The Eden-Monaro by-election status quo ante result raises two interesting questions: why isn’t the Prime Minister’s high approval rating translating into an improved rating for the government; and, why oh why do the media keep up the same old tired approaches to covering political events?
The Morrison Government was very successful in initially framing the vote in terms of the 100 years since a government had won an opposition seat in a by-election. That set them up for another miracle claim if they won but also protected them against needing to explain away failure.read more
In 2010 the BP Deepwater Horizon huge and disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrated just about every possible lesson on how not to handle a crisis.
A CEO, Tony Hayward, who said dumb things which demonstrated a lack of empathy; technical people thrashing around in vain attempts to stop the flow; oil and gas lobbyists frantically working the corridors in Washington and Florida to prevent any tightening of the already loose controls on off-shore drilling; and, a post spill compensation plan which rewarded many of the unaffected and failed to compensate the affected – just as happened after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.read more
Two reports on social and economic options for post-COVID-19 recovery, one from the Grattan Institute and one from Phil Ruthven, have recently been published. We can also assume there is a third, not yet public, in the form of a snap back and marketing plan lurking in the Prime Minister’s mind.
But the two which are already public largely focus on different priorities, except in some places in the Ruthven case, from any Morrison plan of returning to the policies which have given Australia a decade of slow growth, record debt levels even before COVID-19 and wage stagnation.read more
Donald Trump promised he would make America great again. Instead he has presided over a significant collapse in belief in American exceptionalism.
While the rest of the western world (other than fellow travellers like Morrison and Howard) has always been conscious of what really makes the US exceptional – racism and limited democracy; constant waging of war; appalling health care for poorer citizens; worker exploitation; religious extremism; massive inequality; organising coups and assassinations in nations around the world; torture of prisoners; and the ignorance, hypocrisy and myopia which allows many citizens to deny it all. …and to add to that list of the exceptional, The Economist (20 June 2020) reported that the US is one of only 13 countries (along with Venezuela and Syria) where the maternal mortality rate increased between 2000 and 2017.read more
Google has become the default casual research tool for most people if a sometimes dangerous one for students now that AI plagiarism software is widely used in universities. Yet publishers are still issuing print editions of various reference texts and some of them are still of greater value and utility than online searches.read more
Modern Australian political parties are more likely to be corrupted by ideological or religious fanatics and power seekers than by disputes about policy and how to get into government.
One of the ongoing problems with talking about what political parties do or don’t do is that it is easy to overlook problems seated deep in parties’ DNA and the contemporary political culture.read more
In the film Vice, a biopic about Dick Cheney, there is a scene in which a Republican researcher is addressing a group of political operatives about inheritance taxes and how they need to be framed as ‘death taxes’ – a framing which ensures any negative campaign appeals to a much wider audience than the wealthy who would be most affected.read more
Recently the New Daily ran two Michael Pascoe pieces exposing a $2.5 billion regional grants program rort 25 times bigger than the sports rorts. Forwarding it on to someone elicited the surprising response: “Who cares?”
The person wasn’t being dismissive but rather making a comment on how the succession of scandals, incompetence and corruption in seven years of Liberal National Party Governments had caused only limited outrage and didn’t impact on their re-elections beyond narrowing their winning margin.read more
The Morrison Government is adopting the newest form of doubting climate change by arguing that yes it does exist but that it can all be fixed by some unproven technological developments such as carbon capture or hydrogen both of which may end up looking a bit like nuclear fusion – just around the corner for decades.read more
In 2008 David Michaels’ published a book – Doubt is their ProductHow Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens your Health – which was instrumental in the subsequent exposure of the systematic efforts of various industries to raise doubt about the science relating to areas from tobacco to today’s climate change.read more
An insider’s view of how public relations really works