25 November, 2007

oh frabjous day! callooh! callay!

This morning, for the first time since I was fifteen years old, John Howard is not my Prime Minister.

The enormity of this hasn't sunk in yet. I vividly remember the night Howard got in. I was so ashamed of him - literally embarrassed that this repugnant human being could be the figurehead of the country I loved. In the nearly twelve years since, I have never ceased to feel ashamed of him and, to an extent, our nation as well, for constantly being suckered by his lies, and by playing into the hands of his politics designed to appeal to our basest human instincts: fear, anger, bigotry, greed.

Today that shame has gone. Rudd has yet to prove himself, but his acceptance speech last night was inspiring stuff (well, the first half - he rambled on a bit long thanking everyone, but you have to allow him that). For the first time in nearly twelve years, I am proud of my country as a whole, and hopeful about the quality of its leader.

Congratulations, Australia. Next stop: the future.

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24 November, 2007

grey skies are gonna clear up

So, I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm feeling much better.

I'm still unbearably tense, but it now feels like a positive kind of tension - a nervous excitement.

The Coalition will not win the election today.

Labor will win comfortably - very comfortably - with at least 85 seats.

If I'm wrong, I'll get Byron to make me a humble pie (he's very good at baking) and I will gladly eat it.

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23 November, 2007

holy shit, it's all over tomorrow!

I'm not really coping right now. I'm certainly not functioning like a normal human being, and I must apologise to everyone who has the misfortune of enduring my company between now and tomorrow night. I am so tense and nervous I can actually feel my blood trying to push its way out of my veins.

One of the only ways I can keep myself together (not to mention distract myself from my workmates who are known to exclaim things like, "I'm not votin' for that squinty-eyed little bastard (meaning Rudd, apparently). We're better off under these cunts (meaning the Coalition, apparently) than we ever have been!"), is to rant away on this here blog. So here goes...

Let me tell you five things that
absolutely shit me to tears about this election.


i.e. People who don't decide who to vote for until the last minute.
Call me a political snob, but I have no respect whatsoever for so-called "swinging" voters. One of the great flaws of our political system is that it's inevitably the least informed, most apathetic section of the population who decide the result of our elections.
Ladies and gentlemen of the marginals: democracy, on the whole, is awesome. Sure, the system has its problems, but compared to the alternatives it is a great gift. And yet, like a puppy at Christmas, it's a gift that comes with a certain amount of responsibility. If you're going to accept the
right to choose who leads you, it is also your responsibility to make that choice in an informed manner. It is not acceptable to turn up and treat the Federal Election like the Melbourne Cup. Simply backing the runner with the prettiest name, or with your favourite colour on his hat, is not acceptable.
It is your responsibility to know what the candidates stand for. Which brings me to my next point...

i.e. The completely baseless notion that there is no difference between Rudd and Howard.
This is pure laziness on the part of voters and, worse still, on the part of the political media. It seems to have become a fall-back position in this campaign to simply paint Rudd as "Howard Lite", or as a younger more sprightly version of our current leader. I suppose relying on such ridiculously simplistic untruths is easier than actually paying attention to the content of campaign launches and policy statements.
I myself have pointed to numerous occasions on which Rudd has seemed to miss an opportunity to differentiate himself from Howard on a key issue. But as frustrating as this has been, the always-insightful Possum has pointed out that this merely shows Rudd's clever wedge-avoidance tactics. I don't like it, and I often feel like my own opinions aren't being voiced by either side, but that doesn't mean they're both the same.
Some of the ALP's policies are similar to some of the Coalition's. Of course they are, they're seeking to govern the same country, in the same circumstances. But if you honestly can't find a point of differentiation in the general political philosophy of these two men, you aren't yet well-informed enough to deserve a vote, and you certainly aren't well-informed enough to be commenting on politics in the public arena. Which brings me to my next point...

i.e. The almost total lack of meaningful political analysis by the mainstream press.
The standard of political "journalism" during this campaign has been, for the most part, deeply disappointing. There have been moments of gold from both Kerry O'Brien and Tony Jones on the ABC, and Laurie Oakes' response when Jackie Kelly attempted to turn the fake pamphlet fiasco into a LOL, was awesome to behold (the gold comes in the last third of this video). Meanwhile Difference of Opinion last night made an eleventh-hour attempt to actually throw some policy scrutiny into the discussion - outlandish notion!
But you only need to peruse the Murdoch media's output over the last six weeks to see how shallow much of the coverage has been. The Australian has rarely broken free of thinly-disguised Coalition barracking, while The Herald Sun's absurdity is exemplified by its final endorsement of Howard, in which it acknowledges Rudd ran the better campaign, made better policy statements and has made a strong case for change... but shouldn't win the election, because he has no experience in government. So, he shouldn't be Prime Minister because he hasn't been Prime Minister before. By which logic, the government should
never change ever, because it just might all go horribly wrong! Thanks for that brilliant insight, Herald Sun. (On the other hand, credit where it's due: congrats to most of the other Murdoch papers which have come through in the end. A cynical ploy by Murdoch to have a bet each way? Maybe, but at least it gives some impression of balance).

i.e. The absurd opinion that it's a bad idea to vote for a minor party as your first preference.
(Apologies to my father on this one. I love you dearly, and we share most of our political beliefs, but - with respect - you are full of shit on this issue.)
This comes from Beth Spencer in
The Age (via Mr Lefty) who puts it better than I ever could:
Indeed far from wasting your vote, by putting an alternative party first you can, in a sense, double your vote's value.

If the alternative candidate doesn't make the count for the final showdown, the full value of your vote is automatically redistributed to your second choice. So you still get to vote to decide on which party forms the government. But you also get to send a message that the concerns, policies and approaches of the alternative party are important to you, a message that can have a powerful resonating effect throughout the next three years...

...But if you put them second, and put a major party first, no-one will ever know. The effect is zero.
For the record, I am voting The Democrats number 1 at this election - both because they are the party that most closely represents my own beliefs, and because I think it would be a tragedy to see them wiped out (as is a very real danger at this election).

i.e. The contemptible man whose divisive, dishonest politics have set this country back decades.

He must go. Enough said.


On a lighter note...

I now have a definite answer if I'm ever asked, Rove style, who I would turn straight for. Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Penny Wong.

We watched her on Lateline the other night, and when she said the words "scandalous affair", I swear I almost came. Hot.


21 November, 2007

three more sleeps

...or, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

I spent over two hours yesterday working out exactly how I'm going to vote in the Senate. It was a rather complex process involving tallying up and averaging the group preferences of the ALP, Democrats and Greens, combined with my own personal research about some of the more obscure groups (for those playing at home, Citizens Electoral Council = fruitloops) all woven into a humungous but simple spreadsheet of my own design, and of which I'm rather proud.

Unless this is your first election, you'll know that the Senate ballot can be incredibly intimidating. In my home state of Victoria, there are a whopping
sixty-eight candidates. That ballot paper is gonna be the size of a freakin bed-sheet.

Nevertheless, I decided at this election I am not going to take the easy way out and just place a single "1" above the line (not that I blame anyone else for doing so - it makes it much easier, and removes the highly upsetting prospect of misplacing a single digit and invalidating your entire vote). Yes, I am going to number every one of those sixty-eight little boxes below the line, and truly exercise the intricate might of my full democratic muscle. I'm under no delusions that my choice for twenty-seventh preference is going to change the future of this country - but the point, to be honest, is more symbolic than practical. I'm not entirely happy with any of the Senate group preference flows (the ALP, for example, are preferencing the Democrats way too low for my liking), and I want my vote to reflect my true personal preference.

Although largely overlooked in all the talk over the last few months, the Senate is incredibly important. For the last few years, the Coalition has enjoyed a free romp through both Houses of Parliament (not to mention a stacked High Court). This negates the entire purpose of having two Houses. Even if my mythological "ideal party" held government, I would want the balance of power in the Senate to be held by someone
different. That second level of scrutiny on any legislation a government proposes is absolutely essential; it's because that second level was basically missing that widely unpopular legislation such as WorkChoices managed to get passed.

So don't underestimate the importance of the Senate vote. Basically, regardless of who wins government, if the Liberals manage to hold their majority in the Senate, we're still screwed (and don't even get me started on Family Fucking First).


ELSEWHERE: Possum has me creaming my jeans with this post, while Sam the Penguin has me pooping my pants with this one. I can honestly appreciate the likelihood of both scenarios. O! the emotional roller-coaster. I can't take it much longer. Bring on Saturday!


20 November, 2007

why do hippies want me to put foul-tasting things in my mouth?

So Byron has decided modern life is filled with far too many harmful chemicals. He's almost certainly correct. He's decided we need to eliminate as many as possible of these chemicals from our home.
This is fine.

It means we have abandoned the
Pantene and Imperial Leather from our shower, to be replaced with all-natural, organic products.
This is fine. I'm actually becoming rather fond of mandarin-blossom body wash and aluminium-free peppermint deoderant.

It also means our kitchen is filled with ungodly things like organic quinoa and non-GM soy yoghurt.
This is fine. My diet has been terrible for ages, and I'm open to improving it (although soy is not, and never will be, a substitute for dairy. I would rather no dairy at all than a soy imitation).

Additionally, it means we are now forbidden from cleaning the bathroom with anything other than white vinegar and baking soda.
This is fine. (I will keep a secret stash of
Exit Mould under my bed.)

Unfortunately, it also means fluoride is now considered the work of the devil, so the trusty ole Colgate is out the door, to be replaced with "holistic" toothpaste. 'What flavour is this new, harmful-chemical-free toothpaste?' I hear you ask?

Let me tell you: Lemon and Salt.

Lemon. And salt.

This is not fine. Imagine, if you will, how bad lemon and salt toothpaste could possibly taste, then double it. Imagine doing a tequila shot, but instead of downing a shot of tequila between the salt and the lemon, you take a big bite out of a cake of pure, white soap. Salt, lemon and soap. Then spread it all over your mouth for a few minutes with a small brush. Now you're in the ballpark.

I'm all for living organically, eliminating carcinogens and purifying your environment, but I draw the line at combining two of Mother Nature's most unpleasant tastes and turning them into an oral hygiene product.

To lemon-and-salt flavoured toothpaste: Australia Says No.

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08 November, 2007

it is quite beyond me how anyone could vote for this man