Tag Archives: government

Home of the brave

29 Apr
Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

So, now Obama has produced his birth certificate proving he was indeed born in the country.  America has a REAL  president, just like we have a REAL Julia.

Speaking generally, one of the striking differences about Australian and American attitudes to government is the undisguised fear and loathing many Americans feel towards  theirs. While in Australia we are bored, fed up with and cynical about politicians, we have a long way to go before we reach the dizzy heights of fear and loathing generated in the USA.

Though maybe the state of  loathing is approaching faster than I thought – driving down the US 95 this morning I had a sudden vision of Prime Minister Abbott, and it seemed so real I nearly ran right off  into the desert. How did those Labor dorks get it soooo wrong? They had everything going for them way back in 2007 and that alone is sufficient reason for Australians to chuck them out – talk about the squandering of social and political capital: you have to be totally ignorant and arrogant (worst possible combination) to achieve that degree of loss so fast.

 There’s many Americans who seem to believe that any government intitiative is a conspiracy to strip them of their treasured freedoms of the kind we in Australia don’t consider freedoms in the first place.  Health care reform, for example, is seen by some as a form of moral corruption – you should be able to take care of yourself, and if you can’t, you probably deserve to get sick and die, is the Darwinian/moral subtext of the unreasoning  fury directed against this particular reform. Like some of the anti abortionists who recently ripped into me on the Drum  – the health care reform antagonists are full of what everybody should do and entirely lacking in understanding of what people do do. They’re lost in fighting for the realisation of  Utopian visions of their perfect world in which there’s nobody in financial need, (because they’ve got rid of them all somehow) and nobody ever has an unplanned pregnancy, so we don’t have to have all these morally disturbing conflicts in the first place, freeing us up to thank Jesus and make money. Or whatever. In the meantime, the messy real world of real messy people keeps getting in their conservative way and resists, thankfully, all their strenuous efforts to repress it.

I’ve long considered US society to have perfected a form of socially acceptable begging, otherwise known as tipping. Your waiter, hairdresser, and other service providers are paid pitiful minimum wages, on the understanding that if they perform their duties well, they’ll be rewarded with a tip to bump up their remuneration to  a living wage or better.  As a consequence service providers are  excruciatingly nice to you, and everybody knows why. There’s that moral equation again: nice servers deserve great tips, even when they don’t really give a toss about you. Appearance is everything.  I don’t know what it does to an individual’s psyche to have to put on extravagant demonstrations of entirely manufactured concern ten hours a day five days a week, but it probably doesn’t leave a lot of time to think about politics and society. Maybe that’s it’s purpose. Hell, I’m becoming a conspiracy theorist.

I did watch Fair Game on the plane over. The movie about how there really weren’t any WMD’s.

 Yesterday I discovered my granddaughter sitting on the dunny with the sheet music of  Star Spangled Banner on the floor before her, practicing her part for the school choir. National pride is everything in schools, they pledge every morning with their hands on their hearts, under the flag. But don’t talk about politics when you’re invited to dinner. Better you should bring up sex, or even death, but if it’s death you choose  don’t say they  died, say they passed. They don’t care for died. It’s too crass.

 Where I come from you pass wind, and sometimes the salt.

As I listened to the child’s tuneless piping of the home of the brave and the land of the free, there  was a ruckus going on upstairs where a four year old was hanging out a bedroom window yelling “Yo! Watcha doin’ dumbass!” at a bunch of Mormons going door to door in our street, while his Momma hauled him in by the seat of his pants on his way to the naughty corner for a good fifteen minutes. Meantime down in the kitchen someone had  left the back door open and five sneaky chipmunks frolicked under the baby’s chair, cleaning up his leftovers and depositing a few of their own. There’s hardly a moment not filled with fun.

 As I sit here picking the chipmunk poop off my feet and reflecting for a few precious stolen  moments, I consider America.  Like Leonard Cohen says, I love the country but I can’t stand the scene. Democracy has not yet come to the USA, no sir, it certainly has not, so how they think they can export it to the Middle East is a mystery to me.

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Politicians’ racist refugee policies revealed yet again.

28 Feb

by Pigeon Poo via flickr

 

In his interview on ABC radio’s Counterpoint on February 28, former immigration minister Philip Ruddock unintentionally revealed the racist platform on which the coalition’s asylum seeker policies, like the government’s, uneasily sit.

When asked why asylum seekers who arrive by plane are not held in detention, he explained that they usually have a place to stay, and so there’s no need to go to the expense of detaining them while their claims are being processed.

The Counterpoint interviewer didn’t point out that there are boat arrivals who have family already in the community, and could very easily stay with them while their refugee claims are being processed. Just like the plane people.

Instead, they are held in indefinite mandatory detention. There is no mandatory detention for the airborne.

What is the difference between the waterborne asylum seekers and airborne? Most of the waterborne come from the Middle East.

The Coalition’s refugee policies are allegedly built on giving preference to deserving as opposed to undeserving asylum seekers, that is, they allegedly favour accepting those who are in most need.

This doesn’t include boat people because they have enough money to pay their way, and they take refugees places from those without the means to do that.

Ruddock doesn’t have the same attitude to asylum seekers who arrive by plane. Unlike boat arrivals they have visas, he says, and have been “vetted.”

However, they still take places from those refugees without the means to get visas, and without the means to pay airfares.

The Counterpoint interviewer neglected to point that out, as well.

There is no apparent reason  to treat waterborne and airborne asylum seekers differently. As the former are without visas, it is sensible to detain them for an appropriate period while they undergo health and identity checks. They can then be released into the community, as are the plane arrivals.

The punitive criminalizing of boat arrivals makes no sense in any terms other than racist. It’s very likely that they have fled more difficult circumstances than those who arrived by plane, from countries where it is still possible to obtain visas and engage in regular travel.

Indeed, plane arrivals are more likely to be making immigration choices, as opposed to seeking asylum.

Circumstances in Iraq, for example, are horrific. SBS Dateline, Sunday February 27 ran a piece called Nation of Tears that eloquently portrayed the life Iraqis have to live.

As a member of the Coalition of the Willing who illegally invaded that country, we bear our share of responsibility for the on going chaos and death. Yet we imprison those who flee that nightmare, while allowing those who arrive from functioning countries,with visas, to live free while their refugee claims are assessed.

This hardly sounds like a policy of attending to the most in need.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the coalition and the government to deny their inherent racism. No matter how hard they try it keeps on erupting, as it will when it’s so deeply ingrained.

If Chris Bowen and Scott Morrison have an explanation as to why there is such on going discrimination between asylum seekers arriving by boat and plane, why don’t they reveal it, and put paid to the inevitable allegations of racism against themselves and their parties?

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