Monthly Archives: November 2012

Canberra Confidential


10.05 am

I’m in Canberra and it seems two Julies are in the gun on this, the final Thursday when heads by tradition roll.

12.25 pm

A speech rewrite for Shorten then to Aussie’s where the ATM is down and I can afford but a biscuit, a latte and the papers. A brief chat with Craig Thomson who shows his usual buoyant weariness, copping it sweet, thankful for my support when there was no-one else. What a good man; I now think he could win Dobell as an Independent. He will certainly try.

1.35 pm

Lunch with Bob Carr — fish, broccoli, tap water — and many confidential arcane matters of recent ministerial history. Delighted that in the Wharf Revue he sings ‘Shall We Dance’ and waltzes with Aung San Suu Kyi. He no longer reads novels, real life in war zones is too distracting, but watches in-flight films and flips through magazines. Latte after that with Wedderburn, exhausted with world travel, keen to give it up and get home to his teenage family. Will take him to the Wharf Revue as usual. His details of the caucus numbers on the Palestine vote fascinating.

3.00 pm

Question Time and Gillard emergency motion giving Abbott his fifteen minutes of fame triumphs momently — she is radiant, relaxed, dismissive, sexy, he is workaday, rattled, sweaty, scared — but in the subsequent repetitive questions she grows shrill and repetitive and tedious too. I do not see how her shrivelled status after the Palestine climbdown and her ugly one-eyed former ‘boyfriend’ (why not ‘partner’?) Bruce on the same night shifty and thuggish on 7.30 will not in due course erode her mana now, her taste in men and policy seeming equally scabrous, wombat-witted and bizarre.

5.15 pm

Ten minutes with Shorten and another superannuation speech. Buffeted by the Palestine vote, but moving on, unfazed, his loyalty to Gillard proudly undented. Pleased to hear he is now a full character in the Wharf Revue, Dick Van Dyke to Gillard’s Mary Poppins, and will see it. Rewrites the speech in pencil, thoughfully and capably and shrewdly, as he speaks.

9.15 pm

Courtyard champagne party with backroomers under a full moon, precisely like a Gatsby bash at West Egg in 1925, I leave pretty soon, then urged by Shorten’s man Tom Cameron come back to. Fall in with a bunch of gorgeous twentysomethings out of, no, not Sex In The City but Mad Men, who fuck a lot, they tell me, and at Tim Wilson’s urging I classify them into decades — forties film noir dangerous blonde, twenties brunette flapper, thirties hard-boiled Stanwyck bitch, fifties Debbie Reynolds naive tap-dancer, and so on. They are amazingly beautiful and smart — self-selected, I suppose — and frequently (they tell me) give head and quite like to and I suddenly, achingly wish I was sixty-three again.

Ten minutes with Tony Windsor whom I hail, to his pleasure, as a wise unflinching tribal elder. He, like the girls, seems to be reading this blog and paying midnight heed.

Tim Wilson suggests the Palestine vote may have saved some seats in Western Sydney, or at any rate lost them for Abbott who railed like a schmuck against it. Hard to find a friend of Netanyahu in the world now let alone in Greenaway, fewer when it’s proved he poisoned Yasr come Christmas and has to resign, and face charges, or refuse to face them, in The Hague.


Am abstemious, have two red wines, no more, leave at 10.30, refusing further alcohol and salacity with the Mad Men girls at a club, walk half a mile to the carpark, drive to the caravan park, sleep half an hour, pack up, drive blinking and yawning to a second motel in Goulburn, sleep naked in sweaty heat with NewsRadio yelling into my dreams till dawn and drive on.

A successful incursion, all in all. On email is a message that I might be paid and paid well to voice a McDonald’s commercial next week and I say yes. An executive apparently heard on the website my immortal rendition (‘better than Burton’, Paul Ham swore) of The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner and shouted ‘Book this knight of the theatre, urgently!’ And I am happily moreover a fan, of late, of their Grand Angus and coffee and hash browns and my conscience is currently, thus far, unsinged.

It is not like Julie Bishop touting asbestos, after all.


1.30 pm

Punishing long drive from Goulburn through unendurable traffic to Ultimo where I put down (again) a narration I wrote for Autopsy On A Dream, a 1968 documentary on the the building of the Opera House the BBC destroyed after threatened lawsuits and editors, sound editors and cameramen kept bits of, which its director, John Weiley, an old uni friend, is now putting back together again, like Humpty Dumpty, for the ABC and the fortieth anniversay of its opening by the Queen. One sound grab of Donald Horne is missing and a mimic (Nick Tait? Gerry Connolly? Paul Murphy? Mike Carlton?) being sought to lip-synch him. Paul Capsis, perhaps.

My narration is well written with none of the fear of the useful cliche I show of late in my seventies, but I grow breathless keeping up with the long artful cadences and sentences in a way that I did not back then, when I was twenty-five and wrote it in the summer of that always amazing year 1968 in London, and I run out of puff a few times and have to go back and start breathing again. But soon it is done.

Lunch then with Ian Masters, Roy’s brother, an LA left-wing broadcaster now whom I roomed with in 1962 and have scarcely seen since 1968 and who looks, amazingly, almost exactly the same as he did back then, though he must be sixty-seven by now, and his wife xxx and Weiley at a restaurant at the wharf in Wolloomooloo. When we tell him what we have just been doing, he says, with his familiar glinting smile, ‘Aha: take two?’

And so it goes.

Exhuming Arafat: An Exchange

Pleb November 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

Yes indeed Bob. So true. So right.

The Jews killed this saintly, godly man of peace. So beloved by his own people, who had no need of that $900 million he kept safe in his Swiss account for a rainy (bomb) day.

Did you know Bob that the Jews killed Jesus and I’m sure Jim Morrison was drinking kosher wine that fateful night in Paris.

And Mama Cass – a ham sandwich indeed? Mark my words, in was lox and cream cheese.

As for Greg Allman – a motorcycle accident seems hard to believe. I bet they oiled the road first. Mossad I mean.

Jimmy Dean? They say he swerved for a truck, but if you look closely at the footage, it was more like an IDF tank.

Jimi Hendrix would be 70 this year, if Mossad hadn’t rewired his Fender and the electric ladyland gave him the shock of his death.

And who do you think filled Shappelle’s boogie bag with Bakkar Valley hashish? Surely they had beards and black hats.

And the third umpire in Adelaide? Faf was out TWICE, but those crafty Chosen People in the umpire’s box said the ball was wide of off-stump. Bulldust it was.

Quick Bob, better get to them hills, they’s-a comin’ after you and they’ll drink your blood and make matzo meal from your loin-fruit!

Bob Ellis November 27, 2012 at 8:15 am [Edit]

I didn’t say he was saintly, or godly. I did note he had the Nobel Peace Prize. Another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martin Luther King, was assassinated also, and I thought this unfair at the time.

But you have convinced me such men should be murdered if they inconvenience the Secret Services of Israel or the United States.

How right you are. Well done.

I did however think it was the Romans who killed Jesus — crucifixion was a Roman method, stoning the Jewish one — and I found no suspicious circumstances in any of the other people you mentioned, some of whom had drug problems. And I did not subscribe, in The Year It All Fell Down, to the prevalent theory that Tony Bennett poisoned Amy Winehouse in their last recording session, five days before her death, to secure publicity for his album Duets, but I will review the evidence.

Thank you. You have changed my mind. Nobel Peace Prize wnners SHOULD be killed, as a rule of thumb, for being busybodies.

Thank you.

allthumbs November 27, 2012 at 8:45 am [Edit]

In the end it will not help, the smoking guns will be numerous and each will be significant and all will be viable, and the last eight years will have been for nought, and the recent Gaza Palestinian and Israeli deaths will count for nothing as speculation regarding the guilty party will supplant policy initiatives, as it is supposed to do I guess. They will all deny complicity in the death of Arafat, but just enough to leave a door open to make you think they did it anyway, and aren’t they clever?

I hope at least the delivery method was as clever as the poisoned umbrella tip used to kill Bruce Lee, the “umbrella” seems to be a weapon of choice and I blame John Steed for its proliferation as a death bringer, where personally I would have much preferred the steel rimmed decapitating brim of the bowler hat wielding Oddjob to have taken off in popularity with hired killers.

The killing of Heads of State is now of such little consequence we come to accept it as a market driven alternative to elections and its recent success all over the world will mean it will visit one of its more popular audiences and appreciators of the art, the land of the free and home of the brave. They are just working the way up to it, Congresswomen, Ambassadors, look at Dick Cheney he just wanted to shoot anybody, hunting accident my foot. What we need is a slow acting Polonium poison that is administered to both Bibi and the next Hamas leader, you give them a week to come up with a solution, signed sealed and delivered, and then you give them an antidote. And if they think they can be smart and backout, you remove your bowler hat and…… well you know.

hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 9:06 am [Edit]

I have to agree that it was a crying shame that when the old war horse finally saw the light and edged towards a peaceful outcome some bastard poisoned him. Whether that bastard was in fact Bibi is harder to say, but I recall the destruction of the area where he was living as an act of wanton and unnecessary provocation designed to thwart an outbreak of peace that sadly Israel just do not seem to ever want!

Why is this? That is the real question this exhumation reminds us of. Seriously what has the ideal of Israel become?

In Thirteen Words

We can’t criticise Kissinger for killing a million people. That would be anti-Semitic.

Classic Ellis: Mass With Yasr In Bethlehem, 1999

Friday, 24th December, 1999

Ellis: We drove to Nazareth, a traffic-plagued misery of modern buildings and resentful Arabs, and saw down a hole in the ground the well where the angel told Mary the good news of her aged fiancé’s heavenly cuckolding, and a sepulchre in a chalky cliff by the road with a round white stone ¬– smaller than I imagined, two feet, no more, in diameter – you could roll in a metal groove across the opening.

We drove through the vast fertile plain of Megiddo – Armageddon – and from the town of Megiddo itself, which looks like Goonellabah, I rang Annie, waking her, to tell her where I was. I rang her, too, from Gehenna, the Hebrew word for Hell, an ugly rock-strewn valley where babies once were sacrificed, now the location (of course) of a trendy breakfast-serving cinematheque. The biblical words still mean so much; a road sign saying ‘Siyyon’ promises, what, salvation? the city on the hill? the light on the hill? a place beyond Death where all is well? It’s a thrilling word to see, whatever it means.

O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian…For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
– Isaiah 10

Ellis: At Caesarea there were substantial seaside ruins, and much hortatory raving from our unhinged guide Schleicher about the architectural genius of his role model Herod, and a moment when Mike, defying the sea, was like Canute summarily drenched. He slept while we drove back down the main traffic-jamming highway to Jerusalem and Schleicher, unfazed by him at last, found cause to speak uncrazily to me – about, among other things, the fanatical nationalism of Begin, and his gentle personality and the shame he felt, as one of the few who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto, when other Ghetto survivors said he had helped kill their generation then, and was killing their grand-sons now, a shame that drove him into emotional breakdown and resignation from office. Poor old Begin, revolutionary terrorists, survivor, warrior, Jew. Modern Jew.

We got out at the hotel; Schleicher begged us to put in a good word for him; lying, we said we would.

A message the desk. Our meeting with Yasr Arafat has been cancelled, our Jewish hosts, with some smugness, tell us. A pity.

Rann: On Christmas Eve we taxi through checkpoints to Bethlehem, now under Palestinian control. There is dust, the constant noise of firecrackers and gunshots, and hassled-looking Palestinian police toting automatic weapons. We are apprehensive – millennial fever is infectious. There is an outdoor concert in neoned Manger Square. A black gospel group from the American South; an Italian diva annoyed by firecrackers while she sings ‘Silent Night’; a Palestinian choir singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ to the delight of a crowd circled by soldiers with machine guns. It seems a long way from that night when shepherds watched their flocks.

It is cold, pours with rain, and we have neither coats nor umbrellas. I fashion a hat from a large paper bag I had secured at the Palestinian equivalent of McDonald’s (premiering that night its Arab hamburgers) underneath a huge flashing sign proclaiming ‘Bethlehem Welcomes His Excellency Yasr Arafat’. Molly is clearly embarrassed by my attire, and I start to have second thoughts when Japanese tourists take my photo. We meet the smart and attractive Dominique Schwartz, the ABC’s correspondent in the Middle East. She tells us about the delights of Damascus, her favourite city, and interviews both Ellis and me about our millennium night in Bethlehem. A tall man who has been watching us whispers, ‘The General said you would be safe.’

Ellis: There was a pushing-and-shouting match between men with guns and a man wanting to go towards the front. Eventually they let him. The security there was useless. It grew cold, a cold winter’s night that was so deep. It rained. Then it eased off. I went to a cafe down the ramp and had coffee and cake and read a book. I came back through guards, young stoned smiley men who could, in an instant, have blown me away, and Mike, pretty worried, was surprised I’d been let back in. We had trouble getting to the Church of the Nativity, through jostling crowds, and security, and guards opening briefcases: Mike had to leave his camera behind.

In the thousand-year-old church (high sandstone arches, unencumbered by carvings) I couldn’t find Mike or Molly in the thronging pilgrims though I roved the entire interior. Eventually they turned up, having waited for me outside, and we got in a position side-on to the action and watched, bored, a great number of corrupt old cardinals (resembling Jim McClelland, Spencer Tracy, Edward G. Robinson, Tom Uren) immemorially chant their differing Masses till, on a large television screen, an old, chumbling Pope made his doddering way through St Peter’s. Yasr Arafat’s blonde wife turned up, then Yasr, handsomer than I imagined and very charismatic – not like Nick Bolkus at all, Bolkus is pretty ordinary – in a beautiful silken headdress, and we grew very bored, held Molly up to see nothing much, and eventually left.

Rann: The cathedral is crammed and it is a struggle to get in. My mobile phone is confiscated and Ellis is led away. Could this be his long-awaited strip search – a new kind of cultural atrocity for the Middle East?

Pilgrims with rosaries strain to see Muslim Yasr Arafat sitting in the front pew with his wife. Relations are clearly strained. They barely speak, and there are rumours that Madama Arafat actually lives in Paris and is flown out for special events. We are told the producing a daughter and not a son for the great Palestinian leader had not been a good career move. Forty priests sing ‘Hosanna in excelsis’. The Prime Ministers of Spain and Italy take communion. I make sure my Bible and rosaries are triply blessed for Catholic friends back home.

Sunday, 26th December

Ellis: We were cold and frightened outside, on the dusty wide street among young roving soldiers with automatic weapons and blurred stoned eyes, but eventually got a taxi, and got back to the hotel.

We spent Christmas Day with the Landaus, walking endlessly in search of a place to eat, on a day that was simultaneously Christmas, the Sabbath and the end of Ramadan. We got into serious, possibly fatal trouble in a crush of pilgrims at the Damascus Gate, holding Molly high in the air and hoping she wouldn’t fall down into the surging, heedless, fanatical multitude.

Rann: In the ancient spice-perfumed market of the Old City of Jerusalem, we meet a retired Israeli judge. ‘Here in the Old City,’ he says, ‘whatever religion you are, God is just a local call away.’

Ellis: This morning we went to the Holocaust Museum. There were the usual poignant, chilling photos, and Mike’s explanation to Molly of what it all meant, a big Hall of Remembrance where we had to wear yarmulkes, a collection of little dead children’s drawings and compositions, a long walk past heroes’ resting places to the grave of Rabin, a pause by the tree of Oskar Schindler, but most of all a tiny grey-haired still-beautiful female tour guide, herself a survivor, who told us her story.

At sixteen, wealthily brought up, she and her sister saw their mother and smaller sister go into the right-hand queue when they went into the left, and soon the Kapo (Judas goat) said, ‘That’s your family going up in smoke. Concentrate on surviving,’ and added, ‘Forget about the past.’ She was lucky, she said, to have one sister there to encourage her, for so many others died alone. They were dressed not in stripes, she said, but in whatever unfitting discarded rags were thrown at them. She for a time wore a skimpy black cocktail dress, and like all the rest of the women, no underwear, and it shrank as she stood in the rain for two, three hours of rollcall and she tugged it down and she tore it, and was reprimanded for damaging the property of the Reich.

All the guards beat them, some with more passion that others: the Germans, she said, were perfectionists even in cruelty. She damaged her back moving great stones back and forth, pointlessly.

Many died of humiliation – being naked (and, presumably, menstruating) in an era when even sisters never saw one another’s bodies, and with shaven heads. One wife thus naked did not call out to her husband when he walked by her in a queue to the gas ovens because she did not want his last sight of her to be this horrible naked shaven skeleton. Shoes were life, and all slept with their shoes beneath their heads. They had no laces lest they be used for suicide. They couldn’t even electrocute themselves on the wire: the guards had to shoot them so their death was the Reich’s decision not their own.

They stood for hours in the cold with the weaker of them in the middle, lest they be found to be sick and so exterminated. ‘It’s hard to listen to this,’ said a visitor. ‘Believe me, sir,’ she said, ‘it was harder to live through it.’

Rann: Every day she was abused, humiliated, starved. I ask whether any Nazi showed her mercy. She says the only kind words spoken to her were from the woman who tattooed the number on her wrist: ‘I will do it in a way so you can still play the piano.’

Ellis: They knew liberation was coming when they were put on a long death march, but were too numb and weak when their American saviours arrived to care. Many died choking on food they too hungrily are, because their bodies could not cope with it. Some were then raped by the Americans. She still wonders, meeting Germans older then she, ‘Where were you?’ and she asks Germans younger, ‘Where were your parents?’ Their silence, she says, is their admission.

She does this four or five months a year, and works in a terminal ward in Queens, New York, as a volunteer. It’s better than Florida. She is no hero, she says. She was simply lucky.

Her name, she said with shame, after hesitating to reveal it, not wanting to confess it, is Eva Braun.

Rann: We are greatly moved by meeting her and she has a real impact on my daughter when she shows her the children’s drawings from the death camps.

Ellis to Saul: It was the encounter with Jesus, or somebody very much like him, on his home ground, that moved me most of all. Here, in Capernaum, where he spent most of his three-or-five year ministry, it’s clear he was the welcome house guest of one or two of his disciple-fishermen, and while they were out on the lake casting nets he conducted meetings, or something more like tutorials, for the fishermen’s wives and their elderly parents and for visiting students maybe, advocating unselfishness, non-violence, going the extra mile and other paradoxes and gaining a local reputation, a reputation so big that hundreds – not thousands – eventually attended his Sermon on the Mount, and a revolutionary movement grew out of that and swept him up, unwillingly perhaps, into what became the Jerusalem Caper, the palms, the ass, the assault on the moneychangers, his arrest, crucifixion and death at an early age. He’s suddenly, viewed from Capernaum, a not very unusual figure at all – the brilliant, quirky student with paradoxical, upside-down ideas who achieves a campus following and ends badly (like Jesus of Montreal) and becomes a legend after his death.

Such ideas anyway come out of location, and landscape, which seems more and more to me to be at the root of character and behaviour while genetics is not. The distances tell you a good deal about what probably happened: Migdal, where Mary Magdalene came from, is an hour’s walk from Capernaum (did he walk her home? did they kiss?), Nazareth may be half a day’s walk (did his family cast him out believing him crazy? did he run away from home?), Jerusalem a good day and a half. Six hours’ walk from Nazareth is a still-functioning amphitheatre where – our mad loud guide Schleicher swore – Jesus routinely saw the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles and may have been influenced by them, may even have acted in them, a crossover I’d never though of.

People, Schleicher shouts, forget how Greek the world he grew up in was, and how involved the Jews were with ideas. A form of atheism was already about, for instance, with the Sadducees (who rejected the Afterlife), and the celibate, vegetarian, self-torturing Essenes (who narrowly voted for mass suicide at Masada), showing how various life was in that eventful century, and how broad was the church that Mohammed thought might accept even him as the leader of a sect, a civilised outcome that might have saved the world a lot of trouble. I’m intrigued by the effect not of deserts – for Capernaum is as fertile as any lake district in Canada – but of dry heat on humankind’s willingness to cop as gospel what is told to them. It may be, truly, as simple as that.

Saturday, 1st January, 2000

Ellis: I hugged Mike and Molly and they flew off to London to visit their dodgy East End relatives, the ones he likes to call ‘the Timsons’, and I flew fearfully home in time to see the millennium in on our front verandah overlooking Pittwater, the fireworks, the dancing, the revelry, the hope.

I came to believe on this trip, for what it’s worth, that a great flaw in the Jewish character (and as well in mine, as a kind of Jew, since half of my forebears are Jewish) is a foolish lust, so celebrated in Seinfeld, for a good triumphant bargain. The quintessential Jewish story, one that most Jews remember with awe and shame, is the poignant story of Jephthah’s daughter:

And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And…he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.

And she said unto him, My father…do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth… Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man.

And it was thereafter a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

– Judges 11

…And she knew no man. And so it went. And so it is, on the heights of Golan, in the caves of Hebron, on the walls and streets of Jerusalem, that unending troublesome city: immoderate fondness for achieving the useless at immoderate cost. We are a stiff-necked people truly, ever seeking quarrels, and so it goes, and ever shall be.

(From Goodbye Babylon)

The Return Of Yasr Arafat

Arafat is being dug up today. And it will be proved by a number of different experts from different countries in a week or so that polonium poisoned him and Mossad did it, probably, on the orders of the Sharon cabinet, probably, and Bibi, the Foreign Minister in that cabinet for a while, was in on it, probably, or maybe its prime mover.

It will then be a matter of some interest to the International Criminal Court if killing a Nobel Peace Prize winner is an actionable crime, and if Bibi should be extradited and charged in The Hague for his part in it.

This may affect his chances in the January election. It may even improve them.

But it will make his usual defence, to wit, ‘Sure I killed him, but saying I killed him is anti-Semitic’ less attractive than it used to be.

To Obama especially, who may begin to cut off his money and ask for a nicer Prime Minister to talk to.

The Usual Murdoch Dirty Tricks (71): Today’s Newspoll

This morning’s Newspoll, taken on a hot weekend when Labor-leaning voters were at the beach, has Labor on 49 and the Coalition, whatever that is (Abbott Liberal plus Turnbull Liberal plus Newman LNP plus CLP plus Joyce National plus Crook Independent National) on 51.

But it distributed the preferences as if it were 2010 and there were no Katter Party.

It therefore allots seven percent out of the eleven scored by the ‘others’ — Independents and Katter Party — plus one percent of the eleven percent of the Greens, to the Coalition as preferences.

This of course is a pack of lies. The Katter party is so bitterly opposed, in Queensland, its heartland, to Campbell Newman that almost none of their preferences are going his way, or Abbott’s way, or Joyce’s way.

At best the coalition share of the vote is 48 percent.

The probable figure is 47.

This could be discovered by asking all ‘independent’ voters — and Newspoll has their home phone numbers — which way their preferences would go.

Prove that I lie.

In Twelve Words

It’s okay I killed your baby, I was aiming at someone else.

In Thirty-Six Words

It is better that you be beheaded by the Taliban than drown, or risk drowning, while trying to escape from that beheading, in a leaky boat off Christmas Island. It saves you time, and us money.

The Ellis Christmas Manifesto (1)

Global capitalism has been ruined by global warming; discuss.

Tornadoes, floods, bushfires and ever more frequent tsunamis and cyclones, together with melting ice and inundated coastal regions like Bangla Desh and Venice mean the private insurance business can’t cope any more; and Big Government socialism is needed now to restore tourism, small businesses, roads, public buildings and shelter for the displaced, the suddenly jobless, the traumatised and bereaved.

There is no free market cure for ecological damage on this scale. Big Government therefore is coming back, it has to. And it is time, therefore, probably, to nationalise insurance, devolve repairs on local governments and pay for them out of a one or two percent levy on all wages and incomes, or half of what we pay for insurance now.

It makes sense also, I think, to bring tariffs back. Instead of rewarding slavery, and commercial cruelty, and lucky good weather on other continents, we should use the tariff money to restore flood-ruined farms and fire-burnt factories and homes and get Australians back working and earning again.

What else are we going to do? Let the Global Free Market repair Christchurch, New Orleans and Haiti if it is in the mood? Or treat the weather like a wartime emergency situation and pour in local, taxpayer-subsidised help?

The insurance business is a criminal enterprise based on daylight robbery and porous promises and big lies and should be wound up. Ninety percent of its effort goes into finding ways of not paying us what is owed us for damage done — whether the water that washed the house away was local water or came from another shire, whether the damage done to the car was less than four hundred dollars, whether you had a pre-existing illness, and so on; statistical crookedness and numerical monkey-tricks like these, plus the tens of millions a year paid, Christ knows why, to CEOs. A federal minister and and local councils assessing damage done would cost far less, and give the taxpayer twenty or thirty dollars more a week to spend on other things.

Tariffs, likewise, will help out small businesses in country towns, the way they used to do. When we had tariffs we had two percent unemployment, less divorce, less suicide, less wife-beating, less drug abuse, more home ownership, houses that cost a third, currency adjusted, of what they do now and forty-hour weeks. Tariffs at 1987 levels should be restored; the weather demands it and so does any reasoned historical argument.

The weather is daunting tourists from flying through lightning storms for seventeen hours to the Sydney Festival and the Test Cricket as it used not to do. The weather is killing us, and we need — as it were — a financial roof over our economy of the sort that used to protect us from harm, which was why it was called Protectionism. Protectionism is what we do against invading armadas of aircraft carriers and blitzkrieg tanks and fighter-bombers, and its what we should do against the slave economies ravaging our civilisation too with a dollar here, ten dollars there, on what they bring in too.

It has worked before.

Tariffs on all foreign goods bought online would be a start.

Prove that I lie.


(Published by Independent Australia)

I met Bryce Courtenay in 1962 and knew him fairly well for a while and I have complicated feelings about him, as many do, or so I am told.

It would be fair to say that he was a tremendous phoney with a very irritating personality whose commercial success ignited and effloresced and erupted when he, an advertising man, and a good advertising man, learned how to market himself as a product. You could buy his books at Woolworth’s, and he was the first writer to try this shrewd ploy on; and he became thereafter not so much a name as a brand name, and a Christmas present which the underinformed would give to their relatives who, not having read a book since high school, would gulp it down on Boxing Day out of gratitude, surprise, family feeling and curiosity.

He was a strange man. He once, when very drunk, offered me the Ambassadorship to the Philippines, something he seemed to think was within his gift, and a good idea, for some reason, though I had no interest in it then and none since. And he kept on insisting I take it principally because he’d thought of it. He worried at the idea, like a dog at a bone, and drank and drank and drank, repeating himself past midnight with rising, rancorous, methylated enthusiasm.

I’m sure other people will have similar stories about him. He, Bruce Beresford, Jim Sharman, Sandy Harbutt, Vic Nicolson and I were at Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erikson in Caltex House, when it was Sydney’s tallest building, at the same time, 1962-63, and Bryce, the creative director, was not that much like Don Draper, but he did parade like Don his stream of consciousness in a beaming, forceful, charismatic way. He had a pipe and a blond cow-lick and a handsome, chiselled profile like the man in the Pelaco ads and pink shirts as good as Gatsby’s and he seemed to me, and to Bruce and Jim, entirely prefabricated and, well, phoney. He would tell impactful H. Rider Haggard-style stories of adventures in Africa (‘There was a man sitting up in the burnt jeep and let me tell you, Bruce, he was very, very dead’) which he convinced us, or some of us, were true and came to believe were true himself I guess, after a case of whisky or two.

An interview with him on the Conversation Hour was just replayed at 3 a.m., and it was hard to find any sentence of it which was not in some part fiction. The morning when there were two sunrises and he cradled his AIDS-afflicted son in his arms and sang ‘Summertime’ to him until he died (and he sang the whole song unaccompanied emphatically and embarassingly as part of the interview) may well have been true but was as excruciating in performed reiteration as Nicole teaching ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to the little Aboriginal boy in Baz’s Australia.

I read one of his books once, Tommo & Hawk, because Bob Carr had to launch it and I was writing his speech, and I found it a maddening mixture. He did action well and a section of it, about whaling, was as good as, not Melville, not Conrad, but James A Michener. And there was other, character stuff that was really embarrassing, and some of the worst dialogue in human memory.

It didn’t worry his readership because they read little else – in the same way as most Andrew Lloyd Webber audiences go, once a year, to his work or its revivals, and almost no-one else’s – but it sure as hell worried me. I formed the view that if you merely say you are great – like Baz, Kosky, Weir, Perfect, Andrews, Williamson — in their interviews and colour supplements enough of the population will believe you to make your fortune in ramshackle, glued-together colonies like Australia.

I’m sure he felt more displaced than many, and he made up stories about his past as other such people out of their depth and their latitude, like Jay Gatsby or Don Draper, do. He really shocked me when he revealed that Colgate toothpaste did not in fact achieve ‘round-the-clock’ prevention of dental decay. ‘We just say that,’ he said. ‘It’s what we say.’ He gave me The Hidden Persuaders and Confessions of an Advertising Man and urged me to write novels, as he intended to do, ‘to upgrade the image of the advertising industry.’

He had a good effect on many lives. People who had no interest in Australian history became, after The Potato Factory, obsessed by it. And they passed on his work to their friends and got, like J.K. Rowling, an underclass reading that may not else have taken it up.

He believed in the magical effects of reading, and in speech after speech would proselytise them with zeal and conviction. ‘Read to your children,’ he would say. ‘Get them reading early, at seven, at six, the way we read as children. Get them into the habit of reading. And if we do this, there will be fewer school dropouts, less drug addiction, less alcoholism, less wife-beating, less divorce, less suicide, less murder. It is the panacea. It is the elixir. It cannot be replaced.’

Or words to that effect. I will forgive him a good deal for these influential significant wise declamations. Even, I guess, for firing me, the first of my employers to do so, but not by any means the last.

He was a one-off, a curiosity, a kind of alien, whose net effect was positive, I guess, and his achievement, if that is the right word, remarkable.

And so it goes.

Courtenay, First Draft Recovered

I met Bryce Courtenay in 1962 and knew him fairly well for a while and I have complicated feelings about him, as many do, or so I am told.

It would be fair to say that he was a tremendous phoney with a very irritating personality whose commercial success erupted when he, an advertising man, and a good one, learned how to market himself as a product. You could buy his books at Woolworth’s, and he was the first writer to try this on; and he became not so much a name as a brand name, and a Christmas gift the underinformed would give to their relatives who, not having read a book since high school, would gulp down on Boxing Day out of gratitude, family feeling and curiosity.

He was a strange man. He once, when very drunk, offered me the Ambassadorship to the Philippines, something he seemed to think was within his gift, and a good idea, though I had no interest in it then and none since. And he kept on insisting I take it principally because he’d thought of it. He worried at the idea, like a dog at a bone, and drank and drank and drank, repeating himself past midnight with rising enthusiasm.

I’m sure other people will have similar stories about him. He, Bruce Beresford, Jim Sharman, Sandy Harbutt, Vic Nicolson and I were at Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erikson in Caltex House, when it was Sydney’s tallest building, at the same time, 1962-63, and Bryce, the creative director, was not that much like Don Draper, but he did like Don parade his stream of consciousness in a beaming, forceful, charismatic way. He had a pipe and a blond cowlick and a handsome, chiselled profile like the man in the Pelaco ads and pink shirts as good as Gatsby’s and he seemed to me, and to Bruce and Jim, entirely prefabricated and, well, phoney. He would tell impactful H. Rider Haggard-style stories of adventures in Africa (‘There was a man sitting up in the burnt jeep and let me tell you, Bruce, he was very, very dead’) which he convinced us, or some of us, were true and came to believe were true himself I guess, after a case of whisky or two. More to come.

Orwellian Excursions (1): The Unacceptable Murderer In The Corner Of The Room

‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists.’

What a strange idea.

We negotiated, in my lifetime, the fate of Europe with Hitler’s successor Doenitz, a genocidal Nazi. We negotiated with Tojo and Hirohito, whose sworn-to-die-in-battle footsoldiers beheaded hundreds of Australians. We negotiated with Fidel Castro after the Bay of Pigs in 1961, wanting hostages back; and with Kruschev during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, wanting not to be blown to smithereens, vaporised, nuked by the Soviet antichrist. We negotiated, in short, with entities that killed or tried to kill tens of millions of us and were bad, bad men. But we won’t negotiate with people who have killed, thus far, fewer of us than rattlesnakes, or backyard pools, or football injuries, or Cuban cigars.

Needless to say it is an American idea and a foolish one. And it is very much like their ‘no niggers in the front of the bus’ domestic policy of the 1950s. These people are sub-human, they must have toilets of their own, and back seats in the cinema, and separate entrances. And they must never, never swim in our pools.

Why not negotiate with anybody? If there are lives to be saved? Why not?  Police negotiate with armed kidnappers in urban sieges, in ‘stakeouts’ — like the world-famed one in Dog Day Afternoon — all the time. How are these armed kidnappers different from terrorists? In the NYPD you sit for an exam to qualify as a negotiator with kidnappers, murderous madmen and holed-up bank robbers, urban terrorists. It’s that common.

Churchill, no less, negotiated with Michael Collins, the inventor of terrorism.

‘We do not negotiate with terrorists.’ What a dumb idea. It left Hillary Clinton ‘negotiating’ with Fatah, which is powerless in Gaza, instead of Hamas, which rules Gaza, and was elected to rule Gaza, and really sorting things out.

We should admit what ‘terrorist’ is.  It is a bogeyman word, like ‘Communist’ was, and ‘anarchist’ before it, and ‘heathen’, and ‘witch’, and ‘spawn of the devil’ and ‘barbarian’ and ‘gentile’ and ‘Samaritan’. It is indeed, these days, the new form of ‘nigger’, and really, really insulting, and really counterproductive, and we should have done with it.

Overheard In Tel Aviv

Hillary and Bibi stood side by side, and their body language, fraught and rigid and hostile, suggested they had just gone through the following dialogue, or something like it.

‘You’re a piece of shit, Bibi. You poisoned Bill’s friend Arafat and I don’t like you.’

‘It was a cabinet decision. I spoke up against it.’

‘Don’t lie to me.’

‘Okay, okay, I went along with it. And then I had second thoughts, and I, er, left the government.’

‘You left the government because you thought Sharon was a pussy on Gaza.’

‘Well, yes, there was that. He was a pussy on Gaza.’

‘And you had him poisoned too.’


‘And you killed forty children last week.’

‘Thirty nine.’


‘Okay, forty. But the rockets kept the children of Ashkelon awake.’

‘For which the children of Gaza had to fucking die?’

‘We… do our best… to minimize civilian casualties.’

‘By bombing apartment blocks at three a.m.?’

‘Four a.m. Sometimes we bomb apartment blocks in broad daylight. After dropping leaflets saying, leave home.’

‘Bibi, if you invade Gaza we’re stopping your money.’

‘You wouldn’t dare.’

‘Fifty million a week.’

‘You wouldn’t dare.’

‘Well, you did a Romney commercial and we thought you wouldn’t dare. But you fucking did it, didn’t you?’

‘He was an old school friend.’

‘With about as much future as you after Yasr’s autopsy.’

‘Just a little invasion? A two day invasion? My voters would like that.’

‘You’ve got thirty seconds to say yes, AND stop assassinating your political opponents or Obama pulls the money. All the money, as long as you’re Prime Minister.’

‘Yeah okay.’

‘I think we’re due for our press conference.’

‘What are you going to say?’

‘That we’re rock solid behind you. As always.’

Night Thoughts In Time Of Truce

Strange that in the same mind there can co-exist so many opposing beliefs. There are, for instance, among this readership intelligent people who simultaneously believe that children abused by priests thirty years ago should be compensated in money for their sufferings; and that parents of children who suicided after priestly abuse should be compensated also; and that, on the other hand, Israel has every right to kill a child by mistake, to blow him to bits, and to blow his parents house to bits, and pay the bereaved not a shilling, not a shekel, not a cent.

There is no insurance in Gaza, and no compensation provision in the laws of the Knesset that rebuilds what has been collaterally pulverised in bombing raids on crowded neighbourhoods half of which are children. There is no redress for the forty children killed this last week, or the three hundred killed in the last ‘incursion’ in 2009, and the fifteen hundred maimed and injured., and no apology. There is no justice for the wicked, it would seem, and those dead children were wicked (it would seem), and they had to die in pursuit of the greater cause.

It is with difficulty we search the runes and the tea-leaves and the chicken livers to find out what this greater cause might be. This week it seems to be that the people of Ashkelon get a good night’s sleep, and their children, rested, go to school next day in an unfraught state of mind. For this they are prepared to obliterate with bombs and shells and helicopter-gunships an adjacent civilisation. Gentile children must die, it seems, that Jewish children may sleep.

It is wrong that Israel do this, of course; and it is ‘disproportionate’ of them to do this, of course. But worse than that, it is foolish.

For no American or British or French or Russian arsenals or boots-on-the-ground will defend them when the Day of Jihad comes and they fire back their nuclear bombs upon the Arab Spring. The great Zionist homecoming is probably doomed, now. They have killed too many children, bombed too many journalists. They have really gone too far.

It would not have been like this had Rabin lived, or had Clinton persuaded Arafat to sign the tawdry deal of December, 2000 and risk his life by signing it. It would not have been like this had not Sharon (and, probably, Netanyahu) had Arafat poisoned. There were moments along the way when it could have been retrieved. But not now; not now.

The last bombs fall on Gaza as I write this, and we await the ceasefire settlement that ‘eases’ the blockade, a significant victory for Hamas.

And the end of Israel is nearing.

And it’s a pity.

The Numbers (6)

By the end of Tuesday it was forty-three eyes for an eye.

I predicted fifty, and I erred.

I apologise for my imprecision.

Regev Agonistes (4): The Poem

Attend the tale of Regev, Mark,
A man forever in the dark
On why kids die, and journos moan
When friends of theirs to bits are blown,

Who knows not why the evil foe
Object to nights of murderous woe,
Of burning flats and screaming kids,
Vile sins the Decalogue forbids,

And being shot at, then shoot back:
‘This universe is out whack,’
Thinks Regev, ‘when these lesser breeds
Forget what Eretz Israel needs,

A pleasant sleep, a quiet dream
Unplagued by war crimes, it would seem,
Unstained by blood, and screams, and smoke.’
So says this average Aussie bloke

Mark Regev, fan of Collingwood,
Who went abroad, and there made good
Proclaiming how the primal curse
Of killing cousins, and much worse,

Need not trouble any Jew,
Once you learn what they’ve been through.
And so it goes that Mark Regev,
A liar with nine days to live,

Served Moloch to the bitter end,
Calling blood fair freedom’s friend.
Let us, together, hail him, gang,
The Goebbels with the Melbourne twang,

And of his triumphs tell the tale,
A jolly Aussie Nazi bloke. Wassail.

Regev Agonistes (3): The Transcript

Regev: I’ll say it again. It’s very clear, my answer. We don’t target journalists, we target Hamas. And we had three examples now where Hamas used communication facilities on the top of buildings where journalists were. We surgically hit the target we wanted to hit, not targeting the journalists at all. I spoke yesterday to a journalist who told me that this building was attacked, why did we do it? And I said why don’t you go upstairs and have a look? He went upstairs and it was in fact the Hamas…

Al Jazeera Interviewer: But, come on, rockets don’t stop at a roof. If you know the antennas are on the roof, you know, you’ve got the intelligence, that journalists were all over that building, all inside. It’s never going to be precise enough that you can’t stop injuring people below the roof, and that’s exactly what happened. Eight people were injured, one person had their leg blown off. You have to accept that fact.

Regev: As far as I know, no foreign journalists were hurt whatsoever – and you can correct me if you know different information. We were surgical, we took out the target that we wanted to take out…

Interviewer: Mr Regev, you can’t sit there and say no journalists were injured. It’s all over the world media today, in every single country. There are pictures of the journalists who…You cannot sit there and say no journalist was injured. Those are the facts. In this air strike eight journalists were injured…

Regev: I’m not aware…

Interviewer: One person had their leg blown off! That is a fact! You can’t argue with that.

Regev: Oh, you’re talking about…First of all, may we have a discussion about who is a journalist, and if you’ll allow me, I’ll elaborate of that. There is the al-Aqsa station, which is a station that is a Hamas-commanded control facility, just as in other totalitarian regimes the media is used by the regime for command and control, and also for security purposes. From our point of view that’s not a legitimate journalist, like an Al Jazeera journalist or a BBC journalist, especially if they’re being used…

Interviewer: Mr Regev, there were foreign journalists in that building. There were foreign journalists in buildings near to that building. Let me remind you…

Regev: None of them were hurt, sir.

Interviewer: Let me remind you…

Regev: None of them were hurt…

Interviewer: So what are you saying? That a local Arab’s life is any less than an international journalist?

Regev: First of all let’s agree that no international journalists were killed…

Interviewer: You haven’t answered my question, Mr Regev! Are you saying the lives of local Arab journalists are worth any less than international journalists on Sky, the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN etcetera? Please answer the question.

Regev: Yes, I will answer unequivocally. Unconditionally no. We see all journalists as legitimate, er, er, er, people…We know Israel, unlike the country where you’re broadcasting from…Israel has a free press. We pride ourselves on having an open and free democracy. The free press is very aggressive. We respect the free press. There’s not a question of Israelis targeting journalists. I don’t see how you could seriously raise this issue at all. Same again. If you can bring me someone who’s a bonafide journalist who was injured…

Interview: So you seem to be saying that the Palestinians can’t have that free press too. Is that what you’re saying?

Regev: If you think Al-Aqsa is a free press, then do you think Tass in the former Soviet Union is a free press? Let’s be serious for a moment if you don’t mind.

Interviewer: We are being serious, Mr Regev. The fact is, those journalists were injured. Whether they’re international or local journalists, they were injured in that attack by an Israeli air strike. Those are the facts. In fact now, just tell our viewers, Mr Regev, what is now the official…

Regev: Ah…

Interview: No, no, no, let’s just stick to this point. What is now the official Israeli response to the fact that journalists, whether local or international, were injured in this attack? Will Israel apologise for the injuries caused in this attack?

Regev: Israel does not target journalists. And I think there are very legitimate questions about Hamas using journalists as human shields. Why did Hamas put its command and control and its communications equipment inside buildings where they know journalists were sitting. They were deliberately putting those journalists in danger, deliberately using them as a human shield, which is of course, in a way, war crime. You’re not allowed to use…

Interviewer: Mr Regev, you and I know that Gaza is a highly populated area. But look, let me remind you, journalists are not armed combatants. They have a job to get…

Regev: Does that…

Interviewer: No, hang on a second, I gave you the freedom to answer. Just give me the freedom to ask a question. Those journalists in Gaza have a job to get the story out, so please – let’s just wrap this up – explain to the millions of people watching Al Jazeera now, why Israel targeted exactly the same building when you knew yesterday that eight journalists were injured in the same buildings yesterday. You clearly are targeting the media, aren’t you? You’re shooting the messenger!


Regev: Not true at all. That’s totally incorrect, sir.

Interviewer: Right, okay. Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister, thank you very much to talking to Al Jazeera.

Regev Agonistes (2): The Gospel According To Mark

If Mark Regev is an Australian I think there are grounds for his arrest for encouraging terrorism.

He said Palestinian journalists were not journalists, they were ‘targets’, and because they worked for a Hamas journal they had no right to expect to be immune from assassination like ‘foreign journalists’ are. He said their paper was like Pravda and they were using real journalists as ‘human shields’, which he then called a ‘war crime’.

This war crime was turning up for work at their office after it was bombed, mistakenly, a day ago.

His interrogator said it seemed he believed in ‘killing the messenger’.

Regev as I understand it hails from Melbourne.

If he is indeed an Australian he should I think be extradited and charged under our terrorist laws with encouraging murder.

Or does he have no case to answer?

I will put up a transcript of what he said in half an hour or so.

I invite contributions.

From Pleb in particular.

Regev Agonistes

It is worth checking out what Regev said a few hours ago when asked if he regretted the blowing up of journalists. He said pretty much it was okay to blow up Arab journalists though not other sorts of journalists. He was asked why thought Arab journalists were ‘inferior’ and got flummoxed said they were like Pravda journalists. Asked if he would apologize for the attempted killing of other sorts of journalists he wouldn’t.

Hard to see there isn’t some form of fascist censorship at the heart of this. Or racism. He should be sacked for saying it, he would be in his native Australia, but he won’t be of course.

Israel is licensed to kill. Discuss.

The Numbers (5)

Thirty-three eyes for an eye.

The Numbers (5)

Twenty-seven eyes for an eye.

Bibi’s Previous Murders

It gets creepier.

Bibi, it proves, or it seems, may have ordered the poisoning of Arafat and may be pulverising Gaza now in order to distract us from a new examination of his corpse which will prove it, probably, after he is dug up tomorrow. Ahmad al-Jabari, moreover, may have been on a peace mission, and driving to a conference on peace guidelines when Bibi ordered he be blown up.

It is to be wondered, while we are up, if Bibi had Rabin murdered too, and that other late-flowering peacenik Sharon, reduced by poison to a vegetative state soon after he pulled out of Gaza.

We must not flinch from this possibility any more. Bibi grew up in Boston, has many CIA friends, detests the ‘Hussein’ in Obama’s name and openly campaigned for Romney. He is a bad, bad man most likely, one who clearly does not mind assassinating people, as three dead Gaza parliamentarians, duly elected and duly blown up, showed this week.

It is nothing new in Israel. Begin was a Stern Gang terrorist, Sharon was found guilty of war crimes in Lebanon, Olmert found guilty of corrupting his Prime Ministership and nearly gaoled. Three Hamas leaders have been blown to bits thus far by Mossad, one in his wheelchair on the steps of a mosque. It more like Al Capone’s Chicago than the Promised Land.

Gang wars continue for territory Abraham was promised by an angel in a dream and Joshua conquered bloodily, ethnically cleansing the Philistines, the Moabites, the Midianites, the Amonites and the Amalekites from it.

Nothing much has changed. There being no more Amalekites, the Children of Israel are blowing up Sky News reporters now; incensing Rupert Murdoch, doubtless, an unwise thing to do.

I suggest that if Bibi had Arafat poisoned, murdering a Nobel Peace Prize winner should be frowned upon, and Obama should cut off his money for a while and chide him for it publicly until he apologises.

It’s the least he can do.

Another tactic would be to allow supplies to the Gazans to come in by sea, escorted by a Turkish, Egyptian or UN force, and given to those who need them and not Israeli customs thieves.

Obama’s language, and Carr’s, is changing. On the phone each day to Bibi, the freshly affirmed Barack will grow more stern. Armageddon is not in his game plan, but he does do drone strikes on recalcitrant schmuks and Bibi may be in his cross-hairs pretty soon if he does not pull his head in.

Let us wait and see.

The Numbers (4)

Twenty-three to one.

Twenty-three eyes for an eye.

The Numbers (3)

Sixteen to one now.

And they’re targeting journalists as well.

In Seven Words

Night bombing is by definition terrorism. Discuss.

The Numbers (2)

Fourteen to one now. Fourteen Gazans killed to one Israeli, on average, thus far.

More as the night wears on.

Classic Ellis: Orwell Finds Hitler Not Guilty, 2008

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2008, 9.55a.m.

Walking the dogs on a beach now thronged with seaweed. George Orwell hangs over this year’s turning as he does most years, most decades. Ross, Joe and Giblin on Saturday night each said they read his essay Politics and the English Language once a year. As the art of spin becomes more universal and more toxic his crystal words grow ever more resounding.

‘Orwell’s missing notes and war diaries,’ the titles read at the end of the film, ‘are probably still in a file somewhere in Moscow. After Spain, he broke with Communism forever.

‘He served in the Home Guard in World War 2 as an air raid warden, wrote broadcasts for the BBC and a column for The Tribune, and after Eileen’s death raised his adopted baby boy Richard alone.

‘He was dirt-poor all his life and died of tuberculosis and overwork in 1950. He was forty-six. His writings on propaganda, language and tyranny changed the world.’

I read after midnight the beautiful red cloth-bound edition of Orwell’s writing Hugh Hudson gave me a year ago. He appositely meditates on Hitler’s ‘war guilt’ and notes ‘the surprise with which many people seem to discover that war is not crime.

‘Hitler, it appears, has not done anything actionable. He has not raped anybody, nor carried off any pieces of loot with his own hands, not personally flogged any prisoners, buried any wounded men alive, thrown any babies into the air and spitted them on his bayonet, dipped any nuns in petrol and touched them off with church tapers – in fact he has not done any of the things which enemy nationals are usually credited with doing in war-time. He has merely precipitated a world war which will perhaps have cost twenty million lives before it ends. And there is nothing illegal in that. How could there be, when legality implies authority and there is no authority with the power to transcend national frontiers?

‘At the recent trials in Kharkov some attempt was made to fix on Hitler, Himmler and the rest the responsibility for their subordinates’ crimes, but the mere fact that his had to be done shows that Hilter’s guilt is not self-evident. His crime, it is implied, was not to build up an army for the purpose of aggressive war, but to instruct that army to torture its prisoners. So far as it goes, the distinction between an atrocity and an act of war is valid. An atrocity means an act of terrorism which has no genuine military purpose. One must accept such distinctions if one accept war at all, which in practice everyone does. Nevertheless, a world in which it is wrong to murder an individual civilian and right to drop a thousand tons of high explosive on a residential area does sometimes make me wonder whether this earth of ours is not a loony-bin made use of by some other planet.’

The Planet of the Neocons maybe, I think, who know, and know for certain, how life on earth should be.

Orwell In Gaza

It’s all right to bomb a ‘militant’, it seems, and his house if he’s in it, and kill his children asleep beside him at 3 a.m. But what is a ‘militant’ apart from ‘someone you can kill at any time’ without a day in court or legal aid or a not-guilty plea?

In Gaza he’s a man elected to parliament by a sixty percent vote of his constituents. He’s a man annoyed by the bombing by Israel of ambulances and power stations, and boats bringing food in from Turkey. A bad, bad man, quite clearly, worth killing without a trial.

There are no Israeli ‘militants’, even those that guard atomic bombs or torture prisoners. Militants are the bad guys.

These Orwellian categories flower and burgeon in times like these. ‘Incursion’, not invasion. ‘Appropriate response’, not killing children. ‘Civilians’, not nine-month-old babies. ‘Whatever it takes’, not mass slaughter.

‘Terrorist’ is the worst. In Syria they are called ‘rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters’. But in Israel those who bomb apartment blocks at 3 a.m. are not called terrorists but ‘Defence Force Personnel’. What are they defending against at that hour? Are they not in fact, in truth, terrorising civilian populations? What else would you call it?

Who any more believes Netanyahu wants peace and partition? He stormed out of Sharon’s government when Gaza was given back to the Gazans. He keeps bulldozing Arab neighbourhoods and putting up ‘settlements’ on ground he does not own. He did a pro-Romney commercial unveiling his hatred of Obama. He refused on Tuesday to cease killing people when Obama asked him to.

But his days of permission are dwindling down, now. Even Carr is saying ‘proportionate’. Even Clinton is calling for ‘calm’.

Orwellian words are used like sharpened sabres against other sharpened Orwellian words, and Bibi is risking a drone strike on his house or his car if he does not pull his head in, soon.

And the rage of the Arabs whose children he is killing as I write this will blaze for centuries.


The Timing

Another theory is that Bibi had to make war now, before Arafat was exhumed, and was shown to have been poisoned by Mossad, an act he was complicit in. Once that was known, he would lose caste, lose authority, be thought a war criminal among other war criminals in the cabinet of Sharon. So he tried on these new, more noisy war crimes as a distraction, burying the coroner’s findings under a new slaughter of the innocents, and calling all who criticised him anti-Semites.

Or am I wrong.

The Numbers

It is eleven to one now, eleven dead Gazans to one dead Israeli.

By Tuesday it will be fifty to one.

Bibi’s Midnight Murders

(First published by Independent Australia)

It is wrong I think for Netanyahu to be killing his own people just as it is wrong for Assad, next door, to be killing his own people, with missiles and helicopter-gunships in the small hours of the morning, killing babies and pregnant women, and he should, like Assad, be tried at The Hague for it, unless I am mistaken.

Are they his own people? The Kurds were Saddam’s ‘own people’, we were told, and he swung for killing a hundred and fifty of them. I may be wrong, but I think they are. He polices the borders and seas around them, forbidding them food and weapons and medical supplies when it suits him. Whose else are they?

It was wrong to bomb that young man from the BBC and kill his baby and his sister-in-law and it’s hard to see it as anything other than murder, though there may be a way to do this.

Are Israel and Gaza at war? It doesn’t seem so. Can you be at war with a part of your own country? I don’t think so. Can Gillard be at war with Tasmania, or Kangaroo Island? Hard to see how. What then is happening?

Well, a criminal gang is firing rockets at certain cities and has been doing so for about a decade, and has killed in that time about fifteen people. This is a crime and should have been investigated, and arrests made after police questioned witnesses.

What happened instead was the killing of thirteen hundred people, three hundred children among them, in Operation Cast Lead, a warlike enterprise ordered by Olmert, a criminal then on trial for corruption, in the weeks before Obama was sworn in. Neither he nor Bibi, his successor, apologised for those dead children, though they did say ‘civilian casualties’ were ‘regrettable’ as if it were some kind of war. But it was not a war. You cannot make war on your own people, and, as Assad has come to learn, it is widely thought that doing so is a crime.

Assassinating a rival politician is a crime too, but Bibi and Assad think somehow it isn’t, and they have a right to do this. Capital punishment is outlawed in Israel but Bibi thinks it is not, in some cases, and he is wrong jurisprudentially about this.

Or I think he is. If Israel and Gaza were separate countries, and war had been declared on Monday it would be different, and some argument for killing women and children – on both sides – could be entertained. But what we have here are two sets of murderers, one the Cabinet of an elected democracy, and one an illegal gang of jumpy young men with rockets, who each deserve to be arrested and tried at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Killing babies at four a.m. is a crime, and attracts in most countries years in gaol for it; Lindy Chamberlain got twenty.

If they were two countries it would be different. Since they are one country, it looks like Bibi is persecuting with bombing raids a racial minority, killing its leaders as other white people in another country killed Steve Biko and Martin Luther King, and it is wrong for Obama, Cameron and Gillard to say he has a right to do this. You cannot kill your own citizens with helicopter-gunships without breaking the law.

And it is ridiculous we should go on pretending he can.

He, and Assad, should be told to stop it.

Four years ago it was possible still for Olmert to keep cameras out of Gaza, and no images of the carnage then, of the burning suburbs and the children immolated by phosphorus bombs in kindergartens, got back to the western world.

But this time it is different. This is the Facebook Age, and the ginger-headed young man Jihad Misharawi holding his tiny dead son and saying, ‘What was his mistake? What did he have to die for? He was ten, eleven months old’, was remarked upon by tens of millions who will remember it, and his employers, the BBC, who showed it to the world.

And hour by hour there will be other images, mingling with those from Syria, which suggest that the Arab Spring does not stop at Sinai, and Israel, besieged, is part of it, and corpse by corpse a freedom-fight is widening, and Bibi is not exempt from it, and should hear at last like another tyrant a few millennia back, the proud cry, ‘Let my people go!’

The Moment

It’s good, I think, to ponder when the moment was. The moment when the chance was blown.

For Abbott it was when he called abortion ‘the easy way out’. For Romney when he said ‘forty-seven percent’. For Newman when he started sacking nurses. For O’Farrell, not yet come, when the jackhammer first hits the Monorail. For Pell when he called ‘exaggerated’ the many rape charges against his Church.

For Gordon Brown not when he said ‘bigoted’ but when he went back to beg the old woman to forgive him, and pose with him, and she would not. For Latham not when he broke the taxi driver’s arm but when he failed to say ‘I was stupid, and I was drunk, I’m an idiot and I’m sorry’ after the story turned up. For Brogden not when he touched the girl’s arse but when he feigned suicide with a stapler in the shower after needlessly resigning, like a fool, instead of taking a short sea cruise. For Obeid when he discovered the wonder of Real Estate, and spent his first hundred dollars on it.

For Gillard, if she stuffs up, and she mightn’t, when she said ‘lost its way’ and kept the same stumbling, blindfolded gang in her Cabinet, or perhaps when she said ‘the real Julia’ or ‘I’m an atheist’. Or when she left the restaurant under the armpit of a walloper losing a shoe. For Beazley when he copped Gareth’s death tax in 1998. He was a shoo-in till then.

For Whitlam when he appointed Kerr. It could have been Fred Daley. For Howard when he listened, again, to his wife and did not resign as he wanted to in March 2007. For Costello when he refused the leadership in November 2007. He would be Prime Minister now. For Pyne when he had his first date with Ashby.

For Bronwyn Bishop when she failed to notice that I lived in Palm Beach, and Palm Beach was in her new electorate. For me when I said ‘oral sex’ and ‘impotence’ on the radio and Beazley spilled his coffee.

For Rudd, well … when he announced he would appoint his own ministry, thank you very much, without asking Albo or Faulkner or Swan if he ought to. Everything after that was a slow-motion game of Chicken with his back bench and his rivals, unaccustomed, as Labor members, to being treated as a drag show chorus line with him as Danny La Rue.

For Bibi when he did his pro-Romney commercial, only four weeks ago. Or when he said ‘no’ to Obama three hours ago.

It’s a worthwhile exercise, this, and I invite additions to it. For it shows, most of all, that no-one is vigilant all the time. Men as wise as Faulkner voted for Latham over Beazley, ruining their own lives and everyone else’s. Men as stupid as Howard found the right words, ‘relaxed and comfortable’, and ‘we will choose who comes here’ after a lifetime of stuffing up, and prevailed therefore.

We should all get more sleep, and do less interviews, but none of us, tempted by fame, is going to.

And it’s a pity.

Bibi’s Biggest Blunder

My wife thinks Netanyahu planned to run this war, as Olmert did the last one, between American presidencies, and then, surprised that Obama won (he did a pro-Romney commercial), decided to try it on anyway because, like last time, a February election was coming up he had to win.

His phone call to Obama two hours ago will have shown how unwise this was, and how close now he is to a ‘wider war’ with Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Russia, France and China assisting the Gazans and America keeping out of it.

Hanan Asrawi, whom Carr gave the Sydney Peace Price in 2004, spoke well to Piers Morgan of Israel’s sense of ‘entitlement’, ‘impunity’ and ‘immunity’ a few hours ago and Piers, nodding firmly, let her speak right on uninterrupted. She might have added, as Obama surely did an hour later, that Iran is not the nuclear threat in the region now, Israel is, and America used up all its chips when it immolated Iraq for hiding atomic bombs it did not have and levelled Babylon and smashed and burned for eight years the cradle of civilisation and slunk away blowing victory bugles no-one believed. This means its power of threat is nil there now and Israel has lost its one big friend. Not verbally, but practically. When Armageddon begins, the Stars and Stripes will not be there to fight it.

The Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld vultures have come home to roost and Bibi can’t kill babies with helicopter-gunships any more, however much he wants or likes to. And this will end badly for him –- not, as he deserves, in a gaol in The Hague, but in loud hard brutish war he will have to tiptoe out of, resigning office as Olmert did, and Livni did, before him.

Or am I wrong?

In Fifteen Words

Saddam was hanged for ‘killing his own people’. What is Netanyahu doing that is different?

In Twenty-One Words

Will Netanyahu apologise for wounding 130 people and killing a pregnant woman? Of course not.

He has a licence to kill.

Classic Ellis: The First Gaza War, 2009

The ones in the helicopter gunships shooting up apartment buildings at midnight are the good guys. The squealing children and their frightened mothers are the bad guys. Discuss.

The two hundred innocents killed in the Bali bombings deserve to be avenged. The two hundred innocents killed in Gaza do not. Discuss.

The worst things Israelis do is make you lie to them. Is this okay, they say to us. Is it okay with you we do this? Yes, yes, we say, it’s okay, you’ve got our full support.

They do other things, of course. They bomb universities. They kill children on their way home from school. They target the duly elected leaders of neighbouring countries for assassination. They cut off the electricity that keeps babies alive in humidicribs, thus ensuring they die. They bomb tunnels through which food comes to the hungry. They hoard atomic bombs, deny they’ve got them, and plan to stop the neighbours they thereby threaten from getting any of their own. They killed with explosions this weekend as many people as the Bali bombers and Julia Gillard said they were right to do this.

But she I think was lying too, the way we all do. The worst thing they do is make you lie. Practically nobody likes what they’re doing, yet nearly everybody says they “have a right do defend themselves”. By bombing young policemen on their graduation day. Of course they do. And obliterating a television station. Of course they do. And blowing up an old man in his wheelchair. Of course they do. And five little sisters asleep in their shared bedroom. Of course they do. They have a right to defend themselves in this way. In any way they like. Unlawfully if they like.

I have a thousand Jewish ancestors I guess (on my grandmother Rachel Larkman’s side) and a million Israeli relatives probably - twelfth cousins, twentieth cousins, some more distant than that - currently applauding the bribe-taker Ehud Olmert and the prattling dipstick Tzipi Livni and their latest ill-planned massacre of the innocents, and I keenly feel considerable shame at what’s happening in Gaza, intellectual shame most of all.

For who do these my brilliant relatives think they are kidding? They’re shooting up and firebombing a territory without an air force, without a navy, without an army, without anti-aircraft guns, and claiming this territory is a threat to their existence.

They’re calling ‘a terrorist regime’ - a government elected by sixty per cent of a democratic vote the UN said was fairly conducted. They demanded this government ‘renounce violence’ and kidnapped forty of its parliamentarians when it wouldn’t.

They would never renounce violence themselves, of course. When we do it, they seem to be saying, it isn’t violence. It’s defending ourselves.

They seize land owned by peasant families for a thousand years, and shoot them if they try to cross it, to water their dying crops. They shoot boys dead for throwing stones at them. They bulldoze the houses of the widows of suicide bombers. They keep reporters out of Gaza, away from the evidence. And they allege that they’re a democracy.

Who do they think they are kidding? Me? You? Condaleezza Rice? Anyone?

Why are the Israelis like this? Why do they brutalise each generation of conscripts with compulsory atrocities they call ‘national service’? Why are they so fond of pain, both given and received?

The answer may lie in their holy scriptures.

For deep in their tribal psyche (my tribal psyche, I suppose) is this Bronze Age ethic of righteous killing. The Old Testament is a catalogue of proud slaughters so many and so fierce that the Catholics kept it from ordinary colloquial readership for a thousand years. It speaks of ‘sparing not their women and children’, ‘killing the heathen firstborn’, stoning Sabbath-breakers to death, adulteresses to death, quite a lot, approvingly. The admired passage that begins ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down’, for instance, ends on a rather different note. ‘O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed’, it ends. ‘Happy shall be he that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall be he that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones’.

I thought for a while of the five little dead sisters who were alive and happy last week after reading an hour ago these ancient, reverenced words. And I asked why they and their parents had to pay so much, in lives and survivor’s grief, on Sunday night; and for what? To ensure some nearby Israelis would sleep sounder in their beds hereinafter? Was that it? Was that the reason? Was that all the reason? Tzipi Livni says it was. That some shall sleep more soundly, and some shall sleep no more. Or live no more.

As a lifelong bearer of her genes I know, or I think I know, the source of her creed of complaint and serial vengeance. It’s a sort of tribal Original Sin, and the guilt that thereafter proceeds from it. The Israelis invaded and rased the villages of people who had done them no harm up till then; and they now want to deal with their guilt by goading their victims into rising up and attacking them, and so give themselves an excuse to kill some more of them, kill the witnesses, the victims, of their primal crime against the innocent, the dispossessed.

Sigmund Freud, a member of the tribe, would have understood this connection immediately. So I think do Phillip Roth and Woody Allen and Frederic Raphael and Robert Manne, and they perhaps should be asked what they think of these post-Christmas events, this war for a quiet sleep and a sweet dream that kills little girls in their beds and how it helps world peace and the cause of democracy.

How ‘Eight hundred eyes for an eye’ is a good motto.

How ‘unintentional civilian casualty’ adequately describes a decapitated little girl.

How this war is good for Israeli tourism.

How an economy with no tourism can long survive.

How when Yitzak Rabin roared ‘Enough of blood! Enough!’ on the White House lawn he thought this present war an exception and a good idea.

How the octogenarian Shimon Peres approving the slaughter of infants eighty years his junior is shrewd international diplomacy.

How a Prime Minister under indictment for a gaolable crime has a constitutional right to wage war on anyone.

How targeting and killing a graduation class is not a crime against humanity.

How ‘self-defence’ and ‘vengeance’ are not, and have never been, mixed up in their minds.

How the sum of human happiness is increased by all these howling, fist-shaking funerals.

How ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as a precept does not include the children of Gaza, and Talmudic scholars can argue that this is so.

Hands up those with the answers.

Julia Gillard? Gerard Henderson? Bill O’Reilly?


In Twenty Words

‘Arrogant’ and ‘sanctimonious’ are words that were invented, surely, before the beginning of the world, with George Pell in mind.

In Seventeen Words

Will Netanyahu apologise to BBC employee Jihad Misharawi for killing his ten-month-old son? Why not?

In Thirty-One Words

We try hard not to kill children, but we do. Their evil parents keep them by their side, and we kill their evil parents. We have to.

It’s the Israeli way.

Eyeless In Gaza: Some Still, Small Questions Of Bloodshed And Morality

Of the 1,417 Gazans killed in the last war, wikipedia tells me, 926 were civilians.

I do dislike that word ‘civilians’. What it means, or what I think it means, is 300 children, 200 women of child-bearing age, 200 small businessmen, teachers, doctors, lawyers, ambulance drivers, and 226 old people. The word ‘civilians’ blurs and shrinks them into tiny pawns on a chessboard. Think of one little child screaming, and dying, over the corpse of his mother in a burning house and you will better know what ‘civilian’ means.

Think of that image in the coming days, if you will.

What is Gaza’s constitutional situation? Is it a country? I don’t think so. Is it a component part of an Israeli federation? I don’t think so. Can it vote for Netanyahu, or against him, in February? I doubt this. Can it bring in food, or medical supplies, or arms, by sea? No it can’t, the boat will be boarded or sunk by the IDF. Is it a colony? Looks like it. What then are its rights? None, it seems, except the right to shake fists at the funerals of leaders blown up by Israel, three of them now. How then can Israel be said to be a democracy? It’s a murderous imperial power, surely, that kills without trial patriots, defenders of their former country. Or is it something else?

I need guidance on this. What are the legal rights Israel has to kill people in Gaza? I thought it had withdrawn from Gaza. What does ‘withdrawn’ mean?

The Last Days Of The Right

What differentiates the Right from the Left is their taste for killing, and secrecy.

Dead children in Gaza; on SIEV-X; in orphanages run by state or church bureaucracies; in ‘reformatories’; in Palm Island gaol cells; on city streets during bad trips under taser attacks; none of these things worry the Right much. Nor do the killings of black young men during hot pursuit of stolen cars, or children fostered into the ‘care’ of known perverts, or refugees returned to Kabul and killed at the airport, just so long as the details are kept secret for fifty or sixty years, and no money is paid to the bereaved or the surviving victims.

‘Bleeding hearts’, they used to call us, who noticed such things. The world is tough, they reckoned, and only the tough, or the rich, get through it. And this is the way it ought to be.

And a lot of the swinging voters believed this dark sadistic stupidity for a long, long while. But lately things have changed.

Old women suiciding out of high apartments from which they have just been evicted; parents remembering two raped little girls, now dead, covered up by the Church for the rest of their short lives; mothers on hunger strike in Nauru; children bombed, again, in Gaza for living among their ‘terrorist’ fathers and uncles; these things are not secret any more, in part because of the new media, and the vote is moving Left again.

In France; in Holland; in the USA; in Britain; in the ACT; in Queensland and New South Wales; in the slimed view now held of Abbott by seven out of ten Australians; in this we see a new dawn coming; or an old one reborn. General strikes are heralding, again, a change.

For a long time after 9/11 we went along with the Bush doctrines pre-empt or die, torture or die, assassinate, kidnap, waterboard or die. But now, ten years after, with Iraq an explosive debacle, Afghanistan the same bloody mess it has been for millennia and Israel risking nuclear extinction with its pogroms on the young, the innocent, the dispossessed and fanatical, some fresh new gentle drops of mercy are becoming apparent in public policy.

Assange’s retreat has not been stormed. Fidel Castro has not been poisoned, lately. It is now thought wrong that Arafat was. The Chinese leadership has changed without coup, show trials or a single bullet in the head on a soccer field. The vote in Australia is 50-50. The arch illusionist Pell, having shown his fifth ace, is doomed.

And where can the Right go from here? Only into Obeid headlines and Bruce Wilson headlines and Petraeus headlines, and eighty billion dollar black holes that make no sense.They can say corrupt things were done by this or that Left government’s leaders, or lie about them, as they did about Slipper, Thomson and Strauss-Kahn.

But they have nothing to offer any more. The mathematics are against them, and the tumbrils gathering in Athens, Madrid and Lisbon.


Bibi’s New War

‘No assassination without representation’ might be a good rule for Netanyahu who last night ordered the rubbing out of the man who kept Yalid Shalit safe for five years and gave him back in good order and good health. For no Gazan can vote for Netanyahu, or against him, in the election now in train. They have no significant weapons either, to shoot down his helicopter gunships and drones and paratroopers. He has a licence to kill and they have a licence to shake their fists at funerals.

And Hamas, who came to power in a democratic election and have no air force or navy or army, will be killed and killed and killed hereafter, and their children in their adjacent beds through Christmas and New Year.

And Obama once again has a Gaza war, as he did in the weeks before his first inauguration, in these, the weeks before his second inauguration, brought on this time by Bibi who hates him and in a vote-Romney commercial showed how much he does. And he is hobbled, now as then, by the Florida Jewish vote and it’s a pity.

Not that it matters; the war will come, and the children die again in hundreds, and nothing I can say will stop it. But it is time the Gazans were armed by the French and British as their cousins the Arab Spring Libyans were. They too have a right to overthrow tyranny, and to national self-defence. Not to mention nationhood.

Mark Regev was on the radio as I wrote this, claiming Gaza children die because ‘terrorists’ hide among them, ‘terrorists’ being their fathers and brothers at home in their own beds, and I, a descendant of Jews, despise him and want him in gaol in The Hague for the rest of his life. His Melbourne accent acclaiming murder offends me, and I want him removed from history, and his tense righteous twang from my ears and memory.

And so it goes.

Pell’s Way, Reconsidered

It is not a question of healing and closure, but rather of crime and punishment. Some children have been murdered, some children driven to suicide, some driven to suicide in adulthood, and many, many, many murdered in their souls. Their murderers have been shielded by high proud cruel men like Pell and Hollingworth and it is wrong that they should be rewarded any longer for their iniquities by the collection plate or the public purse.

It is a worry to me that these American concepts ‘healing’ and ‘closure’ are in the mix at all. I will never be healed of my sister’s killing, or seek, face to face, ‘reconciliation’ with her four killers now or ever. I will not get her back, and in this, the sixtieth year of her absence, or in any other year, I will find no ‘closure’ for the sense of injustice I feel every day for the loss of her, and of nieces and nephews I never had.

So let me say plainly Pell is a bad man who has covered up grave crimes and let other crimes occur and should be stripped of his holy robes and beads and bangles and clapped in gaol, if there is room for him. And Hollingworth should no longer get the three hundred thousand a year the taxpayer unknowingly gives him, and should be fined half a million dollars that goes to the treatment of pederasty victims, now, immediately.

And we should bring to an end, soon, the idea that the Catholic Church is too big to fail. If a Church can commit a mortal sin, then surely this is it, and surely this is the time to blow the whistle and cry game over. If it were known elsewhere that fifty thousand of its commanding officers were pederasts, the Boy Scouts would be wound up, and its assets confiscated. It is likely that the priest-pederasts and the nun-sadists and Pope-tyrants of the One True Church now number, over time, tens of millions. And the number of lives they ruined hundreds of millions.

Pell saying therefore that current claims are ‘exaggerated’ and the Confessional must henceforth and forever protect those pilferers of souls who come his way is obscene and sacreligious, and those who do not speed his resignation — by Christmas perhaps, by Australia Day — will commit a vast wrong under heaven, I think, I guess. Or am I wrong.

Crime, punishment, gaol, confiscation of property. If a general can lose reputation and position because of an adultery, so, therefore, in the same hard world, can a Cardinal do time and lose caste and personal fortune for protecting rapists, murderers, perverts, liars, dissemblers and angel-whispering hellfire-promising child corrupters.

Prove that I lie.

In Fifteen Words

Has Pell himself heard confessions of pederastic rape he has then sanctimoniously concealed? How many?

Suffer The Little Children: The Numbers

I thought Leigh Sales was wrong to ask, repeatedly, Brendan O’Connor why not probe, exclusively, the Catholic Church; but Frank Brennan on Lateline three hours later convinced me she was probably right to do so.

For ‘institutional harm to children’ covers what happened in Woomera, Villawood and Nauru; in the Boy Scouts for a century; in the institutions exposed by the Stolen Children enquiry; in the Barnado Homes and the boys’ hostels and ‘reformatories’ and the adoption agencies that knowingly fostered infants into harm’s way; in the football teams, athletic clubs, dance classes and church choirs. It logically spreads to the affianced children of some Islamic traditionalists; of the Amish, the Scientologists, the breakaway Mormons, the Children of God and some Afghan, Aboriginal and Pitcairn Island cultures. It logically spreads to every sect or cult that threatens children with hellfire, including most Christian religions. It has to.

It covers, literally, a multitude of sins. When you consider the thirty years the Lindy Chamberlain case took to exculpate a mother and convict a dingo – and fail to name the long dead wild dog’s human accomplice – ten thousand cases of alleged, and denied, and hotly defended abuse of children might take, hereafter, quite a while.

This is not to say it shouldn’t be attempted, only to remark how huge and widespread it seems to be. If, as is alleged, incest touches a quarter of all families, and ‘abuse’ can also include bullying in boarding schools, playgrounds and bike sheds, then how many millions are in the dock?

Is competitive swimming child abuse? It is hard to see it in any other way. How about school bands? How about Mrs Carey’s Concert? Many lawyers will grow rich wrestling with these questions.

It should be limited, somehow, to sexual abuse, perhaps, and that level of bullying that brought on suicide, or suicide attempts. It gets harder whichever way you look at it.

What punishment, moreover, should it incur, given that no James Hardie executive did time for what some think serial, secret, unrepentant, ongoing manslaughter. Two years? Thirty? What punishment for those whose victims committed suicide? What if they were victims themselves? What if some were Indigenous? Where does it end?

This is the biggest and hairiest political decision since the boarding of the Tampa. And its results will rankle for centuries.

In Twenty-Two Words

We are the Mainstream now. And the Romney-Abbott-O’Reilly-Hannity-Akerman-Albrechtsen-Beck-Bolt-Jones-Pell Right are the lunatics. Discuss.

In Eleven Words

Why is Bishop Shearman still at large? And his protector Hollingworth unimprisoned?

The Economic Consequences Of Pederasty, Foreboded And Acclaimed

The coming Royal Commission on institutional abuse of children will do some political harm to Baillieu, an Anglican, O’Farrell, a Catholic, Abbott, Pyne, Joyce and Hockey, Catholics, Turnbull, a converted Catholic, and Newman, a boarding-school Anglican, and ruin some of them, perhaps, those who in boarding school dormitories witnessed abuse and did not report it, or heard of teachers or priests in their neighbourhood who did it and got away with it, and are covering up for them, stupidly, still.

And this will make more likely, I think, an early election, one sped by a kind of McCarthyist bugger-hunt, and a win for Labor, probably, which will not now need a surplus Budget, and will have a few more billion to sling around before the early election, or after it.

It may be the silver bullet for Labor, or not.

But one thing is certain, it will run and run.

The Sin of David Petraeus

It is puzzling David Petraeus resigned his high position because of an extramarital affair. To name but thirteen others, Bob Hawke, Bill Clinton, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, George HW Bush (he took his mistress openly to China and co-hosted events with her when he was ambassador there), Dwight Eisenhower, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Franklin Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, George W Bush (who openly, by the look of it, loved and flaunted Condoleezza Rice) and Barack Obama Senior did not. It must have been to do with something else, the ongoing war of the FBI on the CIA, perhaps.

The FBI did not put Bin Laden on their Wanted list in all the years before the CIA popped him. They did not let the CIA know of Mahomet Atta’s peculiar flying lessons before 9/11. They resented the revelations, used frequently by Hollywood films, that their Founder was a corrupt fat cross-dressing racist woofter. They craved the high ground again, and sought in this way, perhaps, to retrieve it.

In what way this affair endangered America is hard to say. Would he have told her, while jogging, of Karzai’s drug problem? Of Arafat’s poisoning? Would it have mattered if he had? In what way could she be seen to be an enemy agent? What enemy, precisely, was that?

It is all the more strange in view of the use of ‘honey traps’ by the CIA for sixty years. The former mistress of Castro asked post-coitally to poison him with face cream as he snored, and so on. Is it thought their various James Bonds do not, occasionally (as it were) fuck with intent? Why then should their Leader not do so?

Wowserism, asserted, is always believed, of anybody, or these days it is; and a half-century of Graham Greene novels, whose theme is anguished adultery in corrupted situations, will not reduce, it seems, the stern official belief that Christian monogamy is universal in the West. It is not. The forty-eight percent of American marriages ended in divorce hint surely at eighty percent, or ninety, that are tested by adultery, often more than once.

Yet a great soldier must take the fall for it, as another great soldier, Eisenhower, who frequently fucked his female driver, did not; and Mountbatten, who not only fucked but promoted young men, did not; in a less tolerant century.

It is known by now that many US soldiers are unmarried, promiscuous homosexuals; and they do not, if sprung in a tent on the side of a mountain chockers, resign for it any more.

Yet David Petraeus must, or chose to.

We await the actual reason, if there is one, with mounting interest.

The New Deal, Eighty Years On, Returning

Something rather big took place last week. It coincided with Barack Obama’s re-election by 332 votes in the College to 206 for Romney. And it showed the Left was no longer the dirty, crazy, stumbling, scrambling, frantic, incompetent fringe of politics, the Right was.

Listen carefully. It is now okay to want Big Government to rebuild your house after a storm. It is now okay to want free health care for even abortions, for even harelip reconstructions, for even dental crowns. It is now okay to wish not to be sacked from Qantas even though your extinction puts up the share price and earns Joyce yearly a million dollars more. It is no longer wrong to cry out, with Oliver, ‘Please, sir, I want more.’ It is no longer ‘class war’ to call Gina Rinehart’s two million an hour for stuff gouged out of our national dirt unfair, or unjust, or too much earthly reward for being her father’s daughter. It is now okay to ask for a fair go, and mean it.

What happened was 9/11 blurred the primal battle we were in then, for a better life on earth for our children than we had enjoyed, and gave us a different battle, a different crusade, against heathen suicide bombers who have killed, thus far, fewer of us than redback spiders and rattlers and backyard pool drownings, and spent on this fraudulent fuck-headed crusade three trillion dollars that else might have cleaned the Third World’s dirty water, or shown CNN and BBC and Big Bird and Playschool to remote mountain-dwelling Shi-ite children and saved their souls.

And this war convinced many on the Left they were dawdling, and lagging behind the times, which were brave and brutal and merciless, with no abiding tolerance of an Underclass, anywhere. If you’re not a billionaire shoot yourself was the message, the glamorous new conventional wisdom, or improvise illegally, like Walter White, in border drug wars, and shoot your way to your first ten million, after which it’s easier. This is the world now. Join it or be damned.

And last week reminded us of the mild and merciful goodness the West used to stand for: the Peace Corps, the National Health, Medicins Sans Frontieres, Fred Hollows, Joe Ramos Horta, Tim Costello, Hanan Asrawi, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Robinson, Bob Brown, Bob Carr. We weren’t wrong, they were. We weren’t out to kill people, they were.

And Abbott is begrimed now, soiled, smeared, slimed, not just by his defensive Catholicism and those of his mentors, like Pell, who may go to gaol for impeding the course of justice, but by this latest twitch of the global fashion, of the moral pendulum, away from gloried greed and back to communitarian decency and neighbourly care.

He cannot survive it, he cannot survive it, any more than Paul Ryan or Richard Mourdock or the agile, twisting, smiling, handsome, face-lifted Romney. He is gone for all money. The times are not with him, nor with any of them, any more.

Prove that I lie.