In the news … May 2021

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Morrison the pathological liar: Crikey’s exposé

26 May 2021: This week, Australian independent news publication Crikey has published ‘A Dossier of Lies and Falsehoods’ about prime minister Scott Morrison’s routine lies and dishonesties.

It is possibly the most important piece of Australian journalism in two years, putting on record what other news media won’t: that Morrison resorts to lies and dishonesty reflexively, even when there appears to be no political upside.

This isn’t about the political routine of fudging the truth, or telling only half-truths.  This is about a systematic pattern of deliberate lies that has bred a culture of never telling the truth.  Always lying and misleading.  The complete absence of integrity, decency, and ethics in public life.

As important as publishing this series of articles is that Crikey unlocked these from its paywall, granting free access.  This means anyone can read and challenge the assertions underlying the exposé.  It seems unlikely Crikey published them without carefully considering questions of both public interest and truth as legal defences, should Morrison sue.

The exposé is vitally important at a time in which almost no other journalists or news media organization has been willing to challenge Morrison or his ministry on any of the staggering mountain of their lies and deceptions, not the least of which has been the continuing cover-up of the Brittney Higgins rape allegations, and the sleight of hand budget that appears not to contain mention of the $600 million promise of a gas fired power station in the Hunter Valley.

A case in point was the willingness of Senator Amanda Stoker to lie and mislead when asked why not a penny of the announced $4 billion disaster relief fund had been spent, though the money was earning interest.

And the culture doesn’t stop there: the PM’s chief of staff, John Kunkel, charged with preparing a report about who in the prime minister’s office knew what and when about the Brittany Higgins rape allegation, essentially recycled the original lies designed to smear Higgins and her partner, although his full report remains secret.

At the same time, a similar inquiry by Morrison’s former chief of staff, now head of the department of prime minister and cabinet, Philip Gaetjens, is being shrouded in secrecy to the point Gaetjens refused to answer questions in the Senate confirming so much as the subject matter of his inquiries.

These are examples of events just this week.  A comprehensive overview of similar cases over two years would be voluminous.  As would be a review of how often mainstream news organizations, including the ABC, have not challenged even the most blatant lies.

It is easy to conclude that this culture of lies and dishonesty has delivered to Australia the most corrupt and untrustworthy government since federation.

Morrison Taiwan blunder should scare everyone

13 May 2021: No matter which of three interpretations you apply to Scott Morrison’s Taiwan blunder, the corollaries should scare the living daylights out of all Australians.

Scenario 1—Scotty from marketing got it wrong and was too arrogant to admit his mistake, compounding a history of pathological lies he thinks are necessary to preserve his image as infallible and unaccountable.  The corollary is that Australia has a PM who acts like a psychopath, cannot be trusted, and is therefore highly dangerous in crisis situations.  Especially because he is rarely challenged seriously by his colleagues, journalists, or the opposition.

Scenario 2—Scotty from marketing has not the intellect to grasp complexity, and believes he can reduce such intricacies to simple but false propositions, possibly because that’s what happens in his church, or in pubs, or at backyard barbeques.  The corollary is that Australia’s PM is incapable of handling most matters of state, making him—again—dangerous in crisis situations, but also creating a sleeping disaster with consequences for the nation extending far into the future as the ramifications of his yet unknown or secret actions are progressively uncovered.

Scenario 3—Scotty from marketing actually believes that he has the right and power to impose on the nation and the world his delusional reinterpretations of reality, facts, and matters of policy and record, in line with his church’s teachings about personal revelation.  The corollary is that Australia’s PM is in fact a dangerous lunatic who could lead the nation into catastrophe if he is not checked by his colleagues, the opposition, journalists, and the public service; all of them have thus far proven unwilling or impotent to provide that safeguard against disaster.

Scary conclusions about a man already known, by his actions, as devoid of moral conscience, unable or unwilling to accept personal responsibility for any of his many failings, and arrogant enough to impose his sociopathic whims on the entire nation.

Pork barrel budget, but good riddance to Abetz

12 May 2021: As some commentators have observed, the budget is largely designed to win votes at a forthcoming election.  Nothing in it inspires confidence in a sustained economic recovery from the coronavirus recession.

In addition, the job creation figures are simply not credible, given that irregular gig economy jobs at minimum wages and potentially low hours are counted as jobs.

Paying billions in subsidy to fossil fuel industries while spending nothing at all on climate change policies is recidivism which should have been remarked on more prominently by so-called commentators.

Not investing in higher education at the same time as talking up importing skilled labour is a truculent piece of cultural and class warfare that will damage the economy over the longer term and immiserate a new generation of Australians.

As with all Morrison regime promises, a lot depends on whether promised benefits ever materialize for anyone but Coalition patrons and courted billionaires.

Perhaps the only good news came Staurday prior to the budget, when Tasmanian neo-fascist hardliner Eric Abetz was dropped from top spot on the Liberal senate ticket to third spot, which will be hard to lead to a re-election.

Abetz complained bitterly that this was a sign of ageism and sexism.  More reflective observers might see his 1930s-style fascist, bigoted rhetorics, and his abhorrent contribution to the trade war with China, as principal contributing factors.  Tasmanian voters might also argue that Abetz has done nothing to improve Tasmanian lives while warming a senate seat and collecting a handsome salary for many years.

Snow White: fiction or sexual assault?

5 May 2021: SFGATE reporters Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine have argued that the Disneyworld Snow White representation includes a kiss by Prince Charming that is non-consensual!

SFGATE is an online offshoot of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

The argument is that since Snow White is comatose, she couldn’t possibly consent to the kiss, and the representation sends a bad example to kids.  One has to wonder whether Dowd and Tremaine include Trumpist ‘adults’ (if that’s not an oxymoron) in that concern.

Moreover, one has to wonder whether a cartoon character, based on an 1812 Grimm brothers fairy tale, has the legal rights to consent or object to a kiss.  Or whether Americans, in particular, would be better served being taught the distinction between fiction and reality rather than ridiculous impositions of reality onto fiction.

Here’s a question with more connection to reality than Dowd and Tremaine seem ready for: if a paramedic or doctor touches an unconscious patient, is that sexual assault because consent wasn’t given?

Prince charming apparently rescued Snow White from a coma with his kiss.  Was he acting as a paramedic in that instance?

Absurd, right?  But we’re talking about America, where the absurd becomes reality on a long enough timeline.

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