Bernie and conventional wisdom

Here is another Donald Trump-Richard Nixon comparison. When Nixon sought a second term in 1972, the Democrats nominated Senator George McGovern the most left-wing candidate in US history to challenge him.

The result was disastrous for the Democrats. Nixon won 49 states. So, a nasty, disliked, sociopathic, dishonest Republican President can win easily if the Democrats are stupid enough to nominate as challenger someone who is seen as unacceptably left-wing. And that is what is happening now.

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The bear is worse than the dragon

When the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper named China this week as the US’s leading antagonist, followed by Russia, it should have sparked alarm. Not because he is right, but because he is wrong, and possibly deliberately so.

Trump and the people he appointed to his administration have consistently down-played the Russian threat, often using a Chinese “threat” as a decoy or distraction.

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Libs should drop the Nats

Why can’t the Liberal Party call the National Party’s bluff and put an end to this dog-wagging blight on the Australian polity?

Without the Liberals showing some spine, it can only get worse. It is now obvious that Barnaby Joyce’s unsuccessful tilt at the leadership is not over. The election this week of Joyce supporter Llew O’Brien as Deputy Speaker over the Nationals’ official candidate – with the help of some deliciously calculated tactical voting by Labor – shows Joyce’s continued profound influence on the party and therefore its policies.

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Super rorts must end

Submissions to the Retirement Income Review have now closed. Unlike the usual government or parliamentary inquiry at which the submissions are dominated by the money-makers and vested interests, this one has drawn a huge range of submissions expressing a great range of views.

There should therefore be no excuse for the Treasury Inquiry to avoid recommendations to end the tax rorts in the system.

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Big Aussie conflicts must be resolved

Australia Day last weekend, coming amid bushfires and drought that will only get worse, exemplified some major conflicts in Australian society which should not be allowed to fester.

They include: national identity; dealing with carbon emissions; the city-bush divide; growing inequality and the government’s role in worsening it; the row over rights and freedoms; and corruption.

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Trump’s re-election prospects

If the impeachment hearings this week are any guide, it will have to be the court of public opinion, not the court of the Senate, that removes President Donald Trump.

Increasingly, though, the pundits and commentariat are saying that Trump will be re-elected. If anything, that could be read as a good sign, seeing how many of them, including me, have got it so wrong in recent elections.

In the critical first full day of the impeachment hearings his week, the Senate voted along strict party lines in favour of Trump on important procedural points. Everything suggests that the party line will hold and Trump will be acquitted. 

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Fire inquiry must look at political inaction

Bring on the Royal Commission into the fires. Bring on a broad-ranging inquiry and a commissioner who is someone of independence, competence and integrity. This week’s essay from former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull makes this more imperative that ever.

He made sensible conclusions about what Australia must do about climate change but what he DID NOT not say is of more import.

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Morrison: proven unfit as PM

Scott Morrison is unfit to be Prime Minister. His inaction in the lead-up to the bushfire crisis and his later response to it reveals this. The Hawaii holiday might have been just survivable but the handshake debacles, the refusal to change course and the Liberal Party’s cliché-ridden advertisement spruiking the Government’s “action” on the bushfires and calling for donations to, not the bushfire appeal, but the to Liberal Party, cement the conclusion.

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We must engage with China

A Chinese coal-fired power plant

Perhaps the most important policy response of the 2020s besides global heating will be how the west deals with China’s expansion abroad and its government’s continued repression of its people at home.

Indeed, relations with China will be the key to effective reversal of global heating.

It will require major changes to US thinking, if “thinking” is an appropriate term for what passes as US foreign policy these days.

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Flat Earth, evolution, tobacco and climate hope

In George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan it is 1429. The Archbishop of Rheims (“with nothing of the ecclesiastic about him”) tells the Lord Chamberlain (a “monstrous, arrogant” man) that he would like to seek peace of spirit with Aristotle and Pythagoras rather than with the saints and their miracles.

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