November 29, 2007
Hooroo from Bilegrip and Scum at the Top
Bilegrip Admin here.
They said it couldn't be done. It took eleven and a half years, but finally the Wicked Weasel of Oz has been tarred and feathered and run out of town. The history books will not be kind. John Howard will live in infamy for the rest of his life as the most destructive Prime Minister in Australia's history. His only claims to fame will be his embarrassing appearance in a poorly concealed flak-jacket when he repealed the gun laws, and a strong economy he inherited from Paul Keating and Bob Hawke.
We've been at this gnashing of the teeth since 1994 and now that the war is finally over and the Illiberal Party has been reduced to the oblivion it deserves, it's time for us to go.
Never a major player, Bilegrip and SCATT nevertheless made a contribution. Heartfelt thanks to our readers over the years. A special thanks goes to Maurie Gee, whose graphics helped the cause immeasurably.
Our first publication, dated 11 March 1994, was The "Resign, Jeff!" Review. Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria, was the kind of authoritarian who made you think twice about dissenting. So we mailed the eight issues of the RJR as an anonymous samizdat to members of the media on democracy's side.
After that came The Subs 'n' Duds Report, also a mail-out, which lasted from March to October 1996, coinciding with the election of John Howard.
After a hiatus of a couple of years (whatever were we doing during that time?) we went online with Scum at the Top, continuing on and off until February 2005. All volumes of SCATT can be accessed here.
We kept thinking John Howard would go away. But like a metastasising cancer, he just kept getting more and more power over the health and decency of Australians.
Hoping to begin a blog about the many meanings of life or its utter meaninglessness, we started Bilegrip in June of 2005. Bilegrip uses blogware (Movable Type) as opposed to the self-coded traditional web site HTML of SCATT. MT made it much easier, since Bilegrip looks pretty much the same on every browser using Macs and PCs. SCATT often looked wildly different depending on the user's platform and browser.
Too bad for us, the political scene kept getting worse and we just had to stick with it. Now, we're fed up with life on the internet, no matter what the subject.
Here are some parting messages from those who have involved themselves in the PPF over the years, beginning with our most recent contributor. For bios, see About the Bilegrip Mob.
Now that we've got our democracy back, it's time to rip off the anti-Howard bumper stickers and find a new pub where I can soak up the suds in peace.
My contributions to Bilegrip as arts commentator and beauty pageant judge were terminated early on by John Howard and this blog's subsequent political obsession with him. May Howard rot in turmoil for robbing me of my career as a brilliant worshipper of the female body as God's or Satan's greatest art form.
Tara R. Bümdier
With the demise of Mr Nasty, I was considering a move back to the United States, but I understand the only way you can set foot in the land of the free is to have all ten digits fingerprinted. Isn't that what they do to criminals? I guess for Dubya, everyone not with him is a crim. Maybe I'll stay here and sell the Big Issue.
I'm due for release from the breakdown spa any day now. My goal is to join Harold Hark somewhere in Europe and collaborate on a new unpublishable book of my adventures with dozy women. I've met many here at the home, including a little pixie who claims to be the reincarnation of Edie Sedgwick.
[Bilegrip Admin]: Hark has not been heard from for some time, but is rumoured to be living in a hut on the outskirts of a village in the French Pyrenees. Our sources inform us that he intends to walk the Camino from Le Puy to Santiago next Spring or Autumn.
I can't say that John Howard interfered greatly with my position at Bilegrip. Sport, after all, transcends politics and all other life endeavours. To be honest, the only interference came from me. I don't really like sport and I'm extremely lazy.
Thanks to Howard, I hardly got a word in. What a waste of time. It's back to Rumania for me.
[Bilegrip Admin]: LaMerde is still missing, presumed dead.
Tomás El ("Pinche") Pendejo
To hell with the yoke of maturity and responsibility. I'm off to Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil, where I intend to spend the rest of my life uncrossing the legs of beautiful guapas y guapacitas.
I'm heading for the Amazon basin, where I hope to encounter brujos with herbal recipes for entering realities far more interesting than this one. I hope to be in one of them on 21 December 2012.
Theodore G. Willikers
[Bilegrip Admin]: Willikers is studying Sufism in Turkey. We understand he has been less than successful owing to a fondness for hashish.
Well there you have it. As I myself ride into the sunset, I can just make out the comments of some of the gathered townsfolk:
TF1: Who is that man and why is he slapping his hands on his thighs in a clippety-clopping horsey sound as he hops in a very silly manner down the street?
TF2: Who cares?
TF3: I, for one, do care. He had a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?
TF2: You know, I hate the way you use high-falutin words like that.
TF3: Mi scusi.
TF1: Can we stay on subject, please? The fucker's nearly out of sight.
TF2: Why all the fuss? He came, he ranted, he went. It's time for us to move on, too.
TF3: But he helped save us from the dreaded Weasel of Oz. He's a hero!
TF2: He's no bloody hero. Do hero's hop and whinny and slap their legs? Hero's ride real horses, ya dumb shit.
TF1: Tarnation! While you two were squabbling he disappeared over the horizon. Granted, the horizon's just a few feet away and we're standing on a chalked out set similar to Dogville.
TF3: So, I guess we'll never find out who he was.
TF2: Who cares?
November 28, 2007
It's a wrap: Rudd stopped the Weasel
Courtesy Andrew Dyson and The Age
Kevin Rudd is not your typical politician. David Marr and others complained that his acceptance speech Saturday night was bland and passionless, leaving the revellers insufficiently pumped to go wild and party unto oblivion.
This bloke is all business and no play. Whatever glory he is into is not so much personal as national. And by national I do not mean "nationalistic". He appears to be that rarity among politicians whose agenda is to actually improve the quality of life for Australians, instead of simply using them to promote his own ideologies or pathological needs.
A good article on the positive aspects of Kevin Rudd's victory is Misha Schubert: Rudd gets to it, with vows and vision.
Is it possible that Australia finally has a leader whose integrity is not about to be diluted by a gigantic ego? If, in the end, Rudd does have a gigantic ego (don't we all?), might it be possible that this ego is more interested in justice than sleaze?
Kevin Rudd is not the only putative mensch elected last Saturday by Australians. Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, Lindsay Tanner, Greg Combet, Bill Shorten -- they are all people who demand the highest regard.
And they all have John Howard and his spineless henchmen to thank for their ascendency. We've rabbited on for years about this deceitful traitor to the Australian character epitomised by the fair go.
Here are a few comments from today's papers:
Steve Dinham, letter to The Australian: George Brandis says that Labor has no mandate to repeal Work Choices. I seem to remember that the coalition had no mandate to introduce it.
Veronica Dingle, letter to The Age: Who can hear the name Bernie Banton and not think of Tony Abbott?
The reverse is even more true: Who can hear the name Tony Abbott and not think of Bernie Banton. As long as Abbott remains in politics, Bernie Banton will remain in the public's mind.
Sean Parnell, Party woes in north ignored
The Queensland Liberal leadership woes clearly demonstrate how John Howard - despite being the strongest and most marketable member of his party for more than a decade - did nothing to ensure his legacy could be sustained.
Howard was too busy being prime minister to be a true leader of the Liberal Party.
Mike Steketee, Dampened party needed a good wetting
It has taken an election massacre for Liberals to rediscover the truth of the saying by Robert Menzies that the party needs two wings to fly.
For more than 20 years, John Howard has added muscle to the party's right wing. He tolerated the Left or moderates but as his authority grew with successive election wins, they increasingly had to rebadge themselves as conservatives to survive.
Michael Bachelard, Libs did themselves in with union scare campaign
The Liberals' advertising during this election campaign was relentless and alarming. They created a red and black world implying threat and fear, and the most threatening and fearsome inhabitants of this world were trade unions.
For six weeks during the election campaign, and the 11 years preceding it, unions and unionists were the most vilified and maligned people in the nation. "Extremists! Fanatics!" the ads shrieked. They'll storm into your dress shop and switch off the lights! They'll hold the country to ransom, preceded by their beer bellies and braces, with that barren redhead Julia Gillard cheering them on!
Howard's campaign proved beyond doubt that, despite more than a decade of vicious attacks, the public image of unions is still relatively healthy.
For one thing, despite their diminished size, they are still the largest membership group in the country, with 1.7 million members, and another 820,000, according to a recent survey, who would like to join if they had the opportunity.
Shaun Carney, End of the strongman
In the end, it turned out, [Howard] had nothing special up his sleeve, no great idea or event planned. There was never any good reason for holding off on calling the election. He simply liked being prime minister and wanted to do it for as long as he could. He had the job and the salary and the great house and the staff and the media exposure and he was hanging on to it. The Liberal Party? It could look after itself.
The man sucked his government and his party dry. He obviously had dedicated himself to keeping Peter Costello out of the prime ministership and ultimately he succeeded. During his leadership, the Liberals have managed to fall out of government in every state and territory. This is his legacy.
And from the woman who always shoots with the straightest of arrows, Catherine Deveny, Mission accomplished
Howard's gone, Maxine triumphed and McLeod's Daughters has been axed. Life just doesn't get sweeter than this. Unless of course, George Bush chokes on his own foot.
But how about Julia Gillard? Hands up who wants to be president of the Julia Gillard fan club? I can't look at that woman without wanting to burst into tears and give her a hug. Everyone's making a big deal about her being the first female deputy PM. I think it's far more significant that she's in such a powerful position despite the fact she has red hair, because everyone knows that people with red hair don't have souls. On Saturday night I was hoping Julia would say: "This is a victory for redheads, 'rangas and carrot tops everywhere."
I recalled the day after Howard won in 1996 going for a walk in the morning and thinking to myself: "Who are these people I am sharing my country with?" It's been a long 11½ years.
Despite drinking my body weight in tart fuel (cosmopolitan in a can) on Saturday night and only having five hours' sleep, I did a victory lap around the People's Republic of Moreland in my KEVIN07 T-shirt on Sunday morning. It was delicious. Horns beeped and people gave my T-shirt the thumbs up. A large section of Lygon Street was closed off for tramline work. As I ran past a group of 30 workmen, they downed their tools and applauded. It was a beautiful moment. I could have run for hours on an empty belly, a clear head and a heart just bursting.
We all drank our "body weight" in the fuel of our choice last Saturday night. And although my electorate went Labor for the first time since Gilgamesh was a pup, I noted the street was very quiet. No time to rouse the bitter undead.
Finally, perhaps the nastiest piece of work still surviving the Illiberal rout is Wilson Tuckey. But there is a faint hope he may yet go.
The Nationals believe they have a chance to oust controversial Liberal MP Wilson "Ironbar" Tuckey from his rural West Australian seat of O'Connor.
Such is the strength of feeling against Mr Tuckey that Labor and every minor party except Family First directed their preferences to Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner. Mr Tuckey so far has 45.2% of the vote, Labor 20.4% and the Nationals 18.3%. But if preferences push the Nationals above Labor, Mr Tuckey's 27-year hold on the seat could be over.
There is your "Family First" party. In league with the fascist Right as always.
And that's that. Exhausted, absolutely exhausted.
Two items worthy of a good lol:
Malcolm Colless: Howard could still be a Liberal saviour
Christopher Pearson: Abbott the best bet for a party on the ropes
Janet Albrechtsen: Election debacle doesn't devaluate crucial triumphs
Brad Norington: Howard went too far, say employers
Jennifer Hewett: Howard's hubris sank party
Glenn Milne: PM's hubris leaves the Liberal Party in ruins
Phillip Adams: Why it's great to see him go
November 27, 2007
Matt Price: his death is a terrible loss
Throughout the years, Bilegrip and SCATT have enjoyed the perception and wit of Matt Price above all other journalists and commentators.
His death on Sunday, only two months after he was diagnosed with brain tumours, hit us as if we had just suffered a death in the family.
This election campaign was so much less interesting without him.
An article on his passing and the chance to post a tribute can be found here.
Posted by Bilegrip Admin at 11:56 AM
Be careful, Maxine: NSW Young Libs are more Nazi than Aussie
Maxine McKew's husband, Bob Hogg, would already be aware of this hopefully unnecessary concern, but experience prompts this posting, just to make sure.
Young Liberals are the closest thing to Hitler Youth this country possesses, and the NSW branch is the ugliest of the lot. Their Führer, John Howard, has been toppled by an upstart who is a woman and, above all, a woman connected to that dreaded hotbed of socialism, the ABC.
History unfortunately shows that it is always the "good guys" who get assassinated. From John F. Kennedy to Yitzhak Rabin, the killers have always come from the far right. In Australia, that is the political leaning of the majority of Young Liberals.
In all probability nothing will happen. But you can bet some of them are thinking about it.
November 26, 2007
How sweetly surreal it is
Gosh, I'm feeling chirpy. -- Jill Singer, So long, John.
I don't know about you, but I haven't felt this good in eleven and a half years. Hang on, it's longer than that. The feeling of outrage goes back to some time in 1993, after Jeff Kennett's win on 3 October 1992 in Victoria, when we saw the beginning of outright mean-spiritedness in government. With Kennett, the modern era of hard-right exclusionary politics officially began. What Der Jeff started then, Little Johnny Howard continued in 1996 to the present. And now that era -- some fifteen long years -- is over.
Howard's loss of his Bennelong seat in the Illiberal rout is the icing on the cake. And not just any icing on any cake, but one of those four-inch frozen tidal wave icings you see on très cher cakes sold in patisseries on Toorak Road. Indescribably delicious.
That the Illiberal Party is in chaos is totally expected. This is not really a political party, but a sort of legal mafia of self-interested hucksters who gather together to benefit themselves at the expense of the detested lower classes. It's as if their parents neglected to instruct them on the difference between right and wrong. "Go forth and take!" they were told, "giving is what socialists and communists do."
Armed only with profit-motive ideology and bereft of principles or ethics, they are unable to cope with the loss of power. They are not interested in why they lost power, only that it is no longer their personal toy.
Except for Menzies, who retired as leader, all other Illiberal leaders who have actually lost elections have been duly repudiated and despised. The treatment of past leaders of the Australian Illiberal party is strikingly similar to the way the Soviet Union dealt with theirs.
John Howard will go the same way. He may have won four elections, but that will count for nothing now. His hubris has left the party in a possibly terminal shambles.
Peter Costello's refusal to man the helm of the shipwreck is seen by his party as treasonous, but by the rest of us as either a sane move -- why lead the party in chaos when they refused to install him as leader during the high times -- or a typical desertion when the going gets tough.
Expect Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock to join him as deserters sooner or later.
It makes sense. They were only in politics to build relationships with the corporate sector, where they are now assured of plum jobs.
Meanwhile the jockeying for Captain of the Titanic is on, with Malcolm "The self-made millionaire who sounds like a Squattocrat" Turnbull and Tony "God's favourite hit-man" Abbott, both putting their hands up. It's too much to ask that the leadership be given to Brendan "Let me embarrass Australia in Parliament and on the beaches" Nelson. In the end, they could do worse than Julie "Off with their heads" Bishop.
Sadly, Petro Georgiou has the charisma of a rutabaga. Otherwise, he would make a fine leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. He suffered almost no swing against him, and for all the right reasons.
While delightfully accurate, the opening quote from Jill Singer was a tad short. Her commentary today is one of the best. Here is more of what she has to say:
Ding dong, the witch is dead. No more lies, cover-ups, stupid wars, trashing of our environment and brutalisation of refugees.
Gosh, I'm feeling chirpy. I realise such blatant jubilation is possibly ungracious but really, can you imagine the triumphalism if Howard had got back in?
We'd never have heard the end of it. He'd have been lauded as a little Menzies and been utterly unbearable on his morning walkies, doing that silly slapping high-five thing he adopted over recent times to make himself look hip.
When confronted with bad polls John Howard faced his worried Cabinet and asked with incredulity, is it me? Yes, John it was you -- your pride, puffed-up ego, dirty tricks, profligate bribery and streak of cruelty. When your colleagues wanted to oust you you refused, on Janette's advice, to step aside. How fitting, then, that after hiding behind your wife's skirt another sheila has given you a hiding in Bennelong.
It was the behaviour of Kevin's opponents that proved most remarkable. Bribes, threats, scare tactics -- it was vintage stuff. Lest we forget, there was John Howard's rattled, worm-strangling debate performance; Alexander Downer hissing and spitting like an alley cat whenever Rudd's name was mentioned; Tony Abbott's uncharacteristic loss of control when the going got tough. They were nothing compared with Jackie Kelly and Kevin Andrews, though. Kelly's defence of her husband's bogus flyers linking Labor to terrorism was pure idiocy. And Andrews' ripping down of an opponent's election posters at a polling booth was stunningly petulant.
And, for the very first time ever, we agree with Andrew Bolt's summation of things. Libs on a long, hard road.
November 25, 2007
Ring dem bells, Australia!
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
Stupid, Sappy (Gone) & Shameless (Gone)
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
November 24, 2007
Get out your baseball bats
November 23, 2007
It's time to put the Dogwhistler to sleep
Although the most effective methods to enact compassion, equality and fairness are often difficult to ascertain, the aspiration to pursue such ends remains an essential underpinning of a decent society. Throughout its term in office, the Howard Government has insinuated, through regressive taxation, middle-class welfare and avoidance of incontrovertible realities, that we can live without the aforementioned aspirations and no one would know the difference.
It has forcefully suggested that we can strand innocent people on prison islands, be complicit in brutal foreign wars, ignore the privations of sections of the global community, degrade the environment and redistribute domestic wealth upwards and remain unaffected.
In a subversion of convention it has encouraged Australians to be less than we could be. Surely there exists no better definition of corrupted leadership. -- Greg Bourke, letter to The Age.
Tomorrow is the day Australia will either commit moral suicide or begin a slow -- perhaps a very slow -- return to compassionate democracy. Will we return to an inclusive society or remain trapped in the feral doctrine of user pays?
Coalition voters constitute the Australian equivalent of Nazi collaborators, people who actually approve of dishonest leadership, corrupt governance, and intolerance of difference. Short of outright stupidity, anyone voting for the John Howard Party after all these years of political evil cannot possibly deny that they support dishonesty, corruption and intolerance.
For the past eleven and a half years the rest of us have found ourselves in despair, anger and hatred over the disrepute John Howard has brought upon Australia. Granted, we have remained free to move about and speak our minds, but in many other ways we can understand those who have endured life under despotic governments. Perhaps the main difference is that John Howard has been a mercifully small-minded man when it comes to the vision tyrannical. No grandiose plans to take over the world or murder minorities. No, Little Johnny has been content to simply be mean to those he deems unworthy.
And therein lies the greatest embarrassment for this country. Instead of supporting a genuinely terrifying maniac, worthy of countless learned tomes and History Channel documentaries, Australians have opted for a mealy-mouthed suburban solicitor to do the dirty on humanity.
This has been a moral dark ages gilded by prosperity. The Biblical analogue is Dathan and the Golden Calf. Dathan exhorted the Australians of yesteryear to forget poor, misguided Moses, and worship instead: filthy lucre. John Howard is Australia's Dathan. His shame will last for generations.
PS: If you missed it, go here and choose a media player for John Clarke and Brian Dawe on the politics of fear. Clarke removes John Howard's mask of respectability to show us how hilarious (or pathetic) he looks as a dogwhistling B-movie bogeyman.
November 22, 2007
A little pantheon of infamous tyrants and their wives
We all know what happened to Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci:
Back in 1989, the Rumanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife Elena got similar treatment. Watch this amazing video and see the hurried trial, the aftermath of their execution (but not the actual shooting), and hasty burial, all occurring within a few hours. The edited footage of those hours is long, about 20 minutes, and often tedious, but well worth it to see the indignation of tyranny as it is about to get its just desserts.
In contrast, the Butcher of the Balkans, Slobodan Milosevic, and his wife Mirjana Markovic got off easy. Slobbo and Mira oversaw the slaughter of tens of thousands during the Balkan War of the Nineties. Slobbo finally got whisked away to the UN War Crimes Tribunal in Den Hague where he died as a result of assassination by poisoning, suicide by poisoning, or of a heart attack. Mira, often referred to as Slobbo's Lady Macbeth, hung around Belgrade for awhile and then fled to Moscow, her last known whereabouts.
Which brings us to our local entrants, Little Johnny and Big Janette Howard. In cahoots over crimes against humanity and democracy for eleven and a half years, one wonders what will happen to them? The dirty tricks employed in the closing days of the 2007 election campaign will only add to their caseload.
Of some peripheral interest: Nicolae Ceaucescu was an Aquarius. Benito, Slobodan and Johnny share the sign of Leo. Of the women, Clara was an Aquarius, Elena a Capricorn, while Mira and Janette share the sign of Cancer. Mira was born on 10 July 1942 and Janette's birthday is 11 July 1944. Hmmm.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 10:15 AM
November 21, 2007
Catherine Deveny shoots from the heart
Bilegrip is a big fan of Catherine Deveny. Besides the venerable Alan Ramsey and Phillip Adams, she is just about the only mainstream media lefty who speaks without restraint or self-censorship. In fact, she outdoes Ramsey and Adams in cutting to the chase.
Her impassioned plea today, Australians have a chance to prove they're not all that bad, reminds us in spades that the last eleven and a half years -- the era dedicated to making Australia safe for conservatives by scaring the bejesus out of frightened seniors and greedy aspirationals -- must come to an end on Saturday.
Here are a few excerpts from her article:
This election is an intelligence test. A test to prove we can see past the spin, the dog whistles, the short-sighted rhetoric, the scare campaigns, the pork-barrelling and the fearmongering. A test to show that we are smarter than the Government gives us credit for.
If we do not seize this opportunity for change we will go down in history as the most greedy, gullible, mean-spirited, selfish, short-sighted, tight-fisted generation in the history of Australia. How will it feel sitting in front of that $5000 plasma TV watching reruns of American reality shows, wearing clothes manufactured in a sweat shop and sitting on a sofa made by Third World slaves? How will that feel when our public education and hospitals have been gutted and our environment corroded to a point of no return? How will it feel knowing we have turned our back on people who need us most: the poor, the broken, the scared, the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable? How will it feel when you turn to your children and say, "I believed him"?
This election is a gift. Look back at the past 11 years and imagine the next decade as more of the same. The divides becoming wider, the damage becoming irreversible and the lies and deceit in politics becoming normal.
On Saturday you will have a rare opportunity to prove to our past, to our present and to our future that we are better than this. And we are not stupid enough to swallow the short way round but the long way home. At my grade 6 graduation, I stood side by side with Greeks, Yugoslavs, Macedonians, Poles, Italians and Maltese and we sang: "I'm as Greek as a Souvlaki, I'm as Irish as a stew, I'm as Italian as spaghetti, I'm as Danish as a blue, I'm as German as a dumpling, Middle Eastern as a lamb. I'm an Aussie, yes I'm an Aussie, yes I am."
And we believed it.
Over the past 11 years, I have lost faith in the Australian people. I've felt shame at the spin they have swallowed, the politicians they have believed and the values they have embraced. I'm horrified at how politicians have chosen to lead our country using fear over faith, greed over bounty and us and them over we. I just hope I am not alone. There's plenty for all of us.
Fortunately, I was at my usual corner table at the coffee shop, for I wept as I read this call to voting arms. Coming unglued in public, I realised how all these years of pent-up despair and anger had long ago turned to hate. And what a miserable thing it is to hate.
Be that as it may, hate combines with prodigious vomiting when watching Anna Coren's interview with John Howard and Peter Costello. If you missed it, and you're in need of a purgative, you can watch it here. Click on "Interview with PM and Treasurer to see the Twin Dullards collapse in a heap of treacly phoniness.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 12:22 PM
November 20, 2007
All the news that fits a corrupt government
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
Australians in the street, when questioned about politics, have always feigned imbecility. -- Peter Wear, The nation cries out for a dictator.
In my experience you would have to add "cowardly obeisance to authority" to imbecility. I could go on, but let the following articles in today's newspapers give you the chills as you regard your fellow Australians who may still vote for John Howard.
The Howard Government has won a bid to suppress secret Work Choices documents, after a legal finding that the release of the papers would lead to speculation the Coalition planned a new wave of workplace changes. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal yesterday ruled the Work Choices documents be kept secret, prompting Labor and the ACTU to claim the Coalition had a hidden agenda to take workplace reforms further.
Here's what Brad Norington, Ruling in secrecy is not democracy, has to say:
Most disturbing about yesterday's suppression of information is that it follows a trend of government administration in secret. In a democracy the voting public has a right to know about matters that directly affect them. Yet the Administrative Appeals Tribunal accepted the Government's argument that releasing information may have led to speculation, in other words fear, about what lay ahead.
Howard has made an art form of secrecy. He doesn't want us to know how we are governed.
Moving right along, on the subject of education, Rudd throws atlas at Howard:
Kevin Rudd has savaged the federal Government's level of education spending, revealing it is less than that of Tunisia, Cyprus, Estonia, Mexico and Croatia.
That's right, John Howard wants us to become a nation of ute-driving tradesmen, to hell with higher learning and the future.
Bob Hawke is having a great time on the campaign trail. Here's what he said yesterday in Western Australia (Coalition resources claims 'a joke', says Hawke):
Labor's longest-serving prime minister rejected recent Coalition claims a federal Labor government would spell the end of the West Australian-led resources boom.
"This business that the demand of China for iron ore and coal and other resources depends upon who's in power in Canberra is just a joke," he said.
"It's an insult to the intelligence of every voter. They say (the boom) will be over because ... Labor is not capable of economic management. But who was in charge of the economic management of this economy for over five years before I became prime minister in 1983?
"John Winston Howard was the treasurer of this country. He wrecked the economy.
"What he handed to me was the worst legacy handed to any prime minister in our history - 11 per cent inflation, 11 per cent unemployment and the worst deficit in history."
On the subjects of taxpayer-funded government propaganda, Kevin Rudd offered an "absolute, 100 per cent guarantee" that Labor Government would not waste public money on advertisements trumpeting its own achievements (Auditor will rule on ads, vows ALP):
Mr Rudd said the Howard Government could have funded nearly one million dental consultations or 20,000 hip replacements from its advertising outlay in 2006-07, which equated to about $770,000 a day. What we see here is short-term political interest ultimately strangling the interests of the nation, including the health of our democracy," he said.
Now here is something we've all known (forget suspected): Downer 'knew' about AWB kickbacks:
Australia's former top Middle East trade official has broken his silence on AWB's kickbacks to Iraq, saying the Howard Government's claim it was unaware of key elements of the scandal is unbelievable.
Almost a year after Terence Cole, QC, handed down his report clearing the Government of culpability in the AWB scandal, former Austrade director John Finnin has spoken out for the first time, telling of his failure to understand how the Government could maintain it had never heard of trucking firm Alia until April 2004 when he and another Austrade official had discussed wheat contracts with its owners eight months earlier.
Read the article to find the tally on John Howard Party profligacy.
Finally, Phillip Adams (PM's porkies are a true indicator) details "Honest John's long trail of deception" by citing five books written during his reign which deal with his psychopathic deception. There was Howard reneging on Peter Costello's accession to the crown, or recently refusing to go when everyone wanted him to, because Janette said he should stay. Then "to the more substantial stuff":
beginning with the great refugee stunt detailed in Marr and Wilkinson's Dark Victory: Howard's breathtaking manipulation of the truth (and our national boundaries) in response to a few thousand poor bastards fleeing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. All became blood sacrifices in Howard's determination to win the November 2001 election."
Adams continues on the subject of Howard's appalling treatment of refugees, then to Iraq, AWB, the mercenaries trained in Dubai for the attack on wharfies, and his stance on climate change at the service of the mining industry. He concludes:
Falsehoods, fibs, fictions and frauds have been the fabric of the Howard years. A plethora of porkies had the pollies blaming flawed advice from the armed services or the bureaucrats or relying on the implausibility of plausible deniability.
Whether it was the AWB or WMDs or kids overboard, Howard has never hesitated to look Australia in the eye and lie.
But don't expect the many imbecilic voters out there to either understand or care about any of this.
November 19, 2007
It's more than the economy, stupid
Courtesy Bill Leak and The Australian
The scariest thing about this election, and therefore about Australians in general, is that only the economy is being considered. The trashing of social values by the Howard Government is hardly given a mention. Nothing on the big lie of Children Overboard and the criminal treatment of refugees aboard the Tampa and Siev-X, nothing on the families who made it, only to languish behind razor wire for years, nothing on the umpteen corruption scandals fostered on Howard's watch, of which the funnelling of money to Saddam Hussein by the AWB, and the disgraced Regional Partnerships Program, are the most recent. Nothing about the wilful disregard for the lives of Australian citizens illegally deported, nothing about the Soviet-style treatment of Mohammad Haneef. And nothing about Iraq. Howard's obsequious me-tooism in joining this illegal war, the most costly and absurd in history, has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Coalition troops.
Nope, it's all about the hip pocket. That a healthy economy is essential for our well-being is a no-brainer. But when the other foundations of a just society are ignored, or, in the case of the John Howard Party, actually despised, the national character is reduced to that of a grubby, brutal philistine.
Perhaps every Australian who has voted Labor in the Howard era understands this. Hopefully enough of the other lot are beginning to realise that a civilisation cannot flourish when greed replaces ethics. The selfish materialism promoted by John Howard inevitably leads to the yawning emptiness of life without meaning.
November 18, 2007
Howard's only chance: do a Musharaff
With the Coalition facing a massive defeat according to the latest Sunday Age/Taverner poll -- showing Labor 14 points ahead -- and the most recent Newspoll -- showing Labor leading in 18 marginal seats -- what's a Weasel to do?
Guy Rundle's satirical piece, "Those campaign launch speeches in full", in his weekly Political Science, also in today's Sunday Age, has this line, purportedly written by Howard's speech writer:
We have to do this launch, even with the national emergency scheduled for November 23.
Ha ha ha. But, what has Philip Ruddock, so conspicuous by his absence, been up to? Not a word from Mr Undead for weeks. Perhaps he's been making retirement plans. Not that his seat of Berowra NSW -- with a 13.8 per cent swing required against him -- is in danger. But if the government is routed, being an Illiberal and all, he'll want to resign from politics as soon as possible, say by Monday the 26th, so he can jump straight into one of those plum jobs his ilk always have waiting for them. Never mind the inconvenience to his constituents of a bye-election: he's an Illiberal, after all.
This scenario may be right on the mark, but only as a Plan B to John Howard's instruction some time ago for Ruddock to initiate the only thing that may save the Coalition: a taxpayer-funded, government-sponsored, gen-yoo-ine terrorist attack. With his influence over ASIO -- hell, they only exist for this sort of thing -- and the AFP -- long since in the government's pocket, Ruddock's talent, nay genius, for conspiring to hurt, maim or even kill the defenceless will have seen him burning the midnight oil over his plan to save Australia from Labor. No, wait, that's not quite right. To save the John Howard Party from Labor, that's it. Who gives a shit about Australians?
So, let's look at the week's timetable. Friday 23 November is leaving things a little late. Unless Major Magoo intends to suspend the following day's election as a result. Wouldn't that be daring; his shoulders and arms would be jumping and pumping all over the place. Naturally, he would have Rudd put under house arrest as the chief suspect. That'll bring the voters back. Then again, it may be too obvious. Then again again, if the election is suspended and martial law has been declared, who cares if it's too obvious!
We've got Kevin Rudd's speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday. A definite no-no. Rudd, who is already acting as if he were the Prime Minister, could possibly have Howard put under house arrest as the chief suspect.
No, the best bet, is Thursday, during The Weasel's speech to the National Press Club. His predictable droning on and on could suddenly be interrupted by a whisper in his ear, followed by that lugubrious look of seriousness he does to a tee, and the inevitable announcement. "Mah fellow Australians," gotta imitate Georgie in times like these, "there has been a terrorist attack in a Labor electorate…" Nope, no good. Again too obvious. He'll have to stage the attack in a Liberal electorate to avoid those endless accusations of rorting. "…a terrorist attack in the Liberal electorate of Higgins…" (Taking care of Costello once and for all.) "My advice is that all towns have been wiped out and that several union thugs have been taken into custody. As a further measure, I am placing Kevin Rudd and all his communist colleagues under house arrest pending further evidence. Finally, I am declaring martial law and suspending the election until January or 18 months from now, or maybe even two year hence. Let us now bow our heads in prayer. Especially the one where you praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."
And that is the only way the Coalition can live happily ever after.
November 17, 2007
Howard's Henchmen: shamelessness and stupidity imbued with hubris
It's hard to maintain a grip on reality at the best of times, but during an election campaign it's impossible. On a daily basis politicians utter inanities and stupidities at stupendous speed. How are we to assess these foolish if not sociopathic utterances? The important thing is to record each one and lock it on to that politician's world wide resume. But when they come as fast and furious as they have in the last week (or month or year), the tendency is to just give up. However, as Jack Black once said, "Are we not men?". Indeed, and extremely intrepid. Praise the Good Lloyd, it's almost over.
For sheer sociopathic idiocy, it's a toss up this week between Tony Abbott and Mark Vaile. Vaile, who yesterday blew his status as one of Howard's least credible stooges is at it again. Vaile in last-ditch pork barrel states:
The Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, has announced two unapproved grants worth $900,000 for his own electorate since the election campaign started, under a funding program that has funnelled millions of dollars into rural Coalition seats. On the same day he came under fire for overseeing the Regional Partnerships Program, which has made dozens of grants to Coalition seats against departmental advice, Mr Vaile pledged $500,000 for a surf lifesaving club at Bonny Hills in his northern NSW seat of Lyne.
Read all about it and wonder how a politician can be so gormless.
For me, though, the award goes to Tony Abbott. The video that showed the sweating drop-kick accepting that WorkChoices had shafted workers was breathtaking in its unconscious revelations, but we all know that. What sends Abbott to the head of the Class of Misanthropic Chuckleheads was his lung-emptying solution for workers unhappy with their jobs. With the compassion, understanding and comprehension typical of Medieval royalty, and typical of every last Howard Government MP (save possibly for Petro Georgio), Abbott suggested that unhappy workers should simply get a different job. Hey, presto! No worries, Tony, especially in these really swell conditions we all get to work in, thanks to WorkChoices which you just said, er… wasn't so hot for workers.
Here's a letter to The Age, which sums it up perfectly:
Tony Abbott's fatuous assertion that any worker who is unhappy with his or her conditions should just go and get another job, demonstrates, if proof were needed, just how far out of touch the Coalition mandarins have become with the situation of working men and women of Australia.
Students on precarious part-time, low-skilled jobs in service industries, virtual slaves in the food-service industries and many women juggling, as Mr Abbott has never had to do, the responsibilities of housekeeping, child-minding and income-generation know only too well that walking out of a job, however ill-paid and unpleasant, is dangerous.
It is more likely to lead to dropping out of study, winding up on the dole and/or failing to pay the rent, the mortgage or utility bills than to waltzing into another job. -- Juliet Flesch.
"Out of touch" hardly begins to describe this government. All you have to do is take a quick look (please don't linger) at Alexander "Little Lord" Downer's puffy, privileged face to quick-smart understand how depraved and far removed these born-to-rule-forever dandies are from their subjects. Out of touch? The very idea of being in touch makes them cringe with repulsion and contempt. Don't be ridiculous, they would say, the wretched of the earth only concern us during those election campaigns required by that irritating institution called democracy. And, to be sure, the occasional bribes we fling to keep them from rioting. For the rest, if something trickles down from the largesse we guarantee for our own, then we're certainly not against it.
Of course that just describes those in the Coalition belonging to the Illiberal Party. The Nationals are nothing more than like-minded but lesser beings used to fill out the numbers. You can bet that Downer's sneers at the hoi polloi are no different than his sneers at Vaile and co.
Get out your baseball bats.
November 16, 2007
Exposed: umpteenth indictment of Toxic Dwarf's corrupt government
The myth of John Howard's "good economic management" is exposed yet again as "corrupt economic management". The Australian reports (Coalition accused of abusing grants) that "the Auditor-General has exposed unprecedented government abuse of a $328 million grants program, undermining the Coalition's credentials as a careful financial manager nine days before the federal election."
A damning report shows that a third of the money from the controversial Regional Partnerships Program from 2003 to last year was pumped into just 10 rural Coalition seats - including one held by John Anderson, who as minister for transport and regional services had ultimate responsibility for the scheme.
It found some ministers were more likely to overrule departmental opposition to specific projects if the applications came from Coalition seats, and more likely to knock back funding for projects supported by the department if they were from Labor seats.
John Anderson's seat of Gwydir hosts the infamous methanol plant of Gunnedah that never was. PM (Long wait for Gunnedah ethanol plant) reports:
MARK COLVIN: An empty field in north-western New South Wales provides one example of federal money spent under the Regional Partnerships program. The Federal Government's given a Gunnedah-based company more than a million dollars. The aim, to help build a plant to turn locally grown grain to fuel. Locals are enthusiastic about the possible benefits if the plant is built but several years later they're still waiting.
BRENDAN TREMBATH: About seven kilometres out of Gunnedah there's a site for a much talked about project, a refinery to turn grain into ethanol. Gary Lindfield has a landscaping business nearby and describes what you'd see if you walked past the planned plant.
GARY LINDFIELD: As far as I know on the proposed site there hasn't been a sod turned. So, you won't see anything at the moment, no.
That's right, the area is as windswept as it ever was.
The Age (Rort claims: PM looking down the barrel) continues the theme:
The auditor found Government ministers had awarded grants:
For projects that had not been properly assessed.
For projects that government departments had advised against.
To groups that had never even applied for funding.
One group said it "remained a mystery" how its grant had been announced before it had even finished its proposal.
And in a finding seized on by Labor, the audit office confirmed a 2005 report by The Australian Financial Review that the office of the then Nationals leader, John Anderson, had lobbied in favour of a proposed ethanol plant in his electorate — defying a convention for ministers to refrain from involvement in applications from their own electorates.
The lobbying was done by Mr Anderson's then chief of staff, Peter Langhorne, who is now an adviser to the Prime Minister.
If this doesn't sink the John Howard Party and its contempt for ethics, then you have to wonder what would.
The Age continues:
… projects under the Regional Partnerships Program were rushed through without proper assessment — or any at all. And it said there was a "surge" in grant approvals just before the 2004 election date was announced.
Sixteen grants worth a total of $3.5 million were approved in 51 minutes, from 3.25pm to 4.16pm, by the then parliamentary secretary for regional services, De-Anne Kelly, before the Government went into pre-election caretaker mode at 5pm the same day.
Confirming the sheer moral ignorance of the government, De-Anne Kelly has decided to shoot the messenger:
"If you talk about mismanagement, I think the taxpayers should have more worries about the Australian National Audit Office."
Come again? Well, what do we expect. Simon Crean says these rorts border on the criminal. But he's a nice guy. They are criminal and they should be prosecuted. In America, the Democrats have promised to prosecute George W. Bush for his crimes, long after he leaves the presidency. Labor in Australia should do the same to John Howard and his henchmen.
UPDATE: As reported on today's The World Today (transcript not yet online), Mark Vaile received the Auditor General's report in October, thus making him look more stupid than he already is when he questions the timing of the report's release. As Senator Andrew Murray says, "The Auditor-General is independent, the timing of this is no more significant than the Reserve Bank making their decision on interest rates. When the time comes to release reports, the Auditor-General releases them, and it's without fear or favour and that's how it should be." Read more: Labor demands explanation on 'pork-barrelling'.
November 14, 2007
Beware the Silent Majority
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
Maybe I exist in a bubble. Living in Melbourne, my newspaper of choice is The Age. And sometimes The Australian, to see how the other half lives. But, judging by the size of the various stacks of papers at the newsagent and the supermarket, it's safe to say that no one reads The Australian, and not many more read The Age.
The newspaper that nearly every Berk, Drongo and Fuckwit chooses is the Herald Sun. In today's print edition the results of yesterday's poll question -- Did John Howard's campaign launch influence you to vote for the Coalition? -- were 58 per cent yes. I believe the tally was 1105 votes yes and 770 votes no.
Lloyd have mercy! Are these people for real? Of course not. They are the Silent Majority.
The Herald Sun (and, I gather, The Daily Telegraph in Sydney) is the newspapaper of the Silent Majority, the faceless knuckle-draggers who will rise as one from their crypts to do their brain dead best to re-elect John Howard. Shameless? No, just brain dead. To be shameless you have to have intelligence, an intelligence corrupted by shamelessness. This shameless demographic are the real traitors of the human race.
As we've said before, Mr and Mrs Basic and their innumerable clones who make up the Silent Majority, probably just hang up the phone when a pollster calls. It's possible that this zombie demographic has never been polled. But they're out there. They live on my street and they live on yours. And they only exist to do the bidding of the lowest common denominator in power. They are the bane of the human race.
Expect them to revivify on election day.
November 13, 2007
Howard's reign of ethical and moral turpitude is all but over
Photo courtesy: Andrew Meares and The Age
The problem with Lateline is that it often buggers a good night's sleep. Last night was certainly no exception. Host Tony Jones prefaced the program with a comment something to the effect that in this election campaign, not a word has been said about the inconceivable bungles of the Immigration Department.
We've heard about Cornelia Rau, Vivian Solon and Mohammed Haneef, but here came another one, Wrongfully detained for 5 years - the tragic story of Tony Tran:
A young husband and father, he was wrongfully locked-up for five and a half years; he was separated from his wife, who went back overseas and now can't be found; he lost his home and his livelihood and his Australian-born son was put into foster care while an attempt was made to deport the boy without his father's knowledge. You may think, well, it can't get worse than that. But while in detention Tony Tran was stabbed and bashed by another inmate and now suffers a range of chronic health problems. Despite all this the Government has never apologised. Indeed, Tony Tran and his son still face possible deportation, although they're stateless with no citizenship rights anywhere else in the world.
A final resolution to this horrendous stuff-up has been sitting before the Minister (that's Kevin Andrews yet again) for nearly two years. This is the Howard Government in action: that is, no action, especially for non-Aryans.
Ross McMullan (The great deceiver is in a class of his own) sums up what we should have been hearing from journalists and editorial writers ad nauseam for years: Aside from Billy Hughes, "John Howard is surely our most dishonest prime minister."
Having won the 1996 election, Howard swiftly dismantled many of the previous government's initiatives that he had pledged to retain. While this breach of trust was most blatantly evident in higher education, labour market programs and the ABC, a range of other cuts in the 1996 horror budget also clearly contravened Howard's pre-election promises. Howard's justification has become part of Australian political folklore. These undertakings didn't really count, he explained, because they were non-core promises.
In the context of contested credibility in the 2007 campaign, some commentators have contrasted the failure to mention WorkChoices before the 2004 election with its subsequent introduction after the Howard Government's horizons expanded in response to its unexpected Senate majority. However, it is the 1996 background, not 2004, that makes Howard's strident 2007 accusations about Labor's intentions most hypocritical.
With John Howard's record establishing him incontrovertibly as a serial deceiver, he has a nerve to point the finger about credibility.
Reading McMullan and recalling the past eleven and a half years, you would have to agree that John Howard is not only a pathological liar who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and unconscious projection, but remains, more so than ever, a clear and present danger to the well-being of Australians.
Finally, here are some pithy comments about the weirdly somnambulant "campaign launch" yesterday.
Caroline Overington: Oh please, let me stay just a little big longer:
John Howard wants to be prime minister again. In case you didn't get that, he said it four times. "I want to be the prime minister again. I want, I want, I want to be prime minister again!" It was difficult not to imagine voters at home, shaking their heads and thinking: Yes, John, but it's not all about you. For the best part of a year, voters have been telling pollsters - again and again - they want Kevin Rudd to be prime minister. Howard has a message for these voters. Forget what you want. He knows what you need. Howard's naked, lover-like plea for another chance, another go, was delivered at the official launch of the Liberal Party's campaign in Brisbane yesterday.
Samantha Maiden (Spin Cycle): Bionic vote-buying man is back:
John Howard spent $8.5 billion in just under 15 minutes at yesterday’s launch.
Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away yesterday, the Reserve Bank was warning the underlying rate of inflation was already too high.
Michelle Grattan: Howard tries to overlook the obvious:
Not that you would have known yesterday, from what was said, that the PM had already announced he would hand over during a fifth term. The leadership transition was not mentioned in his speech. Peter Costello was praised by his leader, but the question of his succession was strictly taboo.
This was extraordinary and gave the launch an air of incredibility. The fact that a leadership switch is already in the script fundamentally undermines Howard's pitch on why he wants to be PM again.
Tony Wright: Howard's new frontier: upper class welfare:
While the needy got a hand-up, the wealthy could get the same handy tax breaks paying their kids' private school fees, and they could get another tax break tossing handfuls of money into savings schemes to help buy those same kids' their first homes. It was all about choice — which is to say, who would choose Mr Howard's package over Mr Rudd's?
It may have been imagination, but it seemed possible to detect the peculiarly depressing scent of mothballs about the Howard Coalition's campaign launch.
Mr Costello's speech — passionate here, humorous there … served mostly to remind that here stood, most probably, a political tragedy. If only Mr Howard had made good on just one of his numerous nudge-nudge, wink-winks over the years and had stood aside for Mr Costello, there might have been the chance of a sense of renewal in Brisbane's Lyric Theatre yesterday.
But Mr Costello's was a mere supporting role, and he was followed by Mark Vaile, National Party leader and thus Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Vaile may ride a skateboard passably well for a grandfather, but he is a plonker on a stage, particularly an expansive one bare of adornment beyond a national flag. He abandoned his notes for a single unscripted joke, and it was a stinker: Mr Rudd's education revolution sounded like something you'd find in a communist country, Mr Vaile chuckled to himself. God save us.
As reported elsewhere on this blog, God took a hike aeons ago. Only the Australian voter can save us now.
November 12, 2007
Kudelka's 101 Uses for a John Howard: The Book!
Australian cartoonist Jon Kudelka has been splitting our sides (with a pen, not an axe) since June 2006 with scintillating employment ideas for Prime Minister John Howard once he and Janette are thrown out of Kastle Kirribilli and onto the streets of taxpayer funded plenty for the rest of their unnatural lives.
Many of Kudelka's suggestions show an eerie insight into Little Johnny's innermost feelings and desires. From the very first one:
Courtesy Jon Kudelka
to The Eighth Dwarf:
Courtesy Jon Kudelka
Through to one of the latest, #92 Elect Vessel:
Courtesy Jon Kudelka
Folks, you're gonna get 224 pages, including extras, all for a lousy 20 bucks. Simply clickez-vous ici to get one while stocks last. And, for the first 500 sold, Jon is throwing in a fridge magnet featuring one of Little Johnny's new career opportunities, for free. You will never again be this alert and alarmed. Unless, crosses at the ready, the little bastard somehow wins the election.
So hurry, act now. You won't regret it. I know I won't.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 3:46 PM
November 10, 2007
John Howard supporters would have been relaxed and comfortable in Oswiecim
Only a few kilometres from the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau was the village of Oswiecim. During the years of mass murder no one in the village complained, aside from comments among one another about the stench. To be fair, a complaint might have been met with summary execution.
John Howard supporters have no fear of execution, which makes it even worse. Free to acknowledge the crimes against humanity and Australia's fair go by the Howard Government, they have instead allowed their ignoble silence, support and complicity to be bought with filthy lucre.
Take a bloke by the name of Peter Milford, who lives and works in Ringwood, in the seat of Deakin, Victoria, held by Liberal Phillip Barresi with a swing of 5 per cent needed to turf him out.
In Ewin Hannan's article, Temptation to stay with the devil you know, in today's Australian, Milford says of the illegal invasion of Iraq: "It's been a total disaster and will remain so." Of the PM's refusal to sign up to the Kyoto Protocal: "It's a disgrace." The treatment of Mohamed Haneef: "It's been appalling."
But, will he vote Labor, then?
"They were all things that totally alienated me and because of them I would (have said) publicly that I would not be voting Liberal."
Sounds promising, doesn't it?
"But when it comes to the crunch on polling day, I'll probably be thinking, things aren't really so bad, that we have been pretty well managed over a good number of years, and I think there will be a lot of people who will be saying: 'Let's go with the devil we know'.
"When I look around at my family, they are all well employed. They can get a job. There are not too many people I know who don't have a job but want one. If you're prepared to work, you can get a job, and I just think, generally speaking, things have been handled pretty well."
You wonder how many townsfolk from Oswiecim were well employed at the camps. Foolish question: all the labour at Auschwitz was slave labour. What was I thinking!
So that's your typical John Howard supporter. A decent man, without doubt, but one whose sense of injustice, while not dead, has been largely hammered out of him by Howard's mantra of aspirational greed.
An article to savour is Michael Gawenda's eulogy for John Howard (and perhaps himself as a campaign reporter): The Last Campaign. In it he refers to the emptiness surrounding Howard's last stand. He speaks of the weird deployment of Howard's hugs in recent weeks:
[Howard's] hug is executed, body to body, the prime ministerial arms wrapped around the hugged one, the prime ministerial head bobbing around affectionately, with the only hint of discomfort being the prime ministerial laugh, "hah hah hah, ho ho ho", which under these circumstances, seems to be entirely inappropriate.
This week, the fourth of the campaign, the Howard hug was deployed perhaps a half a dozen times. The recipients were young men in baseball caps turned backwards and older blokes who afterwards looked surprised by Howard's ardour and their positive, reflexive response to this unexpected show of affection.
But it's the "emptiness of an ageing and inaccessible PM's highly stage-managed campaign" that most disturbs Gawenda:
[Perhaps] Howard's hugging is merely a symptom of the emptiness of this campaign, empty in the sense not of its importance, but of spontaneity and debate and political speeches and humour and anything approaching a real conversation — and a real confrontation — between those who want power and those who will decide who wins it.
It is a sign of the desperate emptiness of this campaign that Howard's morning walk offers the main, perhaps the only, chance of a fleeting moment of unscripted reality, even if that reality is a chance to interview someone dressed as a sheep who is protesting against the live-sheep export trade and who, on most mornings when Howard is staying at Kirribilli House, waits for him to appear and then is duly ignored.
Gawenda also discusses in detail the gobsmacking difference between the US campaign (he's just returned from several years in the States) and ours. The difference is that they make speeches and have public rallies, while we have stage-managed sprints through shopping centres, pubs, RSL's and old folks homes, where hardly anyone gets a chance to say a word to the contenders unless it's shouted from the sidelines.
One of the best commentaries on John Howard yet, from the man we're only just beginning to forgive for his endorsement of the Weasel in 2004, as then editor of The Age.
November 9, 2007
Elect Vessel Johnny: Broken homes and fewer babies under Labor
Who is writing John Howard's material, the Exclusive Brethren? In his speech to the Institute of Public Affairs yesterday (PM continues attack on Labor's economic credentials), he suggested fertility rates would be lower and divorce rates higher under Labor. He also reiterated the word "socialism" over and over again.
I fully expected this to be prominent in today's dailies. Not a word that I'm aware of.
These are the ravings of a lunatic. Will we see John Howard standing behind a pulpit by the end of this campaign? Will Kevin Rudd do a me-too behind his own pulpit?
We were also treated to John Howard's shifty eyes as he performed contortions over the semantics of "sorry" and "apology". Samantha Maiden's Spin Cycle (Sorry, that was no apology) is a treat:
It's nice to say sorry to home owners for interest rate rises but it’s probably best for John Howard not to insult voters by denying his words represented an apology.
The Prime Minister tripped in a test of his own political logic yesterday.
He was thinking more about the debate over whether he should “say sorry” for the stolen generation than interest rates when The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan snookered him with the question: “Mr Howard, if you’re not responsible for the interest rates rise, why did you apologise for it?”
The Prime Minister responded with an insight into Howardese: “Well, I said that I was sorry they’d occurred. I don’t think I actually used the word ‘apology’.
That's when his eyes shifted and his face betrayed that giveaway hint of pride over having gotten away with it; in fact, with just about every lie he's ever uttered. Then, he said, his voice cynically oily:
“I think there is a difference between the two things. I think we’ve been through that debate before, haven’t we, in the context of something?”
"Something" in this context is a word that means nothing, which is his view of the real meaning of Aboriginal reconciliation. Samantha continues:
Perhaps realising the hole he had climbed into, Mr Howard rapidly recited the value of the Government’s tax cuts, suggesting they would more than cancel out the effect of the rate rise.
His “hands up, you got me” body language suggested all the contrition of Tony Abbott on day one of his “apology” to asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton. “Now, I am, you know, we’re to blame for the strong economy,” Mr Howard said, sarcastically. “We accept full responsibility for having a strong economy.”
The television images were terrible, giving a glimpse of just how tricky with words he can be. Much of the value of those front-page “sorry” newspaper stories and television news was wiped out.
By last night, the Prime Minister was accusing Labor of “playing silly word games”, of inventing the whole “sorry” business “to divert attention from the fact they don’t have an economic policy to put downward pressure on inflation and interest rates”.
Apologies, home owners - saying sorry for interest rate hikes turned out to be non-core.
I just hope I don't croak from a heart attack before the lying rodent is wiped from the face of the electoral earth.
November 7, 2007
Rate rise to frighten witless Aussies back to Howard
Copyright © 2007, Maurie Gee
Never underestimate the stupidity of the Australian public. Kevin Rudd may be urging passengers to board the life boats, but John Howard is commanding them to remain on board the Titanic: "Better to stick with the sinking ship you know than risk survival with Labor."
Caroline Overington (Rate rise is good news for Howard) claims the latest Newspoll, which saw the Coalition doubling its lead to 19 points over Labor as best economic managers, will herd the sheep back home to the Coalition, thanks to the rate rise.
Satan have mercy. But that's Australians for you. They haven't eagerly accepted lollipops from John "the political pedophile" Howard for at least the last two elections for nothing.
Another commentator, Sid Marris: RBA exposes Coalition's ill-discipline, believes voters will be aware that "where the Coalition will suffer is that it has undermined their economic virtue in the way it scrambled to prepare for this rise." He says that "Many voters understand that … in an inflation-targeting system, with an independent Reserve Bank, rates will go up and down according to economic demands. It is the paradox of inflation-targeting system that rates general go up because things are going well and down when they are going badly."
But will they? With the death of community and the raising of selfishness as the highest good under Howard, each house has become an island, a separate principality, with its own survival the only consideration.
Tony Wright sums it up in (Two theories go to war):
With interest rates rising 0.25 per cent this morning - the first time an interest-rate increase has nosed its way into an Australian election campaign - we will now witness two competing theories battling for supremacy.
(a) Voters will focus on the economy and decide this is no time to be changing governments. This is the theory expounded most enthusiastically around the Howard campfire, where the rhetoric is suddenly about how the government is the only choice to handle turbulent economic times.
(b) Voters will be so angry with having to pay more for their mortgages, their ire stoked by memories of John Howard promising to keep interest rates low six hikes ago, that they will toss the government out on its ear. This idea excites the Ruddites very greatly.
What do you reckon?
Check out the comments on Wright's posting.
Personally, I think that after eleven long, long years, John Howard has inoculated a majority of Aussies against thinking clearly or for themselves or plain old thinking at all. As a result, they are like marionettes dangling on his string. "Be very afraid of everything that moves," he tells them as he jerks them around on his private stage, a place that used to be the whole damned country. "I and I alone am your animator. Kevin Rudd will cause you to fall in a heap."
Shamelessness and stupidity among his subjects will likely win the day for John Howard come 24 November.
November 6, 2007
"Freedom. I can't get enough of it."
Yesterday the server was down for a few hours, and just when it was up again I got bundled off the computer by the teenager who lives here. She had more important things to do on MSN. Thanks to the Melbourne Cup she got Monday off as well.
I take one day off and suddenly find myself weeks behind.
The bits of news I'd managed to scan online before being summarily dismissed, informed me that a) Kevin Rudd was a shoo-in, b) Maxine McKew would win Bennelong, and c) Howard would lose the popular vote but win the election.
Instead of pulling my hair out I searched the DVD collection for Don's Party and placed it on top of the TV, just in case it's needed the night of 24 November.
Not knowing what else to do, I repaired to the loo.
Where I read that thanks to compulsory voting, 30 per cent of the Australian population who wouldn't ordinarily vote if they didn't have to, and are 100 per cent ignorant of what's going on, therefore have 30 per cent of a say in who wins.
Is this a good idea?
The United States does not have compulsory voting, so 30 per cent of the population don't vote.
Judging by the scruples of nine out of ten election winners, it doesn't matter whether voting is compulsory or not.
Then I came upon Sweet as sin, by Stanley Stewart. I entered the world of pure (and possibly dementing) fantasy over his descriptions of Carnival and the beaches in and around Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil. When I put down the article, the image of a deep rut in a dirt road extending beyond the horizon appeared to me as the symbol of the life I'm leading, the one I have apparently accepted. Especially after I reread the following paragraph:
I was befriended by a woman who had lived in Houston, Texas, for 30 years, where she had married a trio of American husbands. With her children now grown up and the husbands out of the picture, Houston had come home to Salvador. She was one of those Brazilian women who, with the aid of hairdressers, personal trainers and skilled surgeons, seem to find a second wind in their fifties. She tipped an alarmingly buoyant cleavage towards me as she whispered in my ear: “Freedom. I can’t get enough of it.”
I can still hear her saying it.
What the hell are we all doing? I thought. Wasting our lives under the yoke of the work ethic and the imposed guilt of paternalistic religions, when pure hedonism is what we were born for! No wonder we all die of cancer and heart attacks and all those other diseases that love to attack the repression of joy.
You can't do anything in this life without money. And that's about all I have to teach my offspring: Without harming others, make sure that money is never a problem. Money in sufficient amount, will allow you, as Aleister Crowley said, to do what thou wilt. For if, in 2007, the world is still ruled by idiots like John Howard and George Bush, then the only imperative is to eschew the bullshit and contemplate the conundrums posed by eternity while having a bloody good time.
Meanwhile, we await the decision of the Reserve Bank on the latest interest rate hike with bated, wheezing breath.
November 3, 2007
Garrett resign? Why, whatever for?
For reassuring voters that a Labor victory will see a qualified return to democracy in Australia? For pointing out that Kevin Rudd's "me too" policies have been the only possible tactic to counter the Coalition's hysterical fear campaign, so effective in the past on a wilfully ignorant and cowardly electorate?
According to shock jock Steve Price, Peter Garrett told him in a chat at the airport that "Once we get in, we'll just change it all."
Oh, and John Howard, the originator of the non-core promise, hasn't done the very same thing over and over again?
Why do commentators think that only Non-core Magoo can say one thing and then do the opposite?
Garrett, a relative greenhorn in politics, has been forced to compromise his principles more than once. A few more years and he'll be so seasoned at spin that his former beliefs, the ones that cut to the chase, will be neatly incorporated into the award-winning weasel words we've come to expect from politicians on all sides.
Yesterday's gaffe with right wing predator Price, will hopefully be Garrett's last.
After all, we're not talking honesty and integrity here, we're talking politics. And in the present political climate, the only imperative is to get rid of the worst prime minister in history, and replace him with a newer model.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 1:51 PM
November 2, 2007
Andrews resign? Why, whatever for?
Here's a pic of yesterday's disgraced Howard minister, Tony Abbott, just after he refused to reassure Dr VJ that her job was safe at the Mersey hospital. She's looking mighty pissed off and he's looking crazier than ever.
Photo: Chris Crerar and The Australian
Now here is today's disgraced Howard minister, Kevin "Maxwell Dumb" Andrews, who has finally been caught red-handed in L'affaire Haneef. As you can see, he is growing older by the minute. By the time of the election his wife won't have to cremate him because he'll just be a handful of dust.
According to Hedley Thomas:
Confidential emails between top AFP agents and a senior public servant advising Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews indicate that there was a secret plan to thwart a decision by a magistrate to release then terror suspect Mohamed Haneef on bail.
The emails show the AFP was aware of a weekend "contingency" plan to ensure the Indian doctor would remain behind bars by having Mr Andrews revoke his visa under the Migration Act in the event of bail being granted by Brisbane magistrate Jacqui Payne on the following Monday.
Of course, Johnny One Note will stand by his minister, because the AFP says the secret plan was normal, "part of proper processes". Guess that's true for the police state Australia has become under Howard. But back in the old days, this was a democracy run under the Westminster System, and this kind of Iron Curtain behavior was unheard of.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettles says Andrews should resign, but then she would, wouldn't she? Being one of a handful of parliamentarians with integrity.
Wonder what it would be like to live under another term of this world-class totalitarian government? Could be exciting, actually. In the way being a member of the French Resistance was.
Posted by Horrible Horck - The Bleeding Heart With Balls at 3:37 PM
November 1, 2007
Abbott resign? Why, whatever for?
To my knowledge, the only journalist who has mentioned the "resign" word to Tony Abbott over yesterday's bag-packing, office-clearing exhibition of flat-out cruelty is Tony Jones on Lateline. (Check out the video link on this page, because you really need to watch Abbott in action. He looks crazed, like the brain-damaged servant of a mad doctor. During the entire segment, he can be heard gibbering in the background.)
After eleven years of Howard Government bastardry without accountability, the press appears to have gone numb. No matter what depths ministers and backbenchers sink to, our journos just blithely report the incident, as if the concept of ethics were unknown. And ethics are unknown with this government.
In a fully functioning democracy, journalists should be demanding this maniac's resignation. But that's not how it works in the Howardland.
Abbott blew it three times yesterday, but the worst was his arrogant dismissal of Bernie Banton.
Banton, terminally ill from asbestos, presented the Health Minister with a 17,000-signature petition to get mesothelioma medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Abbott then rounded on Banton, accusing him of performing a stunt:
"I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn't mean that he is pure of heart in all things."
To think the worst of someone is the merde that binds all members of the John Howard Party. They may not wear Black Shirts like their forebears, but their hearts are as black as death. Abbott accuses Banton of that which he and his colleagues are routinely guilty of: the con job. Good old projection.
Of course Abbott then apologised and of course John Howard stood by his man.
Fuckup number two was standing up the indefinably sexy Nicola Roxon at the Health Ministers debate. Ms Roxon got to carry on unimpeded for a half hour before wild-eyed Fang showed up. The after-show insults over smiles and handshakes were very definably delicious. Read about it here.
The final bungle was the delay of the federal takeover of the Mersey Hospital in Tassie. After rushing in a couple of months ago with bugles blowing and the PM gladhanding, it's all become a bit of a fizzer and, as of today, still is.
Abbott's electorate is Warringah in NSW, with an 11.3 percent swing required to throw him out. Is it possible the relaxed and comfortable well-breds of Mosman, Balmoral and such will find their conscience? Wealth usually equates to greed, but the times may be a-changin'.