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The rise of Donald Trump is a Terrifying Moment in American Politics

February 11, 2016


The following article is by Ezra Klein…

On Monday, Donald Trump held a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he merrily repeated a woman in the crowd who called Ted Cruz a pussy.

Twenty-four hours later, Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide.

I’m not here to clutch my pearls over Trump’s vulgarity; what was telling, rather, was the immaturity of the moment, the glee Trump took in his “she said it, I didn’t” game.

The media, which has grown used to covering Trump as a sideshow, delighted in the moment along with him — it was funny, and it meant clicks, takes, traffic. But it was more than that.

It was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president showing off the demagogue’s instinct for amplifying the angriest voice in the mob.

It is undeniably enjoyable to watch Trump. He’s red-faced, discursive, funny, angry, strange, unpredictable, and real. He speaks without filter and tweets with reckless abandon.

The Donald Trump phenomenon is a riotous union of candidate ego and voter id. America’s most skilled political entertainer is putting on the greatest show we’ve ever seen.

It’s so fun to watch that it’s easy to lose sight of how terrifying it really is.

Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante.

He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Trump is in serious contention to win the Republican presidential nomination. His triumph in a general election is unlikely, but it is far from impossible.

He’s not a joke and he’s not a clown. He’s a man who could soon be making decisions of war and peace, who would decide which regulations are enforced and which are lifted, who would be responsible for nominating Supreme Court justices and representing America in the community of nations.

This is not political entertainment. This is politics.

Trump’s path to power has been unnerving. His business is licensing out his own name as a symbol of opulence. He has endured bankruptcies and scandal by bragging his way out of them.

He rose to prominence in the Republican Party as a leader of the birther movement. He climbed to the top of the polls in this election by calling Mexicans rapists and killers.

He defended a poor debate performance by accusing Megyn Kelly of being on her period. He responded to rival Ted Cruz’s surge by calling for a travel ban on Muslims.

When two of his supporters attacked a homeless man and said they did it because “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” he brushed off complaints that he’s inspiring violence by saying his supporters are “very passionate.”

Behind Trump’s success is an unerring instinct for harnessing anger, resentment, and fear. His view of the economy is entirely zero-sum — for Americans to win, others must lose.

“We’re going to make America great again,” he said in his New Hampshire victory speech, “but we’re going to do it the old-fashioned way. We’re going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico at trade.

We’re going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

Trump answers America’s rage with more rage. As the journalist Molly Ball observed, “All the other candidates say ‘Americans are angry, and I understand.’ Trump says, ‘I’M angry.'”

Trump doesn’t offer solutions so much as he offers villains. His message isn’t so much that he’ll help you as he’ll hurt them.

Trump’s other gift — the one that gets less attention but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It’s easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery.

Most people feel shame when they’re exposed as liars, when they’re seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn’t. He has the reality television star’s ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint.

It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won’t, to say what others can’t, to do what others wouldn’t.

Trump lives by the reality television trope that he’s not here to make friends. But the reason reality television villains always say they’re not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch.

“I’m not here to make friends” is another way of saying, “I’m not bound by the social conventions of normal people.” The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.

This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think his instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul.

But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn’t do.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked Trump about his affection for Vladimir Putin, who “kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries,” Trump replied, “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”

Later, he clarified that he doesn’t actually condone killing journalists, but, he warned the crowd, “I do hate them.”

It’s a lie that if you put a frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat the frog will simply boil, but it’s a fact that if you put the American political system in a room with Trump for long enough we slowly lose track of how noxious he is, or we at least run out of ways to keep repeating it.

But tonight is a night to repeat it. There is something scary in Donald Trump. We should fear his rise.


Ministers “dropping like flies” around Malcolm Turnbull

February 10, 2016


Andrew Robb and Warren Truss are the latest to join the conga line of Ministers who have either been dumped by Malcolm Turnbull or leaving the LNP to “spend more time with their families.”

They join the illustrious company of:

Tony Abbott

Eric Abetz

Kevin Andrews

Bob Baldwin

Bruce Bilson

Jamie Briggs

Mal Brough

Joe Hockey

David Johnston

Ian McFarlane

Michael Ronaldson

Stuart Robert appears likely to be next.





Christian Lobby Fury over Gay Playschool Plot

February 5, 2016


The ABC’s Play School can no longer be trusted not to push political agendas with its plans to feature gay dads on the show, the Australian Christian Lobby says.

The group says parents should not be forced into explaining to kids how two men come to have a baby.

“Unsupervised watching of Play School was always considered safe by generations of parents. Now parents can’t be sure if their children are going to be exposed to contested social and political agendas,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said in a statement on Friday.

A two-dad family has been cast for the program’s popular Through the Windows segment, which will also include an adopted family, an extended family, a blended family and an indigenous family.

Mr Shelton accused the public broadcaster of imposing “rainbow politics” on toddlers when millions of their parents did not agree with same-sex marriage.

“The ABC should not assume that producing children through harvested eggs and a rented or donated woman’s womb to meet the desires of two men is a public good.”

Mr Shelton called on Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to intervene.





Churches join forces to block deportation of asylum seekers

February 4, 2016



A number of churches have taken the extraordinary step of offering sanctuary to asylum seekers facing deportation in the wake of a High Court verdict – raising the prospect of police raids on places of worship and possible charges for clergy.

Ten Anglican churches and cathedrals have invoked the ancient Christian tradition to offer protection to the 267 people – including 37 babies – facing imminent transfer to Nauru after the court on Wednesday upheld the legality of the government’s offshore processing regime.

The movement is being led by the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Dr Peter Catt, who has declared his St John’s Anglican Cathedral a place of sanctuary.

Dr Catt said if any asylum seekers sought sanctuary in his church he would do his best to keep the authorities out. He said he fully accepts that he and other clergy could be charged with obstruction and potentially even face possible jail time.

“We are aware it’s a high-risk strategy,” he said.

Dr Catt called it an extraordinary step that would attract the attention of church communities around the world.

Sanctuary is a historical concept and Dr Catt said he would happily risk being prosecuted for offering it.

“Sanctuary was a concept that was certainly alive in the Middle Ages when people could go to a church, and particularly to a cathedral, and claim sanctuary and the church authorities could really grant them safety against the civic authorities,” he said.

“It was a way of saying I’m entering into God’s territory, away from the civic authorities that are oppressing me, and the oppressors generally accepted that the church could offer sanctuary to people.”

Dr Catt said the concept of sanctuary had never been tested under Australian law.

“But my hunch is that if the authorities chose to enter the church and take people away, it would probably be a legal action,” he said.

“So this is really a moral stand and it wouldn’t be a good look, I don’t think, for someone to enter a church and to drag people away.”

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said the offers of help were coming from across Australia.

Taskforce executive director Misha Coleman said logistically it would be a challenge for the asylum seekers to get to the sanctuaries.

“But if they do, the relevant priest or vicar will manage that situation in a very sort of confidential way,” Ms Coleman said.

“This is a hugely significant action for any Australian church to take. Historically churches have afforded sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces,” Dr Catt said on Thursday.

“We offer this refuge because there is irrefutable evidence from health and legal experts that the circumstances asylum seekers, especially children, would face if sent back to Nauru are tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse.

“This fundamentally goes against our faith, so our church community is compelled to act, despite the possibility of individual penalty against us.”

Other cathedrals and churches offering sanctuary include Pitt Street Uniting Church, Gosford Anglican Church and the Wayside Chapel in NSW, St George­’s Anglican Cathedral, St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church and Wesley Uniting Church in Perth, Pilgrim Uniting Church in ­Adelaide, St David’s Anglican Cathedral in Hobart and Christchurch Anglican Cathedral in Darwin.

Dr Catt called it a “fledgling movement”.

“What we expect to happen in the course of the day and the next few days is that many churches from many denominations will sign up,” he said.

The sanctuary offer came as the United Nations urged Australia to put the interests of children first.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child believes Australia has an inadequate understanding of the rights of asylum seeker children.

“This decision by the High Court greatly concerns us as these children and their families face a great risk in being sent to a place that cannot be considered safe nor adequate,” said committee chair Benyam Mezmur.





Defiant Rolf Plans “Revenge” comeback album!

February 1, 2016



Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has vowed to release a ‘revenge’ album from his British prison cell.

Harris, 85, told friends he plans to release the comeback album ‘Justice For All’ as an act of defiance against his victims.

With thanks to our exclusive sources, The Gutter Trash can confirm that one of the tracks on the proposed album is called Can’t Keep That Dingo Down, believed to be a defiant message railing against his victims and accusers.

Also featured will be a track called A Bird In The Hand (Is Worth Two In The Bush).

“Making music is helping Rolf survive prison. But rather than keep his material to himself, he’s telling those around him he has every intention of releasing it,” a source told The Gutter Trash.

“The stuff has rockier influences than the music he’s known for, because he wants to get across his anger at what he sees as injustice.”

Harris was slammed last year for writing new song ‘Woodworm Women’, about his victims and their desire for compensation.

It included the line ‘come and join the feeding frenzy girls’.

At the time, Liz Dux, lawyer for his victims, called for him to have his parole chance taken away.

Harris was sentenced in July 2014 to five years and nine months in Stafford Prison for indecently assaulting four girls, one as young as seven, between 1968 and 1986.

Under Britain’s parole laws he could be released from jail in May next year.




Shane Warne Foundation Closes amidst Consumer Affairs Investigation

January 29, 2016


Shane Warne’s controversial charity the self-dubbed “Shane Warne Foundation” has issued a shock announcement that it will close down.

The surprise announcement comes as a Victorian consumer watchdog is mid-way through an investigation into the charity following claims of financial impropriety.

The charity, started by former Australian cricketer Shane Warne, is facing allegations that hundreds of thousands of dollars in public donations had been squandered on lavish cocktail parties and functions instead of being allocated to helping children in need.

Consumer Affairs Victoria ordered an audit into the organisation, which claims its aim its aim is to help ill and underprivileged children.

The consumer watchdog requested the audit after the foundation failed to lodge key financial documents by a deadline towards the end of 2015.

“CAV subsequently made a number of requests for the required financial information however what was provided was not sufficient,” a spokesman said.

“Because of this on 24 December 2015 the director of CAV … issued a formal request with TSWF for an independent auditor’s report on its fundraising activities for the past three-and-a-half years.”

The charity issued a cryptic statement today announcing that it will be shut down without offering any reason for the decision.



In response to recent, unwarranted speculation about The Shane Warne Foundation and its distribution of funds, we confirm we have distributed $3.67M to date with an additional and final substantial cheque to be distributed on March 18, 2016. At that time, we hope to have distributed over $4M dollars. All accounts have been fully audited by KPMG, and our final accounts will also be audited for the March 18th cheque presentation.

When The Shane Warne Foundation (TSWF) officially launched back in 2004, it had one very clear vision: to give back, make a difference and to enrich the lives of seriously ill , underprivileged children and teenagers in Australia.

As TSWF grew, everyone involved was proud to see that dream become reality.

Our founding board members – Lloyd Williams, James Packer, the late John Ilhan and the late David Coe, along with our Chairman Shane Warne – were passionate about the cause and worked hard to do their best to highlight the plight of so many children and teenagers in need.

In 2016, that passion to improve the lives of children, teenagers and their families, who need emotional support, medical intervention and hope for a healthier, happier future, remains.

The Shane Warne Foundation would like to say a public ‘thank you’ to Shane Warne, James Packer, Lloyd Williams, David Coe and John Ilhan for launching the dream, and later, Lee Amaitis – and to our most recent Board of Directors, including Glenn Robbins, Andrew Bassat, Ann Peacock, David Evans and Eddie McGuire, for helping that dream live on with commitment, dedication, passion, pride and also their donation of time.

That core dream continues in the hearts and minds of everyone involved – something that will never die.

Today, as The Shane Warne Foundation officially announces it is ceasing operations and has begun the process of closing the Foundation, we will celebrate so many incredible achievements.

To all our ambassadors – Campbell Brown, Aaron Hamill, Stephen Curry, Anthony Lehmann, John Worsfold, Brendon Goddard, Yasmin Kassim, Brodie Harper, Lance Franklin, Fifi Box, Dermott Brereton, Michael Clarke, Nick Riewoldt and Karl Stefanovic – patrons, event partners, supporters and past board members, including Rob Sitch, Garry Lyon and Ray Martin, we say ‘thank you’. We could not have done it without you – all of you.

By working diligently and tirelessly to raise much-needed funds, we are proud to have actively supported more than 125 deserving charities and individuals. From money raised to build special wheelchairs, to providing funds for training guide dogs, sending sick Australian children overseas for specialist medical treatment, funding skin treatments for children with horrific burns and helping children find the medical support they need to walk again – TSWF has left an amazing legacy, and one which we are all very proud of.

To our beneficiaries – another heartfelt ‘thank you’. You are the reason we were driven to achieve so much. We will donate our final cheque on March 18, which will mean we have donated over $4 million much-needed dollars – and knowing we have helped so many young lives change for the better is an amazing reward that will never be forgotten.

In finishing, it has been an absolute honour and privilege to be able to give back to children, and make a difference to their lives. Yes, the Foundation is closing, but all of us will continue to make a difference to children in need.

There will be no further comment from TSWF Board Members or Chairman.




The Returnification of Tony Abbott!

January 27, 2016


Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly turned down a stellar line-up of top senior executive roles with some of Australia’s largest multi-national corporations in order to continue his selfless vocation as a “servant of the people.”

Confirming his intention to contest the seat of Warringah at the next election, Mr Abbott said that he had received “many letters of support” from his constituents which swayed his decision to remain in politics.

The news has been well-received amongst Mr Abbott’s political allies, including the affable Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz who insists that Mr Abbott should be allowed to choose his own ministry and be returned to a prominent position on the front bench.

A popular proponent of ‘traditional values’ (whatever they are), Mr Abbott is taking his message of hope and equality for all to the pro-Christian, US based “Alliance Defending Freedom” religious group later this week.

The ADF believes that so-called “religious liberty” is “under threat” and it must fight legal battles “for the soul of our nation”.

Launched in 1994, the ADF has been training like-minded lawyers to legally challenge laws that aim to provide for marriage equality and protection for those seeking abortions.

It has also fought on behalf of Christian business owners who fell foul of the law for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

The alliance says it shares a belief in “a fundamental truth that people have the God-given constitutionally guaranteed right to freely live out their faith, and that freedom, that truth, must be defended”.

“Now more than ever those very freedoms and values we cherish are under fierce and relentless legal attack being drawn into the shadows by those who are determined to silence people of faith and redefine the US constitution.”

The alliance’s President and Chief Executive, Alan Sears co-wrote a book in 2003 titled “The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today.”

The book sought to prove that the US was “not only becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, through the indoctrination of children, positive exposure on TV, and the support and approval of corporate America, it is becoming less tolerant of those who disagree”.

The organisation’s lawyers frequently clash with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is active in bringing cases. The ACLU says it is committed to “full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people; establishing new privacy protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance; ending mass incarceration; or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion”.

The alliance has set up a legal academy to train attorneys in constitutional law and a biblical world view, as part of efforts to build “an enduring legal force of allies” who can fight these battles in the courts.

A so-called “fellowship program” also aims “to equip a new generation of lawyers who will rise to positions of influence as legal scholars, litigators, media commentators and judges”.

In the US, the ADF is widely lampooned as a desperate group of right-wing god-botherers who want to take the country back to somewhere near the third century. Literally.

Mr Abbott should feel right at home.

Labor leader Bill Shorten however, said that he was concerned about Abbott’s planned attendance at the event.

“Some of those people have been associated with the worst excesses of the far religious right in America – everything from their trenchant and radical opposition to the right to choose, right through to people talking about criminalising homosexuality,” Shorten said.

“What Mr Abbott does is up to him but he’s the former Liberal prime minister of Australia. What worries me is that his views are commonly held within the right wing of the Liberal party.”

Right on cue, Eric Abetz has declared that Coalition MP’s will not be bound to vote in accordance with the forthcoming plebiscite on marriage equality rendering the $160 million poll a waste of public funds and a meaningless exercise.

Abbott’s decision to remain in politics and his decision to lend his support to the ADF has reinvigorated conservative supporters within the ranks of the Coalition who resent current leader Malcolm Turnbull.

The move should play well into the hands of Labor MPs and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who has been struggling to gain ground against the popularity of Malcolm Turnbull.






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