Friday, January 04, 2013

Vote for the pond, or we'll tear your bloody arms off because we love a little bullying ...

(Above: the headline for The Age on 22nd May 1970, click to enlarge)

Okay, the pond just wanted to help you start off the day feeling comfortable and relaxed, by being reminded that history does indeed repeat itself, and nobody pays any attention or learns anything at all and who'd have imagined that in this day and age The Australian and the Murdoch press and Tony Abbott's minions are roughly equivalent to the PMG as they yammer on about bias in the ABC.

And they haven't even got the skill to deliver a telegram.

Same as it ever was, but that's enough of the knockdown irony, a good day before Christopher Pearson can sagely explained one more time how he and the board he's on knock the stuffing out of SBS, and the sooner it's done to the ABC the better.

So it's on to the good news, and as you might expect from the wild north, first up on the agenda is the Courier-Mail taking seriously the notion that compulsory voting should be up for grabs.

Yes, that's what they say in their very own editorial, Mandatory vote up for debate. Yep, that's how to float a balloon ...

Now it might be something of an irony that the pond recently copped a fine for not voting in an election  - we were overseas at the time m'lud, we abjectly throw ourselves on your splendid and righteous mercy - but rather than indignation - it was only for 55 smackeroos - the pond was full of admiration for the Australian Electoral Commission copping the dodgy behaviour.

The pond indeed is full of admiration for the work of the Australian Electoral Commission, and not just because the father of the house routinely trotted off to score a little weekend work whenever an election was called.

Compared to the United States, which is surely the most undemocratic, ill-formed and ill-functioning democracy on earth, the system in Australia is tidy and fair, inexpensive and not burdensome or subject to sectional interests and the need to get out the vote, and the notion that Campbell Newman and his functionaries might contrive a debate which would nudge the country in the direction of the USA is just one more example of the complete uselessness of Queenslanders.

Why on earth don't they just get to the nub of it, and do a Rick Perry and demand secession?

If getting out of bed once a year or so to eat a cake at the school stall - oh the agony if there's no lamingtons and only patti cakes or sponges - and cast a vote is simply too onerous and burdensome, piss off quick to the good old USA, where you can exercise your right to be a libertarian git by refusing to participate in anything at all.

Typically, it's a push from the right, always ready to yammer on about how the diggers went off to war to fight for democracy and the right to vote and this great country, and then when it comes to the crunch, turn around and announce that they don't want to be forced to vote, because really they couldn't give a flying fuck (or perhaps they perceive a political edge and a wedge, which the average digger would have known where they could shove it).

At the head of the push is an alleged Attorney-General, one Jarrod Bleijie, who having floated the idea, promptly advised that it wasn't government policy, only an idea floated in a green paper, though the header suggested Queensland's Newman government may dump compulsory voting at state elections.

(Above: Jarrod Bleijie. Yep, it's barely imaginable or comprehensible).

Bleijie, who is considered one of Campbell Newman's heavy hitters, is a prime example of how helium helps lightweight balloons float to the top.

Yes, the lad is the very same one who helped water down same-sex civil unions, has done his bit to ban singles and same-sexers from surrogacy and is a staunch monarchist, completely in love with the idea of a talking tampon heading the Commonwealth of Nations.

It was wisely noted that he would be one to watch in 2013 as Queenslanders who'd be making headlines in 2013, here. Who'd have imagined he could have done it by the very first Friday?

Well at least the rag decided it would publish Threat to compulsory voting puts our democracy at risk, as penned by one Nick McGowan, a Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Jagajag.

Nick, Nick, you can't beat any sense into Campbell Newman or the average Queenslander. They want to blow things up, because it's in their nature, as the scorpion said to the cane toad one time while crossing a river.

So let Bob Katter become the first king of North Queensland, because he can teach those bloody mongrels in Brisbane a lesson or two. (go on Bob, tell the world about secession and about the right of north Queenslanders to elect their own talking tampon here).

But enough already, because we now want you to put on your very best Jack Nicholson drawl, and exclaim "Sheee's baaaaack". (Oh okay you might prefer Arnie saying "I'll be back" or Jack saying "Heeeere's Soooophie")

But first of all, let's pause to admire the truly graphic, explicit and demonic photo that The Punch uses to headline pieces by Sophie Mirabella. Truly, it's barely imaginable or comprehensible.

Yes, Ms Mirabella has been absent from The Punch since early in October, and now she turns up like a bad penny on the first Friday in the new year to sound ... just like a Tea Partier.

You see, in Swanny, the Tea Party caused the deficit? Ha! (give The Punch a hit, in fact feel free to hit the bastards below the belt as much as you like for all the suffering they cause), Mirabella doesn't once address the issue of whether a deficit is a good or a bad thing in the current economic cycle. Instead all she does is abuse the gormless Wayne Swan.

And how does she do it? Why with the same stupidity as any four legs two legs tea partier:

The Treasurer should suck it up and admit that he failed to meet his own economic imperative. The one where failure was not an option.

Actually failure to meet a really dumb option, a misguided economic imperative, is always an option, as we've just witnessed unfold in the United States. The mistake Swan and the Labor party was to be herded, or perhaps goaded into making definitive statements which were likely to be undone by economic circumstances.

But you can't take anything away from the goaders and the herders and the nay sayers and Dr. No and his team of negativity, who helped craft the alleged imperative which Swan had to retreat from (while ignoring the plight of single mothers and others on Newstart along the way).

Enough already, because Sophie Mirabella is perhaps the best argument for abolishing compulsory voting going the rounds.

Imagine the stench, imagine having to hold your nostrils, going into vote in Mirabella's electorate, knowing that your vote was wasted and useless and that the clowns and simpletons around you had determined she was a fit and proper person to be your representative. Why it's an existential crisis and dilemma worse than anything Sartre conjured up.

But enough already, because the pond couldn't help but admire the audacity of that verbal bully Brendan O'Neill, front and centre at The Australian today. And in the usual way, he earns not just one but two splashes:

The good news is that O'Neill's verbal bullying in Bullying in the eye of the beholder is behind the paywall, so you need never be troubled by his bullying - unless you have a masochistic streak and like to pay to be bullied (hey, just call Dorothy and maybe we can arrange a session to take care of your submissive streak with the in-house cilice and other approved Opus Dei items).

You see, those two headers, meant to tease and tempt you, are essentially spoilers, building to the final par of O'Neill's deepest conclusions in relation to bullying:

In 2013, make it your resolution to never, no matter how beleaguered you feel, say, "I'm being bullied!" Those words should never cross the lips of anyone over the age of 10.

Yep, it's the classic notion of the bully, which is to suggest you just shut up and suffer, or perhaps enjoy the bullying, no matter if someone thinks shoving your head down the school toilet is a jolly jape amongst chums.

There's only two responses available.

First there's the response of the EMO Goth, which is to withdraw into yourself, and then kill yourself at the age of 15 after relentlessly being harried in the playground and online for your Goth ways.

And then there's the response of the pond, which is to say "Why don't you just go fuck yourself
Brendan O'Neill, up hill and down dale and wherever you can insert something apart from your finger."

And that's about all the pond can summon to say on the subject of Brendan O'Neill and bullying, as good an argument for the compulsory voting off of the commentariat from newspapers as can be devised ...

(Below: and now for a few voting cartoons, most found here).


  1. Why are they giving oxygen to the botch? Oh that's right, limited news where they don't let the facts get in the way of a good bullying...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. why can consveratives like mirrabella float through life as if perfection itself when they have the most tawdry of pasts?
    in her case as a young female, beguiling some old fool of a professor into leaving her his fortune and his family stranded on the ropes.
    any journalist worh their salt should ask her how she can justify this every time she opens her mouth to yap on at a press conference.
    likewise abbott abandoning a baby he truely thought was his. the fact that this turned out not to be the case many years later is meaningless, at the time he beleved so and acted as the tawdry slime bucket he is.
    this guy is so over the double standards of our timid, gutless journo's

  4. Pond, I cannot agree that compulsory voting (or rather, compulsory attendance at a polling booth, you don't have to put in a valid vote, after all) is essential to democracy. Few countries have compulsory voting, and among them are several not known for their stability, so to claim voluntary voting creates the political basket case that is the US is, at best, naive.

    Far more of a threat to democracy is the preferential system and single-member constituencies. IMHO, if a party gets 40% of the vote, they should have 40% of the power. Not 60, or 80, or 95 because they were someone's second, or third, or tenth best, or just because the seats fell that way due to voter spread. Minority government isn't automatically apocolyptic - our current federal government is working reasonably well, for example, despite the bad press. (At least, in Australia I haven't seen any war, famine, pestilence, or dogs and cats living together yet.)

    Many people are under the impression that a huge majority of Queenslanders voted LNP because they have 90% of the seats - in fact they got 49% of the primary vote, a minority. Even on 2pp it was only 60%, and yet they have 90% of the seats. How is that fair, right, or reasonable? On the other hand, I almost daily see how it is a threat to democracy as I live in Queensland. Don't think it couldn't happen in your state, or federally, because it could given the right set of circumstances.

    It's easy to take a system for granted and believe it is fair because you have always had it. Check the system in Germany to see how a non-compulsory, non-preferential system with limited single-member constituencies works just fine.


    1. Thanks for the German reference, Lochie. Never to old to learn something. It seems it does have a major fault which may have been fixed (since 2009).

      Relevant bit at .50secs.


  5. Sorry Lochie but since we're talking of naive arguments, not once do you explain how voluntary as opposed to mandatory voting would improve the current political system. Heck, even big Mal and Barners think you're bonkers. Voluntary voting would certainly not help the current situation in Queensland, and it's likely enough that's why Campbell Newman's minions have proposed it, in line with best Republican thinking.

    The usual arguments for voluntary voting are peculiarly American:
    1. Freedom - as in I'm feeling too free to give a fuck or feel like participating in the democratic system. Give me liberty and stupidity and non-participation;
    2. Choice - as in it's my choice not to vote, because they don't offer cinnamon on the doughnuts or a free ride to the booth, and never mind that I could donkey vote, or scrawl gibberish across the page.

    Note that at no point did I propose that mandatory voting is the only, or the greatest problem facing the US system at the moment.
    Note also that your own hare, sent racing across the page, in relation to minority government and sharing power is in its own way a superficial nonsense. How can you have forty per cent of power, even if you can point to 40% of the votes?
    The LibDems in the UK will cop a pounding at the next election for the way they've facilitated a conservative government, and here the Greens can't pretend they have nothing to do with a government that is punitive in relation to single mothers and those on the dole. They've facilitated that very legislation.
    And as for the German system, are we talking about the same one that allows Angela Merkel to do a Maggie Thatcher imitation and rule Europe and dish it out to the Greeks?
    In any case, talk of different forms of political systems have no bearing or consequence in relation to the much more simple and straightforward issue of whether it is reasonable to expect citizens to at least minimally participate in the election of those they will inevitably complain about and blame.
    It's ironic that Queensland introduced compulsory voting in state elections in 1915 and the Commonwealth followed in 1924. And no one has yet explained what dismantling this simple requirement would serve. Except as big Mal and Barners noted, "special interests" and the extremes.
    It's also ironic that Queensland's voting history has seen it swing like a yo-yo, with a unicameral system that does nothing to provide any kind of review of the doings of the likes of Peter Beattie ... or Campbell Newman.
    And if you want to cite the Germans, check out the ancient Greeks, who didn't mind fining the wealthy for failing to participate:
    Despite the charm of the Aristotelian ideal of participation, the political reality of ancient Athens pointed at the practical difficulty of its application. Ironically, the number of citizens who shirked their duties towards the state tended to grow then too. Aristophanes, the famous comic script writer, called them ‘escaping citizens’
    He provided evidence about the phenomenon of abstention through his satiric hero Dikaiopolis (literally, just-state-man): ‘some chit-chatted in the market, skedaddled here and there, to avoid the red rope’
    In fact, we learn from this quote that the authorities in Athens urged all citizens to directly take part in the works of the governing assembly, the ecclesia, by laying a rope with fresh red paint around it; those who tended to linger behind were marked with the rope’s red colour and charged with a fine. Aristophanes mocks the authorities for this practice by making his comic hero shout: ‘O city, city! I am always first to come to the assembly and sit there’
    No one expects Australians to be the first to hare off to the assembly and sit there, but how hard is it to expect them to turn up maybe once a year to mark off a ballot paper? How is this taking a system for granted and believing it is fair? And BTW, cats and dogs may lie down and live together, and nothing wrong with that. :)

  6. Lets go back not only to the good ole US of A but to the good ole days here as well.

    I remember when my mum was not entitled to vote in SA parliamentary elections.

    Oz citizen , born here, not a crim ever, sane, working adult, all the usual criteria satisfied. Except one. She wasn't a male. In the days when only males [eg my dad] could get house mortgages. her name was not on the deed. Therefore she wasn't a landowner [remember the good ole good ole days when only gentlemen of worth could vote?] and was not entitled to vote in Local Council elections [not that my rural city had such anyway, we were run by an appointed city council] nor the Legislative Council.
    That was the state of affairs until about 1970 when Donny Dunstan [gore bless him] pulled a swifty and had the rules changed.
    Mum appreciated that.

    So lets go back to that eh?
    And ... make election day be a Tuesday when all the plebs are working [except those that don't] and will find it hard to vote even if they want to.

    Works for the Repubs ...sort of.


  7. Good old Donny Dunstan! The pond could never get his recipe for olives to work but fondly remembers listening to him rant about the glories of SABCO for what seemed like hours. And he wore dapper shorts and turned back the waves at Glenelg to save Adelaide.

    Great times Fred, and I remember the days of Dunstan as a heady exciting brew. SA really did punch above its innovative weight. The weight of incumbent power mongering is easily forgotten, and especially the mustiness of the born to rule mob of North Terrace and Sir Thomas Playford.

    We might also remember that indigenous people were only offered a voluntary right to vote in March 1962 in federal elections, and amazingly in due course they even stopped being counted amongst the flora and fauna.

    The reality is that before mandatory voting was generally introduced in Australia, participation was as low as 47% and it now routinely reaches into the nineties.

    But there are lots of people who would love to disenfranchise a lot of people, relying on apathy, disinterest and alienation to do their work. It's part of a dumbing down, which ensures the political class can get on with business with the help of those enthusiasts who can summon up the energy to participate ...

  8. "Imagine the stench, imagine having to hold your nostrils, going into vote in Mirabella's electorate, knowing that your vote was wasted ... "

    I don't have to imagine it, I used to live in Sturt which has essentially the same problem.


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