Monthly Archives: June 2014

Morrison, Terrorist (2)

Hard not to see Morrison’s video as terrorism. He is threatening children with life imprisonment if they don’t accept rape, crucifixion, decapitation, waterboarding, child whoredom, slavery, poor schooling , miscarriage and sweltering under a burqa when they’re sent back to the Middle East. He is saying that those who escape the current Thirty Years War in Iraq/Syria/Egypt/Iran will be sent back into its horrors, with no appeal. He is saying those who fly into it and rescue their grandmothers from it and bring them back here will get twenty-five years in prison. He is saying a future Labor government would enact these monstrosities too, though of course they would not. His aim, old friend, is to terrify. Which is…terrorism. Isn’t it.

Terrorism is against the law. Isn’t it. And so is a related crime. It’s called cyberbullying. Menacing with murderous videos innocent children, ignorant adults, cultures unsure of themselves when out of their neighbourhood, overseas.

Morrison is guilty of one or the other, and he should be arrested — if not by the ACT Attorney General now, then by the Daniel Andrews Government in early December, for the self-immolation he provoked in Geelong of a young man whose brother he then persecuted — and be put away for ten or twenty years. He really should.

Or am I wrong?

Lines For Richard Marles (13)

Why did the Minister not notice the existence of these two boats until they made contact? How many more has he not, these last eight months, detected?

How many more have got through to the mainland — via, say, PNG and car ferry under truck tarpaulins from Thursday Island?

Can he give us an estimate of those numbers, of undetected refugees? Do they exceed one thousand? Do they exceed five hundred? How many children are with them? What does he propose to do with the children? Imprison them for life? Or send them back to where they might be raped, mistreated, tormented, or killed? Will this apply to children from Iraq, or Egypt, or Syria?

Will he please make his intentions clear?

Dali’s Manifesto

(from Dali)

I just watched Morrison’s video which is to be shown to all new detainees when they arrive at Manus and Nauru.

I DISASSOCIATE MYSELF ENTIRELY FROM THE CONTENT AND SENTIMENTS EXPRESSED IN THE MORRISON MANIFESTO, and I urge you to do the same, and to urge others as well. Unless there is a clear and substantial mass disassociation, the world will rightly rely on his message to judge us as a people.

I call on the Australian College of Psychiatrists to empanel six leading professionals to examine the video and report on its forensic value as provocation to suicide, self-harm and other crimes;

I call on The Law Council of Australia to do the same.

I urge all members of Shirelive Church to call on its pastor to state whether the message is an abomination to the message it preaches.

I urge all members of other faiths to make similar calls on their pastors, rabbis, imams, bishops etc to do the same.

It is close to impossible to absorb the stupefying sadism contained in the very idea of producing such a message with the specific purpose of showing it to new arrivals at the camps. I wonder how closely its sentiments parallel those expressed to new arrivals at Dachau or Belsen.

I am stunned.

Finally, I call on Bob Ellis to dip his nib into his well of blue venom, and scratch out his critique on the video, its author, and its significance in the downfall of our civilisation/government.

Morrison, Terrorist

(First published by Independent Australia)

A stricken boat with thirty-seven children and thirty-two women on it has climaxed Scott Morrison’s worst week and may seen him soon, or eventually, in gaol awaiting trial in The Hague.

His policy of kidnap, piracy, bribery, cover-up and facilitating the torture and death of children has disgusted some of his own back bench, and his foam-flecked madness in Question Time is worrying even Sky News’s beaming thickos and his fellow worshippers in Shirelive.

Now, after saying children with a 49 percent chance of crucifixion or beheading in Iraq will be sent back there, he is facing the ultimate horror, a boat that can’t be sent back because it is not safe to do so.

It is a boat, moreover, that Sovereign Borders did not notice was on its way for three weeks.

How many other boats did they fail to notice in the last, say, three months, the months they were looking in the wrong ocean for an object big as a football field, MH370? It is probable people are getting through all the time – on bribed pearling luggers, ferries that drop in West Irian determined refugees who then walk, or take a taxi, to Thursday Island and enter Australia in car boots or under tarpaulins on trucks, that way.

S&M’s Big Lie has been blown. There are many ‘successful arrivals’, successful because he hasn’t noticed any.

He has meanwhile bound himself hand and foot with his rabid fascistic public utterances. He cannot take these refugees back to India: he does not have the vessels to do so. He cannot lock up thirty-nine children in Manus or Nauru because the UN will come crashing down on him. He cannot fly them back to India because, in a region keen on bride-burning and raping and hanging young women from trees, the female children will be in danger there.

And he will be shown worldwide to be a monster. He has already protected from imprisonment the murderer of a young architect and ten or twenty thugs who cut the throat of one young man and shot and headbashed sixty others. He has already caused three young men to set themselves on fire. He has already forbidden the brother of one of the dead young men to come to his funeral in Geelong – because he might be interviewed on television and blame him for begetting that pointless death.

He has already made frantic thousands on TPVs. He has already threatened with torture and death those he falsely claims are here ‘illegally’. He has already broadcast unsettling videos whose purpose is to terrorise future immigrants with a good cause to seek refuge here, out of coming here. He has already disgusted Barack Obama, who grew up in Indonesia, and would, under these new strictures, even now, if he came here in a boat, be urged back there in a ‘lifeboat’ at gunpoint.

We may soon see the end of this Immigration Minister. He may be given Defence. He may be arraigned at The Hague for what looks to me like a kind of terrorism, scaring the shit out of innocent people in their tens of thousands, by promising to gaol, torment and madden them, or pitchfork them into a war zone aflame with murderous, medieval fanatics if they come here. He may be taken away in a straitjacket. But he is not long for the position he is in.

And I wish him ill fortune, unsympathetic nurses, bad hospital food, expulsion from his party and prayers for his soul.

Lines For Greg Barns (1)

Eichmann was hanged for sending children on compulsory journeys to destinations in which, from time to time, they had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. Scott Morrison is doing much the same thing; and boasting of it. Serves them right, he says. I, like Adolf, am only the travel agent; what happens at the other end is none of my concern.

I do not suggest he should be hanged. But I do suggest he should be instructed on what a war crime is, and why, since Nuremberg, it is frowned upon.

He should be told that killing children is wrong, and colluding in their killing, if he sends them back to Iraq, is nearly as bad.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (107)

Loula is banned for life. I am extending my Canberra Dateline piece, and beginning tomorrow, on Ellis Gold, a meditation on what I call ‘vocism’, the universal prejudice in favour of good, deep voices like mine over squeaky, insipid, untrustworthy ones like Bramston’s, and how Clive Palmer’s secret weapon is a good deep voice which, if Bob Katter had it, would have made him Prime Minister by now, and why James Carleton is trusted and Jon Faine is not.

Quiz Time (71)

What is the best adaptation of a Frank Moorhouse story? Who starred in it and who directed it?

Saddam: The Last Hour

It’s fair to say, I think, that the freedom we fought for was evident in our view of the last moments of Saddam Hussein. He was free to wear a hood, and chose not to. He was free to speak to his captors, but we were not free to hear what he said. He was free I suppose to make a mighty speech, but we were not free to hear it. His black-hooded executioners were free to conceal their identities, but he, in the last five minutes of his life, was allowed no similar privacy…More on Ellis Gold.

Canberra Dateline

Wednesday, 7.25 pm

It’s hard to imagine where Abbott can go now, after Clive and Al tonight foreboded, side by side, a Budget utterly, luridly, comprehensively smashed; that, and an early dinner. A senior, really senior, Cabinet Minister told me half an hour ago, while we stood together awaiting the lift, ‘Tony is unafraid of the polls, and he’s as likely as not to go to a Double Dissolution. He really is.’ I dare not think this is so. But…but…

Well…the only item they will get through now will INCREASE the deficit, and no cuts to pensions, the ABC, SBS, and CSIRO will be tolerated by Palmer, Labor, the DLP, the Greens… which leaves them, this year, the Truss-Abbott gang who can’t shoot straight, sixty billion in the hole, next year a hundred billion in the hole….and they have no Plan B…and they never had one…so…

And Morrison is planning war crimes at such a rate the GG will have to sack him. He now proposes sending genuine refugees and their children back to torture and death in Iraq, and paying their fare there, much as one might offer champagne and a chicken dinner in the dining car of a train to Auschwitz. The Senate might move he be psychiatrically investigated. He is certainly much, much crazier every day.

Thursday, 5.10 amp

Just saw Clive’s Lateline interview. A graceful rubicund wheezy fat man like Les Murray, Richard Griffiths, Nye Bevan, W.C. Fields, W.G. Grace, he deftly steers each googly to leg and beams at the bowler and dares you to classify him. And you can’t.

It’s a mistake I think to imagine that like, say, John Elliott he wants only money, more and more money as a constant, feverish, lifelong, punishing, lacerous pursuit. He’s been there, done that. His one billion personal fortune, put in a bank, would earn him 961,538 in interest every week. What he wants now, I think, is what Al Gore has, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, or a seat in the House of Lords or a bronze statue, three times life size, in the foyer of the United Nations.

It’s a mistake too I think to equate him with one of the great benevolent American capitalists like Rockefeller or Sulzberger or Ted Turner, a wily, flush-faced vessel of nobless oblige. What he’s most like is one of those literary/political gadflies, GBS or Gore Vidal or P.J. O’Rourke or Denis Healey or Gerry Connolly, a maestro of what Shaw called ‘uncommon sense’, and the sudden, arresting phrase that seems — for the moment — eternally true.

It’s worthwhile too to try and find among his buoyant swift utterances (he speaks as fast as Ken Howard and uses verbs, waterfalls of verbs, where most politicians use elongated bureaucratic abstract nouns long leached of any meaning but procrastination), to try and find anything you disagree with. Are we all, like him and Al, citizens of the globe? Of course we are. Do we care about the planet? Of course we do. Do we want Tony Abbott to stop telling lies and degrading our politics? Absolutely.

In his speedy shuttlecock declamations he reminds us of Burke, of Bacon, of Demosthenes, of Socrates, men who thought from time to time about larger things and with their startling conclusions risked their careers and sometimes their lives. It has been the media’s biggest mistake to think him just another Queensland rogue like Hinze. He is more like the better Queenslanders Theodore, Killen, Katter, Beattie, Gerry Connolly, Bille Brown. Or, among citizens of the world, he’s more like… well…King O’Malley.

And so it goes.

10.10 am

Am yelped at by Pyne in the Senate courtyard. He is superbly dressed and very short and loud. Loudness is a tactic that compels agreement, obedience, craven compliance, grovelling. ‘Hi Bob! I saw you in the Gallery! What are you down for?!’ ‘For the overthrow, ‘I wheezed, ‘of Abbott, this afternoon.’ He yelps with seeming laughter and carries on. It is true what a respondent said: Rik Myall is the perfect casting.

A palpable jumpy turbulence in Aussie’s, not apparent yesterday. An appointment with a Shorten staffer has been delayed. Tactics, doubtless, are being discussed, closely. Is Abbott, as some say, crazy-brave? Will he bring on a Double Dissolution? He stuck, after all, to his PPL though it’s wrecking, currently, a ninety-year-old Coalition and losing five million FEMALE votes, a hundred more each week. What have he and Clive stitched up? I eat Weet-Bix, and wait with interest.

12.50 pm

Have a ticket to Question Time. The Palmer-Abbott shakedown inconclusive. Outside chance J.Bishop will force a spill when Abbott reveals to the Ministry the abject surrender he has in mind and her old ally Turnbull comes back as Prime Minister by Saturday.

Elsewhere, things more momentous are happening. Al-Maliki has refused to be, or even seem, collegiate, and thereby doomed himself to CIA assassination and Iraq to church-burning medieval madmen. Napthine’s government is on 41 percent, in large part because of the ‘rotten federal Budget’, and would lose most of its seats in an election held now. Murdoch is wanted for ‘a chat’ with British coppers appalled that Brookes and many of her lovers have got away with it. Brookes may be coming to Australia to manage, say, The Herald-Sun. Morrison has sworn that ‘even if there is 49 percent chance’ of Iraqi children being raped or murdered, he will send them back to Iraq, to teach them a lesson. This is kidnap and assisting murder in most jurisdictions but he, as usual, is proud of it. David Cameron has apologised for employing a criminal, sacked for bugging, in order to stay ‘close to Murdoch’, a necessary ally, and going on long horse rides in the woods with his comely neighbour Rebekah Brookes, with whom he was ‘very close’.

It is possible the Murdoch saga has reached its end, and my miniseries can at least begin to be made in my lifetime.

And so it goes.

4.25 pm

Abbott in Question Time seemed a thin-voiced querulous repetitive old man, no meat on his bones, wobbly on his pins, and I expected him to fall down dead for the first forty minutes though he warmed up later, as he again and again said ‘We were elected to clean up Labor’s debt-and-deficit-disaster,’ a focus-group-tested phrase he could be sued for — by Tanner, Gillard, Swan, Rudd. Morrison was the feeblest I’ve seen him, huskily ranting without much conviction about the ‘security threat’ of those Australians who go to Iraq and come back enflamed with the terrorist bacillus and will be gaoled for longer than mass murderers on their return. This means a young man goes to rescue his mother from a bombarded suburb in Damascus and comes home with her gets twenty-five years for it and so, no doubt, does she, after being osmotically ‘radicalised’ by seeing her neighbours murdered in hundreds by Assad, the good guy again, suddenly, as Orwell might have decreed: we are at war again with Eastasia; we were always at war with Eastasia.

Palmer left early, wearied with the government’s club-footed, stumbling mediocrity. Not by a big margin, the Opposition seemed more confident. The 59-41 figure, Labor’s way, in Victoria had energised them, perhaps, and dismayed the Liberals, as did their Leader’s dogged, repetitive, senile defence of his Billionairesses’ Fecundity Bonus: if public servants get it, if Opposition staffers get it, why can’t waitresses, nurses, cleaning ladies, call-girls? He never addresses the question, get how much?, deeming fifty thousand for some babies, and ten thousand for others, ‘fair and equitable’; some babies are more equal than others, as Orwell, ever present in this parliament, might have sneered.

6.50 pm

I eat a good roast lamb in the canteen and watch on television the ABC’s red-fanged Vampire Girl alleging the Government has an evident ‘spring in their step’ now Clive has given them cause for rejoicing. Back in Aussie’s, whose two TVs show only football, I encounter Doug Cameron, the world’s most unlikely teetotaller, and upbraid him for not having seen Sunshine On Leith. ‘But ay’ve hearrd the soond track!’ he whimpers, abjectly. Jim Chalmers says he’s enjoying frontline politics even more than he expected to, not least because of the lunacy of the worst bunch of head-kicking droogs in five decades.

I have my eighth coffee, and pace about the architecture. More and more it’s apparent what brain-scarring Abbott suffers from. It’s estrangement-related, and might be called the Existential Migrant Syndrome. By age twelve he was a day-boy with a funny accent failing to penetrate the citadel of the dorm-dwellers of Riverview and had to curry favour by feigning agreement with whatever fool Papist war-cry was placed before him lest his head by thrust down the toilet and his tiny testicles bootblacked in the dressing room. And he’s been like this ever since. Whatever audience he’s in front of, whatever company he’s in, he tells them, existentially, as a nervous migrant would, whatever they want to hear. If it’s no new taxes, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to education, a unity ticket on NDIS, a redefinition of Disability, or whatever, well, that’s what he tells them, imagining his every utterance is off-mike, nudge-nudge, in hugger-mugger, and is amazed when it makes the headline.

And he tells the big end of town he’s fixing up ‘Labor’s mess’ by cuts to education, cuts to pensions, and, alas, forgive me, sirs, a ‘temporary levy’ on people earning more than 150,000 a year. He has no emotional memory in one room of what he said in another. Truth to him is conditional, conditional on where you are. It’s a terrible sickness, one that brands him as a pathological fibber.

And it’s a pity.

8.10 pm

I encounter Morrison twice in the corridor; our eyes do not meet. He knows who I am, and wants — I think — to talk to me, and fears, or partly fears, he may have to eventually, soon; and I brush past him silently cursing his existence. He will have read my column calling him ‘evil’, or a sentence or two of it, and it will have troubled him. And he will have responded to it this morning by saying, bizarrely, this morning, that children with only a forty-nine percent chance of being executed on the tarmac, or raped and beheaded, will be sent back anyway to their country of origin.

Mike Kelly, who appears before me, having just reaffirmed after moral doubt and grim soul-searching his preselection for Eden Monaro, and buys me my ninth coffee in Aussie’s, agrees this would be a war crime, because you are obliged, you are truly obliged, and you have been since 1947, not to endanger a refugee, any refugee, by sending them into harm’s way. Morrison’s madness enlarges by the hour and it may be, it just may be, that ever since he denied a visa to the brother of a young man who burnt himself to death in fear of what Morrison might do to him, and so forebade him to come to Australia for just one day to attend his brother’s funeral, it just may be that word has got round, in Liberal circles as well, what a crazy monster he is. More to come.

What Rebekah Did Next

It is likely that Rebekah evaded gaol by agreeing to shop Rupert, who is to be freshly questioned, as I understand it, this afternoon.

What has happened otherwise makes no sense. Her lover was bugging a thousand people and she never knew about it? Really?

What else did they talk about? In all those years in bed?

Lines For Chris Bowen (13)

Does the Treasurer agree that without the Iraq War this year’s deficit would be half what it is? Does he, as a person of Middle Eastern extraction, think that war, a lost war, was in retrospect a good thing for us to have been in? Was it worth the damage it did to our economy? Was it worth half a million lives?

S&M: I Accuse

I have not thus far used the adjective ‘evil’ in the last fifty years on anyone: not on Hitler, Eichmann, Stalin, Putin, Pol Pot, Osama, Nixon, Thatcher, W, John Howard. This is in part because I doubted, back then, that this is, or ever could be, an adequate or accurate or useful way to describe anybody. Hitler was beaten every night by his father; Nixon lost two brothers to tuberculosis and was then commanded by his awful mother to make up for their absence, be as good as three men, while commanding him also to tend other boys dying of tuberculosis in the family shed though he might catch it from them, like his brothers; Howard was the runt of the litter, small, deaf, near-sighted and stricken with a speech impediment, commanded by his mother to live with her and go to church with her and wash up for her till he was thirty-two. And so on.

But Scott Morrison is evil, and I can’t think of any other word for it, whatever his excuses.

Let me count the ways.

He has caused three young men to set themselves on fire, and two of them to die from this despairing, defiant act. He has caused sixty men to be brutally injured, one by a cut throat, and one by a big rock that bashed his head in, fatally. He has concealed the names of these ten or twenty crazed assailants, and made sure the murderer, or murderers, will get away with it. He has sent a number of Iraqis back to their country where, by one or another faction, they will be tortured or killed. If they try to come back in fear of their lives, he will gaol them for twenty years, as ‘trainee terrorists’. He has forbidden the shocked brother of one the self-burnt young men to come to his funeral, lest he be a ‘terrorist’ also, and somehow infect the funeral with his jihadist ideas, in the one day he will be in Australia.

He has paid some women and children as much as ten thousand dollars to go back into mortal danger in Sri Lanka — and, amazingly, Iraq. He has forbidden those here on a temporary visa to seek work and make money to feed and house themselves, their wives and their children. He has urged back at gunpoint unlawfully genuine refugees to Indonesia which does not want them. He has called these acts of piracy and kidnap ‘stopping the boats’ and praised himself for it.

He has said there have been ‘no successful arrivals’ in six months. How would he know if there had been? ‘Successful arrival’ means they got here, and weren’t picked up. He has not checked the Diamantina for midnight arrivals by submarine, nor beaches north of Broome for predawn infiltrators on pearling luggers with bribeable captains and in refrigerator trucks that take from there to Surfers Paradise or Adelaide or Melbourne.

He glories in the deaths he is causing. He says this will ‘deter’ others from coming. If Syrians fleeing the worst civil war since Rwanda get here, he will send them back, or gaol them, as he would have gaoled Errol Flynn, and stripped him of his citizenship, for fighting on the wrong side — the Communists — in the Spanish Civil War.

He would have arrested and gaoled Orwell, Auden and Hemingway for the same reason. Serves them right, he would have said. What business did they have looking into somebody else’s local war?

Today he pushed the Prime Minister rudely aside and answered two questions in his stead unexpectedly and was amazed to find Albo raising a point of order and interrupting him. In his wild mind, this did not compute. No-one should interrupt him.. He is looking crazier by the day and may be on some prescription mood-enhancing drug or other; or perhaps it is his daily tongue-speaking that stirs him up and gets him ranting hatred on the airwaves and boasting of lethal ‘deterrence’ and ‘border protection’ and ‘illegal arrivals’ (this is wrong and libellous and he can be sued for it) and ‘sovereign borders’ in the way he likes to do.

It is hard to find anything nice about him. I am seventy-two and I have never yet in six million published words called anyone evil, but he…qualifies.

Would anyone in this readership who has any reason to contradict me write in soon please, and say why I am wrong.

I dearly hope I am.

In Eighteen Words

How much of our ‘debt and deficit disaster’ was incurred by a war in Iraq which we lost?

Greste: Joining The Dots (1)

It turns out that this is a government worse at joining the dots than even that of Bush-Cheney. Consider their wild brash deeds in the last calamitous fortnight, if you will.

With Greste on trial in Egypt for ‘taking sides’ in a war between Arabs, they declared their fondness for Jews, by calling the Occupied Territories merely ‘disputed’. And on the day before he was to be sentenced, they declared that anyone who fought on any side in Iraq or Syria — any Arab, that is — would go to gaol for twenty years.

Keep in mind that Egyptians are, mostly, Arabs, and proud of it.

It well may be that it was for this cause Peter Greste, who might have got one year, got seven; and this was the first of the ‘sanctions’ the entire Arab world threatened us with after Brandis shot off his mouth and did not repent of it. The cancellation of some of our live cattle trade may be next.

Let us now attempt to join the dots here, since they will not, or cannot. Australia was in an invasion force of thirty-two Christian countries that bombed and shelled for a couple of months, and occupied for nine years, a country run by a secular Sunni, Saddam Hussein, whom fanatical Sunnis, ISIS, are now implacably avenging with fire and sword and hanging and crucifixion. And Australia, a Christian country which has taken part in the wrongful killing of half a million Muslims, will gaol anyone who fights on their side, for ten or twenty years.

The current Egyptian government is Sunni too, and Greste an Australian. Australia has condemned this government openly, protesting — correctly — his innocence, instead of quietly stitching up a deal, as Bob Carr would have done, with the present rancorous junta by which Greste admitted inadvertent wrongdoing, served six more months, and was allowed to go home to his family.

They did not do this because they cannot, will not, join the dots, and regard the ‘Gyppos’ much as Alf Garnett did, as filthy heathens. The Sunni fighters they are condemning in Iraq — and Syria — have relatives who were killed or crippled or burnt to a crisp by Shock and Awe, a terrorist act as large as 9/11, on a people innocent of what they were bombarded, shot up, arrested and tortured for, WMD. And Julie Bishop is calling this selfsame persecuted minority ‘terrorists’ and said she will treat their relatives worse than child murderers if they come home to their families in Australia. Some will have wives and children here, children she is orphaning for twenty years, who won’t get any schoolkids’ money either.

And she expects an Arab judiciary to treat an Australian well in this context.

This is pretty thick. And it comes, as I say, from a mindset that regards as a heathen bound for Hell any person who is not an Abbott Catholic or a tonguespeaking Cronulla fundamentalist like Scott Morrison.

This is not to say that ISIS are nice people, or do kind things, or will not, if treated gently, blow up Shi-ite sacred sites or suicide-bomb American embassies; or that the current murderous Egyptian junta is a mild-mannered centre-right elective democracy. It is only to say that the timing of our condemnation of them was disastrous for Peter Greste and may cost him, now, his life, his one life on earth, and he could by now have been in a careful, secretive process that would have seen him home by Christmas — had Bob Carr, for instance, been choreographing the negotiations; or Gareth Evans; or Kim Beazley; or Bob Hawke; or Bill Hayden. Or Gough Whitlam.

This bunch of ratbags don’t know what they’re doing, in any latitude or jurisdiction, it now seems. And because of their blithering incompetence good people are rioting in hellish prison compounds and burning themselves to death in Geelong.

And it’s a pity.

Quiz Time (70)

Who are the only two people to have won both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize?

The Return Of The Smirking Tapeworm

It is reasonably typical of the intermittently despicable Troy Bramston (whom I have elsewhere described as the ‘smirking tapeworm in the anus of the Labor Party’) that he should say Albo is undermining Shorten on the very day when it was revealed by Nielsen Polling in the Herald that Malcolm Turnbull was preferred as Prime Minister by 5.1 million people and Tony Abbott by only 2.55 million people.

What a loathesome snivelly little squeaky titmouse he is. He is adopting the Karl Rove method, ‘hit them at their strength’, on Murdoch instructions, the way the Dirty Digger’s mind-slaves do, and will till Friday when many of them go to gaol. Shorten unlike any Opposition Leader in our history is one million votes ahead of the Prime Minister of the day, after only eight months in the Leader’s job; nine months now; or, if you believe the always-more-accurate Morgan Poll, 1.2 million votes. Ahead. Of the Prime Minister of the day.

It is therefore asserted btpy Bramston that Shorten is failing; is faltering; is crumbling; is disliked; is detested; is being undermined; is in danger; in exactly the same way as the war hero John Kerry was once called a war criminal, and the smart cookie Hillary Clinton alleged to be ‘battling dementia’. It’s what the rabid bellowing Murdoch glove-puppets O’Reilly and Hannity do; and it’s therefore what the wittering midget Bramston does. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Three bags full, sir. Shorten is detested, and would win in a landslide any election called this week. Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

What a slithery little vest-pocket Faust he is entirely.

My curse on him. May the gods give him wens.

May he never have a day’s luck.

In Seven Words

Which side are we on in Syria?

O.J., 1994

I believe O.J. Simpson is innocent, as the jury found. Not enough blood, not enough time to wash that blood off his clothes and his car (a near-decapitation would have yielded more) and a weapon of choice that did not fit a big black athlete: fists, a gun, a club, a baseball bat were more likely, surely.

Then there were the children, sleeping upstairs. They were his children, and he would, surely, have killed them too or taken them with him, not left them to find their mutilated mother, her head half hacked off, downstairs in the morning.

The greater likelihood, as the Manson Family shows, is drugged or mad people invading the house, or burglars high on something surprised there, defending themselves. One man, unaided, could not have done that damage to two people with one knife; one of his targets would have escaped. Surely.

Sometimes, you are killed by a stranger. It happens. In Los Angeles, it happens once a month.

O.J.’s calm behaviour forty minutes later, when he was picked up unbloodsplashed and driven to the airport, and his distress when he was told next morning, and his erratic behaviour driving the car, and babbling suicidally, suggest he was not only innocent but surprised.

The idea that he pulled off a bloodstained glove that did not fit him in the driveway is ludicrous.

That glove was a frame-up, and it was shown to be, by a crooked cop in quest of celebrity and so was the rest of it.

It is what one might call the Othello Syndrome. If a big black man has a white wife, he is up to no good. Black man, white girl, jig jig, is against the natural order.

And we must lynch him if we can.

Impotent America: The Story So Far

In Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, Afghanistan and China it is clear America has no power any more. Where once they could threaten with WMD or Coalitions of the Willing defiant Muslim strongmen they cannot do that now. Russia annexes Crimea, Israel firebombs kindergartens, Egypt and China hang freedom fighters, or shoot them in the brain, Afghan warlords cheat elections, and Iraqi ‘firebrands’ crucify opponents and America huffs and puffs but cannot, will not, lift a finger anywhere.

This is a consequence of Bush’s lost wars of choice and Obama’s craven preference for drone assassination. No boots will hit the ground under his, and Hillary’s, presidencies, no scarred veterans suicide after shooting their wives and children. That cowboy/missionary phase of their foreign policy is over, and over, I think, forever.

But so is their power to impose good governments, as they did after 1945, on crushed enemies. They have lost wars — and twilight wars — in Korea, Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Palestine, Tibet, Iraq, Ukraine and Egypt and though they think they still have the authority to command, for instance, Shi-ites and Sunnis to ‘work together for the common good’, they are openly sneered at, even laughed at, in most jurisdictions.

And…the Cold War was won by China, which is now the biggest creditor-nation in world history, and Russia, whose KGB-trained sado-narcissist hyperthug Putin routinely murders dissenters in twelve time-zones, and by Cuba, the romantic, tenacious, admired role-model of most of South America, and by Vietnam, a successful boutique tourist economy which under the heaviest bombardment in world history expelled their superfoe without even an air force, while America, tottering under trillions of deficit, cannot even stop amateur mass-murderers buying kalashnikovs and randomly shooting up cinemas, malls and kindergartens.

This is the legacy of Bush and Cheney, of Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice, and the world is in deep, deep trouble because of it. It is likely now that ISIS will blow up Westminster Abbey with a drone, and the National Gallery because of its ‘idolatry’, and here we are, the scarred children of Halliburton, with no way back from the barbarian abyss we went into gamely on the urging of Howard and Blair, those Bible-bashing dipsticks who should be tarred and feathered and made to pay back their pensions for causing, by their crazed and craven mendacious advocacy, the end of the civilised world.

Quiz Time (69)

Two brothers lately wrote and directed In Bruges, The Guard, Seven Psychopaths and Calvary. Which two brothers wrote, and sometimes directed, Citizen Kane, King Kong, Julius Caesar, All About Eve, The Barefoot Contessa and Cleopatra?

Do not look up Wikipedia.

Your Voices, Your Sweet Voices: Carr’s, Clarke’s, Ellis’s and Biggins’s The Jet Lag Monologues

(From Doug Quixote)

The Diary of a Foreign Minister was the basis for the script of The Jet Lag Monologues, a four voice reading of the text, edited and arranged by Bob Ellis. The four readers, Bob Ellis, Terry Clarke, Jonathan Biggins and Bob Carr himself, were assigned passages suited to their individual talents in voicings, with Bob Ellis doing a credible version of Henry Kissinger and Bibi Netanyahu. Biggins did a fine Paul Keating sentence – yes, that’s right a sentence – which brought demands for a replay (!). Biggins also took off the clipped sentences of Kevin Rudd, including
his foreign minister star turn :
“We are not from North America.
We are not from Europe.
We are simply Australian.
To come here, I travelled from the ‘south’, across the Indian Ocean, which laps the shores of both our continents.”

It may be too soon to tell, because some of the Australian political wounds are a little too fresh – the Rudd/Gillard fiasco in particular, but there was enough good humour to soothe the savage breast of (almost) all the audience.

When one reflects upon federal Labor in recent years, one must reflect upon the tragedy of the Rudd presence and the trouble Labor encountered when they could not afford to expel him from the Party because his resignation from parliament and resultant by-election might bring down the government.

Moving on, Bob Carr was the nonpareil selection, the master stroke, of Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership. As Julie Bishop squealed across the floor “Who are you going to appoint Foreign Minister?” Gillard’s reply was “Don’t worry, ‘Everyone’s Loyal Deputy’ – whoever I appoint will be able to wipe the floor with you!” And as she said, so it was.

Carr’s 18 months in the position was notable for a continued improvement in Australia’s international reputation, with achievements in just about every relationship, and the absence of the megaphone diplomacy favoured by the then opposition and in the so far disastrous start by the federal Liberal government. It was about as good as it gets.

The Rudd government and then Gillard’s government were governments that came under merciless, concerted and relentless attack from the media, led by Rupert’s ‘Telegraph’ and ‘The Australian’. Even the ABC joined the fun, inspired by John Howard’s legacy to Australia, the infiltration of Board and management by rightists, with consequent journalistic appointments. The myth of ABC leftist bias, if it ever held any truth, is now well and truly exploded. (Sigh)

But to return to the review, this seems to be a format that will work. Bob has previously used six or seven actors with the presentation The Word Before Shakespeare last year. And this year The Gielgud Memorandum was presented with three voices. Last night’s performance was scripted and created within the last two weeks, and this shows in the cohesion, the freshness and spontaneity of the performance. The four voices used in this performance seemed
quite sufficient to cover the range, but that may simply reflect the talent of the individuals involved.

Many of the enthusiastic audience present purchased Bob Carr’s book as a direct result of wanting to read more. This suggests to me that the format can be used in a commercial way as well, with most authors being quite keen to promote a new book. JK Rowling was quite pleased to do readings of her Harry Potter books. It would have added a new dimension to have actors (not necessarily Daniel Radcliffe, Emily Watson, Alan Rickman and the like) voicing the other parts; it adds drama and movement to what is essentially a static medium.

Many other authors (all authors?) like the sound of their own voices, and of course they are inordinately proud of the words they have written. Watch them line up, given the chance! This format has legs, as the saying goes.

Finally, my thanks to Bob Carr for giving us such an entertaining and enlightening experience. The interplay of the mundane, the human detail of jetlag, lack of sleep, battles with diet and exercise, added somehow to the gravitas, the substance of the meetings with the great and the powerful. Shakespeare knew that humour and lighter exchanges needed to be interspersed amongst the high prose and poetical speeches; it is an art to know just how much to insert, to avoid the descent into farce that may result from overdoing it.

And Ellis, bravo!

Quiz Time (68)

Which three actors have lately played Alfred Hitchcock? Which actor of the past was the ideal casting, in shape, face and articulation?

Lines For Richard Marles (10)

Will the Minister say how he turned back the boats? How much money did he offer them, thus far, to go back to Indonesia? How many times did they come back for more money? How much did he give them?

In round figures.

Pyjamas, Porridge And Bursts Of Song: Carr’s, Clarke’s, Ellis’s and Biggins’s The Jet Lag Monologues

(by Paddy Manning, Crikey business editor)

The second State of Origin was a fitting night for a reading from Bob Carr, the former NSW premier and foreign minister, who freely admits he was born without a sporting gene. Obviously Carr had no idea what competition he was up against - only the most important rugby league game in world history. Carr joked sheepishly he “knew once I was told”.

It didn’t matter, because 70-odd listeners at inner-Sydney Gleebooks shared his disinterest in footy and were treated to a well-rehearsed performance (for that is what it was) of his Diary of A Foreign Minister.

An immaculately suited Carr (the tie was Bulgari, for the record), former Labor speechwriter Bob Ellis, comedian Jonathan Biggins and actor-director-composer Terry Clarke kept it lively, passing to each other with precision, reading sentences from the Diary by turn, occasionally breaking out in celebratory renditions of the old Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer number - “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate-the-Positive”.

Only Carr, who has the richest voice in Australian politics, didn’t sing. As he told Crikey at the interval: “I’ve get a lousy voice … a speaking voice does not translate into singing.”

Full of set moves, the performance had all the Diary’s hits: the organic steel-cut oats, the endless Normisons, the lack of pyjamas in business class.

Ellis injected his special weariness into every passage, especially relishing his role as Henry Kissinger - Carr’s avowed “favorite world-historical figure”. Biggins did a great Kevin Rudd - prim, prosaic, complete with hand gestures. No love there.

It was fun to hear the indignation in Carr’s voice as he bemoaned that after 10-and-a-half years running his own government, jousting with finance minister Penny Wong round the cabinet table, here he found himself “cast as a mendicant minister”.

A fan of the Diary, which has been trivialised too much, I felt moved to applaud my favourite passage, too long to republish here: the nostalgic moment when Carr recalls the 15-year-old kid from Matraville, walking to his first monthly Labor Party meeting, circa 1963, sitting on little chairs with the crusty old blue-collar workers at the Malabar South primary school:

“Today the jobs these men had in breweries, power plants, print works and factories have all been globalised out of existence, and the grand old party is wobbling on its feet. But that old party and those workers - all of them, I think, passed on - elevated me into public life to do things on their behalf: right now to represent our country in this imperial capital. And, as Mrs Loman said Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, ‘Attention must be paid’.”

And as the Diary records, Carr acquitted himself well in his 18 months as foreign minister. Getting us onto the United Nations Security Council. Deftly rebalancing our relationships with the United States and China. Rolling prime minister Julia Gillard to ensure Australia did not breach faith with the rest of the international community and vote against recognition of Palestine.

Which leaves my one gnawing criticism of the Diary: given Carr’s biting reflections on the state of the ALP, why is there almost nothing on the revelations of foul play that were pouring out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption during Carr’s term as foreign minister? There are is a passing reference to the stench from ICAC and this entry on February 6, 2013:

“The Obeid scandal being examined by ICAC is on the front pages everyday. I hate to use this cliche, but an existential crisis erodes the very notion of a Labor Party.”

That’s it. I wanted more. It was as though Carr did or does not appreciate the gravity of ICAC, the likely permanent damage to Labor’s standing in the community done by the infamous cohort of politicians he worked with for years at Macquarie Street, or the extent to which his own reputation would be tarnished by association.

In fact we know he doesn’t, because as Alex Mitchell has written, Carr told Fran Kelly he was “not remotely” worried that his entire premiership would be tarnished by the revelations about actions of Eddie Obeid, whom he’d helped into the ministry. “These things being examined in ICAC occurred in 2008,” Carr told Kelly. “I was gone as premier in 2005, and I expelled Mr Obeid from my cabinet in 2003. So these events speak for themselves.”

Carr told Crikey last night he had not been silent on ICAC - he gave a lengthy interview to Four Corners last year, for example - and said the Diary was not the place or time for more commentary.

“There’ll be more opportunities to do that when the other ICAC reports are out. Even when some of the prosecutions occur. I haven’t shied away from talking about it, but this is about my time as foreign minister, not reflecting on state politics.”

Carr says ICAC is a factor in the diminution of the party, but “so too is globalisation of the economy, the loss of that old working-class space. The branch I joined in Malabar is not diminished because of the ICAC revelations. It’s diminished because of the loss of industrial jobs in the Randwick/Botany zone.”

But like a member of the judiciary, I would have liked to see some contrition - shock, horror, or remorse - even just a page, somewhere in the book. It is impossible to believe the corrupt culture that enveloped Labor took root only after Carr quit state politics.

For the rest, Carr’s good health, humour, engagement and informed optimism are inspiring - too rare! - and vindicated by the solid takings at the gate last night. Sales, Carr reports, are going very well. Unhappily, I’d left my copy at home, so left without an autograph - game to watch - as the readings reconvened. Everyone else stayed.

Infectious Fun: Carr’s, Clarke’s, Ellis’s and Biggins’s The Jet Lag Monologues

(By Rivka Hartman)

Bob Ellis is a seasoned adaptor of entertaining readings which highlight the talents and personalities of great men including Shakespeare and John Gielgud. He has now created The Jet Lag Monologues, a clever and funny performance of Bob Carr’s book Diary of a Foreign Minister.

The show takes place upstairs at Gleebooks which is an appropriately cosy bohemian space and perfect for a winter evening. Sprinkled with lyrics from Sam Cooke’s ‘Accentuate the Positive’, which suits the text to perfection, it is sung with gusty brio by the lusty quartet of performers - Terry Clarke, Jonathan Biggins, Bob Carr and of course, Ellis himself.

With little rehearsal but tons of talent, Ellis and his fellow actors could turn a reading of the phone book into an enjoyable romp.

They are fabulous, because – not least of all – they are having fun. And that fun is infectious. Two glasses of complimentary wine go down well with the show, which has one interval and provides time to mingle and chat with the writers/performers, three of whom are scruffily dressed, while the fourth wears a billion dollar suit - no prizes for guessing.

Though the style and content of Diary of a Foreign Minister is self-congratulatory, pompous and affected to the point of being effete, it generally doesn’t takes itself too seriously. An intellectual and consumer of high art and culture, Bob Carr is an unusual politician. Admired by the great and namesdrop-worthy, the earnest young lad from Malabar has come a long way.

Buy a ticket and go – You’ll certainly get your two Bobs worth.

On The Gaoling Of Heroes

I am told an Australian can go to gaol for twenty years for volunteering to fight against Assad.

I thought the whole world regarded him as a bad guy, but it seems Australia thinks him a good guy, or a pass-muster guy who is not worth overthrowing, not really. Julie Bishop should clarify this, though it’s possible she does not have an opinion on it, or not know, precisely, what side she is on.

Twenty years is twice what most of us get for murdering a child. How can it be wrong to volunteer to fight a monster, who has killed a quarter of a million of his own people?

We are told that Abbott knows best. It’s all right to ‘oppose’ Assad, Abbott thinks, but not to do anything about it. Under these same rules, George Orwell would have got twenty years for fighting against Franco. The Communists were bad people to be fighting alongside, Abbott, a Francoist, would have said, and put the tubercular genius in Pentridge for twenty years for his ‘terrorist’ activities in Catalonia.

This had better be sorted soon. Morrison has lately sent back dozens, hundreds of Iraqis into mortal danger. If they fight on either side and, fleeing, try to come back here to join their relatives or merely escape with their lives they will be put in gaol, and all trade with the Middle East will be cut off and our economy will founder.

Is it a crime to try to topple a monster, one condemned by the United Nations, or not? Should those in our army who among the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ went after Saddam Hussein go to gaol for it, or not? How then can those who are now going after Assad?

I urge our Commander-in-Chief the Governor General to appoint Bob Carr as his Special Envoy to look into these pressing matters of war and peace. As head of the army, and a former general in it, he can do this. It is clear that Bishop is an idiot, and should keep her bib out of it.

There is no time,’I think, for delay. We are looking like buffoons in the Middle East since we claimed East Jerusalem, the booty of three wars is not ‘Occupied’, and will soon be unwelcome there in any capacity, and in unceasing danger of our lives.

In Seven Words

Some babies are more equal than others.

The Mothers Who Miss Out

(First published by Independent Australia)

Let us now list the women who won’t get PPL in the next five years.

Those giving birth today. Those already pregnant who will give birth this calendar year. Those not yet pregnant who will give birth next financial year.

Those who run with their husbands a small business, and pay company tax, and do not pay themselves a big wage. Those who married a farmer, and work round the clock, and are not paid a wage for it.

Those who work now in a factory, if that factory closes by Christmas. Those who work three days a week as a waitress, when the cafe closes in a country town whose manufacturing industries are going offshore.

Those who are usherettes in a small art cinema in a provincial city, now closing for want to customers. Those who worked as nannies, for couples now leaving town.

If they do not have a job in the fifth month of pregnancy, they get nothing. If they apply for a job in that month, they will not get it.

And the women, about six million of them, over forty-five, who have had their last child. And the women, over thirty-five, another million, who have by choice not had a third baby, or a fourth. They get nothing at all. Though they have borne three babies and raised them, they get nothing at all, retrospectively, for their trouble.

Some of these women are jealous of those Packer, Elliott, Rinehart or Turnbull women who will get fifty thousand for having a baby while on leave from a job their father gave them, or arranged for them. They will resent the new Orwellian rule that all babies are born equal, but some are more equal than others.

Once you add in ethnic women who have seven children and do not have an official job outside the family dwelling, this adds up to about twelve million women who will not get the PPL and will not like paying for a doctor’s visit they for thirty years weren’t charged for. Or losing sixteen hundred a year in schoolkids’ money Shorten gave them and Abbott is taking away.

Though these things are apparent to anyone who can add, they are not to Hockey, Andrews, Pyne or Abbott. They see this enrichment of the fertile wealthy and punishment of the infertile old, and the unemployed, and those who cannot, because of a resident mother-in-law, or a disabled uncle or autistic child, afford a third child, or a second, or, because of large rents, a first, in a town where Holden has been told to go away and Toyota has gone away too and all the adjacent component small businesses have gone bust. Hockey has called ‘entitlement’ the wages Shorten argued for a carer of a disabled son and got and Andrews has taken away.

The interlinking of these things, not apparent to Hockey, who is not intelligent, has caused a rage in five million women, and a despair in a million more, who will never vote Liberal again.

Which means this is a lame-duck government already. It will not get this Budget through, and Abbott, nailed to the mast of his PPL, which no National and few Liberals want, must resign, or should resign because of it soon. Or call a Double Dissolution, or the GG call one for him, on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition as Kerr did in 1975.

The average of all the polls this last week shows the Coalition losing thirty-six seats. These will include Barton, Petrie, Eden-Monaro, Dobell, Capricornia, Reid, O’Connor, Lyons, Solomon, Banks, Hindmarsh, Page, Braddon, Gilmore, Lindsay, Robertson, Deakin, Bonner, Coorangamite, Durack, La Trobe, Bass, Brisbane, Ford, Macquarie, Hasluck, Dunkley, Herbert, Mallee, Flynn, Swan, Dickson, Longman, Boothby, Casey and Cowan. How can they be therefore said to have a mandate for anything at all?

This is a terrible situation, and in many countries leads to an army coup.

This bunch of ratbags should spare us that, but it is possible some of them are talking about it.

They are awful people, and we should be done with them.

A petition with three million signatures demanding a Double Dissolution might help, or might not.

Speed the day.

The Princess And The Frogs: Amel’s, Dahan’s and Kidman’s Grace Of Monaco

I was surprised to find there was nothing wrong with Grace of Monaco, though it riskily mixes the genres of backroom-geopolitical, Hollywood-corruptible and Cinderella-romance-gone-wrong of the sort that from Darling to Diana has regularly pleasured what one might call the Women’s Weekly end of the electorate. It might not thus have been wise for it to open the Cannes Film Festival where something of the order of Lust/Caution or Farewell, My Concubine better suited the jostling buffs, but that is a separate, marketing mistake and nothing to do with the quality of the genial middlebrow work we are here discussing.

The story begins with Monaco besieged. De Gaulle wants to pay for his disastrous Algerian war with money which Monaco, a tax haven, can be bullied into giving him. He proposes that residents of Monaco, a French protectorate, now in fiscal difficulties, must be punishingly taxed and all their money go to him – and not, say, Monaco’s orphans, pensioners and rundown hospitals. Hitchcock, meanwhile, has asked Grace to play Marnie. Rainier (called ‘Ray’ throughout) has said yes, and the cool million she is to be paid by persistent Alfred will staunch some part of the faltering princedom’s depleted exchequer…More on Ellis Gold.

Clark Kent To The Rescue: Carr’s, Clarke’s, Ellis’s And Biggins’s The Jet Lag Monologues

(A review by David Holloway)

Innovation in live theatre is about as common as spontaneity in parliamentary oratory, so I’m pleased to report that The Jet Lag Monologues is an uncommon beast indeed. Sure, four blokes behind microphones reading excerpts from Bob Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister doesn’t scream ingenuity, but it was the fusion of fresh material, minimal rehearsal and four striking voices that make it eighty plus minutes of substantive entertainment.

The four performers (Bob Carr, Bob Ellis, Terry Clarke and Jonathan Biggins) manage to create a believable conglomeration of Carr’s narration in the book – no mean feat given Carr himself is one of the ensemble. Biggins’ Keating deserves its own show, the single sentence delivered in his voice providing one of the night’s most humorous moments. His Rudd impression was more than respectable as well – perhaps a Rudd / Keating one-man show should be in the offing? Clarke’s understated but emphatic delivery provided some welcome shade in parts, and Ellis’ Kissinger was very well received. Carr’s work achieved its expected qualities: sonorous and authoritative, with some wry humour injected at key junctures. If I were to find fault at all, it would be that some of the representations of Carr interlocutors from Indonesia, China, the US and Europe teetered on the edge of stereotype at times, but I believe they managed to avoid falling completely into that trap.

Bob Ellis’ curation of key passages into an engaging narrative deserves praise, something Carr himself was effusive with at the conclusion of the night. Diary of a Foreign Minister provides some wide-ranging material that could be difficult to wrangle, but Ellis has managed to create a coherent narrative that entertains throughout. The relationship with the United States, the dinners and Bohemian Grove retreat with Henry Kissinger, the showdown with Julia Gillard over Palestine and the finality of death are all interwoven effectively. It is also worth noting that the audience wasn’t uniform in its response to some of the perspectives presented, which in itself lends weight to the quality of the material’s presentation. There were intermittent mumblings I took to be disagreements with assertions made, and one passionate Gillard supporter made her feelings very clearly known after the show had concluded, shouting her displeasure at Carr’s decision to back Kevin Rudd in the 2013 leadership ballot. That aside, the level of engagement with the material was very high, and the standing ovation from half those present gave an indication to the majority’s appreciation.

The Jet Lag Monologues on its first outing should be deemed a success, and I’d be surprised if there aren’t encore performances. Its uniqueness is in its disinterest in everything but providing a respectable but humorously outfitted vehicle from which to view Bob Carr’s ride through what is likely the most memorable eighteen months of his life. If you enjoy political biography, humorous interplay between four experienced orators, less than stellar but effective singing in well judged moments and a healthy dose of literary and philosophical references, then start lobbying for a further staging.

Lines For Scott Morrison (9)

We will gaol anyone who fights against Assad. We will gaol anyone who fights for Assad. We will send back to Iraq anyone who escapes from Iraq, to be tortured, shot and crucified there by the cruellest bunch of murderous lunatics since the hordes of Genghis Khan.

For us, this is just another day at the office. This what we do. We send children, women, grandmothers, Shi-ites, Sunnis, Christians, Ba Hai back into a fiery furnace unlike anything since Ruanda. And we invite your congratulations for doing this, and thank you for them.

My name is Scott Morrison, I speak in tongues, and drowning’s not good enough for them, for any of these whingeing heathen bastards. Why don’t they go back to Iraq and take their medicine.

Quiz Time (67)

After the show last night Bob Carr nicknamed two of his former young advisers ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’. I told him of a game I used to play of how else one might cast those roles in the Stoppard play. Lennon and McCartney? Cleese and Idle? Cook and Moore? Newton and Kennedy? Jagger and Richards? Firth and Grant? Whitlam and Freudenberg? Keating and Kelty? Tony Abbott and Peter Costello? Hewson and Downer? Hansen and Reucassell? The Everley Brothers? Hope and Crosby? Newman and Redford? Woody Allen and Mel Brooks?

I invite further suggestions.

Another Opening, Another Show

The Jet Lag Monologues was acclaimed by a standing ovation and cries of ‘Author! Author!’ and Bob Carr stood blushing, abashed and very pleased. State Of Origin traffic jams got us all there late, and, unrehearsed, our climactic rendition of ‘The Internationale’ (which Biggins claimed he did not know and Clarke unhelpfully asserted was the same tune as the Nat King Cole standard ‘They Try To Tell Us We’re Too Young’) was tardy, muted and ragged and there were a few fluffs, but Biggins’ Gore Vidal, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Ed Koch, Walt Secord and (of course) Paul Keating, plus his Pavarotti rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and ‘Luck Be A Lady’ and my impressive hyperbasso Kissinger and Netanyahu did much to uplift an evening already immortal after Carr’s majestic lament for the Russian war dead and his Proustian farewell to the fibro working class of Maroubra, deceased or jobless now, from which he hopefully, thoughtfully, gamely sprang.

It seems we have lucked into a new theatrical form, the four-voice personal memoir with song, and I commend this already classic text to NIDA students and remote ALP apparatchiks who might perform it even without the star turn as a fundraiser quite successfully, I forebode, two hundred years from now.

We are sorting a second outing, in, hopefully, mid-July and one at a Writers’ Festival, and will keep you posted.

My curses on all who thought mere football a better alternative. To them I commend my remaindered Rugby novel The Season, co-written with Roy Masters, and the hell with them.

Lines For Richard Marles (9)

Will the Minister say how many Iraqis he sent back? Will he now, urgently, offer them all plane fares to Australia, with apologies for having so endangered them? Will he offer plane fares also to their families? Will he say why he will not?

In A Hundred Words

How many Iraqi children died violently after Saddam’s statue came down? I would put it at a hundred thousand. How many died violently during Saddam’s rule? I would put it at two hundred and fifty. How many Iraqi children were driven into exile, poverty and despair by Al-Maliki and the ‘coalition of the willing’? I would put it at two and a half million. How many died during childbirth, in ambulances stopped on broken bridges and electricity-deprived humidicribs in wrecked hospitals? I would say five thousand.

I ask Tony Abbott to apologise to the Iraqis for this massacre, serial abortion and persecution of their children, on behalf of his small, stiff, war-hungry hero, John Howard.

Today’s Newspoll

O’Shannessy’s latest continuing Newspoll fraud, now in its eighth month, shows Labor today on only 53 two party preferred. It does this by hiding Palmer’s vote and giving his preferences not to Labor, where they go now, but to the Coalition, where they went last year. This flags, probably, a 2PP Labor vote of 57 percent and a loss of fifty-five Coalition seats including Abbott’s.

In place of a headline noting this, the Liberal Party’s utter destruction, we have a headline saying ‘Electorate casts a pox on both houses’ and a trembling hint that Shorten is doing very badly indeed. ‘Leaders lagging in voter appeal’, a further headline says.

But Shorten is preferred Prime Minister by 40 to 37, and his satisfied/dissatisfied/uncommitted numbers are 34/45/21. Abbott is 3 percent behind as PM, a margin unknown in world history for a political leader only eight months in, and has satisfied/dissatisfied/uncommitted numbers of 30/61/9.

A score of 61 dissatisfied means he would lose his own seat for certain. But no such headline appears in a paper published by his dinner host of last week, Rupert Murdoch.

Today in Question Time he kept saying ‘no promises were broken’ and the PPL is ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ though some women get fifty thousand for a baby, some get twenty thousand and some get nothing at all. The faces behind him were quietly aghast.

He will not last. He is gone already and though it may take till September — now - to evict him, he has no future in politics.

Or in jogging round Manly where some women will curse him on the Esplanade or spit on him as he dodders past unwept, unhonoured and unsung.

Saddam: An Exchange




Zack, watch the first 10 minutes of this documentary produced by ISIS, the people that are currently rampaging through Iraq. I am confident you will change your mind.

[Warning: Extremely Violent and Graphic Footage.]


Great movie Frank… Who was the director?


Phill mate, the modern day terrorists are all film school graduates and extremely articulate in film history and techniques. Who knows, they may even read this blog.

People think I’ve posted the same old shit. Grainy footage of bombs blowing up stuff. The usual crap.

These ISIS terrorists are film literate graduates now brazenly and perversely filming their attacks.

Everything is subtitled and colour corrected and graded for the English viewer and is easy to understand.

It has a Hollywood look with audio and special effects and groovy Islamic contemporary music.

They are way ahead of the plodding camel-rooting sand nigger.

I watch these things to learn what these people believe in. The footage shown will haunt you for days.

You will never see this footage shown on SBS or ABC TV. YouTube will take this stuff down soon.


Indeed Frank… This is going to spread once all the debts in Iraq are squared off. All the Iraqi’s that collaborated with the Yanks are either thinking about leaving or have left Iraq already.

An enemy as ruthless as this are hard to beat.

Hence the success of the Germans WW2.

It makes you wonder what Obama is going to do next? He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If they don’t stop these gangsters in night dresses, for mine it will spread.

The numb nuts that gave the green light to the invasion of Iraq, should all be arrested and taken to the Hague.

There is a shit storm coming down the pike with this lot, that shouldn’t be that far away.

Colin O’Stomy

With Phil here.

Despite all the lies, most recently from Tony Blair again, it’s true that current events are a consequence of Western “missionary” interference, tending to raw, cynical greed from the Cheneyites.


Be careful what you wish for, Frank.

If and when graduates of the ISIS school of snuff-noir stumble over Bob’s blog in their hunt for infidels and they see this character called Frank cracking on about plodding camel-rooting sand niggers, nyuk nyuk, wink wink, bask in the light of my cutting egde wit … I’m sure working out where the Noosa retirement village is and where Mr and Mrs Frank’s unit is, is a small step.


I’m ready for ‘em Canguro. I’ve skinned a scrawny goat before.

Its amazing how quickly you get used to the sight of blood.

I feel sorry for the poor young boys in Iraq. 1700 slaughtered over the weekend if you believe what they tell you.

All in the name of Allah.

Bloody outrageous. Religion should be banned. Its bloody deadly in the hands of imbeciles.

I thank God I’m an infidel.


‘Religion should be banned.’

Great idea. Hassling and harrassing people over imaginary heavenly beings has long past its useful utility.

Any suggestions as to the practicals?

Last words from George.

Doug Quixote

Wish I knew. Persecuting the bastards doesn’t work, they take it as a challenge. Killing them doesn’t help, it only makes martyrs (unless you can get ‘em all).

Education works quite well; that is why they want to control the syllabus and prevent any education at all in extreme cases; except perhaps to read the holy books.

Though a small priestly class can read it to them; worked for the RCs in the middle ages, and for the Taliban lately.

Glow Worm

Thanks for the link to George, Canguro – one of the greats.

DQ – I’m not sure if the news report is true, but there is a movement by Muslims in the UK to have their own syllabus in schools in Birmingham, designed by ‘community elders’ and local Imams.

This is a catastrophe in the making.

doug quixote

It will be true all right. The fundamentalist Christians want just the same control over school syllabus.

It is why education must be compulsory, secular and free.

Worse, but every time the west interferes, it creates more insurgents and extremists. I bet there’s people who anti Saddam and happy to see the Americans, then flipped support when a bomb fell on their relatives.

Colin O’Stomy

Yep.. we have NO credibility and now that the West can no longer Impose imperialist or colonialist government over the region, it is reverting back to natural geographic, ethnic and cultural borders… Sunni tending to Sunni and Shia to Shia.


Hard to be worse than Saddam. But anyone trying to re-install theocratic totalitarianism can’t really be good and should be crushed before they get too far.


Blake are you going to crush them?

No, last I checked America had the largest armed forces humankind has ever seen, and passed legislation in 1998 to remove Saddam and didn’t until 2003. They (not we)are morally obligated to liberate mesopotamia from Saddam and his Saudi Allies who want the entire middle east to be one big caliphate. Isis are what’s left and need to go the way of Saddam.


What! They are not morally obligated to do anything.

They only went into Kuwait to protect the oil fields owned and operated by the the U.S. and Britain.

The Saudi’s want no such thing. Brother!


phill: For what it’s worth…Kate Adie was a very reputable reporter for the BBC in various theatres of war. In her memoirs she mentions how, during the 1st Gulf war, British soldiers were headquarted in a Saudi city. She says how annoyed the local Saudis were by this, and how their complaint was: “We’re paying you to fight our war. We shouldn’t have to put up with your presence as well.”

Whatever else Saddam might have been and done, he was the USA poster boy when using American military resources to fight a feckless war against Iran.

It’s perhaps more instructive to compare Saddam’s regime with other iniquitous dictatorships to which Americans have given aid and comfort: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlav, Thieu and Ky, Lon Nol, Pinochet. Most bizarre and infamous of all, was the fascist dictator, General Franco, whose military coup attained power only after Hitler’s spanking new hardware wreaked horrors upon Spain’s cities like Guernica. Aside from war deaths, Franco created concentration camps where at least 200,000 Republicans perished. None of this turned out to constitute the slightest obstacle for America when, less than a decade after WW II, the US Air Force was leasing bases in Spain.

As for the Iraqis’ grasping on to yet another golden opportunity to slaughter each other, this calls to mind Robert Bolt’s dialogue spoken by Peter O’Toole after his first encounter with Sherif Ali in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’:

“So long as Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people. Greedy, barbarous and cruel………”

Glow Worm June 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

A brief lesson in American politics (with a sideways salute to Gore Vidal)

First, create an enemy that does not have a face, and can morph into any shape, with any visage, at any time you like: let’s call it ‘The Commie’ for argument’s sake.

Second, any time you want to further the cause of Capitalism and enhance the wealth and wellbeing of your donor-cronies, invoke the first principle.

Third, embed the fear of ‘The Commie’ so deeply, that even many, many years later, when a perfectly decent piece of legislative reform – such as Universal Health Insurance – is proposed, all your audience can think of is ‘The Commie’ and the dreadful Socialist future that invokes.

Simple, really.

And Howard tried damn hard to do it with ‘Asylum Seekers’ aka ‘Boat People’. Good little learner, him.
Hemingway13 June 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm

You speak truly. Right now we’re spoiled for choice of Orwellian enemies:

Russia, Syria, No. Korea, Iran, Al Queda, Taliban, and this latest horde of Sunni “terrorists” in Iraq.

Armaments makers of the world rejoice! Evidently Australia is the largest single customer of America’s world-leading weapons industry.
Hemingway13 June 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Article about Australia’s being greatest weapon customer of America:

“Australia is now the seventh-largest importer of major arms in the world and the biggest customer of the largest weapons producer, the US.

Australia buys 10 per cent of all American weapons exports.
Figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)…….”

Glow Worm June 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Read it this morning with my morning cereal, H13, much to the dismay of my digestive system.
Hugh Weiss June 16, 2014 at 1:12 pm

No One should be surprised at events in Iraq & the rest of the Middle East today. Or what happened in the Balkans a decade ago. And across South East Asia & the Indian sub continent for so long.

The seeds of ongoing unrest were quite deliberately planted nearly a century ago when the British & French conspired to redraw the maps of Africa & Europe, to exploit internal ethnic, tribal & religious divisions as tool of oppression against any challenge to their now crumbled colonial empires.

Traditional & natural entities like Kurdistan ceased to exist. Split across the borders of Turkey, Syria & Iraq the Kurds have struggled against oppression ever since & ensured instability across the region, just as the the religious divide between Sunni, Shia, Shiite, Alawite, Christian, Maronite & any other ‘ite’ ensures eternal disunity everywhere.

The Americans are ‘Johnny come latelies’ at this game & have never really understood it. Time after time, they rush in for their own selfish reasons, always linked to money, insisting they can ‘bring democracy’ to an area of centuries of entrenched mistrust. Even when democratic election produces an overwhelming vote of confidence in the winner, the result will only prevail if it suits the Yanks. The Greek & Vietnamese elections in the 1950s were destined to elect a government that didn’t suit the yanks. So they prevented them going ahead. And the UN supervised Palestinian election which saw an Hammas government elected, was soon disowned, discredited & effectively overthrown by Israel & the masters of democracy.

Ah Hem, they think we are all too stupid to see the deviousness of their ways. One has to wonder though, how one supposedly educated, civilised society can so consistently get it so wrong.
Glow Worm June 16, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Masterfully expressed, Hugh.

At the core of it is the internal struggle in America between the forces of ‘Capitalism’ and the forces of ‘Democracy’ and those who believe the two are one and the same, and those who believe (a minority, alas) the two can find expression separately.

As today’s world abundantly shows, Capitalism can thrive perfectly well under Communism, but it’s a lesson that is lost on most Americans.
Hugh Weiss June 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

So true GW.
Capitalism exists within every political system.
Government is a tool by which a society is managed. Capitalism is about the accumulation of wealth by individuals. I would argue it can never be a basis for delivery of good government.
Glow Worm June 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

It strikes me as sinister that untruths become so deeply believed to be truths, in such a short time.

The above is one: that Capitalism and Democracy are indivisible.

Another is that National Debt or in current coarse-speak, a ‘Budget Blowout’ is a catastrophe of enormous proportions, equivalent to an invasion from outer space, or a global tsunami, or nuclear war.

These are preposterous beliefs yet the naked emperors and scoundrels of the world keep parading around in them, and there are not enough children left to point at them and laugh.
Geoff June 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hugh, they replaced slavery with wage-slavery and gave the people two outlets of fantasy; Hollywood and guns, and have kept them corralled with all the myths we are familiar with, America the brave, If you work hard enough you can make it too, government handouts are commie, etc. Guns can’t be seen as social issue any more; but a deeply rooted psychological one. A large section of the population doesn’t do drugs, it does guns instead, as compensation for the great big lie.
doug quixote June 16, 2014 at 11:20 am

All depends what you mean by ‘worse’ and ‘better’.

At the cost of hundreds of lives, Saddam kept Iraq together as one country, and despite the religious fundamentalists some progress was made towards modernising Iraq and improving the lives of its people.

What will this present lot do? One suspects many thousands will die before the country may settle down.

Is that worse, or better?
Anon June 16, 2014 at 11:41 am

Iraq, before we invaded it, and Afghanistan, before it was invaded by the USSR, were two of the more moderate, progressive Muslim nations. Yes I know they were not progressive compared to a hundred other countries, but they were making progress, slowly and painfully.

They have been bombed back into the stone age, as our allies promised.

Saudi Arabia, a great ally of the West, is one of the least progressive, most fundamentalist nations on earth. Hence its support of terrorism. Hence the carefully obscured fact that most of the 9/11 crew were Saudis. Hence the fact that Bin Laden was a Saudi.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia is a younger nation that Australia, brought into existence with the collaboration of the UK, and strengthened by oil deals with the USA.
doug quixote June 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

True about the Saudis. Ibn Saud’s story reads like something out of the middle ages, an adventurer storming out of the desert and founding a nation.

The subsequent history reads like just about every other robber baron history, and an unlikely one it was for the 20th century.

Of course, none of it would matter much if they weren’t sitting on a goodly fraction of the world’s oil reserves.
phill June 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

phill June 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

“Of course, none of it would matter much if they weren’t sitting on a goodly fraction of the world’s oil reserves.”

Yep, and all the other analysis is so much packing.
Anon June 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm

’30 Fascinating Photos Of 1960s Afghanistan’: note the girls attending school and the female teachers.

allthumbs June 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

Three missing Israeli teenage boys, suspected kidnapped, will be reason enough to halt again any possible Peace talks and stop Hamas and Fatah from building a meaningful coalition.

The Westbank will be a minor sideshow compared to Iraq.
doug quixote June 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Just about any excuse is used. One could be forgiven for thinking that Mossad sometimes manufacture a situation to derail peace talks. And if they don’t, then the Islamists do.
Hugh Weiss June 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Peace is not helpful while there are buckets of money in land development.
Hemingway13 June 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Salient commentary from Juan Cole on this matter of Saddam’s crimes:

“…….there was no genocide going on in Iraq in 2002, and the Bush-Blair invasion and occupation significantly increased mortality rates. The Saddam Hussein regime did kill people. But many of those died in the Iran-Iraq War, in which Reagan and Thatcher backed Iraq, the clear aggressor. To then use the casualties of that war as a basis for invading Iraq in 2003 is Orwellian.”

Ron Barnes June 16, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Saddam Hussein was an angel compared to what has happened to his country. He had problems yes, but he kept the dissenters in a position of control. Like in any country that have ethnic tensions end in violence that has shown its ugly head every in the middle east. They never found the aledged weapon’s of mass destruction and the liberal government of the time was selling wheat to him Via the Australian wheat board when the west had an embargo on him. Then their was the time he paid for medical help to an Australian girl to go to America for treatment. But like all leaders he had good points and bad ones Just like our Liberal National Government of the present time.
phill June 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

You can’t make this shit up you really can’t. Hussein was a homicidal maniac. A killer par excellence. He had no redeeming features what so ever nada, nothing, nil.

He kept his people under control by sheer terror and the threat of torture and death. Backed up by the west.

Should we have invaded his country ? No.

We are going to get a shit storm from this policy fuck up, that will eventually rear its head in every capital city in Australia.
Richelieu II June 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

Probably worse if they achieve power. The Shiites will probably fight back and hold the south and Kurds break off in the far north. Its quite hard to see Iraq staying together in the long term. Most likely it will break into separate nations like the former Yugoslavia in the 90s or Sudan recently. Unless there is some democratic flowering and economic revival in Iraq. Its amazing how restrained the Shiite populous have been in general considering they have been targets of horrific violence over the past 12 years. Its also amazing how Bush and Cheney got away with the fact that there was no WMD. The whole reason they stated that the invasion was needed and yet this barely passed with a whisper. A few news items, a few BBC reports and that’s it.
Richelieu II June 17, 2014 at 12:34 am

We continue to punish the young, to offload our problems onto future generations and to reduce opportunity by encouraging and enshrining a class-based nation, writes Ian Verrender.

A nation of egalitarians or a divided bunch of sectarians engaged in class warfare?

Treasurer Joe Hockey last week invoked the C word – class – as his stoic budget defence ground on into its second month.

The Treasurer appears genuinely dismayed by the extent and breadth of community opposition to his maiden financial statement. But his efforts to portray the hostility as a predictable response from political reactionaries was dealt a cruel blow by the Australian Financial Review.

Just hours before Hockey’s address to the Sydney Institute, Hamish Douglass, chief executive of financial services group Magellan in a lunch time address, urged the new Treasurer to rein in tax rorts for the rich so funds could be redirected to the poor.

The reports, carried in the same edition of the AFR, served to highlight the growing community unease over the Government’s ideological push.

But a new fissure has opened up in the political and economic landscape, defined not so much by wealth, but by generation.

The generational divide, for decades enshrined by governments of all political persuasions, has taken on new meaning.

Unemployed youth will be denied benefits for six months, under the proposed new “earn or learn” test. Those that choose higher education will be slugged far more than their forebears and will spend many years paying down education debts. And when it comes to buying property, only those from wealthy families – with the prospect of an inheritance – will ever be able to contemplate owning a home.

We appear to be in a state of regression, to a time prior to the 1970s when only those from privileged backgrounds could entertain the prospect of pursuing professional careers, when one’s background determined one’s future.

It is an odd stance for several reasons. First, the vast majority of those now driving the agenda for higher education fees and greater debt burden on the youth either paid absolutely nothing or a minimal amount for their undergraduate degrees, given fees were introduced only in 1989.

Regardless of their current political leanings, they happily embraced the Whitlam-era philosophy of free education. And not one has offered to repay the cost of that free education (with or without interest) to back their conviction.

Second, given the challenges facing the nation – an ageing population that will need to be supported by a smaller proportion of those of working age along with new technology that can instantly transport jobs around the globe – it should be a priority that we ensure the next generation is able to adapt and thrive in the modern world.

Official unemployment figures last week show a concerning rise in youth joblessness, with more than 18.5 per cent out of work. Even worse, the participation rate – those actively seeking work – dropped to 53.1 per cent. Had all those unemployed been looking, the numbers would have been far worse.

Alarming as those figures are, they need to be put into perspective. It is always difficult for those immediately out of school and with little experience to find work. In August 2008, youth unemployment dropped to 12.6 per cent with 58 per cent participation. So there has been a significant deterioration since then.

But 2008 was about as good as it has ever been. In the winter of 1983, youth unemployment rose above 24 per cent and hit 25 per cent in the winter of 1992.

Predictably, last week’s youth employment numbers sparked calls from business lobby groups for the abolition of Fair Work Australia and lower wages for younger workers, citing the deteriorating numbers in the past six years as evidence, while conveniently overlooking the longer term trends.

Perhaps the greatest failing from the recent budget was the Government’s failure to address our galloping real estate market, which has concentrated wealth within households that own property.
What the business lobby should focus on are methods to lift labour force skills, in an era where improved productivity will become increasing vital. That involves a greater investment in education, not cuts.

Another interesting study emerged from the soon-to-be-gutted Australian Bureau of Statistics this week on household debt, which highlighted the deteriorating plight of our youth.

With $1.85 trillion on tick, Australian households are among the world’s most indebted no matter how you measure it; in terms of income, assets and historically. The ABS numbers showed that 75 per cent of that debt related to real estate compared to 50 per cent back in 1990, indicating just how much property values have surged.

In addition, the breakdown also showed a jump in student loans. Average student loan debt per household jumped from $13,900 in 2003 to $17,200 in 2012.

That trend is likely to accelerate given the Federal Government’s proposal to allow universities to charge market rates, which, if the UK experience is anything to go by, is likely to see an overall rise in tertiary education costs.

On top of that, a change to the interest charges on higher education loans – from the inflation rate to the government bond rate – will substantially add to the interest burden placed upon the young.

Those choosing not pursue a higher education will find themselves without an income or safety net for six months. While there is no doubt that welfare fraud exists, the danger posed by these proposed new measures is that any savings from welfare payment reduction could well be outweighed by higher crime rates and associated social problems.

Perhaps the greatest failing from the recent budget was the Government’s failure to address our galloping real estate market, which has concentrated wealth within households that own property.

Australia’s property obsession was highlighted by recent analysis from investment bank UBS that estimated up to 95 per cent of current new lending by our major banks has been directed into residential real estate.

During the past 30 years, financial deregulation – which flooded the economy with cheap cash – and government policies designed to encourage property speculation – negative gearing, capital gains tax reductions and the exemption of the family home from all tax – have helped contribute to an explosion in property values.

Housing serves a social function, so it is not without value. But apart from supporting the construction industry, it is largely non-productive.

The International Monetary Fund last week announced increased surveillance of global property markets in a study that identified Belgium, Canada and Australia as the three developed countries where property was the least affordable.

Had the Government wound back some of the tax incentives driving Australian real estate markets in its budget, it could have narrowed the deficit and made housing more affordable.

Instead, it opted to strip welfare payments and tax benefits from lower and middle income earners. But the tax lurks on property remain, ensuring continued speculation, higher prices and a greater concentration of wealth to those who come from property owning families.

It also significantly adds to the cost of doing business. High residential property values require increased wages to pay rent or service loans. That also forces up the price of commercial real estate in major urban areas in a direct impost on business.

If the business lobby was serious about lowering costs, it should take aim, not at wages, but the root cause for Australia’s high cost base.

Instead, we continue to punish the young, to offload the problem onto future generations and to reduce opportunity by encouraging and enshrining a class-based nation.
Richelieu II June 17, 2014 at 12:36 am

Apologies Above is copy from ABC Site
Geoff June 17, 2014 at 7:43 am

The majority of the $1.85 billion on tick is a direct result of John fucking Howards tax cuts. He might have got rid of public debt but he grossly encouraged borrowing and spending to give us this private debt, most of it borrowed from overseas. WHEN are we going to wake up to what lousy economists the Libs are?
Zathras June 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

A century of Western interference in the Middle East has caused this. Overthrowing democratically elected governments and replacing them with despots to ensure the continual supply of cheap oil worked for a while but not for much longer.
Likewise, the rise of miltant Islam was the result of their/our meddling.

I suspect it will get much worse until it gets better and ISIS are just the latest incarnation of that struggle.

Funny how the term “too extreme for Al Qaeda” ha become a meme in itself without anything of substance to back it up.
I place it up there with Bin Laden’s hollowed-out mountain fortress, Saddam’s people shredder and WMDs for another media tool to soften us up for future adventures.
doug quixote June 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Hardly. The Muslims have been happily slaughtering each other for 1200 years or so, without any need for the West to help.
allthumbs June 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

The safest and sanest outcome for the West would be to let these eternally splintering groups to break down further into their constituent parts, (I’m imagining snowflakes and images of fractals).

The suffering of the innocent would be “upsetting” but it will keep the competing ideologies, tribes, sects busy, busy, busy and sap their energies and draw their attention away from “us”.

A Caliphate, really? They cannot unify a country, a city, a suburb, a street.

Think of the divisions with the Palestinian people, or the people of Lebanon.

I call it Aggressive Non-Intervention.

Lines For Tony Abbott (19)

When it comes to maternity leave, this government believes in equality for all. Equality for all. Some pregnant women get fifty thousand dollars. And some pregnant women get nothing at all. Get nothing. At all.

And if that’s not equality for every woman in this country, and every baby, I don’t know what is.

I don’t know what is.

Saddam, 2003

Thursday, December 18th

Saddam was captured on Saturday night and on Sunday night, after hours of suspense, displayed by Bremer (‘We got ‘im!’) in Iraq on videotape. He had a full curly brown-and-grey beard, big brown canine eyes and an old creased face, both godlike and doglike, that seemed in turn heroic and bewildered. His emergence like a hobbit from a hole in the ground beside a tiny, filthy adjacent cottage a few yards from the unmarked graves of his sons and grandson, and the pink, vulval parting of his hairy mouth when it was probed with what looked like a shoehorn, drew sympathy for him which was quickly turned round by the spinmen. He had not fought his captives to the death, it was said, nor even reached for his gun but came out saying in English, ‘I am Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq, can we negotiate?’ It was not the story first told, that his guards at gunpoint said, as the Americans told them to say, ‘Master! Quickly! The Americans are near! We must leave immediately!’, and he came scrambling out and was seized from behind… More on Ellis Gold.

In Nine Words

Is this mob worse than Saddam Hussein? Or better?

Joe And The Numeracy Gene

The increasing strangeness of Joe Hockey…

He’s now said — accurately, I’m sure — that each of us works a month each year to support another person, and it’s wrong we should do that.

But that person might be our mother-in-law. Or she might be our mother. Or she might be our disabled cousin. Or our daughter, qualifying for a music degree on a scholarship our taxes pay for. Or it might be our old demented dad in a state subsidised nursing home. It would be one of these, for sure.

And what is wrong with this? He thinks our relatives are undeserving, and his relatives, who get millions from his wife, are ‘entitled’.

Why is Joe so dumb? Some theorists believe anaesthetic brain damage during his stomach reduction, or during the fight, long ago, in which Tony Abbott broke his jaw. But others think he may simply lack the numeracy gene. Some do, it is a well-known medical fact, and he is showing the symptoms.
A numerate person would note as well, though Joe does not, that we work four months of the year to enrich our landlord; a fortnight each year to enrich, with Foxtel payments, newspaper subscriptions and tickets to Fox movies, Rupert Murdoch; ten days a year to pay the salaries of Liberal MPs we didn’t vote for. And he does not find this unfair. No: he calls this contributing to the good of our civilisation, as fair-go Australians do, and should.

But he seems, on the face of it, himself not to be a fair-go Australian. He is a dog-eat-dog eye-for-an-eye Middle Easterner, or so it would seem, and he does not understand the country he is in, the one where bushfire fighters risk their lives to save their neighbour’s property, and strangers donate their kidneys to people they have never met, as a nice woman did to Mark Colvin.

And, worse than that, he cannot even add.

He does not ‘get’ that refusing 150 million a year to the motor industry will cost him, in lost revenue after 2016, about two and a half billion a year; and, in unemployment benefits he must pay to half of the 250,000 workers in the car industry and in tributary industries he ruined by daring Holden to go away, a further one and a half billion a year. Which means no surplus before, oh, 2035, when I will be ninety-three.

Let me repeat that. To save himself 150 million a year, he has cost himself four billion a year.

And he doesn’t get any of that. He can’t add. He literally can’t add. He lacks the numeracy gene. He really does. And he should, along with Andrews — who thinks driving young people to suicide is good economics — be psychiatrically tested.

Perhaps the Senate could move he be sent away for those tests.

He is now whingeing about the Budget not getting through. He didn’t see this coming. He thought his unAustralian budget would be embraced by Australians. He’s as dumb as that.

He’s as dumb as that.

And it’s a pity.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (106)

I urge all who are tempted by the idea of partaking in history to come to Gleebooks on Wednesday at 6.30 pm and see The Jet Lag Monologues, a dramatised reading of the Bob Carr diaries, rich with mimickry and song. It stars Jonathan Biggins, Bob Carr, Terry Clarke and me. The songs include Luck Be A Lady, Accentuate The Positive and The Internationale and will be assisted by Biggins’ banjo and the pleasing bathtub baritones of Ellis, Carr and Clarke. About 95 minutes in all, with a twenty minute interval for adequate claret and Labor backroom gossip.

Though unusual in the modern context, it has precedents in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show where the Battle of Little Big Horn was re-fought by its victor Sitting Bull and Robert Ford’s applauded stage reinactment of his murder of Jesse James, and, as a form of entertainment (past battles hymned in feasting halls by scarred and seasoned warriors) to the all-night orations of the blind performance-poet Homer (who Robert Graves swore was a woman) and his mead-fuelled peers and successors.

You pay 22 dollars, get two free reds and a chance to chat with four immortals afterwards, while we sign our books and hum refrains.

Lines For Chris Bowen (15)

The First Halliburton War: Mission Accomplished

If they win, they will blow up every Shi-ite sacred site in Iraq and crucify Al-Maliki under the re-erected statue of Saddam Hussein, and these are the latest progeny of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Bush, bringing a second Shock and Awe to the cradle of civilisation, pulverising Baghdad now, as the Coalition of the Willing once hammered Fallujah, burned the great Library and levelled Babylon.

Iraq 2, old friend, was the last of the Missionary Wars. There will never again be a grand alliance of thirty-two Christian countries firebombing Muslim children and women in the name of Infinite Justice or Desert Storm. This was the last Crusade; and with it Cheney-Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld ended imperial America, just as the bicyclists who took Singapore ended imperial Great Britain. There is no clambering back to eminence, influence, authority now. What John Foster Dulles began with the overthrow of Mossadeq and the restoration of the Shah has been consummated, lately — mission accomplished — by a barmy army of heinous marauders as unforgiving as Ghengis Khan, and so it goes.

It would have helped, old friend, if the US had admitted, even to itself, that it had lost all the big wars it has fought since Patton reached the Elbe and Paul Tibbets bombed Hiroshima. Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq successfully repelled or outlasted the American invader, Pakistan, Russia, Gaza, Egypt, Iran, Syria sneered at its brobdingnangian fumblings, and the Third World withered, starved and grew jihadist under its greed and stupidity.

This failure to admit wrongdoing, classic symptom of the psychopath, shows everywhere in the ‘free world’ this rancorous Rambo mythology, we never really lost, next time round we get to win, this was only a dress rehearsal.

And today we are seeing its ultimate consequences. It is worthwhile noting that under Saddam you could drink wine, doff the hijab, enjoy the best free health care in the Middle East, get a pensioned job in the bureaucracy, see Shaw and Stoppard plays and, if you were a woman, go to university. He ran a secular government and his Vice President was a Christian. And this is what we have put in his place, after shooting three of his lawyers, and hanging, torturing, machine gunning and once inadvertently decapitating twenty-five of his family members.

What a slaughterous clanger that was, what a serial-killing fuckup, urged on by Howard, Blair and Bush after forged intelligence of WMD was headlined across the world and thirty-two Christian nations invaded a secular Muslim one and bombed and exiled four million capable people for a reason that has not yet been stated.

What a shameful, mass-murderous debacle. What a needless, thick-witted obliteration of a promising society. What a waste.

Or perhaps you disagree.

Quiz Time (65)

Why did Garbo not make, as her last film, Out Of Africa? What was her last film?

Baghdad, 2003

Friday, 11th April

I wake with the usual symptoms and go downstairs. I let the dogs out and stand in the dark looking north at the lighthouse and, beside it, the lights of Ettalong beyond the water and the dark shape of the island. The dogs return panting and I shut the verandah gate. The television is still blazing and I take my cold pills and settle down once more to watch the excitement.

It won’t be long now, the ‘embeds’ are saying. There are tanks in the Baghdad streets and the hitherto dauntless Minister for Information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, or ‘Baghdad Bob’, nowhere to be seen. Saddam’s statue has been dragged down and kicked. It won’t be long now, they say. I watch for an hour and then, upstairs at my sloping desk, write in longhand my column for HQ. It takes till dawn.

Night after night the children weep and wet the bed and wake screaming from nightmares because of the bombing. They do not sleep much any more. They ask their equally sleepless parents when it will end. They are told that the last war, which killed two of their uncles in the desert, lasted six weeks. They do not go to school any more and the schoolbooks they brought home are meaningless in the roaring, thudding, murderous night….More on Ellis Gold.

Malvolio’s Revenge

Kevin Andrews’ new rule that you must apply for forty jobs a month in order to not get the dole — begging, I guess, for the twenty bus fares, nine to other towns — has about seven levels of cruelty to it that show his madness in particular ways.

One is making you reimagine yourself in fifteen or twenty new unpleasant identities. A shelf-packer? A toilet-cleaner? A round-the-clock manager of a senile, incontinent man? A perfume counter attendant? A dog walker? Abandon all hope of a rock band with school friends. You are less than that. You are scum.

One is forcing you to sleep on the couch of a friend, and borrow money from him/her to go to the interviews, and dry-clean the clothes you wear to them. This, as Polonius warns, will end a friendship very quickly. And then a second friendship.

The next is breaking you up, or moving you in, with your girlfriend or boyfriend prematurely. If they have a job, will they keep you? Can they afford to? Is their place big enough to lodge the both of you?What will you do at night?

The next is forcing you to leave girlfriend/boyfriend — and, indeed, your parents, and your schoolfriends — when you are made to Work For The Dole in a faraway town. How will you cope with that? Will it make you depressed?

The next is the loss of your self-esteem when, even for a lousy job, you aren’t called back, you aren’t considered. Will that make you depressed? Will that make you suicidal? Don’t worry, don’t worry, there’s two hundred and fifty applications you have to make, some of them hundreds of miles away. In return for getting no money at all.

The next is the temptation to criminality. You need to eat. How do you pay for food? Do you steal from the supermarket? Surely it would be better to begin to put on a leather miniskirt, and charge passing truckdrivers for unprotected sex.

The last, of course, is the anxiety it puts others through. Your parents. Your brother in Germany. Your best friend from school. They can see you suiciding. And they can’t, actually, usually, help you. And it’s a pity.

It is hard to see the upside of all this. A girl who is suddenly unemployed and pregnant may abort, and that is not always a good thing. If she has a child already, she may have to give him up to a relative, if she has one. If she has a history of mental fragility, she may attempt suicide.

Andrews will not have thought of any of this. To him there are just ‘dole bludgers’ too slack and lazy to deserve the dole. So what if there aren’t any jobs out there? They have to make forty applications anyway. Perhaps you should go to PNG, as a security guard, and, beat up refugees. That requires no qualifications. Or you could join the army, in the hope of another Iraq war, due any day now, and make a man of yourself.

This is the government that promised ‘no surprises’, and looking after the next generation, not burdening them with our debt.

And this is Kevin Andrews, a sado-Thatcherist lunatic.

He should be taken away for psychiatric investigation.

And then made to live for six months without money, applying for jobs.

And see how many he qualifies for.

Sydney Film Festival, (7)


A well-heeled fiftyish homosexual, Daniel, approaches a teenage boy in a railway station. The boy, with a seductive, evasive look, says his name is Marek, and he will come to his flat at six tomorrow. At the appointed hour, there is a knock at the door. It is Marek, another Marek, who may be twelve, threatening to scream.

Quickly the flat fills with other young people, in their early twenties, all illegal arrivals from Eastern Europe. They loot the flat of paintings, sculptures, furnishings, a TV set, and dance around Daniel to thumping music, and he, surrendering, joins in the dance. Eventually he sees Marek, the real Marek, among them.

The next night, Marek returns to the emptied flat, and a sexual relationship begins. It is paid for, at a reasonable rate. At first it is merely transactional. Then something begins. Marek has obligations to the gang he hangs with, the looters, one of whom is a girl with a baby. We see something of how such displaced, ‘illegal’ young people live, playing power games with one another, paying their way by begging, whoring, mugging and theft.

This is a fine film, with elements of Lolita, Of Human Bondage and The Blue Angel about it, and Joyce Carol Oates’s recent masterpiece A Fair Maiden. None dare call it love, but maybe we should. It is not certain the young man is particularly homosexual, just adaptive. He says his parents were killed in Chechnya. He may be lying. The performance, by Kirill Emelyanov, is remarkable, a bit like Anthony Perkins when young, or Noah Taylor.

Eastern Boys, written and directed by Robin Camillo, it presents, flat on, without moral altercation, what happens in many lives, in a world where the tribes are moving and no-one is sure where he will be sleeping next week, or if he will have his head bashed in before he wakes, or if warmly protested love is love indeed, or merely a tricky prelude to burglary and murder. Very disturbing, and very fine.


Home-cooked meals go by bicycle, truck, and swift-footed messenger across Bombay to preselected lunching office workers, five million of them, every day. One occasionally goes astray.

In The Lunchbox the unintended recipient is Saajan, a grim proud silent widower, who, liking the food, sends back in the daily commuting tin containers handwritten responses — ‘Very good’; ‘Too much salt’ — which alert the cook, Ila, a young neglected wife whose husband is having an affair, to his thankful existence, and a correspondence begins between them, though they do not know each other, nor do they strive to meet.

They tell each other secret things. They half-agree to run away together to Bhutan, where, on his retirement savings and her progressively pawned family jewels, they could live many years, achieving that country’s Quotient of Happiness. They agree to meet. And then…

Harrying this tender epistolatory romance is Bhojan, an eager young intrusive man about to succeed to Saajan’s job, a jumped-up, pushy, oversmiling orphan we eventually come to understand and forgive. Having no family, he asks Saajan to be his Best Man…and then…

No summary can adequately describe the calm stoic loveliness of this film, which is like Umberto D, The Overcoat, Brief Encounter, The Lady With The Little Dog, Venus, Love, Actually and 84 Charing Cross Road, both perfectly Indian and absolutely universal. A wonderful inward, soursweet, rancorous, yearning performance by Irrfan Khan, as good as Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr Chips, and, as Bhojan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as intense as the early Kirk Douglas, and, as Ila, Nimrat Kaur, a perfectly ordinary young mother and wife and excellent cook who deserves better out of life — and so do we all — enlarge and illumine Ritesh Batra’s immeasurably sweet and accomplished film, which will be by now I would think on the Best Ten list of a billion Indians; and deservedly so. It has the humanistic profundity and good humour of Dickens, Melville, Gogol, Winton. And it should be seen.

Quiz Time (64)

Which conspiracy theories were wrong? Name twenty.

Which conspiracy theories were right? Name forty.

Or I will.

Sydney Film Festival, (6)


Locke will be the audience favourite, I predict, and hailed for its conceptual originality. A one-man film set in a moving car, with altering lights on his face as he makes and answers phone calls, and his professional life, and then his personal life, disintegrates, reconfigures, disintegrates again, and clambers back up again, it resembles closely a radio play of 1941 that became a film, Sorry, Wrong Number, in which Miriam Hopkins made frantic phone calls before a murderer arrived and, after killing her, said ‘Sorry, wrong number’, to the finally alarmed person on the other end. Other one-man plays with phones like this one are about a hundred and twenty in number, not least my and Rob McLaughlin’s A Local Man, about Chifley’s last night in Bathurst, sorting things and dictating a memoir to a wire recorder.

So it isn’t the creative originality that so engrosses us, it’s the script, which is very, very good, and the offstage voices (Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Tom Holland) and the absorbing narrative, and Tom Hardy’s performance as Ivan Locke, a pernickety, guilt-struck, horny Welsh engineer, with a puritanical need to do the right thing, if he can, by all concerned.

A forty-three-year-old woman he shagged just once, is having, prematurely, his baby in London, and he is driving there from Birmingham to be with her during a difficult delivery. To do this, he is abandoning a big concrete pour the following dawn, which involves many truckloads of liquid cement coming in from different suppliers, which must arrive at the right time, and disgorge their contents on schedule. He asks his number two, who is unfortunately drunk, to supervise, and things are going wrong, and he is threatened down the phone by his wakeful superiors, some in Chicago, and trying to cope when some of the cement timetable gets messy after midnight. The drunk must go out and hire illegal Poles from construction sites, to replace the drivers that have abruptly resigned, and he would rather stay inside, keep warm, and drink cider.

Ivan moreover tells his wife what’s happening. He was going to tell her later but the baby is premature. She is shocked and outraged, hysterical and mortified, and wants to divorce him, and his son, who hoped he would be watching the soccer final with him, is dismayed he won’t be there, and surprised and concerned that his mum has locked herself in the lavatory. The birth meanwhile has gone awry, the cord might strangle the baby, a caesarian is needed, and she won’t have it unless he’s there beside her.

And he’s driving as fast as he can.

Tom Hardy’s disciplined calm through all this, interleaved with his winces, unspoken curses and an occasional cry of ‘fuck, fuck’, and the many changing contours, under altering lights, of his round Celtic face add up to a near immortal performance, like De Niro in Taxi Driver or Spacey in House of Cards. A festival smash hit already, this fine calm thriling film, script and direction by Steven Knight, shot in only eight days, and superbly edited and mixed, will make hundreds of millions and win some Oscars, one for certain for Best Sound.