Morrison calls on shoppers to shop to save his government

 

ScoMo has urged voters to ‘get shopping’ as retailers sweat on last-minute sales while claiming the threat of Labor’s negative gearing policy was having a negative impact on consumer sentiment.

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The Age reports that it is more likely that sluggish household consumption figures have been the dumbbell weighing down Australia’s economic growth over the past year, as consumers shut their wallets thanks to the triple threat of low wage growth, falling house prices and rising energy costs.

The problem with poor retail sales over Christmas is that it is a drain on GST tax returns and this affects the budget going into the next election. Not a good look for the Coalition.

The problem with this message is most people spend on credit cards so Morrison is basically encouraging people to increase levels of credit card debt, already very high in Australia.

The other interesting aspect of this message is that Morrison has linked the drop in Christmas spending to the Labor Party’s expressed policy of limiting negative gearing.  There is no evidence for this claim and cause-and-effect are distant in both time and space.

Morrison has simply trotted out as a stocking filler at Christmas. When is he going to realise the Australian electorate is a little bit smarter than this, even at Christmas.

It is more likely that people are spending less this Christmas because they don’t have as much money as result of stagnant wages growth.

This is something that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg did not mention in his budget update when he spoke about the Coalition’s wonderful economic management which is approaching budget surplus.

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The strong economic growth is a result of higher tax returns from strong coal and iron exports to China, nothing to do with government policies, something Ross Gittins of the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out.

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Frydenberg is a smart bloke but this disingenuous nonsense does his credibility no good. We expect this from people like Morrison, Tony Abbott, Eric abets and Barnaby Joyce.

But people have Frydenberg marked as a future Prime Minister and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Australian electorate is no longer going to suffer fools gladly.

And he has an opportunity to separate himself from the rest of the pack.

The days of just standing up saying anything you think you can get away with are over.

Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan will present foreign policy dilemmas for Australia

US President Donald Trump has withdrawn American troops from Syria and will probably soon withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

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This produces a foreign policy dilemma for Australia. Australia committed troops and aircraft to both of these countries in support of US foreign policy  because it represented the strategic rather regional interests for Australia.

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Now that the US has begun withdrawing its troops as part of the general isolationist policy on the part of Trump, it will be time for Australia to examine whether engagement in the Middle East and in Afghanistan is in Australia’s interests.

It was always a strategic argument that supporting US was in Australia’s best interests even if there was no specific regional interest in deploying troops to places like Syria and Afghanistan. But now that the US is no longer deploying troops in Syria and Afghanistan, Australia needs to think carefully about where its long-term strategic interests lie.

The problem is that in the Morrison government, with Julis Bishop gone, there is no one with intellectual firepower to deal with this specific problem.

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Queensland MP George Christensen outs himself as the MP under investigation by the AFP for travelling to and transferring large sums of money to Asia

The Guardian reports: Christensen’s statement, posted to Facebook on Saturday morning, came in response to media reports in recent days about blackmail concerns over an unnamed federal MP visiting seedy neighbourhoods overseas known for drugs and prostitution.

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He said he had travelled to the Philippines to visit his fiancee and her family several times since 2017 and had sent her money, while also helping to raise funds for a charity providing disabled children with wheelchairs. (9News)

Now you have to ask why George did this. Before he went public, no one knew about the referral to the AFP, let alone that it was about George. So if hed kept his mouth shut, the whole thing would’ve gone away.

We can only assume that he thought that by going public he would have tapped into the deep well of sympathy that the public holds for George Christensen .

What he doesn’t realise is that south of the Queensland border, the public views Queensland politicians through the wrong end of the political telescope and that deep well of sympathy and regard is very very shallow.

So without being unkind, given the recent shenanigans of his colleagues,

stories about wheelchairs for disabled children living in red light districts likely to be viewed through the wrong end of the political telescope.

 

Are these the faceless men behind the so-called “broad church” of the Victorian Liberal party?

 

The AGE reports: Liberal power broker Marcus Bastiaan ran persistent campaigns agitating against senior federal and state MPs including Jane Hume, James Paterson and Tim Wilson, whose seats he had promised to factional supporters. In state politics, members targeted are believed to have included Kim Wells, Inga Peulich, Heidi Victoria and Nick Wakeling.

The two Liberal powerbrokers have been called on to quit by senior liberals including Federal Victorian MP Kelly O’Dwyer and former Liberal premiers Jeff Kennett and Ted Baillieu for swapping racist and homophobic insults about other party members.

It is also believed that Bastiaan has promised the seats of sitting MPs to his followers presumably on the assumption that he has stacked the preselection processes sufficiently to be able to deliver on that promise.

Opinion is divided on President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria

First of all, who is in favour. Well, Donald Trump is in favour. And then there’s Vladimir Putin, who is also in favour.

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The New York Times reports: Mr. Putin’s praise came a day after Mr. Trump said he was ordering the withdrawal because the United States military had achieved its goal of defeating the Islamic State militant group in Syria. Given the unfinished business on the ground in Syria, however, the move was a surprise to many, including some senior presidential military and diplomatic advisers in Washington.

And who is against (also from NYT)

First there is Secretary of Defense James Mattis whose experience and stability were widely seen as a balance to an unpredictable president, resigned on Thursday in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria.

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Mr. Trump announced Mr. Mattis’s resignation in two tweets Thursday evening, and said the retired four-star Marine general turned Pentagon chief will leave at the end of February.

Mattis wrote to Trump: On Thursday, December 20, Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted a letter of resignation to President Donald Trump. “Because you have the right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,” he wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.” 

Trump has now lost two senior officials, Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general with significant military experience, in quick succession. This type of experience will be very difficult to replace.

And secondly there is most of Trump’s political allies in the Republican Party and most of his staff in the White House, and most of his international political allies.

And then this: America’s Kurdish allies in Syria are discussing the release of 3,200 Islamic State prisoners, a prominent monitoring group and a Western official of the anti-Islamic State coalition said on Thursday, a day after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of all American troops from the country.  Now, with the American troops gone, it’s hard to imagine that these people are going to go home and start tilling their crops.

 

Is the Federal National Party just made up of incorrigible pantsmen and political incompetents?

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Their leader and one the latest to be caught out seem to be blessed with an immaculate sense of timing.

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack seems to have known about Nationals MP Andrew Broad’s indiscretions for some six weeks but chose the day of the budget update to brief the press about them, completely overshadowing Josh Frydenberg’s and Mathias Cormann’s day in the sun.

The Coalition had chosen this particular day to endeavour to overshadow the Labor Party conference. All this planning and skulduggery came to nothing because Andrew Broad had been in Hong Kong this year endeavouring to portray himself as a cross between James Bond, Biggles and Deadwood Dick to “Sweet Sophia Rose” who he hooked up with in a Hong Kong bar.

There was some, if not much, good news in the budget update, so Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann must have been hoping to make some headway against the Labor Party.

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They would have been apoplectic with rage that the careful planning of the budget statement had been completely overwhelmed by the ineptitude of the leader of the Nationals and a repeat of the disastrous behaviour of the ex-Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

The worms are turning against Donald Trump

The nature of the criminal evidence against Donald Trump is becoming increasingly irrefutable and people who are arguing the case are amongst his staunchest allies.

NY: Donald Trump Speaks On Staten Island

The AGE reports that: prosecutors examining whether his inaugural committee raised illegal funds and speculation is mounting that Trump could face criminal prosecution when he leaves office.

The chief legal analyst on Fox News, which is Trump’s favourite television network, said it was clear that Trump had committed a crime by directing Cohen to make the payments.

Judge Andrew Napolitano said prosecutors had made it clear “that the president of the United States committed a felony by ordering and paying Michael Cohen to break the law”.

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George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway wrote in the Washington Post, “Trump could become a target of a very serious criminal campaign finance investigation….. which will be among the most important ever in the history of this nation and may very well have swung a presidential election.”

With friends like this, who needs enemies.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, dismissed the payments as “much ado about nothing”.

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“Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed,” he told The Daily Beast. “This was not a big crime.”

But a crime none the less.

 

Trump says Cohen pleaded guilty ‘to embarrass the President’

Donald Trump is a blogger’s delight. Every day, he does something that you can write about.

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Today; it’s the extraordinary claim that his lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to what “US District Judge William Pauley called a “veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct”. Pauley sentenced Cohen to 3 years in prison.

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It probably didn’t occur to the Donald that Cohen may have pleaded guilty because he was guilty. It’s worth watching the video on the link in this blog where the prosecuting attorney outlines Cohen’s lies.

The convictions related to the payments to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

The Elf on the Shelf has reported back to Santa Claus and he hasn’t given The Donald a very good report card. The Santa Sack is going to be full of some nasties:

  • Trump’s former campaign chairman and national security adviser are now awaiting sentencing on separate charges.
  • The Mueller inquiry which Trump describes as a “witch hunt” is turning up an awful lot of witches.
  • The White House is in disarray because of the departure of chief-of-staff John Kelly and was no clear plan to find a successor.
  • Trump is clearly peeved that he hasn’t delivered his signature campaign promise – a border wall – after two years of total Republican rule in Washington, DC. and appears little prospect that the Democrat dominated house is going to vote him the money.
  • Congressional Democrats are salivating at the prospect of digging into Trump’s business affairs and proposing their own policies.

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The AGE

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi  and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer made it quite clear in a fairly clear in an unedifying publicly  televised discussion with the President that they are going to take a fairly aggressive line in the new Congressional term and that the President will not be able to expect funding for his core promise of the wall on the Mexican border.

 

The Washington Post has published the outcome of George Pell’s first trial but Australian papers are gagged.

The logic seems to be that if Australians know the outcome of the trial, it will prejudice Pell’s later trials. It doesn’t matter if everyone in America knows the outcome. Fair enough, Americans won’t be on future juries and Australians don’t read American newspapers or read American news feeds. Or do they?

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Click this link

Donald Trump – the “Bottomless Pinocchio”

The Washington Post has an award for politicians who tell Porky’s called the Pinocchio award. Most politicians stop when they are caught out. Not Donald Trump. So the Post has a new award called the Bottomless Pinocchio. This is for a politician who repeats a lie 20 times.

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The Age reports that ” In fact, 14 statements made by the President immediately qualify for the list.

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The President’s most-repeated falsehoods fall into a handful of broad categories – claiming credit for promises he has not fulfilled; false assertions that provide a rationale for his agenda; and political weaponry against perceived enemies such as Democrats or Special Counsel Robert Mueller ”

Some of Trump’s regular deceptions date from the start of his administration:

  • that the United States pays for most of the cost of NATO (87 times).
  • that the United States pays for most of the cost of NATO (87 times)

 

  • that Democrats colluded with Russia during the election (48 times)
  • that 30 separate occasions, Trump has also falsely accused Mueller of having conflicts of interest and the staff led by the long-time Republican of being “angry Democrats”
  • that the US economy: it was the greatest, the best or the strongest in US history. (99 times) the economy today is not doing as well as it did under presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton – not to mention Ulysses Grant.
  • Trump has 40 times asserted that a wall was needed to stem the flow of drugs across the border – a claim that is contradicted the by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which says most illicit drugs come through legal points of entry.