TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

A Liberal and Truly Intersectional Feminism, no GLIF

Only Liberal Feminism is Truly Intersectional Feminism. Learn more here.
Both the Ideas Lab and The TaraElla Show aim to advance liberal intersectional feminism.
To learn more about how other 'intersectional' feminists are doing it wrong, read The Disappointment of G.L.I.F.

More Music
More new work will be added to the catalog of TaraElla's Music.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I Endorse Hillary Clinton for US President

Firstly, I must say that I'm not American. So feel free to ignore what I say.

But for next week's presidential elections, I am endorsing Hillary Clinton.

I'm not saying that she is the perfect choice, but for me she was the best among all the candidates, even at the beginning of the year, before the field was narrowed down to two. This is because, among all the candidates running for the two main parties, Hillary seems to be the only person who has any respect for the idea of liberty. She's not religious right, isolationist, ultra nationalist, or anti economic freedom. And that makes her the most qualified candidate, in my opinion.

Of course, this is just my view. You are welcome to disagree, respectfully.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

J.K. Rowling Enters the Anti-Homophobia Conversation Again

J.K. Rowling's outspokeness about homophobia continues. Recently, when the organisation Christian Voice attempted to link British olympic diver Tom Daley's performance to his sexual orientation in a twitter post, she defended him, predictably causing waves on social media.

Homophobia is sad, but unfortunately it is still a fact of life. While I believe society should embrace freedom of speech, it is also imperative that people with certain moral stances use their freedom of speech to promote their values. We should all follow Rowling's example here, and use our voice to improve society whenever we can. It's a responsibility we all have.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

So Better Midler is a Bigot Now? When PC Goes Too Far, Again.

Bette Midler, of all people, would be the last to be accused of bigotry, you would think. But apparently, in the age of the social justice warriors, she, too has become the latest victim of the witch hunt.

It all started when Bette posted on twitter comments about Caitlyn Jenner, suggesting now that I Am Cait is over, perhaps Caitlyn may become Bruce again. Surely insensitive, but I'm sure it was meant to be tongue in cheek. Predictably, accusations of transphobia poured in, and Midler soon apologised. But even that was not enough. Because Bette wrote that she had misread the 'temper of the times' in her apology, the SJWs thought that she needed another lesson, regarding the 'fact' that she thought it would be okay to be transphobic in other times. Of course transphobia is never okay. But this SJW-type response is certainly a feature of the 'temper of the times'!

Not that the SJW crowd like Caitlyn Jenner either, remember. Her Republican party affiliation is an eyesore to most of them, since they apparently believe that all minorities should be leftist. As if being a minority should take away your political choice.

Not only totally ridiculous, but also totally sad. Social justice surely doesn't get achieved this way.

Let me suggest a better way. How about, just educate? Maybe we should have told Bette Midler that what she said was insensitive to trans people. And she would have gotten it, I believe. Much easier, much less divisive, and much more effective indeed.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne: Dating women but no 'labels'. A new era of equality?

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne have become two of the latest celebrities to be openly dating women, but opting not to put a label on their relationships status or their sexual orientation.

In the past, people would have expected those dating the same sex to 'come out as gay'. But times appear to be changing. And it may just be another step towards equality. I mean, those dating the opposite sex don't have to 'come out as heterosexual' or describe their relationship as a 'heterosexual relationship'. It may be described as such by other people, but the couple themselves don't have to actively own the term, or identify with it. So why should there even be an expectation that people 'come out as gay' if they want to date someone of the same sex?

Download the full song here.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jared Leto speaks up about Hollywood's discrimination problem. But it may be difficult to fix.

Jared Leto may be one of Hollywood's most successful actors today, but he's not blind to the fact that some people still have more opportunities than others in the industry. He recently spoke out about the fact that Hollywood remains a conservative business, where people from minority groups would not have the same level of opportunities as he had.

Jared should be congratulated for speaking up. But I don't think this is something that can easily be fixed. Hollywood is, after all, a business that wants to make money, and to make money from selling movies to large audiences, appealing to mainstream tastes, including having characters that the majority can readily identify with, just makes business sense. The number of characters who are from minority ethnic groups, who are LGBT, or who are disabled would generally have to be limited. It would then follow naturally that minorities would have fewer chances in the movie industry.

This is really a problem with mass media in general. Mass media has to appeal to many, many people at once to achieve enough audience to make enough profits to offset the huge costs involved, which means it generally has to go for a more 'common' appeal. On the other hand, 'narrowcasting' on the internet is not bound by such restrictions. That is why people from minority groups have more readily found success as independent cultural icons in the age of the internet. And ultimately, this is why we should be happy that the mass media can't dominate our culture as much as it used to.

Download the full song here.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Clint Eastwood blasts PC 'Pussy Generation'. I think he has a point.

Clint Eastwood recently added to the already very loud chorus of voices against political correctness, blasting what he calls the 'pussy generation'. He also said that he would vote for Donald Trump in November.

While I don't think that voting for Trump is the wisest decision, I have to thank Clint for adding to the opposition to political correctness. For somebody like myself, political correctness is a detriment to the improvement of society, including in the campaigns to solve the problems of racism, sexism and homophobia. It's like, if you disagree with someone, just state your case. Free speech means debate, and debate means real progress. Shutting down useful debate isn't helpful to anyone.

While anti-PC used to be a mainly conservative concern back in the 1980s, nowadays it's one of the few things that unite conservatives, libertarians and progressives (including President Obama) alike, even if for different reasons. We may want PC gone for vastly different, even opposing, reasons, but it's clear that a building majority of us want our freedom of speech back.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Some Berners are still Bernie or Bust. Maybe they just don't understand how history works.

I hate to break it to the remaining 'Bernie or Bust' people: Bernie Sanders definitely won't be president next year, but either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will. And if you don't want to be part of the decision making, then other people will make the decision for you. (I'm also guessing that, if it's the Donald, they won't like it very much.)

Berners may have taken the recent 'victory' of Hillary Clinton as their 'defeat', and some have taken it very personally. But nothing in politics should be taken personally, or the consquences may be quite unpalatable (for those who are interested, you can look up the 'fight' between former Australian Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and how that all ended). Besides, it's not like Berners and Bernie 'lost' everything. They brought important ideas and conversations to the table, ideas which will have some influence on a future Clinton administration, ideas that may even change the Democratic Party forever. Although I didn't support Sanders, I acknowledge he had some great ideas, and the Democrats' plaform has become stronger in considering these ideas.

Which brings me to my next point. History and change work incrementally. I, too, believe in universally available public health care insurance, but it needs to happen gradually, like everything else. Same with a higher minimum wage. Some change leads to more change. So it's always good to take whatever 'some change' that is available, rather than to just take the 'moral high ground' and walk away from any prospect of change. (Or should I say, walk towards the prospect of the repeal of even the modest progress we have, under an administration who believes in things like that health care is a privilege.)

p.s. the last paragraph also speak to the far-left in Australia, who are proposing to block the marriage equality plebiscite even if it means waiting 3-6 more years for marriage equality. Guess what? Not only do we not know what political climate we will be in at that time, many people who have been waiting their whole lives for this change may not even live that long to see it. Talk about dressing up selfishness as moral purity.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher remind us that Weddings don't have to be Expensive

It has recently been revealed that Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher got their wedding bands at Etsy, for just $90 and $100 respectively.

People have been complaining about how weddings have become too expensive, even putting them off for years as a result. But all that is required is actually commitment. Maybe this will remind people that, there's no shame in not choosing the most expensive wedding. If rich people like these two can 'go cheap', it's no shame for everyone else to do so either.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Karl Stefanovic, Sonia Kruger, and the Marriage Equality Plebiscite: Sometimes, we just need to have the conversation

Australian morning television show host Karl Stefanovic recently made some transphobic jokes on air. Unsurprisingly in the current cultural climate, he got into major trouble almost immediately. He has since apologised for those 'jokes', and promised that it would never happen again.

Also unsurprisingly, the social justice warriors (SJWs) got into full battle-mode over this incident, as if that would be helpful. This episode comes just weeks after another Australian TV host Sonia Kruger voiced opinions against muslim immigration on air, over which the SJWs also reacted in a very similar way. (I don't have firm statistics, but my impression is that Australia seems to have more SJWs than the US per capita.)

But I actually think it's good that these people said what they wanted to say, and it triggered a reaction in society, causing people to discuss the associated issues. Transphobia and Islamophobia are of course things we should 'fight' against. But I believe we should 'fight' these things in the classic (small-l) liberal way: over society-wide conversations, winning people over with reason. These two incidents have caused society-wide discussion on these important issues, and provided an opportunity for true liberals like myself to offer our alternative viewpoints. In the case of Stefanovic, he has already been enlightened, and has sincerely apologised. That's surely a win for reason.

On the other hand, SJW type behaviour only serves to muddy the picture, making it look like a big fight between two opposing sides, from an outsider's perspective. This means we cannot have those conversations properly, and we cannot inject reason into the debate properly. It also means many people, wanting to be 'neutral', will just stand between the 'two sides' if asked for an opinion. Clearly not an ideal outcome.

Australia is most likely to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in the first half of next year. I will, of course, be voting yes. I believe the side of reason will win the debate. But it's crucial that SJWs don't ruin it, or people like myself will have to make sure they wear the blame for delaying marriage equality for another decade. (The fact that some are already saying they will 'boycott' the plebiscite is making me worried. That's not how a responsible citizen in a democracy acts, right?)

p.s. some may wonder why a Labor voter like myself would support the plebiscite. But if you look at all the major polls, the majority of voters for all three parties support the plebiscite (about 70% of Labor and Coalition voters and about 60% of Green voters). I think Labor and the Greens should just listen to their voters and stop delaying the inevitable.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why it's Big News that Sia becomes the First Woman Over 40 to top the Billboard Hot 100 since 2000 (And Why it Shouldn't Be)

It's official. Australian singer Sia has grabbed herself a Billboard Hot 100 chart topper with Cheap Thrills. And it has not gone unnoticed that she is actually the first woman over 40 to do so, since Madonna topped the charts in 2000. That's 16 years!

In fact, it highlights how ageist the music industry is. In every other walk of life (except maybe sports), 40-years-old is not considered old. In fact, it is an age many would consider way too young to be a CEO of a major corporation or the President or Prime Minister of a country. And unlike in sports, it's not like people can't sing as well after 40, right? And then there's the sexism. People have pointed out that plenty of men over 40 have had number one hits. Just not the women.

It's a thing we must fight to change. We should make our disgust over this situation heard loud and clear. And we should actively support female musicians over 35, especially those new to the industry, whenever we can.

On the other hand, there may be hope that things are finally changing, at least slowly. Rachel Platten got her first top ten hit last year at the age of 34, something that would be an anomaly not so long ago. The year before, Idina Menzel got her first top five hit at age 42. Hollywood itself is also less ageist-sexist than just a decade ago, with over-40 female celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez still in high demand. But it wouldn't be enough, in my opinion, until the median age of entertainment industry icons rises to about 45, as in most other professions.

Related: Idina Menzel - Let It Go (cover/parody)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How Hillary Clinton can Really Make History this year

After losing out to Obama eight years ago, Hillary Clinton has finally got what she was perhaps waiting for for decades, i.e. the nomination of the Democratic Party for the election of US President. And as she is the first woman ever to receive this honor, much has been made about her 'making history'.

Of course, this is literally history in the making, like all great firsts. But the real prizes in history are not just for being the 'first woman' or the 'first' whatever. The real prizes in history come to those who have made a big difference. For example, Barack Obama may have come to office most notably as the 'first black President', but he will leave office being remembered for much more.

If Hillary is to 'make a difference', she should start with her campaign. After all, a successful campaign supplies the winner with a strong mandate, and sets the tone for their government. And I believe Hillary should start with the fact that she is a uniter, not a divider. In a campaign where her opponent is perhaps the most divisive candidate of all time, I believe the message of unity and a government that looks after all citizens equally would strike a chord.

There has also been much said about whether her economic message should be based around the continuation of the successes of the Obama years, or a more radical Sanders-like message. But in reality, this is a false dichotomy. Good economic governance and acknowledging the fact that many Americans are currently struggling and the government should step in to help are not incompatible. Just like supporting free trade and supporting welfare for those who really need it are not incompatible. (By the way, I think she should support the TPP. Again, it's not incompatible with better health care or a higher minimum wage.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Is President Barack Obama a Muslim? Of course not, but even Question is Sinister.

The question of whether US President Barack Obama is a muslim has been around like forever. Recently, it raised its ugly head again, when one of the speakers at the Republican National Convention was reported to state that he was certain that this silly myth was true. Some commentators pointed to the fact that, as more than 40% of Republican voters also believed this myth, it shouldn't be surprising that at least one speaker at their convention would share this belief.

Of course we know it's not true. We know that Obama is, and has always been, a devout Christian.

But what if he were indeed muslim. Would it matter? Why would it, as long as he is an effective President? The question of whether the President is a muslim, besides being ridiculous, is a very sinister one, as it implies that a muslim would be unfit to be president.

I think this reflects the relatively narrow-minded attitudes of Americans (sorry), compared to even other countries of similar culture. For example, there are plenty of muslim members of parliament in both the UK and Australia, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. Perhaps it's time Americans reconsidered their stance.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chilcot Report Vindicates Us who were Anti Iraq War. But where to next?

The British government's Chilcot Report, which found that there was inadequate justification for the War in Iraq, vindicated those of us who were bitterly opposed to the war back in 2003. It has taken almost half my lifetime so far for this taste of 'justice' I've been waiting for since I was 16, and it surely feels good.

But the question is, what should happen from here on? Some British commentators say that Blair could be sued for the war. But if he alone faced trial, that would be unfair, especially when it was Bush who started it. Australian indepdent MP Andrew Wilkie called for Bush, Blair and Howard to be all trialled in an international court. Sounds great to me, but I know it's not going to happen.

Most likely of all, Bush, Blair and Howard will not pay any price for the war at all. The chance to make them pay has gone. The chance was there back in 2004-5, when all three faced elections. But all three were returned by electorates which, in my opinion, were not interested in justice. Now it's too late.

p.s. The biggest injustice, in my opinion, is that Howard is now commonly regarded as Australia's most popular PM in recent history. Australians, please wake up!

Download the full song here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Now Up To Libertarian and Moderate Republicans to Stop Trump, if they want to

So it's official. Several days ago Donald Trump became the Republican nominee, and by and large the GOP has embraced him, even with his problematic platform. It appears that winning office and defeating Hillary Clinton is more important than small government and individual liberty for them.

Many libertarians and moderate Republicans must be quite upset right now. But the truth is, now they hold the key to stop Trump from actually taking over their party. If Trump doesn't win in November, his 'takeover' of the party is over instantly.

The question is, can enough of them bring themselves to vote Democratic for once? Even if the candidate is Hillary Clinton? Time will tell, but I think at least some of them will. I would, if I were in their position.

Adele - Hello (cover/parody)

Download the full song here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hillary Clinton will soon pick a VP. Should she Go Left? I don't think so.

Hillary Clinton may announce her pick for vice president as soon as Friday. Some commentators are saying that she should pick someone to her left, for example Elizabeth Warren. I disagree.

Right now, with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, there are many Republicans who feel they have nowhere to go this election. I think many people who believe in the concept of freedom, even if they are economically on the right, would not be able to bring themselves to support Trump. So if Clinton offers a more centrist VP, a uniter rather than a divider, many such people may in fact come to her in November. Running with a leftist VP would force many of these Republicans to embrace Trump.

Those calling for Hillary to go left for VP are worried that her own 'business as usual' approach is not exciting enough for people to support her sufficiently. But a politician can be not 'business as usual' while still being close to the center. President Barack Obama himself is a good example. Overseas, former British prime minister David Cameron and Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten are also good examples from the center-right and center-left respectively.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

For Marriage Equality's Sake: Why it's Good that the UK Won't Have a Second Brexit Vote

British Parliament has rejected a petition calling for a re-run of the Brexit referendum, and both Prime Ministerial candidates have insisted that Brexit will go ahead. Whilst some Remain supports are dismayed, I believe this is the only right decision, and I congratulate Theresa May in particular for sticking to the right decision, despite her personal support for Remain.

The principle is that, once a referendum is run, governments ought to abide by the result, and without unnecessary delay. Anything less would be insulting to the idea of democracy. Whilst Remain supporters are welcome to continue to build their case for a future referendum to rejoin the EU one day, the referendum that has come to pass must be put into practice. Some Remain supporters cite the low turnout and the close margin as reasons for a re-run, however, as everyone is free to turn up or not, and the UK has never had compulsory voting, these are clearly not valid reasons to challenge the result.

Remain supporters may believe they should try anything to save their cause, but if they do so, it would legitimise similar attempts by other groups regarding other causes, even in other countries. Already, in Australia, some conservative MPs have signalled ways they may choose not to respect the national results of the upcoming marriage equality plebiscite. Any attempt in the UK to circumvent the Brexit vote would certainly embolden these people.

Governments finding ways to ignore results of popular votes have dangerous precedent setting consequences, and should not be ever attempted.

Download the full song here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Supreme Court's ruling on Texas's Abortion Laws: It's Only Fair

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision to strike down Texas's abortion laws, specifically those laws which creates overly burdensome requirements on abortion clinics to operate, has generated a fair bit of controversy over the last few weeks. As someone who is 'pro-choice but personally opposed' (or 'pro-life but anti criminalisation), let me offer my perspective.

As SCOTUS has decided that abortion is to be legal in all 50 states, this remains the law of the land. Consequently, any attempts to circumvent this situation ought to be illegal, or any right guaranteed by SCOTUS can be similarly circumvented (including marriage equality, for example). Therefore, this ruling is very fair, and I hope no other state attempts something similar ever again thereby wasting SCOTUS's time.

If someone feels strongly about reducing abortions, they can provide counselling services, and spread the word. But what they cannot do is to be tricky with the law, preventing access to what is considered a protected right, no matter how passionate they are about it. Being tricky with the law only serves to erode public trust in the law, I believe.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The UK's Second Female Prime Minister: Theresa May vs Andrea Leadsom: History Made?

The candidates for the next British Prime Minister are down to Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, which means the UK will definitely have its second female PM. Many have hailed this as history in the making.

Personally, I'm not so sure. For a Prime Minister, I believe someone's policies is much more important than their gender. And even the staunchest feminists would have to agree with me here, to a point. I'm sure many wouldn't want to vote for candidates like Hanson in Australia or Le Pen in France.

David Cameron has been a great Prime Minister and his record will be hard to match. These are big shoes to fill. Good luck to whoever wins.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Tale of Three Parties: Shorten Labor vs Corbyn Labour, and what Hillary and Bernie supporters can learn

(While this piece is regarding three leftist parties, rightist parties can equally benefit from this lesson, I believe)

The British Labour Party is in deep crisis. Jeremy Corbyn won't step down as leader despite most of his MPs wanting him to go, and even if he faces an actual challenge, he may prevail, making the whole situation unworkable. The controversies over foreign policy won't just go away, even as most domestic voters really don't care. They can't even decide if Tony Blair is a hero or a villain. Nobody is expecting them to win in 2020.

The Australian Labor Party, on the other hand, is much happier. Bill Shorten may not be PM yet, but, in his own words, 'Labor is back'. Analysts on both sides have suggested that Labor has a good chance at the next election, due in 2019, on the back of their strong performance this year. Obviously, there is no leadership controversy there. Shorten was warmly welcomed by his MPs, and was re-elected unopposed as leader.

Why the big difference? Whilst Australian Labor has been focussed on addressing what people really want and focussing the message on what people care about, such as health care, education and marriage equality, British Labour seems to have lost focus, fighting over issues that matter only to the political elite. Whilst Australian Labor is clearly united, British Labour is clearly not. Most people don't want to elect a divided government, no matter what they stand for.

Whilst the picture is clear for both Australian Labor and British Labour, their US counterparts could really go either way now. Hillary Clinton may have won the Democratic nomination, but many Bernie Sanders supporters still hate her. The fate of the US Democrats, and whether Clinton or Trump would be the next US president, may rest largely on the choice of Bernie's supporters.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ruby Rose Suggested Trump and Hanson may be the Same Person. Whilst that's not true, she may have a point.

Ruby Rose recently joked on twitter that Pauline Hanson, leader of Australia's right-wing One Nation party, may in fact be Donald Trump in drag. Whilst some have quickly dismissed this as a joke in bad taste, I actually think she may have a point there.

Whilst Trump and Hanson are clearly two different people, there is, I believe, substantial overlap in the policies they represent and the type of people who would vote for them. Moreover, I would even suggest that Britain's UKIP and France's National Front may belong in the same basket. The theme is the same: what's on offer is a mixture of nationalism, anti-multiculturalism, and old fashioned protectionist policies. These policies may be rejected by both urban intellectuals and most young people in general, but there's clearly a market for this type of thinking, be it in the US, Europe or Australia.

As a liberal and committed multiculturalist, I do find it alarming. However, I believe we must go back to basics and understand and seriously deal with this phenomenon. In Australia, there have already been opinion pieces written suggesting that the return of Pauline Hanson may be related to real unfairness and structural disadvantage parts of the population are experiencing due to changed economic conditions since the 1980s. If the US Democrats are to win against Trump, I suggest they better examine their economic policies in this light. Whilst I am a supporter of free markets and free trade, you can't expect any type of economic liberalism to be sustainable if it hurts people's actual liberties, by making their livelihood difficult.

Download the full song here.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Brexit now, Donald Trump next? Is the world going mad? Is there a solution?

A lot of my friends are really despairing the Brexit decision. Not just because of economic implications, but because they think the 'racists' have won. And now, they live in fear that the 'racists' will win the White House for Donald Trump too.

Whilst I can empathize, I really have to disagree with their assessment. It was probably true that some people who voted leave were racist, but I'm sure the majority had other reasons. Not wanting another layer of government control was a major reason for supporting Leave, to my knowledge.

Which brings me back to Donald Trump. I have already said that I would prefer Clinton winning, but let me also say this: to my knowledge, some people are supporting Trump not necessarily because they agree with what he says, but because they are sick of political correctness. And whilst I wouldn't do this, I can empathize here too. Especially in recent years, political correctness has gone mad, and this is pushing many people further and further into the right. I know those 'social justice warriors' probably mean well, but their actions have only been to the detriment of the very people they wish to help, in my opinion. I would even go so far as to say, were Donald Trump to win in November, the recent rise of SJWs would have been a major factor.

I'm all for changing the world, ridding it of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, but we need to uphold the freedom of speech and conscience, first and foremost. It was the freedom of speech that let us begin on the path to correct the aforementioned injustices historically, and it will be free and honest conversations that will win people over in any cultural campaign. Western society has done comparatively well in ridding these injustices, precisely due to a long standing history of freedom of speech and conscience. In many other cultures, the expectation of social conformity has meant that the process couldn't even be started.

I believe that the treatment of racial minorities in many countries needs to be improved. I believe that there still needs to be much cultural change towards full gender equality. I believe in the absolute equal treatment of individuals and couples irregardless of their sexuality. And I believe that whatever gender identity people present as, their truth is the truth, and is the only truth. For me, these are all logical positions I hold based on logical reasoning, some which I only acquired through the course of life, after re-examining each viewpoint again and again. If you debate something openly and long enough, the truth will win. There is no need for taboos and political correctness, which will only serve to prevent the conversations that will change people.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

J.K. Rowling Wishes she could use Magic to Undo Brexit. Is it really this scary?

J.K. Rowling has recently said she wish she could use magic to undo the UK's recent vote to leave the European Union.

It seems that everyone is so scared of what's going to happen, now that Brexit has become 'reality'. It has even become a major theme in the AUSTRALIAN election, half a world away. But the truth is that, it was just a vote. Some Brits thought it would be a good idea to leave the EU, and now that they have proven a majority agrees with them, their vision will proceed. Had the vote been the other way around, their vision would not proceed. It's just how democracy, the 'collective expression of liberty', is done. It's a decision that's done, you may not like the results, but it won't be life changing for 99% of us. So please don't help the scare campaign along.

And the world is more resiliant than this, really. Life will move on, and the economy will adjust, but will soon find its feet. Indeed, the markets are already recovering.

There's now also talk that Trump may win in November just because there was a shock result in Brexit. That's nonsense. The likelihood of Trump winning or not has not changed as a result of a very separate event. One surprise does not increase the likelihood of another surprise. Get logical, people!

Download the full song here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Vanessa Hudgens wore a Dream Catcher, Now She's In Trouble (Not again?)

Vanessa Hudgens recently wore a dream catcher in her hair. And predictably enough, accusations that she was 'appropriating native American culture' came flying. Apart from the fact that Vanessa is actually part native American, the 'cultural appropriation' idea is getting really old, isn't it?

People being able to follow their dreams in whatever way is the CORE of the Princess's Spirit, and that extends to every little thing in life, I believe. Therefore, I have a very basic view that people should be able to do, say and believe whatever they want to, unless it physically hurts another or takes away from the freedom of another.

All this 'cultural appropriation' stuff really is political correctness gone mad. I am all for decency and politeness in society, and I definitely do more than my part in combating racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. People who read my stuff know it. However, political correctness is poison for freedom, and we should not embrace it.

Download the full song here.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lindsay Lohan's Tweets About Brexit Set a Good Example

During the Brexit vote, Lindsay Lohan surprisingly emerged as one of the most popular 'political correspondents', tweeting in support of the campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union. (Yes, she's not just a party girl anymore. People DO grow up, you see.)

Whilst I did not agree with everything she said, I very much applaud her for what she did.

A lot of celebrities don't dare to speak up about numerous issues, fearing it would lose them fans. But this traps all of us in a cycle of expecting our favourite celebrities to always agree with us, which further serves to increase the pressure against celebrities speaking up.

So did Lindsay lose any Leave camp fans? Possibly. But I do know that quite a few Leave supporters agree with my assesssment that what she did was valuable. So maybe that made up for it.

Anyway, thanks Lindsay.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm Endorsing Bill Shorten for Prime Minister of Australia

I'm Endorsing Bill Shorten for Prime Minister of Australia
In the upcoming Australian election, I am putting my endorsement behind Bill Shorten and his Labor team.

I know this means I'm endoring Labor again, like 3 years ago. But trust me, the decision has been harder to make, with Malcolm Turnbull, a 'thoroughly liberal' Prime Minister on offer, instead of Tony Abbott.

Despite what some people say, Abbott and Turnbull are miles apart. I also don't think there is evidence that Turnbull has sold out on anything. He remains the best leader of the Liberal Party ever, in my opinion, because he's a small government liberal, not a big government conservative. My socialist friends used to love him and now they hate him, but they just never understood the man. His strong support for marriage equality is also something I thank him for. Truth to be told, I prefer Turnbull to ALL of the alternatives on offer this year in the US. If the choices were Turnbull, Clinton, Sanders, Trump and Cruz, I would have picked Turnbull without even needing to think.

On the other hand, Shorten is also one of the best leaders Labor has ever had. He has re-united the party, stared down the conservative wing's resistence on marriage equality, made a compelling case to support Labor's policies, and provided the bravest set of policies any opposition leader has come up with in living memory. And all that in just three years. His effective opposition was also a major reason why we managed to get rid of Tony Abbott, Australia's worst PM ever in my opinion, in just two years. If we had another opposition leader, Abbott may still be PM and cruising to a second term.

So we have two of the best leaders. But in the end, for me, it comes down to priorities. Turnbull offers company tax cuts but it will come with cuts to health and education. Shorten believes that this prioritization is wrong, and he has pledged to maintain bulk billing and affordable university degrees. I agree with him here. I surely do agree with company tax cuts, in the longer term, but in the light of Australia's major budget deficit, it will have to wait, especially as the economic benefits will be limited in the short term. However, health and education programs cannot just be sacrificed, as people need them right now.

In addition, whilst the big-L Liberal party is called that name, my small-l liberal conscience does not automatically have to agree with them. In a recent interview shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has made a strong case why Labor's policies fit better with actual small-l liberalism, and in light of the above prioritization, I wholeheartedly agree.

So that's it, I'm backing Shorten.

p.s. it's a tight election and the polls are predicting a Turnbull win at this stage. If that is the case, I urge the Labor party to keep Shorten as leader for at least the next three years. Given how well he's performed, if he's replaced as leader, I don't think that's fair, and therefore it would be hard for me to support that new leader, whoever it might be.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The rise of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn - Does it really mean people are dissatisfied?

The recent rise of 'outsider' politicians with radically different agendas to what we're used to has raised discussions in many quarters as to whether people have become very dissatisfied with the world we are living in.

I think the answer is 'yes'. People feel like their politicians are not reflecting their beliefs, that their democracy is 'broken', and that they don't have the true freedom to be who they want to be in life. They feel like the ability to get ahead in life is no longer there. People everywhere are feeling this, from twenty-somethings in quarter life crises to older adults who have been made redundant and yet cannot afford retirement. They also feel like the decisions about our future is not being made by them, that they are not being listened to by the political class. In other words, representative democracy has become unrepresentative.

Whilst I can understand why people are looking to the likes of Trump, Sanders and Corbyn, I also believe that they are not the answer. Not that any politician is, anyway.

I believe we need to fix our system, badly. For example, there should be more emphasis on liberty, and politicians on all sides should be focussing on the concept of liberty and 'living together' in a liberal society. Representative democracy should also be supplemented by an increased use of direct democracy in the form of regular plebiscites or referrenda, in my opinion. A decisive victory for climate action at the ballot box will stop any further protesting from corporate interests, for example.

Furthermore, it's dangerous to look to our politicians to solve everything. We need to remember that not everything needs to be done by the government, and that non-governmental solutions are often better. Inspiring people, lifting people up from a feeling of helplessness, is a collective responsibility, for example. Governments cannot do that. Speaking up against those forces which are making people feel oppressed, which is clearly not limited to our governments, is also a collective responsibility. Only broad-based discussion and consensus in society will push those forces back. Finally, changing the culture so that 'outsiders' are not excluded anymore, including but not limited to combating racism, sexism, homophobia and disability discrimination, is something we all need to do, together.