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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Illogical religious licence

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter launched the updated version of their religious discrimination legislation last week as the real hell fires burned around them.

But the new version is no better and no less illogical as the original. It, too, goes well beyond what is needed or justified.

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Money tipped into non-education

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment tests not mere regurgitation, but capacity for analysis, thinking and evidence-based deductions. In 2019, Australia scored its worst result since the tests began in the early 2000s. At the same time we have a growing incapacity of our political leaders to think, analyse or draw evidence-based conclusions.

They grab at any straw to bolster the ideology of their side irrespective of evidence or logic.

Indeed, Education Minister Dan Tehan did this very thing when looking at what should be done about the PISA results.

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Let’s have MPs’ super all round

The Treasury’s current Retirement Income Review should have one figure firmly in mind. It is 15.4 per cent.

All Australians should be as concerned about this “review” as they are concerned about the quality of their mattresses. We spend a third of our lives asleep and almost a third of our lives in retirement. So we better not fall asleep while this review is used to degrade the superannuation entitlements of the bulk of Australians.

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Two-state solution should be discarded

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer finds Israeli settlements in the West Bank “inconsistent with international law” could in the long run do more to threaten Israel as a Jewish state than to buttress it.

Pompeo’s statement follows the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the earlier recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights which it conquered from Syria in the 1967 war.

In that war Israel also captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai and Gaza from Egypt. It has only given Sinai back. But Syria, Jordan and Egypt have shown no signs of wanting their remaining territories back.

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