Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

Ozzie Gets A Talking To

I know it’s not nice to psychoanalyse little boys when they haven’t asked, Ozzie, but these tantrums of yours are just getting ridiculous and I’m going to have to give you a piece of my mind. Now, it is true that your Mum said she wouldn’t be making you do anything to help out around the house and now she’s saying she’s changed her mind. It’s not unreasonable to have some negative feelings about things like that, but you have to try and understand that, now that Mum has invited Brownie Windsor to stay, Mum and Brownie have to decide things together so you’ll just have to get used it. And it is not ok to call Brownie a kiddie-fiddling pinko pillow muncher under any circumstances. I bet you got that off your father and don’t even really know what it means.

And while we’re talking about your father, you have to understand he’ll say anything to drive a wedge between you and your Mum. Remember him telling you your Mum was no good with money and you’d lose your paper route and your piggy bank would disappear in the middle of the night? Well none of that happened did it? So the idea that you helping out a little tiny bit with the housework will result in you having to share the house with hordes of towel heads and the power only being on when it’s a really sunny day and there aren’t any dirty bombs going off, while it appeals to you because you’re a typically lazy and selfish little boy, well that idea could be all a big porky designed to scare you away from your Mum.

And I know you’re sick of the sound of your Mum’s voice, with all her nagging about responsibility and getting a good education and preparing for the future. It reminds you of being a bit younger and her making you slip slop slap and you were thinking ‘how could the Sun hurt you?’ Your Dad still says, only the other day in fact, ‘nonsense, a bit of sun won’t hurt him.’ I don’t mean to be hurtful Ozzie, but your Dad is an idiot who still thinks the World was made 6000 years ago. And even though he acts like a working class bloke, he’s a total snob who’s forever trying to curry favour with the local business club.

I know, I’m sorry, don’t cry, your father means well. He’s just a bit misguided because he’s angry. He had all these plans for the place and now your Mum and Brownie are doing things all different and he’d rather tear the place down than see it in their image. But if your Dad is being childish, Ozzie, that means you have to grow up a bit faster yourself, start thinking for yourself, and stop being so easily lead by every little whisper of fear and dread that slithers out of your Dad’s lipless mouth. It’s time to accept that you, your Mum, Brownie, you all have a responsibility to look after the place and hopefully leave it a bit better than you found it.

Ok, so Ozzie, I want you to stop crying now. There’s nothing to be afraid of, and if there’s some bumpy track ahead, there’ll be less to be worried about if we get ready and all do our bit now. So I want you to go home in a minute and tell your Mum you’re sorry and you forgive her and give her a big hug. Then I want you to find Brownie and give him a solid hand shake and apologise for being so rude and say you’ll do your best to get on in future. And then you can do your chores and your homework like your mother said and you can all have a nice dinner together, ok? Good boy, wipe your nose, that’s the boy.

Now, Mr Abbott, if you’d like to come in please? I’ll just get my cane ready, please take down your pants and assume the position.

My Alternate Happy Universe

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confounded left and right wing critics alike by coming out in strong support of Wikileaks and its Australian editor in chief, Julian Assange. ‘Our legal advice is that Wikileaks has broken no laws of Australia or the United States’, she said, and further that ‘Australia and the Labor government have nothing to fear from, and in fact welcome, an emerging era of openness in government’. Her statements echo those of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who said earlier today that Wikileaks ‘was merely practising journalism as it was meant to be practised’. ‘A free press’, she said, ‘is fundamental to the workings of a sound democracy’.

US President Obama, who was widely expected to project muscular disapproval of recent leaks, set the surprising tone yesterday, arguing that, while some of the leaks were clearly embarrassing for the government, the US would not be ‘shooting the messenger’ and would instead focus on repairing damaged relationships and forging more honest and open dialogue in international relations.

Australia’s Attorney General, Robert McClelland, issued a statement this afternoon advising Assange will receive full consular support with regard to Sweden’s prosecution of charges of sexual misconduct against him and that the Australian government has no intention of prosecuting Assange itself. ‘He’d have to have done something illegal’, he said, adding that ‘personally he was very proud of Assange,’ and that he ‘was sick of governments treating their citizens like children’. Regarding the Swedish charges, he said it was a travesty that Assange’s name had been blackened by the media’s reporting of supposed ‘rape’ charges. ‘The charges don’t appear to be for rape at all’, he said, ‘but rather “sex by surprise”, which I’m sure most Australian men would consider a regular part of the arsenal’. He later apologised for his ‘insensitive and stupid’ remarks.

Assange a Hero

Julian Assange, the mastermind behind Wikileaks and apparent most dangerous man in the world, is a hero. Would that I had half the courage and genius. Would that the world didn’t require such clandestine methods of exposing the truth. In the case of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, would that we didn’t need exposure of actual incidents to know that war inevitably results in outrageous horror and tragedy, brutal miscarriage of justice, the ultimate of crimes against humanity. But, apparently, we do.

The real horror of the Wikileaks video of the killing of Reuters reporters in Afghanistan was not the incident itself, but that it was but one example of normal operations. The recent release of thousands of classified documents detailing countless episodes of civilian slaughter has been criticised by the US for endangering Afghan informers. Seldom has irony reached such an order of magnitude.

The soldier who leaked the video and documents faces life in prison. Assange is a wanted man who can never live a normal life free of surveillance and the fear of a similar fate. Australia joins our ally in condemning him. The wars roll on unperturbed. The public remains largely oblivious. But I, for one, salute Assange, a hero in an age with too few. You can donate to Wikileaks here.

Gertrude’s Diary #134 – Preaching to the Converted

The CPRS is a big load of Ruddish.  I think it stands for Crappy Pretend Reduction Scheme.  I can’t believe that anyone who bothers to read this blog would be naive enough to think that it would be otherwise, so I’m not sure why I bother to mention it.  It’s just that I’m a little bit surprised by how terribly wrong it all is.  The scheme itself is a farce.  And what’s more, the coverage has all been about who’s sticking it to Malcolm Turnbull in the party room, not the very real crisis of climate change.  I have some deeply ingrained prejudices towards people like Turnbull, but at least he’s had the courage to stand up and say something needs to be done, even if that thing he says needs to be done is futile, painful and ultimately disastrous.

I watched Rob Hopkins this morning give a brief talk about the possibilities for a post-oil world.  Such reason and gentle courage are an inspiration.  You should all go watch it now – it only takes 15 minutes or so and it could save your life.  Or, another life similar to yours.  A life could definitely be saved somewhere.

[Read more →]

Gertrude Implores You To Take Her Seriously For A Minute

As some of you may know, I recently began employment with a small, grass-roots organisation dedicated to helping local communities do anything they can to reduce their carbon footprint. I spent several months visualising a job exactly like this one; working with people of vision, action and commitment, 5 minutes from home and Wildflower’s school, and with regular hours that accommodate other commitments. It is literally a dream job for me. Of course, the downside of this employment is that it comes with an increasing awareness of climate change, a line of thinking which is liable to lead to the excruciating discomfort of self-examination.

Despite the impression I may have given you with the amount of space I devote in my blog to flippant observations and trite assumptions, I actually try hard not to be judgemental of others. Recognising in each of us the struggle to reconcile to the slip of time we have between life and death (sorry; bit of new-agey philosophy crept in there), I am inclined to forgive people their foibles and stupidities. Plus, I’m quite foible-ridden and stupid myself, so people in glass-houses and all that. Also, I’m afraid no one will invite me anywhere if I start airing my opinions about the urgent need to dismantle the military/industrial complex and the end of the world scenarios that await us if we don’t.

So on the whole I have been able to check an inclination to proselytise when confronted with my friend’s and loved one’s casual indifference to the impending doom that awaits us. I don’t want to single any one out, you know, or make people I care about uncomfortable, but I just don’t think the Good-Fairy Government from the shining land of We Actually Give A Toss is going to make an appearance and give us time off from our oil dependent lives to find a nice little techno-fix for this. Uh uh. If we don’t take matters into our own hands, no one else is going to do it for us.

[Read more →]

Will There Now be a Reckoning?

Regular readers of my contributions to this blog, from back in the days when I used to regularly contribute to it (the which days may be returning, perhaps, I feel a slight surge of scribbling juices which could easily fade but you never know) will be aware that I had a long running obsession with the tragedy that I saw befalling the United States under the leadership of George W Bush and the cabal of radical neo-liberals that made up his administration.

America, leader of the ‘free world’, the global economic powerhouse and, for better or worse, hegemon, had in eight short years been reduced to an epic ‘fail’. Failure in Afghanistan, failure in Iraq, failure in New Orleans, a failure of leadership on (or even understanding of) climate change and of course the GFC, these are the big five in a mind-numbing series of ‘fail’ moments.

For those of us watching the Bush administration closely, the horrors of dubiously justified bad policies delinquently deployed were shocking and unforgivable in their own way, but scarier still was watching the rapid erosion of the very freedoms, rights and protections, implicit in its own Constitution and numerous international conventions, that America was apparently, and unsuccessfully, attempting to export to other countries.

[Read more →]

In Bed For Peace

From Bruce Ryan

The Embassy Hotel Deakin, 9:00 am March 21 – 9:00 am March 22, 2009

No, it’s not what you think. It is a light-hearted but compassionate way to raise money for children affected by war and terrorism all over the world.

When the “War on Terror” was announced shortly after September 11, 2001, mild-mannered public servant Bruce Ryan from Canberra remembered his personal hero and activist for peace, John Lennon, and wanted to remind the world about Lennon’s ideals. He thought the best way would be to recreate the moment when John and his wife Yoko took to their bed in the Amsterdam Hilton on March 21 1969, and invited the world’s press to interview them, just one day after getting married.

So on March 21, 2002 Bruce took to his bed at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and began his quest to raise money for children affected by war across the globe. He has repeated that effort each year to ensure more of Australia realises that the effects of war are felt years after the conflicts are over.

Bruce would like to see In Bed For Peace become a national or even international event [similar to the 40hr famine] that anyone can take part in – and not just in good hotels. “Get your mates to sponsor you to stay in bed for 24hrs, and send a message to our leaders that ordinary people care about peace.”

Bruce will be In Bed For Peace at The Embassy Hotel, Hopetoun Circuit Deakin from 9 am Saturday March 21 until 9 am Sunday March 22, 2004.

To arrange interviews beforehand please contact Peter Bayliss on 0418 458 457 sunflowerent@hotmail.com or Bruce Ryan on 0400 398 784.

World Naked Bike Ride, Canberra

The World Naked Bike Ride comes to Canberra for the first time on Sun 15th March, 2009. Culturazi will be there and so should you. Check the details on the Facebook page.

World Naked Bike Ride

I don’t agree with Tim Blair?

Some years ago I attempted to engage the right-wing blogosphere, particularly the blog of Tim Blair, in rational argument about the issues of the day. I failed to engender anything but abuse and gave up. I haven’t got the endurance of, say, Grodscorp, which appears locked in a battle to the death with such as Blair, Bolt and a cast of minor troglodytes. But the other day I absentmindedly had a peruse of Blair’s new Daily Telegraph blog and couldn’t help having a little dig.

Blair, one of the remaining few climate-change denialists, had posted another silly story pointing out that it’s snowing in the northern hemisphere and therefore climate change ain’t happening. I couldn’t help making a comment:

This theme of yours Tim, that continuing wintery conditions somehow bely the predictions of climate change scientists, while hilariously funny (well I’m sure at least some people find it mildly amusing), is as tired and over-flogged as your own organs of reproduction. Can I suggest a new tack? Perhaps you could begin by observing that the flatness of the Earth, when viewed from, say, the middle of a football field, is blindingly apparent and is actually a fact?

Or words to that effect. I can’t remember exactly. And it’s a pretty lame comment I agree. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Blair has always had comment moderaters, and in the old days they were pretty hard-nosed and partisan, frequently banning interlopers. Perhaps I should have been warned. As Blair advises on the last post of his old blog:

[Read more →]

A late question for the candidates

It has been nigh on impossible to ignore the US Presidential Election for the last… fuckin how long? Although I’m sure you haven’t all been as masochistic as I have. I’ve attempted to watch all of all the debates, tried to read all the commentary in all the newpapers and periodicals (really, all of them) and scoured the internets for polls, tidbits, trivia, minutiae and a bit of how the other side is thinking.

So, you know, my knowledge of this election campaign is as encyclopaedic as if I could see the White House from my very doorstep. And the thing that’s missing for me in all this grand theatre of democracy is one simple question. Not who designed Sarah Palin’s suit. Not whether Obama once had sex with Mata Hari. Not whether the candidates believe in an imminent Armageddon… No wait. That was it. I really think it’s quite pertinent that we know if the next leader of the ‘free world’ believes in an imminent Armageddon. You know, where plague and pestilence, fire and brimstone, all that horrible stuff Christians are so good at making up, is going to subsume the Earth, but only after all the good Christians have been elevated off to Heaven or somewhere.

Because if you believe that stuff, then I reckon it’d have to have a pretty big influence on some of your policies. In that context, climate change is just part of the plan and slogans such as ‘drill baby drill’ make great sense. There would be no need to worry about massive overseas debt either. Send the bill to heaven, suckers. Any need to consider the long term relationships you might have with countries of other faiths? Pah!

Once you start thinking this way, you find it solves a lot of problems. Assuming you’re a good Christian, which I am. The rest of you, forget it. You’re fucked. So anyway, please ask the candidates that question, and the one who says they believe in imminent Armageddon and will do all in their power to bring it on, that’s the one for me. Now forgive me, I have to go and sodomise a goat.

Exposed

‘Your data suggest no difference in your automatic preferences for White people vs. Black people

Your data suggests a strong automatic preference for Barack Obama over John McCain’

Dang. I was sort of hoping the implicit assumption test would expose me as a closet racist. One of those people who might say in a poll that they’ll vote for a black man, but just can’t face it when it comes to polling time, the so-called Bradley Effect. Not so, but then I reckon I’ll have a chance to vote for a black man as Australian Prime Minister at about the same time as a Muslim has a real shot at the US presidency. I mean a real Muslim. Cause Obama’s not a Muslim. Not that it should matter. Some of my best friends are Muslims. And black people. Actually most of my best friends are middle-class, middle-aged women. What’s with that?

Go Gallantly into Defeat my Boys

‘My center is giving way. My right is in retreat. Situation excellent. I attack!’

So said General Ferdinand Foch of France to his commanding general, Joseph Joffre, according to William Kristol. So said one of Napoleon’s generals, according to Peter Roebuck. Both used the quote on the same day, coincidentally. Roebuck is wrong on the attribution but possibly correct in his advice to the Australian cricket team. When you’re on foreign pitches with a meagre bowling attack and a patchy batting order, there is little to be gained by battening down the hatches. Besides, it’s boring.

Be gallant in defeat they might as well say, though not nearly as much hangs on the result of a tour of India as on next Tuesday’s election. Kristol, who co-founded the Project for a New American Century, has not yet abandoned the good ship McCain and is one of the few ‘conservative’ pundits to still consider Sarah Palin an asset. He remains steadfastly, eerily, optimistic, insisting that one of McCain’s main weapons is that the US is finally winning the war in Iraq (an adventure, it must be said, for which Kristol was an aggressive advocate).

Suggesting that McCain and Palin should take over the campaign, Kristol advises: ‘then (they) can spend the final week speaking for themselves. They should throw themselves open full time to the media. Could the press coverage get worse?’ I’m afraid it could, William. Putting Sarah Palin full time in front of a camera at this time is the cricketing equivalent of commencing the fourth innings against the West Indies (of yore) on the last day with 400 to win and sending out Glenn McGrath and the team mascot, assuming it were a bunny as well.

The pendulum has swung so far in Obama’s favour, however, that McCain’s fate on November 4 is already sealed. All that’s in doubt is the extent of the rout. McCain, whose policy proclivities have veered wildly during the campaign, can preserve some of his dignity, and could possibly save the party from long-term demoralisation, but probably not both at once. Palin can retire to Alaska where they must be having serious doubts about her capacity to govern right now. And Kristol, his New American Century now consigned to histories of disastrous imperial overshoot, well, who gives a toss?

Speaking of which, make sure you win the toss, Ponting, and give the cherry a good smack will you old boy.

Obama

Brilliant and moving set of photos of Obama by Callie Shell, had to share, click the pic below.

Obama

Absent Pig-herd Admits Mistake

Some credit is due, I suppose, to former US Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, for admitting that the economic ideology that defined his tenure and produced a financial crisis of monumental proportions, was flawed. ‘I made a mistake,’ Mr. Greenspan said, ‘in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.’

Some credit… but it does remind me of the guy who thought his herd of pigs would behave themselves while left to their own devices in the buffet room of the Waldorf Astoria. Who would have thunk?

Surveying the wreckage, Greenspan advised he was in ‘a state of shocked disbelief,’  because ‘I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.’ Given they only began dismantling the post-depression financial regulations in the late nineties, that’s hard to fathom, but perhaps Greenspan shouldn’t be quite so hard on himself. In the rarefied atmosphere of New York’s financial sector, he was surrounded by folks for whom an absent pig-herd was working very well indeed. Even the recipients of NINJA loans thought it was working well – for a minute or two. The American dream, once the province of hard-working entrepreneurs, seemed accessible to every Joe, even the ‘six-pack’ ones.

Welcome to the American nightmare. After affluenza comes what? If America sneezes and the world catches cold, what happens when the US acquires uncontrollable diarrhea? Trickle down theory indeed. What is certain is that the warriors of religious free-market fundamentalism are free to follow Greenspan’s example and fall gently, befuddled, on their swords.

The Post-Neo-Conservatives?

I’m an old lefty from way back, as anyone who reads this site would know, so it is with a mixture of horror and shaudenfraude that I witness the current financial woes of the United States, wrecked by the excesses of the neo-con libertarians of the Bush administration. Hoist by their own petard, the Republican Party faces decades in the wilderness, their economic, foreign and every other policy credentials shredded along with any moral integrity they may have once been perceived to have had.

Fortunately Australia, in the midst of a series of reforms that would eventually have seen our society resembling the US in every detail, was smart enough to change horses before too much damage was done. Unfortunately the enormous lost potential of the boom, in terms of re-investment in the country, has already come back to bite us, as will the unfolding ramifications of the disappearing trillions.

[Read more →]