Eulogy Of The Dog

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” said former US President Harry Truman.

The sentiment says much about loyalty and friendship in politics. It has been borrowed and reworked in political circles the world over.

But George Vest probably said it first, exactly 144 years ago today.

Vest is remembered for his closing arguments in an 1870 trial over the shooting of a hunting dog called Old Drum. Vest’s statement was inserted in the Congressional Record as part of a speech delivered by Senator Robert Byrd on April 23, 1990.

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) was a lawyer and a politician who served as a Missouri Congressman, a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator.

Partial transcript of the Address to the Jury by George Vest, in the Johnson County Circuit Court in Wattensburg, Missouri.

VestGentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. [Read more…]


President Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address

Barack Obama has been ceremonially sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States.

Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden were officially sworn in yesterday, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution. In today’s public ceremony, Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor again swore in Biden and Chief Justice John Roberts again swore in Obama.

Political attention today focussed on Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech.

With frequent invocations of ‘We, The People’, the speech was Obama’s most progressive as president. Amongst other things, he called for action on climate change and equality for gay people. [Read more…]


Malcolm Turnbull: “It Has Never Been Easier To Get Away With Telling Lies”

The Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has again lamented the “game of politics” and decried the dumbing down of political debate.

Speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Turnbull said “it has never been easier to get away with the glib one-liner”.

Turnbull said “broadcasters, or politicians or writers…who think that they are respecting ‘struggle street’, the battlers, …by dumbing things down into one-line soundbites are not respecting them, they are treating them with contempt.

“Because it is our job, above all in politics, to tackle the big issues, and to explain them and have the honesty to say to people, ‘there are no easy solutions here’. If the answer to global warming was obvious and simple, we’d have it licked by now.” [Read more…]


Top 10 Great Labor Speeches

Troy Bramston discusses ten great speeches from Australian Labor history.

Bramston is the author of a new book, The True Believers: Great Labor Speeches That Shaped History, published by The Federation Press.

The video appears on The Australian’s website today.


John Faulkner Remembers Whitlam’s 1972 “It’s Time” Policy Speech

Senator John Faulkner has delivered a speech tonight in honour of the 40th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s 1972 ‘It’s Time’ policy speech.

Senator John FaulknerFaulkner, the ALP’s unofficial historian and Whitlam confidante, spoke at Bowman Hall, Blacktown, site of the famous campaign launch that propelled Whitlam to the prime ministership.

Faulkner paid tribute to the power of political speeches: “We may be cynical about politics and politicians, we may be sceptical of the motives of those men and women who aspire to represent and to lead us – whether in Parliament, in community organisations and campaigns, or in social movements – but it is still their words which have the potential to express our aspirations, our beliefs, and our deepest sense of collective self.” [Read more…]


Anne Summers: The Political Persecution Of Australia’s First Female PM

This is the video of Dr. Anne Summers’ Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture at the University of Newcastle.

The speech is titled: “Her Rights At Work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister”.

Summers says: “In this lecture I want to examine what I contend is the sexist and discriminatory treatment of Australia’s first female prime minister by the Opposition and by some elements in Australian society.”


Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion. [Read more…]