November 29, 2007
Hooroo from Bilegrip and Scum at the Top
Bilegrip Admin here.
They said it couldn't be done. It took eleven and a half years, but finally the Wicked Weasel of Oz has been tarred and feathered and run out of town. The history books will not be kind. John Howard will live in infamy for the rest of his life as the most destructive Prime Minister in Australia's history. His only claims to fame will be his embarrassing appearance in a poorly concealed flak-jacket when he repealed the gun laws, and a strong economy he inherited from Paul Keating and Bob Hawke.
We've been at this gnashing of the teeth since 1994 and now that the war is finally over and the Illiberal Party has been reduced to the oblivion it deserves, it's time for us to go.
Never a major player, Bilegrip and SCATT nevertheless made a contribution. Heartfelt thanks to our readers over the years. A special thanks goes to Maurie Gee, whose graphics helped the cause immeasurably.
Our first publication, dated 11 March 1994, was The "Resign, Jeff!" Review. Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria, was the kind of authoritarian who made you think twice about dissenting. So we mailed the eight issues of the RJR as an anonymous samizdat to members of the media on democracy's side.
After that came The Subs 'n' Duds Report, also a mail-out, which lasted from March to October 1996, coinciding with the election of John Howard.
After a hiatus of a couple of years (whatever were we doing during that time?) we went online with Scum at the Top, continuing on and off until February 2005. All volumes of SCATT can be accessed here.
We kept thinking John Howard would go away. But like a metastasising cancer, he just kept getting more and more power over the health and decency of Australians.
Hoping to begin a blog about the many meanings of life or its utter meaninglessness, we started Bilegrip in June of 2005. Bilegrip uses blogware (Movable Type) as opposed to the self-coded traditional web site HTML of SCATT. MT made it much easier, since Bilegrip looks pretty much the same on every browser using Macs and PCs. SCATT often looked wildly different depending on the user's platform and browser.
Too bad for us, the political scene kept getting worse and we just had to stick with it. Now, we're fed up with life on the internet, no matter what the subject.
Here are some parting messages from those who have involved themselves in the PPF over the years, beginning with our most recent contributor. For bios, see About the Bilegrip Mob.
Now that we've got our democracy back, it's time to rip off the anti-Howard bumper stickers and find a new pub where I can soak up the suds in peace.
My contributions to Bilegrip as arts commentator and beauty pageant judge were terminated early on by John Howard and this blog's subsequent political obsession with him. May Howard rot in turmoil for robbing me of my career as a brilliant worshipper of the female body as God's or Satan's greatest art form.
Tara R. Bümdier
With the demise of Mr Nasty, I was considering a move back to the United States, but I understand the only way you can set foot in the land of the free is to have all ten digits fingerprinted. Isn't that what they do to criminals? I guess for Dubya, everyone not with him is a crim. Maybe I'll stay here and sell the Big Issue.
I'm due for release from the breakdown spa any day now. My goal is to join Harold Hark somewhere in Europe and collaborate on a new unpublishable book of my adventures with dozy women. I've met many here at the home, including a little pixie who claims to be the reincarnation of Edie Sedgwick.
[Bilegrip Admin]: Hark has not been heard from for some time, but is rumoured to be living in a hut on the outskirts of a village in the French Pyrenees. Our sources inform us that he intends to walk the Camino from Le Puy to Santiago next Spring or Autumn.
I can't say that John Howard interfered greatly with my position at Bilegrip. Sport, after all, transcends politics and all other life endeavours. To be honest, the only interference came from me. I don't really like sport and I'm extremely lazy.
Thanks to Howard, I hardly got a word in. What a waste of time. It's back to Rumania for me.
[Bilegrip Admin]: LaMerde is still missing, presumed dead.
Tomás El ("Pinche") Pendejo
To hell with the yoke of maturity and responsibility. I'm off to Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil, where I intend to spend the rest of my life uncrossing the legs of beautiful guapas y guapacitas.
I'm heading for the Amazon basin, where I hope to encounter brujos with herbal recipes for entering realities far more interesting than this one. I hope to be in one of them on 21 December 2012.
Theodore G. Willikers
[Bilegrip Admin]: Willikers is studying Sufism in Turkey. We understand he has been less than successful owing to a fondness for hashish.
Well there you have it. As I myself ride into the sunset, I can just make out the comments of some of the gathered townsfolk:
TF1: Who is that man and why is he slapping his hands on his thighs in a clippety-clopping horsey sound as he hops in a very silly manner down the street?
TF2: Who cares?
TF3: I, for one, do care. He had a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?
TF2: You know, I hate the way you use high-falutin words like that.
TF3: Mi scusi.
TF1: Can we stay on subject, please? The fucker's nearly out of sight.
TF2: Why all the fuss? He came, he ranted, he went. It's time for us to move on, too.
TF3: But he helped save us from the dreaded Weasel of Oz. He's a hero!
TF2: He's no bloody hero. Do hero's hop and whinny and slap their legs? Hero's ride real horses, ya dumb shit.
TF1: Tarnation! While you two were squabbling he disappeared over the horizon. Granted, the horizon's just a few feet away and we're standing on a chalked out set similar to Dogville.
TF3: So, I guess we'll never find out who he was.
TF2: Who cares?
November 28, 2007
It's a wrap: Rudd stopped the Weasel
Courtesy Andrew Dyson and The Age
Kevin Rudd is not your typical politician. David Marr and others complained that his acceptance speech Saturday night was bland and passionless, leaving the revellers insufficiently pumped to go wild and party unto oblivion.
This bloke is all business and no play. Whatever glory he is into is not so much personal as national. And by national I do not mean "nationalistic". He appears to be that rarity among politicians whose agenda is to actually improve the quality of life for Australians, instead of simply using them to promote his own ideologies or pathological needs.
A good article on the positive aspects of Kevin Rudd's victory is Misha Schubert: Rudd gets to it, with vows and vision.
Is it possible that Australia finally has a leader whose integrity is not about to be diluted by a gigantic ego? If, in the end, Rudd does have a gigantic ego (don't we all?), might it be possible that this ego is more interested in justice than sleaze?
Kevin Rudd is not the only putative mensch elected last Saturday by Australians. Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, Lindsay Tanner, Greg Combet, Bill Shorten -- they are all people who demand the highest regard.
And they all have John Howard and his spineless henchmen to thank for their ascendency. We've rabbited on for years about this deceitful traitor to the Australian character epitomised by the fair go.
Here are a few comments from today's papers:
Steve Dinham, letter to The Australian: George Brandis says that Labor has no mandate to repeal Work Choices. I seem to remember that the coalition had no mandate to introduce it.
Veronica Dingle, letter to The Age: Who can hear the name Bernie Banton and not think of Tony Abbott?
The reverse is even more true: Who can hear the name Tony Abbott and not think of Bernie Banton. As long as Abbott remains in politics, Bernie Banton will remain in the public's mind.
Sean Parnell, Party woes in north ignored
The Queensland Liberal leadership woes clearly demonstrate how John Howard - despite being the strongest and most marketable member of his party for more than a decade - did nothing to ensure his legacy could be sustained.
Howard was too busy being prime minister to be a true leader of the Liberal Party.
Mike Steketee, Dampened party needed a good wetting
It has taken an election massacre for Liberals to rediscover the truth of the saying by Robert Menzies that the party needs two wings to fly.
For more than 20 years, John Howard has added muscle to the party's right wing. He tolerated the Left or moderates but as his authority grew with successive election wins, they increasingly had to rebadge themselves as conservatives to survive.
Michael Bachelard, Libs did themselves in with union scare campaign
The Liberals' advertising during this election campaign was relentless and alarming. They created a red and black world implying threat and fear, and the most threatening and fearsome inhabitants of this world were trade unions.
For six weeks during the election campaign, and the 11 years preceding it, unions and unionists were the most vilified and maligned people in the nation. "Extremists! Fanatics!" the ads shrieked. They'll storm into your dress shop and switch off the lights! They'll hold the country to ransom, preceded by their beer bellies and braces, with that barren redhead Julia Gillard cheering them on!
Howard's campaign proved beyond doubt that, despite more than a decade of vicious attacks, the public image of unions is still relatively healthy.
For one thing, despite their diminished size, they are still the largest membership group in the country, with 1.7 million members, and another 820,000, according to a recent survey, who would like to join if they had the opportunity.
Shaun Carney, End of the strongman
In the end, it turned out, [Howard] had nothing special up his sleeve, no great idea or event planned. There was never any good reason for holding off on calling the election. He simply liked being prime minister and wanted to do it for as long as he could. He had the job and the salary and the great house and the staff and the media exposure and he was hanging on to it. The Liberal Party? It could look after itself.
The man sucked his government and his party dry. He obviously had dedicated himself to keeping Peter Costello out of the prime ministership and ultimately he succeeded. During his leadership, the Liberals have managed to fall out of government in every state and territory. This is his legacy.
And from the woman who always shoots with the straightest of arrows, Catherine Deveny, Mission accomplished
Howard's gone, Maxine triumphed and McLeod's Daughters has been axed. Life just doesn't get sweeter than this. Unless of course, George Bush chokes on his own foot.
But how about Julia Gillard? Hands up who wants to be president of the Julia Gillard fan club? I can't look at that woman without wanting to burst into tears and give her a hug. Everyone's making a big deal about her being the first female deputy PM. I think it's far more significant that she's in such a powerful position despite the fact she has red hair, because everyone knows that people with red hair don't have souls. On Saturday night I was hoping Julia would say: "This is a victory for redheads, 'rangas and carrot tops everywhere."
I recalled the day after Howard won in 1996 going for a walk in the morning and thinking to myself: "Who are these people I am sharing my country with?" It's been a long 11½ years.
Despite drinking my body weight in tart fuel (cosmopolitan in a can) on Saturday night and only having five hours' sleep, I did a victory lap around the People's Republic of Moreland in my KEVIN07 T-shirt on Sunday morning. It was delicious. Horns beeped and people gave my T-shirt the thumbs up. A large section of Lygon Street was closed off for tramline work. As I ran past a group of 30 workmen, they downed their tools and applauded. It was a beautiful moment. I could have run for hours on an empty belly, a clear head and a heart just bursting.
We all drank our "body weight" in the fuel of our choice last Saturday night. And although my electorate went Labor for the first time since Gilgamesh was a pup, I noted the street was very quiet. No time to rouse the bitter undead.
Finally, perhaps the nastiest piece of work still surviving the Illiberal rout is Wilson Tuckey. But there is a faint hope he may yet go.
The Nationals believe they have a chance to oust controversial Liberal MP Wilson "Ironbar" Tuckey from his rural West Australian seat of O'Connor.
Such is the strength of feeling against Mr Tuckey that Labor and every minor party except Family First directed their preferences to Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner. Mr Tuckey so far has 45.2% of the vote, Labor 20.4% and the Nationals 18.3%. But if preferences push the Nationals above Labor, Mr Tuckey's 27-year hold on the seat could be over.
There is your "Family First" party. In league with the fascist Right as always.
And that's that. Exhausted, absolutely exhausted.
Two items worthy of a good lol:
Malcolm Colless: Howard could still be a Liberal saviour
Christopher Pearson: Abbott the best bet for a party on the ropes
Janet Albrechtsen: Election debacle doesn't devaluate crucial triumphs
Brad Norington: Howard went too far, say employers
Jennifer Hewett: Howard's hubris sank party
Glenn Milne: PM's hubris leaves the Liberal Party in ruins
Phillip Adams: Why it's great to see him go
November 27, 2007
Matt Price: his death is a terrible loss
Throughout the years, Bilegrip and SCATT have enjoyed the perception and wit of Matt Price above all other journalists and commentators.
His death on Sunday, only two months after he was diagnosed with brain tumours, hit us as if we had just suffered a death in the family.
This election campaign was so much less interesting without him.
An article on his passing and the chance to post a tribute can be found here.
Posted by Bilegrip Admin at 11:56 AM
Be careful, Maxine: NSW Young Libs are more Nazi than Aussie
Maxine McKew's husband, Bob Hogg, would already be aware of this hopefully unnecessary concern, but experience prompts this posting, just to make sure.
Young Liberals are the closest thing to Hitler Youth this country possesses, and the NSW branch is the ugliest of the lot. Their Führer, John Howard, has been toppled by an upstart who is a woman and, above all, a woman connected to that dreaded hotbed of socialism, the ABC.
History unfortunately shows that it is always the "good guys" who get assassinated. From John F. Kennedy to Yitzhak Rabin, the killers have always come from the far right. In Australia, that is the political leaning of the majority of Young Liberals.
In all probability nothing will happen. But you can bet some of them are thinking about it.
November 26, 2007
How sweetly surreal it is
Gosh, I'm feeling chirpy. -- Jill Singer, So long, John.
I don't know about you, but I haven't felt this good in eleven and a half years. Hang on, it's longer than that. The feeling of outrage goes back to some time in 1993, after Jeff Kennett's win on 3 October 1992 in Victoria, when we saw the beginning of outright mean-spiritedness in government. With Kennett, the modern era of hard-right exclusionary politics officially began. What Der Jeff started then, Little Johnny Howard continued in 1996 to the present. And now that era -- some fifteen long years -- is over.
Howard's loss of his Bennelong seat in the Illiberal rout is the icing on the cake. And not just any icing on any cake, but one of those four-inch frozen tidal wave icings you see on très cher cakes sold in patisseries on Toorak Road. Indescribably delicious.
That the Illiberal Party is in chaos is totally expected. This is not really a political party, but a sort of legal mafia of self-interested hucksters who gather together to benefit themselves at the expense of the detested lower classes. It's as if their parents neglected to instruct them on the difference between right and wrong. "Go forth and take!" they were told, "giving is what socialists and communists do."
Armed only with profit-motive ideology and bereft of principles or ethics, they are unable to cope with the loss of power. They are not interested in why they lost power, only that it is no longer their personal toy.
Except for Menzies, who retired as leader, all other Illiberal leaders who have actually lost elections have been duly repudiated and despised. The treatment of past leaders of the Australian Illiberal party is strikingly similar to the way the Soviet Union dealt with theirs.
John Howard will go the same way. He may have won four elections, but that will count for nothing now. His hubris has left the party in a possibly terminal shambles.
Peter Costello's refusal to man the helm of the shipwreck is seen by his party as treasonous, but by the rest of us as either a sane move -- why lead the party in chaos when they refused to install him as leader during the high times -- or a typical desertion when the going gets tough.
Expect Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock to join him as deserters sooner or later.
It makes sense. They were only in politics to build relationships with the corporate sector, where they are now assured of plum jobs.
Meanwhile the jockeying for Captain of the Titanic is on, with Malcolm "The self-made millionaire who sounds like a Squattocrat" Turnbull and Tony "God's favourite hit-man" Abbott, both putting their hands up. It's too much to ask that the leadership be given to Brendan "Let me embarrass Australia in Parliament and on the beaches" Nelson. In the end, they could do worse than Julie "Off with their heads" Bishop.
Sadly, Petro Georgiou has the charisma of a rutabaga. Otherwise, he would make a fine leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. He suffered almost no swing against him, and for all the right reasons.
While delightfully accurate, the opening quote from Jill Singer was a tad short. Her commentary today is one of the best. Here is more of what she has to say:
Ding dong, the witch is dead. No more lies, cover-ups, stupid wars, trashing of our environment and brutalisation of refugees.
Gosh, I'm feeling chirpy. I realise such blatant jubilation is possibly ungracious but really, can you imagine the triumphalism if Howard had got back in?
We'd never have heard the end of it. He'd have been lauded as a little Menzies and been utterly unbearable on his morning walkies, doing that silly slapping high-five thing he adopted over recent times to make himself look hip.
When confronted with bad polls John Howard faced his worried Cabinet and asked with incredulity, is it me? Yes, John it was you -- your pride, puffed-up ego, dirty tricks, profligate bribery and streak of cruelty. When your colleagues wanted to oust you you refused, on Janette's advice, to step aside. How fitting, then, that after hiding behind your wife's skirt another sheila has given you a hiding in Bennelong.
It was the behaviour of Kevin's opponents that proved most remarkable. Bribes, threats, scare tactics -- it was vintage stuff. Lest we forget, there was John Howard's rattled, worm-strangling debate performance; Alexander Downer hissing and spitting like an alley cat whenever Rudd's name was mentioned; Tony Abbott's uncharacteristic loss of control when the going got tough. They were nothing compared with Jackie Kelly and Kevin Andrews, though. Kelly's defence of her husband's bogus flyers linking Labor to terrorism was pure idiocy. And Andrews' ripping down of an opponent's election posters at a polling booth was stunningly petulant.
And, for the very first time ever, we agree with Andrew Bolt's summation of things. Libs on a long, hard road.
November 25, 2007
Ring dem bells, Australia!
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
Stupid, Sappy (Gone) & Shameless (Gone)
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
November 24, 2007
Get out your baseball bats
November 23, 2007
It's time to put the Dogwhistler to sleep
Although the most effective methods to enact compassion, equality and fairness are often difficult to ascertain, the aspiration to pursue such ends remains an essential underpinning of a decent society. Throughout its term in office, the Howard Government has insinuated, through regressive taxation, middle-class welfare and avoidance of incontrovertible realities, that we can live without the aforementioned aspirations and no one would know the difference.
It has forcefully suggested that we can strand innocent people on prison islands, be complicit in brutal foreign wars, ignore the privations of sections of the global community, degrade the environment and redistribute domestic wealth upwards and remain unaffected.
In a subversion of convention it has encouraged Australians to be less than we could be. Surely there exists no better definition of corrupted leadership. -- Greg Bourke, letter to The Age.
Tomorrow is the day Australia will either commit moral suicide or begin a slow -- perhaps a very slow -- return to compassionate democracy. Will we return to an inclusive society or remain trapped in the feral doctrine of user pays?
Coalition voters constitute the Australian equivalent of Nazi collaborators, people who actually approve of dishonest leadership, corrupt governance, and intolerance of difference. Short of outright stupidity, anyone voting for the John Howard Party after all these years of political evil cannot possibly deny that they support dishonesty, corruption and intolerance.
For the past eleven and a half years the rest of us have found ourselves in despair, anger and hatred over the disrepute John Howard has brought upon Australia. Granted, we have remained free to move about and speak our minds, but in many other ways we can understand those who have endured life under despotic governments. Perhaps the main difference is that John Howard has been a mercifully small-minded man when it comes to the vision tyrannical. No grandiose plans to take over the world or murder minorities. No, Little Johnny has been content to simply be mean to those he deems unworthy.
And therein lies the greatest embarrassment for this country. Instead of supporting a genuinely terrifying maniac, worthy of countless learned tomes and History Channel documentaries, Australians have opted for a mealy-mouthed suburban solicitor to do the dirty on humanity.
This has been a moral dark ages gilded by prosperity. The Biblical analogue is Dathan and the Golden Calf. Dathan exhorted the Australians of yesteryear to forget poor, misguided Moses, and worship instead: filthy lucre. John Howard is Australia's Dathan. His shame will last for generations.
PS: If you missed it, go here and choose a media player for John Clarke and Brian Dawe on the politics of fear. Clarke removes John Howard's mask of respectability to show us how hilarious (or pathetic) he looks as a dogwhistling B-movie bogeyman.
November 22, 2007
A little pantheon of infamous tyrants and their wives
We all know what happened to Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci:
Back in 1989, the Rumanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife Elena got similar treatment. Watch this amazing video and see the hurried trial, the aftermath of their execution (but not the actual shooting), and hasty burial, all occurring within a few hours. The edited footage of those hours is long, about 20 minutes, and often tedious, but well worth it to see the indignation of tyranny as it is about to get its just desserts.
In contrast, the Butcher of the Balkans, Slobodan Milosevic, and his wife Mirjana Markovic got off easy. Slobbo and Mira oversaw the slaughter of tens of thousands during the Balkan War of the Nineties. Slobbo finally got whisked away to the UN War Crimes Tribunal in Den Hague where he died as a result of assassination by poisoning, suicide by poisoning, or of a heart attack. Mira, often referred to as Slobbo's Lady Macbeth, hung around Belgrade for awhile and then fled to Moscow, her last known whereabouts.
Which brings us to our local entrants, Little Johnny and Big Janette Howard. In cahoots over crimes against humanity and democracy for eleven and a half years, one wonders what will happen to them? The dirty tricks employed in the closing days of the 2007 election campaign will only add to their caseload.
Of some peripheral interest: Nicolae Ceaucescu was an Aquarius. Benito, Slobodan and Johnny share the sign of Leo. Of the women, Clara was an Aquarius, Elena a Capricorn, while Mira and Janette share the sign of Cancer. Mira was born on 10 July 1942 and Janette's birthday is 11 July 1944. Hmmm.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 10:15 AM
November 21, 2007
Catherine Deveny shoots from the heart
Bilegrip is a big fan of Catherine Deveny. Besides the venerable Alan Ramsey and Phillip Adams, she is just about the only mainstream media lefty who speaks without restraint or self-censorship. In fact, she outdoes Ramsey and Adams in cutting to the chase.
Her impassioned plea today, Australians have a chance to prove they're not all that bad, reminds us in spades that the last eleven and a half years -- the era dedicated to making Australia safe for conservatives by scaring the bejesus out of frightened seniors and greedy aspirationals -- must come to an end on Saturday.
Here are a few excerpts from her article:
This election is an intelligence test. A test to prove we can see past the spin, the dog whistles, the short-sighted rhetoric, the scare campaigns, the pork-barrelling and the fearmongering. A test to show that we are smarter than the Government gives us credit for.
If we do not seize this opportunity for change we will go down in history as the most greedy, gullible, mean-spirited, selfish, short-sighted, tight-fisted generation in the history of Australia. How will it feel sitting in front of that $5000 plasma TV watching reruns of American reality shows, wearing clothes manufactured in a sweat shop and sitting on a sofa made by Third World slaves? How will that feel when our public education and hospitals have been gutted and our environment corroded to a point of no return? How will it feel knowing we have turned our back on people who need us most: the poor, the broken, the scared, the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable? How will it feel when you turn to your children and say, "I believed him"?
This election is a gift. Look back at the past 11 years and imagine the next decade as more of the same. The divides becoming wider, the damage becoming irreversible and the lies and deceit in politics becoming normal.
On Saturday you will have a rare opportunity to prove to our past, to our present and to our future that we are better than this. And we are not stupid enough to swallow the short way round but the long way home. At my grade 6 graduation, I stood side by side with Greeks, Yugoslavs, Macedonians, Poles, Italians and Maltese and we sang: "I'm as Greek as a Souvlaki, I'm as Irish as a stew, I'm as Italian as spaghetti, I'm as Danish as a blue, I'm as German as a dumpling, Middle Eastern as a lamb. I'm an Aussie, yes I'm an Aussie, yes I am."
And we believed it.
Over the past 11 years, I have lost faith in the Australian people. I've felt shame at the spin they have swallowed, the politicians they have believed and the values they have embraced. I'm horrified at how politicians have chosen to lead our country using fear over faith, greed over bounty and us and them over we. I just hope I am not alone. There's plenty for all of us.
Fortunately, I was at my usual corner table at the coffee shop, for I wept as I read this call to voting arms. Coming unglued in public, I realised how all these years of pent-up despair and anger had long ago turned to hate. And what a miserable thing it is to hate.
Be that as it may, hate combines with prodigious vomiting when watching Anna Coren's interview with John Howard and Peter Costello. If you missed it, and you're in need of a purgative, you can watch it here. Click on "Interview with PM and Treasurer to see the Twin Dullards collapse in a heap of treacly phoniness.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 12:22 PM