Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My hyperbole? Let's take a deep breath and have a look.
A labor staffer- so for the first bit of perspective, not an elected member (just an underdressed member, but I digress), likely to be on a pretty average salary and to work very hard for it- pulls off a stunt that:
* shows a lapse of judgement in the current political environment, and given his position;
* would have made complete sense otherwise, given Abbott's history, as a minor, inoffensive, non-aggressive (he desisted pretty much immediately) prank.
Wait, let's use some caps here: A MEMBER OF THE POLITICAL CLASS FELL OFF MESSAGE AND ACTED HUMAN FOR 30 SECONDS!
That's it. Abbott laughs it off. Brandis agrees it's not that big a deal. Yet according to The Age Gillard is under pressure to sack him.
Sack him. Take away his job and career. For wearing speedos.
'Under pressure' from whom? The media. This kind of tawdry, senseless scandalisation of the unremarkable is what we have come to expect as normal. It doesn't seem odd that there is 'pressure' to sack someone, for running in a pair of budgie smugglers.
[As an aside I think everyone who wears them should be subject to some cruel and unusual punishment, however this should not be meted out arbitrarily in this case!]
I have met Conrad. He seemed fine, he works hard for that party which I was a member of. I don't have any special attachment to him though and I'm not writing this out of bias- he's part of the machine that ultimately let me down.
But I've chosen to comment on this as I think it's a great glaring paradox of our system that we, and the media, rabbit on about wanting human beings in politics, then any time there's a minor slip off the company prompt card the hysteria is deafening.
He'll be dwelling on his embarrassment, and nurturing that awkward sense that this will be used against him for years to come. Only the media cares, because if he isn't sacked then the scandle-cycle hasn't worked properly, and they miss an additional news story.
Monkeys. Go find some other peanuts.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It was very nice having at least a couple of family members close. Yet something stood in the way, they didn't engage the way we, Beloved in particular, hoped they would. They were fantastic with the kids, when we saw them. But being 15 minutes away this didn't seem very often, and yet I suspect in their view it was more than ample- duty done, slightly older family with kids attended to, back to the fun stuff. I suppose we hoped to be included as fun stuff which, when you're loaded up with kids and chores, I guess is hard to pull off.
The memories of when we did things together, several days at the beach for example, are special. But they are also sad memories because there are so few of them, over a couple of years living just a suburb or so apart.
The days at the beach preceded Mitts' expected birth date by just a few days. They were our support, particularly as this time around we had Bear to consider, and no-one else who could easily take care of her. Yet they also had friends renting a house in the country, out of mobile range, and when the opportunity arose there was no hesitation extending that from a weekend to several nights. Several nights for which we cobbled together a series of emergency contacts and kept our fingers crossed, wracked with stress. They were back just in time for the birth, but in a way the symbolism can't be altered- they easily could have missed it.
That can never be taken back, the symbolism - involving those whose role in his life would be second only to ours- stark and painful.
Yet they've done more than anyone else, so they shouldn't wear the full blanket of our deep disappointment. They came, they helped, babysat, played. Not as much as we'd have liked, and perhaps partly out of obligation, but at least it happened.
There are four families in our constellation. The kids don't really know any of them. Two or three people have built slightly better (than nothing) relationships and are remembered by name, but that's about it. Early experiences travelling around convinced us that there was no Shangri La of loving familial support waiting if we were prepared to move. There are certain individuals (my two mums come to mind) who would probably jump at the chance to spend more time with the kids, but who for various reasons will not be moving closer in the short term. Which is sad, the kids would love to play with them now, it'll be different in 10 years...
Beloved and I returned from London, where I had been working, at the end of 2002. Sometimes I miss London. One of the biggest reasons for not going back would be the effect on the kids' family relationships. We emerge from 3 years of incredibly hard graft and effort, less support than most of our friends, almost no time to ourselves, having dragged the kids around endlessly trying to get those extended family ties up and running. There is only modest gain to show for it.
Sometimes I miss London and can envisage, without much loss, a life built elsewhere.
The kids themselves are fine, we as an immediate, nuclear family are fine, tired but happy. They are so full of energy and joy at the moment, I am just getting over the fact that no-one else in our family constellation wants to share that with them.
I know, swallow a bag of cement and harden up, that's life, not meant to be easy, &c &c &c*... Beloved and I are just taking stock, and feeling quite sad about it all.
(*Love the use of ampersand-c in the old texts I've been reading...)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Bear, 3 and a half years old: 'Where's Kevin Rudd?'
I'm stumped. I want to give her a neutral take, let her get all the positives from seeing a woman in a position of power. Despite my own disappointment at the consummate sell-out she, and Labor, now represent (oh and wasn't that dirty little ad with the border security garbage in it just an insult to the intelligence of the much feted masses?)...
'He's not Prime Minister any more...'
'Because he, um, his polls were bad, he was having some problems.... *thoughtful pause* ...so he stopped being Prime Minister and now it's Julia Gillard.'
'I don't know love. But it's good because she's the first woman to do this, so now girls can do it too.'
Bear thought about this in silence. She was processing something about change, the inadequacy of the explanation for Rudd's removal- why has this man who was on the TV and in the papers, who daddy said was pretty important, just disappeared? And perhaps: why is she the first, why would girls not be able to do everything boys can do?
It's the machine, lovvie, and now he's just a ghost therein....
...Oh and you can lovvie, you can, we're just coming out of the triassic now...
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Mitts had a very mild case of conjunctivitis. Because it's highly contagious, he was sent home early from childcare on Monday and we were told to keep him home the next day. However, icky as it can be in bad cases, conjunctivitis is normally the most benign affliction from a functional point of view. The upside of this is that a parent is stuck at home with a child who is not in any functional sense sick.
So Mitts and I did some bonding. We started running around the house like nutters, throwing balloons at each other, laughing every time one of them bounced out of our hands. We stopped to read a book, it had a xylophone in it so I pulled out a real one and Mitts got stuck into it while I shook a maracca and gave him a round of applause after each atonal solo.
In the garden we kicked a ball along a few times. Then he made up a game where we sat on the top step of the granny flat, then on the lower, then sat back up again, each time with Mitts making the move then patting the step beside him while looking at me. I did actually think this was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen, though I kept an earnest straight face.
We went to some parkland, morning and again in the afternoon, walked on the grass, him holding my hand, something he's just learned to do, or sitting on my shoulders. There were ducks (All Nations Park) and moorhens (Darebin Parklands) and we sat for several minutes as he looked and pointed at them.
At Darebin it started to rain, I pulled him off my shoulders and, carrying him like a bag of potatoes, half-ran back up the hill, across the grass to the car. He smiled the whole time.
And even when I had to pretty much pin him to the floor to get the eye drops in, he took it well. The tears didn't last.
It was the best kind of day.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Abbott says the Labor Government should try Nauru.
Abbott's probably right, from her point of view. After all, the fact that Nauru is not a signatory doesn't prevent a centre on Nauru from processing in accordance with the Convention principles.
It isn't, after all, as if Timor Leste has the capacity to meet the obligations in full and provide asylum on its tiny land mass in the way we do. The plan was, I assume to do the processing then find people a home.
What a place to get to.
Sure, examine away. That's legitimate. So too is questioning what is behind people who claim to care about refugees leaping stridently to her defence.
There probably are some gender bigots among those hammering her. I hammered Rudd on the same issue.
There are probably also some racists, and a far larger contingent of awkward hand wringers and ill-read ignorant-types (who really do find some elements of truth in all those references to people smugglers, queues, overcrowding et al), among those springing to her defence. The stats suggest there must be a bit of crossover, as much as we're a marginal dictatorship the asylum message has clearly touched otherwise generous and not-at-all xenophobic people across the country.
In these discussions it's been said that anger is a clue to some unreasonable or irrational motive. Sounds as gendered as 'blood under her nails' to me. Women get angry, men get use their fingernails in combat, but we know which gender each image is more usually paired with.
I'm angry, what of it? You see desperate people rotting in boats and camps while the politics of race flairs out and you don't get angry, well, don't start on some other progressive issue then. Go be calm under the wonderful status quo. And don't get angry about some other issue that for you is important, if it doesn't involve people as vulnerable as the ones I'm upset over. I often vent about thinks that upset me here, sometimes it's in the realm of anger. But I don't go around feeling anger every other day. This issue, those words said, these policies, make me angry.
There's an argument Gillard's getting special treatment. There may be some merit in this. I tend to think it's more related to a mix of timing and policy- she came in now, and was compelled to address ugly policy issues, and some of us are particularly upset at how she did that. But timing aside, looking at the Lawrences, the Kirners, the Kernots, the nasty little comments that have been directed at Gillard over her familial status, there's no doubt there are some big double-standards out there. So bring on the analysis. Bring on, for the likes of myself, the self-reflection. Perhaps we've vented too quickly at Gillard, as opposed to Labor in general. She's been appalling; but equally so has the party machine, and so was Rudd c2010, so let's keep some perspective and work on our even-handedness.
I liked her until recently. I promise to try to like her again. If her policies improve.
So, there's something there to work with.
And there's some pretty gross human rights abuses going on, now, on Gillard's watch. Some stupid policy fumbling, some making the ignorant, the bigoted and yes, the at-times outright racist, feel loved and understood. There's one of the most repellant speeches given since the middle of the Howard term.
And there are people who call all forms of bigotry. And those who seem more angry, sorry -earnestly upset, about the fact that Gillard is not being given an appropriate honeymoon.
Is it legit to be annoyed, or even angry, if it appears she's getting unfair treatment due to her gender. Damn straight.
Does it say something about people if they can't comprehend or empathise with the very strong emotions some of us feel about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing*? Maybe, in some cases, it does.
Maybe just as 'blood under her fingernails' is gendered, so too 'I hear you bogans and I heart your right to be ignorant' is dripping with this country's deep, nasty narrative of fear and race.
Am I suggesting perhaps at least 1 in 3 of those who are not getting it might not hold the same level of concern (to put it nicely, ever so nicely) about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing* that those of us who are more angry, hold?
But - and read this before you take the slightest bit of umbrage or in any way misunderstand me- as a wise and decent person once said to me:
If it's not about you, then it's not about you.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Plopped in a thread at LP...
It’s unedifying to read of otherwise progressive types picking up on the whole ‘people smuggler as slave trader’ narrative, without at least unpacking the differences between perhaps the odd overlord making handsome profits out of it all on the one hand and poor boat crews putting nasi in the mouths of their families on the other.
Wheel it right back to the ‘danger’ thing. Ever been on a boat, indeed any sort of basic transport used by the masses, in a developing country? I’ve caught rides on Indonesian fishing boats while backpacking, you sleep on the deck, in all weather, no safety rails, large families with chickens and bags of rice sleep there too, cramped on. You hope it doesn’t sink, as they sometimes do. If backpackers do this sort of thing by choice (and I’m not the only one, if you spend some time working through the eastern islands of
When I spent time in Papela, a ‘sea gypsy’ settlement on the
The truly evil smuggling cases I’ve read about- people packed into shipping containers, or having their documents removed so they can be held as bonded labourers, don’t seem to feature among those we demonise. Mostly, we just seem to be suddenly (and in a most faux act of unconvincing generosity) extending wonderful, first world expectations of reasonable care, as if the OH&S Act can be extended more easily that the right to claim refugee status or have that assessed through Australian tribunals.
The construction of the dreaded demonic, evil, people smugglers is one of the great acts of declaratory securitisation in a nation with a less than robust history of peering behind the rhetoric on matters foreign.
Here and there I’m sure they exist- nasty, exploitative figures making handsome profits while turning their back on the risks and consequences. But I never see any effort to distil these from the mass of general boat captains and crews, most of whom I suspect do not deserve this characterisation at all.
It doesn’t do anyone any credit to just simply adopt the dominant talking points on this.
Rumours the initial delegation flew to Lord Howe Island by mistake are, of course, unfounded.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The renewed due process for Sri Lankan applicants is welcome.
The ongoing freeze for Afghanis is baffling, even more so to anyone who saw 4 Corners last night, recalling both the extent of the ongoing violence and the specific discussions of what happens to people who annoy the Taliban or help the outside forces.
The no-longer-Pacific solution? The devil, or something redeeming, may be in the detail. However it smells like an old fish served up under a fresh dollop of sauce.
And Abbott has slyly offered a small biscuit to the asylum lobby, by breaking ranks and offering to actually increase the intake from the mythical queues.
What a petty, grubby, unedifying little 'debate'. What a stupifying waste of public funds.
... Greens-pushing bloggers may not yet have convinced me that I'd want to join that party, but they've probably, at least, earned my primaries. I'm not the only one either.
Monday, July 05, 2010
Go on, try to follow the Court's reasoning. Who needs Sudoku anyway?
Apparently I can, so here's testing.
Update; so it worked, but now all my info has gone to the bottom of the page, and the colours aren't loading up properly. Is this happening to you, dear reader, on my site? Any idea why?
Of course we do. People like my dad couldn't agree more.
First the vicious execution, now the sell-outs.
Apparently she sees political correctness everywhere, especially in relation to asylum seekers. I'm flumoxed, here I was thinking we lived in the same country- that would be the one where the overwhelming national voice is screeching about the thousands of boats threatening to overwhelm us, the fact that they're full of murderers and terrorists, the fact that they make up 200% of our immigration take etc., but apparently the quiet, humble ordinary folk are being shut down by political correctness.
So it's not about race or culture, not about bigotry? Could have fooled me- as per my heated argument with the old man last night, or more genial discussions had with a couple of relatives holding the same views not long back, it soon becomes ALL ABOUT our 'way of life' and protecting 'our culture' and signposts in other languages and all those Sudanese waiting to jump on boats (I know, they're actually the ones in queues, you explain it, they don't get it, foreigners are foreigners...).
So we wait. Minority deluded politically correct loryars like me waiting to see what she's warming up for here. If in fact she's 'acknowledging' concerns prior to doing the right thing, then I'll be pleasantly surprised.
Part 2, unloading about the old man and the latest string of insults he managed to bark out under the guise of the abovementioned discussion, coming shortly.
- Policy lawyer, international relations postgrad, lefty contrarian, muso, married, proud father, have cats, lefty, enjoy fine liquor... These Armagnac dispatches cover parenting and fatherhood, politics, law, ethics, international relations, life and love, cats and a piece of my soul for good measure.
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- 3 year old politics: 'Where's Kevin Rudd?'
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- Oh well, off to Nauru perhaps?
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- Sometimes I love the Black Letter Law - Saeed v th...
- Dad insults career redux
- So I saw posterous
- The White Kind Of Migrants?
- Gillard warms up for the mother of all sell-outs
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