience. Where should a politician's loyalties lie? With party or people? Here's how it went for Julia. She saw a man whose ability to sell his ideas and blow through his mistakes was all but gone. His numbers were woeful. He was a goner. She had been loyal and, ironically, was spurred by an accusation from the PM of being just the opposite. What to do? Allow the incumbent to take the party to the next election and risk a quick return to Ratboy Abbott and his ilk? Or stand up and lead the party herself in the hopes that they could win another term and push on with what they'd started?

In my view, she may not have shown great loyalty to Kevin Rudd, but that's not her first priority. Her focus should be on the people. In that light, she's not the backstabber.

It should surprise me that people don't have a basic understanding of their own political system but it doesn't. Hell, people don't even understand political ideology anymore. Look at this, from the Letters section of the mX today:

PUPPET LEADER: Gillard is a disloyal, two-faced backstabber and she will be controlled by the ultra-conservative old men who put her in power. - Kerrie

I sat here for ten minutes trying to write about how fucking stupid that is, but I yield.

Now, I know that mX is a rag, and until a few months ago its sole purpose seemed to be covering the daily collapses, rages and blowjobs of Amy Winehouse. I also know that writers or sub-editors drop a few troll comments into the Letters section to inflame readers' sensibilities in order to provoke comment. But sadly, some of the comments are from actual readers (I use the word advisedly).

Why do I keep picking it up for the second leg of my journey home? I'm perfectly happy reading a book from Springwood to the city (right now it's a nice, light bit of fare about Irish TV, passed on to me by the delightful Megan). I should just keep reading the book for the short trip west. But I always get one. I like to see if any of my acty friends have their pic on page two, getting a free bit of pubclity for a show. Then I read the section where commuters relate the stupid comments they have overheard. It's called 'Overheard'. Other than that I try to leave it be. There's no news in it. The stories they publish as 'news' are essentially the bits of fluff I have read online in the half hour before I go to work at ten to six.

I really try to avoid the letters because, sadly, they affirm my nagging and loathsome feeling that people are sucked out idiots. Or maybe it's just people who write letters to the editor. Mind you, I suppose a blog is just a vehicle for someone to bitch endlessly without having to buy a paper to see if they got a run. So, on that note, I'll shut up...for a little while.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Robot Wars

Kevin Rudd is going to lose his job today. The ABC reports that Julia Gillard has the numbers to topple Rudd after the usual round of secret meetings among the party's powerbrokers yesterday.
In the two or so years that Kevin Rudd has been Prime Minister of Australia, he's made many decisions to cause traditional Labor supporters to have serious doubts about the ideology and direction of the party. The next few sentences would normally elaborate on that statement, but they won't. They could, but there's no point. Kevin Rudd is not really going to lose his job because of policy decisions. He's going to lose his job because he's Kevin Rudd.

Initially Rudd was viewed as a model of the new breed of political 'small l' liberal: an economic conservative with a strong sense of social justice. He seemed a smart, likeable, decent guy who could trade friendly blows with jolly Joe Hockey on an otherwise emetic morning TV show. He won the 2007 election on the strength of that presence, but mainly he benefited from the natural gear change in the political cycle.

I was happy when the Howard government was unceremoniously dumped, but the seeds of my discontent with the new boy were sown the night of his election. It was an exciting night. Much drink was consumed. We all gathered around the TV expectantly, waiting for the words of the new man in charge. He appeared to a rapturous reception and proceeded to give a victory speech that was the most anodyne, passionless, boring bit of emptiness that I've ever heard. In the months and years that followed, he went on to commit, to my mind anyway, one of the gravest political sins in the book: he governed like he campaigned.

When the analysts pick over the corpse of 'the Rudd years' in the next little while, they'll have to fill airwaves and column inches with a multitude of reasons why he failed. There'll be stuff about mining taxes, big spending, reneging on climate change...y'know, all the good meaty stuff. And all true. But the real failure of Kevin Rudd is that he is a robot. He appears to the electorate as non-human in is approach. Nothing he says sounds like it comes from his heart or balls, which makes sense, because, to date, science has yet to design a robot with these very human constituent parts.

The Labor Party knows they have made some terrible policy blunders. All governments make terrible policy blunders. The key to governing is how you play those fuck ups. The Howard government had the uncanny knack of being able to make people forget the last fuck up by making another one. They'd stonewall and arrogantly puff their chests out until something else came along to divert our attention. It was very skilful.

The current PM (hang on, what time is it?) simply lacks the ability to sell. He cannot sell policy, he cannot sell band-aids for policy errors and he cannot sell the idea that he is 'one of us'. And that's what Australians want, as shallow as that may sound. A great, but very superficial, measure of an Australian's affection for a politician resides in whether you would be happy to have a beer with your PM.

With Gough Whitlam, most people would have imagined a very enjoyable evening with an extremely witty raconteur. With Bob Hawke, you'd be sideways in your chair as the PM brought round another huge tray of tequila slammers and chiding, "Fackin' 'ell, you still nursin' that bloody schooner? Drink up, what'd'ya think this is, Bush Week? Come on, let's knock these back and get over to the TAB." With Paul Keating, you'd have had your reservations when he started in on the wine, but all would be forgiven as he introduced you to insults you'd never heard of before.

But Kev? All I can really imagine is a pub leaden with uncomfortable, David Brent-like silence, with Rudd at the centre, shifting in his seat as he surveys the eyes, contemptuous and near-comatose, then breaking the silence with, "Mm...this is a nice beer. I believe they grow the hops in the New Norfolk area in Tasmania."

Now to Julia. Ooooh, the measure has changed. A beer with a woman? Surely polity and a different kind of benchmark has to apply, which begs the immortal question:

Are we ready for a female Prime Minister?

And I can only think of two ways to answer:

1) That's a stupid fucking question, and;
2 Ready or not, here she comes.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Half-time Orange.

I got drunk on Friday, an increasingly rare thing these days (getting drunk, that is...Fridays still happen quite regularly, pretty much once a week...on Fridays). So yesterday was spent in a pleasant fug. Thanks to a late night natural expunging there was no hangover. The night was spent in fine company and I even managed to succeed at a pissed mid-mall Christian 'intelligence test' (though 'How many animals did Moses take onto the ark?' is not that hard, even pissed). During the course of the night this blog was discussed and in so doing, realised that I'd written a hell of a lot lately, but had not completed anything. On arriving home yesterday I took a look at my dashboard and saw five half-finished blog entries: on Scientology, racism, chemtrails, a Translink follow-up and a lovely bitch about the misuse of common words and terms ('should of', 'loose/lose', 'then/than' etc.).

The racism entry has taken up most of my writing time and thought. It's not one of those spontaneous gushes of annoyance and frustration. It must be considered from a sensitive point of view, in the same way that a blog entry on Scientology has to be considered with attention paid to a certain group's penchant for litigation.

And honestly, I don't wanna think about 'em. After all, it's not like anyone's paying me. When your friends tell you you're becoming a hermit and you are constantly missing various gatherings and events, something's amiss, obviously.

It's a proper human weekend for me this week. Friday drinking, Saturday recovering and Sunday seeing a movie and doing my laundry. I may even have an orange.
See you soon.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Comedians Vs. Hecklers

Stand-up comedians do not like hecklers. Why? Because hecklers are moronic, self-absorbed, talentless, attention-sucking idiots who ruin not only the carefully prepared and much-worked performances of artists, in so doing, they ruin those performances for the people who paid money to see 'em. Some comedians, like Louis CK, do whatever they can to ignore 'em and move on. But sometimes it's impossible (although even Louis has them ready). Here are a few comedians dealing with hecklers, and in so doing, winning a small victory over the idiots. (Get ready for swears...)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Gaza and Helen Thomas


The first part of this entry was written on the weekend as part of the 'by request' entry.

If you're expecting a learned, detailed and well-studied take on Israel/Palestine mess, you'll be disappointed. When it comes to the whole 'blowing shit up' thing, I usually don't pay much attention. If it's on the news, I tune it out in the same way we tune out ads. They may as well be running stock footage. All I see is mutual hatred based on misplaced, bronze-aged faith . The last time I gave it more than a passing glance was in mid-2003. Some tit-for-tat bit of horror was being run on the news. I don't recall who was doing what to whom, but I distinctly remember welling up with tears...that was pretty much it for me. I thought "fuck 'em". So, when the Israelis recently killed a bunch of people bringing aid to Gaza, my reaction was not shock or surprise. It was a two-second burst of disgust, a momentary tweaking of the volume on a constant refrain.
(Read on...)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


There are many conspiracy 'theories' out there, some of which have been covered on these pages. The Moon landings were faked, 9/11 was an inside job, jet planes contrails are actually mind control drugs called 'chemtrails', the world is controlled by a secret cabal of Jews, industrialists and lizards, Kevin Rudd is an automaton and if he goes off script his head will explode in a gelatinous mess.
Who knows which ones may be true?

As regular readers know, I'm pretty sceptical about conspiracy notions, but I've realised that all this time I've been totally wrong. It's a shocking admission, yes, but it's inescapable. Global conspiracies are real, even down to the things we take for granted, like geography...and I have proof.

This is the Australian state of New South Wales:

This is the American state of Ohio:

You don't need to look closely. The evidence is there. That's right people...Ohio and New South Wales are the same place!!! Shocking I know. I also know that there will be those who will scoff and say 'this is madness'. But...have you ever seen them in the same room? Or hanging out socially? Get your minds right people. As an idiot might say, 'the proof is in the pudding'. Or as a semi-literate person might say 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'.

So if they're hiding this from us...what else are 'they' hiding?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bigmouthery 'By Request' (Peeves and the Youth of Today).

Somewhat stupidly, I recently asked Bigmouthers to suggest topics for potential inclusion. Ten seconds after I received the first one came the realisation that it was very silly to think I had the ability to write authoritatively on subjects chosen by others. Still an' all, I'll give it a stab. The first suggestion came from newly-minted Aussie Kaff Fray, innit. She chose the very weighty matter of Gaza, specifically the recent bloodshed aboard an aid vessel. I'm reluctant to speak about all that Israel/Gaza stuff because my knowledge of the issue is, by choice, extremely limited. That said, I have written a brief, broad and general entry on the situation and will post it mid-week, as it didn't sit well here. (More...)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Eight Good Songs I Heard Today

There's been little to write about, so here's another tickle of frivolity.

Workdays suck for most of us, but they're made infinitely more tolerable if you're able to listen to music. (Listen...)