Sunday, August 11, 2013

Left loses the plot on real life - and the meaning of borders

By Mark Latham

Not only has the Left’s open-door policy, as implemented by the Rudd government in 2008, led to 2000 people drowning, the fanatics who urged on this atrocity have shown no signs of contrition.


The above article of 10th. is behind the AFR paywall but I am not an AFR subscriber so can reproduce only the opening sentence.  I have read it in hard copy and it is a remarkably good article from Biffo so I hope to be able to reproduce it in full sometime.  He argues that the Left of the Labour party and the Greens (but I repeat myself) put ideology before reality  -- JR

UPDATE:  I have now retrieved the full Latham article.  It is below:

Left loses the plot on real life

The mistaken Left has forfeited its claim to moral superiority.

By Mark Latham

About a decade go, I noticed something distinctive about the Australian Left. It was wrong on every major issue for which the Australian parliament had legislative responsibility.

On economic policy, its belief in protectionism and industry welfare had been made to look ridiculous by the Keating revolution. Families which had been trapped for generations in blue-collar factory work were enjoying the benefits of economic liberalisation, business start-ups and booming prosperity. In social policy the Left's obsession with command-and-control public service provision was out of step with new attitudes in the outer suburbs. With extra money in their kick, people wanted to buy in the services which best suited their needs. It didn't matter whether these were publicly or privately run, as long as they got the job done. Customisation was king.

The other big issue was border protection. I was battling the Labor For Refugees group and its determination to abolish offshore processing and mandatory detention. When John Howard introduced his Tampa legislation prior to the 2001 election, I was one of a handful of Labor MPs who would have been comfortable voting for it On a question of competing interests (the needs of UN refugee camp asylum seekers versus unauthorised boat arrivals), the only way of avoiding a humanitarian disaster was to enforce the rule of law and an orderly, fair system of processing. I was perplexed as to how the Left could advocate open-door policies: an invitation for anarchy.

In each area, the so-called progressive wing of politics had failed. Why couldn't these people understand the basis of sound policymaking and social justice?

To answer this dilemma, I set about analysing the lifestyle and life values of the mistaken Left activists like the millionaire journalist Phillip Adams and my parliamentary colleagues representing gentrified inner-city boroughs. My conclusion was they had abstracted themselves from the empirical, commonsense views of suburban Australia. They saw issues as an exercise in ideological dogma, instead of problem-solving. Learning and adapting were foreign concepts.

The lessons of Whitlamism in the 1960s and Keatingism in the 1980s - that Labor is strongest when it relies on practical ideas drawn from suburban electorates had been forgotten. Ten years later, nothing has changed. Senators Kim Carr and Doug Cameron still regard government economic intervention as more important than market competition. The Left still talks about community services, such as school education, through the eyes of providers (teachers, union organisers and public servants) rather than recipients (students and parents).

For asylum seekers, the tragedy is doubly unfathomable. Not only has the Left's open-door policy, as implemented by the Rudd government in 2008, led to 2000 people drowning, the fanatics who urged on this atrocity have shown no signs of contrition.

Unmoved by rows of body bags and tiny coffins loaded onto planes, the Greens still see that boat journeys between Indonesia and Australia are an act of compassion. The blood on their hands has had no impact on their sense of right and wrong.

Privately, Labor's hard-Left faction despises the government's new Papua New Guinea solution but, out of self interest, it sees no point in opposing a vote-winning policy this close to an election.

Elsewhere in the media, apologists for the open-door/drownings policy have re-emerged, no less brazen than a decade ago. Three types of rationalisation are being used. The first is a straight denial of reality, the argument that deterrence strategies have never worked. Among  others, the clownish Charlie Pickering has repeatedly made this claim on Channel 10's The Project, ignoring the obvious success of the Howard government in stopping the boats, This is a strange reaction to truth. It is almost as if, psychologically, Howard's record in saving lives - something which runs against the grain of everything Pickering believes in - cannot be accepted as reality.

The second rationalisation is to downplay the significance of death. Last week, in an editor's note to subscribers of The Monthly, John van Tiggelen complained that Australia's "humanitarian obligations [have come] down to a single KPI: preventing the deaths of one in 25 boat people."

He lamented how "the complementary statistic, that of the  crushed hopes and condemned lives of the other 96 per cent, will remain invisible, untold and unrecorded".

 How can anyone look at the horror of boatloads of people drowning and try to establish some form of moral relativity against the circumstances of those still alive? The highest calling of one's conscience - in many ways, the emotion which sets our civilisation apart from the animal world - is for the preservation of human life.

If 4 per cent are dying, the only compassionate response is to address the problem directly, regardless of the economic interests of the remaining 96 per cent

The third stance is a surreal "business as usual" argument.

Last week, Adams returned to the opinion pages of The Australian on the boat people issue, rolling out words identical to those he used 10 years ago. He made no mention of the drownings, ignoring his long-running error in advocating policies that have made them more likely. Everyone else was at fault, all bar Adams.

Perhaps this tells us more about the Left than any other perspective.

When the world fails to comply with its ideological template, it uses ignorance as a way of keeping its beliefs alive. But then, when ignorance can no longer hold out the facts, when the evidence becomes overwhelming, it turns to Adams-style arrogance, lecturing others on where they went wrong.

The asylum-seeker crisis has changed Australian politics forever. The mistaken Left has forfeited its claim to moral superiority and a valid understanding of compassion. It now faces an uncomfortable truth. If left-wing politics means thousands of people drowning, we would be better off with no left-wing politics at all.

More Aboriginal children making it right to the top

I hate to spoil the party but few if any of these "Aboriginal" children will be black; most won't even be brown.  A tiny drop of Aboriginal ancestry is all that is needed for minority status in Australia.  The kids in the photo below are probably the brownest they could find

When Lincoln Whiteley arrived at Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview in year 7, the school was three times the size of his home town.

"I knew it was going to be massive but it was just ridiculous," the 17-year-old, who grew up in Geurie, about 30 kilometres south-east of Dubbo, said. "But now I'm used to it and it's nothing."

Lincoln is one of a growing number of indigenous students boarding at prestigious private schools.
Indigenous students

Boarding call: Saint Ignatius' College students Lincoln Whiteley, Denzel Tighe and Alex Barker. Photo: Janie Barrett JEM

Removing Aboriginal children from their communities is a sensitive issue. But some leading indigenous educators have endorsed boarding school scholarships as an initiative that could help some students escape the cycle of disadvantage.

Almost 3000 indigenous students are enrolled in boarding schools this year, according to the Australian Boarding Schools Association.

It is the first year the association has collected accurate figures but executive director Richard Stokes said the number of indigenous boarders was growing "enormously, exponentially I'd say".

Lincoln and 23 of his peers who board on Yalari scholarships were congratulated by Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Canberra on Friday for reaching year 12.

It represents a significant achievement for the not-for-profit organisation, which has grown from five graduates in 2010 and boasts a retention rate of 90 per cent.

In a speech earlier this year, indigenous academic Marcia Langton called for more partnerships between indigenous communities and top schools to enable more children to go to boarding school.

The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation is leading the pack with its rapidly expanding scholarship program, which has grown from one student in 2008 to almost 300 last year.

And St Joseph's College at Hunters Hill, which was one of the first metropolitan boarding schools to introduce a significant indigenous program, now has between 30 and 40 indigenous students each year, which is about 5 per cent of its boarding population.

But Yalari founder, Waverley Stanley, admits sending students from remote areas to boarding school is not without its challenges.

"For some of these children, for the first time in their life they're sleeping in a room by themselves in a bed without any siblings around," he said. "For some, playing football on a grass oval instead of hard red dirt is different, or going to sleep without any barking dogs around is different."

For it to work, he said, parental support was vital.  "It's about picking the right children, with the right family support to go to the right school," he said.

Stanley admits a number of students have dropped out.  But, of the 64 who have graduated, some have gone on to study physiotherapy, dentistry, teaching, fashion and vet science.

"I always remind these children that the only difference between this generation and their grandparents is educational opportunities."


Kevin Rudd's nightmare comes to life on his home turf

Miranda Devine:

LOOMING out of the pre-dawn darkness yesterday in Kevin Rudd's home electorate of Griffith was a formidable sight that would have sent a sliver of ice into the Prime Minister's heart, had he looked out the window during one of his famous periods of insomnia.

The three nuggety, super-fit men jogging together along the Brisbane River at 5.30am were the trio who have combined to attack Rudd in his heartland.

Dr Bill Glasson, the respected eye surgeon who is the Coalition's candidate in Griffith, Campbell Newman, the Queensland Premier, and Tony Abbott, the federal Opposition Leader.

Glasson's friendship with Abbott was forged when he was national president of the Australian Medical Association and Abbott was health minister. Now Glasson is trying to unseat Rudd in his own electorate.

He doesn't have much of a chance, since eclectic inner city Griffith is the safest Labor seat in Queensland, which Rudd holds by 8.5 per cent, and a ReachTEL poll last week shows Rudd retains a comfortable lead.

But no electorate in the country could match Griffith for the attention it's receiving from Glasson and his band of ardent volunteers, the blue-clad "Glasson Gladiators".

Glasson is making Rudd work hard for every vote at home, at a time when the Prime Minister is trying to run his election campaign almost single-handedly as well as run the country.  No wonder he is looking tired and out of sorts.

Queensland was the jewel in Rudd's crown, and his greatest selling point to colleagues, but a Queensland Galaxy poll published yesterday showed he hasn't achieve the promised boost and Labor's primary vote is stuck where it was at the 2010 election, at 34 per cent.  Rudd's honeymoon hasn't lasted long.

Two telling incidents during the week, which did the rounds of the internet, had Rudd looking flaky.

The first was his odd reaction to a cheeky five-year-old boy who upstaged him when he visited a Korean language class in the marginal Liberal electorate of Bennelong in Sydney.

Photos of cute Joseph Kim pulling faces and cavorting for the cameras behind the PM went around the world.  But Rudd didn't appear to find his antics amusing.

Video footage shows the PM turning to give little Joseph a high five, and then gripping the boy's fingers and holding on for a moment.

When the boy managed to extract his hand, he grimaced, and said "Ouch". Whether the squeeze was inadvertent or Rudd really was teaching the exuberant child a lesson only he would know. But the verdict on the internet was damning.

Later in the week, when Rudd introduced to the media his surprise new candidate for the Queensland seat of Forde, former premier Peter Beattie, cameras caught another peculiarity. While attention was focused on Beattie speaking, Rudd, standing in the background, was afflicted by a repetitive, involuntary twitch of his lower lip, which he periodically tried to mask with a smile.

The overall impression of Rudd from Week One is of a man who is not getting enough sleep, which would accord with stories emerging from Labor insiders, that he is back to his old tricks of phoning department heads at 2am.

If Rudd looked rattled as the week wore on, Abbott looked more comfortable, buoyed by strategist briefings on voter sentiment picked up in daily polling across marginal seats.

The best news for the Opposition is that voters are marking them well ahead of Labor on the question of who has a competent, united team that could form stable government and manage the economy into the future.

Public polls are also tracking in Abbott's direction, with a Nielsen poll yesterday finding the Opposition leader has outstripped Rudd on personal trustworthiness, 47 per cent to 40, reversing the situation of last month.

This finding will be especially galling to Labor because Rudd made "trust" the central theme of his opening speech of the campaign last Sunday.

Our national Galaxy poll today, too, indicates Rudd's honeymoon was short-lived, with a decline in both Labor's primary vote and Rudd's personal standing.

The poll also picked up a description of Rudd as a "fake", which the Coalition's internal polling had already detected. Hence, Abbott's repeated use last week of the phrase "fair dinkum" to describe himself, and "flim flam" to describe Rudd.

What's more, one in three respondents identified Rudd's chief weakness as his policy record.  Indeed, the campaign landscape is strewn with buried IEDs from Labor's past policy bungles.

That is why Abbott visited an insulation factory in Griffith on Friday, to remind voters, if they needed it, of the home insulation debacle that cost four lives.

Another sleeper issue is a hangover from Julia Gillard's hasty decision, in the middle of the 2011 mustering season, to suspend live cattle exports to Indonesia after a Four Corners program alleging cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs.

The numbers of live cattle exported to Indonesia fell from a record of 770,000 in 2009 to 278,000 last year, and the problem has been compounded by drought conditions this summer across northern Australia.

The industry has never recovered, and now that it is killing season, the aftershocks have spread to the entire country.

The glut of cattle in the north of Australia being transported down to southern abattoirs is causing problems for farmers in the south of the country. They now face long delays in getting their own cattle into abattoirs, and depressed prices.

Meantime, the resulting beef shortage in Indonesia is rarely off their front pages, annoying the public with inflated prices for meat as Ramadan comes to an end.

The problem may not have been Rudd's making, but he now has to wear his own mistakes from his first term, as well as Gillard's, not to mention any fresh ones he has made since retaking his old job.  It's a lot of baggage to be hauling around.


Kevin Rudd - hero or psychopath?

I have argued elsewhere that many leading Leftists are psychopaths so I find the analysis below reasonable.  The point that psychopaths have some advantages is made below and I also have an academic article to that effect

A GIANT ego. A narcissist. A micro-manager. An impulsive control freak. A haphazard and secretive decision maker.  This is not what Kevin Rudd's political enemies think of him. It's what many of his colleagues do.

Whether openly or whispered in hushed tones to journalists, this is the picture once painted by his fellow ministers, MPs, public servants and diplomatic associates.

It's a decent rap sheet - one that easily tops the usual bile directed at colleagues or opponents in the den of iniquity that is politics. But nothing that borders outlandish.

Then, one day, the dam broke. The outspoken and literally outgoing member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons took to Twitter and publicly declared his former leader a "psychopath". Among other less than genteel terms.

Gibbons is a man who is routinely and rightly pilloried for making crude, stupid and nasty remarks in the name of cheap publicity.  But this time the term took off, which perhaps says more about Rudd than it does about Gibbons.

So is it true? Is the man running this country really a psychopath, given the aforementioned ferocious descriptions appear to tick plenty of the boxes that define such a diagnosis?

Firstly, one has to demystify the term.  Such a designate is no longer deemed by experts to be the exclusive domain of murderers, serial killers and rapists.  No, you could indeed be sitting next to one. Your boss could be one, or, perhaps more likely, your high-flying CEO in his spacious corner office suite.

In fact prominent Australian psychotherapist John Clarke claims that between one and three per cent of the Australian population could be certifiably deemed psychopathic, and he warns not just police to keep a look out but companies and political powerbrokers.

Anthropologist Stephen Juan suggests that one in 10 companies are headed by a corporate psychopath.

It seems psychopaths are everywhere, and they are more likely to wear a suit and tie, than carry a bloodied weapon or be pointing a sawn-off shotgun.

"One of the misconceptions about psychopathy itself is that people think a psychopath goes out and kills people. By definition, they are somebody that is recklessly indifferent to any physical, emotional harm they may cause," criminal mind expert Steve van Aperen said.  "There are certainly many undiagnosed psychopaths in business and politics."

Juan says often people get confused between the terms psychopath and psychotic, which makes people less inclined to label someone as the former and thus grouping them with such fiends as Ivan Milat, Charles Manson or Martin Bryant. The distinction is reality, he says. Those suffering from psychosis have lost grip on reality. Those deemed psychopathic are very much aware of it, and are attempting to control it.

They are often easy to spot, Juan says, and follow a defined set of traits that set them apart from normality.  "The corporate psychopath is the type of psychopath that gets into politics because they are usually exceedingly ego-oriented - it is all about them. So even when they get criticism, it is still all about them," he says.  "They love the centre of attention. Good or bad they see themselves being the centre of the universe.

"They are the great users, the great manipulators, they often have aides and underlings do work for them, and expect blind loyalty but they don't give loyalty in return. They use everyone for gain.

"Everything is about them. If you talk to them in a conversation about your issues, they will immediately turn it around to their issues. It's as if no one exists other than them."

They are always exploiting issues for their own gain, says Dr Juan.

They climb the corporate ladder very effectively, they are often very charming and articulate, often very good looking which they use to their advantage.

It is the only thing they exist for. Themselves. They can't be trusted, they will lie to your face and deny they have when they are caught. They never own up to their own actions, they are always blaming others. They are polar opposites in public and private, with the former a place for their charm offensive to be exercised, and the latter a dark place of indifference and loathing.

It's the psychopath's modus operandi; a persona that they can't escape from, a disguise that soon becomes arduous to hide.

In a bid to unmask those with psychopathic tendencies and prevent crime, Canadian criminal psychologist and FBI adviser Robert D Hare created the Psychopathy Checklist in the early 1990s that remains the gold standed for reference.

Its defined set of traits include impulsiveness, superficial charm, grandiosity, callousness, manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, propensity to blame others, poor behavioural control, egocentric.

Whether unfairly or resoundingly just, Kevin Rudd's name has oft been etched beside those traits, by members of his own camp or from across enemy lines.

His impulsiveness is well documented, from rushed decision making done without proper consultation with colleagues or stakeholders, to his "policies on the run" such as the changes to the Fringe Benefit Tax system that  crack down on salary-sacrificed cars, to the detriment of the struggling car industry.

On these rash methods, he is internationally renowned.  "He makes snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government," said a US Embassy official of Kevin Rudd in a leaked memo to the Whitehouse.

Superficial charm? The opposition have climbed aboard this freight train, frequently referring to the PM as fake. Even Fairfax editors denounce the man who is smiling, caring Kevin the Queenslander, but is vastly different behind closed doors, where no cameras lurk.

"Much has been written and said about Kevin Rudd when the camera is rolling and Kevin Rudd in private," editor of the Launceston Examiner, Martin Gilmour said.  "Based on my experience on Thursday morning when the doors closed, he was about as engaged and charismatic as a silt rake."

Grandiosity? Egocentric? Enter stage left, former opposition leader and intimidating hand-shaker Mark Latham.   "I mean this guy is a once-in-a-century egomaniac," said Mr Latham in his jilted-lover tome.

Poor behavioural control? The RAAF air hostess who copped a Rudd spray because his special meal wasn't available; the foul-mouth tirade delivered while filming a video message in Chinese; the exodus of 16 staff from his office in his first year as PM due to his "short fuse and unreasonable demands" and the current rumours that 80 per cent of his staff hate his guts.

In a News Corp Australia survey of 30,000 voters last month voters were given a list of words to describe Rudd.  The results were stark: smug, manipulative and egotistical.

Claude Minisini spent 15 years within the FBI's behavioural science division. In his opinion, Kevin Rudd is your classic organisational psychopath. Ticks every box, allegedly.

"One of the traits of a psychopath is a lack of remorse. Has Kevin Rudd shown that? In relation to the pink batts saga, has he ever come out and said sorry to individuals for him making that bad decision? The answer is no," Ms Minisini said.

"Is he indifferent, or does he rationalise having hurt or mistreated someone else? I suppose he ticks that box too. I would certainly say that he is impulsive. Has he failed to adequately plan ahead? I suppose he ticks that box too. Is he irritable and aggressive? Yes, he probably ticks that one.

Research conducted by Western Sydney University professor Peter Jonason claims that while Machiavellianism is apolitical in its nature, there is a "left-leaning bias for those individuals high on psychopathy".

"Psychopathy may thrive in more liberal areas because of the lessened focus on law and order. And thus, it is within liberal areas that psychopathy may have a freer reign, therefore, freeing up men to benefit from such an approach to life," he said.

But there are other known traits of the psychopath that Rudd bypasses. Psychopaths are usually submerged in sexual promiscuity (not sure a visit to Scores counts) and have poor marital relations.

Despite the obvious shortcomings, several clinical psychologists and researchers believe possessing the traits of a psychopath could be advantageous for someone seeking political power.

A research paper lead by Emory University's Scott Lilienfeld explored such issues, pinpointing which US presidents were more likely to exhibit psychopathic traits.

"Some psychopathic traits, such as interpersonal dominance, persuasiveness and venturesomeness, may be conducive to acquiring positions of political power and to successful leadership," the paper claimed. It cited Winston Churchill and Lyndon Johnson as perfect case studies, claiming both possessed very real characteristics of a psychopath, but who "managed to parlay these traits into political success".


Workers lodging claims over lookism, Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission reveals

Looks matter and hoping otherwise is pissing into the wind

WORKERS are lodging discrimination claims based on their looks, as bosses prize beauty over brains during job interviews.

Selecting and promoting workers based on their appearance - or "lookism" - has joined racism and sexism as forms of workplace discrimination, warns a University of Sydney report to be launched today by NSW Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Fullerton.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission revealed yesterday that dozens of workers have claimed discrimination on the grounds of weight, tattoos, hair style or even body odour.

In the past five years, 96 workers have alleged discrimination on the grounds of appearance - such as being "ugly" or blonde.

Another 107 people lodged discrimination claims on the grounds of obesity, 10 on being underweight, and 17 on their height.

Body odour was the grounds for two discrimination claims, hairstyles for 38 claims and 22 claims related to for tattoos and piercings.

A spokeswoman for the commission said she did not have details of how many cases succeeded.

Dress for Success, a charity that supplies low-income women with donated suits and office attire for job interviews, yesterday said first impressions not only count - but are key to - landing a job.

A third of the Dress for Success managers interviewed by the university researchers reported that at least half their clients had suffered discrimination based on their clothing.

"I think many employers want employees with less tats and piercings, and clothes that are more modest than current fashion dictates," one manager stated.

"Some use it as a screening tool in an economy when they have so many applicants.

"Business casual attire is accepted but a neat appearance is paramount - an amazing outfit on a dishevelled person won't too."

The founder of Dress for Success in Sydney, Megan Etheridge, said women could help overcome discrimination by dressing for the job - preferably in a suit.

"It's important to help women understand that being excluded on the basis of appearance is a very real issue," she said.

The researchers cite an Australian study that found good-looking men command an $81,750 salary, compared to $49,600 for men with below-average looks.

The researchers also interviewed job placement agencies who warned that employers would "look you up and down" and make a hiring decision before listening to "what comes out of your mouth".

One of the authors, Dr Diane van den Broek, said suits gave a message that "I'm ready to work".

"If you go dressed in your own personal taste you could be too bright or too frivolous or too sombre," she said.

Professor Richard Hall, professor of work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney business school, said appearance was prized above performance in the hospitality and retail sectors.

"Boutique hotels and certain retail stores have a distinctive presentation not just with their infrastructure, but the style of staff," he said.

"Personality and looks are seen to be much more important than previous experience or their qualifications to do the job."

Australian Retailers' Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said stores wanted staff to fit their image.

"Let's take a Just Jeans or Jeans West, I don't think they'd want my 85-year-old mother serving there - or she'd have to be pretty funky ," he said.

"In the retail environment you cannot force people to wear particular types of clothing unless you're prepared to supply it."

Mr Zimmerman said employers needed to spell out their dress requirements at the stage of the interview.

Lawyer Kamal Farouque, principal of employment law at Maurice Blackburn, yesterday said "lookism" could be hard to prove.

He said workers outside Victoria could claim discrimination on the grounds of disability, which might cover appearance such as scars or birthmarks.

"Employers generally are not so daft to say they reason you didn't get a job is because you've got a scar or a birthmark or you're not good looking enough," he said.

Carole Haddad, the owner of Corcorz hair salon on Brisbane's South Bank, said her staff's presentation was crucial.

"Absolutely, how could it not have an effect on our customers?" she said.  "Our staff work so closely with our clients, things such as hygiene are so important."

Ms Haddad said the way potential staff presented at interviews was "shocking."  "And I think it is getting worse," she said.

"All of us have bad hair days but there must be basic standards. Things like well-groomed nails make a big difference."

Ms Haddad said she didn't mind her staff having tattoos, but preferred facial piercings were kept to a maximum of two.


No comments: