Monthly Archives: January 2022

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 2, 2022


 Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 2, 2022

by Tony Wikrent


Happy new year! 


Strategic Political Economy

“The collapse of the USSR thirty years ago helped to undermine the Cold War democracy that opposed it”

Heather Cox Richardson, December 26, 2021 [Letters from an American]

...the collapse of the USSR gave the branch of the Republican Party that wanted to destroy the New Deal confidence that their ideology was right. Believing that their ideology of radical individualism had destroyed the USSR, these so-called Movement Conservatives very deliberately set out to destroy what they saw as Soviet-like socialist ideology at home. As anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “For 40 years conservatives fought a two-front battle against statism, against the Soviet empire abroad and the American left at home. Now the Soviet Union is gone and conservatives can redeploy. And this time, the other team doesn't have nuclear weapons.”

In the 1990s, they turned their firepower on those they considered insufficiently committed to free enterprise, including traditional Republicans who agreed with Democrats that the government should regulate the economy, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. Movement Conservatives called these traditional Republicans “Republicans in Name Only” or RINOs and said that, along with Democrats, such RINOs were bringing “socialism” to America.

With the “evil empire,” as President Ronald Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union, no longer a viable enemy, Movement Conservatives, aided by new talk radio hosts, increasingly demonized their domestic political opponents. As they strengthened their hold on the Republican Party, Movement Conservatives cut taxes, slashed the social safety net, and deregulated the economy.

In the 1990s, as well-connected businessmen began to gather wealth and power in the former Soviet republics, that deregulation made the US and the UK attractive places for these oligarchs to place their illicit money. According to a fascinating new study from Chatham House about the UK, that investment ultimately weakened the rule of law. The study concerns the UK alone, but since the UK and US are by far the world’s top exporters of financial services, many of the report’s findings are suggestive for the US as well….

The financial deregulation that made the US a good bet for oligarchs to launder money got a boost when, after the September 11 attacks on the US, Congress in 2001 passed the PATRIOT Act to address the threat of terrorism. The law took on money laundering and the illicit funding of terrorism, requiring financial institutions to inspect large sums of money passing through them. But the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) exempted many real estate deals from the new regulations.

In the years since, the United States has become one of the money-laundering capitals of the world. Experts say that hundreds of billions of dollars are laundered in the US every year. As Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) noted last year, “[I]t’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to our campaigns, but if you launder your money through a front company with anonymous ownership there is very little we can do to stop you.”


In some ways, the collapse of the USSR thirty years ago helped to undermine the Cold War democracy that opposed it. In the past thirty years, we have torn ourselves apart as  politicians adhering to an extreme ideology demonized their opponents. That demonization is escalating now as Republican radicals who were born after the collapse of the USSR and who therefore see their primary enemies as Democrats, are moving the Republican Party even further to the right. North Carolina representative Madison Cawthorn, for example, was born in 1995.

That demonization has also helped to justify the deregulation of our economy and then the illicit money from the rising oligarchs it attracted, money that has corrupted our democratic system. 

“Academic research is falling apart in slow motion over the last two years”

Yves Smith [Naked Capitalism 12-28-2021]

An NC regular wrote Yves:

I have watched how academic research is falling apart in slow motion over the last two years with increasing desperation and silent horror. Many people still don’t notice it, but if you are actually paying attention it is inescapable. Many labs just disintegrated during the lockdown and have not been able to reconstitute themselves because it has been wave after wave of disruption ever since, collaboration networks have been disrupted, there is little of the vibrant exchange of ideas that happened in the hallways back in the days because people are scattered, etc. The place essentially stopped being what it once was prior to March 2020 — it is now a collection of fancy shiny buildings and (some of) the people are still there, but that intangible factor that made it great is no longer present.

Really, really depressing.

I can imagine that R&D in the tech companies has been hit hard too from all the WFH but that too is not being widely understood yet. There is no substitute for two or more very smart people brainstorming in front of the whiteboard around midnight. You only understand that once you have been at that board past midnight and have seen the fruits of such exchanges.

Meanwhile I see all the time papers from China that do things we had planned to do at some point but could not because of the whole disruption.

And they are actually attracting talent, exactly the opposite of what is claimed — a lot of world class Chinese researchers who worked in US universities just went back home and they will stay there. Loss for the US, gain for China.

I am starting to see even non-Chinese people going there. For now it is cases of people who have some connection, e.g. a Chinese wife is a typical cases, but expect that to change over time as the realization slowly sets in about what the future holds and especially if the Chinese make some efforts to make the process of cultural adjustment smoother.

Of course it matters what kind of “talent” you care about — do you want to attract actually productive scientists and engineers, or does your definition of “talent” center on financial parasites?

The U.S. Military Is a Machine of Impunity 

Peter Maass, December 26 2021 [Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 12-28-2021]

We tend to associate barbarism with the kind of things I saw in Bosnia: close-quarters violence in which the perpetrators look into the eyes of their victims and leave the fatal encounter with drops of blood on their boots. That’s an inadequate understanding because it excludes the killing-from-a-distance that is now central to America’s forever wars, which have increasingly moved away from ground combat. According to the nonprofit organization Airwars, the U.S. has conducted more than 91,000 airstrikes in seven major conflict zones since 2001, with at least 22,000 civilians killed and potentially as many as 48,000….

Impunity tends to begin at the top. No American general has been disciplined for overseeing the catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor for lying to Congress about these disasters…. We are a society that excels in elite unaccountability. Just look at the number of bank CEOs who faced criminal charges after the 2008 financial collapse (zero), or the number of Sackler family members who were criminally charged after their company, Purdue Pharma, started the opioid epidemic with OxyContin (also zero), or the number of billionaires who avoid paying income taxes (lots of them). And let’s not forget the politicians and pundits who goaded America into an illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and suffered no consequences....

Military impunity is somewhat unique because it stretches downward, too. If an intelligence analyst or drone operator or fighter pilot follows orders and procedures for an airstrike that kills dozens of civilians in a wedding party — which has happened — they need to be excused of wrongdoing. 

Biden’s Agenda Is on Its Death Bed Because the Interests of the Rich and Poor Are Irreconcilable

Branko Marcetic [Jacobin, via Mike Norman Economics 12-29-2021]

Joe Biden’s rationale for his own presidency was that he could bring oligarchs and working people together and hammer out a compromise that worked for both. The apparent death of his legislative agenda proves what a laughable fantasy that was....

Climate and environmental crises
Dave Schuler [Glittering Eye, via Mike Norman Economics 12-28-2021]

How surprising is it, really, that those tasked with formulating policy miraculously come up with [climate] policies that barely touch themselves at all while falling most heavily on those who have practically no ability to effect the change notionally intended? And talk about undemocratic!…

It's the super-consumers. And they are not about to change their lifestyle.

The Critique of Apocalyptic Profit-Seeking in "Don't Look Up" Hits Close to Home

Tony Norman, January 2, 2022 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Common Dreams]

The movie is a parable about an existential threat to the planet and the inability of political leaders to deal with the looming crisis except through a prism of self-interest—both personal and corporate—that ultimately endangers all of humanity…..

Recently, I watched Adam McKay's apocalyptic cautionary tale "Don't Look Up" on Netflix. I laughed out loud enough times to recommend it, even though it isn't nearly as subversive as "Dr. Strangelove" or as razor-sharp a critique of the unholy symbiosis of politics and media in this era as "Network" was about the 1970s.

Still, "Don't Look Up," written by Mr. McKay and David Sirota, is close enough to both to merit a large audience, beyond what you might expect given the plurality of critics dinging it for didacticism. 

The pandemic

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 1-1-2022]



The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

TW: A service economy without the service. How do you promote the general welfare and safeguard public health if private enterprise is allowed to run / ruin everything?

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 12-29-2021]


Corporate Profits Drive 60% of Inflation Increases 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 12-30-2021]

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 1-1-2022]

Excellent thread!



The Selective Sovietization of American Capitalism 

Amar Bhide [Project Syndicate, via Naked Capitalism 1-1-2022]

As Prices Rise, Biden Turns to Antitrust Enforcers 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 12-26-2021]

How Public Workers Can Stop The Privatization of Everything 

[Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism 12-27-2021]

Green New Deal - An opportunity too big to miss

Electrify Everything in Your Home Guide 

[Rewiring America, via The Big Picture 12-28-2021]

The best advice on how to electrify everything is a guide to replacing all of your fossil-fueled appliances with modern electric ones. Once you electrify: your home will be more comfortable, your indoor and outdoor air quality will be healthier, your monthly bills will be lower. 

The Biden Transition and the Fight for Real Hope and Change

The 10 races that will decide the Senate majority 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 12-27-2021]

Federal judiciary: The remarkable speed with which Joe Biden is seating judges. 

[Slate, via Naked Capitalism 12-28-2021]

There are two defining features of Biden’s push to remake the federal judiciary: speed and diversity. Let’s start with speed. In his first year, just 19 of Trump’s judicial nominees had received Senate confirmation. For President Barack Obama, that number was 13; for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it was 28. Biden, by contrast, has seen 40 of his judges confirmed already—the most since President Ronald Reagan. Eleven of Biden’s judges sit on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals, where most federal cases are resolved. (For comparison, Obama placed just three judges on the Court of Appeals in his first year.)

Now turn to the other extraordinary aspect of Biden’s judicial nominees: their unprecedented demographic and professional diversity. In a comprehensive report, Alliance for Justice has highlighted the many firsts among this crop of judges: the first openly lesbian judge on the Court of Appeals (Beth Robinson); the first Korean American to sit on the Court of Appeals (Lucy Koh); the first Muslim federal judge (Zahid Quraishi); the first Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Tiffany Cunningham); the first woman of color to serve on the U.S. District Court in Maryland (Lydia Griggsby); the first Native American federal judge in Washington state (Lauren J. King)—the list goes on. According to Alliance for Justice, nearly 75 percent of Biden’s judicial nominees are women, and nearly 65 percent are people of color. For comparison, only 24 percent of Trump’s judicial nominees were women, and just 16 percent were people of color….

For too long, Democratic and Republican presidents (including Obama) have elevated a disproportionate number of prosecutors and corporate lawyers to the bench…. Under pressure from court reform groups like Demand Justice, Biden bucked this custom. He has nominated 21 public defenders, 14 civil rights attorneys, 10 plaintiff-side lawyers, three former legal aid lawyers, three consumer protection lawyers, and one labor lawyer. Already, he has doubled the number of former public defenders on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Several of his nominees previously fought for voting rights (Myrna Pérez and Dale Ho), marriage equality (Beth Robinson), and death row inmates (Holly Thomas). Their commitment to these controversial causes was not a deal-breaker for the White House; it was a selling point. At long last, courageous attorneys who stick their necks out to promote progressive values are being rewarded rather than punished by the Democratic establishment.

The dark side

The disloyal opposition is deadly

Heather Cox Richardson, December 30, 2021 [Letters from an American]

Biden and the Democrats have had to face an opposition that is working to undermine the government. Even after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, 147 Republican members of Congress voted to challenge at least one of the certified state electoral votes, propping up the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Many of them continue to plug that lie, convincing 68% of Republicans that Biden is an illegitimate president.

This lie has justified the passage in 19 Republican-dominated states of 33 new laws to suppress voting or to take the counting of votes out of the hands of non-partisan officials altogether and turn that process over to Republicans.

Republicans have stoked opposition to the Democrats by feeding the culture wars, skipping negotiations on the American Rescue Plan, for example, to complain that the toymaker Hasbro was introducing a gender-neutral Potato Head toy, and that the estate of Dr. Seuss was ceasing publication of some of his lesser-known books that bore racist pictures or themes. They created a firestorm over Critical Race Theory, an advanced legal theory, insisting that it, and the teaching of issues of race in the schools, was teaching white children to hate themselves.

Most notably, though, as Biden’s coronavirus vaccination program appeared to be meeting his ambitious goals, Republicans suggested that government vaccine outreach was overreach, pushing the government into people’s lives. Vaccination rates began to drop off, and Biden’s July 4 goal went unmet just as the more contagious Delta variant began to rage across the country.

In July, Biden required federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated; in November, the administration said that workers at businesses with more than 100 employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or frequently tested.

Rejecting the vaccine became a badge of opposition to the Biden administration. By early December, fewer than 10% of adult Democrats were unvaccinated, compared with 40% of Republicans. This means that Republicans are three times more likely than Democrats to die of Covid, and as the new Omicron variant rages across the country, Republicans are blaming Biden for not stopping the pandemic. Covid has now killed more than 800,000 Americans.

It began decades before Trump

Heather Cox Richardson, December 29, 2021 [Letters from an American]

Since the 1990s, Republicans have used violence and the news coverage it gets to gain through pressure what they could not gain through votes.

[Roger] Stone engineered a crucial moment for that dynamic when he helped to drive the so-called Brooks Brothers Riot that shut down the recounting of ballots in Miami-Dade County, Florida, during the 2000 election. That recount would decide whether Florida’s electoral votes would go to Democrat Al Gore or Republican George W. Bush. As the recount showed the count swinging to Gore, Republican operatives stormed the station where the recount was taking place, insisting that the Democrats were trying to steal the election.

“The idea we were putting out there was that this was a left-wing power grab by Gore, the same way Fidel Castro did it in Cuba,” Stone later told legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. "We were very explicitly drawing that analogy.” “It had to be a three-legged stool. We had to fight in the courts, in the recount centers and in the streets—in public opinion,” Bush campaign operative Brad Blakeman said.

As the media covered the riot, the canvassing board voted to shut down the recount because of the public perception that the recount was not transparent, and because the interference meant the recount could not be completed before the deadline the court had established. “We scared the crap out of them when we descended on them,” Blakeman later told Michael E. Miller of the Washington Post. The chair of the county’s Democratic Party noted, “Violence, fear and physical intimidation affected the outcome of a lawful elections process.” Blakeman’s response? “We got some blowback afterwards, but so what? We won.”

America is now in fascism’s legal phase: The history of racism in the US is fertile ground for fascism. Attacks on the courts, education, the right to vote and women’s rights are further steps on the path to toppling democracy

Jason Stanley, December 22, 2021 [The Guardian, via The Big Picture 12-26-2021]

Jason Stanley is Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy at Yale University. He is the author of How Fascism Works

The contemporary American fascist movement is led by oligarchical interests for whom the public good is an impediment, such as those in the hydrocarbon business, as well as a social, political, and religious movement with roots in the Confederacy. As in all fascist movements, these forces have found a popular leader unconstrained by the rules of democracy, this time in the figure of Donald Trump….

Often, those who employ fascist tactics do so cynically – they do not really believe the enemies they target are so malign, or so powerful, as their rhetoric suggests. Nevertheless, there comes a tipping point, where rhetoric becomes policy. Donald Trump and the party that is now in thrall to him have long been exploiting fascist propaganda. They are now inscribing it into fascist policy….

Fascist propaganda takes place in the US in already fertile ground – decades of racial strife has led to the United States having by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. A police militarized to address the wounds of racial inequities by violence, and a recent history of unsuccessful imperial wars have made us susceptible to a narrative of national humiliation by enemies both internal and external. As WEB Du Bois showed in his 1935 masterwork Black Reconstruction, there is a long history of business elites backing racism and fascism out of self-interest, to divide the working class and thereby destroy the labor movement.

The novel development is that a ruthless would-be autocrat has marshalled these fascist forces and shaped them into a cult, with him as its leader. We are now well into the repercussions of this latter process – where fascist lies, for example, the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, have begun to restructure institutions, notably electoral infrastructure and law…. 

John Ehrlichman, one of Nixon’s top advisers, said that Nixon’s campaign and administration “had two enemies: the anti-war left and Black people”, and invented the drug war to target both:

You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Rachel Kleinfeld, in an October 2021 article, documents the rise of the legitimation of political violence in the US. According to the article, the “bedrock idea uniting right-wing communities who condone violence is that white Christian men in the United States are under cultural and demographic threat and require defending – and that it is the Republican Party and Donald Trump, in particular, who will safeguard their way of life.”

We are now in fascism’s legal phase. According to the International Center for Not for Profit Law, 45 states have considered 230 bills criminalizing protest, with the threat of violent leftist and Black rebellion being used to justify them. That this is happening at the same time that multiple electoral bills enabling a Republican state legislature majority to overturn their state’s election have been enacted suggests that the true aim of bills criminalizing protest is to have a response in place to expected protests against the stealing of a future election (as a reminder of fascism’s historical connection to big business, some of these laws criminalize protest near gas and oil lines).

The Nazis used Judeo-Bolshevism as their constructed enemy. The fascist movement in the Republican party has turned to critical race theory instead. Fascism feeds off a narrative of supposed national humiliation by internal enemies. Defending a fictional glorious and virtuous national past, and presenting its enemies as deviously maligning the nation to its children, is a classic fascist strategy to stoke fury and resentment. Using the bogeyman of critical race theory, 29 states have introduced bills to restrict teaching about racism and sexism in schools, and 13 states have enacted such bans.

The key to democracy is an informed electorate. An electorate that knows about persisting racial injustice in the United States along all its dimensions, from the racial wealth gap to the effects of over-policing and over-incarceration, will be unsurprised by mass political rebellion in the face of persistent refusal to face up to these problems. An electorate ignorant of these facts will react not with understanding, but with uncomprehending fear and horror at Black political unrest.

Why Is Talk Radio So Right-Wing? (And How Can The Left Compete?)

[Current Affairs, October 6, 2021]

America’s leading progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann, discusses how leftists can effectively counter the conservative talk radio behemoth.

Hartmann: On another occasion, there’s a another very large radio network with over 900 stations, and I met with the one of the two billionaires who owned that network in the offices of a United States Senator, and said “Why don’t you put”—and he had hundreds of right wing stations—and I said “Why don’t you put some left-wingers on?” I would offer myself, but just generically. And he simply said straight up, he said, “I’m never gonna put somebody on the air who’s gonna argue for raising my taxes.” This is a guy who owned 900 radio stations….

we were doing just fine in Portland, for example, because the local management in Portland hired a separate guy to sell KPOJ who built his own networks and played golf with the local liberals and got in tight with the Democratic Party. But that was not the case to the best of my knowledge on any of the other stations. And I put together a one-day seminar for sales staff in radio stations and took it on the road and traveled all around the country visiting all these radio stations that we run, saying “here’s how you sell progressive talk radio.” First of all, you have to have one person on your sales staff who is completely devoted to it, and who understands the politics of it. And then they need to insert themselves into the local Democratic Party, and they need to get involved with local businesses that have progressive values. And to the best of my knowledge, none of those stations ever took me up on that outside of the one here in Portland.…


They’re preaching a message of tax cuts and deregulation. And so, of course, the very, very wealthy and very powerful are going to be pouring money down their throats. And I’m preaching a message of “raise taxes on rich people.” And I don’t know how many rich people are therefore going to go out and buy a radio station to put me on….

Back around what must have been 2006 or thereabouts, Randi Rhodes and me and a bunch of other people from Air America went to DC to talk with a bunch of Senators, Democratic Senators, about talk radio, and we tried to convince them that that, you know, they’re raising billions of dollars every four years for elections, and with a fraction of that money, they could buy 400 or 500 radio stations or even 50 radio stations around the country. And it’s much more politically effective to have somebody 24/7 singing your praises on the radio in a way that has high credibility because people feel like they’ve built a relationship with you, than it is to buy ads every advertising cycle. And outside of Bernie Sanders, who totally understood what I was talking about, because for 11 years he had been on my show every Friday for an hour taking calls from listeners—outside of Bernie, we just got blown off, including by somebody who later became a candidate for president of the United States and lost. And I think they lost because right-wing talk radio just destroyed that candidacy….

And what’s happening is that a group of deep-pocketed Hispanic right-wingers, mostly Cuban exiles, have been renting radio stations around the country, the best estimate is there might be 200 or 300 of them now, where they’re running some syndicated and some local Spanish language, right-wing talk radio, and in some cases, they’re playing music, but they’re hiring DJs who are delivering right-wing political messages, you know, snarky comments and things between songs. I saw an article like two weeks ago saying Democrats can’t figure out why the Hispanic vote has moved 7% towards the Republican Party in the last two years. And I’m yelling at the web page going, It’s the freakin’ radio, you know?

Australian Politics 2022-01-02 08:17:00


Queensland Premier’s message to the state on the dawn of 2022

It is a bit embarrassing for me to agree with government propaganda but Annastacia is largely right below

While none of us can know what the months ahead will bring, our handling of the greatest peacetime emergency in a century has been inspirational, writes Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

These past two years have shown the strength of Queensland.

Tested by the greatest peacetime emergency in a century, we pulled together. Our commitment to each other was as plain as the masks on everyone’s faces.

Our joint efforts meant our lockdowns were measured in days, not months. Our children remained in school and their parents kept working.

Key cornerstones of our economy – mining, construction and agriculture – never stopped.

The result is more people in work now than prior to the pandemic and close to 90 per cent of our eligible population fully vaccinated. That is an inspirational achievement and I believe among the world’s best.

This by no means ignores the pain suffered by so many for so long.

But no-one can deny that, despite a global catastrophe, Queensland remains one of the safest places in the world to be. Put it another way: if we can get through these past couple of years we can do anything.

In 2014, President Obama spoke about the triumph of hope over fear. He was talking about our ability to shape our future if we’re brave enough today.

Hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the biggest single transformational event Queensland will ever see. It already has all levels of government and political stripes working together on a common goal.

We will build the roads, bridges and railways our State needs not for the games, but in time for them. We’re building the trains that will travel through the tunnels of Cross River Rail.

There are more new schools and hospitals moving from the drawing board into construction paid for from our strong economy which was able to grow because of our strong health response.

Is it any wonder 30,000 people moved from the other states to live in Queensland last year?

They don’t just come for the sunshine. They are investing in a brighter future alongside all of us.

None of us can know what the months ahead will bring. But I can tell you this: I’m glad I live in Queensland.


The great purge rolls on

Bettina Arndt

“Like Fresh Meat: Detailing Rampant Sex Harassment in Australia’s Parliament.” This was the lurid headline in the New York Times this week, describing a report into harassment and bullying in Australia’s parliament. “A sweeping report lays out a cloistered, alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked,” claimed the Times.

Typical biased NYT reporting. And just plain wrong. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ cooked-up survey revealed 61 per cent of the bullying was actually done by women. And there wasn’t that much difference between male and female sexual harassment rates - 42% of victims were women vs 32% men. The vast majority of people (75%) who were sent the survey didn’t bother to respond. Only half of the self-selected people who participated reported experiencing any bullying or harassment, and 1% claimed actual or attempted sexual assault.

As always, there’s blatant fudging of the data. The survey used the broadest possible definition of sexual harassment which included staring, leering and loitering, sexually suggestive jokes/comments and repeated invitations to go on a date. The supposed toxic parliamentary environment covered incidents occurring when people travelled for work or attended after-work drinks – far from the parliamentary workplace. Pretty disappointing to only have a third of people claim harassment after casting such a wide net, eh?

The sexual assault questions include events the participants had “witnessed or heard about” rather than personally experienced. The report quoted an example of a woman claiming an MP “grabbed me and stuck his tongue down my throat.” Unpleasant, unwanted behaviour, indeed. But classic of the new expanded definition of sexual assault being used to create the rape crisis narrative - a long way from Brittany Higgins’ lurid tale of being ravished on the Minister’s couch, which led to Kate Jenkins’ latest boondoggle.

This whole pantomime stemmed from a desperate attempt by Scott Morrison to throw the dogs a bone, after being savaged by the feminist mob stirred up by the Higgins’ story. The media is dutifully promoting Jenkins’ demand that all her 28 recommendations must be accepted in full. We’re talking here about some very big asks, like a new Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission to police sexual misconduct rules. Sound familiar? Oh yes, we’re talking about yet another kangaroo court, with authority to impose sanctions on people deemed to have broken their rules.

And then there’s the new quotas to achieve gender targets amongst parliamentarians, part of a “ten-year strategy to advance gender equality, diversity and inclusion”. The justification for this leap into broader social engineering? The report simply claims lack of diversity contributes to a “boys’ club culture and bullying, sexual harassment and assault.” They mouth the usual feminist mantra and it is taken as gospel.

Now the game continues, with the government considering the recommendations – a process they will try to string out until the forthcoming election. The usual suspects in the media already bleating that nothing is being done and the Opposition will use the lack of action to beat up the government. People everywhere know this is all a lot of hogwash, a desperate attempt from a struggling government to keep the feminist mob at bay.

It reminded me of Solzhenitsyn’s famous story of the audience at the Soviet Communist Party conference not daring to be the first person to cease clapping after the speech honouring Stalin. On and on they clapped, fearing that the first to stop would be sent off to the Gulag – which is exactly what happened.

There are sinister echoes in Australia today to the world Solzhenitsyn describes where people don’t dare challenge the ludicrous dogma being promoted by the Party. Endless denunciations and show trials are used to warn of the risks of not siding with the pack. Groupspeak becomes the only safe option.

Look at this headline, used for a article this week, reporting on a survey about attitudes towards gender equality in the workplace: “Survey reveals insane thing half of Aussie men believe”.

The “insane thing” that 50% of Australian men believe, is that “reverse discrimination is occurring in the workplace, with women being boosted up the career ladder simply because of their gender.” How’s that for unbiased reporting? All the major media covering the story went to strenuous lengths to belittle men’s experience. They know they must keep clapping.

In The Australian this week, Janet Albrechtsen exposed another stunning example of our forced compliance to false dogma. She wrote about a report from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, a thriving feminist propaganda unit receiving nearly $6M annual government funding. The Agency has made a submission to a review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 which Albrechtsen suggests provides enough evidence of “misleading and deceptive conduct” to justify the government putting the whole thing out to pasture.

Naturally the Agency’s submission was all about the need to close “the gender pay gap,” which as usual is blamed on men, oppression and discrimination. As Albrechtsen points out, “more honest analysis of the gender pay gap would point to the economic consequence of the aggregate of all the differences that exist between men and women – their physiology, different skills and interests, different choices made about education and jobs, how hard and how long they choose to work and under what conditions.” As Christina Hoff Sommers put it – “Want to close wage gap? Step one: Change your major from feminist dance therapy to electrical engineering.”

Albrechtsen explains that the only way you can close the gender pay gap is by paying women more than men even though some women have less experience, skills and commitment to the workplace. “That means demanding privilege, not equality for women,” says Albrechtsen. Good to see this lone conservative voice has stopped clapping but the applause from the media for this feminist fabrication rolls on.

The final week of this bumpy year in parliament included a very telling moment where Greens senator Lidia Thorpe was forced to apologise for saying to a female liberal Senator “at least I keep my legs shut.” This was during a Senate debate on disability – apparently Thorpe was suggesting that would have ensured her colleague avoided having a disabled child.

Can you imagine if a man was to make such a remark? But Thorpe’s intersectionality credentials are impeccable, as one of the first Aboriginal women in parliament and a domestic violence survivor. So, her violation of parliamentary boundaries will have no serious consequences.

Then came the show trial. Education Minister Alan Tudge has been stood down from his Cabinet post whilst the latest allegations from his former staffer Rachelle Miller are investigated. Miller is a married mother who acknowledged last November that four years ago she’d had a consensual affair with her boss - after ABC’s Four Corners blew the whistle on their relationship.

Cheered on by the feminist leftists keen to impose maximum damage on the government just prior to the Christmas break, she’s gone public with a new story claiming this was an abusive relationship. Miller says she’d been drinking with Tudge, ended up totally pissed, naked in bed with him, unable to even remember if she’d had sex with him. She claims to have been woken by a phonecall from a breakfast television producer but when she took the call, Tudge yelled at her and kicked her out of his bed.

That a married woman would choose to go public with such a story defies belief. “Has she no shame?” a friend blurted out, a thought which echoes across the nation even as the compliant media runs with her sob story that she suffered a “power imbalance”. No one dares point out to the poor pet that’s what happens when you bonk your boss.

Just as Stalin ultimately came unstuck as his policies proved disastrous, scepticism about the imposed feminist narrative is surely growing every day. We can only hope sanity returns soon.


Sacked for being vaxxed: Australian ‘Church’ defends decision to terminate worker who got COVID jab

Lainie Chait is seeking damages for unfair dismissal after she was allegedly sacked by the Newcastle-based Church of Ubuntu for getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

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Ms Chait worked for the church, which runs a wellness clinic that sells medicinal hemp products, as a client consultant for 12 months but was dismissed in October after her boss found out she had received the jab.

A letter from the church’s vice-president Karen Burge praised Ms Chait’s work but said getting a vaccination was inconsistent with its religious teachings.

“It is the position of the COU that to receive the COVID-19/Sars Cov 2 injection consciously and deliberately with intent is in contradiction with our Constitution and contrary to our position on what is required of us by our Lord God and Creator,” she said.

Ms Chait could no longer remain a church member and a subcontractor, according to Ms Burge’s letter. “The COU is currently making arrangements to assist Lainie by offering her alternative work arrangements as a subcontractor through our affiliates.”

Ms Chait said she opted to get vaccinated “to be able to travel, cross borders and see my family and friends in other countries and states of Australia”.

Ms Chait, who has epilepsy, said she supported the church’s efforts to provide holistic approaches to health other than western medicine.

“However, I don’t support how I was treated, nor do I support being shunned by people in the wellness industry for making a choice that was right for me and my health,” she said.

She also disputed the description of her as a subcontractor rather than an employee entitled to protection against unfair dismissal.

Ms Chait is seeking damages equal to about three months’ wages plus back payments for superannuation and other entitlements not paid during her employment.

The unfair dismissal claim comes amid a parliamentary inquiry on the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, which opponents fear will lead to workplace discrimination.

Professor Munton said religions did not have to prove their reasons are valid according to some measure of objective rationality. “They just have to establish that they took their decision in good faith, to avoid ‘injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion or creed’,” she said.

Ms Chait’s solicitor Mark Swivel said the decision to terminate her employment due to vaccination was “inherently unfair”.

“There is nothing in the decision to vaccinate by an employee that relates to their performance or suitability for the work they were hired to do,” he said.

The church’s website said it was carrying “on the Ubuntu tradition as taught by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu”.


Land clearing in Queensland doubles despite new laws

More than 680,000 hectares of forest were cleared in Queensland in 2018-19 – double the previous year’s total – despite the introduction of the Palaszczuk government’s controversial vegetation management laws.

The rate of clearing identified in the long-awaited Statewide Landcover and Tree Study report, released on Thursday, was significantly higher than under the Newman government, before the new legislation was introduced in 2018. In response to the report, the Palaszczuk government said it would establish a scientific expert group to help understand the ­factors behind the latest clearing figures and identify incentives to help avoid future clearing.

Conservationists, alarmed by the increase, accused the Palaszczuk government of leaving loopholes in its legislation that had been exploited.

Agricultural groups, which campaigned against the introduction of the laws that outlawed broadscale land clearing, said the data showed that illegal clearing had stayed at the same low rate and that nearly all of the clearing was outside vulnerable areas.

The previous SLATS survey, conducted in 2017-18, which showed that 392,000ha of bushland had been cleared, had been used by the Palaszczuk government to support its case to toughen controls on landholders.

The new report found that 82 per cent of the woody vegetation cleared in 2018-19 was full removal of the vegetation, while the remainder was partially cleared, mostly for cattle grazing.

Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the report was able to more accurately monitor changes in vegetation due to higher resolution imagery and could therefore not be compared to previous reports.

“I’m encouraged the 2018-19 Statewide Landcover and Trees Study report shows less than 1 per cent of cleared land was endangered, and apart from drought-related fodder harvesting, remnant clearing is less than 8 cent of all clearing,” Mr Stewart said.

“The change in the methodology means the data from this ­report can’t be directly compared with previous SLATS data, which have been used to compare rates of change over time.”

He said a “high proportion” of the clearing was attributable to drought exemptions, “legacy exemptions”, clearing for fire breaks and trails and “excessive clearing” when the laws were amended.

However, Queensland Conservation Council director Dave Copeman said the data revealed that deforestation in Queensland was “still out of control” and a serious risk to vulnerable wildlife.

“The huge area of destruction reported means we have probably been underestimating the clearing throughout Queensland for years,” Mr Copeman said.

“The extent and pace of deforestation is heartbreaking and we owe it to future generations to stop this climate-wrecking and habitat destroying trend.”

AgForce focused on the revelation that just 0.2 per cent of regulated vegetation had been cleared for production in 2018-19.

“There has been no significant clearing of trees in Queensland, and sensational claims of land clearing are myths,” AgForce chief executive Michael Guerin said.

“The findings are testament to the hard work of landowners who have made great efforts with sustainable land management during particularly challenging times and tough drought conditions.”

Mr Guerin said the apparent increase in clearing was due to finer resolution imagery and said the latest SLATS report did not include regrowth, thickening and bio-condition data.

WWF Australia’s Stuart Bla­nch said the report undermined commitments by the Queensland and federal governments to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.




Australian Politics 2022-01-01 11:08:00


'In 2022, the pandemic will END': Face of Australia's vaccine rollout promises a New Year's Omicron miracle

It's the message of hope Australia has been waiting to hear - one of the nation's top doctors has now confidently predicted: 'In 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic will end.'

Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says vaccination jabs and the spread of the mild Omicron strain will finally make the world immune to Covid.

His welcome words have come as Australia again hit record new case numbers across the country - but thankfully ICU numbers remain stubbornly low.

And that mirrors the experience overseas where death rates have barely budged despite massive surges in numbers - and in the UK, deaths have actually dropped during the current Omicron outbreak.

Now Dr Coatsworth says the world is on the verge of using Omicron to bounce back from the nightmare of the last two years.

'We will live our lives again as part of the incredibly social and incurably optimistic human species that thrives on this planet,' he said in an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald. '2022 will be the year the pandemic ends. It could even be sooner than we think.'

More than 137,000 Australians were infected with Covid on New Year's Day - but there are just 135 patients currently in ICU with the virus, including 79 in NSW where the state recorded 22, 577 new cases on Saturday.

He was the face of Australia's vaccination programme rollout when it first began, and he said the massive widespread uptake will be key to our future.

He hailed the way the Australian public had rallied to the cause and got jabbed to protect themselves and the community.

'The virus itself has also helped us,' he said. 'It has evolved into a definitively milder illness with a complete uncoupling of case numbers and hospitalisations.'

In South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, cases are already dropping dramatically just a month after the new variant first began to spread.

Now Dr Coatsworth has called for an end to social media scaremongering and says it's time to learn to live with the virus.

'In light of our community success, the evolution of the virus to a milder form and effective new treatments, the time for mandates and whole-of-community restrictions is therefore over,' he said.

He added: 'We can be rightly proud of what we have achieved as Australians in the face of what was the challenge of our lifetime.

'We will emerge a stronger, healthier and more prosperous nation for our efforts.'


Des Houghton: My irritant of the year award goes to the ABC

My Irritant of the Year is the ABC. Our national broadcaster has splashed $856,000 of our money on advertising, promotions and audience research each month since last July.

The huge expenditure came despite the ABC crying poor and saying it would have to let go 250 staff due to budget cuts. Clearly, the ABC propagandists are not to be believed. There were no budget cuts.

Official budget papers show revenue from the government was $1,045,911,000 in 2018-19, jumping to $1,062,265,000 in 2019-20 and rising again to $1,065,354,000 in 2020-21.

Another year, another billion, and then some. Yet still the ABC greedily demands more.

Forward estimates show government revenue for 2021-22 jumped to $1,070,649,000 and will rise again to $1,073,090,000 in 2022-23. What business wouldn’t like a billion-dollar-plus top-up every year?

Remember also that the ABC was exempt from recent Commonwealth “efficiency dividends”, a term used to describe cuts in departmental funding. Is the ABC worth the vast sums spent on it?

I’m not going to pretend it does not do some fine work.

But it seems to me to be increasingly riddled with bias – either conscious bias or unconscious bias. There are signs the newsrooms are run by elites who see themselves as morally and culturally superior. They do not like to correct their mistakes and they do not always uphold their own rules.

The ABC’s internal guide insists on “due impartially”.

Journalists and producers are instructed to “present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented”. In my opinion the ABC ignores this rule daily. It is also guilty of selective reporting. This goes largely unnoticed and unchallenged.

Any person or group that does not align with Aunty’s espoused, green-Left values is either ridiculed or simply frozen out of the debate. This seems to fly in the face of its news code: “Do not misrepresent any perspective.” And: “Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.”

I don’t think I’m the only one who no longer trusts the ABC. A burning sense of moral superiority has blinded itself to its faults.

The ABC’s requirement for impartiality is defined in the statutory obligation in the ABC Act to gather and present news and information that is “accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism”.

Already the ABC seems to be turning on conservatives in the lead-up to the election. And it will get worse. Listen for the half-smart “gotcha” questions, the bad manners and the mock outrage from prickly commentators who see it as their duty to undermine conservatives.

Minor stumbles by the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues will be magnified, while the missteps of the Greens and the Labor Party will be glossed over as trifling affairs.

Meanwhile, the ABC spends tens of thousands of dollars on outside lawyers despite having a team of lawyers on its payroll.

Many viewers and listeners feel “their ABC” regularly fails to represent them and have turned away in droves.

Is it not the time for the ABC to help pay its own way?

Imposing a paywall would be fair. People who don’t use the ABC resent paying for a service they do not use and do not want.

The ABC should also allow advertising to lessen the taxpayers’ burden. The SBS model shows there is no harm in paid advertising away from news and current affairs programs. Aunty remains in denial. It’s just not loved anymore. You get better drama on Foxtel and Netflix. Sky News is sharper and quicker to breaking news. It often makes the ABC look like the History Channel.

There are other problems for Aunty. Because of its ingrained bias, the ABC programs are beginning to display a boring sameness. In the digital world, that’s death.

The arrogant elites in the newsroom may have already condemned themselves to irrelevancy. And because their heads are up their own backsides, they can’t see it.


Vomiting mum told she must join blown out PCR queues even though rapid test was positive

Pity anybody who falls into the hands of a bureaucracy!

Highly symptomatic and extremely ill Queenslanders are being told the only way they can get a Covid PCR test is to line up at overwhelmed testing centres, as infectious disease experts warn the snaking queues are a breeding ground for virus spread.

Gold Coast woman Natalie Rittson has had vomiting and diarrhoea, migraine, sore throat and soaring temperatures since Boxing Day and a rapid antigen test has found her positive to Covid.

But the mum has hit brick walls trying to access a PCR test that does not require her to leave her sick bed and line up for as long as five hours or more at a testing clinic.

The 57-year-old, who is double vaccinated, lives with her teenage son who cannot drive and her sister Sam have revealed to The Courier-Mail the “frightening details of the last few days” that has seen Natalie get a”diabolic” run-around from health officials

“The message from every single person has been get yourself to a testing centre, regardless of the fact that she lives alone with her son and is very sick,” Sam Rittson said.

“You would think they wouldn’t want someone with those kind of symptoms at a testing centre or a hospital. It doesn’t make sense.

“Even when the rapid test showed that she was Covid positive, it was still the same message — get out of bed and line up.

“I rang Queensland Health on Tuesday morning to see if I could persuade someone to go to her house to test her but still the same message — go to a testing clinic.”


Rail extension plan keeps coal on track

The push for net-zero emissions by 2050 has pitted the Coalition and Labor’s climate change policies against the bipartisan proposal to expand the Inland Rail train line to Gladstone.

While the federal government has pledged $10m towards a business case to assess the feasibility of extending the freight line from Toowoomba to Gladstone, a private economic analysis of the ­proposed route this year found its viability was contingent on the creation of new thermal coalmines in the nearby Surat Basin.

Both main parties insist new coalmines would not be at odds with their emissions-reduction commitments.

In the Gladstone-based electorate of Flynn, both the Liberal National Party candidate Colin Boyce and Labor candidate Matt Burnett – the Gladstone mayor – have backed the extension and the possibility of new coalmines.

Flynn is held with a margin of 7.6 per cent by the LNP’s Ken O’Dowd, who is retiring, and is a key target of Labor in next year’s federal election campaign.

The electorate is dominated by mining, heavy industry and agriculture and is regarded by party insiders as a litmus test for the _climate change policies of both major parties, thrusting issues such as Inland Rail and coal to the forefront of political debate.

The Inland Rail economic analysis prepared this year by consultancy AEC Group for the Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils found that the Gladstone extension of the 1700km rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane would be feasible if it factored in the likely development of coalmines in the Surat Basin using the freight line to move their product to Gladstone’s port.

Mr Boyce, who is currently the state MP for Callide, said opening new coalmines to make the rail line feasible was not inconsistent with the Coalition’s pathway to net zero emissions. “Extending the line opens up all sorts of ­opportunities for other proposals, some of them being coal,” Mr Boyce said.

The government’s “long-term emissions-reduction plan”, released by Scott Morrison in October, said future coal exports would be determined by the international market, not by government.

Similarly, Labor’s policy states that any emissions generated from export coal would count ­towards the emissions of the country using the coal, rather than Australia’s.

Mr Boyce said coal-fired power stations under construction around the world, and existing power stations such as the one at Callide, west of Gladstone, would rely on Queensland coal.

“There will be a demand well into 2050 for the coal industry in Australia,” he said.

Mr Burnett said he was confident the government’s business case, also backed by Labor, would show the rail line to Gladstone had economic merit with or without new coalmines, particularly through the freight of local resources and produce.

“I’m personally not opposed to new mines,” Mr Burnett said. “I think a business case on the ­Inland Rail stacks up on its own. “I know there are people across the country who don’t want to see new coalmines, but let’s let the business case determine that.”

Mr Burnett is cognisant of the damage that Labor’s ambivalence toward coal played in Labor’s loss in the 2019 election and the need to assure the industry’s workers of their future. “There are plenty of great employment opportunities in mining and coal-fired power in central Queens­land and there are new and exciting industries too,” he said.

Labor senator Murray Watt said the implications for the Gladstone connection for coal and other industries would be considered in that business case.

“Labor will continue to support coalmining and the workers in the industry for as long as there is demand for it,” he said.