Search Results for: murdoch

ReachTel/Murdoch Tasmanian Figures False, As Always

Cheating as always, ReachTel finds 47.4 percent of Tasmanians voting Liberal, 23.6 percent Labor, 18.2 percent Greens and 6.7 PUP. Machines rang landlines on Thursday, late shopping night, while the Debate was proceeding, and got those uninterested in it, and not on a mobile, and not preparing dinner, or still at work, or driving home, and, sure enough, these underoccupied nonagenarians favoured the Liberals.

Similar machine-Thursday-landline polling in August by Lonergan, ReachTel and Galaxy had Rudd, Swan, Clare, Burke, Bowen, Dreyfus and Albo losing their seats.

Adjusting accordingly, therefore, along lines of their past error, and noting how well Gidding did in the Debate, and her support last night for a reopened asylum seeker ‘facility’ in Tasmania, I predict the result next week will be Liberals 35.2, Labor 33.4, Greens 20.5 and PUP 10.9 and a Giddings-McKim government, commanding 14 seats, formed by April 10.

That the poll would be taken DURING the Debate is a measure of Skynews’ frantic mendacity. Any later and the one in four undecided would have begun to decide.

It is time, surely, time these criminals were charged with fraud, and Murdoch immured in Port Arthur for the term of his natural life.

Murdoch, Tottering

On Sky News tonight Abbott’s first six months was trenchantly assessed by…his sister. She said she couldn’t for the life of her think of anything he’d done wrong except, maybe…just maybe…not having enough women in his ministry. The host, Chris Kenny, said Scott Ludlam saying he was a racist (no, he didn’t) and a homophobe (doesn’t want gays to marry, looks like he is) and going after unions (always has) was wrong, and a scandalous way to talk of our Prime Minister, he should show more respect, we all should show more respect…

No Labor figure was invited onto this programme, this half-birthday party, only a glumly tongue-tied Jack The Insider, itching to say more, showing how scared Murdoch’s getting lately. He does not any more have a dissenting voice on this show lest the landslide rumbling down on the government this week turns into an avalanche. After NDIS, Gonski, Broadband, Holden, Ardmona, Manus, Qantas, and now the WorkChoices ghost who walks and, oh yes, the cold war with Indonesia, the audible contempt of China and the UN saying we’re like North Korea sometimes there is no, repeat no, Abbott good news and Rupert, fingers in ears, is going la, la, la as any cult leader tends to when archangels don’t front and the seas don’t part, on schedule.

It must be hard for PVO and Kieran Gilbert and Kenny, who are not without intelligence, to endure the contempt of their peers and look forward to gaol terms like Rebekah’s but they must, like Faust, I suppose, take the rough with the smooth.

It will take a while but Newscorp by 2050 will seem as ghastly and silly as the Ku Klux Klan.

And so it goes.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (95)

I am banning for a month, for two months or for life a good few respondents who are alleging Bob Carr was a bad Premier but will not name any policies of his that were wrong policies and are joining the general smear that if Obeid and Carr were in the same party and in the same faction they were accomplices in everything. But Sinodinos was in the same party, and the same office, as John Howard and accepted an offer of twenty million dollars for fifty hours’ work, paid by taxpayers, to further the interests of a crooked water company, a crooked Obeid water company, so therefore he and Howard — and Abbott — were accomplices in significant acts of political corruption advantaging Obeid and compromising O’Farrell, and they should be gaoled and expelled, like Thomson and Williamson. Stands to reason, doesn’t it? Off with their heads.

I am depressed at how many of this readership have so meekly and flabbily copped the propaganda of Murdoch (Spoke uncivilly to a Woy Woy waiter, did she? Off with her head! Iguanagate! Iguanagate!) and disgusted at Uhlman’s interview an hour ago.

Fran Kelly’s was a lot better.

What I’m hearing in all of them, however, is that a reveal-all political memoir is utterly unacceptable, we need an airbrushed one, and it must be first censored by Julie Bishop, Andrew Bolt and Chris Uhlman.

Who believes this?


Gielgud Memoranda (2)

A nice nonagenarian woman said, ‘You’re the best Bottom I’ve seen, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them.’ And I said, ‘I was better in 1956, when I last gave my Bottom, in the Lismore High school hall.’

I then went on to say, ‘It was the last time I played Shakespeare on a stage.’ But I forgot the Fool I did in a reading to Dennis Carroll’s Lear and John Bell’s Edmund in the Philosophy Room of Sydney Uni, in, I think, 1962. Fifty-two years ago. The length of Shakespeare’s life.

A long time between classical roles. My Falstaff, hailed already as ‘better than Bell’s’ after only two days’ rehearsal is, after three, improving. It’s possible the ability to play Shakespeare well and in depth — play him, as we do, like jazz saxophonists improvising — comes late in life. ‘The first duty of an actor,’ Olivier said, ‘is to turn forty.’ Watching Firth, his successor, these days outclass the known world — in A Single Man, in The King’s Speech — moves me to think it is probably fifty. For me, a late developer, seventy.

It’s a good form of theatre: scripts on lecterns, three good voices, microphones, and some of the best dramatic writing in the language. The battle-eve scene of Henry V, with the campfirelit common soldiers cursing their King, half knowing it is him in disguise and answering them haughtily and guiltily back, comes across as fresh as The Black Watch or The War Horse or Parade’s End. The jealousy speech of Leontes (‘know’st thou my wife…is slippery?’) is as new and bitter and surprising and nasty as Murdoch’s recent cuckolding by Blair.

And…it may be the safest way to do Shakespeare now, as anthology rather than story. Since we know without a doubt what happens to Hamlet or Romeo, or Desdemona, or Cleopatra, what is the use of three hours’ wait for the sword-fight, the poison cup, the strangling, the asp? Better, surely, to imbibe the intervening music.

Burke, already the best Hamlet ever, the best Puck, and the best Dogberry, increases in reach every night. In the past, as a young man, he played only Curios and Salarios. He now deserves better, as the Wharf Revue showed; and this, and this.

The closest in spirit to John Gielgud in this show is Terry Clarke — lucid, precise, unwavering, accumulating power and solemn beauty as he goes. We are getting a guitarist in next time, and will be stirring, uplifting, as never before.

All those who wish to go on Sunday April 13 at 5 at the Ray Hughes Gallery can pledge, here, or on 0405965560, twenty-two dollars or fifty dollars for the show and a feast across the road at the Book Cafe and some adequate conversation afterward. And pay at the door.

You will not be sorry you did.

Newspoll’s Biggest Lies Thus Far, Shock Horror

You can usually tell when Newspoll’s being frantically rewritten at the last minute, and Rupert Murdoch shouting down the phone.

There are obvious mistakes. On page 2 of The Australian we see ‘Question: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Julia Gillard is doing her job as Prime Minister?’; and also ‘Question: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Tony Abbott/Bill Shorten is doing his job as Leader of the Opposition?’

The latter is really hard to fathom. So is the headline, which says ‘Liberals rebound in the West’ over numbers showing them down, from 51.2 to 46 in WA and 53.5 to 48 in mainland Australia. In raw figures Labor is up, not down — though only 0.2 percent — in WA, but the Greens, up from 8.7 to 12 percent, will surely drop-kick another 2.5 percent their way and give them one more seat than in September.

These figures aren’t last week’s, though, but those of ‘Jan-March’, meaning half were taken when anyone under sixty was out of the house and the Menzies generation answering the phone.

And Rupert still can’t make Abbott win. Overall, in Australia, Labor is on 52 and winning on these numbers and Shorten, yes, trailing Abbott by 5 percent, but with 25 percent ‘uncommitted’. And this, with a 2.5 percent margin of error, implies even-steven, pretty much; or, if somebody rings a mobile — ever — Shorten by now some 2 percent ahead. As preferred Prime Minister. Six months into the Prime Ministership of another.

The column ‘Abbott/Shorten’s Performance’ makes no sense. The 562 sample in WA is too small. Shorten by 42 to 36 is the Prime Minister preferred by Victorians and by 37 to 38 just misses in South Australia where the car job cuts hurt most. There’s a 4.2 margin of error in WA meaning Labor will pick up its second seat probably, and maybe, just maybe, after rancorous recounts, a third.

But…’Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Julia Gillard is doing her job as Prime Minister?’ And ‘Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Tony Abbott/Bill Shorten is doing his job as Leader of the Opposition?’ Really? Really? How can we take this poll seriously?

Maybe that last sentence is a cry for help from poor, drunk O’Shannessy: please get me out of here, I’ll do anything to get out of here. Another Guinness, for God’s sake, no, no, a barrel of Guinness, and a straw.

Let’s see what Morgan says today, if anything.

Morgan is the accurate one.

The Ellis Theory Of Partial Assassination

My friend Nathan Rees resigned yesterday. I had thought him a future Prime Minister and, in a book I wrote after his cutting down by Obeid’s allies, interviewed him searchingly. This chapter, and this assessment, will be in these columns tomorrow.

He is the sixth gifted politician brought down by ‘sexual scandal’ in the past five years. They were John Della Bosca, Mike Rann, David Campbell, Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper, and, up to a point, Julia Gillard (thuggish one-eyed former lover, dull-witted present one). Kevin Rudd survived a story involving him and a pole-dancer; several have been tried out on Bill Shorten. Rob Oakeshott’s marriage to an indigenous woman injured his voter base, and sped, perhaps, his decision to not stand again.

No such scandal attended the broken marriages of Greiner, Collins, Kennett, Olsen, Kerin, but they were Liberals and so, of course, above scrutiny. Troy Buswell was thrice forgiven and kiboshed eventually by drunkenness, a car crash and a mental breakdown

It is a Murdoch tactic, and it usually works. It ruined me as a politician in 1999. It has not been applied to Murdoch’s three marriage breakdowns and his cuckolding by, apparently, Tony Blair. It is a good trick, called ‘partial assassination’, and it brought down Teddy Kennedy, Gary Hart, John Edwards, and, for a time, Bill Clinton and his wife, and thus by transmitted odour his successor Al Gore. It did not afflict John McCain, who treated his first wife abominably and married his second for her money, nor Ronald Reagan, whose adulterous courtship of Nancy was a kind of rape, nor George HW Bush who flaunted his mistress when he was US Ambassador to China where she blatantly co-hosted his banquets. It did not trouble Eisenhower, whose wartime driver, played by Deborah Kerr in the movie, was his English mistress for two years before Roosevelt told him to stop it.

No, it is those on the Left who are ‘partially assassinated’, Hollande, Prescott, Robin Cook, Neville Wran, Paul Keating who was supposed to be gay, Cheryl Kernot and Gareth Evans who were sprung in an affair, Greg Combet who feared he would be, Paul Howes who was denied preselection in part, I hear, because of one. This is a lot of talent we are losing, and losing every year, to this righteous confected wowserism, these shock-horror headlines over private behaviour that since Caesar’s time (‘a husband to every wife, a wife to every husband’) has been a political commonplace.

And not just sex has been in the mix since Murdoch and Ailes and Brooks discovered almost anything would do. Belinda Neal was ruined for speaking sharply to a Liberal-affiliated Woy Woy waiter. Kevin Rudd was destroyed, probably, for NOT speaking to a makeup girl. Glen Campbell for being seen, once or twice, in a room with Brian Burke. Kelvin Thompson for writing a pro-forma reference for a man who, years later, turned out to be a gangster. Peter Debnam for appearing in a too-brief bathing suit. Kim Beazley for saying ‘Karl Rove’ instead of ‘Rove MacManus’, a shocking thing to do.

Most unforgiveably, Gordon Brown lost his Prime Ministership by describing, correctly, a bigoted woman as a ‘bigoted woman’ in a private conversation in a car that was bugged. Bigotgate! howled the Murdoch press for six of the eight days that led up to an election, an election in which Brown won three seats too few to form a stable coalition with the Lib-Dems and so let David Cameron in. Brandis would not, then, have defended his right to say ‘bigoted’. But he would now.

Partial assassination is what modern politics is all about. Bronwyn Bishop now disfranchises members for laughing. Christopher Pyne tells Shorten to ‘rise above his background as a unionist’, though John Curtin, Ben Chifley and Bob Hawke did not, and were acclaimed for not having done so. If you say something confidently, as Pyne always does, it becomes a piercing truth. Gillard was accused of breaking a promise when she negotiated a deal with Independents who demanded that broken promise. What was she supposed to do? Yield up her job to Aboott? Really? Christopher thought so, and said so often and piercingly; and, as it proved, effectively, destructively, as an assassin should.

Partial assassination depends, a good deal, on migrant voters unsure of their English hearing confident English-speakers calling this or that a bad thing, a shocking thing, an unforgiveable thing. Didn’t speak to a makeup girl? Throw him out of office.

The Prime Minister ‘melting down’ when he merely said ‘mate’ a bit severely, as if no Prime Minister had ever shown anger before; Howard did it all the time. Rudd saying ‘ratfuck’ in private when David Marr, alas, was listening. Gough Whitlam saying ‘maintain your rage and enthusiasm until election day’ and being imperfectly quoted, and out of context, as having said only ‘Maintain your rage’, which ended his career as well.

These are all examples of it, and it’s really unfair, and it’s ended a lot of fine careers.

It’s called ‘partial assassination’, and it should be noted.

And, by exposure, if possible, ended.

Or perhaps you disagree.

So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done: Moses’, Handel’s, Aronofky’s and Crowe’s Noah

I imagine you won’t agree with all of this sentence but Russell Crowe, the best actor in English-language cinema since the invention of sound, is compellingly good playing Noah as a genocidal cult-leader serving a hard God in the best Old Testament film yet made.

Some of you will disagree with this, I guess; I guess. But it’s a superbly worked-out and reimagined film that will equally appeal to the Taliban, the Mormons, the Southern Baptists, any surviving Unitarian, Orthodox Jews and those atheists who grew up like me in a fundamentalist religion and look back on it now anthropologically.

For this is pretty much the way it was in the desert four thousand years ago, trying to work out what Old Thunderer was trying to signal in confusing dreams. He is a God that is unheard, but present in all things, and threatening, and petulant, and murderous — like, say, Rupert Murdoch. You’d better learn to decipher his code then obey Him. Or He’ll come after you.

As his messenger and master-carpenter Rusty converts you to a Cause like al-Qaeda’s, which requires the slaughter of unrepenting infidel humankind and a rebuilding post-deluvium of a Caliphate of the Just. And then he converts you again, after taking thought, to a second version of that Cause, which requires the extinction of all humankind, including himself and his imminent grandchildren, and the salvation of only the animals. In the pursuit of this heretical Bob Brownish mission he is truly terrifying. Mountaintops throng with wailing mothers and children who beseech a passage on his vessel in vain as the rain pelts down and the lightning shimmers in Bosch compositions and the earth quakes. He is unmoved; and he awaits the moment, like the Masada Jews, when he will extinguish his posterity. We hate him for this, but like his women, we obey him.

Why do the animals not eat each other? Well, he has a number of useful berries which, burnt, produce a kind of laughing gas that forces them into slumber, into hibernation. Who helps him build the Ark? Fallen angels, no less, lately dipped in lava and stumbling about like ill-wrought puppets of stone, bewailing their awesome fate but obeying, like Noah, the Deity’s new order.

It is very, very hard to convey what this film is like. It is not in 3D. There is no gorgeous jewelled costuming, mere dowdy Amish dungarees. The miracles, like the sudden upthrusting of an entire forest from a single seed, are more David Attenborough than Zack Snyder. The Ark is more an accumulation of logs, mud and reeds than a magnificently architectured proto-Titanic. It all feels very real. Osama, had he lived, would have loved it, identifying with its hero. And so would Ariel Sharon.

As always, Rusty does no tricks. His accent is pretty much Australian, his beard untinted, his pate unwigged. His voice is quiet. His authority comes from within. That we still like him after what he does to his women, which is Hitleric in its messianic fury, is a measure of his acting genius. No-one else, not even Depardieu, would dare attempt the enormity of this gig, let alone pull it off. He takes us into a former world convincingly. The cities are wicked, but here, in the wilderness, is righteousness and a cleansing, masochistic purity; and the necessary murders God has privileged us, his Chosen, to enact.

There a few caveats about the narrative, but solving them would have hurt its primal force, so they’re better left unrejiggered. Methusaleh (Anthony Hopkins), a nine-hundred-and-sixty-eight-year-old cave-dwelling grump, is not, though he is Noah’s grandfather, and a beneficent magician (he refertilises a barren virgin, the way you do), invited for some reason on the voyage. Tubal Cain (Ray Winstone), a villain of the order of Genghis Khan, stows away. Ham (Logan Lerman), unthinkably, ponders mutiny and father-murder after Noah left behind his beloved new girlfriend howling in a bear-trap whilst multitudes thundered over her, and he nearly carries it out. Ila (Emma Watson), Seth’s wife, submits herself to a terrible martyrdom. But women did, in those days; and, in Utah and Afghanistan, still do.

Though it murders a hundred million people, the whole then population of Earth, the film is very pro-life. I will leave you to discover how this is so when you see it. Darren Aronofsky, the director, and his co-writer Ari Handel, attain a form of dialogue (succinct, throwaway, Delphic) that is neither biblical rant nor jadedly ‘modern’ and prods us along though a story worthy of Aeschylus, Marlowe or Cormac McCarthy. Many of the credits suggest the participation, and fervour, of Israeli money. Jennifer Connelly, who stole Crowe’s Oscar in A Beautiful Mind, seems to have been forgiven and here plays his wife with poignant angry loyalty.

I am aware that none of the above is very convincing. But take my word for it, and see it. It’s very, very good.

Your Reason, Fair Knight, Your Reason

(First published by Independent Australia)

It may well be that no-one, not even Abbott, knew of the new knighthoods till 3.10 yesterday. Shocked by a Shorten motion on the money he was taking from the kids of dead soldiers, and wanting to avoid that headline, wanting also to punish and wrong-foot Shorten for so shaming him and shrinking him, he ennobled his mother-in-law.

A nice Jesuitical wriggle, he will have thought. But the results have been, already, calamitous.

For if Malcolm Fraser is not the next on the list, three million Liberals will be affronted. If Julie Gillard is not also, five million women will. If Hewson, Peacock, Kennett, Greiner get no gong, and Cathy Freeman, and Ricky Ponting, it will be noted.

It is reasonably clear Rupert Murdoch is on the list (the Queen, who hates him, has refused him two knighthoods thus far), and it is payment for past help. It is certain, as with Lloyd George, that some with billions will buy, with the odd stray million, knighthoods hereinafter.

It is certain Sir Alan Jones will be tapped on each shoulder with a boomerang, or whatever, by 2016. It is certain Sir Tom Uren will cast off his new ribbon with disgust.

We have seen these distractions before. Just as the Hobart Labor Conference unveiled its education policy, Howard said no lesbian could have children by IVF because it was better a child not be born than live without a father. Menzies, facing electoral slaughter, announced in parliament that Evatt’s secretary was a Russian spy. Abbott, facing electoral slaughter now in Western Australia, is pulling this headline rabbit out of his top hat, white tie and tails.

But what he doesn’t get, I think, is how much money this will cost him. Capitalists craving knighthoods will curse him for not ennobling them and minimise their donations. Singo, Hadley, Grattan, Clive James (dying, deserving, monarchist), John Bell, Ita Buttrose, Jamie Packer, Gina Rinehart, Jeannie Little, will be in a snit. Abbott’s confessor Pell will be enraged. Nick Greiner, twice accused of corruption, will see it as betrayal.

Friends of Victor Chang, Fred Hollows and Slim Dusty will demand it be posthumous. Friends of Cathy Freeman and Adam Goodes will want an Aboriginal quota. Janette Howard will be on the phone already. Philip Adams will be asking, on LNL, why Gough Whitlam, Noel Pearson, Germaine Greer weren’t made the offer. Les Murray, who launched Tony’s book on the monarchy, will be very puzzled.

All the Australian Nobel Prize winners will find it illogical they were not considered. All the VC winners. All successful paralympians. The four-a-year rule will seem more and more stupid.

Still, Tony got what he wanted: a headline that overwhelmed the news that he was thieving two hundred and fifty dollars a year from the kids of dead and mutilated soldiers. He managed that, at least. He seemed less like a persecutor of children.

And more like Don Quixote de la Mancha, the knight of the woeful countenance, off on a quest for past chivalry that never was.

And after this, the deluge.

After Brock, The Roadmap

(First published by Independent Australia)

It’s always different when it actually happens. After Brock’s decision, a narrow one, Weatherill will be Premier for six more years. Marshall will be overthrown next year. Labor will take Victoria in November; New South Wales in March; Queensland, probably, in April or May; and Abbott will be overthrown and replaced, by Hockey maybe, soon after our hundredth Anzac Day, and the Liberal Party disintegrate thereafter and the Katter-Palmer party replace it and the Joyce Nationals interbreed with it and become the second force.

Two hundred and sixty changed votes in Coulton might have prevented this, but there you go. The ‘Blue Continent’ scenario, so beloved of Kelly, Grattan, Uhlmann and two Joneses is now inoperative, defunct, redundant, and past caring; and our oldest, most resilient party is on the way back. It will be a red continent, probably, by 2017, with only a blue Tasmania.

This is because…well, it’s because the face of the Wolf has been shown protruding from the sheeps’ garb in every state; because Holden, Toyota, Qantas and Ardmona show they mean us ill; because Sinodinos shows how greedy they are; and Morrison how cruel. It is hard any more to find likeable, friendly qualities in them. They are the Looters Party, marauding like the SS through innocent suburbs, seeking whom they may devour. They do not care. They do not care. They want their pound of flesh. They do not care.

It is not the party any more of Hewson, Chaney, Peacock, Fraser, Collins, Hamer, Hasluck, Casey, Menzies, of Commonwealth Scholarships and a protected rural sector. It is not the party that, under Chipp, ceased censoring art films and under Holt enfranchised Aborigines and abolished White Australia; not the party that, under Fraser, protested an invasion by Soviet Russia of an adjacent country by seeking to boycott the Olympic Games, and welcomed boat-arriving refugees from a country we helped ravage in a losing war. It is a party more squalid, corrupt, small-minded and mingy than that. It is more like the party of Smith in Southern Rhodesia or Orval Faubus in Arkansas.

Yesterday Abbott applauded O’Neill for closing down an investigation into a murder, and the violent injury of sixty men by prison guards with clubs and knives. Yesterday Abbott spent another ten million looking for wreckage in an area of sea the size of Queensland, money that will now not be spent on the disabled, or dyslexic schoolchildren, or cancer research, or saving honourable industries. He will spend a hundred million, two hundred million, looking for bits of plane that could have been spent on flood relief, or a robotic cure for blindness, before someone tells him – Palmer, perhaps, Credlin, perhaps – that it is money wasted.

Figures like these, and figures like those attached to $inodino$, mean they have no credibility now, eight hundred million goes to Murdoch, but not one dollar to schoolkids buying text books. Billions in tax relief to Rinehart but not a dollar to Holden, or Toyota. Children’s lives are being smashed by the sacking of their father and their forced removal to a smaller dwelling in a distant town, away from their friends and their good school.

And the Wolves don’t care. These kids are fair game and fine feasting for some longtime party crony who puts another ten million in the bank and buys a chalet in Gstaadt. If ever there was a worship of the Golden Calf and a breaking of the Ten Commandments it is here, and now, by these awful, sabre-toothed people.

Killing. Stealing. Coveting. Dishonouring our parents’ generation. If it’s wrong, they’re up for it. If a dollar can be swindled out of the blameless and the needy, they will find a clause to extract it.

This is the worst bunch we have ever endured. They are worse than Askin. They are worse that Kennett. They are worse than Howard. They are what Shaw called, in words he gave his character Jesus of Nazareth, ‘the spirit of the wolf, striving to return’.

And it’s a pity.

And we will see what we shall see.

Today’s Newspolls

Newspoll shows a swing against Labor in South Australia of 1.4 percent, well within the margin of error, and the surrounding text shows the Murdochists getting worried. No mobiles were rung; a Festival, a bike race, a boat race and much hot weather kept respondents out of the house; no indication of how much Marshall trailed Weatherill by as preferred Premier was printed; nor of how many voters were Undecided.

If, as I suspect — and I alone got SA right last time within one seat — the ‘blooper’ Marshall ad on Wednesday worked as it ought, Labor should lose one seat, Hartley perhaps, and hold on to an absolute majority.

Tasmania looks worse; but my gut feeling is one of the fourteen seats Hodgman is ‘bound’ to pick up will go to Palmer and one, after many recounts, to Labor. This will leave a 12-6-6-1 situation, and a Grand Coalition, maybe, under Gidding or McKim, ruling the apple isle for a year or so, and then another election.

Today’s Newspoll

Using, as he tends to, the ‘funnily enough’ or ‘counterintuitively’ manoeuvre, poor drunk O’Shannessy shows Labor losing half a million votes in the fortnight Qantas sacked five thousand capable Australians, Hockey refused to give them any money, the UN compared us with North Korea and, in Queensland, Labor achieved a swing of 18 percent, which, if duplicated federally, would lose Abbott eighty seats.

It’s an old Murdoch technique. Pretend that whatever Labor is doing isn’t working, and there’ll be some Labor ditherers and tremblebums who’ll believe you, and sack Beazley, and put in Rudd; or sack Gillard, and put in Rudd.

As usual he samples only landline owners in the hottest weekend of the year and gets, correctly, 560 nonagenarians voting Liberal and 631 voting Labor, in avalanching numbers that would see Labor picking up twenty-five seats and government.

The headline was ‘Labor travelling backwards’. A million Australians are left out of thej sample (5 percent ‘uncommitted’ and 2 percent ‘refused’) of those few homebodies not at the beach or the pictures.

O’Shannessy, poor lamb, works hard to give Rupert pro-Liberal figures, and this week, as usual, fails. Addled as always, by drink perhaps, he has a column, ‘Abbott’s/Shorten’s Performance’, which makes no sense, and another one, under ‘Better Prime Minister’, saying ‘Rudd/Abbott 42′ and ‘Abbott/Shorten 36′.

It is hard to know what this means. Shorten seems to have succeeded Abbott as Labor leader, and in this finding poor pissed O’Shannessy is misinformed. As always the figures reek of having been altered late at night while Rupert shouted down the phone.

The likely true result, if you add the sampling error, is 54 to Labor; or, if you add the Qantas/Buswell/Manus Effect — temporary perhaps, and soon gone — 56.5 to Labor and a gain of fifty seats.

You can always tell when Newspoll is lying. It occurs on page 2, which few of us read because of the light shining through the single upheld page. They do not wish us to read it, lest we note how silly it is.

Morgan will have, I predict, Labor on 53, and Nielsen, if I live to see it come out again, 52.

PS. I was piteously wrong about Morgan. It was 53.5.

JH, Our Best Prime Minister, Down For The Count

Troy Bramston this morning said Howard was thought our best Prime Minister by 39 percent, Abbott and Fraser by 3. This, adding up to 45 percent, is unsurprising, as it equals the number, disastrously low, of older Australians now pleased by the Coalition, or willing to live with it.

What surprises is that all thousand respondents omitted Menzies, though eleven million of us recall his rule, in even this mere online poll of only 1007 people. People under fifty perhaps, that is 40 percent of those available and compos mentis, might explain this vast apparent act of national forgetting.

Older people interviewed face to face, as Morgan interviews them, would have given, I wager, a good bit more than 14 percent to Hawke, a good bit more than 7 percent to Keating, a fair bit more than 8 to Whitlam and Fraser, and somewhat more none to Holt, Gorton, McEwen, MacMahon, and Menzies. And Chifley.

Did they omit Menzies, Chifley, Curtin, Forde, Holt, McEwen, Gorton and MacMahon from their list of candidates? Did they? Why did they do that? To give Howard a bigger score? Would Essential crookedly do that? Would they? Heaven forbid.

A true poll would have given in my assessment Menzies 31, Gorton 3, Fraser 9, Howard 3 and Abbott 2; and, on the other side of the ledger, Curtin 9, Chifley 10, Hawke 14, Keating 5, Rudd 3 and Gillard 4; with 7 percent contrariously preferring also-rans, like Brown, Windsor, Katter, Peacock and Palmer.

But this was not a true poll, it was an online poll. It was, you might say, a waste of time.

How, pray, is an online poll useful? The four million alive in Chifley’s time and living still are clearly not in it. Nor is anyone under fifty without a tablet or SmartPhone.

It is very, very useful, though, I ween, to Bramston, the traitorous maggot. Though cravenly calling them ‘Mr Whitlam’ and ‘Mr Hawke’ and ‘Mr Rudd’ he seems to be trying to prove by these laughable figures that their party is dead and gone — cremated, you might say — as a carping, sneering, giggling traitor and Murdochist would.

But 41 percent wanted a Labor figure as leader, a mere six million Australian adults, and 13 percent, presumably, wanted Bob Brown or Bob Katter or Tony Windsor or Clive Palmer.

And the Coalition, outnumbered, as always, in even this fool count, and, under its 3 percent PM, is doomed, my comrades, everywhere.

The Lost Soul of Kieran Gilbert (1)

It is important I measure my disappointment in Kieran Gilbert.

He said Will Hodgman ‘won’ the debate last night, though 28 undecided voters preferred him and 62 Lara Giddings. He said Will ‘won’ it because he was way ahead in the polls and, though Lara was much, much better this didn’t matter. He ‘won’ because he was ahead already, and spoke in recogniseable sentences and did not spontaneously combust or vomit on the stage.

This is like saying the Wehrmacht won the Battle of Britain because, although they lost, they had been winning other battles up till then.

I used to value Keiran as one who, though a Murdoch foot-soldier, had a visible conscience, and telegraphed his unease.

After this, I denounce him as a cheat and a piece of Murdochist filth as loathesome, now, and beslimed with untruth as Hannity.

And so it goes.

Today’s Newspoll

It is possible O’Shannessy was fighting drunk when he put up 54 last night for Labor. He names, for instance, Rudd as leader of the Liberal Party, and Abbott of the Labor Party in one column, a culpable inaccuracy, and gives Shorten a ‘first time negative’ rating while claiming he would win forty seats.

The ‘margin of error’, 3 percent, puts it where Morgan was yesterday, at 50.5 for Labor, and this is about right, I would guess, and O’Shannessy as usual planning to show a ‘massive swing’ the other way in the week of the SA and Tasmanian elections.

But there might be something in it. It was a landline poll of wrinklies after all, and they may have been gutted by the age at which the old age pension kicks in going up to seventy, and Joe’s proposed expatriation of Qantas, the wellbeloved Aussie brand-name, and the six dollars extra co-paid for each GP visit in their nineties, their imminently approaching nineties, and …

Reza Barati’s death may also have had some effect, not necessarily for nice reasons. He was a white man clubbed to death by black men; or stomped to death, or throat-cut, by coal-black descendants of cannibals, and S&M’s view that his death was his own fault may have been thought by some old girls, and doctors’ wives, and rural racists, unfair — and by every Middle Eastern fugitive, like him, and like Joe Hockey’s dad and uncles, from the Ayatollahs’ tyranny.

But … but … the movement of a million votes which these numbers indicate in the mere seven days since last week’s Nielsen put Labor on 48 seems to me to involve a fraud of some sort; or, to be kind, a tweaking.

It is also entirely possible Murdoch has flipped. He may now see the destruction of manufacturing in Australia, and the criminalisation by chronic unemployment of ten percent of our youth, and the rage against the dying of the light of four million oldies, as a hurdle too high for his propaganda. And he may have turned turtle, the way he does, despising Hockey’s innumeracy (you create more jobs by sacking a hundred thousand people? really?), and admiring Shorten’s cool.

Shanahan’s commentary this morning suggests this. ‘The Coalition is riding into the valley of electoral death,’ he cries, unusually, noting Abbott’s electoral standing ‘has sunk to its lowest since he was elected in September’, his disapproval ‘jumping seven points to 52 percent’.

The penny may have dropped, and the earth moved.

And we will see what we shall see.

Craig Thomson: An Exchange

Hugh Weiss February 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Fair & balanced reporting on 7:30 Report tonight Bob. Fair & Balanced in the manner of Murdoch’s Fox News.

They mentioned testimony from an escort based on reports in the MSM, yet we know from the court reporting carried in IA there was not such witness or evidence in court the day Murdoch’s papers carried reports that report.

And what a hide that Cathy Jackson has, to appear when she has told one story on TV & in the press & a completely opposite story when compelled to testify under oath. It is now widely known she is shacked up with Michael Lawler, the deputy Commisioner FWA who led the FWA investigation & prosecution of Thompson. One of the key charges Thomson has been convicted over is around $10,000 worth of cash withdrawals on HSU cards. Yet documentary evidence has been tabled showing Cathy Jackson has withdrawn CASH in excess $100,000 a year for a number of years, paid all her children’s childcare & invoiced the HSU regularly via various associated entities for services there is no evidence were ever delivered.

As far as I’m concerned, Craig Thomson has had his day in court & been found guilty on some charges. But the injustice in this is the some of the biggest offenders within the HSU are his key accusers. Jackson’s relationship with Michael Lawler should have immediately ruled him out of leading the investigation & prosecution of Thomson, particularly since she was chief accuser.

The Liberal Party & Cathy Jackson may live to regret calling a Royal Commission into unions corruption. I suspect all the evidence against her will be presented & she may well become one of the biggest targets.

Glow Worm at 9:17 pm

Hugh, is all this likely to come out at the appeal? I haven’t been following the minutiae of the trial, but if there are lapses in the performances of the defense lawyer, it would seem to be a major problem.

Guybrus at 7:31 pm

If union officials are framing people for serious fraud to avoid “increased transparency” as Craig said, that’s pretty disgusting. Perhaps a royal commission into unions is needed to expose these crimes?

Bob Ellis at 7:58 pm

Yeah, as much as a royal commission into the Salvation Army is needed to clarify pederasty.

Favour that, do you? You’re a Liberal spy and I hate you.

Guybrush at 9:05 pm

I’m not sure I understand. Are you advocating a royal commission into unions, disputing the royal commission’s findings regarding the Salvation Army, or just saying it would have been better not to have uncovered the crime?

With love,


Guybrush February 19, 2014 at 12:51 am

P.S. It looks as if the HSU has agreed with your estimate of the total misused amount at a bit over ten thousand dollars. Quite a bit.

Clearly the Liberals are behind this. Royal commission needed to examine the HSU’s links to the Liberal party!

Bob Ellis at 7:42 am

No, I’m saying the law deals with crime, and punishes, now and then, people like Hartcher, Obeid, Mirabella and Thomson. A Royal Commission does not punish anybody much and is there principally to smear adjacent organisations and give lawyers millions of dollars and governments useful headlines.

Sara February at 7:31 pm

It’s not the numbers, it’s the principle.

Bob Ellis at 8:01 pm

What principle is that? That heterosexual enjoyment is indefensible?

What are you talking about?

It’s the numbers, and the money, that could easily be paid back, like Abbott paid it back.

Sara February 18 at 8:10 pm

I’m apolitical on this one. I don’t care from which side of politics you’re on but if you get caught using money that you’re not entitled to use, even for a 10c bag of lollies, then you need to be held accountable.

For you to hold up that dickhead Abbott as a standard by which to measure one’s sense of right and wrong, then we’re in a lot more trouble than just poor Craig.

custard at 9:43 pm

Thanks for the endorsement on the need for a RC Sara.

Many others on these pages don’t see the need.

In regards to the AWB, no.

Could it be the Libs do RC’s better than your mob?

Sara at 9:00 pm

Look below to custard’s ridiculous post and then ask me ‘what principle is that?’

Bob Ellis February 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

Well, a Royal Commission into Howard’s part in fabricating the WMD War that killed or exiled six million innocents would gratify me. How about you?

Doug Quixote at 7:47 pm

Certainly it appears morally indefensible.

I think however that the magistrate got it wrong, and an appeal will overturn the convictions.

Sin does not equal crime, at least not since the Middle Ages.

custard at 8:53 pm

So does that make the turning back the boats policy morally indefensible but not a crime ……

So its alright too, just like Craig.

Will Julia be found guilty too?

Or is it just the side you barrack for?

Sara at 8:58 pm

Did you call for an RC into the AWB affair custard?

Or is it just the side you barrack for?

Doug Quixote at 9:36 pm

I don’t see the link between the two, custard. It is called a non sequitur.

Dan at 8:18 pm

So according to you Bob, if i interviewed someone for a job, and he suggested that he thought it was OK to take $10,000 out of the takings and spend it on heterosexual enjoyment, I should just go with it, and blame Tony Abbott when I’m ripped off?


Bob Ellis at 7:52 am

No, you would tell him what your view was, and ask him if he would obey your conditions, and then hire him or not, depending on his known abilities.

If he were Andrew Peacock, for instance, in spite of his affair with Shirley McLaine, you might hire him for his experience, intelligence or persuasive charm.

custard at 8:49 pm

Thomson was found guilty. $6000 on prostitutes alone.

Bob, seriously, how could you defend it?

Will you defend Williamson over his multi-million dollar fraud of the same union?

The RC into unions gets its green light here………

Jay Buoy at 9:26 pm

the dum dums need to realise that once unleashed a royal commission has a life of its own.. from Billy Longley to the Goanna.. ask Travers Duncan..

Umberto Ledfooti at 9:30 pm

As I wrote on Wixxy’s blog:

In my humble opinion, the difficulty for the defense was allowing certain facts to be admitted unchallenged, as this left the door wide open for the prosecution to draw inferences from those facts. For example:

ADMITTED FACT: His credit card statement shows a bill for an escort service.

INTERFERENCE #1: The credit card was in his possession at the time the escort service was charged to the card.

INTERFERENCE #2: He used the credit card to pay for an escort service.

Craig Thomson has claimed that he was set up. If that is so, it must have been the mother of all setups – but it’s not impossible that he was set up.

There is also the fact that Jeff Jackson, Cathy Jackson’s ex-husband, used an HSU credit card to pay at least one of the same escort companies allegedly used by Craig Thomson.

Isn’t that odd…

Until there is proof of who used the cards – and any omission to deny using them is NOT proof – a lot of reasonable doubt must hang over this matter.

Criminal law, people – proof talks; balance of probabilities walks

Doug Quixote at 9:39 pm

The defence hung its case upon the fairly reasonable peg that what he was alleged to have done may have been morally reprehensible, but not a crime.

And it will be borne out on appeal, IMHO.

Jay Buoy at 10:03 pm

I can’t see how his legal team arrived at the idea of not challenging the use of the card for whores on the basis that it was within the scope of his ambit.. if he didn’t

Umberto Ledfooti at 10:16 pm

Well, sort of. Actually, it was the peg of authorisation to use the cards, etc, upon which the defense hung its case.

If he had the authority to use the cards, then no fraud nor theft took place; thus the defense’s ‘no case to answer’ stance.

Agreed; it’s very appeal-able.

Doug Quixote February 19 at 6:12 am

Different ways of saying the same thing. Rather a dangerous tack at the magisterial level, but a good thing on appeal. (“Appellable”, surely?)

Mal Kukura at 4:44 am

Sixty years ago the American fascist New Right attempted to intimidate all New Deal progressives by a long series of show trials.

These Australian puppets controlled from New York and Connecticut recycle most of the political strategies used by the neo-conservative dominated Republican Party.

They had McCarthyism.

We have Abbottitis. Expect more show trials like this one and by the way guilt cannot be persuasively argued until all appeals have been concluded – but that is only if you value the principle of the rule of law.

The Tabbott led LNP has already demonstrated a flargrant disregard for the rule of law and have already embarked on an insane attack on two hundred years of constitutional democracy.

The Thomson show trial is but one small element of amuch larger assault of Australian civil society.

Under such conditions one must remain skeptical about a single magistrate’s weak opinions.


Mal Kukura at 4:46 am,6188

Gee Knows what I mean

Agent99 February 19, 2014 at 7:05 am

Thrice married Craig Thomson is only 49. He has degrees in commerce and law, suggesting he is smart and hardworking. He has three children and a deal of infamy to live down. He now faces prison, up to five years, after being found guilty of fraud and theft from the union.

Yes, he has suffered a lot while others who do far worse are never brought to account. Such is life. Never fair.

A pariah in the Parliament at the end, it must have been an agony for a once proud son of the Labour Movement to feel its cold shoulder. Albo was man enough to drink with him. I hope there are others.

But Craig has been both the author of his own downfall and a weapon in the hands of the Tories.

He’s now the poster boy for union sleaziness and has besmirched the good names of many honest union officials. He would feel that burden keenly, I believe.

I wish him all the best.

The Fairfax Fix Is In

Fran Kelly this morning told Scott Ludlum that ‘the polls were showing’ a swing back to the Coalition this week, after Abbott’s worst week as Prime Minister.

There was only one poll that did, with Labor on 49 and a margin of error of 2.6, Nielsen’s; Newspoll and Morgan showed Labor on 51 and 52.

For years now Murdoch has tried this on, the ‘counter-intuitive’ poll that spooks the parties of the Left. As the last election approached there were ReachTels and Lonergans and Galaxies that showed Rudd, Burke, Bowen and Albanese losing their seats that were, of course, technologically cheated and wickedly false and showed Rudd Labor being so comprehensively trashed that many middlebrow undecideds thought it silly to persist with them: why not have a member who has influence in the new, inevitable Abbott government?

It’s a pity Nielsen has gone down this road. But Rinehart, I would think, demands it.

The argument that Abbott is being ‘strong’ at last, and standing up against the greed of Ardmona and Toyota while feeling the pain of the Queensland farmers and the polluting industries is, of course, rubbish.

And the fourteen percent swing to Labor on Saturday in Redcliffe will show it.

Kerr Curries Favour Transparently

Christian Kerr called Shorten’s best speech in Parliament ‘inarticulate’, ‘jumbled’, and ‘serving neither his cause nor his constituency’ in The Sketch this morning, deciding like his master and commander Murdoch that when in doubt the Big Lie is best.

Punch it up and watch it if you can. No more devastating attack on a government has occurred since Ted St John’s maiden speech on the Voyager disaster, which left Holt yelping with dismay. In each case a PM foundered and started to sink, like Voyager, beneath the waves; in Holt’s case, literally.

Why does Christian tell such lies? He was made to, probably, after his first draft, praising Shorten, drew the ire of Col Allan and he or another rewrote it.

Yet some of the rush of praise pushed through, unaccountably, the pasted-on foul falsehoods of the final version. In the first draft he called Bill ‘smart; well-groomed, well-dressed — even well-pressed’; his thoughts ‘more organised’ and ‘well-prepared’, and delivered ‘minus the mumbling that frequently mars Shorten’s speech’; and shows ‘he may have spent summer in class in elocution lessons’.

He then, though, asserts, or his panicked rewriter asserts, that Bill ‘mumbled’, and Bill hoped, moreover, that ‘mumbles might mask the fact that he went to Melbourne’s Xavier College’.

Well, he either mumbled or he didn’t. He was either ‘well-prepared’ or ‘jumbled’. He either did well in a day of classic confrontation or, as Christian swears ‘never worsted Abbott’ and ‘no blood was drawn’.

It’s clear, I think, that this piece was hastily rewritten, by Kerr or another, to subserve the current Allan Big Lie (tickertaped all day under Sky News, Bill Shorten’s approval plummeting) that Shorten is losing somehow the nation’s affections, on a day when he did Abbott fatal damage, probably, by performing really, really well.

He should be ashamed. He is ashamed, I think. He was a good man in his time, a time alas now over.

I ask him to debate me any time, anywhere, on his moral collapse and what brought him to it.

Today’s Newspoll: As I Predicted, Old Friend, Yesterday

Under poor, harried Shanahan’s headline Honeymoon Over As Shorten And Labor Slide, we learn that Labor is on 51 and would win government were an election held today. And this was before the Toyota news came in.

Three Newspolls due on December 24, January 9 and January 23 were not published meanwhile (a world first); because, I guess, they showed Labor even further ahead than they did on December 10, a landslide 52, and if published would have boosted, probably, Terri Butler’s already winning numbers in Griffith on Saturday.

According to O’Shannessy’s always kooky statistics three million Australians are ‘uncommitted’ on Shorten versus Abbott as Prime Minister. I cannot imagine what ‘uncommitted’ means. It might mean, I guess, that some want Albo, or Turnbull, or Palmer, or Katter, or Bandt in the job. It can’t mean ‘undecided’ since seven million want Bill as Prime Minister and Abbott gone. It must mean ‘some other’. If so the labelling is false and possibly criminal; but with Murdoch minions’ babblings you never know what is true and what is confabulated, or speaking in tongues.

Bizarrely, Newspoll today has figures too on how many of us think the ABC is biased, but it doesn’t publish them. It publishes only what proportion of Labor, Green and Coalition voters (no Palmer, Katter, DLP or Independents) think it biased and which way; and what proportion think it ‘fair and balanced’, a description these days affixed, as a rule, to only Fox News and Bill O’Reilly.

Reading between the tweaks, though, I now assess that those who think the ABC ‘fair and balanced’ number 7,488,450, and those who think it biased towards Labor 1,208,250, and those who are ‘uncommitted’ (couldn’t give a stuff) 3,999,375.

And those who think it biased towards the Coalition 1,102,275; or 96 percent as many as think it biased the other way.

This makes the headline A Third Of Coalition Voters Believe ABC Coverage Is Biased a blithering untruth also. The figure in the Newspoll is 11 percent; or one third of one third of one half of the sample.

All these tweaks and frauds and omissions and censorings reflect, I think, poor sad drunk O’Shannessy’s gloomy moonlight war with Rupert (I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more), whom he will not lie for, ever again, lest he end up, as I have long recommended, in gaol for fraud, conspiracy, forgery or king-hitting while soused Col Allen and occasioning his death in Scores, the strip club, on a point of Irish difference one cold Friday in New York.

And we will see what we shall see.

O’Shannessy’s Blues (4): Tomorrow’s Newspoll

A Newspoll will appear tomorrow showing Labor behind again. ‘Union corruption’ caused this, we will be told, and the evidence from Griffith indicates no vote has changed since the election. The two suppressed Newspolls of January will not be mentioned. And Shorten, ‘because of his union connections’, will be shown way, way behind as preferred Prime Minister.

Some of this will be lies (in my view) and some of it sampling. No allowance will have been made for the tens of thousands of people dislocated by bushfires and away from their landlines. No allowance will have been made for the millions of young people and young parents away from their landlines at the beach. No allowance will have been made for the million young people without landlines. The Morgan Poll, the accurate one, will show Labor, correctly, on 53.5, with a hundred thousand more votes than Rudd won with in ’07. But Newspoll will be heeded, and — by some — believed.

What will give it credence is the Griffith by-election. But in the Griffith by-election Bill Glasson got ten thousand fewer votes than he did in September; and this makes it I think a very, very poor sample. It may be due to disillusion with Abbott, or summer apathy, or students absent from the electorate on holiday or in holiday work elsewhere. But it will be enough for O’Shannessy to work on, cravenly supplying (in my view) tweaked figures to Murdoch, his employer, as required.

What Newspoll has become is what Tony Abbott might call ‘a protection racket for the protection racket that is the Liberal Party’. And its principals must be investigated for fraud and forgery, soon; perhaps by Premier Andrews after Napthine falls, or is voted out in November.

We should ‘shine a spotlight’ on its dark corners, comrades, and see what squealing rodents scurry out.

Words That Have No Meaning (1): Politicise

When Holden bailed out on Thursday Abbott said it was ‘a shattering blow’ that ‘should not be politicised’. It was, however, the result of a political act the day before, when Joe challenged Holden to ‘piss in the pot, or get off’, or words to that effect, on the floor of Parliament, a political venue.

When an issue might harm the Liberals, Murdoch says it must not be politicised. When it might harm Labor — like, say, Rudd not speaking to a makeup girl in the most crucial hour of his life — of course it is politically relevant, and a national scandal. He said nothing to a makeup girl, he did not insult her, he just said nothing: vote him out.

The truth is, everything is political, because, in a democracy, everything you do or say affects the vote. Abbott’s bare hairy chest is political. His sister’s undaunted love of a woman is political. Gillard’s poor choice of past lovers is political. Clinton’s twelve blow-jobs were political, once revealed; and they ended, probably, life on this planet, by electing Bush the denier not Gore the climate expert.

You cannot say ‘politicise’ or ‘playing politics’ is wrong, in any context. It is what politicians are paid to do. Bronwyn Bishop’s refusal to lower the flag for Mandela (if it was she that forbade it), Nelson Mandela, a man she previously wanted hanged, is political. Of course it is political. Abbott’s refusal to apologise for peeking at Bambang’s wife was political. Of course it was political.

We now hear people say we must not ‘politicise’ the massacre of Sandy Hook although it was politics that caused it, nor the shooting of Gabby Giffords though it was politics that caused it, and we must not ‘politicise’ the drownings off Christmas Island in plain sight of shocked witnesses although it was politics that sent them on that voyage into ocean peril and needless doom.

So the word ‘politicise’ is useless. It means ‘to speak of things that happen in life’. Of course we can speak of these things. We have the freedom to do so, the freedom of speech. Our elected members have a duty to do so, it is what we pay them for.

Let us have done with this verb. It is null and void.

Or perhaps you disagree.

Shock Horror

I note that Murdoch is incensed at his wife’s ‘friendship’ with Tony Blair and their several overnight ‘meetings’ without his knowledge. The old man will never speak, the smh alleges, with Blair again.

Sexual McCarthyism (1)

It is hard to think of a man of my generation who had a university degree and did not have an extramarital ‘fling’, or ‘affair’, sometimes overseas or out of town. Of the generations previous to me Menzies, Holt, Gorton, Killen, John Kennedy, Eisenhower, Johnson, Eden, Macmillan, Mitterrand, Churchill, Roosevelt, Harding, Lloyd George, Grover Cleveland, Disraeli, Lincoln, Melbourne, Jefferson were known to have had affairs and none of them lost his position because of it. Nor did Greiner or Kennett who left their wives and went back to them.

Yet lately Clinton, Edwards, Spitzer, Della Bosca, Rann, Assange and four or five Englishmen (one of them blind) were ruined or stained by it, and considerable talent ripped out of politics not by a change in public sentiment (88 percent of respondents still acclaim John Kennedy in spite of it) but by Murdoch, an adulterer himself, targeting politicians of the Left with peepshows of their bedrooms and the accused politicians panicking.

The latest of these was Nathan Rees, a Labor hero and potential great Prime Minister I have known for eleven years and worked with, and for, when he was backroomer, Minister and Premier. A more eloquent on-his-feet performer in Question Time I have not seen. A more impelled politician of the Left I have not known. A man more likely to win, as Leader, the State election of 2015 I do not know. He was, after all, the one who sought to excise the Obeid Faction from New South Wales and was brought down by them.

And it is now unlikely he will have a seat to contest. His seat was effectively abolished, and the Party was to find him a new one, and now — perhaps — will not.

And this because of a Murdoch-published ‘affair’.

It was not thought Murdoch should resign because of his affair with Wendi Deng during his marriage to Anna. Nor that Geoffrey Robertson should be disbarred for stealing Kathy Lette from Kim Williams. Nor that Paul McCartney should be made to stop composing songs because he deflowered and then discarded Jane Asher in 1964.

Yet it is thought Rees should never again be Premier because of an episode not hard to imagine, a rule that did not apply to Greiner, Kennett, Olsen, Wran or Dunstan.

Why is this? Well, it relates to Murdoch’s Fox News method, feigning shock and horror at what in fact surprises no-one (‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,’ the unshocked Nazarene said of adultery nineteen hundred years ago), a method that might be labelled ‘Sexual McCarthyism’. If a man of the Left is talented, well, you poke around in his soiled bed-linen, and see what you can find. It should be thought a crime as heinous as skyping acts of copulation in Duntroon, but it is not.

If ‘privacy’ means anything, it means this. Not many pictures of the Queen on the toilet are published these days, but if they were it would undermine her dignity, like the pictures of Diana horizontal wiith eyes closed in the gymnasium, or Fergie having her toes sucked, or Harry in a Nazi uniform. It is thought wrong to publish such pictures, but right it would seem to photograph Kate Middleton’s nipples when the opportunity affords. And reporting any instance of an ‘affair’ of anyone with anyone. Especially if, like Juni Morosi, she is mysterious and Asian.

‘Affairs’, or repeated sexual encounters, or bits on the side, are ofttimes quite complex disappointing things (as most men of my generation with a degree found out in their twenties) and should stay private if no crime is involved, and the word ‘unconsensual’ never published without proof, especially if it is later retracted.

I mourn the second Premiership of Nathan Rees, who had greatness in him.

And so it goes.

Assange Unveiled

The Assange film The Fifth Estate lured few Australians to it but seems to me — a likewise grimy, surly, cult-bred near-Queenslander with a similar propensity to bastard children, broken partnerships, rancorous barroom rhetoric and resistance to good advice — an excellent, well-crafted work as important as The Social Network, Wall Street, Margin Call or Platoon.

It shows us, among a number of other things, the present age. Assange, forever on planes, jet-lagged, impatiently ironic, unwashed and fearful for his life, is a very Australian, far-flung, self-doubting, Hamlettish figure, restless, roving, unsanitary and horny, mistrustful as a longtime religious fugitive would be (and I am one) of all friendship, discipleship and partnership, wanting to hog all the praise and the limelight — like Rudd, like Luhrman, like Andrews, Kosky, Murdoch, Simon Stone, Peter Weir, Paul Cox — and I begin to wonder if the Assange Syndrome (autistic? artistic? Asperger’s? manic-depressive?) is more widespread than we thought. Orson Welles had it; Howard Hughes; Lord Olivier; Lord Florey; John Lennon. It certainly afflicts those who dice with power and feel the ‘rush’ which power brings to their gonads and cerebella, however fleetingly. It shows us a good flawed man blundering into danger and egomania, careless of innocent lives but not as careless (of course, of course) as the Pentagon, Mossad, the CIA and the Global Free Market which kills with bad water twenty thousand children a day. Julian saved tens of thousands of lives, of course he did, and should be more acclaimed for it.

Why then did this fine film fail? The title, a distant echo of The Social Network, was part of the reason, I think. To leave the most famous surname of 2010 off it was like leaving ‘Ned Kelly’, ‘Capote’, ‘Ray’, ‘Che’ and ‘Robin Hood’ off their biopics and foolhardy. It was also unwise to ‘boost’ the story with computer tricks: a multiplicity of typing Julians at an infinitude of desks, and so on. A film about the unveiling of reality should have stayed real itself, not mucked about with it, as one might in a film about LSD.

Cumberbatch nonetheless shapes up, as he did in Parade’s End, as an astounding English talent as good, it now seems, as Gielgud, Olivier, Richardson and Guinness (like the dour Sir Alec, he has no face) put together, playing with our hopes, affections and primal guilts with the sinuousness of a Mata Hari. He leaves us, correctly, unsure of Assange and rattled by him. His motive, his mad childhood, his methodology, his puritan conscience, his masochistic lifestyle, his importance in history we must judge for ourselves as we do Liberace in Under The Candelabra and Che in Che, since he is far beyond simplicities and we must ponder his meaning, as it were, unassisted.

The script, by Josh Singer of The West Wing, from the aggrieved disciple Dan Berg’s memoir and two other books, is excellent, and all the performances first rate (the cast a cattle-call of co-stars from the better recent films and miniseries A Royal Affair, The Thick Of It, Anonymous, Rush, John Adams and Julie/Julia. Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci are especially good as two State Department backroomers (Linney standing in, I suspect, for Hillary Clinton), Dan Stevens (Matthew in Downton Abbey) unrecogniseable in mere slick black hair as a Guardian subeditor and Alicia Vikander (from A Royal Affair) delectable as Audrey Hepburn as Dan Berg’s tetchy gorgeous girlfriend Anke Domscheit. The director, Bill Condon, however should not have pushed his luck. He had a story as interesting as Dreyfus or Ellsberg and, curiously, did not tell it. The two girls in Sweden do not come into it — for legal reasons, perhaps — and it’s a pity.

Orwellian Manoeuvres In Katoomba And Kabul

My lunch a couple of weeks back with Ian Masters has been much on my mind. The brother of Roy, Chris, Quentin, Sue and Deb and the son of Olga, he does a radio show in LA, syndicated across the US, that looks into politics. I shared a room with him in 1962.

He says when the the planes hit the towers it was not just Bush who dodged out of sight, went into hiding, it was Rumsfeld and Cheney and Condaleezza too. They all of them thought they might be disgraced and shamed and, maybe, imprisoned for failing to protect their fellow citizens from lethal attack by men the FBI knew were taking flying lessons, but not landing lessons. As the officers responsible, they might go to gaol.

So they hid for a while, till their spinmen worked out a plan and told them what to do. This was to turn the whole thing into a religious occasion, with a black female choir singing America, America and Billy Graham praying at Gound Zero, a sacred site thereafter and a national anniversary.

And they got away with it.

It was around then the word ‘politicise’ came into abundant use. We were told that politics had no place in a discussion of al-Qaeda blowing up America. That was too ‘serious’ for politics.

Lately, when the Australian Army burnt a lot of the Blue Mountains down, we were told it shouldn’t be ‘politicised’. An act of national destruction by the nation’s official protectors must not be looked into, we were told, that was ‘politics’, and politics had no place in a question of political failure, of catastrophic political failure, costing billions. No place at all.

One by one, good neutral words are soiled and slimed. Communist. Socialist. Liberal. Left-leaning. Political. One by one these words are targeted and made to look evil by the Right. We are told we can’t say it was wrong to go to Afghanistan, and lose a war there. We are told it was ‘bittersweet’. Wasting seven billion dollars, forty lives, levelling mud villages, killing children, immolating crops, killing goats, and enriching Karzai’s drug-dealing brothers was not wrong, it was ‘bittersweet’.

We should, because of this word ‘politicise’, and its kissing cousin, ‘playing politics’, not call it ‘wrong’ for us to be in Afghanistan, we are told. But it was wrong. And it is not wrong, therefore, surely, to politicise it. In a democracy we elect politicians to sort out things. It is not wrong for them to do their job. And to call it ‘playing politics’ is to attack democracy itself. We shouldn’t do that.

We shouldn’t say some things are ‘above politics’. Nothing is. It was politics that got us into World War One, and out of it. It was politics that got us to the Moon. It was politics that funded penicillin, and the saving of a billion lives. It was politics that obliterated Hiroshima.

‘Politics’ is not a separate thing from life, it is life itself, life in action, discussion, legislation, ratiinal debate. It is taking responsibility for how a nation behaves. To demean it as Abbott does, and Murdoch does, is a form of treason. And in wartime they would go to gaol for it, And this was wartime until Monday.

Confucius said the first duty of government was to ‘rectify the language’. Orwell explored this in Nineteen Eighty-four. Fox News rectifies the language every day, as when they turned ‘suicide bombers’ into ‘homicide bombers’.

And so it was that 9/11 became not an avoidable military defeat with investigation, impeachment, court martial and public trial of Condaleezza in its wake, it became a religious occasion, celebrated yearly, like Thanksgiving.

And so will these bushfires too, ‘depoliticised’ into a welter of national pride and hymn-singing grief, when major generals should be court-martialled for it, and the Army fined a billion dollars. There should be a Senate inquiry into it, and army generals publicly stripped of their medals before the Cenotaph and sent to gaol for ‘accidental terrorism’ and schoolkids publicly shamed as ‘deliberate terrorists, however ignorant’, the product of a bad bringing up, and put in gaol for a couple of years.

We would save a lot of property if we ‘politicised’ bushfires, and linked them to global warming. We would save lives, and lessen trauma like my children’s when our house burned down.

Let’s hear it for ‘politicisation’. Of everything.

That way democracy lies.

And the pursuit, old friend, of happiness.

Ellis Observed

Somebody called Derek Parker has reviewed The Year It All Fell Down for The Spectator and finds nothing good in it. He says I ‘bizarrely’ quote myself, though my two co-authors, Ramsey and Spruce, do likewise and are not cursed for it. It is what you do in a book with three authors; how else would he do it?

He thinks I am wrong to criticise Rupert Murdoch. Billions do; he did not say why we should not. He believes the imprisonment of Strauss-Kahn did nothing to endanger the world economy, which he was in part in charge of, in the crucial seventeen days he was out of action, and he says I cursed Gabby Giffords, to whom the book is paradoxically dedicated. I of course did not. He says I connected her shooting with Sarah Palin. Well, so did the world, and she lost the Presidency because of it. He says I believe 9/11 was conspired by Bush and Cheney. I of course do not. There are lots and lots of lies in his review. I wonder why he told them.

One is I made my name as ‘a speechwriter for various Labor people.’ No, it was by co-writing King O’Malley, Newsfront, Goodbye Paradise, Fatty Finn, The True Believers, Man of Flowers, My First Wife, A Local Man, Autopsy On A Dream and Bastards From The Bush, and writing and directing Unfinished Business, The Nostradamus Kid and Run, Rabbit, Run, and winning many prizes with them. About one fiftieth of my writing has been for politicians. There are twenty-two books as well, three thousand uncontentious film reviews, two hundred songs, a hundred broadcasts, and sixty-eight unpolitical screenplays. How dare he. Who is he?

He says I detest all Americans. No, three thousand words of the book are in praise of Obama, and quotes from him; a chapter wryly admires Arnold Schwarzenegger, others praise Tony Bennett, Aaron Sorkin, John McCain, Mark Kelly, Danny Strong, Julianne Moore, Jon Stewart, Woody Harrelson, Steve Jobs. He says my writing is famously nasty and snide. A thousand actors, directors and authors disagree with this, cherishing my acclamations. He seems to think my opinions are ‘typical of the Left,’ though I oppose abortion, favour the Monarchy, abhor Kevin Rudd and famously once praised a book by Tony Abbott, who called me ‘Australia’s best writer’ in a phone message I by mistake alas erased. I furthermore style myself a Katterite Protectionist’ and have co-authored a film with Sir James Killen, a book with Bob Brown, and several speeches by Kamahl. He says I ‘have no evidence’ the SEALS who killed Bin Laden ‘detested Obama.’ I got it from Time Magazine. He says I weirdly allege Anders Breivik was ‘inspired by John Howard.’ Well, the selfsame mass murderer said so in his diaries and he ought to know.

Who is this lying piece of filth? He says there is ‘nothing new’ in the book, and professes shock at eighty of its revelations. He says there is no left-wing conspiracy theory I do not believe. Well, I don’t think Oswald acted alone, and neither does he. It would be good to know which ones he disbelieves. Perhaps he could list them. More to come.