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07 September 2008 @ 03:18 am
Still not dead  
Though I did cough up half a lung last night and ended up sleeping on the sofa until 5pm, which is why I am bright and sparky at 3.53am ...

Here's hoping that all my English and Welsh flist are escaping the worst of the storm, and jadzialove  and others being menaced by the cyclone. And if anyone is in Liverpool, how are things going with the giant robot spider roaming the streets?

It's been a strange week for Australian politics. In good news Quentin Bryce is the new Governor General. This is the ceremonial role of the Queen's representative in Australia. Or at least, it's usually ceremonial. A GG once brought down an Australian government and no one's ever really forgotten it. But Quentin is lovely. She was one of the first women barristers in Queensland, and has a long and strong record on women's rights and indigenous issues without for a moment divorcing herself from the broader social issues that go into constructing the complex problems behind sexism and racism.

On Friday we thought that the New South Wales treasurer would be sacked. This was good news because he is ghastly and has massively screwed up infrastructure management within the state. As it turned out, he went and the premier went, too. Now we have a new premier who is so low-key that even I had barely heard of him. He's a relative cleanskin from the ALP centre left, which might even equate to not in thrall to developers or particular unions, give it a few months to wait and see. The Labor party here is so very curate's egg, parts of it are excellent, while the rest would be perfectly at home in the Chicago of the early 20th century.

(The conservative opposition is the same. The Liberal leader is wonderful and I would have him as premier in an instant, but of the rest of his party there are too many who are anti public schools and hospitals, and also too many religious nutters for me to feel comfortable with the lot of them.)

The new premier is a bit of a cardigan man; dull and diligent, formerly a gardener and a binman (I do not jest), who went off to uni and took a degree in English Literature because he thought he ought to. I approve of cardigan men; politicians who rely on flash and personality have me running for the hills.  For this reason I am very glad that I do not live in the US. I would actually explode if I had to work with journos who wrote almost wholly in terms of personality politics. Whether Sarah Palin is the perfect girl next door or the daughter of Satan is immaterial, the fact of the matter is that she lacks substantive experience and firmly believes in a set of policies that will see the alleged greatest nation in the world back in the scientific stone age. That and the incredible financial ineptitude of the Republicans over the last eight years have me boggling at commentators who are suggesting that the Democrats are now in trouble for November.

Let me put it this way: I think that if I knew John McCain, we would probably get on. As long as we didn't talk about Cindy, she scares me. I might even get on with Sarah Palin if we restricted out topics of conversation to why gays should have partner superannuation rights. But if it were my country, I would want it run by someone who has a plan for managing the massive looming Social Security disaster, who has an idea of providing health care for the millions who are doing without (because America, you're doing it wrong) and who comes from a party that has historically presided over the majority of periods of financial growth and prosperity. And so even though I think I would end up finding Barack Obama mentally exhausting if he was my next door neighbour, and do suspect Joe Biden is just a bit odd, I'd be voting for them if I was American. Because you should care whether or not you like your friends, not your politicians.

And if I was an American journalist, I would be writing stories that looked at the economy and asking very seriously whether it can survive another Republican president, rather than playing this schoolyard game of who's cooler that they've all been playing this week. Because all those savings that have kept the US from utter fiscal disaster in the last eight years, they're long gone and not on anything that will make money or protect against loss in the future.

But instead, the Washington Post's lead online politics story is on first lady fashions.

Makes the robot spider look like a good deal ...
makes me mellow right down to my soulfrances_veritas on September 6th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Um. Can you please be our president? :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 6th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
Not born in the US, I'm afraid. Also, atheist, and the day that the US elects one of those will be the day that I am genuinely and unambiguously surprised. XXX.
makes me mellow right down to my soulfrances_veritas on September 6th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
Haha, I know.

But in my head, you can still be our president. Heh.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 6th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
They'd have to put little stepping stools behind all the big lecterns, and in front of Air Force 2 ...
Meredythmeredyth_13 on September 6th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
One could almost say the same thing of Aus, but when either country does? I'm throwing a party, and you're definitely invited, hon.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 07:03 am (UTC)
Oh come on, do you really think that PJK's Catholicism survived his schooldays? But yes, I'll bring the champers when the US stops focusing on God rather than State.
Voldemoo: miro mousefrantic_mice on September 6th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
The only peeps I find exhausting are judgmental peeps, I can't RLY cope with them. They have their eyes on ya to do something imperfect with the perfect confidence of someone who well knoes they be expecting something that is super easily deliverable.

As for Palin and that whole mess, I understand when people say, HANDS OFF about her family. BUT! She uses her family politically, AND she belongs to a party who totes gets up the nose of citizens while trying to manage their private liefs, their bodies, their orifices, who they can marry, who they can't and who berate working womens every day about not staying home with the kids. Who talk about single moms like they're a drain on the economy HOES but who shouldn't consider abortion. They're like, "Moms, if you want your kids to die, consider the christian way: Death Pentalty and War." That's what Jesus would do? Jesus would birch their bums off.

So yeah, those people? I could NEVER be their friends, not the least because I actually live the kind of life that they somewhat approve of but in the life of my mind, where my loves and beliefs are, we could not be moar different. Yes, maybe they're smarter than me (smart and dumb means less to me because IMO IQ is about quality and kindness and not about points so I can be "self-depricatin" without actually) but BOY are they wrong.
Voldemoo: 1 eat micefrantic_mice on September 6th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
OMG! I got ranty mcrantypants about this. SRY. =/ My objectivity is this owl who just flew flew aways.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 6th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Heh, is all fine. If I was American I would be McRanty Panted, too.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 6th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
The last time I was in America I had a wonderful conversation with a woman a few years older than me. We were chatting about what terrorism does to a country (it was December 2001) and how important it was that people be allowed the time and space to grieve properly. On this topic we were in broad agreement. I even agreed with her that the US going into Afghanistan was the right move, because the Taliban were nothing more than Nazis and should have been stopped years before rather than shamefully supported as they were.

Then she made a comment on how the country of her childhood had turned into a hell of gay rights and disrespect.

"Hang on," I said. "The two don't go together. You do have a raft of social problems,l but that's because your public education systems are shot to hell and you have an entrenched underclass. As to gay rights, you're a woman, and I bet that you enjoy the rights that you have now that you wouldn't have had in 1901. Equality makes nations stronger and better, not weaker."

"But gay rights aren't the same as women's rights," she replied.

"They're all human rights," I argued. "It's something that I care a lot about because my mother's a lesbian and I've seen her life significantly affected by legislative homophobia."

She stopped and looked at me for a long moment. "Your mother's a lesbian? But you seem so very normal."

"I AM very normal, that's the whole point."

When I have enough money, I am going back to the US and I am going to have this conversation with 50 million people.
Voldemoo: love micefrantic_mice on September 6th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
YES! Come to AZKATRAZ!!!!!!!!!! ♥ lol You'll be preachin to the choir there but it will be an AWESOME choir.

I always thought being a girl was what made me get minority rights, but then I look around and realize people will understand what they want and dismiss what they don't. Specially if not understanding gives them some sort of validation, like moneys or getting approval or feeling liek part of a club. It's like that quote which I'm totes murdering right nao that says something like, it's hard to get somebody to say yes when their paycheck tells them to say no (whatever their paycheck is).

I'm actually not from the mainland, but yes. Ranty Mcrants. <3

blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
Heh, Azkatraz may well happen, but it remains to be seen what the finances will be like.

And I think that the difficult thing Americans need to get their heads around is not voting according to this week's paycheck, but according to the year's worth of money, or the next several years. Because while tax cuts can sound great, they often cost more to individuals than they give back. Of course, this all requires an interrogative press to put the issues before the voting public, so I could well be dreaming.
bare_memabonwitch on September 7th, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
"When I have enough money, I am going back to the US and I am going to have this conversation with 50 million people."

I *do* have this conversation, often, with people. Usually random strangers at bus stops, which has to be my #2 favorite reason for public transportation.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
Oh YAY! I am sending you big virtual hugs. And hopes we can one day catch a bus together ;-)
&helena;uminohikari on September 6th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
The only reason I wouldn't fully support Obama is because of his VP--Biden had that whole plagiarism scandal..
(Anonymous) on September 7th, 2008 08:37 am (UTC)
Biden was accused of plagiarism his first year in law school and was cleared. It was a case of not knowing how to properly footnote and cite a law school paper properly. He failed the course; but was allowed to take it again. If it had been a case of deliberate cheating, he would have been expelled or forced to withdraw to avoid being expelled. Biden had no special connections back then. Obviously, he wasn't the best student in the world. Neither was Palin. Biden did earn a Bachelor's degree in four years from one college and a law degree in three years from one law school. It took Palin four colleges (some being community colleges) and six years to earn a Bachelor's degree. Biden is no Obama, president of Harvard Law Review, but then very few are. Obama is neither in his 70s nor has he ever had cancer.

Anyway the law school paper and the failed course became an issue in the 1988 primary where Biden had this habit of juxtaposing his situation with that of British polititian Neil Kinnock. In a speech, Kinnock brought up that both he and his wife were both the first in their families to attend University and pointing out that it was not because they were smarter than the rest of their family just that there was lack of opportunity. Biden basically said the same thing about himself and his wife and their families (not "word for word" as some chose to remember) because it was *also* true for them and he DID credit Kinnock many times when he did make this juxtoposition. Then, one time he didn't and the Dukakis campaign picked up on it and ran with it.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
Ooh, I do think it was a bit more than that. Biden took large chunks of Kinnock's speech, including saying that he came from a family of coal miners, which was patently untrue. Additionally he took unattributed quotes from Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. Now I think this makes him a political thicky rather than someone who should be tarred and feathered, but I don't think we should pretend it never happened.

That said, I would prefer someone who has a good record of long public service at many levels of government and dogged if uninspired devotion to good legislation as VP even if he is incapable of writing his own speeches, to someone who may be wholly original but who lacks any practical substance.

If the job was for speechwriter, I might reverse my position.

Edited at 2008-09-07 11:53 am (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)
I don't think you have to like Biden, but I do think that the Democratic policies are less likely to see America go further down the drain than it has over the last eight years.

And sadly, Obama seems to be the only one without a significant morals issue hanging over his head if that sort of stuff worries you.
spark_of_chaos: book-oldspark_of_chaos on September 6th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
Because you should care whether or not you like your friends, not your politicians. ... But instead, the Washington Post's lead online politics story is on first lady fashions

Amen. If I ever wonder why I decided to friend you, or why I read every personal/rl post you make with even greater interest than the fandom ones, I will come back to this post and tell myself "See? This is why. Because she is a person to be honoured to know. Because she is fun and sharp-witted and knows about the world in width and depth I can only aspire to." I really haven't idea how you manage to follow what is going on where with such precision of opinion. Good thing we live on different continents, because I would totally stalk you! I'm not even joking.

I watched the acceptance speech of Palin with my father - she presented her spouse and kids by first name, occupation and favourite TV show, basically, and I turned and asked him, what were the kids of our President again? He raised an eyebrow and asked back - does it really matter?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
You and your father have the right of it. For as long as 'family values' can be glossed over as having children who are happy to be paraded around election time rather than doing things that are good for families, like good health and education systems and not constructing an entrenched underclass ... that's the same length of time that America will remain the richest third world nation on the planet.

And it makes me cranky, because Americans deserve better than that.

It was my job to be informed about everything, and before that it was my hobby, and even now that I am working on dumb magazines, I feel better knowing more. But it's just a wrap-up of sundry news outlets through the month. I still miss an awful lot.

Also, can Kimi take Spa from fourth on the grid? Can one of the lads stop Lewis or is it really his year this time? These questions truly exercise me!
Randy: Cthulhu 2008drgaellon on September 6th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
Liberal leader is wonderful and I would have him as premier in an instant, but of the rest of his party there are too many who are anti public schools and hospitals, and also too many religious nutters for me to feel comfortable with the lot of them.
Interesting. Here in the States, the religious nutters are mostly in the more conservative (Republican) party, while the liberal (Democrat) party is more inclusive and vastly more pro-social-services.

American newsmedia are, by and large, controlled by one of six or seven large conglomerate corporations (among them Rupert Murdoch's NewsMedia and Disney). This makes them... less than honest in their reportage. CNN's Washington bureau chief has repeatedly been skewing coverage pro-McCain/Palin and anti-Obama/Biden, using weasel words he can't back up with quotes or statistics, and otherwise being everything a journalist shouldn't.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)
Ah, you've fallen into the commonest trap for young players with Australian politics, the Liberal party IS the conservative party here.

And there was a time when the Republican party was liberal, too [looks fondly into the mists of history].

Though the Labor party has its share of religious nutters, too, but they are generally kept in check by the rigid caucus structure of the party.

CNN has me gobsmacked at the moment, I still haven't got over their treatment of Matthew Mitcham. Thank goodness for the internet, or I would despair for all my American friends. It's a bit like China over there at the moment (Actually, if I think about the egregious arrests around the RNC, it's EXACTLY like China).
Randydrgaellon on September 7th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
So black is white over there, then? :)

I can't find ANYTHING on CNN.com about Mitcham - is the fact that they ignored him completely what you mean?

I fear for this country if McCain/Palin get elected. Makes me think seriously (which I never thought I would) about invoking the Law of Return and moving to Tel Aviv.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
Every other personable Aussie gold medallist they interviewed and had little personal chats about. Him they showed the actual win, then cut away immediately his boyfriend came down to go the snog and Never Mentioned Him Again.

The Canadians were playing Marry An American to Give them Political Asylum last time, I'm sure they will again, bless em.

It always makes me laugh when American Conservatives rail against liberals ;-)
Meredythmeredyth_13 on September 6th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, poor honey. Still? :(

I have to say that losing a lung and most of your sleep hasn't affected your ability to put very clever words together. And thank you for the Aus politics update - I live in a news free vacuum, it appears.

I did comment on a recent post Fray put up about this - because she spoke of it from such a personal viewpoint. I try not to comment on US or other international politics (and a lot of that is because I know I'd sound like an ignorant pillock) but while I don't particularly care what either McCain or Palin are like as people, I am absolutely terrified of their positions on topics that are pretty important to me. The US has a very unfortunate capacity to impact dramatically on how the rest of the world functions, and along with the financial implications of another Republican term, both domestically and internationally, the international politics and social damage that could be done terrifies me.


I like the robot spider. Then again, I haven't been able to keep track of Brit Prime Ministers since Blair. I admit it, I fail majorly at world affairs.

I am wishing your germs away. Rikodeine is your friend, in case I haven't mentioned this before. *hugs and worries about you*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)
They booted Sartor today, too! And he was all "Why??? Nathan, why?????"

To which I could hear the state saying "Because you sold us out to developers, Frank, that's why!"

Still manky, but improving. And yes, Obama/Biden is less likely to lead the rest of us into disaster than McCain/Palin.
Meredythmeredyth_13 on September 7th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
I think they should stop giving them name tags and portfolios, and just hand out day passes. It would be easier. I do wonder if Rees can pull it back together, given what's been going on up there. But then, there is a long standing tradition of having opposition governments in the states to the Federal party - so it's almost inevitable that the state labour govs are going to start falling over. *scratches head*

Do you think if you give them their deposits back you can salvage ownership of the place? ;)

Glad to hear you're improving, sweets. The health gods really do need to give you a break about now, yeah?
acromantularacromantular on September 7th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
The Labor party here is so very curate's egg,

Could you explain curate's egg?
Dedicated Escape Artist: Purple flowersjadzialove on September 7th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)
Curate's egg is something that has a bit of good and a bit of bad, and as a result is, as a whole, undesirable.
acromantularacromantular on September 7th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)

I was going to ask for the derivation, but wikipedia does a bang-up job.

What wikipedia and the first page of Google results don't tell me: is this a generally-recognized term amongst Brits and colonials, or more literary? I obviously haven't run into it in US usage.
Dedicated Escape Artist: Purple flowersjadzialove on September 7th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
I couldn't say with any authority, as I am very much American. I only know of the phrase having run across it here and there along the way, but likely it's recognized as you say, amongst Brits and colonials, since Brammers used it.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
Haven't heard it used much in Australia, but it was certainly used a lot in the England of my youth (South East, well educated), and I know that the New Zealanders use it commonly, too.

It's a good one, and yes, that Wiki entry was excellent!
Dedicated Escape Artist: Coffee Timejadzialove on September 7th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
The cyclone was not quite all it was hyped up to be, thank goodness.

while the rest would be perfectly at home in the Chicago of the early 20th century.

I can't tell you how much I love the diplomacy you used in that description. Fantastic. *giggles* Is it okay if I'm now picturing corrupt Australian politicians carrying violin cases and using names like 'Nicky the Nose'?

I have no comments regarding American politics, because I agree with you wholly, except to say that Sarah Palin scares the hell out of me. Not only for her politcs, but because McCain looks horrible and he's 72 and has had cancer 4 times and there's a very real chance that he wouldn't make it through his entire term. Please have a room ready for me if this entire mess comes to that, would you?

Edited at 2008-09-07 03:03 am (UTC)
Meredythmeredyth_13 on September 7th, 2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
Is it okay if I'm now picturing corrupt Australian politicians carrying violin cases and using names like 'Nicky the Nose'?

Ah, I see you've met our state and federal front-benchers. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
Dude, Joe Tripodi!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
I used to associate with some of them and there were a few who I would not have been surprised to see popping up in Sicilian Wanted posters.

There was one, who is now a federal front bencher, who had an ongoing war with the party apparatchik I foolishly went out with years ago. He rang once, after midnight, and was vehemently abusive down the phone.

"Excuse me," I finally said, "But not only am I not my evil boyfriend, I;m not even a member of your party."

"Well why the fuck should I care?" he asked.

"Because I am a journalist." I replied.

And this is why the student magazine that had accredited me for the then-upcoming Labor conference ran a story filled with references to Anthony Albanese, noted wanker ...
Dedicated Escape Artist: Coffee Timejadzialove on September 7th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha! The power of the press...
(Anonymous) on September 7th, 2008 08:57 am (UTC)
On of our city commissioners who has met Obama stated "He is usually the smartest person in the room. And why wouldn't you want the smartest person in the room to lead your country?"

Just wait until November arrives to see if the Democrats are in trouble. McCain did get a slight post-convention "bounce" in the overall national polls which was expected but what ultimately matters in the US is this:


And even though there was narrowing of Obama's lead in the nationals this week, Minnosota (the site of the RNC) went from gray to baby blue this week and Indiana went from pink to grey this week! Plus none of these polls count all the new voters we are registering.

Randy: Cthulhu 2008drgaellon on September 7th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
On of our city commissioners who has met Obama stated "He is usually the smartest person in the room. And why wouldn't you want the smartest person in the room to lead your country?"
Because way too many Americans DISTRUST smart people. How the blue blazes do you think we elected the Shrub over Al Gore? (Well, okay, the SCOTUS did that for us, but even so...)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
I liked the report that was either by the BBC's Panorama or the Australian Broadcasting Commisions's Four Corners last year that went around talking to people in the Republican heartland and had one lovely old guy who said: "I voted for Bush because I thought he seemed the kind of guy I'd like to have a beer with. He probably is, but next time I'll be voting for the kind of guy I think would be good at running the country."
Randy: Cthulhu 2008drgaellon on September 7th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
Hallelujah! They can be taught! (Or at least they're smart enough to learn a lesson when they get burned...)
violetagevioletage on September 7th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
It is often refreshing to get a viewpoint from someone not sitting here in the US, especially when that viewpoint tallies so nicely with my own.

Lovely post.

Hope you feel better soon this drech simply lasts for ever!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 7th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
It's been 10 days! I just want a good night's sleep!

And I do worry about American politics. In my lifetime (and I'm not even as old as Sarah Palin), ideas of policy and ability have been swept aside in favour of appearance and flash. We have supermodels to look good, not politicians. Sigh.
trichinopoly ashaldehyde on September 8th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
my bf showed me the giant spider news article on bbc.com the other day and i was kinda scared. why a spider of all things! :(
blamebramptonblamebrampton on September 8th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
It is rather beautiful, though I imagine not to people who don't like spiders ...
trichinopoly ashaldehyde on September 8th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
i agree that it IS very nifty, especially since i am completely enthralled by clockwork things, and this is like the grandmother of clockwork awesomeness. i just wish it was..a different shape :)
madchemist36madchemist36 on September 8th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
I always love hearing your opinion of American politics (as sadly they are the only ones I know intimately enough to enjoy). The past eight years have been a living nightmare. Honestly I have stated only half jokingly that the only reason I haven't left the country yet is that I'm afraid my new home will be the next target. The only thing worse than living in a totalitarian state is living in the state of its enemy. The military arsenal is of course also a factor.

Sarah Palin, Ugh.

I have only had the "my mother is a lesbian" talk when I have been on my best behavior. Of course "best" behavior is totally subjective and changes as my audience changes. ;-D Thus I have probably had that particular conversation with hundreds of people. The only difference is that generally, when my audience involves men, they are properly appreciative of my upbringing and wish to come round for dinner some night. Hooray living in good l' liberal New England, where the weather is wonky but our concepts of human rights are not.