August 25, 2006
Tony Abbott's fear of therapeutic cloning
"…the experts have recommended a whole lot of things, including the potential creation of human-animal hybrids…" - Tony Abbott on Insiders
Tony may have a point. What if scientists came up with this?
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
Sooner or later a really mad scientist would produce this:
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
What if therapeutic cloning got out of hand and turned God's Pit Bulls on the Bite for Christ into politicans? Wait a minute ... it already has! Just look at George W. Bush. Of course he looks more like a chimp than a Pit Bull ...
-- Theodore G. Willikers
August 22, 2006
Jon Kudelka's 101 Uses for a John Howard
Courtesy Jon Kudelka
Visit Kudelka's site
Pen for pen, Oz hosts the finest political cartoonists in the world, and Jon Kudelka is right up there. Here is one of our favourites, scanned some years ago:
Courtesy Jon Kudelka
Original article here
August 20, 2006
The Weekly Gee (26)
Thanks to Maurie Gee for finding this chart
August 13, 2006
A solution at last
Courtesy, Andrew Weldon, The Age
August 10, 2006
Dissidents challenge Howard Politburo
The Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill is the most profoundly disturbing piece of legislation I have encountered since becoming a member of parliament. -- Petro Georgiou, Liberal Party member for Kooyong.
When Queensland backbencher Cameron Thompson claims that it is "unprincipled" to cross the floor against legislation "which ships boatpeople off to Nauru," and that the majority of his fellows in John Howard's Liberal Party agree with him, you know that every one of them has lost contact with even the most remote tenets of democracy. Indeed, the so-called Liberals under John Howard are more closely aligned to a Stalinesque politburo than a political party.
It's hard to believe that Australian politics has come to this. So effective has been John Howard's ability to mesmerise his stooges that they no longer have any vestige of principle or conscience. Howard could tell them that the interests of the Australian people would best be served by the incarceration of all those who oppose him and they, to a man and woman, would shout, "Hear, hear!"
Petro Georgiou, Russell Broadbent, Judy Moylan and possibly Bruce Baird are set to cross the floor today in opposition to the return to incarcerating innocent women and children.
Next week the Senate will determine if the bill passes or not. At this time, Liberal Party senator Judith Troeth is expected vote against the bill, with Queensland National Barnaby Joyce likely joining her.
But the most attention lies with Family First senator Steve Fielding. His vote is crucial and it will be interesting to see if he truly represents families first, by not forcing children into detention on Nauru, or whether he is just another nutter from the intolerant Christian fundamentalist right.
If this bill is defeated, and especially if the lower house members cross the floor -- a first during Howard's reign -- the little tyrant's days must surely be numbered. How delightful that he has assured us that he will be contesting his final election.
The Australia I know is a place where dreams come true, where the impossible becomes the possible and the probable becomes the inevitable. It is where people find a sense of belonging and it is a place of hope for generations of new immigrants. If I am to die politically because of my stance on this bill, it is better to die on my feet than to live on my knees. -- Russell Broadbent, Liberal Party member for McMillan.
-- Chet LaMerde
Mike Steketee: Party history goes overboard
Michael Gordon: Risking political death but undeterred
The Age Editorial: MPs stand up for the right to seek asylum — and to dissent
More Libs cross Howard on asylum law
August 9, 2006
Boston Legal rips America a new arsehole
Watch James Spader's Alan Shore on the TV series Boston Legal as he sums up the capitulation of the American public to Bush's Neo-Con Orwellian nightmare. Spader will stand the hairs on the back of your neck to rapt attention.
View here: Boston Legal Alan Shore Closing
Transcript here: Alan Shore's Closing Argument
-- Theodore G. Willikers
August 6, 2006
The Weekly Gee (25)
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
Posted by Willikers at 2:39 PM
August 5, 2006
Ugly Australian a shoo-in for fifth term
Just as we feared. Shaun Carney writes in today's Age:
The 25-basis points rise in interest rates this week might weaken the Howard Government's support, but it might also spook mortgage holders into clinging more tightly to the incumbents, especially if they continue to buy Howard's assertion that much of it is down to higher oil prices, for which he can't be blamed. And when you're highly geared and fearful, you want the house of cards to keep standing; a change of government might make things worse.
Sound fanciful? It's been a long time since voters held Howard responsible for anything that went wrong and with $9 billion in tax cuts having started to flow into their bank accounts, they might continue to be forgiving - for a bit longer.
Unless something drastic happens, and wars on every continent won't be drastic enough, by the time the election is called next year, Australia's whimpering, cowardly voters will probably re-elect the devil they know, having not a whit of courage to reverse the downward spiral into social chaos the devil has opportunistically promoted.
The 1930s depression tended in the main to bring people together. The mood was one of mutual aid, in the belief that "united we stand, divided we fall". How young the world was then! After eleven years of Howard's doctrine of self-absorbed greed, the next depression will see suspicion, distrust and outright hostility between neighbours, towns, states and countries, as they scuffle, well-armed, for food, water and safety.
On present trends, Australia (and the world) will not be ready to resume normal civilised behaviour until 2012.
Speaking of trends, Tracee Hutchison has spotted a recent and most horrifying trend, that of daily photos in our newspapers of clusters of teenagers and other children going ape over the presence of Our Toad-cum-troll whereever he appears.
Resembling the kind of spontaneous gatherings Chairman Mao so loved, Hutchison says,
I'm trying to remember when it was exactly that the entire country became part of Team Johnny. I cannot recall an evening news bulletin of late that hasn't featured a waving PM being hugged, squealed at or serenaded by an adoring mass of happy-with-our-lot Australians.
She goes on to lament the wave of Howard waves to no one. Is he going mad? No, it's just the media in collusion to give the mugs the impression everyone knows who he is.
Finally, there was a time when American comic book readers were alerted to the possibility that the country was being turned into a nation of pinheads, all modelled after Zippy.
Courtesy, Bill Griffith
Far worse for Australia, Little Johnny has turned us into replicas of himself. Here's the latest evidence:
Courtesy, Bill Leak
--Theodore G. Willikers
August 4, 2006
Middle East egos thrive in unconscious quagmire of hate
… the ego's greatest enemy of all is … the present moment, which is to say, life itself.
-- Eckhart Tolle
Occasionally, when I awaken from the deep sleep of the mind, that is, the unconscious, never-ending rubbish that passes for thought, and which keeps me isolated from everything and everyone, I pick up the odd book on how to stay that way. Here are a few quotes from the one I picked up this morning:
On a collective level, the mind-set "We are right and they are wrong" is particularly deeply entrenched in those parts of the world where conflict between two nations, races, tribes, religions, or ideologies is long-standing, extreme, and endemic. Both sides of the conflict are equally identified with their own perspective, their own "story …". Both are equally incapable of seeing that another perspective, another story, may exist and also be valid. Israeli writer Y. Halevi speaks of the possibility of "accommodating a competing narrative," but in many parts of the world, people are not yet able or willing to do that. Both sides regard themselves as victims and the "other" as evil, and because they have conceptualised and thereby dehumanised the other as the enemy, they can kill and inflict all kinds of violence on the other, even on children, without feeling their humanity and suffering. They become trapped in an insane spiral of perpetration and retribution, action and reaction.
Here it becomes obvious that the human ego in its collective aspect as "us" against "them" is even more insane than the "me," the individual ego, although the mechanism is the same. By far the greater part of violence that humans have inflicted on each other is not the work of criminals or the mentally deranged, but of normal, respectable citizens in the service of the collective ego. One can go so far as to say that on this planet "normal" equals insane.
War is a mind-set, and all action that comes out of such a mind-set will either strengthen the enemy, the perceived evil, or, if the war is won, will create a new enemy, a new evil equal to and often worse than the one that was defeated. There is a deep interrelatedness between your state of consciousness and external reality. When you are in the grip of a mind-set such as "war," your perceptions become extremely selective as well as distorted. In other words, you will see only what you want to see and then misinterpret it. You can imagine what kind of action comes out of such a delusional system. Or instead of imagining it, watch the news on TV tonight.
Recognize the ego for what it is: a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind.
Compassion arises when you recognize that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind, some more than others. You do not fuel the drama anymore that is part of all egoic relationships. What is its fuel? Reactivity. The ego thrives on it.
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, Penguin, 2005
The various selves who claim to represent who I am are taking bets on how many days, weeks, months will pass before I wake up again. The bastards. They know how hard it is. Some people never wake up. And they are the ones who rule the world.
-- Gort Slypesunder
August 3, 2006
Costello on a Downer
A demure Peter Costello appears to be taking it on the chin regarding John Howard's refusal to step aside.
Are those tears on Peter's serviette? Or just dribbled gravy.
Despite the fact that he has spent eleven years humiliatingly relegated to the shadows, Costello hopes someday to receive what to him seems a long-overdue reward for his years of uncomplaining love and devotion. (With apologies to Steven Welch.)
Meanwhile, the taxpayer-funded feast of incompetence and fiscal turpitude continues unabated.
In other news, The Australian reported last weekend that Australia's Very Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has given up watching CNN, saying it was too biased in its coverage of the war. Mr Downer prefers Fox News, claiming its coverage was more to his liking.
Leaping Larry L., The Age Green Guide columnist on the wasteland that is Pay TV, has written a review of Pay news channels, noting: "There's also an entire comedy news channel on offer - FOX News. This is arguably the funniest extreme right-wing thing on television since Alf Garnett. Of course, he was a fictional character."
On CNN, LLL said, " The American CNN service - oddly riddled with English and Australian accents - offers a ridiculously comprehensive "on-the-spot" perspective, to the point that you'll be checking your bathroom occasionally to see if they've posted a reporter under the sink. If you want running coverage of a major international story, this is where you go."
Our Man in charge of delicately crossing his legs on plush fauteuils in totalitarian palaces clearly knows which channel fits his and their ideology.
-- Theodore G. Willikers
August 2, 2006
John Howard: the Kenny Craig of Australian politics
TONY JONES: John Howard almost transformed the last election into a referendum on interest rates and trust. But now he's revealed that a backlash from debt-laden voters is not the biggest concern he faces.
JOHN HOWARD: It's the greatest worry of my political life, petrol, in terms of its impact on the average Australian, because we love our cars, we Australians.
-- Lateline, 2 August 2006
Following day addendum: "John Howard has finally let the cat out of the bag: instead of stating that the rising fuel crisis is the greatest threat facing all Australians, he simply implies that it is his biggest "politcal fear". That obviously points to a total selfishness and arrogance that has long been hidden behind a facade of care for the Australian people in general." G. Pike, letter to The Age.
Funny the PM should say that on the eve of an interest rate rise to 6 per cent. Suddenly he has nothing to say about keeping interest rates low, the one thing he hammered into his frightened flock at the last election. And he surely won't be talking about the spate of home-loan defaults, up an incredible 50 per cent from last year.
If you are familiar with Little Britain, you've seen Kenny Craig, the unfortunate stage hypnotist who rarely fools anyone. Whenever he feels cornered, he starts his spiel: "Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes ... you're under." Kenny could take lessons from John Howard, the con artist who has successfully kept a majority of voters "under" for over ten years.
Under Howard's watch, and with his blessing, housing prices have broken the sanity barrier. Yet people continued to spend $400,000 for $250,000 houses. Why? Because John Howard has created a fool's paradise of economic prosperity. Cuts in social spending, annual tax cut bribes and his somnolent reassurances that nothing wrong can happen have kept his aspirational swinging voters sound asleep. But now, with this rate rise and another forecast before year's end, these moral Rip van Winkles are stirring. The question is, when petrol hits the panic price of $1.50 a litre, what will they do?
Nothing, probably. Because John Howard knows how to work them, he knows how to massage them back to the sleep that keeps them incognizant.
And that means he will win next year's election. His supporters are in too deep to suddenly realise, let alone accept, their part in bringing Australia to its moral knees.
It would help if Labor had a backbone or a suitable leader. But there is no one in the party to remind Australians that they were part of a once proud nation. They need a Whitlam but they are stuck with Beazley.
By the time Australia finally bottoms out into the depression now being talked about, the two major parties may have become irrelevant.
Did I say depression?
PETER COSTELLO: We have lived through the longest period of continuous economic expansion in Australian history. Nearly every other economy in the world has been through a recession. The United States has, Japan's been through several. Europe has. Hong Kong has. Singapore has.
Now, the object is to keep the economy growing. If anybody tells you there is a recession which we have to have, they're wrong, completely wrong.
STEPHEN LONG (Economics correspondent for PM): But after a record 15 years of economic growth, we're overdue for one. And when the cycle turns, thousands of families could be in big trouble, because one blot on the copybook during the terms of Ian Macfarlane and Peter Costello is a record rise in household debt. And there was a warning today that unless that's curtailed, we could be looking at more than recession.
Steve Keen is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Western Sydney.
STEVE KEEN: Well it will end in another depression because you simply can't sustain debt levels like this.
We're now looking at aggregate debt in Australia exceeding 140 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) when back in the 1950s it was 20 per cent of GDP.
Now you can work for a while by borrowing money and continuing to service your debt. But if you get to the levels of debt we're looking at now I think most people would know on their own personal finances, they can't sustain that pattern.
And yet there seems to be no end to this exponential increase in the level of debt compared to the level of income.
STEPHEN LONG: Glenn Stevens (the new RBA governor) will being doing his utmost to make sure it doesn't all fall apart on his watch, but with the inflation rate as high as it's been for more than 10 years, he takes over in interesting times.
-- Theodore G. Willikers
August 1, 2006
Polemicists: the gnashing offspring of polarisation
In his review of Brendan Gleeson's Australian Heartlands, George Megalogenis lets Gleeson (and all of us polemical ranters) have it between the eyes:
Two years ago, a Howard government minister thought it would be a terrific idea to hold a citizenship ceremony at a hardware store in Brisbane. Multiculturalism meets materialism. This could be the anecdote to nail the banality of acquisition. But in the hands of Brendan Gleeson it becomes something else again.
Here's how he deals with the Bunnings moment and its MC, Gary Hardgrave, the then minister for multicultural affairs.
"The minister had previously staged citizenship ceremonies at car factories, football matches, surf lifesaving championships and on airlines. Hardgrave laughed off political and community criticism of the Bunnings event, remarking that the offer of free catering was too good to turn down. The combination of ideological extremism and slapstick popularism surely marks this out as a uniquely asinine form of conservative radicalism."
It is the asinine in the last sentence that diminishes Gleeson's argument. Just when he has the reader engaged, a form of literary Tourette syndrome seems to strike: he can't resist one last jab.
This is a common failing in nonfiction, here and in the US. Too many authors from the Left and Right are united by an excess of passion and an absence of humour
The risk with bile in cultural commentary is it can easily galvanise both sides without advancing the discussion. Those who share the author's opinions receive validation and those who don't can excuse themselves from reading on. Both sides remain as they were, in the trench of prejudice.
Megalogenis has a good point. Historians and journalists must avoid polemics if their work is to be of lasting value. They need to assess both sides of the argument dispassionately. Future readers want as full a picture of the times as possible.
It's just that in extremist times, such as we have had here in Australia since the embarrassing advent of John Howard, or in the US since the absurd advent of Bush2, polemical writing, or ranting and raving, becomes irrepressible.
But if you think I have been polemical in using the qualifiers "embarrassing" and "absurd" in describing the two leaders, please be aware that my natural tendency was to add three or four more bilious adjectives. Thus, I have shown considerable restraint.
When right wing governments are in power, as they are all over the world, it must be hard for left-leaning mainstream journalists to repress their outrage and write measuredly. I'm sure Megalogenis, who writes for The Australian is far from conservative; at least that's how I read most of his articles. Ditto Matt Price, Steve Lewis, Cameron Stewart and others. And of course Phillip Adams, The Australian's lone, genuine, 100 per cent lefty. But the newspaper they work for is over the hills and far away to the right.
The same constraint does not apply to right wing journalists under the same regimes, who let fly their wacko fondness for antisocial ideology with government-approved zest. The same newspaper's Janet Albrechtsen, Frank Devine, P.P. McGuiness, General Greg Sheridan, and occasional guest columnists Andrew Bolt and Mirko Bagaric, would not have been out of place in Joseph Goebbel's office.
The weird thing is that you rarely, if ever, have the reverse: Left wing governments with a cheerleading left wing press. Please correct me if I'm wrong. And surely you won't make the mistake of referring to Stalin and Mao as leftist governments who inspired left wing ravers. These twin terrorists may have emerged from socialist/communist ideology, but their political practices were pure right wing.
So it is in the natural order of things for leftist polemicists to flourish on the fringes in reactionary times like these. They amount to a safety valve for themselves and their readers, who rarely get to read and hear commentary reflecting their beliefs. Today, thanks to the Internet, we no longer have to resort to the samizdat, the clandestine distribution of government-suppressed literature or political tracts, to rally the like-minded.
Polemical writing is of the moment and not meant to be in contention for journalistic awards. Being of the moment, it becomes a reflection of the time in which it was written. For the most part, none of us are looking to find favour with the establishment. We try to be accurate with the facts, and to give credit (links) to sources, but, having done that, we are free to rant and rave and go off on tangents no sane editor would allow.
And we love to let fly with sneering contempt. For example: When the left engages in polemics, it comes from a noble, compassionate heart. When the right engages in polemics, it comes from a desiccated heart, a limp dick and a lifelong constipation.
When Gleeson used the word "asinine" he spoke for all of us, because in real life, that is exactly the word, robustly loathing, to describe Hardgrave's "conservative radicalism".
-- TG Willikers