TPA’s Election Analysis: Week One – The Leaders

In this eight week tribute to jibber-jabber, TPA’s Alasdair McClintock takes us through the highs and lows of the upcoming federal election. Proving, once and for all, that when it comes to politics, he has no idea what he’s talking about.

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The Leaders

What kind of lunatic wants to lead this great country of ours? Are they so naive they think they can make a difference?

Or just power-mad degenerates who yearn for their names in the history books?

It is a thankless job. Australia, as a whole, is such a fickle beast. We are as vile, ruthless and vicious as we are open, forgiving and thankful. So quick to turn on each other, then defend one and other should someone else join in the vitriol. Soaked to our eyeballs in Bundaberg Rum and Victoria Bitter, we are convinced of our own ability to ‘do a better job’ leading the country than those who actually jump through the hoops and attempt it.

And why not? Our leaders have been about as productive as Mitchell Pearce’s State of Origin career of late. Thankfully, the pooches in Canberra have been left out of the scandals, but how long will that last for?

There is a very real and present danger this could happen again.
There is a very real and present danger this could happen again.

We’ve had our fair share of dreamers, narcissists, holy men and alcoholics. Now we have two gnomes men. Driven by what? Power? Fame? Ego? Sex? I can’t imagine many ridgey-didge, jaw-dropping political groupies are roaming the streets of the nation’s capital, desperate for some pasty, white, middle aged flesh to be pressed up against them. So I’m certain it can’t be the sex. You don’t need to be a politician to walk into an S&M club.

And it’s certainly not for the fortune.

Malcolm ‘Harbourside Mansion’ Turnbull could probably buy the country if he wanted to. Wiping out this all powerful budget deficit in one fell swoop, with enough spare change for some raspberry daiquiris at Casablanca in Double Bay. And Bill “Beaconsfield” Shorten could surely make more money in the private sector. Doing what? I don’t know. I’m not sure he’s doing anything now, as it is.

So if not sex, money or power – the traditional motivations of the red-blooded male – it must be ego. Ego: the only thing, apart from our thumbs, that separates us from the monkeys. Or so I’m led to believe. I’ve met some pretty egotistical monkeys.

What the hell is going on here?
What the hell is going on here?

A wise Venezuelan once said to me “Do you know that the problem with the human race is, Aldo?” He then wrote ‘EGO’ in bold capital letters on the notepad in front of him, crossed it out with a furious slash, and confronted me with a tremendous stare that shook me to my boots. Thank you, Roberto. You are an intimidating man, but wise nonetheless.

He was right, of course. In a way. Ego is as much our downfall as it is our success. Could you trust a man driven solely by ego? Maybe, if his interests aligned with yours. Should you? No. Because his interests will never fully align with anyone but himself.

And these are short men, do not forget.* Short men have very little but their egos to keep them going. History has shown us what short men are willing to do, and as exemplified so elegantly in the circus that is the US presidential race, about the worst thing you can do to a proud man is label anything about him “short”.

Needless to say, the Opposition leader has the very word in his last name. This would have been an intolerable cruelty in his high school days. What demons from the schoolyard is Bill still carrying with him? He strikes me as a master manipulator (as all good politicians are) and I do not doubt for a second he soon learned to use bigger kids to act out his dirty work. Bill’s Goons, if you will. Perhaps it’s why he went on to work with the unions.

Turnbull, on the other hand, seems to have fooled himself into believing he could actually be our saviour. From what, Malcolm? Flat screen TVs and annual trips to Bali? You did save us from Tony Abbott, I will give you that, but he still looms like a menacing shadow, all the way from the Northern Beaches to your Point Piper palace. You can’t stab the devil in the back and expect him to go quietly.

A troubled man.

However ignorant, evil and misguided as Abbott was, at least he made decisions. Great leaders are known for their decision making and I don’t think Turnbull even confidently picks his tie in the morning. And that should be his forte. We all fell in love with his charming, self-assured style, when he had no real responsibility and the time to subscribe to fad diets and detoxing. He was once accused of being all style and no substance, but that would now be a generous appraisal.

His time in power must have worn him and his self-belief down to all time lows. The cracks are showing. Gone is the glint in his eye and the charming confidence that only comes with someone who has made their fortune and knows they are a success. Now he looks tired and jaded. He has learned it is near impossible to make a difference and still make everyone happy. Because we are all selfish beings who both fear and love our neighbours and don’t even really know what we want, but we sure as hell know we want it now. One suspects, if it weren’t for his ego, he would pull out of this caper altogether.

So who should we vote for come election day? Which of these men is least likely to completely cock things up for us all? Is it even possible for them to make that big a difference to our daily lives? I can’t imagine my social media feed is going to change too dramatically either way. Is Shorten going to make Game of Thrones spoilers punishable by public flogging? I don’t think so.

For all this talk of the ‘great divide’ between the two major parties, they all seem the same bunch of douchebags to me.

By Alasdair McClintock

Twitter: @AWJP1983

* Google has them down as a generous 1.78m each, but I do not believe it. Even, if it’s true, they hold themselves as short men do, which is perhaps more alarming than anything else.

Australia’s New Cold War with Russia is Great News for Sport

Australia’s beef with Russia is ramping up big-time.

It all started with Russia’s suspected involvement in the downing of MH17. Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened to shirt-front President Vladimir Putin over the incident. Now things have really kicked on to the next level with Russia sending warships towards Australia.

With the escalation to military posturing, it’s clear we have entered a second Cold War with our Soviet foes.

The Cold War hasn't been this Hot since Prime Minister Robert Menzies granted asylum to Russian Ambassador Vladimir Petrov in 1954.
The Cold War hasn’t been this hot since Prime Minister Robert Menzies granted asylum to Russian Ambassador Vladimir Petrov in 1954.

In this edition, the threat of nuclear apocalypse does not appear to be on the cards. Australians should therefore embrace this new conflict, chiefly because it will produce a great new sporting narrative for the nation.

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The first Cold War created arguably the best sporting narrative of all-time.

It was USA v Russia. Western liberalism v Eastern authoritarianism. Capitalism v Communism. Good v Evil.

Without directly fighting one another in an armed conflict, the two nations found other ways to compete. This took form in things like the space race, fighting proxy wars in far-off places such as Vietnam and Afghanistan, and most importantly, sports competitions like the Olympic Games.

Even better than genuine sport was Hollywood-scripted sport. The movie version of the Miracle on Ice was better than the real ice hockey game between the USA and the USSR; Rocky Balboa never had a greater opponent than the scary, robotic Ivan Drago in Rocky IV; and Hulk “Real American” Hogan was at his peak spitting on the Soviet flag in front of pro-wrestling’s bad guy Nikolai Volkov.

The man in white represents Switzerland
The man in white represents Switzerland

The Cold War was fantastic for nationalistic sentiment, and sport was the ultimate medium to propagate it.

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Australia has never been the main protagonist in a Cold War. That, in combination with years of successive hot wars in the Middle-East and creeping political correctness, has meant Australia’s greatest foes tend to be one of New Zealand or England – two nations so similar to ours that it’s hard to muster up any real hatred, aside from being slightly irritated by harmless aspects of their culture.

Needless to say, these are not genuine rivalries.

The rugby match was played against a backdrop of simmering resentment between Australia and New Zealand over the correct pronunciation of "fish and chips"
The rugby match was played against a backdrop of simmering resentment between Australia and New Zealand over the correct pronunciation of “fish and chips”

A sporting rivalry is best when the two competitors are fighting for a cause, preferably a national one. In the case of the Cold War, the fight is also between ideals and ideologies on how best to view the society, economy and our ways of life.

Australia needs this new Cold War with Russia. As a relatively young nation that grapples with identity issues, we need a cause. Even more so, we need an out-group, against whom we can define ourselves.

We need to make the Russians the bad guys again.

As a matter of urgency, we should send Anthony Mundine to Russia, maybe Siberia. Not for exile, as some have suggested, but to fight some intimidating, steroid-abusing Russian in a harsh, foreign climate.

Given The Man’s penchant for offending just about everyone he comes in contact with, there is a good chance he will not return home. By doing so, he will become a martyr and a national hero, thus capping off the greatest hero-to-villain-to-hero story arc of the modern age.

Nobody saw this backflip coming
Nobody saw this backflip coming

Anthony Mundine’s heroic demise will be the first shot fired in this internecine Russo-Australian sporting war. Soon the rivalry will consume both countries. Australians will abandon once-favourite sporting pastimes like AFL so they can compete with Russia in judo, weight lifting and bear wrestling. Russia will ramp up its interest in rugby league, giving the game a much-needed international boost.

Our whole social order and culture will be turned upside down in order to confront the Soviet menace. It will be a difficult period for Australia, but we will ultimately benefit from it.

Sport, something which has long since lost its way due to the nefarious influence of money and professionalism, will take on new levels of socio-political meaning.

And that is a good thing.

By Ben Shine

Robbie Farah is Bobby Sands

Bobby Sands was a leader from Northern Ireland during a period of great conflict and uncertainty, otherwise known as the Troubles.

Robbie Farah is a leader from the Wests Tigers during a period of great conflict and uncertainty, otherwise known as Troubling Times in Tigertown.

Many people will think that likening Farah, a rugby league hooker from Leichhardt with Sands, one of the greatest symbols of political martyrdom and bravery of the past century, is a bit of a stretch. It may even be called inappropriate, but hear me out.

Both men fought/are fighting noble causes, with Sands sacrificing his life in pursuit of Irish republicanism, and Farah trying to carry his young Tigers side into the NRL finals for the first time since 2011.

Both men are local heroes. Sands achieved cult-like status for his election to British Parliament, hungerstrike and subsequent death which drew international attention to the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, Farah is a homegrown Tiger junior turned club captain, who helped win the club their first premiership in 2005 and has been the team’s most consistent player for the best part of a decade.

"I know TPA is famous for its obscure analogies, but surely comparing rugby league to a violent conflict which killed thousands is inappropriate?"
“I know TPA is famous for its obscure analogies, but surely comparing rugby league to a violent conflict which killed thousands is inappropriate?”

The similarities may appear trite on first glance, but when you consider the vilification both figures have received in the media, the experiences of Farah and Sands aren’t too dissimilar.

For the past few weeks Robbie Farah has been persecuted in the media in a campaign driven by dark, nefarious forces. He has been used as the fall guy, accused of being the driving force behind a plan to axe the coach or the CEO, or both. Despite consistent denials, Farah is continually blamed by the media for causing instability within the club – while any cursory glance at the facts will show he has done very little to (intentionally) promote disharmony. Rather, he is being used as a pawn in a game being played by people higher up the food chain (note: possibly the rugby league illuminati) to pursue some darker, sinister motive.

Sands faced similar persecution by the British media. He was labelled a criminal and a terrorist and his actions were condemned by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the British/Protestant political class and Fleet Street papers. His hunger strike was reported with astonishment and derision, and his death was celebrated. The Daily Mail accused him of “moral fraud”, the Mirror said “it was a pathetic end for a man” and the Express claimed “Sands will no victory in the grave… the Shadow of Bobby Sands will pass”.

Could this one day be Robbie Farah?
Could this one day be Robbie Farah?

Of course, the papers were wrong. Sands’ shadow did not pass. In anything, his legend grew and his cause was given even greater international attention following his death. Indeed, to this day, Bobby Sands’ face can been seen plastered on murals across Northern Ireland.

In the case of Robbie Farah, the papers are wrong again. He is not a villain. He is a hero that has been reported in the wrong light. And like Bobbie Sands, Robbie Farah’s actions will be vindicated with the passing of time. And when he finally gets his boyhood team to the summit of the NRL top-eight, perhaps one day his face will be found painted on walls across Balmain, Annandale and Rozelle.

By Ben Shine