Here comes the Democratic nominee to challenge Trump in 2020.

The Kennedy political machine is coming out of mothballs.

The Age reports: An American politician with a very well-known name but relatively little prominence outside of his home state of Massachusetts, will deliver next week’s Democratic rebuttal to US President Donald Trump’s state of the union address.

 Joseph Kennedy III with wife Lauren.

Grandson of Senator and former United States Attorney General Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy, a great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, and a great-grandson of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom,

If you have read any of his speeches in Congress, he has all the Kennedy eloquence and gravitas and none of the questionable morality that trailed  JohnBobby and Ted.

Next to Donald Trump, he will look like the Archangel Gabriel.

He is only 37, if he chooses not run in 2020, he will be 43 in 2024, still younger than Obama.

Time is on his side

Here comes the Democratic nominee to challenge Trump in 2020.

The Kennedy political machine is coming out of mothballs.

The Age reports: An American politician with a very well-known name but relatively little prominence outside of his home state of Massachusetts, will deliver next week’s Democratic rebuttal to US President Donald Trump’s state of the union address.

 Joseph Kennedy III with wife Lauren.

Grandson of Senator and former United States Attorney General Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy, a great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, and a great-grandson of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom,

If you have read any of his speeches in Congress, he has all the Kennedy eloquence and gravitas and none of the questionable morality that trailed  JohnBobby and Ted.

Next to Donald Trump, he will look like the Archangel Gabriel.

He is only 37, if he chooses not run in 2020, he will be 43 in 2024, still younger than Obama.

Time is on his side

Despite Trump’s promises, US coal consumption continues to decline.

The New York Times reports: While President Trump has offered some regulatory relief to the industry, market forces still dictate a gloomy future — one largely shaped by the glut of cheap natural gas yielded by the drilling boom in shale fields near here and across much of the nation.

Last year, coal consumption in the United States fell by 2.4 percent, falling to its lowest level in nearly four decades. In the early weeks of 2018, national coal production has continued to decline from a year ago despite the frigid winter. A weather-related increase in exports last year yielded a modest gain in jobs, but it is not considered sustainable.

In addition there is a shift towards different sources of energy.

feb wesrbr

Has this message been lost in the Australian politicians?


The recent antics of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer would suggest that Australian policy makers have a long way to go.

It is also a warning that government policy makers, however active and determined, and no one would argue that Donald Trump was either of these, can do little in the face of the relentless march of market forces.


Australia Day: A focus for what divides us

As Australia Day dawned, we were greeted by the headlines

Zero tolerance’ for violence on Australia Day, police warn


The faces of Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp and Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville said it all.

One increasingly vocal group has made Australia Day symbolic of the wrongs suffered by indigenous people in Australia. There is widespread, but not universal, support for this  cause.

Lidia Thorpe speaks to protesters before the “invasion day” march. Photo: Chris Hopkins

Another increasingly vocal group is from the far right typified by groups such as the True Blue Crew,  Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front. They are not a particularly appealing looking lot.

Many of the leaders, like Blair Cottrell, have criminal records. Cottrell is a convicted arsonist, and also has criminal convictions in regard to burglary, testosterone smuggling and breaching intervention orders  He served a brief time in prison for these offences.

United Patriots Front members Blair Cottrell, 27, Christopher Shortis, 46, and Neil Erikson, 32, have all been found guilty by a magistrate of inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims.

In a moving piece in The Age,  Catherine McGregor writes


 This year, the hysteria of the fearless beer hall patriots, with their jutting jaws and shallow sense of history, has reached peak synthetic outrage. The amusing thing about the alt right is it reserves the right to denounce the loyalty of any fellow citizen who does not conform to its narrow, idealised version of a dinkum Aussie bloke (oi, oi, oi). They hector us about identity politics, as though their own obsession with gender, sexuality and Islam is not the crudest form of identity politics.

It is fortunate that while the extremists are  on the streets, most Australians will actually be enjoying Australia Day, relaxing, perhaps having a barbie, maybe at the bowling club, maybe even doing nothing much.

Certainly not doing this.


Matthew Guy to sack local Councils and install ones he likes.

In an editorial strongly critical of Matthew Guy’s position on teaching Australian values And on sacking local councils that refused to all citizens should ceremonies on Australia Day, The Age  wrote  His vow to sack any council that votes to move citizenship ceremonies from Australia Day is contrary to the respect for democratic government the Coalition wishes to enshrine in our state schools’ curriculum.


Residents and ratepayers are free to sack councils in the usual fashion, by voting them out at elections. There is no indication that the councils of Yarra, Darebin or Moreland have behaved contrary to the wishes of their resident populations, if voting trends are any indication. Dismissing an entire council for voting on a policy contrary to the state government’s position would be a costly exercise in forcing ideological consistency.

It also went on to add that the Victorian schools’ curriculum was a national curriculum that had been agreed by the Federal government and all State governments. It has been in place for a year now and Matthew Guy and his shadow Minister of Education, Tim Smith, are about to undo all the work an negotiation that went into putting it into place.

Introducing another new curricula is probably not a good idea. Changing curricula is a long and difficult task and highly disruptive to the children’s indication.  Victorian parents and Victorian schoolteachers are not going to thank Matthew Guy for all the disruption that a second curriculum change in two years is going to cause.

Sacking democratically elected local councils and appointing ones of your own liking is also likely to be very messy. There is nothing to suggest that the people of Yarra, my local council, are unhappy with the stance that the Council has taken.

Matthew Guy assumed to be searching frantically for an issue that he can run on for the next election. He tried law and order but the polls seem to indicate that Victorians are happy with the way Daniel Andrews is dealing with that issue. So he tried running with “Australian values”. Seems she got a bit of a biffing over that as well.  So now he’s running with Australia Day. He’s got another 12 hours to go on that one.

So. What’s next Matthew?

Selling hot cross buns  too early?  That one’s got a bit of time to run.  And it’s tailor-made for a serious politician like Matthew Guy.


Federal government has no plans for electric cars – Frydenberg

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg thinks that the introduction of the   electric car will rival the iPhone. Well, there’s nothing like thinking small. But Mr Frydenberg stopped short of committing to more federal government action to support electric vehicle growth


Certainly the iPhone has changed the way we communicate and it is certainly a disruptive technology and certainly has global reach.  But it will be small bickies compared with introduction of electric cars. To start with an iPhone costs around $1000. A cheap car is around $20,000.

The replacement of petrol driven engines by electric engines will have profound effects not only on transport systems of the world economy but also on the countries whose manufacturing base drives this massive technological change.

And the Australian Federal government is sitting on its hands.

Just recently Malcolm Turnbull announced that the government will no longer be “backing winners”. We have turned our back on the motorcar industry just at a time when the goalposts are shifting and massive new opportunities are beginning to open up.

Everything that Australia is doing in preparation for the advent of the electric car presupposes that Australia will be importing its electric cars.

Existing incentives such as a discount on the luxury car tax threshold for low emission vehicles, and carbon credit units for companies that transition their fleets to electric vehicles. Additional measures include tax exemptions, rebates on charging stations, subsidies to reduce upfront purchase costs, allowing electric vehicles to travel in bus lanes and targets for the number of electric vehicles in government car fleets.

Just imagine if the CEO of  Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, stood up and said “Wir haben keine Pläne für das Elektroauto”


Australia is lagging behind in the take-up of electric cars


But this is really beside the point. What Australia needs to be doing is looking at ways of rejuvenating  its motorcar industry and begin producing the new technologies that will drive the solar powered motorcars of the future.

There are two issues here

The first is reducing the polluting effects of  petrol and diesel driven motorcars.

The second is rejuvenating Australian manufacturing. There will be a minor Industrial Revolution driving electric and solar driven motorcars. It will require a concerted effort between industry and government to ensure that Australia and Australian workers, Australian investors and Australian superannuation funds do not miss out on this.


Fresh from rescuing the Whyalla steelworks from receivership, Britain’s “man of steel” Sanjeev Gupta is now eyeing an ambitious plan to build electric cars at the former Holden site in South Australia.

Some thoughts about electric cars (i)

This is a “When I was a boy” post.

As I remember, it was in the 1960s when environmentalists began expressing concern about pollution from motorcars.  The discussion focused on the the smog that was trapped by cold air inversion in the Los Angeles basin

in the days when Americans drove cars like this.

These were the days when Donella and Dennis Meadows had published Limits to Growth, a work that suggested that the earth was going to run out of resources.

Neither the idea that we to limit the size and use of our motorcars nor  that we were going to run out of resources was particularly well received in the 1960s

Since then, things have changed in the motor car industry. Cars have become smaller, engine efficiencies have improved, unleaded fuel has been introduced. But pollution rates have increased simply because there are more motorcars on the road.

It has taken nearly 60 years for a viable technological alternative to emerge. The  alternative still requires widespread solar power to be available for electric powered motorcars to run with zero pollution rates.

What this means is that it is going to be quite long time before things get better.


Trump, the great negotiator, cannot negotiate with his own party, the Republican Party, to keep government running.

President Trump and the Republicans hold majorities in both Congress and in the Senate yet he cannot negotiate with his own party to pass a bill to keep government running. He blames the Democrats, who do not have a majority in either house for the failure to pass a bill to guarantee supply.

What a joke.

Trump, who in July 2016 said: “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” has asserted that past government shutdowns were the fault of the person in the White House.

In a Fox & Friends interview after a 2013 shutdown, he said then-President Barack Obama was ultimately responsible.

“The problems start from the top and have to get solved from the top,” Trump said. “The president is the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room and he’s got to lead.”

I have a saying which I  often repeat to myself and I get slightly pissed off with what I perceived to be the incompetence of other people: “The right to criticise comes with the right to do better.”

Trump 2018: Shitholes and Stormy Daniels. Can things possibly get worse. Of course they can, and probably will.

Throughout 2017, the daily crassness and obscenity of Donald Trump made many of us wonder: Has he reached the bottom of the cesspool? But he continued to amaze us and probably himself.

He began 2018 by igniting a major diplomatic row by insulting a number of countries whose citizens had migrated to the US by calling their homelands “shitholes”.  He also  alienated a large number of US citizens whose parents had immigrated from these countries. Significantly,  Africans, Mexicans, Haitians or South Americans.  Mind you,  Donald Trump regards himself as the least racist person on earth.

And then there was porn star Stormy Daniels denying that she was paid money to deny that she had been having sex with the president-to-be shortly after he married third wife Melania.


Donald Trump has denied having an affair with an adult film star known as Stormy Daniels.  Photo: AP

If you Google Stormy Daniels, you can get some pictures of her engaged in her particular professional activities. As this is a family blog, I cannot reproduce them here, so this will have to do


Stormy Daniels. Photo: AP

Did I here’s someone mentioned Dignity of the Office?

Trump voters assess Trump’s first year

Recently, the New York Times took the unprecedented step of devoting its editorial page to a selected sample of Trump voters and allowing them to express their views on his performance after one year in office.


Photo Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

Those who were impressed with his performance gave the following  reasons. All these writers would vote for Trump again

Donald Trump has succeeded where Barack Obama failed. The economy is up, foreign tyrants are afraid, ISIS has lost most of its territory, our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem and tax reform is accomplished. Who knew that all it would take to make progress was vision, chutzpah and some testosterone?

Steven Sanabria Photo Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times


President Trump has exceeded my wildest expectations. Yes, he is embarrassing. Yes, he picks unnecessary fights. But he also pushed tax reform through, has largely defeated ISIS in Iraq, has named a number of solid conservative judges, has prioritized American citizens over illegal immigrants, has gotten us out of several bad international agreements, has removed a number of wasteful regulations, is putting real pressure on North Korea and Iran, has reined in a number of out-of-control agencies


Yes, I was a Trump voter. There, I’ve said it. Though I am subjecting myself to derision, I think that President Trump has performed well policywise. Changes for the good of our country in both foreign and domestic affairs have happened under his watch.

Much of the media, as the hotbed of hatred against Mr. Trump, has pushed me more toward him than his social behavior has done the opposite.


I’ve voted twice in my life: once for myself when I ran for Congress 10 years ago, and once for Donald Trump last year. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s and master’s from Harvard;

Philip Maymin Photo CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

Oh no, ISIS! Oh no, banks! The more chaos there was, the worse we were.Now volatility is our friend. The more chaos, the better! Entrepreneurship up. Optimism up. Good old American problem solving is back! You know who loves change? Capitalists. Mr. Trump has led us on that spiritual exodus.


President Donald Trump still has to deliver bigly for me on fiscal responsibility. The national debt is my biggest concern today. I am very happy with the number of executive orders he’s passed to get around an obstructionist Democratic Party.

Joshua Dawson Photo Credit Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

If I wanted a scripted smooth talker for president, I’d have voted for someone else. An unscripted Mr. Trump feels more authentic to me, and I still don’t see him as a politician.


I’m thrilled with the progress that President Trump has made in defeating ISIS, cutting taxes for middle-class families and making court appointments. Thanks to the tax cuts, my husband and I stand to keep a much larger portion of our paychecks. I’d like to see more work in securing the border, enforcing immigration laws, improving our infrastructure and combating political corruption in D.C. (in both parties).

Emily Robertson Photo CreditI lana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

What I like least about his presidency so far is the tweeting. It’s often immature and lowers the tone of the debate while debasing the office of the presidency.  


You can find the 500 NYT readers’ responses to these letters on the same page, they appear to be universally negatively

They NYT published two letters from two voters who would not vote for him again. This is an extract from one

I voted for Donald Trump, and I regret it.


Sydney Cohan Photo Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times

I thought he would change his divisive rhetoric from the campaign trail and never imagined he would divide this country with lies and racism, bigotry and hate.


 There was a lot of criticism from NYT readers that only 2 letter were published from  this group  but overall the response was positive.

Here is some of the commentary from NYT  readers

Thanks to these letters, I do have a better understanding now of what these writers see happening under Mr. Trump: an end to pussyfooted, mealy-mouthed weakness and to regulatory overreach; a return to forcefulness and certainty on the world stage and unleashed optimism at home.

But then I stop and think about what it is they’re really so happy about: reckless threats and pointless insults passing for diplomacy; a rejection of fact, science and even the notions of decency, humanity and justice; a litany of lies and myths as the foundation of policy; and historic levels of incompetence and self-dealing across the agencies of government from the White House on down.


How depressing. These Trump supporters have had a year to assess a man who has spent his presidency — when he isn’t reclining in bed watching cable TV while wolfing down cheeseburgers and tweeting mean nicknames — lying, bullying and obstructing to cover up possible crimes against our democracy.


Perhaps this one summed it up best

Dear New York Times,

Please don’t ever do that again.


 From an outsider’s perspective, and I must admit that I’m fairly strongly anti-Trump, it seems that the Trump supporters have to ignore a fairly large proportion of his behaviour when they argue in his support. And they have so little to point to in terms of policy success in the year in which he has had majorities in both the Senate and in Congress.

 And there is the difficulty that there is no clear policy agenda for 2018, Aoun works he runs the very real risk of losing control of one or both of the houses.