Grifonaut - James McDonald

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Labour’s pragmatism on Brexit sells out democracy

If this report is accurate, the leader of the Labour Party demonstrates pragmatism without principle. And I say that as a natural labour man, and sadly, because otherwise Starmer seems to be a good choice for the leadership of the Labour Party.

Brexit was a Tory con job with a mere 37% of registered voters in a referendum designed to elicit if there was a will of the people to leave the EU. There never was. So, you ask why have the Tories pursued this project?

The answer is that it has nothing to do with democracy. Brexit is an extremist neoliberal project to re-engineer the UK along neofascist US Republican lines. Its features are a malignant and anti-democratic case of chaos capitalism with these features: deregulation and even less job security; diminution of civil services; embezzling the British taxpayer with tax cuts for the rich and gratuities to corporations supported by the false propaganda of trickle-down economics; dumping a new level of austerity hitting British families and households for the costs of Brexit and the botched COVID preparations that led to augmentation of the death and illness toll; and further embedding the notion of exceptionalism for the “privileged” as illustrated by the Tory defence of Cummings’ breaches of orders for all citizens in general and those infected in particular.

This shyster [and I use that word advisedly for Cummings’ role in the illegalities, propaganda, and breaches of data laws in the Leave campaign, and his contempt of Parliament], is a turgid ideologue for screwing the British economy, stripping down the civil service, running the country by outsourcing government to foreign corporations, and entering a “free” trade arrangement with the USA, which will only sign an agreement that is of greatest benefit to US agriculture and business.

US trade agreements also include clauses allowing foreign corporations to sue government over regulations that limit profiteering. These are provisions that attack the very sovereignty that the liars of the Leave campaign said they were regaining with Brexit – not that it had been lost except modified in the normal arrangements of treaties between allies. This genius assists the Tory neoliberal extremists in turning the nation’s back on the level playing field of EU free trade already in place. Good luck with that one, you morons!

So, when Keir Starmer announces he will do nothing to reverse the toxic effects of Brexit, I consider it a sellout of British workers, their families, the civil services, the welfare of the people, the national interest, and democratic government as the Tories attempt to neuter Parliament scrutiny in every way from Johnson’s piffle in the Commons to misuse of their majority to stifle debate.

The political ethics that are embedded in democratic principles have been thrown out by the Cummings-Johnson duopoly, the Tory Brexiteer Cabinet of incompetent Ministers, and the snivelling sycophancy of the Brexiteer backbenchers. Starmer in this misguided misstep, enables the ongoing snake-oil antics of a harmful regime that lacks any democratic principles and shows every sign of their authoritarian intent to subjugate the British spirit to the vileness of xenophobia, the hubris of pseudo-imperialist nostalgia, decreased civil liberties, and the establishment of a new feudalism of misery in a labour market infused with exploitation. All of these are anathema to the labour movement, which Starmer has been tasked with leading.

James McDonald
28 May 2020

Never tolerate the malignancy of evil leadership

Never forgive the malignant evil that rests in the current Oval Office and Trump’s Administration of unctuous sycophancy, the evil of ignorance, of arrogance, of callousness, incompetence, science-denial, tin-eared to expert advice, driven by avarice and nepotism, ludicrousness and mendacity, the failure of sorrow, of empathy, of decency, of honour, of honesty, of responsibility, of democratic principle, and the authoritarian narcissism of the idiotic and malignant Court of Trump the Vile.
Refer to this MSNBC program.

James McDonald,
28 May 2020

I am in voluntary isolation….

COVID-19: Voluntary isolation, day 3 Reflections, Italy

Yes, as the heading suggests, I am continuing the level of isolation we have had for two and a half months despite the easing of restrictions. My Italian neighbours and I last weekend shared our anxiety about the easing of the rules for the coronavirus lockdown not the least because of the crowding we saw around the bars when the rules allowed purchase of takeaway food and drinks in the previous couple of weeks. My American friends are also still anxious. We had planned to meet last evening but almost all decided it was too soon yet.

I had decided when the new phase was confirmed last week that I would continue to stay in “partial” isolation. What I meant by that was I would try to ensure I have some control over social occasions. Staying at home was at the core and spending plenty of time in the studio. Walks would be solo occasions in which I avoided the gathering hot spots.

It is worth making some comparisons here about the reach of the COVID-19 disease in Umbria. Perugia the city is both the capital of that Region, which is the rough equivalent of the States in Australia, and of the Province of Perugia within the region. The Province has been hit more heavily in terms of infections with 1007. As of last evening, Umbria had a tally of 74 deaths and a total of 1427 infections. Umbria at the last count in 2018 is home to around 882,000 people. 11 percent of these like me are foreigners.

The latest tally in Australia today is 7,093 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 101 deaths. Roughly speaking, the Umbrian toll is one death for around 12,000 people and 1 in 618 infections. Compare that with Australia whose population is around 25.5 million. Coronavirus deaths account for around 1 in 250,000 Australians with 1 in 3,600 infections. Umbria is one of the least affected Regions in Italy but outstrips Australia in per capita cases and deaths.

I cite these calculations to illustrate that where I live the flat chances of catching the disease are relatively slight, but are far greater than for Australians generally. Umbria also escaped the exponential increases experienced so tragically in northern Italy. Daily deaths in this country still outstrip Australia’s national aggregate number of COVID-19 deaths since January. Even though Italy’s national lockdown intervened earlier in the trajectory of the pandemic in central Italy, it was a lesson that ignored by both the United States and Britain.

My decision to continue to self-isolate was based upon my own observations of the fragility of social distancing when measures allowing bars and restaurants to sell food and drinks from their entrances were introduced. Those new rules specified that the food and drinks were not to be consumed in the vicinity of the premises. That simply did not anticipate the lovely gregariousness of Italians.

I visited my favourite bar for lunch last Monday, the first day of the new phase in the Italian Government’s attempts to balance the economic damage of the pandemic and the terrible cost in lives and illness.

There was only a handful of customers and social distancing was being respected and if anyone got too close were were reminded of it. I returned in the early evening on Tuesday for a glass of prosecco on my way home after a session in the studio, and buying a couple of locally made re-usable masks.

Again, there were only a few people in the bar, a couple of whom I know fairly well socially. Conversations and banter occurred, but I noticed that my COVID personal space had disappeared in an animated conversation. If I had thought that I could control social interactions with “partial” self-isolation, I had been kidding myself. I enjoy immensely the company of my Italian friends, but I am in a vulnerable group and have that long-standing upper respiratory problem.

Anxiety about my coughing in the presence of a pandemic disease – however low the odds are of catching it where I live – has dogged me since February with fears on the one hand about my susceptibility and on the other hand whether I could be an asymptomatic carrier. Thus, I returned home on Tuesday evening quite shaken by the experience. It strengthened my resolve to continue to stay at home, dividing my time between working in the studio and avoiding the necessary domestic chores. I will, nonetheless, mix socially where I can protect my paranoia of personal space in a time of pestilence!

James McDonald
22 May 2020

Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires reassessment and reform

The COVID-19 pandemic is a disease that we did not have in our communities before November-December last year. It is now embedded in those communities in almost every country. Because of its virulence and easy transmission, it remains for an indefinite period a public health hazard requiring changes to personal behaviours. We have been prepped for that by over two months of restrictions.

As responsible governments initiate gradual release and rebuild their economies, it is imperative that they ensure that people understand that we cannot resume the kinds of social interactions we had before the pandemic.

But the pandemic and the interruption to economic activity should also provide the opportunity to reassess what we demand of our governments and reform their destructive failures in responsible policies. A priority is ridding government ranks of the seditious suppression of democracy and the failures on economic equity, democratic principles, equality before the law, and corrupt science denialist policies serving polluters. We must, for example, push back on the gratuitous use of tracking – a totalitarian danger to the welfare of citizens from irresponsible and authoritarian government – once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

As this article on the EU states,

“There can be no return to ‘business as usual’ after the crisis: the ‘new normal’ must entail a profound political and social transformation.”

It adds,

“The new normal must be the moment for governments to prioritise social wellbeing and, finally, to take seriously the threat to our planet—to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, to invest in green technologies, to find new, less-polluting means of transport and to provide clean air.”

These are priorities a responsive and responsible community must impose upon their governments by whatever means possible. Corrupt and anti-democratic government for the corporations and the rich must be neutralised. Governments must not be allowed to go back to the toxicity of the old normal where every democratic principle was under attack, even the voting rights of citizens in minority communities. The bastards must be stopped!There can be no return to ‘business as usual’ after the crisis: the ‘new normal’ must entail a profound political and social transformation.

James McDonald,
12 May 2020,

Australians seemingly oblivious to ongoing COVID-19 dangers are only part of a larger political problem

COVID-19, Lockdown, the end of Phase 2, Reflections on Australia, 17 May 2020

The fact that Australia has dodged a bullet with a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and deaths could be its undoing as it is clear that enough people don’t take the ongoing dangers of the pandemic seriously enough, nor the ongoing incompetence of governments that refused to plan for the inevitability of the pandemic and dithered on action because they place a low priority on the liberty and welfare of the people.

We are not going to go back to “normal”, especially since politically Dutton “The Fascist” and those who embrace authoritarian totalitarianism are trying to seize the opportunity to turn Australia into an authoritarian state.

Australia is not going to recover any time soon economically – there is long term damage historically inherent in pandemics, especially to those economies devoted to filling the pockets of the obscenely rich and the treasuries of corrupt corporations while workers and families suffer. And we cannot allow callous governments to try and reinforce the tyranny of corporate greed on the country.

There is no way back from the events in this momentous year as the pandemic, in concert with climate crisis, affects civilisation permanently, Socially, it will hurt the most vulnerable, and indefinitely change the way we behave publicly and mingle socially. We are damned if we allow government services – especially public health – to be destroyed and privatised for profiteers as the pandemic picks off the careless, the ignorant, and the sad victims of the sociopathic promoters of snake oil and malicious misinformation, some of them heads of governments, notably US President Donald Trump.

The pandemic has exacerbated the damage done to the national interest by the perverted priorities of neoliberal governments across the world. Australian governments have weakened our global political influence with two decades of neoliberal ruination of democratic institutions and trade. It is a major loss of national security that diminished manufacture to serve our independence from China, a deliberate and seditious policy of governments dedicated to serving the vested interests of low-wage exploitation, corporate avarice, and profits by facilitating the export of jobs from Australia.

Environmentally, Australian governments on both sides have failed what former Labor Prime Minister Rudd described as the greatest moral challenge of our time, a challenge that he then betrayed. Subsequently, the LNP has cast aside every democratic principle to serve the fossil-fuel mafia, the avarice of corporations, and the most wealthy at the expense of families and households.

In Australia, the ALP has for 20 years continued with politics as usual despite ongoing threats to the security of the people by colluding with the LNP in violating civil liberties and human rights, for example, and it has not taken a grip on the issues that undermine the welfare of the people.

Some of this the people can take into their hands and rise up against the tyranny of seditious governments. The rest they will just have to learn to live with.
This pandemic should have woken people up to the global incompetence of the traditional parties. A revolution is needed, one based on equity, liberty, sustainability, service and the principles of democracy. The politicians who have ruined us by betraying their social contract with the citizens should be incarcerated indefinitely on Macquarie Island without doonas, just as they violate the human rights of illegally incarcerated refugees, the fascist bastards.

James McDonald,
17 May 2020

Are Italians ready to adjust to the “new normal” in the next phase of pandemic restrictions?

COVID-19, Lockdown, the end of Phase 2, Reflections, Italy, 16 May 2020

As the COVID-19 restrictions are eased slightly on Monday, Italy faces the same problem as elsewhere – the promise of a second wave while gradually opening up the economy. Restaurants and bars will open for internal service after a couple of weeks of serving take-away food and drinks. That internal service is to maintain the social distancing of the past three months.

However, in Italy – compared to other countries – the government only imposed a one metre separation, which scientists tell us is not enough, certainly indoors.

The new decree provides for masks and gloves to be worn indoors in commercial businesses and enclosed public spaces. We are used to that now after weeks of that requirement. It has been already imposed by shops, pharmacies and supermarkets that have regulated entry to maintain social distancing.

Under the Phase 2 regulations, take-away food and drinks are not to be consumed in the vicinity of the bar or restaurant. The intention is clear but the Italian habits around smoking persevere.

Smoking is not allowed in shops, bars and restaurants, but how often do you see people smoking at the door in Italy! I am used to smoking regulations that prevent smoking anywhere near the doors of premises. Being allergic to cigarette smoke, those businesses simply don’t get my patronage.

So, the natural enough inclination is to consume drinks, especially, right by the entrance to bars.

I have been impressed by the general adherence to the lockdown provisions, but on the couple of occasions I have been out in the past week, I have seen more adults breaching the intent of the measures to contain the coronavirus.

Illustration of the problem
The crowd outside a small bar in the historical centre of Perugia, Friday 15 May 2020.
Photo: James McDonald

This was the scene – at any other time unremarkable – last evening outside a bar in via Oberdan in the historical centre of Perugia. I’ve seen these gatherings before in the last week or so. It does not bode well for Monday when restrictions are slightly eased. People were crowded around the bar (which is not allowed), weren’t maintaining social distance, many without masks, and they covered the whole entrance from the Piazza to the street. At least the proprietor seemed to be trying to control the crowd.

Being in a vulnerable age group, that incident, as I struggled through the crowd with my groceries, convinces me that I should remain in self-imposed semi-isolation following the lifting of restrictions.

James McDonald
16 May 2020

Morrison’s neoliberalism impels Australia towards neofascism

When a neoliberal government sabotages every element of democracy it takes us down the road to neofascism and Australian Prime Minister Morrison heads such a subversive Regime. Neoliberalism and neofascism are joined at the hip: they both involve the subversion of the state, aided by corrupt neoliberal government, and its takeover by corporate interests that supplant core democratic principles such as the protection of the welfare of the people, the violation of human rights, the white-anting of civil liberties, the asset-stripping of government services and their handover to private corporations for profit (so-called privatisation). The underbelly of this state of affairs with its lies and ideological mythology is an authoritarian proclivity and a tendency toward totalitarianism with its centralisation of power and the mass surveillance of citizens. These conditions have been impelled by successive Liberal and National Party Regimes since John Howard’s deceitful and reprehensible government set Australia on this dreadful path of selling out the nation.

James McDonald
12 May 2020


Televangelists are media conmen where praying is preying, idiocy is spirituality, theology is business, and hypocrisy is morality.

James McDonald
10 May 2020

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