Ten years since the GFC!

First, just in case you notice some changes in format here. I am now posting via Chrome, as Microsoft Edge in my Windows 10 no longer displays the log-on box from WordPress.com. There are also issues, I suspect, with Facebook chat — where a cousin of mine noted that Edge is only good for downloading a better browser!

OK, last night on 7.30 we were reminded that it is ten years since the Global Financial Crisis, to which our then Labor government responded — comparatively — quite brilliantly. See Inside Australia’s GFC response: Government wargamed financial disaster scenarios.

So I looked back to my blog for September 2008.

Self-portrait?

22 SEPT 2008

Interpret this as you will! 🙂

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And:

Strange things in the boot of Malcolm Turnbull’s limo…

28 SEPT 2008

Consider Eric Abetz. Now here is a man who knows left-wing bias when he sees it: any lack of resemblance to Quadrant or deviation from the Australian Christian Lobby is clearly a Communist Plot. Now he wants Q&A “regulated” — not just the show, but the audience — despite the good showing his new leader made there last week, and despite the fact that, much as I hate to admit it, Q&A actually made me warm a little towards Julie Bishop!

SENIOR Liberal Eric Abetz believes the ABC TV political talk show Q&A has failed in its attempt to provide a representative cross-section of the community because the audience was overwhelmingly made up of Labor and Greens voters.

The figures, provided to a Senate committee, show that for seven episodes there were on average double the number of Labor and Greens supporters in the audience as Coalition supporters.

In some episodes, Coalition supporters made up as little as 10 per cent of the audience, with an average of 20 per cent. Labor and the Greens accounted for as much as 54 per cent of the audience, which participates, with an average of 50 per cent.

Senator Abetz said: “The ABC has to immediately rectify these figures for the remaining episodes of Q&A this season.”…

Just when some were thinking, or Malcolm Turnbull was having us believe, that this creepy Howardism was dying Eric lands feet first with his hobnailed boots firmly on our faces. Thanks for reminding us why we wanted the Howard government to go, Eric! Well done. We will be very careful to scrutinise the blandishments of Malcolm Turnbull from this moment on…

And:

Turnbull triumphans, Wall Street requiem

17 SEPT 2008

 

To take the parochial first, Malcolm Turnbull is now the Leader of the Opposition here in Oz, around three months later than I expected he would be. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, Now Rudd has a contest. Sure, Turnbull has an ego the size of Jessie the elephant — who lived incidentally in the old Sydney Zoo where Sydney Girls High now is. But then, Disraeli was hardly a shrinking violet, to cite a 19th century English Conservative in comparison. The Rudd government had better perform now, difficult as that will be with an Opposition scenting blood and still playing spoiler. I know that’s politics, but I really wish they could do better than that. One of the best things that could happen for the sake of the country would be for people like Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott to go completely out of fashion. Their approach to politics damages the rest of us. They think it is about winning a game; I think it should be about winning respect and caring for the country. However, the rise of Turnbull does put an intelligent, capable person in the position of alternative Prime Minister, and that has to be an advance. One hopes the Liberal Party moves right away from the narrow, anal, and even at times quite evil, legacy of John Howard.

Annabel Crabb in the Herald this morning did amuse me with this though:

Accounts of the Turnbull ego do differ across the broad church of the Liberal Party.

Some argue it is Milky Way-sized, while his intimate admirers and defenders (whose ranks are fast swelling with opportunists) argue it could probably be squeezed into Wembley Stadium.

The chances of him finding anything about yesterday genuinely humbling, however, are about as good as Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing agreement panning out well.

Now for Wall Street. I could go into cliche mode about the wickedness of capitalism and the sin of greed, but while I may have such thoughts anything I would have to offer would be utterly banal. So I turn to a couple of people much better informed than I am. First, here in Oz, there is Ross Gittins: Worrying only makes things worse.

One good thing about our modern problem of information overload is that, no matter how bad the news, we never focus on it for long. Another day, another crisis. The end of the world is so last week.

I came to that conclusion in the aftermath of the great Wall Street sharemarket crash of October 1987. It was hugely dramatic and quite frightening. And just because most people don’t know what these things prove, doesn’t stop them concluding they must be Very Bad. Sometimes I think the less you understand, the more dire the conclusions you draw. Just to help things along, the media carried pundits predicting that, as in 1929, the great crash would precipitate another great depression (thereby revealing their towering ignorance of the true causes of the Great Depression).

Always one to react against predictions of death and destruction, I limited myself to saying it made a world recession likely. Wrong. In the end it had hardly any noticeable effect on any economy. I had figured that the scare it gave would prompt people around the world to pull in their heads and thereby bring on a downturn. But I reckoned without the media’s ever-shrinking attention span. After a week or so the crash that was going to end it all hardly rated another mention. The punters soon forgot about it…

Second, in the USA I suggest John Taplin. That links to his September 2008 entries….

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Very random but related to our new PM

For anyone out there who wonders who the Prime Minister of Australia is this morning, here is the answer: Scott Morrison. See Liberal Party elders lash Tony Abbott for acts of revenge on Turnbull’s government and Scott Morrison’s ministry — who’s in and who’s out.  I see Wikipedia is up to speed. Now for the random bits.

I return to teaching — 1985

For reasons I won’t go into here, I took a break from teaching between 1982-3 and 1985, during which time I was involved in editing a little magazine and, for about a year, in bookselling in Glebe. In the second half of 1985 I recommenced teaching at Sydney Boys High.

In Surry Hills last Monday — 1

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Neil

The other objective of my Sydney trip was to visit my old workplace.

My association with Sydney Boys High goes back [almost sixty*] years to 1955 when I arrived as a pupil, Ken Andrews having just started his term as Principal. Then in 1985 I began teaching English there on a casual basis, after a year spent working at Harkers Bookshop in Glebe: I’ll never forget the Class of 1986! (Or the Class of 2000 if it comes to that!) For the next 20 years much (but not all) of my work was at SBHS. You can find a sample here. – *I wrote the original in 2005 and said 50! How time goes!

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So that’s thirty years on now since I first met that class of 1986 when they were in Year 11. (Scott Morrison was in Year 12 in 1985 but I can’t recall anything about him.)

I have mentioned the class of 1986 several times – for example Philip Larkin 1922-1985….

Someone who was at SBHS at the same time, but graduated hence in 1988, is Russell Ward. He has posted a somewhat unfriendly account of Morrison on Facebook. Russell now lives in California.

It seems a boy I went to school with is the new Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. I’ve a few emotions at the news, none of them nice. Shame one of them.

I’m reminded of a lovely guy Tri Phan who was a Vietnamese refugee, a “boat person.” While at school with us he won a state science essay prize on about the cancer-fighting drug interferon that won praise for having scientifically useful insights. Scott Morrison enthusiastically supported the policies that would have put him on an island to rot (a policy btw I protested against all the way over here at the embassy in San Francisco).

I’m also thinking of my brother, a captain of the school while Morrison was there.

My brother and his dear partner Paul O’Grady endured a lot of suffering when Paul came out as the first openly gay NSW politician and in their campaigning for marriage equality. Scott represents the homophobia that causes suffering where there should be love….

I remember (Associate Professor) Tri Phan well, and not just from school. He was a registrar (I think) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital when I had a hernia operation there in 1997. SBHS people tend to pop up like that. (They  — staff and students — account for quite a few of my current Facebook friends!)

Another is Joseph Waugh who commented on Russell’s post:

High had always been a school that welcomed refugees – whether it be from the Holocaust in Europe, from the American war in Vietnam, or post-Tienanmen Square. My vain hope is that he is an outlier (the class of 1992 has a murderer, for example). Had I gone to that outrageous event put on for him, my one question would have been, which gulag would he have condemned Tri and his family to, had he been Minister for Immigration in 1980?

Joseph is referring to Scott Morrison’s time as enforcer of the tough “stop the boats”/Manus/Nauru policy Australia is now (in)famous for. He was invited to some SBHS Old Boys event and many boycotted it/him. Indeed.

Mind you, Tri arrived here, so far as I know, when Malcolm Fraser was in charge, and some on the left were not entirely admirable either back then, as I noted in a comment on a post by Jim Belshaw a few years ago.

On Vietnamese refugees and Fraser: In 1979 I have to confess I worried about Fraser welcoming so many Vietnamese. I wondered how they would, um, assimilate! (We all grow, don’t we?)

And unusual as it is for ne to commend Quadrant, Hal Colebatch is quite right here.

…Labor Senator Lionel Bowen also invoked anti-Asian white Australia imagery on July 27, 1976, claiming Australia was in danger from the “teeming millions in the North … And these people are on the move.”

The leftist Nation Review of June 1–7, 1978, carried an article referring to Vietnamese refugees as “bourgeois capitalist exploiters on the run” and ridiculing efforts to help them. In the issue of August 18–24 it referred to them as “political extremists and soft-life seekers”. The pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia organ, the Socialist, of May 31, 1978, carried a headline: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES VICTIMS AND TOOLS OF ANTI-COMMUNISM and referred to them as “right-wing Vietnamese who betrayed their country”. The CPA’s Tribune of June 7, 1978, claimed: BHP PREFERS VIETNAMESE and quoted South Coast Labour Council Secretary and CPA National Committee member Merv Nixon to the effect that the situation was disgraceful and that: “We can do without these right-wing elements.” Tribune elaborated on this in the following issue and warned of “right-wing people organizing private armies”. At the University of Western Australia, ALP Left Caucus member Graham Droppert published an article in the student newspaper Pelican, Number 4 of 1978, under the heading REFUGEES OR RATS?, claiming they included “the pimps, the wealthy merchants, the racketeers, the standover men and other exploiters”…

I was in Wollongong at the time and recall Merv Nixon very well.

No, the White Australia attitude was not dead and buried, and Fraser’s courage in this is highly significant in the story.

Here is a handy list of our Immigration Ministers, and the mind-boggling series of name-changes over the years.

One possibly good thing Scott Morrison has done right now is to divide that monstrous Home Affairs Department into three parts, restoring in the process a Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs! There is also a separate ministry looking at population policy and congestion. Mr Potato Head has been allowed to retain his black-uniformed Border Force, but not as part of Immigration. Back in January I had noted:

Posted on January 15, 2018  Reposts.

NOTE 2018: On Mr Potato Head’s latest frolic see Peter Martin and Benjamin Miller. Oh, and we no longer have a dedicated Immigration Department in Australia. Did you know that? Instead we have this gargantuan thing….

It is at least encouraging that Scott Morrison has rehabilitated the M-word. I gather Pauline Hanson has noted this with some displeasure.

Enough of my random thoughts. Let’s see if Scott and the government can recover from the dreadful thrashing they are getting right now in the polls.

The game goes on…

And Tones is still doing excellent impressions of a Cheshire Cat! Mr Turnbull meanwhile hangs on, for now. This is the man of the hour. God help us all, I still say! And speaking of which…

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I find myself drawn to page 10! ‘Gullibility eroded’: Why a generation chose science over God.

Creationism continues to thrive in Professor Archer’s home country, where about 40 per cent of people still believe God created man. Surveys like his are rare outside the US.

Census data also indicates Australians are becoming less religious. In 1966, 0.8 per cent said they had no religion; by 2016, that number had risen to 30 per cent.

A spokesman from UNSW Campus Bible Study, the biggest religious group on the campus, said “we are thankful that God created us in his image, so that our lives have value and worth”.

Now in the event we soon have a Potato Head government, and some things get uglier than they are now, I file these:

If anyone should want to ban Muslims it would be me – but I don’t.

….I cannot deny that at least three Muslims are directly linked to my father’s death. His murder. I cannot deny that they self-identify as Muslim. Nor can I deny that Islamic State is the violent propaganda machine behind their twisted ideology….

We who seek to see the best in what Australians stand for must believe otherwise.

I support that those responsible need to be punished. I support law and order. I believe that inclusion, acceptance and respect are the most important values we all need to display to create the society that we can all thrive in. Arbitrary cuts to immigration will not do that.

However, I will admit that I am tired. I am tired of needing to explain to adults that the actions of these individuals cannot be attributed to an entire group of people. I am tired of explaining that terrorism is a criminal and political phenomenon, not a religious one. I am tired of explaining that despite my unfortunate tragedy at the hands of Islamic extremists, it is those in my life who just so happen to be Muslim who make me understand the richness of the human spirit. My best friend is of a Muslim background. I have met inspirational students, teachers, activists, and politicians, who just happen to be of a Muslim background. Being a Muslim doesn’t make them a good friend or person. In the same vein, being a Muslim doesn’t make you a terrorist.

If I, of all people, can think this way, then sure as hell our “elected” representatives can think this way too … and while they are at it, cease the never-ending scapegoating. …

Amen to that! And next:

Thousands of Muslims gathered together on Tuesday to show solidarity with drought-ravaged farmers as they celebrate Eid Al Adha.

More than 30,000 people attended Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, to conduct a special ‘rain prayer’ during the annual Eid celebration…

The ‘rain prayer’ comes as 100 per cent of NSW is declared drought-affected and has received less than 20 per cent of its usual rainfall since January.

This is also the warmest and driest July in 20 years….

Random items on Queen’s Birthday

Let’s start there, as it is a good news story! Yes, it is the Queen’s OFFICIAL birthday and the local version of the Honours List is out. I am pleased to see a familiar Wollongong face — my boss 40 years or so ago.

Rex Cook still keeps in touch with students he first taught when he started teaching at Grafton High School back in 1950. The love and affection these students, many of whom are aged in their 70s and 80s, still have for her father, is one of the reasons Wendy Cook-Burrows nominated Mr Cook for an OAM.

She said the 92-year-old Mount Ousley man was “gobsmacked” when notified of his OAM for service to the community of Wollongong, and to education….

And I taught Wendy back then too…

Next: Getty Images has released a set of slides claiming to be Australia’s oldest. This one is particularly evocative, though there are no details of its provenance.

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Now to the weird and wonderful present. China Daily has posted this on Twitter, probably with due glee:

Screenshot (174)

Yes indeed. Read Donald Trump adviser says ‘special place in hell’ for Justin Trudeau as White House steps up G7 row (not from China Daily.) I for my part am considering joining the Justin Trudeau Fan Club! After all, his country is a fellow Commonwealth member!

And we are all on tenterhooks with eyes on Singapore now. I hope the famous one-minute body language reader reads correctly. (Maybe I should warn him that if a Korean gives you full eye contact it is not necessarily a good sign, despite our western assumptions.)

. Looking just past the person’s face is generally the norm from what I’ve noticed. I don’t think you need to stress over the occasional direct glance, but you should be careful about “gazing”, or staring directly into someone’s eyes for a long period of time. It’s considered challenging and possibly even aggressive, depending on circumstance.

Noted en passant…

You may have noticed I am tending to the visual lately, rather than adding my two cents worth on what excites the news watcher. Today an exception.

First: Israel, Iran, Trumpery and all. You may care to visit some of my older thoughts first: for example (2009) — Is objectivity about Israel and Palestine possible?

I am not, never have been, a fan of Mr Netanyahu. This is a sentiment I have shared over the years with a number of Jews and Israelis, so I am not alone. I found his propaganda Powerpont on Iran’s nukes sick-making, but not in the way he wanted. Rather, see in Foreign Policy (USA) Bibi’s Infomercial for the Iran Deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog and pony show on Monday, in which he displayed a trove of documents from Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program, had an audience of precisely one. It was part of a coordinated effort with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to kill the Iran nuclear deal. And, if you don’t know anything about Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program, perhaps it was persuasive.

But if you do — if you happen to have a blog called Arms Control Wonk, for example — you will have heard it all before. There was nothing new in Netanyahu’s presentation, at least nothing that would change someone’s mind about the nuclear deal. In fact, Netanyahu’s presentation works as an advertisement for the pact he was trying to take down….

Unfortunately he probably scored big with his target audience. Do read that whole item. Not the first “dodgy dossier” we’ve seen, is it?

You might also like to read about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal.

And now for something completely different, and very pleasing: Encounter made me realise I was wrong to oppose Safe Schools! Catherine McGregor, bless you!

I believe in God. I am a deeply flawed Christian. Yet, as scripture tells us so are we all. Redemption came from an unlikely quarter last week.

I worked with two trans men on the show along with two gay actors. One young trans man told me how much he resented me for my stance on Safe Schools in 2016 and for my life as a soldier. He found me incomprehensible. A fascist at best. And a tool of the Australian Christian Lobby in its vile war on trans people at worst.

It could easily have escalated into the pointless dialogue of the deaf that dominates Twitter. Hate uncluttered by reason. But we hugged and chatted. We are now dear friends. His name is Charles O’Grady….

Even more to my chagrin, I failed to anticipate the ammunition I offered to those like Miranda Devine and Lyle Shelton who refuse outright to accept the reality and legitimacy of trans identity.

They purr reassuringly about not wanting kids to make irrevocable mistakes before puberty. Currently, they are providing a platform for a charlatan with no medical qualifications whose position is that all trans identity is “broken” and must be lovingly “reversed”. His qualifications are in “religious freedom” and “political science”….

Safe School supporters and protesters clash in Canberra in August 2017.

Again, I am proud to refer you to a post or three of my own, such as 2016’s Show some backbone, PM!

As Malcolm Turnbull yesterday caved into his party’s religious right and announced an investigation into the Safe Schools Coalition one thing became clear: we are in the midst of a culture war. And vulnerable children are being used as cannon fodder.In a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday, February 23, Senator Cory Bernardi called for the program to be defunded, claiming it was being used to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism.”

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers….

Well, probably back to photos next time….