Julian, Neil and me

April 13, 2019

It’s fair to say I’m basking in some reflected glory this morning. The author and great mind, Neil Gaiman, has engaged me in a lengthy Twitter conversation on the vexing subject of Julian Assange.

It started with this exchange between Gaiman and an author who’s science fiction I love, Charlie Stross.

D386OtyUIAEnAjO.jpg large

I sent a rather snarky response, but to his credit, Neil Gaiman engaged and then we had a respectful dialogue about the Assange case.

Our basic disagreement is that Neil seemed exclusively focused on the outstanding rape and sexual assault allegations against Assange, while I was trying to point out that the plan to extradite him to the US was the bigger picture issue today.


Photography Assignment – Portraits of my cat

April 1, 2019

A collection of cat photos taken with my DSLR in manual mode and lightly edited in Lightroom.
The cat’s name is “Callie”, which is short for “Calliope Cutlass, the pirate cat”.


Protected: The Stanistreet family portrait

March 30, 2019

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Morrison will deal with One Nation on preferences because he has no choice

March 28, 2019

In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Scott Morrison has called for an end to “toxic tribalism”, but this doesn’t mean he won’t exploit it in the federal election.

Morrison sets 'tribalism' agendaTwo things are fairly certain in the wake of the Christchurch massacre and the NSW state election: Scott Morrison will not let go of his commitment to toxic white nationalism and the Coalition will preference One Nation and other racist factions above Labor and the Greens in the federal election.
The third predictable leg of this tripod of tribalism is that most of the news media and commentariat will go along with Morrison’s decisions and ideology because they treat politics as a game of appearances rather than a matter of real consequences for real people.
Perhaps we all thought that the shock of a self-confessed “eco-fascist” who was groomed into murderous violence by his connections to Australia’s home-grown white supremacists would shift the political debate decisively.

It hasn’t. Maybe it did for a few too short days and hours, but by the end of last week it was back to the same old same old, just as I predicted in IA on Thursday last week.
Just six days after Christchurch I wrote that “normal transmissions” would be resumed quickly and that Morrison would lead the way by:

…returning to the rhetoric of border security and community safety as quickly as possible and spinning the Christchurch attacks into the Government’s re-election strategy. The media plays along with this because that is the game they know well and are most comfortable with. But there’s also another reason that the news media plays along — journalists share the broad world view of the Government.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what has happened.

It has taken less than two-weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our region since 88 Australians died in the Bali bombings of October 2002, for the COALition to work out how to adjust its rhetoric and get its re-election strategy back on track. The key shift has only been in the messaging, not in the policy direction and not in Morrison’s intent.

For all his bluster in the interview with Waleed Aly, in which he sought to re-frame the now infamous 2010 cabinet discussion, Morrison is a leopard who cannot and will not change his spots.
The Prime Minister stands accused of seeking to inflame divisions by using Australia’s Muslim community as a political punching bag in order to connect to voters still stuck in the racist dialectic of Australia being a white, European country.
In the interview he attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that he had merely been “addressing” the issue. This mealy-mouthed response dodged the central question about whether Morrison was seeking to inflame the issue or calm it down and it was delivered with all the shouty arrogance that we’ve come to expect from this hollow tin barrel of a man.
That Morrison is his own aggressive and endless echo chamber on legs is not the issue. As Katherine Murphy wrote in The Guardian over the weekend, we already know this about the Prime Minister; he will be judged on his record, not on some cardboard cut-out reinvention of a person with empathy.
Like most things with Morrison his empathy is as fake as his glad-handing and his smiling jocular public persona. He is indeed a shallow pond, full of scum and toxic algea blooms.
In this vein we can confidently say that Morrison’s new-found concerns with “tribalism” is just as fake and transactional. He is not interested in healing wounds in our national psyche, he is still intent on stoking division for political gain. Invoking “tribalism” is just a slight modification of his earlier very explicit anti-Muslim dog-whistling. That is why I am so disappointed that the commentariat Press Gallery opinion writers have fallen for it.

Let’s return for a moment to Katherine Murphy’s Saturday column. Most of it was pretty good. She rightly saw through Morrison’s attempt to bluster and bully Waleed Aly and his pathetic plea to be given a second chance. “Don’t pre-judge me,” he pleaded, and Murphy skewered him with precision:

You cannot outrun your record as a public figure, because you are still that public figure, and your identity is the sum of your record.

But there is also a problem in Murphy’s analysis. When Morrison talks about trying to end “tribalism” as he did early last week, Murphy agrees with him.

Now, Morrison, prime minister of Australia, believes there is too much tribalism, and the current excess of tribalism is corrosive to social cohesion…
He’s absolutely correct; I applaud this sentiment.

This is disturbing, but not surprising. By conceding this point to Morrison, Katherine Murphy reveals, again, that there is far too much ideological agreement between supposedly independent journalists and government figures. Instead of critical distance and critique the political agenda of the government is endorsed.
Importantly, it also allows Morrison to continue setting the agenda. Funnily enough – though it’s not at all funny – this is precisely what happened.

“Tribalism” is junk science

The idea that Australia is riven by tribal division has now become the media narrative, even though in terms of sociology and political science it is, at best, a nebulous concept that displaces other important categories of analysis, such as class, economic division, ethnicity and gender.
“Tribalism” is an appealing trope of pop psychology and by invoking it Morrison is only after one result – to signal to One Nation voters and supporters of the conservative fringe that he is still on their side.
This is what he is reported to have said in a speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, just days after Christchurch:

“I see every Australian as an individual, not part of some tribal group to be traded off against another.”

While denouncing racism and “tribalism”, Morrison also said the community needed to be free to hold “legitimate policy debates” on issues such as migrant intake and border security without the conversations being “hijacked” by accusations of intolerance or racial hatred. This betrays Morrison’s true intentions. He is signalling to the hardcore racist rump that they are free to continue their slander of Muslims because both “tribes” are as bad as each other. And, it was confirmed by further remarks in the same speech reported in the Nine newspapers:

“This is true of the left and the right, and even more so from those shouting from the fringes to a mainstream of quiet Australians that just want to get on with their lives.”

This is the same “both sides” language that Donald Trump deployed after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville and Heather Heyer was murdered by a maniac Nazi in August 2017. Even conservative US commentator Christopher Chantrill correctly describes nationalism of figures like Trump and Morrison as “fake tribalism”.

Patriotism is when the ruling class keeps tribal feeling in reserve, to crank it up only when it is necessary to send a generation of young men onto the killing fields against an enemy. Nationalism is when the ruling class loses control of the narrative to some yahoo like Trump.

Morrison is using “tribalism” to the same effect. The use of both-sides are bad rhetoric is an attempt by the PM to place himself in the middle ground and the mainstream media amplify it because they are in synch with the ideology behind it.

After Gladys: To boldly go where racists have gone before

The re-election of the Berejiklian government in NSW on 23 March will only embolden Morrison to continue down this path.
In the Waleed Aly interview he refused to commit to putting the racist fringe elements last on the Liberals’ preference allocation. This was a “wait and see” decision and, now that it’s clear that One Nation has a sizeable base in NSW, the wait is over.
Liberal Party strategists know that the coalition needs to harvest the seven to 10 per cent of voters who are willing to cast a ballot for out-and-out racism if it is to have any chance at all of winning the federal election in May.
When asked about preference deals with One Nation on Sunday’s Insiders, Liberal senator Arthur Sinodonis also refused to commit to putting them last. He managed to get around the question by saying that he personally would “repudiate” the racists but didn’t go so far as saying he wouldn’t accept their preferences.
Morrison knows his only option is to continue to play the race card, he is carefully recrafting the message post-Christchurch, but the message has not changed.

I have no doubt that the COALition will do preference deals with One Nation, Morrison cannot even come close to winning the election without them.


Social media doesn’t shoot people. Nazis with guns shoot people

March 20, 2019

There’s been an inevitable backlash against social media in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. Mainstream news organisations have been quick to jump on the bandwagon of blaming Twitter, Facebook and sections of the more obscure ‘dark web’ for the radicalisation of young men into the political orbit of white nationalists. However, I don’t think we should blame social media for the rise of Nazi shooters.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrrison is among those calling for a “crackdown” on social media supposedly to prevent further terror incidents. However, this is putting the cart before the horse and then flogging the cart even though the horse is, itself, almost dead.

And of course, The Australian is out there whipping away hysterically.

Yes, a strained metaphor, but I think an apt one.
Let me explain.

It’s easy to blame the machines

The idea that social media is somehow responsible for capturing the minds of susceptible people and turning them into homicidal racist monsters is easy to grasp and it’s comfortable; but it is wrong. It plays to a generalised anxiety about the potentially harmful effects of too much technology and it seems to offer an easy solution, but it really means more surveillance for all of us.

If the technology itself is a corrupting force, then why don’t we just ban it or at least impose some proper controls mandated by a responsible authority – the government, for example.

The simplicity of this idea is its major appeal, but there is a secondary appeal in this argument, one that is very useful for politicians, mainstream media and journalists seeking to deflect any blame that might attach to them.

I am not questioning the idea that social media channels and platforms can play a role in ‘radicalising’ some people, particularly teenagers. In fact, there are some forms of online radicalisation I’m in favour of. A good example is the recent global student strike around the lack of serious political action to stop climate change. The fact that hundreds of thousands of school and university students can see their peers take action and feel inspired about joining in is a good thing. However, the real political movement coheres on the street, or as we increasingly feel it necessary to emphasise, in the ‘real’ world as opposed to the ‘cyber’ world.

The climate striking students gain an initial sense of solidarity from being able to connect online via Facebook groups, WhatsApp and other chat forums, but they really only see the real power they have when they come together and march, rally, paint placards, chant and, in some cases, defy their parents and headmasters to cut school for the day.

It is instructive to note that when politicians wanted to attack the climate marches and berate the students into staying in class, it wasn’t social media that they chose to blame it was mysterious ‘adult’ activists pulling the strings and manipulating pliable and suggestible young minds.

Read the rest of this entry »


After Christchurch: I’m not grieving, I’m just really angry

March 17, 2019

I spent two hours at my local mosque on Sunday afternoon. It was mosque open day in Victoria on 17 March, coincidentally just a couple of days after 50 people were gunned down at two mosques in Christchurch by a white supremacist.

I was planning to go to the open day before Friday’s mass murder, but my sense of outrage added a certain determination that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.

I’m very glad I went. The local Muslim community was pleased to see about 100 infidels turn up to share lunch, to learn some of their history, acknowledge their right to religious observance and to show solidarity.

mosque poster 7

It was a solemn occasion given the horror of Friday is rightfully still on everyone’s mind, but there was also a sense of joy. The faces of the children were lit up with curiosity. It’s not every day that dozens of mostly white strangers turn up at the mosque.

The wife of the local Imam, Sister Mary, told us that the mosque elders had thought briefly about cancelling the open day out of fear that some gun-toting Nazi chud might want to attack them. But the community held strong and the open day was a commemoration of loss but also a celebration. I’m glad I went because it helped me find a place of some quiet after two days of restless agitation. I wrote on Twitter that I had been more profoundly affected by the Christchurch massacre than I thought possible.

 

you can read the rest of this article on my Patreon page, if you like it please consider making a contribution.

Here’s a clue about the source of my rage – fuckwitted dregs like Greg Sheridan pretending to fucking care.
FYI, he doesn’t give a shit about Muslim lives.


Venezuela – regime change by coup

March 13, 2019

The United States is once again agitating for regime change, this time in Venezuela. There is an economic crisis in Venezuela, and the government of Nicolas Maduro is under immense pressure. However, a US-backed coup led by neo-Fascist elements will not benefit the Venezuelan people. Our response must be to oppose regime change and support and self-determination.

There is a simple definition of regime change and it stands the test of time: “toppling an existing regime that displeases or worries the United States Government”.

The recent history of regime change in the Middle East reminds us that such military adventures lead to chaos, collapse and a tide of refugees. Three million Venezuelans have already left the country and American economic sanctions are making the situation worse.

Venezuela has been subject to US sanctions since August 2017 which means it cannot sell oil on the global market. The consequences of this are devastating for ordinary Venezuelans and the oil embargo has deepened an economic crisis across the nation. The economic pressure on Venezuela has been increased this year with the freezing of the nation’s bank accounts and seizure of Venezuelan assets held offshore.

nicolas-maduro-730x524_0

Attacks on Venezuela infrastructure

Over the last few days, there have been several highly-coordinated cyber attacks aimed at disrupting Venezuela’s electricity supplies. While there has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, the self-declared “interim” leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido used the blackouts to renew his calls for a military coup against the Maduro government.

The Trump regime is also upping the pressure by tightening economic sanctions and leading US officials are not even attempting to hide their regime change agenda.

National Security Advisor, John Bolton has made the American support for a coup in Venezuela absolutely clear:

“We’re looking at new sanctions, new measures to tighten our grip on Maduro’s financial wherewithal, to deny his regime the money that they need to stay in power,” Bolton said.

American imperialism is out to wage war on Venezuela, as it has done in other Central and South American nations for the past 100 years.

My take on why regime change is never a good idea is published at Patreon.