Where did it all start?

“From whence and whereof cometh yon Trump? From some distant time or world?” Well that’s how it might be put in cod Elizabethan dialogue.

Yet reading Taylor Branch’s trilogy about America in the King Years (the blog has read the 3000 plus pages of the volumes over the years – taking somewhat longer than it took Branch to write all three plus some other books) it is remarkable how much the divisions in the US in the 1960s through the assassinations of Martin Luther King, JFK and Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam War are still resonating today in a way which makes Trump less of a new phenomenon and more a throwback to, or logical outcome from, another era. Indeed, in many respects they make today’s America look just like a distant time or world or at least one formed in that distant time and world. read more

The depths of hypocrisy

The defining characteristics of Australia’s right wing cultural warriors – whether in the Liberal Party, the Murdoch media or the usual think tank suspects – are their breathtaking hypocrisy and the very real threat they pose to the liberal values so many have fought to inculcate in society.

Freedom of speech is supposedly banned from universities by snowflake students and radical academics; religious folk aren’t allowed to speak up about their beliefs; the ABC promotes left wing ideology while banning contrary voices; cartoonists can’t draw images about race; and, ‘ordinary’ Australians are drowned out by inner urban Green voters. read more

Yearning for a new connection to the ‘mother country’

UK Tory Government climate policy is enough to create a slight yearning for the days when Australian conservatives looked to the so-called Mother Country for guidance.

These days Australian Tories seem to be a contradictory amalgam of fundamentalist Christians, neo-liberals and enthusiastic culture warriors who look to venerate US political conservatives almost as much as they once did the monarch. Now they combine enthusiasm for royalty and opposition to republicanism with being, to all practical purposes, US Republican epigones. read more

Remember the Alamo, the Maine etc etc etc

Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine, remember the Gulf of Tonkin, remember the weapons of mass destruction and now remember the Kokuka Sangyo tanker.

For a country such as the US, which has been at war for 226 years (93% of the time) in the 243 years since its independence in 1776, it’s remarkable that it has resorted so often to manufacturing excuses to go to war instead just doing it as it usually does. Of course, the manufacturing is partly a result of the abiding ignorance, misremembering, malevolent intent, propaganda and fundamental belief in the nation’s peace loving nature which infect its population and many of its political leaders. read more

A remarkable life in remarkable times

Life and times memoirs are often lives leavened with some tangential nods to times. In Iola Mathews’ book, Winning for Women: A Personal Story, a remarkable life is inextricably linked with the remarkable times which she did much to shape.

It is the story of a feminist, the Australian feminist movement and the hard slog involved in achieving political, legal, workplace and community change in an era in which transformational social and economic changes were driven by Iola and many other committed women. read more

When you think of Twitter what do you think of first?

The automatic response when you hear the word Tweet is to associate it with Trump. Yet some recent Pew Research Center suggests the Tweeter in chief is out of step with most other Tweeters

In a paper, Sizing up Twitter Users, Stefan Wojcik and Adam Hughes find that “US adult Twitter users are younger and more likely to be Democrats than the general public. Most users rarely tweet, but the most prolific 10% create 80% of tweets from adult US users.” The study was based on a nationally representative survey of 2791 US adult Twitter users. read more

WTF happened?

Well, after a couple of weeks’ consideration, just another Steven Bradbury phenomenon, something else altogether, or perhaps just a re-run in more virulent form of the fake news and social media negative campaigns seen in the 2016 Presidential election.

The range of explanations is wide. The first, and most obvious, is that it’s hard for someone like Bill Shorten, who is neither liked nor trusted to sell a big agenda. The second – the success yet again of negative campaigning. In this case part of the evidence for this explanation is reminiscent of the Bush campaign, magnified here by social media,  in which the Democrats were accused of planning a ‘death tax’ – a US focus group tested concept the Liberals stole holus bolus. This influenced people who would never be affected by inheritance taxes even if they were reintroduced. The same applied with franking credit and tax policies where the 20% who would have been affected were successful in terrifying the 80% who wouldn’t have been. read more

Another case study on how not to do community consultation

The City of Port Phillip, the blog’s local council, is yet again trying to establish new benchmarks in world’s worst practice community consultation.

This time it is a variation on one of its previous efforts – consultation over its budget. The last time the Council tried such a consultation it announced it with a multi-coloured leaflet letterboxed to all properties. Sadly it so closely resembled junk mail that many, including the blog, put it out in the recycling bin. read more

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