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The Day We Toppled A Government

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Last weekend, I took part in a revolution of sorts led by angry people that brought a government crashing to Earth.

A government that had been in power too long. A government that had become so arrogant, it believed its own lies — and expected we would too, but we didn’t.

A government that thought it could take away rights set by state and federal courts that have existed for 100 years and which gave us one of the world’s best standards of living and without doubt, the best overall pay and working conditions for a silent, hard-working majority of any nation on this Earth and the prosperity and lifestyle to match it.

A government that did this by enacting laws that threatened the very fabric of this wonderful, progressive society by pitting one against the other in squabbles over money, jobs and ideology.

A government that prosecuted and threatened to jail journalists it considered had overstepped the mark, but who were simply acting as conduits in the exercise of the right of the people to know what the government they had elected was really doing. A government that used loopholes in its own Freedom of Information laws to stifle legitimate attempts to gain information.

A government that played on real fears about terrorists and mass murderers who had already killed our people and promised to kill more; and in so doing threatened the right to free speech that has existed for 1000 years both in this country and the country from which it was inherited by deciding that some of the things we might say in the exercise of that right could be regarded as seditious, and bad for the country, and would therefore carry the risk of prosecution and a jail sentence.

A government that in the exercise of those sweeping laws could suspend the due process provisions of our criminal law, breach the sanctity of the writ of Habeas Corpus that had been written into English law in 1679, end the right to a quick and fair trial by a jury of our peers, and everything else good that our justice system stands for, and incarcerate us or keep us under surveillance on an ongoing basis without charge if the courts agreed (and luckily, for the most part, they didn’t).

A government that pretended it was low taxing by giving small cuts in income tax, then imposed a 10 per cent tax on everything we bought except for basic, uncooked foodstuffs.

A government that thought it OK to play on people’s fears of those who are different and who don’t look, sound or act like the rest of us — the new people to our country; and locked up children in immigration detention centres for years on end while their fate was decided by courts and bureacrats in a seemingly endless process of appeals and knockbacks that often resulted in children and their parents being sent home to the misery they hoped to escape.

A government that called these people queue jumpers while neglecting to add that most of them came from places where there aren’t any queues to jump. A government that sent naval gunboats to turn back leaking, rickety boats full of women and children so that they couldn’t land on our shores and sully us. A government that told us parents on one of these boats had thrown their children overboard into the open sea, even when the navy disputed that version of events.

A government that tried to divide us into haves and have nots by giving more funding to wealthy individual private schools than public ones. A government that in time of great prosperity and with an economy that is one of the world’s strongest, asked us to believe that taking away hard-fought concessions on pay and working conditions from ordinary working people and handing all the cards back to employers was good for us.

A government that in some bizarre, Orwellian piece of spin called its new Industrial Relations system WorkChoices when most people knew it meant NoChoices. A government that courted the aspirations of ordinary people, and rode to power on their backs, only to turn against them by threatening their livelihoods.

A government that told us lies about why it was going to war, and then lied about why it was staying there and used it to curry favour from powerful friends and allies. A government that had to have had knowledge of the payment of millions of dollars in cash bribes to the regime of Saddam Hussein so we could sell Iraq our wheat, but claimed it knew nothing of the sort.

A government that became deluded and drunk on power, that had no real vision for the future and was content to remain stuck in the ideas of the 1950s. A government that failed to understand the strong desire for full reconciliation between the indigenous and non-indigenous citizens of its own country.

A government that tried to buy us off with money and scare tactics, and played pea-and-thimble tricks while ordinary people burned inside. A government that talked up its economic management credentials and fiscal responsibility while riding the back of a fortuitous mining boom feeding the burgeoning economies of the Asian powerhouses, while claiming it was the only government that could keep interest rates low and watching red-faced and totally powerless as global economic conditions saw them rise seven times in three years.

A government that forgot we live in a country, not just an economy. A government that called itself Liberal, but appeared to stand marginally to the right of Attila the Hun.

A government that had lost its heart.

And on Saturday, that government and its leader were swept from power in a rout after 11 years and four terms in office, and left in tears and tatters, its remants now squabbling among themselves and wondering what they really stand for; and now seen for what it really is: a rotting carcass, finally buried by ordinary people who are sick of the smell.

But here’s the good bit: No one fires a shot; no one lets off a bomb; no mobs roam the streets; no one sets fire to a building; no soldiers come to take people away. But the streets are full at midnight. A lot of people go out for the night and have a good time; others drown their sorrows.

So how did the government fall? The government fell like this:

For most of us, it starts like any other Saturday. My story: at 11 o’clock, I get in my car and head for work. Only this time, I stop 500 yards up the street at a community hall, park, and join a 5-minute queue.

Once inside, I get my name ticked off the electoral role, take two sheets of paper and walk to a private booth, pick up a pencil and mark down seven candidates for the House of Representatives in the order of my preference, starting with the candidate for my area of the party I want to elect and finishing with the one I don’t. I mark another for the Senate in the party of my choice with a single figure: 1. Too easy.

Then I fold my papers and walk across to a set of large cardboard boxes, one marked House of Representatives, the other marked Senate, and drop them in the slots. The electoral commission scrutineer grins and nods. Does he know we are making history?

It takes just 15 minutes.

On the day, everyone aged over 18 among the 20 million of us on this continent does the same thing. Most of us believe in the veracity of our compulsory voting system, because it engages the whole country in the political process. And most of us believe that the power to elect a government (and remove another) isn’t just a right, but a privilege that should never be taken for granted. A bit like holding a driver’s licence, except it’s free.

The polls close at 6pm, and by 9.30pm it becomes obvious that the government is experiencing one of the biggest electoral swings against a government in the history of this nation. The other party appears to have swept it from power even before the polls close in the west of the country, which is a few hours behind. Or rather, it is swept from power by all those ordinary people who voted for the other party.

By 10 o’ clock that night, we have a new government, and in the carnage the Prime Minister becomes only the second sitting PM in the history of this country to lose his own seat in an election, voted out of office, in his own heartland, by his own constituents. Counting is continuing, but he looks dead in the water. The majority aren’t unhappy at his demise, although in a way, it’s sad to see a person of such great standing, and who has contributed so much to public life, go out this way.

The next morning, the sun comes up like any other day. I get the Sunday papers and have a late breakfast. No one asks me who I’ve voted for, and why, although if they had I’d have gladly told them.

I’d also have told them that governments are elected by the people they represent and placed by the people in a position of trust. When that trust is broken, expect the people to deliver a humiliating, crushing blow. Expect the people to take away that power that governments love, because thanks to the rule of law, ultimately only we can.

It’s why I love democracy, but please, don’t engage me in semantics about what that means if you think my brand is different to yours.

It worked fine here on Saturday, just like it always has.

Yep. It was the day we toppled a government — at the point of a pencil.

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About the silver surfer

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Great personal insight on the election, SS. Sorry it took me so long to get it published, but it’s been a busy day.

    The article does raise one question.

    You cataloged all sorts of things which were wrong with the exiting government, and I was pleased to see you could see beyond the superficiality of the Iraq War involvement.

    But that’s only part of the formula. Surely you weren’t just voting against the Liberals. What reason do you have to think that the new government will be any better? Did you have anything to vote FOR?

    Dave

  • STM

    Anything to vote for? Shit, yes. Basically, the exact opposite of what John Howard stood for.

    That’s how we saw it. That’s what we voted for.

    A new beginning for a new generation of change. We have a saying in this country that oppositions don’t win government, governments lose government.

    That’s pretty much spot on in this case.

    Now see what happens up your way in 2008.

  • Jonathan Scanlan

    Anything to vote for? Shit, yes. Basically, the exact opposite of what John Howard stood for.

    Hey Stan, you voted for Rudd? Me Too ;)

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So everything about the Howard government was so totally bad that the opposite has to automatically be good? Things aren’t usually that black and white in politics from what I’ve seen, but maybe things are different downunder.

    What you describe sounds an awful lot like just voting against the Liberals and assuming that whatever you get instead will be better, when it very well might be just as bad but in a different direction.

    Dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Stan,

    You wrote this piece like a poker player with his cards held close to his vest. Who won? By what margin? Do you have a coalition government or a straight party line?

    Or do I have to buy the newspaper where you work to find out?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave, of course you have a valid point, but I think Stan’s piece does a very good job of illustrating just how politically bankrupt Howard’s government had become. It had, quite simply, run its course.

    They’ve probably changed now, but just before the election I had a look at both the Liberal and Labor parties’ websites. It was quite an eye-opener. The Labor site was full of what they would do if elected. In contrast, the Liberal site was almost exclusively devoted to trashing Labor.

    So it’s not simply a case of Stan voting for Rudd just because he wasn’t Howard; that, as he rightly points out, is a very valid reason to vote. But it was also that Labor, at this election, had far more to offer Australia than the Liberals did.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy, good to see you back. Where ya been?

  • Clavos

    Stan,

    Where’s the bio pic with titfer???

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Where’s the bio pic with titfer???

    I think that was supposed to be you, Clav!

  • Howard Bowen

    This article reeks of liberal contortionism. The grocery stores are filled with foodstuffs that can provide all the ingredients for epicurian banquets that would have satiated the pallets of Louis XVI and Marie Anntoinette. A rational thinking person would not expect to have fillet mignon and lobster placed before them for every dinner. Likewise, a rational thinking individual wouldn’t blame the government because they happen to be of an economic budget that curtails that amount of cost per meal. Also, if you can find one rotten apple in the produce section of a super market chain, the liberal assumption, then, is that the government is attempting to poison all of society. It is liberal sensationalism that is the poison.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    #11: Biggest pile of straw-man nonsense this side of the International Date Line.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Whoops. Comment #10, I was referring to.

  • Clavos

    I dunno, Doc.

    I think you had it right the first time…:>)

  • Silver Surfer

    Howard Bowen, eh? …

    I’ll tell you what, Howard – forget the fillet mignon, lobster and apples.

    What we got to eat here before Saturday was a shit sandwich.

  • Silver Surfer

    Dave, the truth is, even the politics of the Right in Australia would, for the most part, be regarded as quite liberal in the US, simply because we do have things like universal health care.

    I guess the big difference between Liberal and Labor is that the Labor Party promised to roll back Howard’s bizarre IR laws, implement high-speed broadband out there in the bush, where the farmers, graziers and station owners hadn’t been looked after, increase funding to schools by giving every kid a computer in the last few years of high school, more cash for the health system, etc etc.

    In reality, in terms of their campaigns, their promises aren’t that different.

    For instance, Rudd has promised he will turn back the boatpeople (they usually end up being processed off shore), but expect the new government to be far more compassionate in that regard. I, for one, found it reprehnsible that people were being held for years on end in immigration detention centres and with a very hardline attitude taken to children and families in terms of their ongoing incarceration.

    I guess it comes down in the end to a choice between a government of division (very much like Maggie Thatcher’s Britain) or a government, as Rudd says, for all Australians.

    Mate, that’s what we voted for.

    We voted for a government with heart. The Liberals had turned their backs on what what they once stood for – small “l” liberalism. They had become a so-called braod church encompssing everything from true social-conscience liberals to the far right, and therein lies the problem.

    However, you will find that Rudd’s Labor will be similar to Tony Blair’s New Labour – it won’t do all this at the expense of the nation’s booming prosperity.

    And yes, Howard did do one good thing: he banned the types of guns that enabled Martin Bryant to gun down dozens of people at Port Arthur a decade ago. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting of that kind.

    Good on him for having the balls to do that. That’ll be what he’s remembered for. That, and the emphatic nature of his rejection by the people of this country after he introduced IR laws designed to target the ordinary worker (and cut their pay and conditions) while tax cuts and benefits for the comfortable and the rich gave them more money.

    I am in the comfortable class, so in a way, I voted against myself … because I don’t want to live in a divided country.

  • STM

    And Ruvy, the Labor Party won the election.

    It’s a bit like America, although with some crucial diffences. There are only two real choices here for the lower house: the Liberal/National coalition and Labor, which also gets the support of some minor parties like the Greens (which a lot of young people voted for this time, and their preferences under our preferential voting system mostly go to Labor unless the voter chooses to number the ballot paper differently according to their own choice).

    In the senate, however, minor parties can often hold the balance of power – which is good, because they are not partisan and it keeps the other bastards honest. As a house of review, that’s what you want from the senate.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I am in the comfortable class, so in a way, I voted against myself … because I don’t want to live in a divided country”

    Best pay the poor unproductive types off before they riot and take your ‘comfort’ by force. Let them vote themselves the fruit of your labor instead. That’s democracy, ugly but effective.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I guess the big difference between Liberal and Labor is that the Labor Party promised to roll back Howard’s bizarre IR laws, implement high-speed broadband out there in the bush, where the farmers, graziers and station owners hadn’t been looked after, increase funding to schools by giving every kid a computer in the last few years of high school, more cash for the health system, etc etc.

    So it was the usual chicken in every pot, government largesse bribery of the public we see from leftists everywhere.

    I guess it comes down in the end to a choice between a government of division (very much like Maggie Thatcher’s Britain) or a government, as Rudd says, for all Australians.

    See, there’s where you lose me. Thatcher saved Britain. I lived there both before Thatcher and after she had been in office for a while and the improvement was palpable. I’m not sure who she divided, but she literally pulled the country back from the brink of utter economic and social destruction.

    Howard did do one good thing: he banned the types of guns that enabled Martin Bryant to gun down dozens of people at Port Arthur a decade ago. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting of that kind.

    Good on him for having the balls to do that. That’ll be what he’s remembered for.

    In America that would have gotten him voted out of office almost instantly. It’s the kind of pandering to irrational fearmongering that we’re very intolerant of.

    Dave

  • STM

    Dave, you live in America and I live in Australia.

    For all our similarities, we’re also very different.

    Thatcher may well have saved Britian, as you say, but she spilled an awful lot of blood doing it. The only good thing about Thatcher and Howard from my point of view is that they moved Labour/Labor closer to the centre.

    Our IR laws go back to the early 1900s, when the courts set down the first minimum wage and associated working conditions – the first place to do it.

    I guess it depends on your point of view, of course, but we’re a bit further advanced down that track than you.

    That’s why you can’t look at this from the US perspective.

    When workers have been enjoying decent pay and conditions for years thanks to a system of arbitration and collective bargaining that is set up by accord with productivity, it’s a vastly different ballgame to the piecemeal approach to this stuff that you have in the US.

    It’s worked for us. If you came here and had a look, you’d understand why.

    The prosperity has been very evenly divided … and it’s the way most of us want it (as evidenced by the emphatic nature of John Howard’s removal from office).

    The working man here – rightfully – expects to get a decent share of the profits he makes for business, along with protections in regard to his labour. That’s how it’s always been, and Howard make a huge mistake in trying to change it.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaman Aquaman

    Disillusionment is a right we hold dear in our country. You can’t make somebody believe in democracy, its a separation of state and state thing, or something.

    Crabs anyone?

  • STM

    Lobster?

  • STM

    Doug Hunter: “Best pay the poor unproductive types off before they riot and take your ‘comfort’ by force.”

    No Doug, there aren’t too many unproductive types here and all workers are entitled to be comfortable, and they don’t need to riot here to do it. There’s no reason in this country why workers shouldn’t have the kind of disposable incomes they’ve had in the past, given the immense prosperity of this country at present.

    That’s democracy; ugly for the libs, who got themselves punted out of office over it, but effective.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, you live in America and I live in Australia.

    For all our similarities, we’re also very different.

    So True.

    Thatcher may well have saved Britian, as you say, but she spilled an awful lot of blood doing it.

    IMO she stopped a lot of bloodshed. She had to deal with the Brixton riots and the enormous rise in crime coming out of the 1970s, elevated racial tension and incredible economic problems, yet by the time she left office England was more prosperous than it had been since before the War.

    The only good thing about Thatcher and Howard from my point of view is that they moved Labour/Labor closer to the centre.

    I don’t know that much about Howard, but Thatcher instituted much needed tax and economic reforms which brought the English upper class back from overseas and revitalized the economy. Howard didn’t have the same kind of crisis situation to deal with in Australia, of course. It helps to have a really crappy situation when you get elected so you have something to fix to make you look good.

    Our IR laws go back to the early 1900s, when the courts set down the first minimum wage and associated working conditions – the first place to do it.

    Sorry for my ignorance, what are ‘IR laws’? Individual Rights?

    That’s why you can’t look at this from the US perspective.

    When I can I try to look at things from a kind of universal liberal perspective.

    From what I know about Howard he seemed like a big nanny-stater who seemed to want to run everyone’s lives, which is similar to the attitude of the American left.

    When you say that the Labor party is farther left than that it puts me in mind of an actual communist takeover, but I’m hoping that means that your left and our left are different.

    When workers have been enjoying decent pay and conditions for years thanks to a system of arbitration and collective bargaining that is set up by accord with productivity, it’s a vastly different ballgame to the piecemeal approach to this stuff that you have in the US.

    We don’t exactly have problems with fair wages and bad working conditions. Between unions, government regulation and the marketplace everyone does okay.

    To put it in perspective, Putin just instituted across the board wage and price controls in russia – back to the old centrally planned command and control economy.

    The working man here – rightfully – expects to get a decent share of the profits he makes for business, along with protections in regard to his labour. That’s how it’s always been, and Howard make a huge mistake in trying to change it.

    That’s what I’m missing – how did he try to change it?

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    BTW, Stan. Any thoughts of the newly formed Australian LDP? They seem to have some pretty good ideas. Where do they fit in the picture?

    Dave

  • STM

    Dave: IR laws … industrial relations.

    There’s always been a spirt of sharing here, to a greater or lesser degree. The unions haven’t had a real foothold here in terms of the damage they can do since the 1970s.

    Successive governments, except Howard’s, have tried to bring the unions onside by reaching accord – with increases and conditions tied to productivity.

    It’s worked, for the most part.

    Here’s something that will blow your mind: I get 7 weeks a year vacation.

    Why? Because my employer recognises that because I work shifts that include weekends, nights, early mornings, public holidays (including Christmas and New Year), I deserve a decent break.

    I have traded a few weeks a year of that off for a cash out so that I have a bit of extra dough at Christmas to cover the bills, but still get close to five weeks a year off. Sometimes I’m lucky and get a public holiday at Xmas or Easter. If I don’t, I can take abother day instead and usually add it to my annual leave.

    I’m also paid penalty rates for weekends/nights/public holidays that change my pay rate considerably. Some of these are in the range of 17 per cent, which is what my leave loading has been as well (17 per cent on top of my normal pay for annual leave). That was all the stuff Howard was doing away with. His attitude was: You are all lucky to have jobs. Big problem: a lot of aussies depended on that kind of stuff and their overtime to pay the mortgages they took out after believing Howard would look after their aspirational needs.

    It’s true that we are lucky to have jobs, but we all had ‘em before as well, and the country was doing just fine before he did this, thanks very much. In a period of prolonged growth, in fact. So what we all realised was that he did it simply as an ideological thing. Unfair dismissal laws remain an issue, however, because they prevent small businesses under a certain number of employees from sacking staff without going through the hoops. Those laws were designed to stop unscrupulous employers, but probably went a tad too far.

    Still, that’s how we’ve always done it, and it works for us. You can’t really argue with any of this stuff when a) a country is very prosperous with these kinds of benefits for its workers and b) business is still making obscene profits.

    My view: there’s plenty of loot to go around … and happy workers are loyal workers and hard workers.

    The happier they are, the more money they make for their employers, and the more they are paid in turn.

    And the workers, after all, are the ones putting in the hard yards and making the profits for their bosses.

    I realise this might not fit with your world view Dave, but it’s how most of us here chose to see it on the weekend. Gotta love (representative) democracy …

    And the LDP? I don’t think they picked up more than a tiny percentage of the vote … preceded by zeroes, which is how small.

    I predict they won’t ever be a force to be reckoned with because Aussies are happy enough having big government. We do have libertarian ideals, I guess, but it’s more whinged about than put into action except where people might personally confront government organisations.

  • Jonathan Scanlan

    I predict they won’t ever be a force to be reckoned with because Aussies are happy enough having big government. We do have libertarian ideals, I guess, but it’s more whinged about than put into action except where people might personally confront government organisations.

    Australians don’t care about rights. We’ve never had a bill of them and no one is motivated by the thought of one. It is indeed strange, however, that Australians are motivated to change their vote in response to economic rights, but not civil rights.

    Perhaps there is a certain kind of wisdom in that. As stupid as that might sound.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I’ve been loosely following the comments here, Stan, and for the most part, if you and I sat down over a couple of beers or coffees discussing issues of bread and cheese, I suspect we’d be in violent agreement. We have very similar perspectives. We would probably part ways over international politics and economics, but we already know that, eh?

    I basically understand the Australian system of government and even comprehend your points of view on civil law versus constitutional law. What I do not understand is your system of preferential voting.

    I get the part of listing preferences. That is clear. I also understand that you vote for seats in the house according to districts, as do the Brits and Canadians. What I do not get is how the preferences get farmed out into actual numbers of votes for a given candidate in a given district, state (for senatorial elections) or territory.

    Any help available? Preferential Voting for Dummies?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The Surfer Dude said: Thatcher may well have saved Britian [sic], as you say, but she spilled an awful lot of blood doing it.

    To which Dave replied: IMO she stopped a lot of bloodshed. She had to deal with the Brixton riots and the enormous rise in crime coming out of the 1970s, elevated racial tension and incredible economic problems, yet by the time she left office England was more prosperous than it had been since before the War.

    All true as far as it goes. On economic management Thatcher will be remembered as one of the greatest British prime ministers; furthermore, none except Churchill have been as influential internationally, at least not since the days of Empire in the 19th century.

    It was the way she went about reviving the economy that was so divisive. Broadly put, she clinically set out to destroy the Labour Party’s power base in an attempt to ensure that they would never again be electable. She did this by attacking the trade union heartland, all but closing down most key industries under the guise of modernising and cost-cutting. Whole towns and villages found themselves permanently unemployed, the workers unable to use the only skills they knew.

    Thatcher’s downfall was that, like Howard, she took her reforms a couple of steps too far: most significantly with the ill-conceived and deeply unpopular Community Charge, or ‘Poll Tax’, but also earlier in her tenure with her abolition of the GLC and other metropolitan county councils, which effectively left some of the world’s major cities without a coherent government. (At that point, however, she was still popular enough that it didn’t damage her politically. It came back to bite her in later years.)

    Nevertheless, as Stan recognizes, Labour had to reinvent itself in order to survive. It’s no longer a socialist movement but a social democratic party, and a pretty conservative one at that.

    The irony is that in doing so, the Liberal Democrats, who used to be the centrist party, are now further left on most issues than Labour. In fact, on some points even the Conservatives are!

  • Moonraven

    Only a gringo would give the finger to facts and believe that his vote was going to be counted!

  • http://www.sosunite.com Keith Richard Radford Jr

    Regarding Courts and Habeas Corpus
    Well today I was told by my attorney that my case was demurer which means the state says so what. So what if you are diabetic and need to enroll in Adult Swim at your YMCA because of injuries for exercise. So what if you are disabled and we made you move. So what if you live a good honest life. So what if when we made you move you were going to school to learn a trade and we disrupted your life during your finals and you could not finish your training. So what if you and your wife who by the way has never done anything to anyone is waking in the middle of the night crying because you stand to be homeless for fear that no one will rent to you. We lived in an apartment in Burbank CA when someone decided to place flyer’s at our home about my 23 year old sex offense and get us kicked out of our home. Reminds me of the Quote by Pastor Martin Niemöller: First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me and there was no one left
    to speak out for me. We have one week to come up with a bunch of money to fight for rights Americans are losing because they are better than us. Sorry America we have no money. We are poor week to week surviving on what we have which is less each day. When these laws get done with us, they will not be satisfied.

  • STM

    MR: “Only a gringo would give the finger to facts and believe that his vote was going to be counted!”

    I dunno, MR, last time I looked we had a change of government, so I suppose it must have done something. But then, we’re not Mexico. There’s corruption aplenty, of course, just like anywhere – but not in the polling process.

  • brian

    Disturbing language: ‘The Day We Toppled A Government’

    That language sounds like the sort of phrasing the US state dept might use… Democracy is NOT about toppling govts: its about the majority elecftng a govt of their choice

    Here are some samples:

    ‘This is not a case of toppling Chavez,” said Stalin Gonzalez, another student leader ‘

    ‘RCTV’s most infamous effort to topple Chavez came during the April 11, 2002, coup attempt ‘

    ‘On April 11, a military coup toppled Chávez, who was taken to a remote location’
    Google Search

    Democracy is not about such testerone fueled ideas as ‘toppling’. Its about electing good govt in a peaceful and fair manner

  • brian

    A question to ask is what would have happened had the US sought to support the Liberals in the same way it supports any client govt or oust a govt it doesn like?

  • Clavos

    “Democracy is not about such testerone (sic) fueled ideas as ‘toppling’. Its about electing good govt in a peaceful and fair manner”

    “Good government” is an oxymoron.

    Some are just less bad than others.

    Didn’t they get rid of a government the other day in Australia?

    “Toppled” pretty much describes what they did, and more importantly, what they wanted to do.

    SS, does Australia consider itself to be a democracy?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Governments are essential.

    Without government, who would we blame?

  • Clavos

    Karma?

    Heh.

    Point taken, Doc.

  • STM

    “A question to ask is what would have happened had the US sought to support the Liberals”

    The US did support the liberals. Howard was regarded as Bush’s new best friend. I guess they saw us the power on the other side of the Pacific rim. Bush called Howard the “man of steel”. We pissed ourselves laughing …

    But the US also supports our right to decide which government we choose.

    Having that said that, it’s also worth noting that Labor governments of the past have been quite vocal critics of some aspects of US foreign policy, so it’s not like they’ll be kow-towing to Bush in any way, shape or form.

    Bush knows that this is the opposite side of politics to his.

    Which makes it quite magnanimous of him to phone the new Prime Minister-elect, Kevin Rudd, on Sunday and wish him well in his victory.

  • STM

    Yes Clav, it does consider itself a democracy. In the modern sense of the word, not the ancient Greek.

    The same way the US does.

    In fact, the Australian political system is a cross between the American system and the Westminster system.

    In form, with a House of Representatives and a Senate and a constitution, it resembles the US, but in function resembles the Westminster style.

    It is a representative elected government of a constitutional monarchy, wherein the Queen replaces the President in the executive branch but has less power than a US president.

    The real power is with the elected PM, and the Queen (or her representative) takes his advice, rather than the other way around.

    Our system has been described as “the Washminister system”, hopefully taking the best bits of both.

  • Jonathan Scanlan

    Any help available? Preferential Voting for Dummies?

    Basicly, what happens at the count is they total the parties for all the first preferences. Then, progressively from smallest to largest, they take the votes for minor parties and add them to the other parties according to the preferences.

    If the greens got 5%, labor got 47% and the libs got 48%, on primary, then the green prefs would get passed on. If 4/5 green voters give second pref to went to labor, then the new count would be 51% to labor and 49% to the libs.

    In my oppinion this is superior to first past the post because it boosts minor parties and ensures that the winner is the most prefered.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It was the way she went about reviving the economy that was so divisive. Broadly put, she clinically set out to destroy the Labour Party’s power base in an attempt to ensure that they would never again be electable.

    Understandable since they were the ones who through years of mismanagement and bad policy had driven the country into the sorry shape it was in.

    She did this by attacking the trade union heartland, all but closing down most key industries under the guise of modernising and cost-cutting. Whole towns and villages found themselves permanently unemployed, the workers unable to use the only skills they knew.

    I feel for the workers, but Trade Unions were literally crippling the country. I remember strike after strike after strike just in the couple of years I lived there in the 70s, literally bringing the country to a standstill. And it was unions representing increasingly unprofitable and obsolete industries struggling to keep their jobs as the nation tried to modernize, dragging the whole country backwards for their own benefit. The government HAD to step in and weaken the unions enough that the country could modernize.

    Thatcher’s downfall was that, like Howard, she took her reforms a couple of steps too far: most significantly with the ill-conceived and deeply unpopular Community Charge, or ‘Poll Tax’,

    Poll taxes are and should be political suicide.

    but also earlier in her tenure with her abolition of the GLC and other metropolitan county councils, which effectively left some of the world’s major cities without a coherent government. (At that point, however, she was still popular enough that it didn’t damage her politically. It came back to bite her in later years.)

    Which she did because they were hotbeds of socialism and obstructionism. And they still are, except now the BNP is getting more and more of a voice in local politics too.

    But yes, Thatcher certainly wasn’t perfect, but in so many ways she did so much to literally save the country that I can overlook some shortcomings.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    I agree that some of Thatcher’s ideas were in line with bringing Britain out of the dark ages in terms of a free-market economy and busting the power of the unions, but as the dear Doc rightly points out, she could easily have gone at it in a more circumspect way.

    However, she did bring Labour closer to the centre, which is why it has remained the preferred option for British voters for the last few elections.

    The Conservative Party don’t have much to offer right now.

    They remain in the wilderness to a certain extent, with the Liberals closing on them of late.

    Britain is the type of country that does well under this new style of Labour.

    We’ve had it here before (in NSW Premier Neville Wran), and it does work because it keeps everyone happy (yes, business too). Labour has realised over the past couple of decades that its old trade union base is now just part of the party, not all of it, thus diminishing their political power.

    I still maintain, Dave, that you Americentric view of politics probably skews how you see a lot of this stuff, and that if you lived for an extended period in Britain or Australia (or Canada, possibly, although snow’s not my go, don’t know about you) you might see how the conditions specific to those countries colour your attitudes.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I still maintain, Dave, that you Americentric view of politics probably skews how you see a lot of this stuff, and that if you lived for an extended period in Britain

    Ah, but I did live for extended periods in other contries. Surprised you’ve missed that fact in all the discussion. In total I’ve lived about 12 years outside of the US.

    Ironically, the exact opposite of what you would expect is true. My view of US politics has been warped by my extensive time spent in other countries, particularly the total of 3+ years I lived in Britain and the 3+ years I lived in the Soviet Union.

    Britain in the 70s and 80s showed me where America could go wrong and the Soviet Union showed me where America would end up if it followed that course. That’s an oversimplification, but not untrue.

    I actually learned a bunch of smaller lessons. Certainly to hate communism and even soft socialism with a vengeance. To be inherently suspicious of government. In the UK I learned that trade unions could be just as greedy and monopolistic as large corporations. In Russia I learned that oligarchs are oligarchs regardless of their professed ideology. And all over the world I learned that people deserve a lot more freedom than their governments tend to let them have.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    RE # 42:

    Interesting how many of us who have lived in more than one country for an extended period of time seem to arrive at very similar conclusions about the role of governments worldwide.

    For example, on these threads:

    Franco

    Dave

    Clavos

    The exception:

    moonraven

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I think it does depend somewhat on where you’ve lived.

    For example, Chris Rose has lived in Spain for a long time despite being English, but it doesn’t seem to have broadened his perspective significantly. Stan seems to have a similar perspective. He’s lived in Australia and the US but seems pretty solidly Australian in perspective.

    I think you need a strong contrast in cultural experiences to have it really drive your viewpoint. Just going from one European country to another or from one Anglosphere country to another won’t do the trick.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    No clavos, I am certainly not in the mud with you gringo pigs.

    However, as a REAL libertarian [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] I don’t have sympathy for governments in general. But the US is the WORST of them all–because it’s hypocritical.

    Here in Mexico we have a saying about chickenshit folks like the US government: That they throw the stone and hide their hand. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • moonraven

    Brian,

    I have started a campaign to give our friend Stalin Gonzalez his own t.v. show: Totalitarianism Now!

    His name alone is a sure ticket to stardom. It’s going to be MAJOR in Miami.

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, I have serious reservations that a selection of three people, by one of those three people, is very meaningful in any sense.

    I also have a complete difference of opinion with Mr Nalle’s perception of politics. His views seem to have been formed in his more youthful days and not evolved at all since then.

    I find US politics to be provincial, small minded and so self obsessed it would be hilarious if we weren’t talking about one of the most powerful countries in the world. That fact makes it more akin to a tragedy.

    By contrast, I find Stan’s views to be informed, contemporary and relevant. Along with the Doc’s, they are a real breath of fresh air.

    No one wants to see any more government than there needs to be, but that doesn’t mean government is bad. Socialism isn’t necessarily bad either, it can be poorly implemented though, just like certain examples of free enterprise can too.

    It’s all about the execution not the dogma.

  • Clavos

    Christopher:

    OK.

  • Clavos

    “And the sound of sucking, again.”

    Once again, you demonstrate how superficial and unperceptive your thinking is.

    I’m sure Chris got it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jonathan, #39: I’m afraid I’m none the wiser. How can the writer of such a good article be responsible for such a poorly-written explanation?

    The main thing I still don’t get is: if the first-preference votes for the Greens get discarded and passed on to Labor or the Liberals, how does that in any way benefit minor parties?

    Maybe it’s because I both come from and live in countries which are unrepentantly first-past-the-post. Britain, and to a much smaller extent America, has experimented with various forms of proportional representation, mainly in municipal elections: it has enabled some smaller parties to get a seat at the table, but not in any significant way, and the FPTP system is still, in most people’s view, the best way of ensuring representation that stays in touch with the electorate on a local level.

  • STM

    Ah, see Doc, people who viote Greens don’t want the conservatives in power, but want to register a vote for the Greens knowing that they are not a hope of winning the seat.

    So they write dowen their number 2 preference as Labor, which means it gets passed on.

    In effect, they are saying: I’m Green, but I’d prefer a Labor government to a Liberal.

    So please give these people my numbner two choice in a tight race.

    Simple.

    And Dave, I have lived in other countries and regularly visit others. You know I lived in Iraq and the UK as a child, and spent time in the Soviet Union and the US.

    I’m also just back from Thailand.

    That gives me a very good perspective on how lucky we are in Australia. Portugal, too, where the standard of living is not as high as Australia’s despite it being a part of thev EU.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Thanks, Stan. That makes it a whole lot clearer.

    It’s a strange system: it seems to have the curious effect of wiping out minor parties while still giving them some sort of a voice.

  • STM

    No, it also give them a chance. An independent, for instance, may indicate that he/she might stand a certain way politically, and if they are a favourite in a certain seat (and independents do get in, especially in the bush), they will get the preferences either from Labor, the Libs or the Nationals so it actually gives them a chance.

    The minor parties often do not seriopusly contest the lower house, but will get seats in the senate in groupings with the major parties, so that’s where the pay off is.

    It’s actually a great and very fair system, especially when seats go down to the wire as people get the local member they prefer, even if it’s not their first choice.

  • STM

    And while the minor parties/independents/major parties may indicate where they want their prefences to go, and will give you a standard how to vote sheet before you actually vote, ultimately it’s entirely up to the voter whether they follow that course or not.

    You can direct prefences to wherever or whomever you like simply by numbering the form for yourlocal seat in the order you wish them to be distributed.

    Number 7 on my form was – you guessed it – Liberal!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Does the Australian system discourage ‘joke’ or ‘ridiculously local issue’ parties? Do you have things like the Equal Voting Rights for Halibut Party or the Save My Auntie Muriel’s Allotment Party?

    Think of how dull the British electoral process would be without the Monster Raving Loony Party, for example.

  • Clavos

    Some gems of proposals for the Monster Raving Looony Party’s Manifesto:

    “One Sided Policy

    It is proposed that The European Union end its discrimination by creating a “Court of Human Lefts” because their present policy is one_sided.

    Prison Food
    The problems of prison overcrowding and increased crime will be solved easily by issuing a compulsory contract on McDonalds to do all prison catering. Convervative estimates suggest a 50% reduction in crime rates within 2 years with 0% re-offender figures.

    Poop Scoop
    Anyone allowing their Hyena to poop on the pavement should shovel it away immediately, As this is no laughing matter

    Isle of?
    It is proposed that the Isle of Man be renamed to “The Isle of Men, Women, Children and some Animals” as not just men live there

    No fly Zone
    It is proposed to declare the Channel Tunnel a No Fly Zone.

    A Place in History
    History should be renamed Geography. As in “Right that’s it. You’re geography!”

    Delightful!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Number 7 on my form was – you guessed it – Liberal!

    Stan, do you have to rank all the candidates 1 through 7, or are you allowed to stop at 2 or 3 on the grounds that you can’t stand all the others and wouldn’t give them the time of day, let alone a preference vote?

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thanks for the explanations on preferential voting.

    Somehow, I sense it is something I can do without in my voting. I understand the intention behind it, but it does appear to work against smaller parties from what little I can see….

    It’s kind of nice talking to folks from different countries. Sometimes, though, you have to talk to them directly to cut through all the baloney of a comment list.

    I have to agree with Stan that Dave has a strongly Amero-centric view of the world – which really surprises me, considering that he grew up in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, has family in Iran, lived in the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. I’m not criticizing his views per se, but they do seem to be unduly skewed.

  • Jonathan Scanlan

    Stan, do you have to rank all the candidates 1 through 7, or are you allowed to stop at 2 or 3 on the grounds that you can’t stand all the others and wouldn’t give them the time of day, let alone a preference vote?

    Yes. You do have to number every box on the house of reps paper. This is because some people might preference a couple of minor parties before giving their prefs.

  • Silver Surfer

    Doc: “Does the Australian system discourage ‘joke’ or ‘ridiculously local issue’ parties”.

    No, I had a mate – an acquaintance really -elected to the New South Wales parliament’s legislative council (state upper house) who stood on a ticket for – this is serious – The Outdoor Recreation Party.

    Part of his brief was do to a lot of, ah, outdoor recreation. But then NSW is a lot like California in some of its way-out attitudes, if you get my drift …

  • Silver Surfer

    Jonathan Scanlan wrote: “Australians don’t care about rights. We’ve never had a bill of them and no one is motivated by the thought of one.”

    I have thought long and hard about that, and discovered that when the framers of the australian constitition were writing it up, they considered a Bill of Rights setting down in black and white such things as free speech, etc.

    Some others pointed out, quite rightly, that we already have all that stuff, so why bother. They considered that pretty much all the rights set down in the US Bill of Rights are protected at common law in Australia and are therefore part of the constitution anyway and regarded as implied.

    You are right about us not being motivated by rights. I never wake up in the morning worrying about free speech or any other rights, or why I have them or if someone is going to take it away.

    It’s just kind of always there, taken as a given.

  • Clavos

    My Aussie buddy sez:

    “I never wake up in the morning worrying about free speech or any other rights, or why I have them or if someone is going to take it away.

    It’s just kind of always there, taken as a given.”

    Nevertheless, keep a good weather eye out, mate.

    We never used to worry about ours, either.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I had a mate – an acquaintance really -elected to the New South Wales parliament’s legislative council (state upper house) who stood on a ticket for – this is serious – The Outdoor Recreation Party.

    I can’t remember if this was in Britain or Australia, but I read somewhere about a candidate who was running for the Party, Party, Party Party.

    Almost as good is the story of the bloke who polled zero votes. He couldn’t even vote for himself because he didn’t live in the constituency…

  • http://pointlessannointed.blogspot.com/ Colin

    It’s been reported in the UK Stan – in that lefty bastion The Grauniad (which vaguely lefty bastion that I am I tend to read – though also cos I like the crossword) – that this was ‘The First Global Warming/Climate Change election’… Is there any truth in that view?

  • http://pointlessannointed.blogspot.com/ Colin

    There was a Party Party in Britain, and they may have expanded or merged into the Party Party Party, thence the Party Party Party Party… I seem to remember a possibly transvestite candidate at a high profile count somewhere…
    Thatcher Thatcher The Milk Snatcher!
    The Iron Lady’s coming to power is the first political event I remember – I was eight at the time. I think the Tories will get another go soon – poor old Gordon Brown waits and waits and waits for his go and then as soon as he gets it the wheels start falling off everything, not always wheels he could even have much control over… And, it’s all coming from the North East (it’s the Toon again Doc!), Tony Blair’s power-base – a conspiracy I smell!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Perhaps Sam Allardyce is deliberately nallsing up his Newcastle revolution so he can get fired and be free to have a tilt at Number Ten…

  • http://pointlessannointed.blogspot.com/ Colin

    Expect the American-led invasion of Iran to be backed by British troops operating a pragmatic, by numbers long-ball game with the SAS reduced to patrolling the area in front of the back four, which, despite Big Sam’s best efforts remains prone to easy breaching by wily revolutionary guards’ prepared to take them on for pace. Or skill. Or anything really.
    Shearer’s on his way, so they say in the papers, it will come just in time for Christmas and be mistaken for the return of Mr Christ, similarly, it will all go sour by Easter.
    (With aplogies to anyone of very strong religious sentiment, Sunnerland supporters etc… Tis, but a joke, I love Jesus!)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Apparently, Jesus Christ was interviewed by the FA for the vacant England manager’s position, but turned it down on the grounds that he is taking a break from football in order to spend more time with his family.

  • http://pointlessannointed.blogspot.com/ Colin

    I’m sure we could have waited! Still, crazy Jose has messianic leanings (plus a persecution complex) and I gather his personal terms are only three or four times what Christ would have done the job for.

  • Silver Surfer

    Yes guys, the is a Party Party Party Party in Australia. I have been thinking about starting thThe Beach Party. I would serve my constituents well.

    And yes, Colin, I do think global warming had a role to play in the recent election, although it was mostly that people were sick of Howard.

    A lot of young people voted for the Greens, however, and gave their number 2 preference to Labor to get them over the line. Hence, Rudd signs off on Kyoto immediately.

    We are not as obsessed about global warming here as people are elsewhere, though. We have listened to the CSIRO, which tells us it’s probably had a role to play in the current drought (much of which has broken) but people are still sceptical about a lot of it. The thing is, this continent has been afflicted by flood, fire and drought for millions of years.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The electroral system in both Britain and Australia would also be enlivened by:
    – The Raiding Party
    – The Injured Party
    – The Ann Summers Party*
    – The Wine and Cheese Party
    – The Arty Farty Party

    I leave it to my fellow commenters to speculate as to some of their possible campaign platforms.

    * Pleasure Party, for the benefit of our US readers.

  • Howard Bowen

    The political parties describe what the candidates are supposed to be. Then they provide hollywood fabrications of genuine people to deliver a personality profile as to how to get the job done. All the candidates fail to acknowledge that the government will implicitly solve all issues, no matter what candidate gains placement. One mind, one face, one ethic, one taste. America is on the brink of failure.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Howard’s back, I see.

    And his new comment makes no more sense than his previous one.

  • STM

    At least he’s free to post it though.

  • brian

    Some govts are far worse than others…the US is a prime eg, as is the Howard govt now history here in australia.

    Clavos: ‘Didn’t they get rid of a government the other day in Australia?

    “Toppled” pretty much describes what they did, and more importantly, what they wanted to do.’

    Not so (you need a lesson in basic english)…to topple a govt is to remove it using violence. The way you topple a building. To0 cause it to collapse…the result is chaos. The Iraq govt was toppled by the evil empire. Australians voted for a change in government. There has been no ensuing chaos.

  • brian

    Dave: ‘In total I’ve lived about 12 years outside of the US.’

    hasnt improved your outlook.

  • Clavos

    Sometimes, brian, you are simply full of shit.

    There’s no other word for it.

    Stan chose to say they toppled their government; it’s his article, and he chose the word.

    You have heard of poetic license, haven’t you?

    So, “topple” it is.

    Oh, and BTW, my degree is in English.

  • Clavos

    “The thing is, this continent has been afflicted by flood, fire and drought for millions of years.”

    Quoted for Truth.

    So has the rest of the world, in cycles.

  • troll

    *flood, fire and drought*…and that in addition to witches midgets and flying monkeys

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Not to mention Kenny G.

  • troll

    …I’m getting a little worried for the surfer dude’s safety

  • brian

    Clavos: ‘Stan chose to say they toppled their government; it’s his article, and he chose the word.

    You have heard of poetic license, haven’t you?’

    Stan must be trying out for gods top job! Its his article, but its not his story, not his to meddle with and confuse people. poetic licence? Id call it straight out lying or bullshitting:

    Fine Art of Bulllshitting

  • Clavos

    brian, you truly don’t have a clue about this.

    It’s a fuckin’ metaphor, for cryin’ out loud!!

    It’s not even important.

    Talk about mountains out of molehills.

  • STM

    Brian, you are carrying on like a prize dickhead (although none of us will be surprised by that).

    Toppled might mean something different in India, but honestly, it’s simply a turn of phrase.

    And you don’t live here.

    The depth of feeling here against the previous govt was such that we really did feel like we had toppled a government.

    Now go and annoy some other poor bastard with your nonsensical semantics.

  • brian

    ‘It’s a fuckin’ metaphor, for cryin’ out loud!!’

    why hasnt Clavos post been removed? Is this sort of language encouraged?

  • STM

    Brian, come on mate. Stop stirring the pot for the sake of it.

    If you’ve got something constructive to add, do so. I doubt that’ll happen though.

    You are just here causing strife for no good reason. I mean, to carry on the way you have about the use of a word is quite bizarre and perhaps a touch obsessive.

    I realise it’s your right to do so, but if my yardstick were to be used, if anyone’s posts should be removed, yours would be the place to start.

  • brian

    ‘If you’ve got something constructive to add, do so. I doubt that’ll happen though.’

    maybe thats because you have a reading age of 3.Try reading my posts.

  • brian

    ‘I realise it’s your right to do so, but if my yardstick were to be used, if anyone’s posts should be removed, yours would be the place to start.’

    what exactly is your yardstick? anything like the Main stream medias?

  • http://www.kennyg.com/ Kenny G’s assistant

    Kenny G is surprised to see the good doctor bumping his gums again. Kenny G imagines it must be nice for you to have time off between shifts at the local burger shack. Make sure to up-sell the large fries and sodas.

  • Clavos

    Kenny G is to good music as McDonald’s is to haute cuisine.

  • STM

    Brian says: “Try reading my posts”.

    OK, I’ve tried … and they’re still gibberish.

  • brian

    ‘OK, I’ve tried … and they’re still gibberish.’

    try learning english..that usually helps

  • STM

    I notice president Ahm-a-bin-a-bad has banned Kenny G’s music from Iran.

    Who said the man was a fool?

    Now, let’s see if I can find K.Rudd’s number.

  • STM

    “try learning english..that usually helps”

    Yes, it’s always easier when it’s your first language.

    But I’ll give it a go too.

    While we’re there, see if you can pick up your punctuation a bit, Brian – it’s shocking.

  • Clavos

    “I notice president Ahm-a-bin-a-bad has banned Kenny G’s music from Iran.”

    Yeah, I heard that.

    Turns out the Iranian nuclear physicists didn’t like Kenny G.

    They asked for Ben Webster instead.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    #89: I see my stalker showed up again. President Ahmadinejad is a great statesman for his unflinching stance against Kenny G elevator music. BTW, just so you know, I gobbed in your burger.

  • STM

    Troll: “*flood, fire and drought*…and that in addition to witches midgets and flying monkeys”

    Mate, we probably do have all those things – flying pigs too, judging by the Liberal Party’s deluded approach to debriefing itself over its recent electoral loss.

    But troll, on a serious note: I assume you live in a rural area. Imagine living in a rural (or semi-rural/edge of suburbia area, as I do) where you have to pick up your shoes in the morning and shake ‘em out to make sure they don’t have deadly tarantula-sized funnel web spiders inside that have come into the house to escape the rain.

    Never put on gardening or work gloves without doing the same thing, followed by a good and thorough squeeze of every finger of the glove just to be sure. Hats … another source of danger.

    Outdoor shithouses, at camping grounds and the like, are a potential disaster: venomous red-back spiders lurk under the toilet seats and you can’t forget for a moment that you need to check because it’s not unheard of for people to cop a nasty (and embarrassing) bite on the bum. If you’re a bloke, the bite can be elsewhere. Not fun.

    Snakes? Most of the world’s venomous species on this one continent. At my old place, you’d open the pool gate and see a suddenly disturbed venomous red-bellied black snake slithering into the undergrowth. One once slithered into my car and we spent days poking around with sticks to make sure it was out. We never did find it, either.

    And sharks. I have been surfing at places where you will see a dirty great shadow pass under your board. I don’t need further encouragement to get out – quick. I have also seen them surface nearby.

    One lovely warm morning on the far north coast, a fin popped up a foot away from my board … followed by another five. I nearly had a heart attack and fell off my board. Then I realised they were dolphins, but still …

    Then there are the box jellyfish and arakunji jellyfish in tropical North Queensland. Deadly, and there’s a very low survival rate. Stingrays too, which can kill – although that’s rare.

    Not to mention saltwater crocs. Those bastards lurk everywhere up north and will snap off your head in an instant. You don’t have to be in the water or close to the water’s edge, either. They’ll chase you if they’re hungry.

    As Doc says, he can’t believe anyone survives early childhood.

    So flood, fire and drought, although they are ever-present dangers, especially huge fires like those you’ce had in California recently … they’re the least of our bloody problems.

    And really, it’s not THAT bad.

  • troll

    …no wonder you don’t spend much time worrying about the fascists under your bed – you’ve got plenty of other things to fret about

  • troll

    brian #88 – yes…the surfer dude is a professional journalist

    what’s your point – ?

  • STM

    Troll, the fascists got rolled a couple of weeks back.

    I was never that worried about ‘em, you’re right. I knew we’d only have to stew on it for a while until they brought themselves undone.

  • troll

    what do you mean ‘rolled’ !?

    don’t you speak english – ?

  • Clavos

    Heh.

    troll,

    You are a bad dude…

  • Silver Surfer

    No troll, of course I don’t speak English.

    I’m willing to try to learn the bloody thing though, especially since Brian has suggested that I need to do so.

  • Clavos

    Screw it, mate, the rest of the Anglosphere should learn ‘Strine instead..

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    ‘Rolled’ – a perfectly respectable term (amongst the drinking set) for being robbed while drunk – like my former room-mate was when he got drunk in Minneapolis over 20 years ago. The fellow lost over $140!! That was when the American dollar was worth more than the toilet paper it is now. I had to pay the damned cab fare from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, and then order a pizza to sober ‘ím up/get him to sleep. It’s a good thing I had some spare cash that night….

    Nevertheless, the mere fact that a professional Australian journalist can (sorta) make himself understood on an English-speaking on-line magazine does not mean he knows English….

  • brian

    Just as in Venezuela, In Bolivia, the old power elite is suffering terrible withdrawal symptomns, leading to outbeaks of SSRI style violence:

    ‘The Week that Led to Bloodshed

    Here are the events of the bloody last week in a nutshell.

    Early last week, the MAS-led committee that runs the Assembly made one last attempt to reconvene the body in its official headquarters, a theater in central Sucre. Protests demanding that Sucre be named the nation’s new capital has blocked the Assembly from meeting since August, despite recent assurances from civic leaders there that the delegates could continue to work. On Wednesday, amidst reports that Sucre protesters spat on and verbally attacked delegates arriving at the meeting hall, the “directorio” led by MAS formally suspended the Assembly once again.

    Then, last Thursday, MAS leadership voted to formally move the Assembly’s meetings from the protest-plagued city center to a small military installation on the outskirts of town. The installation was guarded by as many as 1,000 national police officers. Hundreds of social movement MAS sympathizers also gathered outside the site, pledging to “protect” the Assembly. Opposition leaders announced that they would not participate in the relocated sessions, citing intimidation by the presence of the campesinos supporting MAS and MAS’ refusal to place the Sucre capital issue on the agenda.

    Behind police lines and in sessions boycotted entirely by MAS’ key opponents, 154 of the 255 delegates met Friday and Saturday, approving en grande the basic framework of a new constitution, one that reflected all of MAS’ positions and none of the opposition minority positions.

    Some MAS officials and Assembly technical staff argued later that the draft approved was only a preliminary one, and that before it could go before voters, it still required 2/3 approval of the specific articles. But the specter of MAS locked behind guarded doors, approving a lopsided constitution of its own design, set off a firestorm of street protest in Sucre and public denouncements from the opposition.

    On Friday night civic leaders in Sucre called for civil disobedience to block the Assembly’s work, but did not call specifically for a march on the military facility where the meeting was being held. No matter, by Saturday morning Sucre university students and others, numbering in the thousands, climbed to the small hills outside the Glorieta military facility and began attacking the police and the Assembly, according the news reports, with a mix of dynamite, Molotov cocktails, burning tires, and small arms.
    etc
    Bolivian street violence by rich white students in Bolivia

  • Franco

    Brain, I would not want to try to challenge or try to change any of your assumptions, conspiracies, unsubstantiated suppositions, or perceptions you have that you project about the world to the world.

    Nothing anyone could argue could make a case against you better then you do yourself. It is classical just the way it is, and I stand in awe of your ability to do it.

  • Clavos

    “Vietnamese delegation to unveil a bust of Ho Chi Minh on Avenida Bolivar”

    I wonder how long it will be before it’s toppled?

  • brian

    Franco: ‘ I would not want to try to challenge or try to change any of your assumptions, conspiracies, unsubstantiated suppositions, or perceptions you have that you project about the world to the world. ‘

    Im surprised you eve bother to write!
    What perceptions have i projected Franky? You mean the Ho Chih Minh statue? its in the news.

  • brian

    ‘I wonder how long it will be before it’s toppled?’

    well,Clavos, we know the democracy-hating white elites hate revolutionaries, so they may try to topple it before they try to topple President Chavez…as a dry run…

  • Clavos

    “democracy-hating white elites”

    Lucky you, brian. Your world is so simple and easy.

    Two races: whites and everyone else.

    Two classes: white ruling establishment and populist revolutionaries.

    Are you old enough to get a driver’s license yet, brian?

  • Silver Surfer

    Fair dinkum Brian. This is a thread about getting rid of an oppressive government in Australia – elsewhere, though, such a government might be seen as a godsend – and Brian chooses to bring, you guessed it, Venezuela into the picture.

    Big difference between the two: we inherited rule of law and we all abide by it. The closest rich, white ruling elites (and that’s a misnomer because modern Australia is about the most colour-blind place I’ve ever seen) get to running the country is when they manage to get in the ears of some members of the Liberal Party when it’s power.

    The army obeys the government of the day, and has strict limits set upon it.

    We’ve never had a coup.

    This country has managed to run itself since federation – 1901 – without a drama, and prior to that as a series of colonies operated along democratic lines much like thestates of midern Australia, and one was the first place in the world to introduce women’s suffrage).

    This IS NO similarity, so why bother with odious comparisons.

    The biggest drama we’ve had here here recently is a bunch of drunken idoits belting up people of middle eastern origin, and a retaliatory attack on “anglos”.

    It lasted a day, at best, and most of the people involved were arrested and charged and treated according to the criminal law – because the behaviour they engaged in was criminal.

    Then the whole country went out of its way to work out a solution that was inclusive. Even the Surf Life Saving Association commissioned a burkini design that allows muslim girls to patrol at the beach in line with islamic laws. I would say that’s a great example of the ethos of this country: a fatr go for everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from.

    So mate, there’s a big bloody difference. And the only reason you can make these comments you do is that you were allowed to come to this country from a place that doeasn’t have anywhere near the kind of freedoms you get here.

    Perhaps you would so well to embrace that in the spirit it was given instead of taking advantage of it to stir the pot.

  • REMF

    “Are you old enough to get a driver’s license yet, brian?”

    So part of the Napoleonic Syndrome is prejudice of youth…?

  • brian

    clavos: ‘Two races: whites and everyone else.

    Two classes: white ruling establishment and populist revolutionaries.’

    thats how it is in latin america…Just ask any coloured bolivian and coloured venezuelan…there are always exceptions, but they remain that…exceptions.

  • Clavos

    “thats how it is in latin america”

    Are you speaking from direct, personal observation, brian? Or just parroting what you’ve read on venezuelanalysis?

    “just ask any coloured bolivian and coloured venezuelan”

    Or, you could ask any of the millions of middle class Mexicans of any color; or middle class Argentines, Chileans, Brasilians, etc., etc.