Thursday, November 30, 2017

The art of forgetting Iraq

Something to look forward to in the New Year of 2018 is the fifteenth anniversary of the "Coalition of the Willing: invasion of Iraq. If you're thinking "fifteen years? Gosh. The Iraq war seems like...quite some time ago", that's okay. No one else thinks about it much either.

It's scary the extent to which people have forgotten about, don't speak of or think about Iraq. It was such an appalling crime and now look George W Bush paints cute dogs and is BFFs with Michelle Obama and isn't it all fucking wonderful and why aren't you in jail.

Yeah, you. Not just you obviously, but it's a good start.

I was angry and scared and helpless feeling then. And exhausted and scared in a whole different way now.

Incidentally, when Bush made his "Saddam Hussein and his sons have 48 hours to leave Iraq" speech we were watching on TV in the conference room at work. Everyone turned to me, the 23 year old office foreign affairs expert, for analysis. Will they leave do you think? I said no, we're going to invade.

(I wasn't much of an expert of course; I recognise now, as I couldn't then, that the "deal" was a furphy)

Bush has moved on from painting pets, though. He's has released “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors", a book of portraits he has painted of wounded veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. That takes some hubris.

There's wars we've forgotten, and wars going on right now we're not paying attention to (when was the last time you heard anything about Yemen?).

Also forgotten, overlooked even at the time, was why we really invaded Iraq. From Vox:

The US primarily invaded Iraq not because of lies or because of bad intelligence, though both featured. In fact, it invaded because of an ideology.

A movement of high-minded ideologues had, throughout the 1990s, become obsessed with deposing Saddam Hussein. When they assumed positions of power under Bush in 2001, they did not seek to trick America into that war, but rather tricked themselves. In 9/11, and in fragments of intelligence that more objective minds would have rejected, they could see only validation for their abstract and untested theories about the world — theories whose inevitable and obvious conclusion was an American invasion of Iraq.

An ideology. Thousands of Coalition troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died so George W Bush could avenge his father's humiliation; so America could regain the Winning Feeling it lost in 1991. And whether the chaos the invasion caused in Iraq from 2003 created the conditions that led to ISIL...well.

No one will ever be called to account for Iraq or how we got there. Neither Bush, Blair, Howard or anyone else will ever face war crimes charges in the Hague. We've forgotten all about that now.

Lies could happen again. God knows faulty ideology could happen again. And the forgetting happens, so much. We've forgotten Iraq. The largest mass shooting in modern American history happened in Las Vegas and everyone forgot about it in two weeks.

As I write this, yesterday North Korea tested a nuclear warhead capable of potentially reaching the U.S. East Coast, and today in his TV show the President's biggest booster, Sean Hannity, was all about sexual harassment - which is of course incredibly important, but Hannity's only cynically using the subject to smear liberals. What should or shouldn't happen in North Korea, not spoken of so much.

The Iraq war ended officially in 2011. U.S. troops were withdrawn not so much in victory, more as a sort of giving up. Likewise I don't have any snappy thoughts to leave you with, but just a sad and tired giving up. At least there won't be chaos and ruin left behind, in this case.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Why I never became a social media star

Hey guys! I've been offline for so long. It was intended to be just an internet free (or internet less) time while I was doing my exams, but then I started having a series of painful issues with my internet provider. I won't bore you with the details but I was offline for three weeks. Don't worry though I have heaps of amazing posts I'm so excited to be able to share with you do social media personalities know how fake and ridiculous that sounds when they say it. 

Who speaks like this? No one talking to people they actually care about, that's for sure. I don't walk in to visit my nieces saying "hi girls, I have some free time I can't wait to share with you!". But social media stars are always just so thrilled to finally be able to share the next big reveal with us - and it's always some resoundingly pastel piece of news, like their new spring range of planner printables or smoothie recipe collection. I guess that's why I'm not a social media star, I'd never be able to muster the requisite amount of enthusiasm for making my living flogging tat. 

Social networks are becoming the new Home Shopping Channel. Affiliate links are everywhere. Every lifestyle blogger has her own range of yoga pants, or stickers, or six week organise your life course. No longer do you have to merely sit at home envying these impossibly fit and organised lifestyles - you can buy a tiny slice of them, so you can feel envious and guilty about wasting money. (Considering where so much social media browsing gets done, and where our guts so often churn with envy and anger, there must be a market out there for the social media personality who sells their own range of toilet paper. I mean, apart from Gwyneth Paltrow*).

I have retooled my blog though, after people let me know the old template wasn't rendering properly. And I did miss out on posting about the biggest event of the year - that the incredibly expensive, non binding postal survey on same sex marriage showed pretty much the same result as all the other polls and surveys on same sex marriage in recent years.

Seriously though, I remember complaining way back when I started this blog that same sex marriage seemed like a no brainer. That was 2004 though, and same sex marriage was seen as a fringe issue, where it was seen at all; legal only in the Netherlands (of course), Belgium and a few Canadian provinces. 2004 was the year of the Marriage Amendment Bill, which acted to formally ban same sex marriage and mandated that there be a little reminder in the service of every civil wedding that marriage is only for the straights. It was also the year of the first of 22 failed same sex marriage bills into the Australian parliament, introduced by Michael Organ of the Greens back when the Greens - who voted yes on same sex marriage every time - had only 1 Lower House MP and 2 Senators. There was no groundswell of community support, no demand; for most people, as a political issue, same sex marriage was about as important to them as subsidies for electric cars. No one's marching in the streets about it, or even thinking about it much. But if they did, most people thought, no. 

So yeah while the vote isn't binding (and of course, same sex marriage isn't legal yet) it means a huge deal that it is now officially recognised by government that this is the will of the people. And we're promised it will be a legal reality by Christmas, although maybe not considering parliament has bunked off down the beach while the surf is good.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Hanson fails School of Hard Knocks over citizenship rules

We all know that right wingers aren't much for tertiary education. They learn all they need to know at the School of Hard Knocks, which teaches such useful skills as dismissing peer reviewed research as left wing mumbo jumbo, reckoning global warming is a hoax cause it was far hotter when they were young, and declaring young people these days are just lazy cause they have eight separate mates who all run their own businesses and can't get any apprentices to show up to work.

There's also honours in how every illegal asylum seeker gets given a house and pension by the government and that Halal food increases Al Qaeda's morale. Unfortunately, the course in learning where apostrophes go and the difference between to, too and two had was cancelled when they had to fire the guy hired to teach it after finding out he was a moderate cultural Muslim.

But with their veneration of life's experiences over book learning, you'd think Pauline Hanson would have been a suppository of wisdom in the current maelstrom of politician after politician being disqualified from the parliament after being revealed as dual citizens, in violation of Section 44 of the constitution.

Hanson lost her fellow One Nation senator, the man she described as her "backbone", Malcolm Roberts. Roberts, despite his declarations that "I can feel it in me waters" that he was solely Australian, turned out to be a dual UK citizen and thus ineligible to sit in parliament, a devastating blow to the 77 people who voted for him.

But the thing is, Pauline Hanson and One Nation had been here before. In 1998, the election of Heather Hill as a One Nation candidate for Queensland to the Senate was challenged on the grounds that Hill was a citizen of a a foreign power - the UK. Despite Hill's creative defence that the United Kingdom is not a foreign power to Australia:

On 23 June 1999 the High Court of Australia, sitting in its capacity as the Court of Disputed Returns, decided in Sue v Hill, that Hill's election was invalid because, at the time of her election, she was still a citizen of the United Kingdom. The case clarified for the first time that the United Kingdom had become a power foreign to Australia.

So Hanson had been through all this before. And, strongly in support of the constitutional law, she reckoned Senator Roberts was dinky di:

"I am strongly of the belief that everyone in this chamber should be an Australian citizen, should not have allegiance to another country and I truly do believe that of Senator Roberts," she said.

But it was complicated:

"It is a very complex case with regards to Senator Roberts. You don't understand the full situation, so therefore I'm not going to go into this. It will be decided by the High Court".

Hanson wasn't the only one of the opinion that the nuances of Senator Roberts's citizenship status were beyond the grasp of us mere mortals. He went on Sky News to chat to Paul Murray, the face of the hip young right, and Murray assured his audience that he had seen the million percent proof Roberts wasn't a British citizen, although neither of the people watching at home were allowed to have a peek.

It turns out that the complications here were that Roberts truly, cross his heart hope to die stick a needle in his eye believed that he was solely an Australian citizen, and he'd sent an email to a domain ending in uk.sydney just to absolutely super dooper double check.

Anyway, Roberts is out of the Senate to go spread his brand of merriment in Queensland state politics, but Pauline Hanson powers on. The point of all this is, she should have known better. Her First Class Honours from the School of Hard Knocks should have blessed her with the ability to recognise a pattern here and make sure her Senate candidates were actually solely Australian citizens not just pretendy ones. And maybe before she demonises the unemployed she could be a little more cautious about wasting millions of dollars obfuscating and breaking the law.