Bleats

Five OS Political Garbage Fires That'll Make You Scoff That Democracy Sausage With Pride

We got it pretty sweet here, really.

You know, it’s easy to get cynical about politics here in Australia – not least when our PM is making deals to help the US president fight his political enemies, or downplay the climate change which is already affecting Australia.

But you know what? We have it incredibly good compared to a lot of countries. For one thing, we get democracy sausages.

GOAT’s editor can back this claim up.

And for another, we’re not these countries:

1. The United States

The unfolding mess in the US is hard to sum up, but in a nutshell: evidence that Donald Trump tied defence aid to Ukraine to them doing him favours in uncovering (seemingly nonexistent) dirt on the son of likely Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has led to an almost inevitable impeachment by the Congress.

That, as we’ve explained, doesn’t mean that Trump will actually be removed from office (since the Republicans control the senate it’s definitely not going to happen unless the party turns on its president in an implausibly unprecedented way) but the scandal and Trump’s near-hysterical response is helping turn public sentiment against him, and the next US election is in just over a year and the campaigning has already begun.

To be fair, at least his failure to build the wall means he can campaign on it again.

Given that Trump’s always seemed to be immune to serious consequences, and that he’s now gleefully tweeting what looks horribly like incitement to civil war if he’s defeated at the polls, it’s hard to know what would be better: being stuck with him for another four years, or trying to reunite a riven country afterwards.

2. The United Kingdom

Hoo boy. So, as with certain other nations with “United” in the title, prime minister Boris Johnson was elevated to power on the grounds that he promised to do things which no-one else could do, and then proved exactly as unable to do them.

In Johnson’s case it was to get the European Union to make a killer deal with Britain which would make Brexit go smoothly and profitably and not be a complete clusterhump of a nightmare of a dumpster fire.

And while no new deal has emerged, and nor is there any reasonable sign of one appearing in the three weeks before Brexit is meant to occur, Johnson has managed to fracture his government with mass resignations and defections (including that of his own brother), divide his party and utterly fail to bring the EU to the negotiating table.

The man certainly knows his bull.

Oh, and he was found to have acted illegally in suspending parliament, so that’s a thing.

So bad has it gotten that all the other parties and a solid slab of Johnson’s fellow Conservatives in parliament are floating the possibility of forming an alternative government purely in order to postpone Brexit again, which may or may not be an option, in order to hold another election which may or may not also include a second go at that Brexit referendum.

After all, the first time went so well!

3. Hong Kong

Hong Kong used to belong to Britain, but when the UK handed it “back” to China in 1997 it was inevitable that the “one country, two systems” policy under which it operated – an independent judiciary, freedom of speech, religion and movement, non-state capitalism and so on – was going to cause some friction.

The current tensions began over the idea of Hong Kong holding democratic elections, which were a feature outlined in the handover document but have been ignored up until now, and the pro-democracy “umbrella movement” have been active for several years.

Admit it, you thought it too.

However, when Hong Kong’s chief executive announced that the government would start extraditing people to mainland China rather than trying them in HK, that started the city-choking demonstrations which have now been running since July.

Lam has withdrawn the bill, but the protestors’ demands have moved on to investigations into police violence and broader electoral reform – which Beijing seems unlikely to allow. Which might explain the military build up just outside HK’s borders.

4. Indonesia

Jakarta is now in its second week of protests by students who are furious at restrictive proposed changes to the criminal code (including that ban on extramarital sex which has got Bali tourists worried) and attempts to water down the powers of the  Corruption Eradication Commission.

Even their gifs are corrupted!

It’s part of the hardline agenda of the recently re-elected president Joko Widodo, who is currently attempting to placate his own government while claiming that the student protests are motivated by his political rivals.

The problem is that things are escalating, with deaths reported from protests in West Papua and fears that the increasingly heavy handed policing might lead to a repeat of the 1998 riots. not least, in Widodo’s eyes, because that contributed to the removal of President Suharto from power.

5. Peru

The nation doesn’t currently have a functioning government as President Martín Vizcarra has just suspended parliament altogether. And, again, it’s about corruption.

Peru has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals which have tainted the terms of the last three presidents, and Vizcarra promised reform – which has, he insists, been rejected by parliament, along with a call for a snap election.

Not this kind of snap.

The congress, for their part (which are controlled by Vizcarra’s opponents) , voted to suspend him and replace him with vice-president Mercedes Aráoz , but were told that since parliament had been suspended the vote was invalid.

There are pro- and anti-Vizcarra mobs gathering in Lima and concerns that things are about to kick off.

Really, they should all follow Australia’s lead. Less drama, more sausage, better outcomes. That’s what we’re about.

Aston Kutcher And Mila Kunis Are Now Entangled In The Trump-Ukraine Scandal

This story just keeps getting weirder.

If you’ve been confused so far by the whole ongoing clusterhump that is US president [checks notes] Donald Trump’s apparent attempt to extort Ukraine into digging up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, then here’s some news: two stars of That 70s Show – Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher – are now tangentially involved.

And if you’re a reasonable human being you’re thinking “sorry, what?”

Kutcher and Kunis met as co-stars and then later reconnected and ended up falling in lurve, getting married and making two fresh humans. That bit you most likely know.

Kunis was born in Ukraine but her family emigrated to the US when she was a child and Ukraine was still part of the USSR. Her family still pop back every so often in these less-repressive times.

The current president of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky – the chap who Trump reportedly threatened to withhold aid from if he didn’t do some investigation of the Bidens.

And his elevation to power in May this year was a bit of a surprise since his previous political experience had literally been as a comic actor playing a man unexpectedly elected to president of Ukraine in the sitcom Servant Of The People. Which is on Netflix, incidentally.

So it’s not entirely shocking that famous comic actors Kutcher and Kunis would know famous comic actor Zelensky, even beyond the weird bro-hood of the super wealthy who play with mere mortals like us. But what’s weird is that supposedly Volods chatted with Ashton about Trump, at least according to a post on Community.com.

“Mila and I met with President Zelenski [sic] and his wife a little over a week ago. My gut: He is committed to eliminating corruption in Ukraine. He’s also committed to ending the war and grateful for the US financial commitment because they needed it… If our president used that financial aid to leverage president Zelensky to investigate Biden he should be impeached. If our president did not use it as leverage and simply encouraged president Zelensky to investigate Biden without cause he should be impeached.”

What this adds to the discussion isn’t clear, but The Cut reached out to Kutcher and got a video of him eating hot wings meme in response, so make of that what you will.

Anyway, that’s where we are. Ashton and Mila are somehow caught up in Trump’s latest scandal, and also hot wings are spicy.

What Topher Grace and Laura Prepon think about all this could not be established at press time.

What Is Impeachment Anyway And Can You Even Sack A President?

In the immortal words of Run DMC, it's tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House in the US Congress, has announced plans for a formal impeachment inquiry into US president [checks notes] Donald Trump.

This follows claims that he withheld military support to Ukraine in an attempt to force its President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into investigating former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who has business dealings in the country.

And before you either start rejoicing about justice finally being done or howling about yet another of those witch hunts which seem to surround America’s current leader, it’s worth knowing what that actually means.

And the TL;DR answer is “a holding of the leader to account, but not as much as you’d think-slash-hope”.

What grounds does impeachment cover?

The blanket term used in the US Constitution is “high crimes and misdemeanours”, but the problem is that it’s never been clearly defined. So there’s the first legal hurdle.

Joshua Matz, co-author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, describes impeachable offences as involving “an abuse of power, a betrayal of the nation or a corruption of the office for private benefit that poses a substantial and ongoing risk of harm to the ongoing constitutional order if the president is allowed to remain in office.”

So you can see how that might not be great for Trump, really.

And you get fired as president as a result, right?

Nup.

In fact, the only impeachment proceedings which have resulted in someone losing their job in the US have been federal judges, and even that’s only happened eight times.

Oh. So what does an impeachment prove, exactly?

It’s the same thing as being found to have charges to answer – think of it as being like an indictment in US criminal law. So once Congress has impeached the matter then goes to trial in the Senate, and that’s probably where matters would get stuck.

Which presidents have been impeached?

Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and Bill Clinton was impeached 130 years later in 1998.

And they didn’t lose their jobs?

Nope.

Wait, didn’t Richard Nixon get impeached?

No. He was going to be, but quit before it actually happened.

So would Trump lose the presidency if he was impeached?

It’s possible, but it’s literally never happened before.

The two successful impeachments didn’t end with the president being removed: Clinton had a safe senate buffer, although Johnson only survived by a single vote.

Another cool pres.

It would require the charge to pass through the Congress (which it most likely would, given that the Democrats have control of the House) and then move to trial in the Senate where it would likely fall over, as the Republicans have the majority.

In Trump’s case, a vote to actually remove the president from office following that unlikely guilty verdict would need to be passed by a majority of the senate which, in the current make up, would require 20 Republicans to back their president being dumped. And that feels… look, it’s a long shot.

Following that, there would be a ruling by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that would actually remove the president.

Man, they really DO predict everything!

Also, there’s an election next year so things would have to move awfully fast. And obviously both sides will be using this as a way to galvanise their voting blocs – to remove a potential criminal in the Democrats’ case, and to protect a great man from the forces of the Establishment in the Republicans’.

In other words: impeachment is just the first step if you want to sack a president, and it’s very hard to do.

How is Trump going to address this?

Probably on Twitter, in all caps.

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