You would hope so. Shameful.
This graph should tell you everything that you need to know about jobs growth since President Obama took office.
Republicans: Stop fooling yourselves.
A sad day for procedural fairness and natural justice. From today, mere allegations will be sufficient to warrant the removal of people from high office. It is no longer necessary, apparently, to give those people fundamental rights that are central to the rule of law, namely the ability to seek an independent ruling from an impartial tribunal having considered all of the evidence as to the validity or otherwise of those allegations.
A dangerous precedent has been set by a man who will do or say anything to become Prime Minister. Tony Abbott will only take this as validation of his strategy of tearing down the Parliament at any cost - today, we can add to that cost basic concepts like procedural fairness as applied to public officials.
The allegations made against Peter Slipper could be made against any MP, at any time. Following the events of today, it is clear that whether or not those allegations have any basis will be immaterial to the question of whether that person is fit for the office that they hold.
That is a fairly dangerous precedent in an environment that often lends itself to rumour and speculation about the private lives of colleagues. As of right now, every rumour that is floating around in Canberra about the private life of any politician can and will be sufficient to warrant their removal from office.
That is what the Opposition has done to this Parliament, and to basic concepts that we all take for granted, but upon which we rely as central tenets of our justice system. Imagine what they might do in government, given the opportunity.
Four years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama went on a global tour in an effort to bolster his foreign policy credentials. It was undeniably a resounding success with hundreds of thousands of people turning out to cheer the man who had gone from relative obscurity to Democratic standard-bearer.
At home, however, his trip was viewed with suspicion and allegations that he was somehow presuming that he would win the general election in November. He was accused of ignoring the people whose votes he was seeking, and worse, that he was simply looking for another forum with which to go after the sitting President.
Skip ahead four years.
Governor Romney, in his short trip to one of America’s greatest allies, the United Kingdom, engaged on a tour that can only be described as an unmitigated disaster. Each day it got worse and people were left thinking how it could possibly get any worse than what he had done the day before.
It is not necessary to construct a laundry list of the things that he did wrong, although it would be a lot faster than coming up with a list of things that he did right. Such a list would be fairly barren, although it would likely be less sparse than Romney’s foreign policy credentials following his UK trip.
It is unclear how his trip will play out to the people who don’t pay close attention to the political process. It could be argued that the swing voters who will decide the outcome of election are more concerned with the future of the economy than a series of gaffes made by the presumptive G.O.P. nominee.
But for voters on all sides of the aisle who pay close attention to presidential politics, and this applies to many millions of people, Romney’s disaster in the UK will only serve to reinforce his weak foreign policy credentials against an incumbent who has undeniably excellent credentials on that issue.
President Obama is perhaps the first Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt who will campaign on foreign policy as a strength. It has been used by the G.O.P. for decades to whack the Democrats, including in 2004 against a man who served his country with honour, dignity, and courage and was torn down simply because W. wanted to best his father and get a second term.
That has now changed, and if the intent of Governor Romney’s trip abroad was to alter that, he has thus far spectacularly failed. He has more opportunities in the days ahead as he visits more countries, including Israel, but they are opportunities only insofar as he has the chance to not screw up any more than he already has.
This trip can no longer be turned into a positive. He can only mitigate the damage that he has already done. Maybe.
The Right-wing smear machine in the United States is overheating with a quote from President Obama apparently stating that people do not build businesses on their own. On their own, the comments do indeed look as though the President is openly attacking business owners, or more broadly capitalism, which is exactly what some are reporting:
Comments made by President Obama during his weekend campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., have some small business owners furious.
Here’s verbatim what the president said while speaking to a crowd of supporters about taxes: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Some have interpreted the comments as meaning all business owners who have worked hard and achieved success were helped along the way by government infrastructure, and therefore these business owners should be subject to higher taxes. […]
From Fox News Business.
And again from the Heritage Foundation.
Governor Romney wasted absolutely no time in jumping on the bandwagon with a press release subtly titled, “Obama believes Government creates jobs, not people.”
It’s a nice little talking point, but even a casual look at the facts demonstrates how incredibly dishonest and misleading those stories are. Here is the full quote:
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
The message he is relaying in that passage is not controversial. Generally there is broad support for basic public services and infrastructure that allows the economy to grow and expand. That is why the Right-wing smear machine kicked in to gear and took one selective passage which is not even vaguely demonstrative of what the President actually said.
It fits into their neat little construct of the President— a socialist Kenyan who wants to force everyone to get gay married and give up their guns— that gives absolutely no deference to reality. That is what they have to do in this campaign: create a strawman President and go after him because they know they can’t run on their own merits, and they know that the President is broadly improving the situation.
I am confident that it will not work.
From The Australian:
IT’S pretty obvious that the public would like to see our main party leaders come together to find a compromise solution to the refugee impasse following the recent tragedies at sea.
That is not happening because the opposition refuses to do so, despite increasing calls for compromise from sections of its backbench.As a result of a failure to find a compromise solution to boat arrivals, in the final sitting week before the parliamentary recess the Liberal partyroom is starting to fracture. […]One well-placed Liberal source told The Australian that Abbott would rather see Labor continue to bleed politically with ongoing boat arrivals. If that means deaths at sea continue, he said, so be it. Perhaps Abbott thinks such tragedies reflect more badly on Labor than his own side because the government appears responsible for the mess courtesy of changing John Howard’s asylum-seekers policies in the first place.
LEIGH SALES: I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I’m trying to get to the bottom of exactly what the Coalition would accept here. I’m asking if the Government put up exactly what you want, would you support it?
SCOTT MORRISSON: Well, Leigh, that hasn’t happened. The Government has shown no indication at any occasion when I’ve addressed any of these matters in the past to address any element of them. Talking about Nauru does not change the problems with their legislation.
LEIGH SALES: But if you can’t even agree that you would support your own policy if they put it to you, then, you know, where are we?
I am amazed at the massive influence that the Christian-Right continues to have within the Liberal National Party of Queensland. It was always self-evident that the party is inherently socially conservative, even with a leader who can generously be described as a “moderate.” This is a legitimate worldview—not one with which I agree, but one that is held by the LNP. But the speed and apparent enthusiasm with which the LNP has gone after LGBTI rights since winning Government in March has been completely shocking. I didn’t expect Qld to be the progressive place that it was under the former government; but this level of anti-gay sentiment to early is a troubling sign, and not one that many saw coming.
It began when the Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg, defunded the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities based on, at best, faulty logic. His view was that they spent too much time advocating; apparently not realising that they were contractually obliged to do so under the terms of their contract with the Qld Government He also cited the AIDS rate in Qld as evidence that the QAHC was not working effectively. Nonsense. The HIV rate among gay men—the sector of the community that the QAHC actually serves, actually decreased. The QAHC was working. His actions demonstrate a loathing for the same-sex community within the LNP that has not been seen since Joh referred to homosexuals as “sick animals.” It appears as though many within the Government continue to hold that worldview.
The Premier then announced that his Government would eliminate the official ceremony aspect of the civil partnerships legislation passed by the former government. This was met with wide outrage from many, but I was not one of them. It was a weak and petty move, but all things considered, the alternative was infinitely worse – they were always going to alter them in some way or form. But what actually transpired was much worse, and their “reforms” go much further. Among a whole host of other reforms, “civil unions” will now be called the “relationships registry.” The Attorney-General will go so far as to rename the Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; which administers the Act, so that there can be no doubt that the registry is not marriage. This move can only be fuelled by an anti-gay worldview. Incidentally, the Premier acknowledged that the only organisation to whom he spoke on this matter was the Australian Christian Lobby, who also met with the Attorney-General. The Premier simply said that he “knows the views” of groups like PFLAG. If he really does, they clearly don’t get any say in public policy.
We have always known that there are severe anti-gay sentiments within the Liberal National Party. Fiona Simpson, now the Speaker, is on the record as believing in “ex-gay therapy,” going so far as to put their number on the public record for persons who might be interest. I can only hope that nobody was. Mark Robinson, now the Deputy Speaker, promised before he was elected that the LNP would repeal civil unions. Others have expressed similar views, and it is typical of the former Qld Nationals Party, which is still the dominant influence on the LNP despite the merger, to hold views that could be characterised as homophobic. But that was supposed to change.
There was much hope that Campbell Newman, the first metropolitan Liberal leader the conservatives have had as leader in years, would moderate those views. “But he supports gay marriage!” cried many on the Right, hoping to diminish the Right’s reputation in Qld as extreme. I doubted this but did not have much evidence, as it was true that Campbell Newman did once say that he supports same-sex marriage. But the evidence is now in. Campbell Newman is clearly completely unable or unwilling to moderate the extreme elements of his own party to the detriment of minority groups within Qld. I fear that the worst is yet to come.
From the Washington Post:
“[O]n Wednesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) became the latest prominent Republican to suggest that the presumptive GOP nominee should … make the race a choice election.
“Look, this is one of the reasons why I endorsed Mitt Romney here in Wisconsin in the first place,” Ryan said in an appearance on “Fox and Friends.”
“So yes, you have to say, ‘President Obama is taking us in the wrong direction, there’s no two ways about that. Here’s a better alternative.’”
I agree with Rep. Paul Ryan, and he is exactly the right person to be saying it. His budget proposal, which has absolutely no chance of becoming law unless the G.O.P. retains control of the House, regains control of the Senate, and wins the Presidency, is evidence that a class war is raging in the United States—and the middle class is losing. It effectively seeks to solve the fiscal problems in the U.S. by gutting social programs like Medicare and Social Security by privatising them, and spending that money instead on cutting taxes for the rich, or even eliminating them. Under his budget proposal, for instance, Governor Romney would have paid very little effective tax, as the Ryan budget proposal completely eliminates capital gains tax. Even with all of those recklessly irresponsible ideas, it does not close the deficit for two decades according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office; it does not propose to close the budget deficit until 2040.
This is a simplistic analysis, and I’m not an economist, but on the basic set of facts I think it is clear that Paul Ryan’s plan, as endorsed by Mitt Romney, has the wrong priorities and does not even achieve anything substantive until two decades into the future. In contrast, President Obama would seek to close the deficit by asking more of those who have benefited the most, in part by ending the Bush tax cuts, which are set to be the biggest contributor to the deficit over the long-term. The President would put more people to work at the local level by helping state and local authorities to rehire teachers, firefighters, and other public servants who serve a key function yet have been laid off en masse since the global financial crisis. The President is open to looking at social programs, as evidenced by his willingness to do so in the “grand deal” with Speaker Boehner that ultimately failed, while not completely undermining them. The Affordable Healthcare Act, or “ObamaCare,” puts a pretty big dent in rising health costs which contribute massively to the budget deficit.
So I think it should be able two competing visions. I welcome the debate.
Some have alleged that industrial relations will not be an election at the coming election, that any mention of the Howard Government’s amendments to the Workplace Relations Act, colourfully referred to as WorkChoices, will be largely immaterial as “old news.” The old news provides a basis upon which the attitude of the Coalition in this area ought to be considered, particularly in light of Tony Abbott’s statement that his government would revisit workplace relations to “restore the balance.” It is unclear what that actually means, but by considering reforms of previous Coalition Governments, it is clear that his view will move towards what the Business Council would like: more flexibility for employers to the detriment of workers, fewer conditions in key areas, fewer rights to take action against employers, and weaker right-of entry laws. Critically it will probably also include watering down the right to collectively bargain. This approach is based on a worldview in which unions have no place in the employment relationship, that the employer ought to have all the power, and that the worker should simply consider themselves lucky that they have a job at all. This is a legitimate worldview, but it is one with which I ardently disagree, and it is in my view inconsistent with empirical evidence which demonstrates that there is absolutely no link between taking away the right to collectively bargain, or diminishing other workplace rights, and productivity or the unemployment rate.
Industrial relations will always be an election issue for as long as the Labor Party is in existence. It is the very reason for its existence. This is something of which most members of the ALP are proud, and seeking to diminish it by speaking of its association with the labor movement in negative terms will not have the desired effect. It is worn as a badge of pride. And as long as the conservative side of politics has a worldview that seeks to undermine the role of unions and diminish workplace rights, it will always be a positive, regardless of what some people who I believe are misinformed might believe.
Consider, for a moment, a reality where Tony Abbott managed to convince the independents that his case for forming government was stronger in 2010. Prime Minister Abbott is about to unveil his very own price on carbon, and the Parliament is working pretty well against any objective indicia. Now consider a reality where a Coalition MP was facing allegations of impropriety in his former profession, and the Labor Opposition was openly calling for his vote to be withheld and actively calling for the Parliament to play the role that has always been reserved for the judiciary.
In some ways this is an entirely possible alternative given that many serious allegations have been levelled against Peter Slipper, who would likely still be a Coalition MP if the Coalition had managed to seize power in 2010. But by considering that alternative, one in which PM Abbott was defending a Coalition MP, we can see how easy it is to lose sight of the facts and reality in such a hyper-partisan and heated environment. It is easy to call for blood because it appeals to the populist segments of the community; it is more difficult to argue that we should be calm and measured while respecting the rule of law because it is not what Herald Sun readers want to read. Just because something might appeal to individuals who are easily persuaded does not mean that it is the right thing to do. Often the opposite holds true.
Craig Thomson has faced nine separate investigations, some of which are still ongoing. On no occasion has there been any substantive adverse finding; quite the opposite is true. Despite the rhetoric and slander, not a single body has been able to find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on his part while he was the National Secretary of the Health Services Union. There is absolutely no doubt that the HSU East branch is riddled with problems that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, but not a single one of these can be attributed to Thomson at this stage. The most significant finding against Thomson was the Fair Work Australia report, but on that there are two points to be made: it did not find any criminal wrongdoing; and it consisted substantively of allegations that were made by his adversaries. I would be questioning the quality of that evidence.
There is perhaps more to be told, more that we don’t know. A Current Affair, always a beacon of journalistic integrity, apparently has paid a sex worker $60000 in return for her claim that Thomson paid for her services. If this turns out to be true, I and other unionists will rightly condemn the actions of Thomson for the spending of union money from workers in a low-paid industry on sex. But we should wait for a potential adverse finding against him by an independent body which is privy to all of the evidence and facts, and one which gives Thomson the opportunity to face his accusers and level a defence. Perhaps others might disagree, but ACA probably doesn’t meet that standard.
I’m not prejudging the outcome of any investigation or proceeding against Thomson that might occur in the future. That’s the point. Those who are calling for his blood are doing so on weak evidence because it is the popular thing to say. “He must go” is something I hear on a daily basis, with very little dissenting voice as to why, exactly, his vote on behalf of the people on Dobell ought not to count. Because the “why?” doesn’t suit the narrative of the Coalition.
The hyper-partisanship of the Coalition on this issue has led to a situation where we have abandoned principles that weren’t really up for debate just a short time ago. To abandon the rule of law to make a political point, and maybe seize power, shows how lacking in judgement Tony Abbott really is. I don’t recall any person from the ALP calling for a duly elected MPs vote to be withheld due to, for example, the Australian Wheat Board scandal. Such an argument would be hysterical, and the same holds true for much of the anti-Thomson rhetoric coming from an Opposition that is more concerned with wrecking the place to seize power than actually being a credible alternative.
It is clear that the Coalition has something to hide on issues in connection with allegations made against Speaker Peter Slipper by James Ashby. I am not alleging that it is somehow a conspiracy; I think the standard to demonstrate wrongdoing is a bit higher than “unanswered questions,” but there is a clear pattern of behaviour from several senior Coalition officials that is troubling and leads to the impression that they have something to hide on the issue. These are questions that need answering outside of the ordinary legal processes that will take place in the federal court in Ashby’s action against Slipper.
It began when the story broke that Christopher Pyne, who is the Manager of Opposition Business in the House, had drinks with Ashby in Slipper’s parliamentary office just weeks before the action was brought before the federal court. There is nothing inherently wrong with this; however, elements of the story later emerged that Pyne requested the contact details of Mr Ashby, which he initially denied (he used the classic “I have no recollection” defence). There is very little reason that a senior individual within the LNP would need the details of a junior staffer in the office of a Speaker who had defected from his party just weeks before. Pyne himself has not offered any reasonable reason, instead relying on a defence that he never used the details to call or text Mr Ashby. Given that Mr Pyne was less than truthful about the initial request for the details (or, if you are more generous, simply forgot), the veracity of this statement cannot be assured until there is evidence, which Pyne has refused to offer.
That story might have simply dissipated in the wider media narrative of Julia Gillard’s alleged poor judgement in appointing Slipper in the first instance; however, it then emerged that Mal Brough, who is Peter Slipper’s likely successor as the LNP candidate in the seat of Fisher, met with Ashby several times and offered him advice, the content of which has not been substantiated by either party. The fact that the Coalition’s likely candidate in the seat that they hope to win back from Slipper met with the man who could inflict, perhaps fatal, damage on the federal government places critical question marks on the role that the Coalition might have played in the allegations that are to be played out in federal court.
Tony Abbott and other Coalition frontbenchers have been evasive on the issue, relying on the same defence on which Pyne initially relied: ‘I have no knowledge of any help to Ashby from the Coalition.’ This does not exclude the possibility that help has been offered in relation to the allegations, it merely shows that Tony Abbott has not been made personally aware, as you would expect. The use of such language to answer what should be a relatively simple question strengthens the notion that there is more to this story than we are being told. If the Coalition had nothing to hide on the issue, and if they were telling us the truth in its entirety, they would not have sought to hide key details from the public, apparently hoping that they would never be known (or get lost in the wider, largely anti-ALP, narrative).
I am not alleging a conspiracy on the part of the LNP. Some within the Gillard Government have gone too far by alleging that it is a deliberate plan being carried out with the blessing of senior LNP officials. There is no clear evidence of that, and once more, “unanswered questions” is not the standard that we should require before alleging serious misconduct on the part of others. And I am in no way undermining the case by Ashby that is before the federal court. He has a right to bring an action, just as Slipper has the right to defend himself. But I think that a pattern has been established which reasonably gives rise to the notion that there is likely more to this story than we are being told, and this will very likely lead to some uncomfortable questions for the LNP.