February 26, 2007
McKew v. Howard: the times they really are a-changin'
John Howard exists in a moral vacuum, and while that must be relaxing and comfortable for him -- you never feel friction in a vacuum -- the world outside that bubble of narcissism is about to blow it to Pluto and back.
With Kevin Rudd's blessing, Maxine McKew, the former Lateline presenter who in 30 years of broadcast and magazine journalism, earned a reputation as the smiling assassin of political fools, is contesting John Howard's seat of Bennelong for the ALP.
Despite his promise to go easy on the PM, Kevin Rudd just keeps fucking with Little Johnny's little mind.
Will the people of Bennelong warm to a woman with intelligence who comes to the fray armed with a wealth of knowledge on what makes the rodent run? Or will she frighten the bejesus out of them. The polls showed the PM could lose his seat even without an ALP candidate. Maxine could make it a landslide.
How will The Lyin' King retaliate? Like a schoolyard bully, he will have to discredit not only Rudd, but McKew, as being what he has deemed to be more un-Australian than a terrorist -- an intellectual.
Jason Koutsoukis (Get smart, get beaten) wrote in The Sunday Age:
The trick for Rudd then, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat with a pointy-headed reputation, will be to disguise how smart he is and to prove he has the common touch.
As he did with Latham before Rudd, Howard will be searching for Rudd's weakness.
And that, really, is all John Howard is about: finding and exploiting the weakness in others in order to remain in power. As the briber-in-chief, he exploits the greed of punters by lavishing them with bribes they can't refuse. By the time he finds the killer punch for Kevin Rudd, millions of taxpayer dollars will have been spent in dirty research.
Meanwhile, Maxine McKew is the perfect candidate. She will effectively separate the people in Bennelong from the sheep. If they haven't already, they soon will, and with great clarity, see through the man who has no dimensions and who, for eleven years, has mesmerised them into believing he does.
Nothing less than a humiliating landslide across this once proud nation will give John Howard what he deserves.
We await the lengths he will go to in order to prevent this from happening. John Howard's, after all, is the most monstrous ego this nation's political life has ever seen. Terrorism? We ain't seen nothin' yet.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 11:31 AM
February 24, 2007
Howard's ministers: Every one of them is unfit for office
Day after day John Howard's ministers insult the intelligence of Australians with their boofheaded pronouncements.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has stepped into Peter Reith's ugly shoes by claiming that the latest boatpeople (83 Sri Lankans and two Indonesians) deliberately "sabotaged the engine and hull of their boat" shortly after the vessel had been repaired by crew members from the Australian navy's HMAS Success.
Of course the repairs were done, not to save lives, but to get the boat back into international waters and away from God's Own Australia.
"They [HMAS Success] again approached the vessel and found more damage had been done to the engine or the engines of the vessel, and there was also further damage which had been made to the hull of the vessel," Mr Andrews said.
We'll just have to wait and see on this one, but like the claims of "children overboard" it defies common sense that these boatpeople would intentionally jeopardise their lives in this manner.
The point is: never trust the word of a Howard Government minister.
Meanwhile, the government has " struck a secret deal with Jakarta and Colombo to send the asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka via Indonesia. The policy would be an even more hardline approach than the Howard Government's Pacific solution."
Will the inhumanity of this treacherous government never end?
Brendan Nelson is the King of Fools
First, a couple of cartoons:
Courtesy Peter Nicholson and The Australian
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
Not one person in this wide brown land would agree with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson's "Iraq is Kokoda" outburst. On the subject, Bruce H. Copping wrote to The Age:
[Nelson's] statement drawing a parallel between the courage of Australian defence forces on the bloody Kokoda Trail and his Government's involvement in the invasion of Iraq on the pretext of WMD is an insult to those men who fought and gave their lives in defence of this country. Nelson should resign."
But no one who works for John Howard ever resigns. They can say and do whatever they like and he'll stand by them. Why? Because he believes he lives in a big invisible castle high on big invisible mountain, where no one he doesn't like can ever touch him. And all his ministers believe they live there too because, after all these years, no one ever has touched him. Or them. Why? Because every once in a while they dump a bucketload of trinkets out the castle's towers for the subjects who live way down below. For John Howard and his ministers, the last eleven years must be like living in the storybooks they never grew out of.
For Australians, the subjects way down below, John Howard's reign is like living in a cashed up version of the Dark Ages. Lots of New! Improved! gruel in a moral wasteland.
-- Olney Garkle
February 23, 2007
Cheney cuts and runs
Something called the Australian-American leadership dialogue played host to Umeruhcan puppeteer Dick Cheney in Sydney today. You can go here for a report of the leaden tones of his patriotic bullshit in praise of Dubya's deputy in the Antipodes, John W. Howard.
What the report didn't mention is that Cheney split right after his speech. Unlike Condoleeza Rice, who took questions to calm resentment and anger after her speech last March, Cheney saw fit to cut and run with nary a Q to be given the imperial A.
Or maybe he just didn't give a rat's ass. After all, he's here to fish, not to have his wisdom questioned by colonial subjects.
Cheney meets Kevin Rudd later today. We'll have to wait for Rudd's memoirs several years hence to get an idea of what this meeting was really like. You know, Rudd's response to Cheney's exceedingly inhumane face, with its viciousness, arrogance and contempt for opposing views.
Shortly it's off to Tasmania for the Dick "The War Criminal" Cheney, where he will be wined and dined at taxpayer expense by John "Crimes Against Humanity" Howard. It's reminiscent of the satrap of Austria or Pétain of France visiting Hitler at the Wolf's Lair. Or Hungary's Number One being paid a "cordial" visit by Stalin's Number Two.
One of the bits in Andrew McGahan's book Underground I liked best was the long dream sequence near the end. Adapting that scenario to the Tassie visit, Cheney will invite Little Johnny to go hunting. As always, Little Johnny will be unable to refuse anything asked of him by his master.
-- Olney Garkle
February 22, 2007
Vale SBS: It's just a chump channel now
When I arrived here in 1989, Australia was still a place where intellectuals and creative artists were not openly regarded as untermenschen, as a feared and thus despised group of potentially un-Australian subversives. It takes all kinds to make a world and in Oz all kinds were allowed to go about their business without too much worry.
As my Australian wife and I installed ourselves in our rented house, the rellies gave us a little portable TV (the kind with rabbit ears) until we got our new lives sorted out. The first night we turned it on, I checked out the channels available and when I got to the SBS, what did I see on the screen but Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. I could not believe my luck.
As an international film buff I had been disappointed by the television fare on at least two continents. The Americans hardly showed any foreign movies, and what they did show was dubbed into English, which, as we all know, robs the film of all integrity. Canada had a French station, but the almost exclusively French movies they showed had no subtitles. In France, foreign movies were shown with subtitles unless, bien sür, they were French, which they mostly were.
But here was the great Kurosawa film with English subtitles -- or more accurately, Australian English subtitles. As time passed, SBS's subtitling expertise became far and away the best in the world. Besides intelligent collaborations between English and native speakers (of which there was an abundance, owing to Australia's successful Multicultural policy), they were the first to replace the traditional white lettering (so often bleaching into invisibility in black and white films) with an always visible yellow.
At the conclusion of the film, David Stratton came on to utter a few brief words and announce next weeks "Cinema Classic". I no longer remember what that film was, but from then until last month, I was a devotee of the SBS, praising it without reservations to friends all over the globe.
Not long after (or maybe it was already happening), Margaret Pomeranz joined Stratton to present films. How quaint it all seems now, in the culturally empty Howard era, to give the viewer a little background information on the film they are about to see. To my knowledge, France was the only other country to do this. It was obviously a work of love for David and Margaret, as there couldn't have been many of us die-hard film buffs during any given screening.
But that was how Australia was then, or so it seemed to me. Everyone was catered too. There was no faddish economic imperative to cut costs to the point where only the lowest common denominator mattered.
The SBS was, to put it quite simply, the most unique television channel in the world. Along with Melbourne's flourishing arts community, I truly believed that I had landed in paradise.
For over two decades the SBS has been unmatched anywhere for the quality of its non-commercial multicultural programming. But this golden age has definitely come to an end. Now, it's just another chump channel, albeit with better programming than the other chump channels.
The writing was on the wall when Stratton and Pomeranz left for the ABC last year. SBS aficionados took a deep breath, knowing that gentle David and feisty Margaret -- both vocal defenders against the war on culture being waged by the philistine Howard Government -- would not make such a move lightly. Their leave-taking constituted a damning vote of no confidence in the SBS.
It didn't take long for the slow death to begin. The great documentary programs and the world news were suddenly being interrupted by commercials. It seemed absurd. Did new management have no idea who their target audience was? But of course the audience has changed. The World Cup, which I thoroughly enjoyed, changed everything. The new demographic of sports-mad viewers, born and bred to view the free-to-air channels and their incessant advertising, were made to order.
Still I hung on. I'll endure commercials on the world-class docos and the best news coverage in the country, I thought, as long as they don't interrupt the movies.
But they have. A few weeks ago the film I was watching (the French-Japanese co-production Fear and Trembling) suddenly faded to nearly five minutes of inane commercials. I can't recall when I have been so stunned. I sat there in disbelief for nearly a half hour before switching the movie off. Like dubbing, commercial breaks are anathema to good films.
So it's over to World Movies for uninterrupted films. But I wonder how long before it starts breaking up films for promos to soften us up for commercials. When that happens I can dispense with television altogether. Thanks to David and Margaret I have hundreds of movies on video to catch up on.
There is really only one show on the SBS that I can't do without. That is Jennie Brockie's Insight. Beyond that, I won't be turning the SBS on again. Now that it has turned into just another vehicle for the huckster world of advertising, there is only the ABC left. But with the exception of David and Margaret's At the Movies and Jennifer Byrne's book show (if it ever returns), both of whose time slots are easily remembered, that channel has been turning out pap for years. Again, see: John Howard.
Well, there you have it. Yet another example of the dumbing down of Australian culture since the events of March,1996.
-- Benoît Balz
February 21, 2007
That was a ripper Kev, but don’t get too carried away
"Mr Howard is looming as an increasing risk for Australia's long-term national security." -- Kevin Rudd.
Rudd further said that Howard hadn’t learned a thing from Iraq, which was Australia’s greatest security disaster since Vietnam.
To which Australia’s Commander in Chief, Major Magoo, replied darkly: “Really? I think he’s getting a bit full of himself.” The seething anger came right through the TV screen.
Yep, that was a mouthful from the Opposition Leader. All too evident, as we’ve known since 2003, but maybe Kev should cool it for awhile.
Australia is no longer a country where larrikans are admired or even tolerated. It's a conservative nation that distrusts people who use their brains. About all most Aussies are interested in these days is turning on their tech toys and counting their assets. So maybe it's time for Kevin Rudd to put a sock in his joyful “mind-fucking” of the PM. Unless, of course, the scared little man asks for it. A lot of us are enjoying the Schadenfreude of it all, but if this remark caused us a momentary wince, imagine what the old boys and dears out there might be thinking. “That upstart is being just plain mean to that nice man, John Howard. We certainly can’t vote for a smart alec. We’re sticking with the liar.”
Let’s hope this isn’t the high point of Rudd’s leadership. Admittedly it was cause for popping the champagne corks when news that Howard may lose Bennelong came through. Malcolm Mackerras thinks he’ll lose his seat as well as the election, something that hasn’t happened since the days of Stanley Bruce. But MM is usually wrong.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 12:38 PM
February 18, 2007
Robert Richter QC calls Ruddock a liar, challenges him to sue
Copyright © 2007, The Bilegrip Mob
Melbourne barrister Robert Richter, QC, has written a blistering condemnation of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock for his failure to uphold Australian and international law regarding David Hicks: Hypocrites breaking our law at ever turn.
Philip Ruddock is a hypocrite when parading his Amnesty International membership. He pretends to give a toss for the organisation and the principles for which it stands: the rule of law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment, freedom from torture, opposition to the perversion of accepted civilised notions of justice and the obligations he owes to those notionally under his protection. Instead, he has publicly and shamefully betrayed all of these precepts.
He is a liar when he pretends concern for David Hicks' fate. His protestations about Australia's efforts to secure a speedy trial for Hicks cross the line of decency when we consider that Hicks is, after five years, not charged with any offence. Nor is he subject to the jurisdiction of any lawfully constituted court of justice. We know he has not committed any offences against Australian law. Our A-G says so. We also know that he does not stand charged with any known crime against US law. So how is it that the Attorney-General has not demanded the return of Hicks to the country that owes him protection as a matter of law?
It is because the A-G has publicly prostituted his duties to the law — and to those he owes a duty of protection — in the service of his political masters in the government he serves.
I say this without cover of privilege and challenge him to sue for defamation and take the risk of the facts emerging in any litigation. Cabinet solidarity is one thing; his mealy-mouthed public utterances on the subject are another. He should at least have the decency to stay silent rather than seek to defend and advance the indefensible.
Richter also goes after his "political masters", John Howard and Australia's Very Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer:
Messrs Ruddock, Howard and Downer's pronouncements about seeking to have Hicks charged early in the new year (in front of commissions that have not yet been lawfully set up!) seem to me to be a desperate cover-up of their government's, fundamental dereliction of duty. Instead of demanding Hicks' return, they have made themselves complicit in procuring an illegal process to occur as soon as possible.
Rather than facing up to their duties to protect the fundamental rights of those subject to their theoretical protection, Ruddock , Howard and Downer are deliberately compounding the illegal actions of the American Administration by counselling and procuring an illegal process. This is a crime under our law. Instead of confessing to a wrong and doing the decent thing by trying to set it right, they are pushing ahead with "churching the whore" after the abortion. They urge the Americans to create a facade of legality for what is seen by all honest jurists as a gross violation of national and international law.
How has it come to pass that Australians are ruled by these men, each of them guilty of crimes against humanity. Ruddock and Downer can claim the Nuremberg Defence: "I was only following orders". But John Howard? He'd love to claim it too: "I was only following President Bush's orders". Given that he has turned Australia over to the Americans as nothing more than a satellite state or colonial possession -- a sort of Puerto Rico of the Antipodes -- particularly with the new spy base to be built at Geraldton, it's a defence that might just work. Particularly since our homegrown axis of evil -- Howard, Downer and Ruddock -- have seen fit to assault our justice system with laws that could easily turn this country into a police state if enacted. Somewhere in the fine print there may be provisions to treat them as "citizens above suspicion". That is, protected from prosecution.
If only Ruddock would take Richter's challenge and sue for defamation. Richter and his colleagues will then have the opportunity to lay bare this traitor's dereliction of duty and above all his crimes against Australia.
-- Olney Garkle
February 17, 2007
Climate Change: The politician and the glaciologist
Don't you worry about that ...
Here is what John Howard's Finance Minister (repeat, Finance Minister), Nick Minchin, had to say on the subject. This is on the front page of The Age. Lib scorns mass 'panic' on climate.
It should not be seen as a sin to be cautious about the science of global warming, a senior Federal Government minister has warned.
Finance Minister Nick Minchin says "there remains an ongoing debate about the extent of climate change" and the extent of human activity's role in global warming.
He warned the Coalition not to get spooked by the intensifying political pressure on the issue, saying it must not let political pressure drive decisions on environmental policy when the stakes for the Australian economy were very high.
"There is never a finality to almost anything in the scientific world," he said. "Even the most hardened advocates of (global warming) accept that the world's climate is the most complex system imaginable. I doubt you could ever say the matter will be settled."
His comments come two weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found "unequivocal" evidence that the world was getting hotter.
Nick, we know you've got our best interests at heart -- or is that the best interests of the government's coal industry cronies. Never mind, who could possibly question the credibility of the John Howard Party on any subject?
Meanwhile, back at Reality Headquarters ...
Then there is this little story on page 12 of The Australian: Glacier could be gone in five years.
The principal glacier of the world's biggest tropical ice cap could disappear within five years as a result of global warming, one of the world's leading glaciologists predicted yesterday.
The imminent demise of the Qori Kalis glacier, the main component of the Quelccaya ice cap in the Peruvian Andes, offered the starkest evidence yet of the effects of climate change, according to Lonnie Thompson, of Ohio State University.
Although scientists had known for decades that Qori Kalis and the other Quelccaya glaciers were melting, new observations indicated that the rate of retreat was increasing, Professor Thompson said.
When he visits this summer, he expects to find that the glacier has halved in size since last year, and he believes Qori Kalis will be gone within five years.
"This widespread retreat of mountain glaciers may be our clearest evidence of global warming as they integrate many climate variables," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Francisco.
"Most importantly, they have no political agenda."
Imagine a world without political agenda! Hah! It would have to have been "created" by a "god" with a few more neurons than the bearded blimp religionists have lamely conceived. About the only way I can think of to achieve such a world here and now is to simply hoist a backpack and start walking solo in the mountains. No political agenda among the lilies of the field. Of course some four-legged indigene might decide to terminate my capacity to conceptualise with a swift chomp to the brain stem, but I wonder if taking that chance wouldn't be preferable to the absurdly cancerous climate wherein we have to listen to and be governed by men and women who should have had their brain stems severed at birth.
Professor Thompson concludes:
The fate of tropical glaciers globally will have an impact on water supplies relied on by more than four billion people.
"Millions of people are going to have to adapt to these changes, many of which will occur in some of the poorest regions of the globe," Professor Thompson said.
So … who would you believe? Or … given the inability of the human race to look after its own well being, is it too late to matter?
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 11:33 AM
February 16, 2007
Has John Howard killed off the Liberal Party?
There was a period between Paul Keating's surprise election victory in 1993 and the 1996 election when many pundits were talking of the possible death of the Liberal Party. After Alexander Downer's absurd stint as leader, the Liberals appeared to have no one left. There was John Howard, of course, but his electoral appeal was thought to be similar to that of a sun-dried turd at the furthest reach of the remotest paddock. But what could they do? They promoted him. Surely, the pundits thought, this is the end of the Liberal Party.
Eleven years later the subject has come up again. What will happen to the Liberal Party if it loses the next election?
That dark thought must give an extra spur to the Prime Minister as he considers his strategy against a man whose measure he's struggling to get. No one is writing off John Howard. What's changed with Kevin Rudd is that people have stopped writing off Labor.
Most obviously at risk is Howard's own reputation. A loss would change the way his whole prime ministership was assessed.
But, far worse for the Liberals, the impact on the party would potentially be dire. If, as most observers are predicting, the NSW Government hangs on in next month's poll, a Howard loss would mean all Australian governments would be in Labor hands — a first. "It would be a historic crisis of the party," one senior Liberal says. -- Michelle Grattan, After Howard, the deluge.
Morris Iemma's Labor Party in NSW is perhaps the weakest of the state governments, and there is no certainty he can pull off a win next month. If he does and Howard loses, that "first" could prove fatal for the Libs. If Iemma loses, and NSW gains a Liberal government, the result could prove even worse for the Federal party. Voters may then be persuaded that with all state governments no longer in the Labor stronghold, a change to Labor at the federal level would now be possible.
But is the Federal Liberal Party really the Liberal Party as we used to know it? Not at all. It is, in effect, the John Howard Party, the JHP. There are but a handful of true Liberals left in Parliament. The rest have sold out to mankind's lowest instincts as personified by their leader.
Even a moderate Labor victory will signal the death of the John Howard Party. But a Rudd/Gillard landslide would further rid the nation of much of the ministerial rubbish that under any other leader would have languished on the backbenches for the breadth of their unfitness. Whether a squeak-through or a walk-over, a Labor victory will consign the remnants of the almost terminally divided Liberal Party to oblivion for several elections. But once purged of extremist Howardites, it will return as the other party our democracy must have.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 10:39 AM
February 14, 2007
See Johnny Run
Why is John Howard nervous, in spite of the reassurances offered by your editorialists and columnists? Because the allies are already planning how and when to get out of Iraq, and as soon as they do Australia will, too.
The difference between Barack Obama and Mr Howard is that the Democrat opposes the US military presence in Iraq: the conservative wants it to continue. Mr Obama says the invasion was wrong: Mr Howard told us the wrong reasons for it. Mr Obama wants US troops out because they can’t win: Mr Howard wants them to stay until this year’s election. Mr Obama wants to stop the US waging further illegal anti-terror wars: Mr Howard would support a US invasion of Iran. Endless war is what the Bush administration has planned: Mr Howard sycophantically hypes up fear of al-Qa’ida to win endless khaki elections. His intervention in US politics won’t influence voters in America, but voters who’d like to reclaim Australia’s independence won’t forget it. -- Dr Alison Broinowski, letter to The Australian.
Regarding the twilight of John Howard's career as Australia's most notorious traitor, a docudrama released in France in 1993, Pétain, is instructive. It covers the years of the Vichy Government and the cunning subservience to the Nazis of its leader, Maréchal Pétain. Alas, it appears unavailable anywhere.
Thanks to the golden age of the SBS, I have a copy and I watch it periodically, usually after John Howard wins another election. It gives me comfort to know that eventually our very own Pétain -- the man who had no qualms doing the dirty on his own people -- will one day find himself despised and humiliated, shunned in every way.
Oh, he might find a place on the Board of Excommunications with the Exclusive Brethren, or as a figurehead for the Adelaide Institute, or as a staff member with that august group of right wing wackos, the Institute of Public Affairs. But the cycle of influence for these sodalities of darkness is withering, and so will he. Then again, since his only interest is politics and power he might form his own party, Divided Nation, and keep running for office until he carks it. If so, he'll have to find that flak jacket or something more suitable to ward off the rotten eggs and tomatoes.
Both Pétain and Howard had the backing (if not the confidence) of the bullies who ran them. As a result both men were able to strut about with apparent invincibility. One difference between them (again to Australia's embarrassment) was that Pétain was a great hero in World War I. John Howard has never been more than a clever little solicitor. Yet it was the likes of petty satraps such as Howard who ascended to high places to help Pétain.
In Howard's most recent "performances" -- the attack on Barack Obama and his last two encounters with Kevin Rudd in Parliament -- he is looking more and more like Pétain (as superbly played by veteran French actor Jacques Dufilho) in his last days. Face alternating between flushed and colourless, eyes darting all over the place when not looking at the floor, twitchy body movement, including involuntarily flinging himself back in his seat (reminding me of John Belushi imitating an exiting Muppet on SNL way back when). Look for more unnecessary coughs and that irritatingly nervous clearing of the throat. During interviews his usual interruptions of the interviewer -- "well, well, well" or "now, now, now" with increasing shrillness accompanying each word -- will begin to account for most of the interview.
Watching Howard in Parliament the last two days is a reminder that there is nothing more pathetic than a disgraced bully's deputy. Those in the deputy's legion, obsequious in the past, are now speaking out. Yes, the arrogant histrionics are still there when shouting down the opposition, but fear has crept into his eyes.
And the fear has nothing to do with George W. Bush's eventual withdrawal of support (or his simply not paying attention to Little Johnny's best efforts at showing loyalty), or Iraq (he really couldn't care less what happens there … if he did, he never would have gone in to begin with) or even his wife, Janette, the one who truly keeps his bones from turning to jelly. Howard must know now that he is not going to win the next election by making Kevin Rudd look like a fool, because Rudd is making him look like a fool every day. Slowly, with great patience, Rudd is removing the spell from Aussie eyes to reveal a rather unappealingly naked little emperor.
Yesterday may have been one of Howard's last moments of self-congratulation: his chest expanded triumphantly as he challenged Rudd to outline his policy on bringing troops home from Iraq. He even called Rudd gutless for hedging the subject.
Today Rudd moved to suspend Parliament's sitting for an hour so that he and Howard could debate the issue of Australia's involvement in Iraq. If you didn't know that Johnny Chickenhawk -- the war Prime Minister as he must think of himself -- is all bluster and no policy, you would have thought he would jump at the chance. Didn't he just challenge Rudd to tell all? But no, he had a minion move a motion to gag Rudd and that was that.
Mr Rudd said he wanted to debate Mr Howard's false basis for the decision to go to war; his misuse of intelligence material to justify his decision; his failure to articulate a mission statement, exit strategy, and strategy to win the war; and his attack on the United States' Democrats.
"And ... the prime minister's lack of guts and courage in refusing to accept the leader of the opposition's challenge to a nationally televised debate on Labor's plan to bring our troops home and the prime minister's plan to leave our troops in Iraq indefinitely," he said.
Mr Howard, who has been under fire for his attack on US presidential hopeful Barack Obama's Iraq policy, yesterday labelled Mr Rudd gutless for dodging questions about the consequences of an early US withdrawal from Iraq.
Mr Rudd, who has challenged Mr Howard to a televised debate on the issue, today reiterated that his policy would be a withdrawal of Australian forces, in consultation with the Americans at the end of a six-month troop rotation.
He said it was Mr Howard who did not have a plan.
"Mr Howard in this debate talks about guts and courage . . . guts and courage doesn't involve sending the sons and daughters of Australian families to fight a war with no exit strategy in mind for them," Mr Rudd told ABC Radio.
"Guts and courage also lies in rising to the challenge of a nationally televised debate on his alternative plan for Iraq and mine."
Australia has no deadline for removing its 1400 troops from Iraq.
"The alternative strategy, by the way, is a continuation of the current military strategy which, after four years, has failed," Mr Rudd said.
"I have a clear exit strategy for those Australian troops, Mr Howard has none and my challenge to him is: what is his alternative strategy (and) if he is a man of courage to tell the Australian people how he intends to win the war in Iraq."
Mr Rudd said a withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq would have to be followed with immediate political pressure on warring Islamist groups.
Mr Rudd, quoting the US Baker Hamilton Report, said a staged withdrawal of troops through until the first quarter of 2008 was the best response to ongoing deaths among both coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.
"If you look at the Baker Hamilton plan it talks about a staged withdrawal of US troops into the year 2008 and the consequences which flow from that are how do you best provide the necessary political pressure on the warring Sunni and Shiite factions to bring about some sort of political consensus which ends the civil war," Mr Rudd told ABC Radio.
Mr Howard, speaking on radio at about the same time as Mr Rudd, again challenged the Labor leader to voice his view on the consequences of coalition forces withdrawing from Iraq by next March.
He again defended his decision not to accept Mr Rudd's challenge to a TV debate, saying the pair debated each other in the parliament.
He accused the opposition leader of using the debate as a "smokescreen" to avoid expressing his own views on the consequences of Mr Obama's policy to withdraw troops from Iraq by March next year.
As Paul Kelly said in today's Australian:
Asked about the details of Labor policy, shadow foreign minister Robert McClelland said yesterday an ALP government would stage its withdrawal after consulting with the Australian military and our US and British allies. Full stop. It would not necessarily withdraw with the next troop rotation after Labor's election. Witness maximum flexibility.
Dirty tricks and lies are going to be the only way out for Machiavelli Jr. The campaign is already started. In just the few hours since I started to write this posting, the following stories have appeared on the Internet.
We ain't seen nothin' yet.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 4:46 PM
February 13, 2007
Australia's Prime Miniature* hits the world stage
Courtesy Bill Leak, The Australian
John Howard likes the world stage but suddenly he has turned into an embarrassing extra in someone else's play. -- Michelle Grattan, Blunder, followed by bluster, with a dash of hubris
The perception of John Howard as an international statesman has been graphically exposed as a mythological invention of his spin doctors. -- Keith Remington, letter to The Age.
Mr Howard seems to have conveniently forgotten that there wasn't any al-Qaeda influence in Iraq before the invasion of the "coalition". Di Keller, letter to The Age.
Cornered like a cockroach on the midnight wall by Kevin Rudd in Parliament yesterday, John Howard refused to back down from his right-wing-lunatic-fringe comments about Barack Obama and the Democrats. Instead of acting like the statesman he likes to think he is by admitting he was way out of line, he carried on like a leadership-forfeiting petulant little boy, all but stamping his feet.
Obama was right to invite him to put Australian troops where his rhetoric is. If Howard is so sure he is right then he could indeed commit several thousand more troops. But since more than half of the nation disagrees with him on Iraq, he should be selective in whom he calls up. Let him begin with the sons and daughters of his ministerial colleagues and then to the sons and daughters of all those who support this infernal war. Since most journalists think Howard will win the next election -- in spite of eleven years of incompetence, corruption and causing Australia to be a prime terrorist target -- he should have enough new insurgency fodder to fill Iraqi streets with Aussie blood and gore for years.
Judging by the muted response from the White House to Howard's outburst -- even Bush must be embarrassed by this psychopathic sycophant** -- it must have gone over like a lead balloon.
Howard will need to run to the arms of Dick Cheney, who visits Australia this week, for the solace only a fellow-travelling misanthrope can give. The Little Arse-licker will want to keep an eye cocked, however, in case Cheney accidentally shoots him.
* - coined by the Zeitgeist Gazette
** - coined by Bob Ellis
-- Olney Garkle
Courtesy Ron Tandberg, The Age
February 12, 2007
Weasel of Oz hisses at Obama
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
They don't come any more clueless than Arsetralia's own Alfred E. Neuman (better known as Major Magoo). Except o' course for Umeruhca's Oaf-in-Chief. The love affair of the right wing century features none other than John "I'd power-walk a million miles for one of your smiles" Howard and George "If I had half a brain I'd be able to put two thoughts together to form a third" Bush.
Hang in there Obama, Little Johnny's just one of those larval conservative lap dogs who keeps yipping for attention. Like Bush, he will go down as his country's most shameful leader ever. But the descriptors won't stop there.
-- Olney Garkle
February 10, 2007
Bunco Johnny and his electorate of marks
There are at least four reasons to buy The Australian newspaper: Bill Leak, Phillip Adams, Matt Price, and George Megalogenis. In today's Oz Megalogenis (Lazarus PM prepares to do it again) counts the ways in which John Howard has always managed to bounce back from horrendous polls as election time nears:
The simple answer is he backflipped, he bribed, then he changed the public conversation. It was the last move that caught Labor out each time. Howard dealt with the issues that troubled him by taking them off the table.
And Labor could never get the poor old electorate to remember what they were.
Howard is the political equivalent of the confidence trickster who operates the age-old shell game. You know, the low-rent huckster who emerges from a dark alley to con folks into betting on which of three bottle caps is hiding the pea, while his shills pretend to be excited customers. Like his swindling counterpart, Howard changes the bottle caps of policy direction faster than the eye can see or the mind can remember. Often enough, there is no policy pea under the cap at all. But wait! Here come the cops -- or a government-orchestrated diversion -- and the electorate quickly move on, while Thimblerigger John and his ministerial shills slip back into the alley's shadow.
Megalogenis' name is on the byline of another article in the Oz: Miners could save PM's job:
For John Howard, the key to turning climate change to his electoral advantage can be found in central Queensland.
If the Prime Minister can convince enough voters in Capricornia that Labor has gone too green and would sacrifice coal industry jobs, then the task of holding power will be made a little easier
Well, Wedgie John isn't the only wily politician on the circuit this year. That's right, folks, Johnny's coal wedge bounced right off Kevin Rudd's tightly clenched buttocks: Howard, Rudd slam Brown's coal plan.
The Littlest Swindler who conned a nation for eleven years must be wondering if he can do it again. He'll need all the help he can get from his wife: There, there John repeating over and over on a loop in his power-walking ear bud, everything will be all right, dear. Janette will need to be on duty 24/7 to soothe her homuncular hubby as he fights to remain Australia's most powerful self-created Frankenstein.
-- Olney Garkle
February 5, 2007
More reflections on the inanity of existence
On the screen behind him, the succession of diagrams that had punctuated his speech stopped and was replaced by a brief and poignant documentary devoted to the mental -- and sometimes unbearable -- sufferings of Vietnam veterans. They couldn't forget, had nightmares every night, could no longer even drive or cross the street without assistance, they lived constantly in fear and it seemed impossible for them to re-adapt to a normal social life. It focused then on the case of a stooped, wrinkled man who had only a thin crown of dishevelled red hair and who seemed to be truly reduced to a wreck: he trembled constantly, could no longer leave his house and was in need of permanent medical assistance; and he suffered, suffered without end. In the cupboard of his dining room he kept a little jar, filled with soil from Vietnam; every time he opened the cupboard and took out the jar, he broke down in tears.
"Stop," said Knowall. "Stop." The image froze on the close-up of the old man in tears. "Stupidity," continued Knowall. "Complete and utter stupidity. The first thing this man should do is take his bottle of Vietnamese soil and throw it out of the window. Every time he opens the cupboard, every time he takes out the bottle -- and sometimes he does it up to fifty times a day -- he reinforces the neuro-circuit, and condemns himself to suffer a little more. Similarly, every time that we dwell on the past, that we return to a painful episode -- and this is more or less what psychoanalysis boils down to -- we increase the chances of reproducing it. Instead of advancing, we bury ourselves. Whenever we experience sadness, disappointment, something that prevents us from living, we must start by moving out, burning photos, avoiding talking to anyone about it. Repressed memories disappear; this can take some time, but they disappear in the end. The circuit deactivates itself." -- p.82-83, Michel Houellebecq: The Possibility of an Island.
Almost everyone holds on to painful memories and experiences. It's as if they have decided that these events should define their existence. The example of the Vietnam veteran is extreme, but I know of people who will almost eagerly recall some earlier, negative event in their lives in order to put the brakes on any present happiness or cause for optimism. They want others to know of their hurt and to feel sorry for them. But to what avail? Compared to survivors of Auschwitz -- many of whom have successfully "deactivated the circuit" of essence-thwarting pain while, at the same time, never forgetting -- these people are wilfully making their lives a misery.
I'm not speaking of "avoiding," but of simply letting those moments go, of consigning them to their place in the personal history along with everything else that happened. Of removing their power to destroy the present. Because the present is all we have. There is nothing we can act on in the past or in the future. We can plan for the future, of course, but it is never now. There is nothing we can actually make of it until it arrives. But now, this moment, we can do what we will. And there is no reason why what happened once upon a time should reduce our capacity to do, now, what we will.
Like everyone, I surround myself with mementos of the past -- photos, music, movies, heart-wrenching souvenirs of wonderful times. Mostly I value them, but essentially they are a burden. I allow them to define me; ultimately they confine me. I also have one or two "jars in the cupboard". Nothing as terminal to my well-being as the Vet's jar, but if I chose, I could let them fester and turn me into bitter man. I do not choose.
Deactivating the negative circuits are easy for some, nearly impossible for others. Yet, once faced consciously, brought into the light of glorious day, the task must surely be possible.
The real test of courage is to simply walk away from all that wonderful detritus that defines a life. The problem is, most us don't want freedom, we just want security. And then we die.
-- Olney Garkle
February 4, 2007
Howard's Australia: rotten to the core
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
As David Hicks is charged for supporting terrorism and attempted murder (although he never actually fired a weapon), and whose conviction is assured after five years of gentle coercion at Guantanamo and the recent introduction of hearsay evidence into law, John Howard and his very Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, are relaxed and comfortable in the moral vacuum within which they reside.
Indeed, didn't our PM declare Australia to be the greatest nation on earth on John Howard Day? And didn't we look up from our breakfast cereal -- not of sugar-coated letters and numerals, but tiny little sugar-coated flags -- and cheer?
No, we didn't. Because we were sickened.
And so was the venerable Terry Lane. Here is another of his Perspective columns for The Sunday Age, 4 February 2007:
ON AUSTRALIA DAY, the Prime Minister looked out over the harbour from Kirribilli and declared that ours is the greatest nation on Earth.
And why not? He didn't have to deal with Connex trains or buy a first home on an impossible mortgage. He probably doesn't care about the mighty mountains and great lakes that we don't have or the first-class education system that has gone missing.
He can be forgiven for thinking himself the most blessed of prime ministers in the happiest of lands.
But is this so? Last Sunday's newspaper had the following headline: "Canada: PM apologises".
Improbable, is it not? A prime minister apologises to a citizen. Not only does Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologise but he offers the citizen, Maher Arar, $11.4 million in compensation for "the role played by Canadian officials in the terrible ordeal that you went through in 2002 and 2003".
What Arar went through is pretty much the same ordeal as befell our own Mamdouh Habib.
A commission of inquiry, headed by Ontario Chief Justice Dennis O'Connor found that in 2002 American officials seized Arar, a dual Canadian-Syrian citizen, at JFK Airport, New York. They were acting on advice from Canadian agencies that Arar was a would-be terrorist — a claim that the O'Connor commission found was without foundation.
In fact, while Arar was being held in New York the Canadians told the Americans that they had made a mistake. Arar was not under suspicion.
Undeterred by the facts, the Americans then put Arar in a small jet and subjected him to the full "extraordinary rendition" treatment — that is, he was sent abroad to be tortured.
He was flown to Amman and then taken by van to the Palestine Branch prison in Damascus. He was subjected to beatings on the way and in Damascus began a nightmare of torture.
For 10 months he was kept in a basement cell that was about two metres high, 1.8 metres long and 90 centimetres wide. The cell contained two bottles, "one for water, one for urine". There was one small opening in the ceiling for light and, Arar told the commission, cats would urinate on him through the opening.
Arar was beaten regularly with electrical cable. "The pattern was three or four lashes with the cable, then questions, followed by more beatings," the report says.
Judge O'Connor was also commissioned to inquire into the Canadian security agencies, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He found the police unco-operative and in his recommendations he writes: "I conclude that existing accountability and review mechanisms for the RCMP's national security activities are not adequate…"
He is concerned about the inability of "a complaint-based approach to provide a firm foundation for ensuring that the often secret national security activities respect the law and rights and freedoms". Sound familiar?
The US Government still has Arar on its terrorist list despite O'Connor finding no evidence that he is a threat, but he has been lucky. Had he been a citizen of the Greatest Nation on Earth he would still be in a Syrian dungeon or perhaps dead. He certainly wouldn't be getting an apology from his government, let alone compensation.
And can someone answer this question: why does the US Government use the torture services of one corner of the infamous "axis of evil" to do its dirty work?
The irony is that the Canadian Prime Minister is a right-winger whose election victory was aided immeasurably by advice from the Howard camp.
Speaking of numerals, 2007 adds up to 9, which signifies completion. Let's hope it means the completion of John Howard's reign of banal evil and the end of David Hicks' incarceration by what could only be described as a totalitarian regime.
-- Olney Garkle
February 3, 2007
Reply to Reflections on the inanity of existence
The following was sent as a comment to my posting, Reflections on the inanity of existence. I thought it was too good (and too long) to leave there. It's written by Nahum Ayliffe, a good and thoughtful man whose website is a must. -- Olney Garkle
I noticed your comments regarding Howard. Howard and henchmen's/women's colossal ignorance is symptomatic of decisions and priorities that they have predetermined. I think this is also another way of writing the philosophical example from Schopenhauer.
For example, my church work is funded at the local level by a generous donor, who just happens to be a high ranking member of a certain successful business entity. It's an entity with which I have some serious ethical concerns, particularly with their business model and ruthless profit taking and fee structures. But I've got to pay my rent, so I've decided to temper my public criticism of his corporate entity, whilst still challenging him personally from time to time.
Howard knows where his bread is buttered. Thus decisions are made in the 'national interest.' But this is code for Conservative political interest, and the interests of BIG banks and BIG business. He's moved aside on climate change, and has started talking in the right direction, because there's votes there. Maybe the Aussie of the Year was a cynical move, appointing vocal climate change expert and Howard critic, Tim Flannery. See I'm serious, but I'm a "realist." What Howard is saying is, "Tim Flannery and his contemporaries are not realists, but I am. Trust me."
On your comments regarding the apathy of the masses, perhaps you should read Canadian philosopher/economist John Ralston Saul, if you haven't already. He talks about the political class of technocrats, who are consumed with making politics so boring and uninteresting for the common man that apathy is the favoured option. The days of Don Chipp's enormous town hall rallies are over. Today, it's all buying votes, it's not a dialogue anymore. There are no checks and balances.
Howard pork barrels through appeasing his loyal local members, and throwing some scraps to the consumers with cash grabs and baby bonuses etc. Menzies was the one to highlight the value of the consumeristic forgotten people and we've never looked back. Reread that speech (it's on the net). It's all about individualism, and if we're all consumed by our individualistic goals, providing for retirement, getting kids to 'that' school and buying the latest consumable for conspicuous consumption among peers, who gives a shit about the country!
I work in Brighton and on a quiet, safe street, and there's a wall of walls. Barricades and brick walls. It's not just a Kasey Chambers album. It's on every street. Still I think it's not too late to turn on, tune in and drop out. Maybe the Ruddite has a chance. Maybe he will be a little more moderate than Howard's chronic opportunistism.
Still I don't believe we'll ever see radical change embraced by the centre. It's at the edges where these ideas take root, and community changes slowly with such ideas. Just looking at the David Hicks case is evident. Perhaps in the next few months, Hicks will need to be brought home. If he is not home by the election, I'm pretty sure it will be an election issue.
(I think it was Irfan Yusuf who wrote something interesting in Crikey on the fact that Hicks joined another team, so he is the great unwashed among Conservatives. Why would he leave us - traitor to our ideas and 'our religion'? and I think the blue rinse set still believe this shit, so that's why Howards intractible on Hicks.)
Still I believe Howard's stubbornness will be his undoing. I'm counting on it, or I might be looking to become a fugitive from my own country. Go join the Muslims or something. Keep Hicksey company in that hellhole Guantanamo.
Posted by Olney Garkle at 12:00 PM