April 30, 2007
Overlooked Items (3), or
In a sane world we'd all be sex mad
Olney Garkle is presently enjoying a nervous breakdown. Over then, to former Bilegrip staffer Benoît Balz, the only libertine on his block, for the following item. Other former staffers will hopefully be conned into service until Garkle is repaired. -- Admin
Wrong way, go back!
Teenagers often lie to their parents when they are going out for the night, but some Melbourne teens are now telling their parents they are off to parties when they are going to church.
What's all this, then? We sent our children to Catholic schools, the reasons being twofold: To learn about the quaint concept of compassion, which we surmised was glossed over in state schools and held to be blasphemous in MBA-motivated private schools, but mainly to get religion completely out of their systems so they wouldn't fall prey to nutter sects like the above.
They look like regular folks, but are they? In dealing with those of our species should we not adhere to the admonishment to accept no substitutes? Yea, I say unto thee, do not be fooled by weirdos posing as ordinary blokes and sheilas.
Here's what one of 'em says:
Every day I get up feeling happy," says Sam Hill, 17, who previously suffered depression. "The difference between me and some of my friends is that I don't go to parties, drink, smoke or do sex. I stay away from anything that might pull me down."
Well, Sam, stay cocooned if you want to, but life was meant to be lived, not feared. Of course, you don't have to do all those things to excess, or even do them at all, but only the odd monk or nun has the remotest chance of pulling off total renunciation. And, at such an early age? Sounds to me like bullshit rationalising away stark raving fear.
Looking again at the photo, that honey in the middle might exchange her look of tentative rapture for the full-blown kind if she were engaged in some hard-core copulation. The kind where you suddenly think, "Crikey, why does anyone ever do anything else?"
Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Couples who smoke are almost twice as likely to get a baby girl, according to research that suggests tobacco "kills" boy foetuses.
At last! The solution to all man-made violence. If mum and dad keep smoking, 99 per cent of those bloodthirsty Y chromosomes won't get a look-in. As for the one per cent of fella spermatozoons who manage to break on through to the other side, it'll be the porno heaven life was meant to be. Every bloke's dream (before being picadored by the work ethic): a planet of slishy beauties all to (mostly) himself.
Getting to the root of rooting
Dr Michael Bader, a practicing psychologist and psychoanalyst and the author of Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, describes a phenomenon he calls “terror sex”. “The lowering of external prohibitions promotes the lowering of internal ones, internal injunctions against being too vulnerable or too altruistic,” says Bader. “When the external trappings of regulation, order, and control are lowered, one’s forbidden longings and impulses can more safely flourish. This explains the surprising finding that people seem more sexual after a disaster.”
In other words, we spend most of our lives distracted from sexual ecstasy by meaningless, insectoid work. How wonderfully sane it would be if there were an attractive little shed at the corner of every city street, manned by a jolly old woman who took your money and changed the sheets on the small bed therein, so that strangers could satisfy their morning pings of lust before heading off to work. Indeed, the peppy old tune, Whistle While You Work, would take on vastly new meanings. But no, it's a conservative world, and those momentary secretions of desire are swept away in a desert of time clocks and the inanity of having to earn a crust.
OK, so most people are too boring, or (like the folks at the top of this page) too frightened to let go. That's no reason to inhibit the rest of us. The world needs less John Howard's and more revelling libertines.
-- Benoît Balz
April 27, 2007
Quippy quotes of Kevin from Queensland
"My name is Kevin, I'm from Queensland and I'm here to help,'' Mr Rudd quipped as he addressed his first Labor national conference as opposition leader.
"It's a marathon. We've barely passed half way and you know something we can expect our opponents to throw everything at us including the kitchen sink because, you know something friends, they have everything to lose, political power in itself, the thing Mr Howard cares about most of all."
"Australian people want prosperity but they want prosperity with a heart.''
"Mr Howard doesn't really believe in a single idea which didn't appear on black and white television. No one is a bigger fan of Ward Cleaver than me, but I've got news for Mr Howard, the world has changed since Leave It To Beaver."
On the PM being a climate change denier: "This is the modern equivalent of arguing that the earth is flat and that NASA faked the moon landing and that Elvis is out there somewhere still flipping burgers in Florida. That's how in touch with reality Mr Howard is on this one."
Matt Price and John Howard both jumped the starter's gun to claim Rudd failed to give any details, but who expected him to? It's not like the election is next week. And it's not like John Howard ever goes into detail on anything. This is the opening day of the Labor love-in, fer Chrissakes; it's the anointing of Sir Tintin who will lead us out of the wilderness, the Good Lloyd be praised.
BTW: Let's hope Kev didn't borrow that opening quip from the film Harry, he's here to help. Harry managed to murder off just about everyone in his zeal to be of help.
-- Olney Garkle
April 25, 2007
Business, it's bad name gets worse
Priceline has sacked a worker earning $100,000 a year plus perks, and replaced him with an employee doing the same job for $75,000. They have done so because under John Howard's WorkChoices, it's legal under a broadened interpretation of "operational reasons".
Companies can sack a worker and readvertise the same job at lower pay under a landmark ruling that opens the way for employers to make "difficult" staff redundant for financial reasons.
Business hailed the Australian Industrial Relations Commission decision last night, declaring it had significant ramifications for the rights of employers to fire workers.
It ruled that the grounds for sacking workers under Work Choices using "operational reasons" were much broader than the grounds that existed under the previous federal industrial legislation.
The question of a 'valid reason' need not be considered, when an argument is advanced regarding the termination being for operational reasons, or for reasons that included operational reasons," the commission said.
No one knows what really constitutes an "operational reason," but these kinds of weasel words are what getting away with murder -- or indiscriminate sackings -- is all about.
Sure, every employer wants to get rid of deadbeats; his employees want this too. But this is about as blatant an instance of the master-servant mentality as you'll ever see. Who is to say that in a couple of years the bloke on 75 grand isn't replaced by someone hired for $50,000?
Doesn't this go to the heart of the employer mindset? Hire for as little as possible. Because for most businessmen and women, employees are little more than necessary but expendable units to make sure their profits increase. The less paid the more profit.
This is one of the abiding scenarios in the history of mankind, that of the master shafting the servant. Unions stepped in during the 20th century to right the wrong of this born-to-rule mentality. Now, since the Mad Thatcher reinstated the feudal system in the 80s, the lords of business have cast off their hypocritical respect for worker-vassals, and the result is Priceline. And the reason John Howard's every other utterance is to denounce those interfering unions.
Here's a snippet from yesterday's PM radio program:
DANIEL HOARE: Pat McKendry is the Chief Executive of the National Retailers' Association. He says the Industrial Relations Commission has made the right decision.
PAT MCKENDRY: You have a company here that is suffering from some financial stress. They make a decision after looking at a range of options to shed staff so they can right the ship. Under the old laws, they could have been challenged and had that decision overturned, or if not overturned, at least spent money, much money and many months, tied up in legal shenanigans. I think this is the type of decision that when it's played out will actually save jobs, not cost jobs.
People like McKendry and Peter Hendy of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry are the Frankensteins of business, the soulless monsters who thrive on taking candy from children and crushing them if they resist.
If Priceline is indeed "suffering from some financial stress" they might want to check out the top of the pyramid, perhaps questioning cream-skimming execs first. The truth is, Priceline is merely taking advantage of the worst industrial relations legislation since businessmen strutted around in wigs.
-- Olney Garkle
Addendum: Here's another story hot off today's press: AWAs 'used to strip job security'.
The Howard Government's workplace watchdog is investigating claims a Melbourne company used Work Choices to shift employees on to individual contracts that removed award conditions and provided no guarantee of a pay rise for five years.
Continental Manufacturing last month acquired the assets of Manu Red, and has offered to employ about 90 per cent of the workforce on Australian Workplace Agreements.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the agreements removed annual leave loadings, overtime pay, weekend penalty rates and meal allowances.
"This is a simple message that John Howard is sending: you've got no rights, no job security, you can be forced to sign an AWA under some corporate manoeuvre that abolishes your penalty rates and further undermines your job security," Mr Combet said.
The same old story with the same old refrain, as sung here by John May, the company's group general manager. It seems Manu Red (makers of Sorbolene creams and other liquid soaps and hand-wash products … take note) has been under substantial financial strain. Here we are in boom times, according to John "The Econo-rat" Howard, and all sorts of companies are stampeding to exhibit financial problems so they can fire and rehire for less.
"[H]ad Continental not become involved, it was highly likely all employees would have lost their employment. The facts are we have followed the process of the legislation diligently and although we had the option of offering rates lower than people were previously being paid, we didn't," Mr May said.
Well, he just has a heart of gold, doesn't he? That's the problem. Instead of a living, pumping organism heretofore associated with life, love and compassion, the thing is a solid hunk of metal.
May went on to say that current employees are being paid 10 to 30 per cent over the required minimum. But does this compensate for the loss of award conditions?
Posted by Olney Garkle at 11:25 AM
April 21, 2007
John Howard and Philip Ruddock: building a better future for untermenschen
Click on the pic and chill out to soothing music as you view this video of the construction of Little Johnny Howard's Christmas Island detention centre. Gosh, it must have been like this in the early days of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and all those other wonderful camps dedicated to Hitler's Final Solution. Now, thanks to the Howard Government's new! improved! Pacific Solution, Australia has joined the Fuehrer's march to rid the world of anyone they don't like. And, thanks to the Howard Government's laxity in prosecuting known war criminals, any number of kindly old Nazis have found a home here. Seeing this heartless-warming little film will doubtless bring a tear to their eyes and the assurance that wherever reactionary governments rule, concentration camps will be built to house the untermenschen they so despise.
Thanks to joe2 for this.
-- Olney Garkle
April 20, 2007
Small business: Scrooge will always be with us
… in my experience with small business, there is an element that resents paying wages to its workers in the belief that the money comes out of their own pockets, thereby reducing profit. -- Roy Headlam, letter to The Australian.
In my experience too, Roy. With the exception of some very small business operators, like my local butcher who employs one assistant, far too many small business employers are what the author Knut Hamsun enjoyed vilifying as the "usurious merchant class". The very nature of their smallish businesses requires they hire people who are always going to move on. Why then treat these usually young folk as anything but expendable ciphers? Give them as little as possible and always vote for a government dedicated to making sure this is legal.
The reason these dubious citizens are whimpering into their cash registers about Kevin Rudd's change to the Unfair Dismissal legislation is that they will once again be forced to treat employees as people instead of fodder.
What Rudd wants doesn't seem to me to be so wildly unfair. All sacked workers will have access to unfair dismissal laws once they have served a probationary period in their workplace. The probationary period will be twelve months for workers in companies with fewer than fifteen workers, and six months for all others. How unfair is that? If you ask me, it still favours the employer. I'd make the probationary period six months and three months. Or none at all and sack the employer. But I jest. Or do I? Of course I do. Still, it's not certain. Babbling on here because ultimately none of any of this makes any difference. Read Scott Prasser's miserable but sadly true account, Australians are all conservatives now. Be that as it may:
Perhaps employers concerned about the time they may have to spend on fighting unfair dismissals should invest a bit of time and effort on good selection processes, proper induction and performance monitoring. Experience everywhere demonstrates that it’s time and effort well spent, and far cheaper than appearing before tribunals and courts. -- David Hawkes, letter to The Australian.
But fairness doesn't compute for most small business operators. Were slavery re-introduced and pay amounted to stale bread and gruel they would utter few words of protest.
I've worked for my share of merchants. Not all of them were Scrooges, but even so, I had to stay on my toes to make sure they didn't shaft me. It's in their nature to cut costs on everything but the houses they live in, the cars they drive, the lifestyles they so desperately want to achieve. People in business tend to succumb to humanity's worst traits, that of greed, avarice and pinch-faced ambition. Instead of seeking psychological help, they open a business.
The reason the world is so fucked up is because business runs all the governments. Exit, therefore, all virtue and enter the businessman's best friend, corruption. These governments in turn exhort young people to go into business: forget science, the humanities, the arts, get those MBAs and work your way up to the leafy suburbs.
But ultimately, what a waste of life, a life much like that of an ant, scurrying, building, nesting, fighting, dying. To spend the miraculous life counting money and acquisitions, all of which have the substance of sand slipping through fingers when the last moments are encountered, is monumental idiocy, a demeaning of the magical brain that defies both logic and illogic. For the brain can go where neither apply.
But that's what we've come to expect. The human race has historically been trained to accept lowered expectations. There is no expectation lower than to retire, having spent your whole life in front of an abacus, yours or someone else's.
-- Olney Garkle
April 19, 2007
Trafficking in human lives
The other is a professional politician and amateur human being.
I was hoping to get to the latest evidence of the Americans and their constitutional right to go forth and murder one another, but yesterday's Guantanamo-cum-Pacific Solution -- or a 2007 update of people trafficking -- by their government and ours still requires a few words.
Bruce from over at the Garage sent this as a comment on the above link:
In May 2002 the then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock said that a newspaper report which claimed a refugee exchange with the United States of America was wrong and that no special deal had been done for Australia to resettle people from Haiti and Cuba in return for the USA taking people from Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
As we wonder at the stupidity at the latest refugee deal with the USA, there is evidence of Ruddock's cold dead hands all over this. The brief report above illustrates that this new deal is not the first time that Bush and Howard talked of trafficking in human lives.
The question of the Christmas Island prison complex lurks in the background still unanswered. What is the future for the most expensive, highest security facility ever built in Australia (albeit an excised portion)? Who is destined to suffer there? Why do the Christmas Islanders not want the facility on their island? Does the Christmas Island complex play a role in the human trafficking deal? Why did the USA Homeland Security team fly in a chartered flight from Singapore in November 2006 to inspect the high security Christmas Island facility?
The new arrangements with the USA follows those with Indonesia and Malaysia - all secret deals between the Howard government and others which are a violation of international refugee protection obligations to not punish people, asylum-seekers, with the rationale of deterrent. (italics mine)
The thick plottens.
I was amused to hear a soundbite on the subject from Kevin Rudd yesterday. You could almost see him scratching his head. Later I heard the Minister for No Immigration, Kevin Andrews, hysterically responding. The two quotes go something like this:
Kevin Rudd: I'm struggling to see the logic in this…
Kevin Andrews: See? Labor is soft on border protection!
PS: The twittish photo of John Howard (is there any other kind?) appeared in an article by Alex Millmow, How Howard walked the road to ruin. He talks about the Pm's stint as perhaps one of Australia's worst treasurers. Here are a couple of extracts:
The 1982-83 recession, over which Howard presided, was the worst since the Great Depression, according to former Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane.
When Howard became treasurer, the budget deficit was $3.2 billion, inflation 8 per cent, the unemployment rate 6.3 per cent and the growth rate 1.6 per cent. When he surrendered the Treasury keys to Paul Keating in March 1983, the budget deficit was $4.3 billion, inflation was 11 per cent, unemployment was 10.2 per cent and growth was a negative 0.4 per cent. Not a beautiful set of numbers.
The black hole of the budget deficit forecast quickly grew to $9 billion when Hawke and Keating examined the books. The economy, moreover, was in deep freeze, though Howard never publicly admitted to a recession, unlike Keating.
-- Olney Garkle
April 18, 2007
Mindless games: The Pacific-cum-Guantanamo Solution
"Mindless Games" was the self-mickey-taking working title for Thomas Pynchon's masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow. Never has a work been less mindless. However, the phrase applies in spades to the latest and perhaps greatest of all the risable, utterly incompetent, totally haywire policy initiatives the Howard Government has come up with in its eleven years of petty power.
The Mutual Assistance Arrangement with the United States will see Australia swap its Nauruan refugees -- 82 Sri Lankans -- for Cuban and Haitian refugees currently lounging in the refugee camp at Guantanamo Bay.
Ridiculous? Ludicrous? Hairbrained? Asinine? Bizarre? There are hundreds of words to describe this insane arrangement. Was the moron who thought this up Umeruhcan or Arsetralian? Turns out to have been Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe, in Washington last week to seal the deal. What a scenario. Officials of the clueless Howard Government and the historically inept Bush Administration falling about like the Twits from Monty Python.
Haitian and Cuban refugees in Australia ... come again? The Sri Lankans may be happier 'n' Larry to get into the US, where there are doubtless many of their countrymen (just as there are in Australia), but how many Cubans and Haitians reside in Australia? Hell, all their relatives are on the eastern seaboard of the US.
It looks like we are once again seeing the US and Australian governments playing with human lives as if they only existed on paper. Casual cruelty in the name of a cheap political fix.
John Howard says this arrangement sends a further clear message to boat smugglers that Australia won't tolerate queue jumpers. Is he mad? The overwhelming message of this cockeyed immigration policy is that if you want to get to Umeruhca -- where just about every refugee would love to go -- boat on over to Oz, the country run by twits.
Don't they know this? Maybe they do and just don't care.
-- Olney Garkle
April 17, 2007
Eleven years of Howard has given us all halitosis
"I think it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people," Mr Howard observed of the plan to tinker with Anzac Day to suit a peak television timeslot.
That may be true, but the bad taste left in the mouths of Australians after eleven years of the Prime Minister's ethical turpitude is cause for major taste-bud replacements. The fact is that many Australians can no longer taste, let alone smell, the repulsive odour of deceit emanating from this government.
Just this morning the butcher's apprentice treated me to a parroting of Howard's perseverative "on message" haranguing of unions, as if their only reason for existence was to ruin businesses. The butcher and I tried to blast through his mental block, but to no avail. Howard has won his mind.
Apparently the minds of those polled are not so gullible. Kevin Rudd and the ALP continue to hold a commanding lead over Howard and the Illiberal Party.
And that's before they read this article in The Age: Workers' rights lost with AWAs.
Secret figures reveal that 45 per cent of Australian Workplace Agreements have stripped away all of the award conditions that the Federal Government promised would be "protected by law" under WorkChoices.
The figures, which the Government refuses to release, also show a third of the individual employment contracts lodged in the first six months of WorkChoices provided no wage rises during the life of the agreements.
And they show staff of the Office of the Employment Advocate believed 27.8 per cent of the agreements examined might have broken the law by undercutting one of the legislated minimum employment entitlements.
Conditions were stripped from the vast majority of agreements examined. These included shift loadings (removed in 76 per cent of agreements), annual leave loading (59 per cent), incentive payments and bonuses (70 per cent) and declared public holidays (22.5 per cent).
Talk about leaving a bad taste in the mouth!
It's looking more and more like a drover's dog election coming up. Our Prime Menteur will continue to read his morning faeces for stunning ideas on how to discredit Kevin Rudd, but his era for such grubby politics may be at an end. It seems Rudd can only beat himself, and he doesn't seem quite the type to self-destruct. What then, is left for the Howard Government to do? What do right wing governments usually resort to in times of crisis? ... the crisis here being one in which their power base is threatened. Well! They'll just have to manufacture a national crisis, a terrorist attack, for example, or even better, one that is immanent (before the election) but never eventuates (after the election). The best thing about a terrorist attack that was never going to happen is that, aside from PR such as Be alert! Be alarmed!, it doesn't cost much. But even then, the black magic that has served Howard for so long may be seen to be just another transparently threadbare parlour trick.
Indeed, John Howard may have to put aside Machiavelli's tome for now and get someone to find him a book on ethics, if he is to have any chance. But again, it may all be too late.
-- Olney Garkle
Addendum: Stupid me, I forgot. I hadn't yet read Waleed Aly's Mutual help group: the PM, the mufti and the shock jock. Of course. Little Johnny will play the race card if all else fails.
April 13, 2007
Jones and Howard: the bigot's choice and the ugly Australian
What a pair. The Sheik Hilali of commercial radio who incites violence and the prime minister who unequivocally supports him. "He's only articulating what a lot of people believe," defended our dear leader of Jones, who ACMA claims helped to inflame local white trash prior to the Cronulla riots. And that's exactly what the Hobgoblin of Kirribilli has been trying to get racists to do since he was elected: to speak out, to stand up and round on anyone not Anglo-Saxon. Sometimes he dog-whistles, sometimes he just comes out and says it. John Howard is, after all, the product of native Australian intolerance. Alan Jones, on the other hand, is simply a psychopath with portfolio.
The pity in this display of medieval prejudice masquerading as free speech is Kevin Rudd's failure of nerve. All politicians are scared of Jones, but Rudd is supposed to represent that which has been missing in Australian politics for so long: humanity. Is he forgetting what happened to Labor's last small target, Kim "Blancmange" Beasley? Once voters get a whiff of "Howard-lite" in Rudd, they will likely do what they've done for the last eleven years, and that will be to vote once again for the real thing.
But the real pity is that Howard has so corrupted the nation that ethics and integrity are now as suspect as being a communist sympathiser once was. Like it or not, Alan Jones is John Howard's chief spokesman, and those he speaks to constitute more of them than us.
Matthew Ricketson & Russell Skelton: Shock and awe
Michele Grattan: Bully who rules the airwaves
Elizabeth Lopez: One rule for muftis, another for shock jocks
Letters to The Age
Peter Hartcher: Is Rudd having a Bob each way?
The Australian editorial: An incitement to squash free speech
And last but certainly least:
David Flint: Inquisitors curtailing freedom of speech
-- Olney Garkle
April 7, 2007
Raymond Gill's "arts truism" is true across the board
Every once in awhile I read something that is so bloody true that an involuntary squeak of recognition slips past the gatekeeper, my ego. According to the venerable Wikipedia, "a truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a reminder or as a rhetorical or literary device."
Raymond Gill, the sardonically jaundiced arts editor of The Age, writes an occasional column for that paper called Culture Vulture. He has a knack for cutting through the bullshit to reveal the little white bone of reality that is there once the blood and gristle is removed.
No one will be surprised at the truism he dropped in Right over your head, but how often do we remember it?
… what we choose to like is actually a form of self-marketing.
I agonise watching my daughter at the mercy of her teenage ego in trying on this persona and that, or applying so much mascara that, to me, she looks like a mutant raccoon, but to her she looks cool. Or the "screamo" music she likes because it's guaranteed to offend the adults who are allowing the world she will inherit to wither and die.
But then, who am I to criticise? Are not my Thomas Pynchon books prominently displayed in the bookcase because to like Pynchon is to be cool?
Gill's point is that people hardly understand the things they have adopted as iconic in their lives, but choose them to bestow themselves with substance. Says he:
It is, in fact, liberating to be free of knowledge of script or plot -- it's so much more organic just to let the artistic experience wash over you, which is probably why opera-going, or kabuki, endures.
I've read Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow two and a half times, but please do not ask me to summarise it. Nevertheless, no book -- except for Ulysses -- has come close to it for causing me to shake, rattle and roll with sheer exhilaration at its encyclopaedic audacity. Every time I look at the book -- so prominently displayed -- I have to smile and tip me hat to this hermitic being whose über-existence somehow vindicates the long, sad struggle of the human species.
At least most of us have tried to understand those works of art we own and wish others to judge us by. They have "washed over us" and if we don't exactly understand what in the hell they are about, they have still helped us find meaning in our lives.
Now, as soon as I finish Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly -- bet you didn't know that Dick's middle initial stands for Kool -- I can get on to Pynchon's new book, Against the Day, weighing in at a massive 1085 pages of surreal, post-modern relativism, all of which will doubtless prove that, in your reality of realities, the likes of George W. Bush and John W. Howard do not exist. At worst, the heinous little hologram in which they are contained will resemble some kind of hilarious Satanic cartoon. I can't wait!
-- Olney Garkle
April 5, 2007
Two kinds of people
Person one: Sir Nicholas Stern: "Australia should set a target for reductions by 2050 of at least 60 per cent as part of a rich-world responsibility, it is the right thing to do."
Person two: John Howard: "When it comes to the decisions of the Government, uppermost in our mind will be the national interest, not the views of any one individual, however eminent he may be regarded by some." (Italics mine.)
This is a pretty good example of the two sorts of people who inhabit this planet of woe. In a nutshell, Stern represents that part of humanity who says:
Howard represents the rest, who say:
We all have a little bit of each in our character, but it is usually the one or the other that becomes our dominant characteristic.
Generally speaking, those on the Left believe in the panoramic view that we're all in this mess called life together. Varying degrees of compassion inform this view, allowing us to put our feet in someone else's shoes. The Other, then, is not merely a cipher to be used for profit or military conquest, but a real human being who suffers and rejoices the same as us.
Those on the Right consistently view life from the tribal perspective: My tribe, right or wrong, versus your tribe: perhaps not wrong, but not as right as my tribe. If your tribe agrees with the principles (or lack of them) of my tribe, we can live together relatively peacefully, as long as my tribe can monitor the activities of your tribe. If our tribes are deemed to be highly compatible, you may monitor the activities of my tribe, as well. However, with regard to other tribes, it may be necessary to form an alliance, either economic or military or both. If your tribe refuses, particularly with regards to military action, then my tribe must regard your tribe with suspicion. Inevitably, my tribe will find it necessary to go to war with one or more other tribes. In the event, your tribe will either be with us or against us.
Sound like gobbledygook? That's the language of Right Wing power throughout history.
-- Olney Garkle
April 4, 2007
One species, two branches: human and larval
One thing most of us can agree on is that David Hicks has been detained at Guantanamo Bay all these years at John Howard's pleasure. Not until it suited him -- the election -- did Howard have his chat with Cheney who relayed the request to Susan Crawford who did the deal with Major Mori.
There is no paper trail from Howard to Cheney, and probably none from Cheney to Crawford. It will never be proven. So what else is new?
If you caught Kerry O'Brien's interview with Major Mori last night on The 7:30 Report, where Mori smilingly dodged O'Brien's questions -- clearly to avoid causing Hicks any problems getting back to Australia -- you would have been charmed yet again by Mori's open and honest face. Here is a bloke who is incapable of deceit. Whenever O'Brien appeared to have him cornered, he broke into a beaming smile and said, "That's probably a good question you can ask on 31 March 2008." That's the date David Hicks will finally be free to tell all.
There was a clip during the interview of a speech Mori gave to defenders of David Hicks. Many spontaneously stood up while applauding him.
Contrast the humorous good will of those who defend humanity with the pinch-faced Calvinist scowls of the larval Right. Compare the body language and open expressions of Kevin Rudd to the stumbling, twitching body of John Howard and his mean dark face. The John Howard Party is rife with those who seek to deny, to obfuscate, to smear. The arrogant puffy faces of Alexander Downer and Peter Costello, and the corpse-like pallor of Philip Ruddock are frightening examples. These men are ultimately lifeless; there is no "engine of growth" in their souls. And Peter Costello is so tired and bereft of ideas that all he can do is repeat every so often his silly mantra that women should have more babies.
It's harder to pick who is who in the electorate. I though the old fart who reached for the Herald Sun at the newsagent was going to be a staunch JHP supporter but, while we stood in a queue later on, he nearly spat on the floor at Howard's mention. The garrulous bloke at one of my favourite coffee shops turns out, after all these years, to be a true blue believer in Little Johnny.
Which brings to mind an interesting observation. At the local shopping centre there are a Coles and a Safeway. When asked what they think of John Howard or his policies, the checkout women at Coles invariably dislike him, while the Safeway women turn feral at any suggestion that he is bad for the country. I have no idea why this is so, but it hasn't changed for years.
We human beings are a strange lot. Given the wrong leadership, we can fracture into entirely unlike branches of the same species: those who remain human in spite of everything … and the entry-level larvals who have yet to learn that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their sandboxes".
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 3:47 PM
April 3, 2007
14 Characteristics of Fascism - Howard has them all
This posting was sent to Bilegrip by "Bruce over at the Garage" as a comment to Howard, Ruddock, Downer: War Criminals, where it can also be found. It should be printed and passed out to everyone on every street in every burb in Australia. -- Olney Garkle
Laurence W. Britt's analysis of the seven major fascist regimes in recent history reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognisable patterns of national behaviour and abuse of power. These following basic characteristics are strongly prevalent in the Howard Government:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism and xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military and police.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections, referenda, plebiscites or public opinion polls.
Does any of this ring alarm bells?
Posted by Olney Garkle at 11:17 AM
April 2, 2007
Howard, Ruddock, Downer: War criminals
Courtesy John Spooner and The Age
The Australian Criminal Code provides for a sentence to a term of imprisonment for 10 years for breach of the requirement to provide a fair trial. The code has extra-territorial effect so that the offences comprising the war crimes in it apply whether or not the relevant conduct or its result occurs in Australia or elsewhere. Thus the code has application to the conduct of a trial of David Hicks before a military commission held in Guantanamo Bay or anywhere else.
If the opinion is correct about these matters, it follows that the trial of Hicks before the second military commission constitutes a war crime not only under the Geneva Conventions but also under Australian law. The difficulty for the leading members of the Australian Government is that under the Australian Criminal Code to "counsel" or "urge" another party to conduct a trial that does not meet the mandated standards can constitute a war crime. -- Alastair Nicholson, Our own laws condemn Hicks' trial.
So. Crimes against humanity -- refugees behind razor wire for years -- wasn't enough for the Howard government. The trouble is, John Howard will get the same treatment afforded Chile's Pinochet. He'll be protected for the rest of his unnatural life.
There are an incredible number of people out there who couldn't care less about the trashing of the Geneva Convention and Australian laws in the pursuit of David Hicks. To them I say: If you like John Howard, you would have loved Joe Stalin.
And … what we suspected is now being shown to be true. Little Johnny stitched up a deal with Dick Cheney to get Hicks off the election agenda. Here's Michelle Grattan:
What sort of irony is this? For years the Howard Government doesn't seek David Hicks' return, in part because the United States wants to make an example of him via its military commission process. Then it becomes desperate to get him back, and suddenly the Americans don't seem to care any more. John Howard says it's "ridiculous" to suggest the shortness of Hicks' sentence - nine months, finishing late December - has anything to do with the federal election.
He might tell that to the US chief prosecutor for military commissions, Moe Davis, who's shocked at the sentence, part of a deal (not involving the prosecutors) cut between the defence and the military commission's top official, Susan Crawford. Davis says he was looking for a much longer sentence, something involving "two digits".
US reports are noting that Crawford used to be the Defence Department's inspector-general when Dick Cheney was defence secretary. Howard recently lobbied Cheney to get the case finalised.
The Government insists it was hands-off and had nothing to do with the deal. But the deal (which also involves Hicks not pursuing his claims against the Americans that he was tortured) fitted its needs like the proverbial glove. -- Michele Grattan, Hostage to political fortune.
Michael Gawenda: Torture is always wrong for the sickening story of how torture became a way of life for the late, great US of A.
Robert Richter: A trial that was uncomfortably close to Stalinist theatre.
I find that words are failing me here. In the far flung past I have visited many countries in the grip of totalitarian dictators, but never thought I'd be living in one. Typical of John Howard, his is a "relaxed and comfortable" autocracy. We should be thankful for that. If he had an ounce of passion, those terror laws he and Ruddock put into law would, by now, have been enacted Mugabe style.
The despairing truth is that the rescue of Australia is dependent on millions of people who are still turned inward, if not off. Howard is counting on their somnolence to get him across the line. I would invoke the phrase, "God help us," if "God" wasn't on the side of just about every foul deed committed since "His" invention.
-- Olney Garkle
April 1, 2007
We await Australia's first War Crimes Trial
The best thing one can say about the process is that one day there may be a reckoning for this despicable episode, in which Australian ministers, all the way down from the Prime Minister, have been party to the commission of grave crimes under the Australian Criminal Code 1995, divisions 104 (Harming Australians Overseas) and 268D (denying a fair trial), because they have been criminally complicit under section 11.2. -- Robert Richter, QC: A trial that was uncomfortably close to Stalinist theatre
David Hicks is due in Australia by May 29 to serve nine more months. His release date is set for New Years Eve.
John Howard and his blind henchmen think they've heard the last of it. Penelope Debelle (David and Goliath saga far from over)begs to differ:
Hicks' return will cauterise the concern of those who did not like him but objected to anyone being held without trial and subjected to the US military's methods.
Says our PM, the Kaiser of Kirribilli:
He's not a hero in my eyes and he ought not to be a hero in the eyes of any people in the Australian community.
Hicks is no hero, Herr Howard. If he were a hero he would have pleaded "Not guilty." He is, instead, a pawn in the political positioning of the Bush and Howard governments. Richter again:
Hundreds of years of what constituted the rule of law have been jettisoned so that Howard, Ruddock and Downer can pretend that Hicks is off their election agenda. Forget habeas corpus. Forget retrospective legislation. Forget coerced evidence and confessions. Forget commissions in which guilt has been predetermined. Forget prosecutors being judges in their own cause.
It's worth mentioning here that Howard's favourite moniker -- Man of Steel -- translates into Russian as Stalin. Joseph Stalin's real name was Dzhugashvili. He changed it to Stalin early in his infamous career.
To wit, Richter again:
The charade that took place at Guantanamo Bay would have done Stalin's show trials proud. First there was indefinite detention without charge. Then there was the torture, however the Bush lawyers, including his Attorney-General, might choose to describe it. Then there was the extorted confession of guilt.
Whatever Hicks may have done, the theatre of a voluntary plea of guilty when the choice is "rot in hell or say it's true so you can go home" is worthy of The Grand Inquisitor. In Stalin's as well as the German show trials of the 1930s, the essence of the display was the public confession, followed by the sentence. The Iranians and al-Qaeda still practise it, but isn't that why we declared a War on Terror?
Two more comments:
It is a modern cutting out of his tongue." -- Michael Ratner of the US Centre for Constitutional Rights, on the gag order.
What an amazing coincidence that with an election in Australia by the end of the year he gets nine months, and he is gagged for 12 months from talking about it. -- Lex Lasry, QC.
Especially, as Debelle says, he has previously complained of torture:
Hicks told Judge Ralph Kohlmann he would never allege that he was mistreated while in US custody, yet he has before the British courts now a legal challenge that details alleged US military abuse. In a sworn statement Hicks says he was hit with a rifle, stepped on and sexually abused. "My head, armpits, and crotch were shaved and I was covered with a liquid," he swears in an affidavit.
"Inside the tents there were about 10 US personnel at different stations. Inside the tent, I was photographed naked and a white piece of plastic was forcibly inserted in my rectum for no apparent purpose during this process, and some of the staff joked about this procedure. The US personnel made remarks such as 'extra-ribbed for your pleasure' as the item was stuck in my rectum." Later that night, he was put on a plane to Cuba.
It's too much to hope that a Rudd government (helped along by a Democrat president) will follow Richter's lead and set up a Royal Commission into the criminal misdeeds of the Howard Government. For one thing, the list of crimes is immense; it would take years. We are literally praying for Rudd to win the election, mainly to oust Howard's credibility-free regime. If Rudd wins, it will likely be business as usual, albeit with a tad more social conscience.
Short of a Rudd Government setting up an Australian version of the Nuremberg Trials, is it possible for the legal profession to set up an inquiry of its own? Perhaps without teeth, but still legal and in some way binding? Something must be done to bring this rogue government to justice.
-- Olney Garkle