Monday, December 8, 2008

Mark Latham-Hero or Bully?

In The Howard Years, a man named Mark Latham gave John Howard a weird handshake. I'm not quite sure what was so weird about it; but Howard seemed to imply there was something sinister there.

Mark Latham is a Labor guy. It's kind of a relief to research someone who's political inclinations are closer to my own.

Will this make me like him more than the Howards, Peter Costello, and Pauline Hanson? Or will I end up being disappointed with him?

Let's see.

Who are you, Mark Latham?

Well, Lord Wiki says he's a FORMER politician. I guess politics is now in his past. Or in his past until he decides to come back.

His birthday is 28, February 1961.

Birthdate website time!

Oh! So, far I am totally loving this guy.

He's a Pisces. The Pisces is all about spirituality. I think? Right? I'll go look it up.

This astrology website says they're imaginative, sensitive, compassionate, intuitive, spiritual, and sympathetic. My niece is a Pisces. This sounds a lot like her.

On the dark side, the Pisces is vague, easily led, and secretive. Wow. That also sounds a lot like my niece.

Latham's numerology number is a master one. 11. He has the same number as Therese Rein.

In Chinese Astrology, he's an Ox.

His Native American sign is the wolf.  He better beware of Sarah Palin.

He's Agnostic! I'm so excited to see a politician who's not Christian. I don't really care what the religion (or nonreligion) is. It's just refreshing to see something DIFFERENT.

I'm guessing he's most known as being defeated by John Howard in the 2004 elections--the same year John Kerry was defeated by Bush in the American elections.

Speaking of John Kerry, we just found this awesome video of an interaction between Kerry and Stephen Colbert. It's a rare view of my favorite American celebrity out of character. Ah, sigh. It makes me love even more.

Back to Latham, although I'm sort of wishing Colbert was Australian--just so I could have an excuse to write a whole blog entry about him.

Latham was born in Ashcroft--a suburb in Sydney. Google Maps shows it being pretty far out west. It's even more west than Parramatta, but not near Parramatta because it's more down south.

Lord Wiki says Latham was dux in his high school. I had no idea what that meant, so I looked it up. It's the top student. In America, we call it Valedictorian.

The school he went to was Hurlston Agricultural High School. It's both a boarding school and day school. The location is not far from Ashcroft, so I'm guessing that Latham was probably a day student. The school is coeducational--like Hogwarts! Instead of doing magic, they learn about farm stuff. But they also do regular academics as well.

After Hurlston, he went to the University of Sydney and majored in economics. Lord Wiki says he worked at the Green Valley Hotel for about six weeks. What happened there? Did he quit? Was he fired? Or maybe it was just a holiday job?

Another thing he did around his youthful college days was work as a research assistant for Whitlam.

It seems his first role as political leader was being mayor of the City Council of Liverpool. This was from 1991 to 1994. He was pretty young--only in his early thirties.

Lord Wiki has some financial stuff about Latham's time as mayor. It goes a bit over my head. I guess maybe there was a little controversy.  But it doesn't seem that substantial. Or maybe there wasn't even a controversy. I could be reading it wrong.

In 1994, Latham was elected into House of Representatives. He was elected to the opposition front bench in 1996 when Labor lost the election. That previous sentence is almost fully plagiarized from Lord Wiki. It's hard to put things in your own words when you barely understand them. But I think I'm getting a grasp on the opposition thing. If the Prime Minister is Liberal, than the opposition leader is Labor. Right? And if the Prime Minister is Labor, the opposition leader would be Liberal. I don't think we have that in America. But don't take my word for it.

In 1998, Latham had a dispute with someone named Kim Beazley. This led him to leaving the opposition desk. Wow. Was there a big scene? I'm curious about this Kim Beazley person. I'm going to add her to my list of people to write about. Oh! It's not a she. It's a he.

Sorry about that, Kim.

Latham is a bit outspoken and has some ideas that were controversial in the labor party. He wrote a book about them entitled Civilizing Global Capital: New Thinking for Australian Labor. I'm trying to figure out the general ideas of the book. I'm getting that he's less for welfare and more for small businesses and higher education--well, something like that.

Maybe I'll find out more later.

Latham came up with his own little catch phrase. It's called The Ladder of Opportunity. Latham is referring to the idea of people in lower classes aspiring and working towards being members of higher social classes. It's about upward mobility.

Here's something interesting. John Howard nicknamed Latham Mr Flip-Flop. I think this is the aim that Bush's campaign used against John Kerry. A family member of mine used to send me emails trying to convince me not to vote for Kerry. The emails often used the term flip-flop. What? So, did Howard and Bush get together and decide to both try this tactic?

Howard also brought up things from Latham's past. There was something about Latham...maybe breaking a taxi driver's arm? I wonder if that's true or not.

In the elections, Latham made commitments to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq. Of course, Howard argued against this. This commitment to exit the war was not popular at first in the public eye. Support for Labor decreased. But after the incident of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, Australia's support for the war changed.

It seems there was a lot of American (George W. Bush) involvement in all this--questions of Latham being anti-American. Did Australia want a Prime Minister who kissed Bush's ass? Did they NEED a president that was pro-American?  And by pro-American, I'm pretty sure this means kissing Bush's ass.

Lord Wiki lists some of Latham's ideas that he promoted during the 2004 election. These include:

1. Abolish superannuation schemes for members of parliament. Okay, I had to look that word up. It's like a yearly retirement income. I'm not sure if he wanted to get rid of it all together or just reduce the amount of money that the members received.

2. Parenting classes for those who failed to properly discipline their children. And who decides what's adequate discipline and what's not?

3. Ban on food and drink advertising during children's advertising.

4. Government distribution of free books to families of newborns.

5. Youth mentoring program.

6. Ban on plastic shopping bags. (I like that!)

7. He wanted to make laws that prohibited negative language based on religious beliefs and/or sexual orientation. (I like him for wanting this, but I do question the issue of free speech.).

Howard accused Latham of being a behavioral policeman. His anti-Latham campaign also alleged that Latham once beat up a political rival. Labor went down in the polls, and then went up again when the issue over children being/not being thrown overboard was brought up by Latham's team.

Health issues then intervened. Latham went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Basically, this is inflammation of the pancreas.

Two months later, the Liberal party won.

Okay. Finally. Lord Wiki has the stuff about the infamous handshake. I guess he pulled Howard towards him during the handshake and towered over him. Was he showing off his height? Latham claimed he was trying to get revenge for Howard previously shaking his wife's hand too hard. What is this? War of the handshakes? I wish we could solve all world quarrels like this! Instead of sending young adults off to war, why don't we get all the political leaders of the world together and make them shake hands. They can squeeze too hard, give a limp handshake, stand on their tippy toes so they can appear taller.... The ultimate weapon would be to sneeze into your hand and then offer it to an enemy.

Latham gathered more controversy a few months later when the Tsunami hit. He didn't offer an immediate official show of sympathy. Latham excused himself by saying no words from him would have fixed anything.

He retired from politics soon after all this--putting much of the blame on his health. As if Pancreatitis wasn't enough, he also had testicular cancer.

During his political retirement years, there were more incidences of violence--including fights with a photographer in Hungry Jacks.

It seems Latham is a bit angry and violent. I can relate to the angry part. I have a lot of anger. But I can't relate to the violent part. I don't beat anyone up. I just make myself sick inside. I have a horribly strong mind-body connection.

I feel I've written so much already and I haven't even really left Lord Wiki yet.

Time to do that......

This Anti-War website has an article about the pressure for Latham to take back what he said about withdrawing troops from Iraq. It really makes me sick how they use scare tactics and manipulation. I'm getting ANGRY! But see. I'm not beating anyone up.

I really think that's how Bush won the 2004 election. If you don't vote for me, you're making it easier for terrorists to kill you and your children.

The gist I'm getting from this article is that the American government is telling Australia that if they pull out their troops:

A) the big bad terrorists are going to get you.
B) America isn't going to be your friend anymore.

Crap. This post was supposed to be about something positive. I was hoping to be all full of love for Latham. Instead, I'm feeling all this anger and hatred for Bush.

All right. I'm not sure if I like Latham. But I do love his quote about Howard:

Howard is an arse-licker. He went over there, kissed some bums, and got patted on the head.

I can't disagree with that. I'm getting these quotes from this website.

There's more.

Bush is the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory. But in the memory of dead people, there might be someone much worse.

The website infers that Latham wanted to reinstate corporal punishment in schools. Yikes. But the website also says he later changed his mind. Well, I guess that's good.

He called a disabled person deformed. I'm guessing he was saying that as an insult. One of my numerous pet-peeves is when someone is angry at someone and insults them with something that really has nothing to do with the conflict. The most common one I hear probably is in regards to weight. Someone is angry at someone so they make comments about them being fat. Or even the opposite. Instead of saying something like that irrational woman said something that was cruel and hurt my feelings, people say that fat bitch or that skinny bitch.

Here's an article about Latham's plans to ban plastic bags. When we were in Sydney, we noticed a lot of people using reusable bags. I loved that. We bought some of these bags and I pretty much never use disposable bags anymore. The sad thing is I've never seen anyone except myself (And Tim) doing this. Almost every store, SELLS the disposable bags. But I never see anyone using them. I wish they would start charging people to use plastic or paper bags--and I'm not talking five to ten cents. I think they should charge a dollar a bag. That would be awesome. I think that would definitely inspire people to make some changes.

Here's an ABC interview with Latham where he defends his little scuffle with the taxi driver. He doesn't quite defend or explain his use of the word deformed. I'm looking for something about that. All right. Here's something. This short article says Latham refused to apologize about the remark because when he used the term deformed, he wasn't referring to his opponent's physical disabilities. Yeah. I don't know. I might be able to buy it. Well, probably not. Deformed is not really a usual insult we throw at others. It might be different in Australia? Or maybe I'd buy it if the injuries were less obvious. My gut feeling is he fought dirty and then later tried to change the meaning of it all.

Latham said in a later interview. He is deformed in his views, he is deformed in his views because he's in the garbage bin of Australian politics.

Maybe the word deformed is used in this context in Australia. Then I can imagine maybe Latham wasn't been a total jerk. I don't know.

Here's a short article about the return to corporal punishment thing. I'm surprised it's true. I thought maybe that had been a kind of joke. I know this is probably stereotyping, but I'm surprised to see this type of viewpoint coming from a guy on the left. It's something I more expect to see from people on the right.

I'm not sure how I feel about Latham. He's a bit too explosive for my taste. I've learned in my personal life that just because someone has the same political beliefs as you, it doesn't mean you're going to like them.

Yeah. I guess that's it. I'm not much of a Latham fan--even though he's a Pisces.