Is Peter Dutton just a simple man trying to deal with a complex problem?

The ABC reports: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has suggested that the Fraser government made a mistake by resettling Lebanese refugees.

Mr Dutton last week stated that former prime minister Malcolm Fraser “did make mistakes in bringing some people in” as part of his immigration policies in the 1970s.

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Malcolm Fraser: Prime Minister of Australia (1975–1983)

When pressed on those comments during Question Time today, Mr Dutton singled out people of Lebanese-Muslim background.

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“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background,” he said.

His statement in parliament today falls in the category of “so bad it’s difficult to start explaining it”.

Let’s start with the issue of  racial prejudice which is attributing certain patterns of behaviour to a group of people on the basis of their ethnicity.

In this case it’s “You’re a Lebanese-Muslim, so you must be a terrorist” or even better “You’re a Lebanese-Muslim,so your grandchildren will be terrorists.”

Yes, it’s stupid, illogical and discriminatory  but it’s a kind of thing that feeds into the core beliefs of some of the least desirable elements of our society.

Unfortunately, it will do nothing to endear the coalition government to the local Muslim community and will certainly reinforce the views of young alienated Muslims.

It is disgraceful that a Minister of the Crown should be saying this in Parliament. Malcolm Turnbull should hang his head in shame if he does not reprimand Dutton and publicly repudiates his comments.

The main reason for Turnbull to do this is that what Dutton is saying is deeply divisive and will only serve to inflame relations between right-wing fascist elements of the community and radicalised Muslims.

To suggest that people charged with terrorist-related offences have committed those offences because their parents or grandparents came from Lebanon demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the causes of radicalisation amongst young Muslims.

Making this statement also suggests that the solution to people committing acts of terrorism in Australia is simply to stop people migrating from Lebanon.

Unfortunately, no matter what Peter Dutton thinks, it’s just not that simple.

Presumably, he thinks we can solve the problem by simply banning those people who would be likely to have grandchildren who would become terrorists.

But that would be a really difficult task, to say nothing of time-consuming and expensive. And it also assumes there are good predictive tools available to help make these decisions, which there are not.

What is so profoundly offensive about Dutton’s behaviour is that it mimics some of the worst aspects of Donald Trump’s outrageous behaviour during the presidential election.

And why does he do?

Because he and Malcolm Turnbull both think that this is the kind of rhetoric that will endear them to Australian voters.

It probably won’t because many people are not going to change their mind as result of what Peter Dutton says and people who are going to be impressed by what he says already vote for One Nation.

How Trump got his Twitter-Truth wrong about Mike Pence and the cast of “Hamilton”

The storm in a teacup over the treatment of Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the Broadway smash Hamilton is an example of the dangers of Twitter-Truth And how the Trump will use it to his advantage at every possible opportunity.

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Trump lays down the law about being nice to his buddies

 It’s an example of how half-truths can be mis-interpreted  and twisted. Now, this goes on every day but in this instance it’s the man who will be next US president who is doing it and he will have media resources equal to nothing on earth after he is inaugurated.

So the way he deals with the media is a very serious issue and this incident highlights the problems.

CBS reports: At a performance of the Broadway smash Hamilton, Pence was booed (with some cheers mixed in) before the show started.

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CNN reports: Cast member Brandon Dixon, who portrays Aaron Burr, who urged the audience not to boo Pence, said the show was performed by “a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

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ABC News reports: Mr Pence was met with a mix of boos and cheers as he entered the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Manhattan before the performance, the New York Times reported.

The Independent reports: Mike Pence says Hamilton is ‘incredible production’ and that crowd booing him ‘is what freedom sounds like’

Trump twittered

“The Theatre must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologise!” Mr Trump tweeted.

Very rude and insulting of Hamilton cast member to treat our future VP Mike Pence to a theatre lecture. Couldn’t even memorize lines!” He later deleted the tweet.

So is Trump overreacting?

It is interesting to look at what was actually said and compare it with comments made about Trump himself

What Dixon said: “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said: Germany and America are connected by common values: democracy, freedom, respect for the law and for human dignity irrespective of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political conviction. On the basis of these values, I offer the future president of America, Donald Trump, a close working relationship.”

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So the answer is: Yes it probably is an overreaction particularly in the light of the fact that Mike Pence was not particularly concerned about the incident.

 This is what happens when you criticise one of Donald’s buddy: self-righteous indignation from the most powerful man in the world.

This particular attack is important because it will play so well in Trump’s key constituency, the insular and isolated, underprivileged and economically disadvantaged of the midwest.

 It’s a Twitter-Truth because there are elements of truth in it. Pence was booed and he was addressed by members of the cast. But Trump has put a completely different slant on the incident by saying the Pence was harassed. It’s subtle, it’s clever and it’s extremely invidious.

 It’s an attack on privileged people in New York, people who can afford to go do Broadway musicals and who probably leave the musical to take part in the demonstration against Donald Trump’s election.

 We’re going to see more of this over the next four years. It is only going to get worse. And each time it happened we need to call Trump to account,

Letter to my grandson (xxxi)

We have just started having storytelling times. It started when you dashed upstairs while I was reading I know a rhino and got into bed with all your soft toys and I told you stories. I stuck with the standards and Goldilocks and the three Bears is a favourite.

However, we were short of a couple of animals from I know a rhino,  in particular a rhino and dragon. But that can wait for Christmas.

In a stroke of pure genius your Nana bought you a dragon. He’s not your normal soft toy dragon but a real boy-sized Dragon.

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He has, naturally enough when you have grandparents who were alive in the 1960s, been christened Puff.

So Puff was added to the menagerie on your bed upstairs and we began a story that incorporated Puff and the other toys.

I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller and I’ve been gifted with a grandson who is a marvellous listener.

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So here’s the story:

Once upon a time, there was a little boy called Winton Jack and he lived in a house in the forest with his mum and dad and sometimes Nana and Papa came to visit.

Winton Jack had a lot of friends, Hippo, Lion, Monkey, Pig, Mrs Rabbit and Baby Rabbit, Giraffe, Teddy Bear and now Puff the Dragon.

One morning, when Winton Jack and his friend came down for breakfast, the porridge was too hot to eat.

“Let’s go for a walk in the woods while the porridge cools,” said Winton Jack to his friends. “Everybody has to hold hands.”

Winton Jack and his friends set off along the path through the woods. Very soon they came to a big river.

“Oh no,” said Winton Jack to his friends, “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the pig, “I can’t swim.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the Mrs Rabbit, “Baby Rabbit will get his fur all wet.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the Teddy bear, “the water is too cold.”

“Well,” said Puff, “I can fly across and everybody can have a ride on my back. But you will have to hold on very tight”

So Winton Jack climbed on the Dragon’s back and then Hippo, Lion, Monkey and Pig climbed on too.

“Uh Oh,” said Winton Jack, “no more room on the broom.”

“That’s okay,”  said Puff, “I can fly across and and come back for the others. Fasten your seat belts.”

So the Dragon spread his wings and flew up into the air with Winton Jack and Hippo, Lion, Monkey and Pig all holding on very tight.  When they reach the other side, everybody climbed off  and Puff flew back to get the other friends.

“You have to hold on very tight,” said Mrs Rabbit to Baby Rabbit. So Baby Rabbit held on very tight to Puff when he said, “Fasten your seat belts.”

Soon everybody was walking off down the path through the woods again. Very soon, they came to a great big tree which had fallen down across the path and was blocking the way.

“Oh no,” said Winton Jack to his friend, “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.”

“Well,” said Puff, “I can’t fly across because it is not enough room to spread my wings.”

“That’s okay,” said Winton Jack, ” I have got my great big fireman’s axe in my backpack and I can cut a big hole in the tree for us to walk through.”

So Winton Jack took out his big sharp fireman’s axe and went chop, chop, chop, chop until there was a big hole in the tree for all the friends to walk through.

“That was very good chopping,” said Lion, “you must have very big muscles.”

“Everybody hold hands now,” said Winton Jack, “we’re going off down the path again.” So the friends will set off down the path and very soon they came from big squishy swamp.

“Oh no,” said Winton Jack to his friend, “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the pig, “I’ll get my feet dirty.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the Mrs Rabbit, “Baby Rabbit has a runny nose.”

“I can’t go through it,” said the Teddy bear, “the water it’s too squishy for a bear.”

“Well,” said Puff, “I can fly across and everybody can have a ride on my back. But you will have to hold on very tight”

“I want to fly with Winton Jack,” said Teddy.

“So do I,” said Baby Rabbit.

“And so  do I,” said Giraffe.

So Winton Jack climbed on the Dragon’s back and then Teddy, Mrs Rabbit and Baby Rabbit and Giraffe all climbed on too.

“Uh Oh,” said Winton Jack, “no more room on the broom.”

“That’s okay,” said Puff, “I can fly across and and come back for the others. Fasten your seat belts.”

So the Dragon spread his wings and flew up into the air with Teddy, Mrs Rabbit and Baby Rabbit all holding on very tight.  When they reach the other side, everybody climbed off  and Puff flew back to get the other friends.

Soon everybody was ready to get going again so Winton Jack said, “Everybody hold hands, off we go.” It was a bit of pushing and shoving because everybody wanted to hold hands with the Dragon. So Winton Jack said “Dragon will walk at the end and make sure that everybody is holding hands and I will walk at the front.”

So they set off down the track with Winton Jack leading the way and soon it began to rain and just in time they came to  a big cave. Everybody crowded around Winton Jack.

“We can go in here and keep dry,” said Winton Jack.

“Oh,” said the Lion, “it looks very dark.”

“I don’t like the dark,” said Baby Rabbit.

“Come on,” said Winton Jack, “let’s go inside and have a look.”

“I”ve got a sore leg,” said the Monkey.

“I”ve got a sore throat,” said the Giraffe.

“I can’t see in the dark” said the Hippo.

“Neither can I,” said the Monkey.

“Well,” said the Dragon, “I’ve got a fire in my mouth and I can show the way but Winton Jack will have to come with me.”

“I can do that,” said brave Winton Jack.

So the Dragon lit the fire in his mouth to show the way and Winton Jack said, “Be brave everybody and hold hands.” So they all held hands and followed Winton Jack and the Dragon into the big dark cave.  When they were out of the rain, they all sat down.

“I’m hungry,” said Baby Rabbit, “I want my breakfast.”

“So do I,” said the Monkey.

“So do I,” said the Lion.

“So do I,” said the Hippo.

“It’s a long way back home, if you’ve got short legs,” said the Giraffe.

“I’ve got very short legs,”said Baby Rabbit, “but I wore my breakfast.” He gave a little sniffle.

Just then, there was a big noise at the back of the cave. ” Whoooo, whooo,”said a voice, “what are you doing in my cave?”

“We are waiting for the rain to stop,” said Winton Jack. “Who are you?”

” Whoooo, whooo,”said the voice, “I’m an owl.” And just in a great big owl came walking down to where Winton Jack and his friends were sitting.

“Everyone is very hungry and they want their breakfast but it’s a long way to get home,” said Winton Jack.

“I can fly some of the animal friends home on my back,” said Dragon.

“I can help too,” said the Owl, “can I stay for breakfast?”

“Yes,” said Winton Jack, “do you like porridge?”

“Porridge is my favourite breakfast,” said the Owl.

So Winton Jack and Lion, Hippo and Monkey climbed on Dragon’s back and Mrs Rabbit and Baby Rabbit, Teddy, Giraffe and Pig climbed on the Owl’s back.

“Fasten seatbelts,” said the Dragon.

“Fasten seatbelt,” said the Owl.

And they both flapped their wings and soared up into to the air and flew over the squishy swamp and the tree that had fallen down over the past and the river and soon they swooped down and landed at Winton Jack’s house.

“Let’s go in and have our porridge,” said Winton Jack.

So they all went inside and there was Winton Jack’s mum and all the porridge.

“Can we have some more porridge for Owl? asked Winton Jack.

“Of course you can,” said Winton Jack’s mum, “and who would like special brown sugar on their porridge?”

“We all would,” said Winton Jack and all the animals.

And when they had all finished their porridge, Winton Jack’s mother made them all Brown bread toast and honey.

Which made everybody especially Teddy very happy.

 

 

Should Greg Norman replace Joe Hockey as Australia’s ambassador in the US

After Donald Trump’s stunning election victory, some international leaders were falling over themselves to make contact with the great man.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was one of the first.

So how did Turnbull pull off this diplomatic coup?

He got  Australian golf legend Greg Norman to him put through to the President-elect.

Greg Norman of Australia reacts on the ninth fairway during the second round of the British Open Golf championship, at the Royal Birkdale golf course, Southport, England, Friday, July 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Thomas)Seems that Greg has got Donald’s direct phone number.

Seems that Australian Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, does not.

“We have such a wonderful network of contacts,” said a smirking Prime Minister on television28c86f2300000578-3085215-image-a-1_1431871501655

So what are we paying Joe Hockey for?

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It would seem that his list of diplomatic achievement is likely to rival that of the list of his achievement as Treasurer,  Minister for Human Services and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations.

Who is the “Captain Disappointment” of Australian politics?

On Thursday night, the two giants of Australian political satire, Clarke and Dawe, featured a Christmas segment where they opened a box of Christmas presents, mainly books.

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One was a children’s book, about  an Australian superhero, Captain Disappointment who comes whooshing in when things are bad in Australia

Dawe:  And what does Captain Disappointment do?

Clarke:  Nothing, Brian, he just disappoints.

The sad thing about Australian politics is that it was  difficult to know who they are  talking about.

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When democracy fails (and it appears to be doing so with increasing frequency)

Most societies have images, often somewhat idealised, of the origins of their democratic system.

 Clockwise: France, Russia, US, France (again), Britain

Australia has its own more prosaic version.

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The Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall and York (later H.M. King George V), May 9, 1901, by Tom Roberts

Yet democracy is an ideal form and its manifestations in many countries sometimes leave   citizens somewhat disgruntled. A case in point is the US where there is a move to change the electoral system for the president from an electoral college to a popular vote as result of Hillary Clinton losing the election but winning the popular vote.

One of the constants in democracies is that the losers inevitably feel that the system is rigged. Donald Trump certainly expressed this opinion, until he won.

The present US electoral college system, which gives each state a number of electoral  college votes according to its population means that someone can win the US presidency without winning the majority of the votes.

This is because the electoral votes are based on a “winner takes all” basis rather than a proportional basis. This means that a candidate who loses large populous states, such as Florida and California, by a very small margin and wins a lot of small states by very large margins may have a massive majority of the popular vote but not win the electoral college votes.

So it really comes down to a definition of democracy. And this is where the trouble begins. I blame Google which has 59,000,000 entries for the definition of democracy.

But let’s stick with “a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives” and  where the government represents “will of the people”.

However, difficulties arise, not so much in the definition of democracy, but in the way it is achieved through the electoral system.

Without going into a discussion of the technicalities (and any discussion of democracy and electoral systems inevitably becomes eye-glazingly technical), all voting systems have inherent strengths and weaknesses.

“First past the post” systems where the person with most votes wins, are the most common. This means that the majority of voters in a given electorate get the representative they want but the minority (and it may be a very small minority) gets no representation whatsoever. The party that has the most elected representatives then forms a government.

What follows then is effectively a political dictatorship for the term of the government.

This particular system worked reasonably well when there were only two parties, as was the case for a long time in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. But it’s still a  “winner takes all” system.  This system is beginning to prove inadequate where there is a proliferation of candidates and fragmentation of the traditional hegemony of the major parties.

And it only works fairly when the electorates are not gerrymandered as they were under Joh Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland from from 1968 to 1987.

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Joh Bjelke-Petersen demonstrates his attitude towards the democratic process

And the system does not work so well, in a democratic sense, when there is more than one party. In a system where the vote is split between three parties who get 40/30/30, the party with 40% forms government. The remaining 60%, who did not vote for that  party, get no representation. In this situation, would it be more “democratic” to form a coalition of the two parties that got 30% each?

This comes to an important question which is relevant in Australia today: What constitutes a majority?

Is a majority defined by who people vote for or by they don’t vote for?

In Australia, this question is answered, in part by a hybrid system of preferential and optional preferential voting. The voters are asked to list their preferences so that, if they don’t get their first preference, their vote is allocated to their second preference and so on down the ballot paper.

The advantage of the system is that, as has happened in the Australian Senate, the number of representatives is a  reasonable approximation of the voting intentions of the Australian electorate.

The disadvantage of the system is that, in Australia where there are two major parties and a number of GIMPs, the GIMPs, who attract around 25% of the popular vote also hold the balance of power. And it’s not that the GIMPs are in any way a unified force so that quite small aggregations of GIMPs may become undemocratically and disproportionately powerful.

One of the disconcerting aspects of the US electoral system, at least from an Australian perspective, is that voting is not compulsory and as result it is usual for only 50% of the eligible population to cast a vote. When this is divided between the two major parties, it means that 25% of the voting population elects the President, Senate and Congress.

So what can we say about a democracy where 50% of the people don’t vote?

Do we simply shrugged our shoulders and say “Well they didn’t vote so they have to take what they’re given.”

Or do we ask, “How has the democratic system in the US failed to such an extent that half the population no longer participates?”

The problem with these very low participation rates in the US is that small changes in voting patterns in the so-called “battleground states” can lead to electoral outcomes that are potentially disastrous, not just for the US but for the whole world.

Sex and power: the sexual predator in art and politics

This is an update that I did given the election of Donald PG Trump

In recent months, we have been treated to the unedifying spectacle of seeing one of Australia’s most popular entertainers convicted of sexually molesting underage children.

History is full of men in positions of power who have exploited women.

The sexual pecadillos of politicians are a constant source of outrage, amusement and amazement. But it is also true that some women are drawn to powerful men and many politicians are tempted to take advantage of this. In some cases, the relationship is consensual, in some cases it is not. Henry Kissinger famously said that power was the ultimate aphrodisiac. Henry was a bit of a ladies’ man, which is surprising because he was not the best looking bloke on the block but his track record was impressive.

Henry had som pretty good looking girlfriends. You might recognise some
Henry had some pretty good looking girlfriends.

Given that politics is the greatest source of power, particularly for men, it’s not surprising that men in positions of power will take advantage of this and are frequently drawn into sexual relationships that are politically damaging when discovered. Bill “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” Clinton is one of the better known examples of this and JFK was certainly a notorious pants man and probably with better taste than Clinton. He certainly didn’t suffer any public fallout from his relations with other women, most spectacularly Marilyn Monroe.

JFK and Munroe
JFK and Munroe

Anyone who was ever in doubt about the relationship between Kennedy and Munroe should watch the famous “Happy Birthday, Mr President” video clip. Certainly, Jackie Kennedy was in no doubt and reportedly stormed out of the function after Munroe’s singing solo.

Presidential peccadilloes had a nasty habit of surfacing every now and then. Bill Clinton was also a notorious pants man.  Things got really serious and very messy with Monica Lewinsky.bill-clinton-and-monica-lewinski

And there were always stories flying around about other women.

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There is also a sly dig at Clinton in the immensely popular film Love Actually where the American president, played by Billy Bob Thornton, propositions one of the British PM’s staff.387368-4d43d21a-45b2-11e3-b6cf-917abbb54065

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Professor of economics at Sciences Po, Minister for Economics, Finances and Industry IMF Managing Director and contender for the French presidency was the unacceptable side of this strange dynamic and his chickens came home to roost when allegations that he had sexually assaulted a hotel maid sank his political career and shone a spotlight on his other sexual peccadilloes

Nafissatou Diallo and Tristane Banon: To the women who have accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping them
Nafissatou Diallo and Tristane Banon: Two the women who have accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping them

And then most recently we have President-elect Trump who has defined his presidency by saying: ” I just grabbed him by the pussy”, “When you’re a star they let you do it, you can do anything” as well as bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.

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Why are we surprised?

Such behaviour stretches back to time immemorial and one of the earliest accounts is from the 13th chapter of the Book of Daniel.

Two Elders, probably judges but certainly powerful and influential members of the community, watch the beautiful young Susannah bathing in her garden. They accost her and threatened to accuse her of committing adultery, for which the penalty is death, unless she has sex with them. She refuses and is brought to trial.

At the trial, the young prophet Daniel cross-examines the two Elders who contradict each other about which tree the act was performed under. Susannah is acquitted and the two elders are put to death.

There are more than 80 extant paintings of the story. Some artists, such Tintoretto and Rubens, painted it a number of times Nearly all of the artists who have painted it have chosen moment when the two elders proposition Susannah.

The elders are shown as wealthy, powerful, respectable and persuasive. In her 1963 book on Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote of the banality of evil. Here we have another aspect, the respectability of evil.

 Bonaventura Lamberti (Il Bolognese)
Bonaventura Lamberti (Il Bolognese)
Susanna and the elders-Ottavio Mario Leoni
Susanna and the elders-Ottavio Mario Leoni
Susanna and the elders1588 Paulo Veronese
Susanna and the elders Paulo Veronese (1588)

Another group of artists paint a different picture. Here the Elders are less respectable and more menacingly evil.

Jacob Jordaens Susanna and the Elders
Jacob Jordaens Susanna and the Elders

Jordaens’ Elders are grotesque caricatures, a personification of evil lechery, while Rubens’ are the personification of anger, presumably at being frustrated by Susannah’s innocence. The veins standing out on the neck of the elder in blue indicates the vehemence with which he is putting his proposition.

Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens
Sisto Badalocchio
Sisto Badalocchio

Badalocchio’s elders are sneeringly contemptuous of their victim and the brilliantly luminescent painting by van Honthorst shows the two elders feigning concern lest Susannah draw attention to them.

Gerrit van Honthorst
Gerrit van Honthorst

In all the versions of the story, there is an undertone of violence in the portrayal of the two elders. In some cases, it is made explicit in the painting. In Alessandro Allure’s work, the physical threat is palpable, with the indignant Susanna already in the lecherous clutches of the Elders.

Alessandro Allori
Alessandro Allori


Similarly in Claude Vignon’s painting one of the elders is already beginning to man-handle Susanna.

Claude Vignon
Claude Vignon


The sense of violation is palpable in both of these paintings and it is a common theme in all of the others. In some, the sexual violence is implied and most audiences would know the back story to the paintings. But one thing that stands out in all the paintings is the sense of violation inherent in the mere presence of these splendidly dressed men in the company of a near naked women. In many of the paintings, Susannah shrinks away from her tormentors, ashamed to have been discovered naked. It’s a powerful depiction of the commonly held view that such situations are somehow the woman’s fault.

If Malcolm Turnbull is focusing on jobs and growth, he must be squinting a lot at the moment

Only this week, Malcolm Turnbull was emphasising how he was focused on economic growth while the “elite media” were distracting people from the government’s achievements in this area.

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Focussed but not happy

 wrote in the guardian: If you like records being broken, now is the most exciting time to look at economic data. The annual growth of wages in September of 1.9% was a new record low, breaking the old mark of 2.1% set only three months ago in June. It was the 16th consecutive fall in the growth of annual wages. The last time Australians wages grew faster than they had three months earlier was September 2012.

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The implications of this are serious, particularly for younger wage earners who are looking to buy a home.

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The problem is that the growth in house prices and wages growth are heading in opposite directions.

The rise in house prices does not mean that young people are not buying their first home. What it does mean is that they are taking on increasing burdens of debt to do so. This means that a large amount of their discretionary income, and hence consumer spending power, is taken up paying interest.

This effectively shifts resources away from the consumer sector to the investor sector, primarily superannuation funds and increasingly wealthy old folk.

And while Malcolm Turnbull is doing a lot of focusing, his government is doing nothing.

The problem of housing affordability is a serious one and there is no chance that it will be solved until there is serious action on the issue of negative gearing.

Tony Abbott and Lord Byron

Lady Caroline Lamb described Byron as “Mad, bad and dangerous to know.”

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Byron was not without his charms so the parallel between Byron and Abbott ends with Lamb’s epithet.

Tony Abbott is one of many Australian politicians who is keen to use the election of Donald Trump as a justification for their own political views.

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Former prime minister Tony Abbott has described Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the US presidential election as “the revenge of the deplorables” and says it will put contentious global issues such as climate change into “better perspective” and that the political tide had appeared to turn in favour of the right-wing.”

Trump’s election has not put climate change in a better perspective. It may have reinforced the views of the already bigoted and stupid but it will have changed no one’s mind.

Abbott also railed against the ” political correctness” of attacks on “racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic” behaviour.

This is classic Tony Abbott doublespeak.

“Political correctness” has become a pejorative term particularly for anybody who doesn’t endorse the attitudes and ideas of the 1950s. It can be bandied around when anybody takes a stand against obnoxious behaviour.

So here’s an example of what Tony Abbott not drawing a line about what is acceptable and not acceptable. You can call the understandable and quite correct outcry about the behaviour of this woman, Pamela Ramsey Taylor, the now ex-Clay County Development Corp  Director “political correctness” if you wish. But that doesn’t disguise the fact that her behaviour is obnoxiously unacceptable.

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Taylor posted :”It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

Her comments were endorsed by now ex- County Clay Count Mayor Beverly Whaling.

The problem, which Tony Abbott doesn’t understand and which is exemplified by his rabid support for the repeal of section 18 C of the Racial Discrimination Act, is that if this type behaviour is not roundly condemned as “racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic” then it proliferates and becomes the norm.

I’m sure that Tony Abbott would have been appalled by the statements of Pamela Ramsey Taylor. But he also needs to understand that the stance that he is taking gives credence to the idea that this type of behaviour is, in some way, acceptable.

It’s all very well to gloss over Donald Trump’s election campaign behaviour particularly his offensively sexist “grab them by the pussy” comment.

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Donald Trump sends a message to the women of America

If you think a comment like this from the President of the United States does not endorse this form of behaviour, then you are seriously deluded.

Is Malcolm Turnbull getting dumber as he slides to the right?

One of the things that Malcolm Turnbull believes about himself is that he is the smartest guy in the room. Probably not always the case but when it comes to  the Liberal party room, he probably is.

But it appears that, in gradually assuming and owning Tony Abbott’s policies and attitudes, he appears to be getting dumber.

His attacks on the “elite media” appeared to be an attempt to channel Donald Trump. And that is going to be a retrograde step, IQ-wise.

Interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30, Turnbull complained that “The ABC and “elite media” are to blame for distracting people from the government’s focus on economic growth, and was at pains to emphasise that he is in touch with the concerns of real people.

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Malcolm Turnbull keeps in touch from the balcony of his $50m Piper Point mansion

Sales pressed him observing that Coalition MPs were spending a lot of time on the issue of Section 18C and asking why it got so much attention when voters have more pressing concerns such as medical expenses, suicide rates and childcare costs.

“Leigh, this is a question you should address to your editors at the ABC – very seriously. 18C is talked about constantly on the ABC, talked about constantly in what’s often the elite media. I have focused overwhelmingly on the economy,” he said.

To begin with, it is completely understandable that a media organisation, such as the ABC, would be concerned about changes to legislation that affects their core business.

Turnbull’s argument seems to be that it’s the elite media that is responsible for people not appreciating his achievements.

This is a dumb thing to say on the ABC.

If you want to attack the elite media, then don’t do it  while appearing on the elite media. As a general rule, it’s intelligent people who watch the elite media and programs such as 7.30. They are also likely to think that such arguments are downright stupid.

At pains to emphasise that he is in touch with the concerns of real people and to make his  disgruntlement with the ABC clearer, he added “Again, I often get criticised or sent up – on the elite media like the ABC – for catching public transport a lot.”

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Riding on public transport during off-peak times is another way of keeping in touch.

He also criticised “elite media” for focussing on his poor polling. This from a man who made Tony Abbott’s poor polling the reason for rolling him.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.