March 29, 2007
If Hicks were a Man of Steel like Johnny Chickenhawk…
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
If only David Hicks had read Harold Hark's handy hints for political prisoners, he might have hung on long enough to test the illegal travesty of Gitmo.
We all know why he pleaded guilty. I'd have probably done the same. And Hark? He fled three squares a day for the vagaries of vagabondage in Europe. Rumour has it he's being rendered somewhere in Poland.
Seriously, it would take a real mensch to have looked the kangaroos in their watery eyes and said, "Not Guilty. Go for it."
One such mensch was Alexandros Panagoulis, who suffered your basic inhuman torture at the hands of The Generals during the Greek dictatorship of Papadopoulous. He is immortalised in Oriana Fallaci's book, A Man.
There's a big difference between Hicks and Panagoulis, however. Hicks took up arms with the fascist Taliban in its war with the fascist Bush Administration, while Alekos was an anti-fascist who fought against what they both stand for.
Here are some eloquent letters from The Age on David Hicks:
The Hicks affair is a longstanding disgrace. It will forever remain an irremovable stain on the Howard Government — which, for years, has actively supported and promoted the prolonged solitary confinement, the denial of human and legal rights and the psychological torture of an Australian citizen.
It has supported a regime that has rewritten the law at Guantanamo to remove the basic legal rights and safeguards we all expect. Rights of habeas corpus have been removed. Retrospective laws can make anyone guilty of anything. The Geneva Convention has been eliminated. There is no longer any form of presumption of innocence for suspects — just pre-trial statements of guilt. You can be convicted on secret evidence that you cannot access. The legal system is now "plead guilty now or rot in this hell-hole forever".
However the key issues are not about Hicks. They are about the fundamental changes to the basis of Western law and human rights. With the exception of our inappropriately named Attorney-General, the Australian legal fraternity has universally condemned the process. Regrettably the real terrorist attack on democracy is coming internally from our own Western leaders, not from Islam nor from al-Qaeda.
The disappointment is that a majority of Australians have long been too uninterested or self-absorbed to understand or protest against this erosion of our legal system and our fundamental rights. -- Graeme Scarlett
The Howard Government is in La-La Land if it thinks David Hicks is no longer an election issue. Late last year, a seachange occurred among Coalition voters. Maybe it was the five-year anniversary of Hick's incarceration that did it, but something caused the scales to fall from their eyes and they finally saw Howard, Ruddock and Downer for what they really are: so ruthless as to drive an Australian citizen to the brink of insanity in order to appear tough on terrorism. And they saw that these three only found "compassion" when they realised they were out of step with the vast majority of their supporters. They will not forget. -- Lloyd Swanton
For David Hicks to be held in jail in Australia to serve whatever sentence the Guantanamo tribunal may dispense (The Age, 28/3), he will have to be denied the normal resort to appeal, review and habeas corpus that is every other Australian prisoner's right. Otherwise, any Australian court before which he were brought would be bound to release him on the ground that he has neither committed any offence that obtains under Australian law nor been convicted by any legal process that an Australian court can recognise.
In keeping Hicks in jail at the behest of the US military's irregular tribunal, Messrs Howard and Ruddock will be betraying more than this one desperate Australian citizen. Once he is returned to Australia, they have committed themselves to subverting the foundations of Australian law and, accordingly, to degrading the very freedoms that the so-called war on terror was meant to safeguard. -- Patrick Wolfe
David Hicks' plea does not reflect his guilt. His plea is a product of the coercion that saturates the entire military tribunal and its relationship with Guantanamo Bay. Five years of torturous conditions with the prospect of it continuing indefinitely would be enough to make even the most stubborn man admit he did something that he did not necessarily do. Such conditions could even break John Howard's resolve to never apologise or say "sorry" for wrongs (even if he felt he was not personally responsible). -- Jay Tilley
When they sentence Chickenhawk Johnny for his crimes against just about everything, let's hope they give him five years in the David Hicks Honorary Jail Cell. Instead of keeping the light on 24/7, they can keep him in total darkness while piping in a 24/7 continuous loop of Philip Glass music. Say, Music in Twelve Parts followed by Music with Changing Parts. The Man of Steel will plead guilty to every crime ever committed within 24 hours.
-- Olney Garkle
March 28, 2007
The corporate mentality and its champion in Howard
In sheer weight of numbers, the benefits that the new industrial relations laws give to business look unclear, and possibly light, compared to the fears that it generates for most employees.
… by July last year, a MYOB small business survey found 40 per cent of small businesses had indicated WorkChoices legislation was unfair to many employees.
Further, only 9 per cent of small businesses planned to make any changes to their approach to employment, pay and conditions as a result of the new legislation.
"It appears from these surprising results that small businesses are well aware of the importance of their employees and the communities they operate in," said MYOB Australia's managing director Tim Reed at the time. "And they don't want to damage those relationships." -- Peter Switzer, To win, Howard must take ire out of IR.
You have to wonder about those percentages now. It may be true that small businesses weren't all that enthusiastic about WorkChoices: your local butcher, the single-operation bakery, the fruiterer, and so forth. But those keen operators with a nose for the franchise must be slavering. Anyone with a nose for business is -- let's face it -- a slaverer when it comes to raking in the dough. Put a normal human being in front of a chance to make gobs and he or she will trample any worker who gets in the way. For, along with a nose for business is the realisation that workers are a dime a dozen.
Hence the success in the last century of the trade unions. But Gordon Gecko has prevailed. It's back to the future for the corporate swill and their faithful minions like John Howard.
When Howard screams and hollers about those awful Unions, he is making it clear to working people that his government will not abide them having any rights, that commercial interests far outweigh the public good. "A casual job is better than no job at all," he says, confirming that he is the master of lowered expectations for the work force. That no one can support a family and a mortgage (or rent) with a casual job goes in one ear and straight out the other. By contrast, for up 'n' comer and big time employers, WorkChoices means the sky is the limit.
Howard is not a nation builder, he is a business builder. He stands for the Corporate Masters and we are meant to be their Servants. That is the natural order of things for his party, peopled almost entirely by private school toffs who were born to rule.
That unions should come to the aid of workers is, for he and his ilk, simply scandalous, un-Australian in fact. WorkChoices represents his most arrogant attack to date on those not in the privileged corporate class.
But what is the corporate mentality? Look no further than lowly toilet paper for a prime example.
We've written before about the toilet paper racket, about how it is constantly being repackaged with smaller sheets in rolls that ever diminish. It's one of those travesties that slips under the radar. No one wants to discuss toilet paper, for God's sake, not even when they have large families.
The TP I've been buying for a couple of years costs $3.09 for six rolls at 270 sheets a roll, with each sheet 11 x 10 cm. Most brands routinely screw punters with a measly 200 sheets or even 160 or less. On top of this, they save a few nano-cents by reducing the sheet to 10.5 by 10 cm.
My particular TP no longer seems to be available, but the remaining items of its scented version now lists a roll at 260 sheets.
That's right, even though they're deleting the line, they've reduced the roll by ten sheets!
This is what the corporate mentality is all about.
Some ambitious MBA decides to win favour with his bosses by offering an infinitesimal profit increase if the number of sheets to a roll of fucking toilet paper is decreased by ten. "Whoopee," cry the bosses, recalibrate the machines!" An entire tube of KY is exhausted in the ensuing orgy, helped along by a slide show of wizened shareholders in lewd poses. Freshly showered, the bosses and their new initiate repair to a fuhst clahss restaurant where they are dutifully served by casual staff, some, students perhaps, bleary-eyed from having to work two jobs to pay their HECS.
This is the pathetic bottom line for business types, whether ready to move on from the local shopping strip or ensconced in corporate offices high above the teeming masses. These are people who, regarding the punters as nothing more than profit fodder (or gun fodder, as the case may be), devote their lives to finding methods of delivering less and less while charging more and more. And the workers on their payrolls are mere ciphers. These are the people who John Howard champions.
The faith of the Howard Government in the stupidity of voters is touching. -- Marcia Turner, letter to The Australian.
The big problem for the Howard Government on IR is that it appears to believe its own spin. John Howard, Peter Costello and Joe Hockey trot out statistics purporting to show that employees are financially better off under Work Choices. That cuts no ice with individuals who draw their conclusions directly from the size of their pay packets. -- Agnes Mack, letter to The Australian.
It's a sad old truism that people don't act until they are personally affected. WorkChoices is starting to bite. Especially with the children (now entering the work force) of parents who still hold real jobs. That is, jobs with leave loading, sick pay and all the rest. The kind of jobs everyone used to have before John Howard's WorkChoices invoked the heyday of the 19th century.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 11:35 AM
March 26, 2007
Flat Daddies: is Bush's Umeruhca a cardboard cutout?
(Former staff writer Tomás El ("Pinche") Pendejo's sister-in-law, Chinga Sue Madre, dropped this off yesterday. What could we do but print it? -- Olney Garkle)
The following is reprinted from Dani Valent's fyi in the 17 March 2007 edition of Good Weekend. (Copyright, The Age.)
What is a Flat Daddy? It's a life-sized mounted photograph of a deployed US soldier that stays behind in his home to offer comfort and company to his family. Flat Daddies have been around in a small way since at least 2003 but they got a leg-up in 2006 when the Maine National Guard offered them to all families of deployed members. Take-up has been huge. Flat Daddies sit at the dinner table, attend children's sports matches, provide support at the gynaecologist's and visit restaurants (albeit without tipping).
Creepy or cuddly? The foam-backed cut-outs aren't big on hugs, but many mothers say that children with a Flat Daddy feel as if the real guy is part of their lives. It felt silly at first, says Sherri Fish, the wife of a soldier in Iraq, but when her three-year-old son stopped being angry with Daddy for having gone away and started talking to his avatar, she was converted. Sergeant First Class Barbara Claudel from the Maine National Guard explains that many soldiers like the idea of having a doppelgänger on the home front. She encourages families to take their Flat Daddy to parties and weddings, sit him in a chair and take a photo. "Then you send a photo to your soldier and say, 'Sorry you weren't here, but you were really.'"
Are they just for military families? So far, but surely it's just a matter of time before two-dimensional family members replace counterparts absent due to business trips. Be warned, though, military wives have already noted that Flat Daddies do not tidy up, apply Band-Aids or pour drinks. On the upside, they don't leave the toilet seat up, and if they break, they can be fixed with sticky tape.
But wait, there's more. For those families with moms on active duty there are Flat Mommies. O' course, when it comes to the pulchritudinal member(s) of the American Fighting Family, flat just don't get it. Umeruhcans of the male gender want 'em inflated! All they have to do is send away for a Flat Mummy and then peel off the Mummy-sticker and paste it on the inflatable doll. Born-again Christians will want this model, with all its naughty bits removed:
But hell, why stop there? Why not send the whole damn family to war? Like so:
Yep, there's nothing like Umeruhcan ingenuity to keep the home fires a-burnin' while the boys go off to fight the Injuns ... or is it the Commies ... oh, yeah, them Eyerackees. Cause everyone knows Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden.
Speaking of ladles, is there anyone left in this consarn family c'n fill this hyar bowl with some o' that thar gruel? Or have I gotta join up to get fed!
-- Chinga Sue Madre
March 25, 2007
Two for a Sunday
First up, readers of The Age letters page will have noted the considered submissions over the years of one, Shirley Scanlon. An arch-conservative-cum-reactionary-cum-extra for George Romero's zombie movies, Ms Scanlon's wit and intellectual prowess has ever provided us with howls of laughter. Saturday's tidbit is not one of her best ... or is it? On the subject of Kevin Rudd's bonnet-popping, gingham-unravelling raid on the Future Fund to bring us up to the broadband speeds of Lower Slobovia, Ms Scanlon had this to say:
Rudd is pandering to the trendy at the expense of the welfare of our children and grandchildren.
We pray The Age will one day publish her collected letters.
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
Adele Horin (How the PM's attack dog bit his own tail) is a masterful dissection of that cockroach's sweaty anus, Santo Santoro:
When moralisers fall from grace, it is hard to resist the urge to rub the salt in. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, asks us to show compassion to Senator Santo Santoro now that he is undone by his undisclosed share dealings.
But Santoro was not just any minister in the Howard Government. He was the holier-than-thou patriot and right-wing Christian who mercilessly harassed the national broadcaster for its alleged political bias, imagined anti-Christian bias and lack of patriotism. He was the Government's chief attack dog in the quest to shackle and intimidate the ABC. The ABC has come through rather better than Santoro. It was Santoro who didn't do the right and proper thing, not the ABC.
When gap between word and deed is great, as it was with Santoro, it is worth recalling the man on his high horse in the Senate in 2003 berating the ABC for being "sloppy and shoddy".
Just click on the above link to read the whole thing. You won't be sorry.
-- Olney Garkle
March 24, 2007
A day in the life of the Howard Government
Here are some snippets from the Saturday papers.
Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey is under pressure to appear before an inquiry into car parts maker Tristar after denying yesterday he told company directors to break the law by sacking workers and rehiring them on individual contracts.
The Weekend Australian has learned that talks between Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Telstra have resumed at the instigation of the Prime Minister's office. The talks have gained new urgency since Labor leader Kevin Rudd this week announced a plan to tip $4.7 billion in taxpayers' funds, including a $2.7billion contribution from the Future Fund, into a high-speed broadband network.
"Coonan's office is in meltdown," one person familiar with the talks said. "They'd like to stitch together a deal, but they have little room to move."
Newly appointed parliamentary secretary Brett Mason sat on four share investments, one for more than 18 months, before declaring them this week.
When he was promoted to parliamentary secretary, Senator Mason was asked whether he had any undeclared shares. He told the PM no.
At Melissa Cakes in Altona, everyone is on an AWA, which means they have lost award conditions of penalty rates for weekends and public holidays. The cafe employs 14 staff — two full-timers and the rest casuals. Manager Salim el-Hassan says that without the agreements, the cafe would not be viable.
"If you had to pay every staff (member) time-and-a-half, there's no point in being open," he says. "At the end of the day, you've got a business to run."
Most staff, he says, had no objection to AWAs because most were students who "just want some pocket money for their studies".
This pretty well sums up WorkChoices. Great for employers, relieved of all responsibility for quality of life for their workers, and not bad for students working for pocket money to help defray the costs of staying at home until their parents die of old age. They'll never be able to afford to buy a home or even rent an apartment or room unless four or five others join in, but that's life in John Howard's Australia, where the rich get richer and everyone else works for pocket money.
-- Olney Garkle
March 23, 2007
Selfishness and racism are Howard's only hope
Watching Kevin Rudd being interviewed by Kerry O'Brien on The 7:30 Report last night, you couldn't help but realise that Rudd is as smart as John Howard is dumb. The best that can be said of Howard is that he is wily, cunning, clever. But when it comes to his capacity to nut out policies that benefit the nation (as opposed to his cronies), he is wanting to the point of dumbness. Rudd didn't drop the ball once. He knows what he's talking about to the point where a debate between the two before the election would utterly destroy Howard.
That doesn't mean he will lose the election. This morning I had a pleasant encounter at the Safeway checkout. The woman taking my money agreed that everyone is tired of Howard, but on the subject of multiculturalism she turned feral. And the expression of the burly bloke behind me was one of contained hatred.
Over the years, Howard has successfully uncorked the racist genie. It may be true that no one really likes him (not even Janette, probably), but he remains the hero for xenophobic white supremacists. That demographic, in combination with Aspirational solipsists, could well see him over the line.
The ludicrous thing about white supremacists all over the world is that most of them look like genetic garbage. Here they are trumpeting the superiority of the white race above all others, while anyone attaining power on such a deranged policy (Hitler, for example) would have them gassed immediately as prime examples of untermenschen.
Having said all that, Howard may finally be finished off by what the Safeway lady and so many others are saying: they are sick to death of him. People may have grown tired of Menzies, but with Howard they are reacting more viscerally. That and the perception that he is beginning to stumble under pressure. Two articles in yesterday's Herald Sun point to the canvassed possibility of Costello replacing Howard: not likely. According to Bruce Baird (NSW) "the only way Mr Costello could take the reins of power would be "if the PM resigned, fell under a bus or had a fatal heart attack". The other, They think I'm elegant? Hear hear points to Howard's recent gaffes possibly caused by poor hearing. "Some MPs call the gaffes 'senior's moments'."
Kevin Rudd is playing this election game close to Howard's so-called conservatism. So well has Howard indoctrinated the nation into an intellectual-despising, quasi-Orwellian state that Rudd knows he cannot truly represent what used to be called humanity or community or the fair go without incurring suspicion. Of course, it remains to be seen just how conservative Rudd is -- some are truly worried, particularly about his religious beliefs. In the end, he may be no less conservative than Howard, just a conservative with heart, unlike the Prime Minister who, tragically for us all, was born without one. Rudd also might restore some honour to conservatism which, let's face it, is the way most human beings engage with life.
Every election since 1996 has been about restoring Australia's integrity, but none more so than this one. Try to imagine the depths of despair that will come over this country if this tired, clueless impostor is re-elected yet again. Not only the despair of those who cannot believe he's been there for so long, but of those who will eventually come to realise that they have voted for no future at all, a moribund state based on reactionary fear.
-- Olney Garkle
March 22, 2007
Broadband: Ron Boswell typifies old fogeys in John Howard Party
Senator Ron Boswell says there is no need for a broadband upgrade. "We've got adequate broadband for the people out there," he said.
So out of touch is John Howard and the troglodytes who surround him in Parliament that no one would be surprised if they came to work wearing hats. That is the era they all seem stuck in.
Like the old lady across the street who can always be seen clutching her cardigan in fear that something else might change to alter the world of the Fifties where she still lives, Peter Costello nearly had an apoplectic fit yesterday over Kevin Rudd dipping into the "Future Fund" to bring Australia up to speed on broadband. In Parliament he screamed:
Smashed the glass, taken the key, opened the fund and announced a plan to spend the money. Mr Speaker, this is absolutely irresponsible. And if people want to know why they can't have Labor trusted with money, Mr Speaker, this proves it - you cannot trust the Labor Party with money.
John Howard appeared equally stupid. Even Terry McCrann was taken aback:
Earth to PM: trying to characterise a plan for a 21st century broadband network as having "no regard for the future" was sort of clunky with a capital C.
At present Australia is the laughing stock of developed countries, most of which have exponentially higher broadband speeds, the least of them still making ours resemble dialup. The backward-looking Howard Government has done nothing for eleven years.
According to Treasurer Peter Costello, Labor's plan to invest $2.7 billion of the vast Future Fund to usher in a new era of high-speed broadband for 98% of Australians is "financially reckless". It would "steal money from the Future Fund, from the future of all Australians," says Costello.
Bunkum. What Labor is proposing is a) good policy, b) prudent economics, c) crying out to happen and -- the real reason Costello is spewing -- d) smart politics.
What the Opposition is proposing is something that Australia desperately needs to stay competitive and relevant in the modern communications age. The government should have done it years ago, doesn't seem to comprehend its importance, and is still prevaricating.
$2.7 billion is a tiny portion of the Future Fund. As long as Kevin Rudd reassures everyone that this isn't the start of a wholesale raid on the fund, the policy is a preemptive, timely, nerve-touching vote winner, especially among business constituents.
Which, of course, is the real reason the Treasurer hates it so much.
And Michael Sainsbury in the Oz:
With its proposal to spend up to $4.7 billion of taxpayers' funds on an open-access independent national broadband network, Labor is taking one step in the right direction and another to right a number of past wrongs.
Labor wants to end the current state of internet access in Australia, with half the nation's population stranded with inadequate broadband infrastructure.
Without action, this situation is unlikely to change soon, with Telstra and the communications regulator stuck in an unproductive round of squabbling, court cases and standoffs that are holding up the rollout of a fast internet network.
It's also worth asking, before we move any further with such a proposal, whether the "need for speed" in internet connections has already moved beyond even Labor's sensible plans. Already, tiny Singapore is preparing to spend $5 billion on better connections and faster speeds with fibre all the way to the home, rather than Labor's proposal of taking fibre to the suburban street corner.
Is it worth Australia taking a longer-term view on an even more substantial project worth $20 billion or more?
Excluding the JHP and the old lady across the street, everyone else in this country wants broadband upgraded to at least the state of the art enjoyed by other countries as long ago as five years.
And what is a future fund good for if not to build a better future, starting with infrastructure. Or does it represent to the JHP way of thinking little more than money under the mattress for the inevitable time when the government's forfeiture of its responsibility to the nation presents a future crumbled beyond repair.
-- Olney Garkle
Downer ladders fishnets in hypocritical outburst over Santoro
If you missed Alexander Downer's hysterical hissy fit on Fran Kelly's RN Breakfast show yesterday (and subsequent airings and viewings) here is your chance to catch up. It sort of came from nowhere and it's priceless:
First a transcript from The 7:30 Report:
ALEXANDER DOWNER: He's resigned. What more can he do? I mean, does the Labor Party want him to go out and do something even worse? Leave him alone now. He's resigned. Think about him as a human being. I think it's about time there was a bit more of that from the Labor Party.
Santo Santoro is a human being. Does he have to be whipped and chastised more and more and more? I think the Labor Party should now start talking about something of substance.
This was followed by:
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Foreign Minister, of course, does a good line in whipping and chastising himself. Few could forget this outburst that followed the resignation of Labor's Kelvin Thompson for signing a reference for a notorious Melbourne criminal.
We then see footage of smug Alex saying: "I've always thought Kelvin Thomson was a pretty grubby sort of character, if I could say so - and be, for a Foreign Minister, rather undiplomatic about him."
But best of all, listen (from The World Today). It comes roughly 90 seconds after the segment begins:
Projecting at its clearest. Little Lord Downer knows it will all be turned against him one fine day.
BTW, doesn't he often remind you of Ricky Gervais in The Office?
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 12:01 PM
March 21, 2007
A worry … and a verbal volley at Howard's racist battlers
Letter writer John Oldfield sent this to The Australian today:
Younger voters are politically disengaged, and so simply don’t see the need for a change. Older voters are becoming jaded with Howard but still expect him to win. This attitude is curiously at odds with the opinion polls but is probably more telling.
In the end, the older voters will, in the majority, most probably fall back on their natural conservatism and opt for the safety of Howard’s middle-class welfare. These are the voters who will gift Howard his fifth election win.
I hope he's wrong about the younger voters, but I see no evidence of it. Voters in their twenties barely know who John Howard is, let alone Kevin Rudd. They never watch the news, so they have not gagged repeatedly at the little twat's repulsive demeanour over the years. Living with their parents, who are subsidising their incomes while they live the lifestyle people on their own used to, they will likely just shuffle into the voting booth and wanly tick the one who hasn't interfered all that much with the bubble they live in. Leave us not forget that Howard is a master hypnotist.
As to the older voters, he's probably right there, too. Australia is not known as a nation of sheep for nothing. Still, by the time of the election, a combination of the continuing spotlight on John Howard's trademark deviousness and his government's relentless incompetence by an apparently invincible Kevin Rudd may encourage them to lash out with a timid bit of bravery, enough to restore Australia's reputation.
And then there is Catherine Deveny, my kind of woman. Let's put fences around the suburbs where petrol-heads live, published in The Age today, is a slightly humourous serve on the scum who stand for everything John Howard does. Here are some juicy paragraphs:
How about that Grand Prix, eh? One look at the racing fans is all it takes for me to realise that some suburbs should have fences around them. Knuckle-dragging petrol-heads, anorexic bottle blondes marinated in fake tan and middle-aged blokes with man boobs and pimples on their arses paying exorbitant money to watch cars go fast. What a disgrace. It's no wonder I drink.
I'm sure the parents of terminally ill children suffering rare diseases that there is no funding for researching will take comfort in the fact that the State Government has probably spent $30 million on loud, polluting cars while their child dies. They'll be at peace knowing that Bernie Ecclestone has pocketed a $20 million licensing fee. There goes my chance of ever being a grid girl.
Don't start banging on about all the revenue that it supposedly (and I stress the word supposedly) creates. You could get a far better long-term return by putting that money into science, education or health.
Why is it that many of the flag wavers who are the keenest for these events so they can "show off" to bring tourists into our town are the ones that least want to share it. If you need to have a Grand Prix looting, marauding and corroding our town to feel "proud", please kill yourself at your earliest possible convenience. And take your "I'm Another Australian Against Further Immigration" T-shirt with you.
"Please kill yourself at your earliest possible convenience." I love that. A few years back I got into a slanging match with a Liberal voter at the local mall. As usual, it was like talking to an alien species. For my part, I concluded thusly: "Do the human race a favour by going home and committing suicide." In fact, I wish I had a tee shirt that read: "If you support John Howard do Oz a favour and commit suicide."
Deveny goes on to describe her job, as the host for the Sydney Road Bakery Tours, in which she takes people from Iraqi to Turkish to Lebanese eating establishments to sample their fare and their hospitality. I haven't been to Sydney Road in years, but I'm pencilling it in pronto.
Deveny concludes her article with another serve, this one at the arseholes who drive Toorak Tractors. I think we all agree they are a menace to everyone.
Unless you need to tow a horse float or you are the Bush Tucker man, you don't need a 4WD. When I walk along High Street, Malvern, and see rows of four-wheel-drives that have spent even less time in the bush than Telstra, I want to pull out my key and scratch into their pristine duco BUY A SMALLER CAR YOU GREEDY SELFISH ---- Or ride a bike and save on the lipo.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 4:47 PM
March 20, 2007
Delusional Howard should be yanked offstage
Now is the time for all psychologists to come to the aid of their country and properly assess the mental state of John W. Howard.
The opening paragraph in today's front page Age article, PM stares down war opponents, reads:
In the face of growing despair and pessimism over Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard is set to strongly reaffirm his commitment to the war, and to flag a significantly increased Australian military involvement in Afghanistan.
On the other side of the front page is this: 'US regime worse than Saddam' says statue toppler. Wait until the right wing commentariat gets hold of him. First a hero for pulling down Saddam Hussein's statue in the days of "Mission accomplished," now a traitor. The fact that this man is not blind to the daily slaughter all around him for the last four years will get no mention. The fact that more people have been killed by the Coalition of the Willing than by Saddam will simply be overlooked.
What Howard and his larval fellow travellers truly believe is that Iraq is better off having got rid of Saddam Hussein. This is outright madness. The "statue-toppler," overjoyed at the time, now says, "The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day."
It's hard to say who is the more delusional among the Axis of Western Evil: Bush, Blair or Howard. For an assessment on all three mis-leaders, see: Damage control. Tony Blair seems the more tragic figure, in that he has visibly deteriorated over the years as he has tried to convince himself and the people of Britain that he was right. But Bush and Howard remain, as we have always pictured them, as inauthentic fools, mad little kings bent on taking everyone down with them.
Their entire justification for the war now rests on an ill perceived moral imperative to remove Saddam Hussein because he was a dictator. Well! Shouldn't all dictators be removed? What about the other, equally insane, dictators, Kim Jong Il and Robert Mugabe? What, no oil there?
It's all so transparent and stupid. Worse, it is outright denial. Howard and Bush and all their supporters are unable to admit to us or to themselves that the war was a catastrophic mistake. Unchecked, they will take their denial to a deadly bitter end. "The invasion of Iraq, I believe, will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in US history," says Yale University professor Lieutenant-General William Odom, quoted in the above Damage control.
Such denial renders them unfit to hold office. It places them in the same league with past delusional leaders. Stalin and Hitler may have been responsible for the murder of millions, but Howard, Bush and Blair have the deaths of thousands on their incapable hands, just as did Saddam Hussein before them. To the dead, does it matter who the name of the perpetrator is?
John W. Howard, George W. Bush and Tony Blair are mad as hatters. The polls in their respective countries show that a vast majority of people agree. They should be removed from office immediately.
-- Olney Garkle
March 18, 2007
Major Magoo risks death to stay in power
Nothing happened to The Little Digger in Afghanistan, where Big Dick Cheney almost copped a radical dispersal of body tissue from a suicide bomber, so-o-o-o-o off he went to Iraq.
Clad in the leather jacket that makes him feel big and tough, just like the one Georgie Bush wore when he declared "Mission Accomplished," Our Brave PM almost copped his own radical dispersal of body tissue when the RAAF Hercules he just took off in began to fill with smoke and had to land right away, pronto. Wow! Did he get on the mobile to Big Dick right away? You betcha. "Dick! Dick! It's John Dubya Howard here. Oh, did I get you out of bed? Gosh, I'm sorry, but I just had to call you with the great news … I nearly got killed too!"
See Major Magoo run at a fast waddle from the big smoke-filled Hercules airplane and be interviewed on the tarmac:
The minute his campaign strategists heard the news back home they launched internal and push polling all over the place to judge the reaction of voters. "Would you now vote for Our Brave Mr Howard, knowing that he risked his life for you? Or do you support the cowardly Mr Rudd?"
All in a day's work for the manlet who will do anything to stay in power.
-- Olney Garkle
March 17, 2007
Lucie Aubrac … an ordinary woman, a valiant human being
Never mind Santo Santoro and the endemic corruption of the John Howard Party, the party for whom "conflict of interest" might as well be a phrase in Swahili.
Instead, Bilegrip would like to remember a real mensch, the French Resistance heroine, Lucie Aubrac, who died Wednesday, age 94. It was she who conned the notorious Klaus Barbie into allowing her to visit her husband in Lyon prison in 1943. During this visit, the two planned his escape. Not only did she go on to organise her husband's escape from the clutches of the Nazi's, but she also helped the great Resistance hero, Jean Moulin in his escape. For this, the French have been indebted to her ever since.
I was unable to Google any suitable histories of Lucie Aubrac in English; they're all in French. There are dozens of references to and reviews of the eponymous 1997 film by Claude Berri, a film I eagerly anticipated at the time, but found flat and uninspiring.
So, there is not much to say, other than her life is a reminder that not all of us are sheep or the servants of expedient selfishness. More Lucie Aubrac's and less John Howard's, please.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 2:21 PM
March 16, 2007
Business as usual for the scum at the top
Who do these low-born in the Labor Party think they are? We are the party born to rule. We will decide who slings mud in this country, and the circumstances in which it will be slung. -- King John Bible, The First Book of Philistinian: Dealing with Lesser Beings: 1:1
John "The Littlest Chickenhawk" Howard must have sweat buckets as he flew into Afghanistan yesterday for a pep talk to our valiant combat fodder. As usual, he played follow the leader, this time placing his Hush Puppies lovingly in the footsteps of Dick Cheney, the all-powerful thug who almost got blown to bits last week and who makes this man of steel's leaden heart thud with shucks and awe.
Travelling in a heavily armed convoy (stocked with his personal supply of heavy-absorbency incontinence pads for those scared-shitless moments he routinely experiences outside of Parliament), the Prime Mate alighted in Kabul where he pasted on his nerdy smile for nauseated defence personnel and then teetered and tottered on those little feet that always want to turn around and run as he tried not to fall over while inspecting the troops. After a brief meeting with a contemptuous President Hamid Karzai, he got the hell out of there.
All in a day's work for the little emulator of fascist idols.
Meanwhile, in Washington, The Little Digger's commanders were pistol-whipping each other in ecstasy over the 101 confessions of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who has admitted to being the mastermind behind every crime against God's greatest creation, the Republican Party (and its chief asset, the United States of America), while further admitting to having been the inspiration behind Satan's creation of the Democrats.
Meanwhile, in Canberra, the mud continues to fly. The Government says it's not fair for the opposition to return its sprays about dinners with bad men and childhood recollections. "Who do these low-born in the Labor Party think they are? We are the party born to rule. We will decide who slings mud in this country, and the circumstances in which it will be slung."
Meanwhile, the neo-White Australia immigration policy of the party of the high-born continues to fructify in necrosis. The 82 Tamils from Sri Lanka are being sent to Nauru to endure the cruel and inhumane treatment they deserve for daring to escape civil war and beg us for sanctuary. Who do they think they are ... etc. In the words of Immigration Minister Kevin "not a man, not even a mouse" Andrews, they are being offloaded to the Nauru Triangle "to send a strong message to those considering any attempt to enter Australia illegally."
Like the Conservative Party of disgraced Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, The John Howard Party (and its affiliates, The Liberal Party and National Party) deserves to be wiped out at the next election.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 1:34 PM
March 14, 2007
Albanese on Howard: it's priceless
The Australian must have asked Matt Priceless to find the dirty on some Labor politicians to balance the ignominy emanating from their preferred John Howard Party. And so he did. Not revealing until the end, that Anthony Albanese's Parliamentary spray of John Howard was made nine years ago only made it the more delectable. Fasten your seat belts, folks. As David Stratton used to say on Cinema Classics, "and here it is":
"Today my grievance is against the Prime Minister for his failure to provide leadership. You can trim the eyebrows, you can cap the teeth, you can cut the hair, you can put on different glasses, you can give him a ewe's milk facial for all I care. But, to paraphrase a gritty Australian saying: 'Same stuff, different bucket.' In the pantheon of chinless blue-bloods and suburban accountants that makes up the Australian Liberal Party, this bloke is truly one out of the box. You have to go back to Billy McMahon to find a prime minister who even approaches this one for petulance, pettiness and sheer grinding inadequacy.
"In John Howard, here also is a man small in every sense. Some have said that he is the worst prime minister since Billy McMahon. That is unfair to Billy McMahon. (Consider) the gulf, Mr Deputy Speaker, between the man in his mind - the phlegmatic, proud old English bulldog; the Winston of John Winston Howard - and the nervous, jerky, whiny apparition that we all see on the box every night. When he looks on the box he gets to see what we see, not the masterful orator of his mind but the whingey kid in his sandpit. Spare a thought for us, Mr Deputy Speaker, because we have to watch his performance every day, the chin and top lip jutting out in full duck mode.
"Here is a man who lived at home until he was 32. You can imagine what he was like. Here were young Australians demonstrating against the Vietnam War, listening to the Doors, driving their tie-dyed Kombi cars, and what was John Howard doing? He was at home with mum, wearing his shorts and long socks, listening to Pat Boone albums and waiting for the Saturday night church dance.
"This is the man we have leading the country: yesterday's man, a weak man, a little man, a man without courage and a man without vision. This is Billy McMahon in short pants."
But wait, there's more. Price quotes Little Lord Downer on Rudd. Be warned, though, it may send you into orbit:
Rudd is no Latham, but Coalition ministers seethe at the holier-than-thou portrayal of the now preferred PM. "This is somebody who's said terrible things about us over the last few years, has been happy to say so, has thought he was all terribly clever going out and abusing and denigrating the Government," fumed Downer on ABC television's Insiders. "And now he wants to change his personality somehow into something completely different."
Can't you just see the puffy twit writhing with sissified outrage?
Matt Price has shown us how it's possible to work for the fascists and still get the message across. Priceless!
And don't miss this column in the same edition by Phillip Adams.
-- Olney Garkle
March 11, 2007
Paul Keating's panache
Oh, look, it's just Howard being Howard, isn't it, you know. The little desiccated coconut's under pressure and he's attacking anything he can get his hands on. -- Paul Keating, interviewed on ABC Radio's World Today
The difference between Keating and other noted slanderers (Peter Costello and Jeff Kennett, not to mention the unsung heroes at Bilegrip and SCATT) is that Keating's colourful phrases are contemptuous rather than venomous. As Jason Koutsoukis implies, Keating is more in the Menzies tradition where obvious gits were dealt with accordingly. Behind the barbs of Costello and Kennett (and us) there is more anger and hate than humour. When Costello unleashes in Parliament, it's mostly clever bullshit. Keating caused those who agreed with him to "squeal with delight" at his insults rather than squirm in agreement. Keating is hilarious, the others merely vituperative with a dash of the ha-ha's desperately thrown in. Harold Hark, for example, did not call Scum at the Top the journal of political character assassination -- and himself the assassin -- for nothing.
Keating is the master. Here's another of his choice descriptions, continuing on from the above:
"The thing about poor old Costello, he's all tip and no iceberg … he's been treasurer for 11 years, the old coconut's still sitting there, Araldited to the seat, and, you know, the Treasurer works on the smart quips, but when it comes to staring down the Prime Minister in his office, he always leaves disappointed … he never gets the sword out."
Squeal? I never thought I'd stop.
A point here about semantics: Keating says "little desiccated coconut". Former staff member Tara R. Bümdier thinks that's fine, but to me "desiccated little coconut" is more euphonious. It's a matter of whether you prefer the coconut little and dry or dry and little.
-- Olney Garkle
Another link: Costello 'all tip, no iceberg'
March 10, 2007
Jindabyne (the movie): Dour allegory of John Howard's Australia
I finally got around to seeing Jindabyne, Australia's big film for 2006. It's based on a Raymond Carver story, but I wonder if director Ray Lawrence and screenwriter Beatrix Christian didn't eventually come to see it as I do, as a reflection of the moral decay that has so deadened the spirit of Australia after eleven years of John Howard's torpidly vindictive rule.
In the opening shot we see Gregory stalking his prey, a young aboriginal woman driving along the highway below his lookout. Intolerant, racist and xenophobic, Gregory (what a nice name!) embodies the cold-blooded disregard for human life that has been a driving political force for so much of history.
The girl, on her way to a country music festival, is singing along with a tune on the radio. She is alive, the embodiment of a joie de vivre free of fear that we are all born with … until someone comes along to infect it with the banality of lowered expectations, or, in this case, to snuff it out completely.
In Gregory, we see the ultimate manifestation of the subliminal inhumanity espoused by the John Howard Party. He is made of stone. Even in murder, he cannot find any passion. He simply hates, with an anger born of the ashes of a long dead fire.
In the girl, we see Australia before the events of March 1996.
The film has been running for barely five minutes when Australia is murdered and stuffed into Gregory's boot. The rest of the film, therefore, depicts dead people.
The four men who go fishing and find the girl's corpse floating in the river do not want to interrupt their weekend. Young Billy is only one who volunteers to hike back to the car and report the death. The other three override his concern by invoking pragmatism, the bloodless system raised to the highest ideal by our leader, that of being concerned only with the movement of the boxcars and not their suffering contents.
So they tie the girl's ankle to the branch of a fallen tree, to keep her body from being torn to shreds by the rapids downstream. They are not as far gone as Gregory, but still, they don't bother to call the police until their little holiday is over.
In these men, we see the "Howard Battlers". Perhaps they have a qualm about refugees being held behind razor wire in the name of national security, but they refuse to let it spoil their upwardly mobile party.
When it becomes known that they waited all weekend there is public outrage -- a remnant of pre-Howard social conscience floating to the surface. But soon no one wants to confront the atrocity. It's an aboriginal girl, after all, let her own look after her. But more than that, everyone is deadened after years of being told that only they matter, that self-interest is far more lucrative, far more important than community, indeed, that community is only useful as a shield against those who differ or who are different. Leave us alone, they cry.
Only Claire, married to one of the fishermen, is prepared to challenge the self-serving apathy of the others. She demands they come to terms with the fundamental wrong that has taken place. But past emotional problems have destroyed her credibility in their eyes. She is damaged, but sane. Above all, she still has a heart.
In Claire, we see the moral outrage against the obscene war in Iraq, against the stupefying, Nazi-like incarceration of children in concentration camps, against all the many lies of this government ... only to have her dismissed as a bleeding-heart liberal by people who vote for the Liberal Party.
At the conclusion of the film Claire shames the others into going to the girl's funeral. The feeling is, well, here is a start, the beginning of the way back.
Perhaps the off-screen way back for the Claire's of Australia will begin when Gregory calls the election.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 3:27 PM
March 7, 2007
Two lyrics by blues singer Joe Williams (of Count Basie fame) come to mind. The first, in relation [ Philip Ruddock] to escaping the bloody world of politics, popped into my head earlier this week:
Drop dead, turn blue, woman, I'm through ...
As karma would have it, the second applies:
Well, alright/well, OK/well you win/baby what can I do ...
Boy was I looking forward to cutting and running.
Instead, since announcing my hopefully prolonged R&R from the barricades, I have been chided for "spitting the dummy" and "deserting the field," reminded of the adage, "For evil to triumph, all that is required is for good men to do nothing," and of the oldtime typing practice, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party" ... in this case, "nation." Not to mention being affably compared to one writer's penchant for "being a serial quitter".
Hey, what about "No man is an island," fer Chrissakes. Didn't think of that one, did youse?
I suppose we're talking responsibility here. What an odious concept! I've been trying to be irresponsible all my life and, to an excellent degree, have succeeded. Just ask my wife. If Magoosolini hadn't come on the scene I could have used this blog for meaningful endeavours, like putting up pictures of my dog, with cute fucking quotations to make folks hearts go pitter-patter-pitt.
Well, what the fuck. Thanks for taking the time to remind me we're all in this together ... by blowing my fantasy of tongue-lolling irresponsibility all to hell. Bastids!
Comments will remain open -- that'll make the 200-a-day spammers happy. I'll get back to things soon. Don't you worry about that.
-- Olney Garkle
March 3, 2007
The nadir of Australia's dark age is upon us
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
Except for me, the entire staff of Bilegrip has resigned. Not in disgust with Bilegrip, but in disgust with politics in general. "Why," they asked in unison, "should we waste our time commenting on the kakistocracy of arseholes who run this fucked up nation?" The hypocritical outrage of Howard and his henchmen over Kevin Rudd's dinners with Brian Burke has proven to be the last straw.
Yep, enough is enough. Either Kevin Rudd will go on to win the election, whenever it is called, or he won't. If he does, Australia will slowly restore it's integrity. If he doesn't, it will be more -- and worse -- of the same.
Between now and then, the embarrassment of having to listen to or read the ravings of the worst government in history is, quite frankly, beneath our contempt.
In short, fuck it.
I'll remain until such time as I get a second wind and start talking about real life, or someone else takes over.
To prevent an accumulation of comment spam during the upcoming hiatus, I'll be turning comments off the morning of Friday, 9 March.