30 Apr. 2007

Retrospective is Bad, Retroactive is Good

"What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?"
- George Orwell, 1984
Remember the Howard government saying that they could not let David Hicks back into Australia because that would require retrospective legislation to make whatever he was doing in Afghanistan illegal?

Well, apparently it's OK to introduce "retroactive" legislation to stop Hicks profiting from his story.

By the same logic, looking back at our reasons for going to war in Iraq (speculative) is bad, but talking about how we got rid of that evil despot Saddam (active) is good. Got it?

Gosh, it's terribly hard keeping up with the latest thought crimes, isn't it?

Tiger Woods versus Michael Jordan

Obviously this is nothing whatsoever to do with politics but every now and then you gotta stop and smell the roses, right? Especially when the turkeys are getting you down.
World number one Woods and fellow American Jordan, good friends for several years, have been paired in the same threesome for Wednesday's pro-am at Quail Hollow Club...

Dan Fleishman, director of sponsorships and alliances for Wachovia, added: "Michael and Tiger are good friends and have played a lot of personal golf together. We are grateful they agreed to compete in the pro-am together this year."

Jordan has made a habit of watching Woods compete in golf's biggest events, such as the four majors and the biennial Ryder Cup team competition.

He has also acted as a mentor to Woods since the golfer turned professional in late 1996, advising him on how to handle all the pressures of being a high-profile celebrity.

Woods, out of PGA Tour action since tying for second at the Masters three weeks ago, heads a strong field at Quail Hollow that includes 28 players in the world's top 30.
OTOH it occurs to me that the only way I will probably be able to watch this is on Rupert Murdoch's FOX Sports! D'oh!

But seriously, I am fascinated to think what Michael Jordan might say to Tiger Woods about psychology. When Jordan shot for the ring, he never even began to think about missing - it was always going in, every time, whatever the odds. And he kept banging the shots in, year after year, game after game, relentlessly.

Woods, OTOH, raced to prominence at an early age then seemed to stall, as if he felt forced to doubt his own ability. His seems to be regaining the edge, and the hunger.

Consider this: every time they play together, Jordan is watching Tiger whip his ass. And he's thinking quietly to himself: "One day I'm a-gonna get you, muthafucka."

Nothing whatsoever to do with Rudd and Howard, of course.

Take Control Of Your Miserable Little Life

But be sure to follow the proscribed method.

We Are Ruled By Unrepresentative, Immoral Swine

Just take a look at today's top stories around the globe:

1. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert - with only 3% support - refuses to step down despite a report blaming him for "severe failure" in his handling of the war in Lebanon.

2. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz - with only the support of President Bush and a handful of African countries - refuses to step down despite damning allegations of corruption and repeated calls for his resignation from around the globe.

3. US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - with only President Bush supporting him - refuses to step down despite evidence that he manipulated his department for partisan political purposes and then lied about it under oath.

4. President Bush - with only 30% support - insists that he will veto the Democrats "War Bill" despite the fact that most US citizens want their troops out of Iraq, most Iraqis want US troops out of Iraq, and even those who support the war are not able to articulate an exit strategy, or a plan for victory.

5. Tony Blair - with only 22% popularity - finally prepares to step down next week, or late June, or early July, or...

6. Australian PM John Howard - clawing his way back up into the low 40's in the polls - insists that nuclear energy is the solution to Australia's energy and environment needs (despite widespread public opposition), insists that we must stay in Iraq to save George Bush from embarrassment (despite widespread public opposition and a concession from his own Defence minister that the war cannot be won), insists that his IR platform is best for the country (despite widespread public opposition) and refuses to discuss handing over his leadership (despite a looming landslide defeat).

Then you have people like George Tenet, who insists that his "slam dunk" comment was taken out of context and falsely applied to Saddam's WMDs (even though he admits he used the term to describe the wider case for invading Iraq), or Condoleeza Rice (labelled the most ineffective Secretary of State in US history) who insists that Bush did not want war with Iraq, despite numerous quotes from Bush himself proving that he did.

You have to wonder what people living outside the broad, benevolent umbrella of Western "democracy" make of such stories, don't you?

The common thread linking all the people above is war, and the blatant lies that they used to justify their immoral invasions of other countries. The Iraq warmongers have foisted the greatest lie, the greatest fraud, that the world has ever seen, and they are locked into their web of lies now, desperate to keep the curtains closed on their high crimes and misdemeanors. They all sound ridiculous, of course, but they know they have too much to lose if they take even one small step backwards. And so they cling to power, even by their fingertips, snarling and spitting venom at anyone who dares challenge their monstrous logic.

If our Western societies are ever to regain the prestige and honour they once enjoyed, we must hold all these criminals to account and show the world - and ourselves - that we remain committed to the rule of law, to international ideals of peace and justice, and to basic, common, everyday standards of decency.

UPDATE: Just in from SMH:
Two Israelis in three think their prime minister should quit after a damning inquiry found he rushed into an ill-judged war in Lebanon last year.

But Ehud Olmert, as widely predicted, is toughing it out, accepting responsibility for "many mistakes" that left over 1,300 people dead in 34 days of fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas but insisting he is the best man to put them right.

A survivor of decades at the heart of Israel's combative politics, he declared himself "indestructible" last month.
And from IHT, is Wolfie looking for an exit?
Paul Wolfowitz defended himself vigorously on Monday, declaring that it would be "unjust and frankly hypocritical" for the World Bank's board to find him guilty of ethical lapses. But he also hinted that he would discuss whether to resign as bank president if the board cleared him of misconduct.

29 Apr. 2007

Will Aussie Businessmen Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Is?

Wouldn't it be interesting if Australian-based Big Business started actively campaigning against Labor, instead of doing it through their media and other industry surrogates?
A leading business group says employers are considering an advertising campaign to fight Labor's industrial relations policy.
Bring it on, dudes! Right-wingers decry the Union movement's support of Labour, but at least the unions are honest and open about it.

Big Business in Australian has long funded the Liberal coalition through lobbyists and other backroom deals, and most people are completely in the dark about how major decisions in our so-called "democracy" are really made.

Rupert Murdoch has set an example. Who else will follow?

I suspect the dawning reality of a Labour landslide at the next election will encourage most to keep their mouths shut, and their money in their pocket.

Man Of Lettuce, Man Of Steel, Or Man Of Straw?

So here I was thinking that Adrian Whatsisface's Man of Lettuce blog is not a bad little read for someone who wants to occasionally take his mind off the eternal misery of modern politics. Adrian's short daily snippets from a cabbie's life on the road in Sydney are generally very readable, and remind me of the days long ago when I held a Sydney cab licence myself.

But then Anzac Day came around. Suddenly, Adrian and I discovered we had a few... differences of opinion. Fair enough, I thought, he's not the only one in Australia who revels in the Howard tradition of glorified war. But there was something odd about the way he handled my comments. First I was attacked as a "troll" and an "idiot", then ignored, then accused of hijacking the thread. Then came this:
Your views are to be ignored and not taken seriously. I imagine others will take the same position.
There was a deliberate atmosphere of ignorance and intolerance here, all too familiar to anyone who has waded through the cesspool of the wingnut blogosphere. I decided to take a closer look at Adrian's blog.

Surprise, surprise! Who do I find on the Blogroll but his mate Omar Fadhil:
I was embarassed I haven't visited [Omar] for some time. And it's easy to forget from a distance the struggle still goes on for his people. However via the medium of blogging there is plenty of news coming from Iraq, giving an accurate picture of the people's mindset.
Well, ITM does provide an "accurate picture" of some people's mindset, I suppose! Adrian even celebrated the Fadhil's White House meeting with Bush.

Then of course there were the obligatory references to the wingnut's now-expired Good News Man, Arthur Chrenkoff. Check out this 2005 post called Go Democracy! in which Adrian (citing Chrenkoff as a credible news source), tells The Anonymous Lefty "how silly he sounds" for questioning how much progress is being made on women's rights in Iraq:
Your churlish comment in the face of genuine Iraqi hope smacks of the same nastiness motivating the deafening silence from so-called progressive womens rights activists.
Yeah, those Iraqi women are positively revelling in their newfound freedoms these days, Adrian.

Or check out this post (now citing Tim Blair as an authority) in which Adrian suggests that anyone not sorrowfully mourning the death of US war hero Pat Tillman is an "heroic moron". From the comments:
Fuck you rene gonzalez! People like Patrick Tilman are the reason this country is so great. So great in fact that it even allows disgusting people like you to go to our schools, and for the people in your shit hole village in puerto rico their the reason why your country is still a shit hole begging for scraps from this great country. Made great by people like Pat Tilman. Go to hell BITCH
Lovely stuff, isn't it? And all too typical of the wingnut world in which Adrian chooses to reside, I'm afraid.

I am always amazed at how much anger is directed towards anyone who strongly advances a pacifist viewpoint. But I am even more amazed at what a small, closetted, fantasy-fuelled world these wingnuts live in, and how desperately they seek to block out any dissenting voices of reality.

After an amazingly coincidental meeting with a lovely, anonymous little man from Kuwait, Adrian today tells us he is going to join the Australian Army Reserves. Personally, I cannot help wondering if he is not already working for the government. In any case, he seems determined to keep the doors of perception shut tight. Hopefully his commitment to the ADF will leave his with less time for blogging, but I doubt it.

The Sydney Morning Herald rated Adrian's blog one of Australia's ten best blogs around this time last year. I would think a further review of that status is overdue.

28 Apr. 2007

Aussie Soldiers Are Wimps And Sissy-Girls

Well, they must be, right? I mean, why else would they be topping themselves?
The federal government acknowledges two soldiers killed themselves after returning from the Middle East, but veterans activists say there have been as many as five, The Sun-Herald reports.

Fearing there will be more soldier suicides, families, war veterans and MPs are demanding an independent inquiry after the suicides believed to have been caused by post-traumatic stress.

To date 121 soldiers returned from the Middle East have been discharged for mental illness, the newspaper reports.

About two dozen of them have serious psychological problems.
And 'ere I was thinkin' them Diggers was well 'ard.

It's pretty obvious by now that the long-term Bush-Howard strategy in Iraq is to keep killing civilians until everyone but a small handful of insurgents is terrified into submission. And then to hunt down that small handful of "tail-enders" and destroy them, killing as many more civilians as necessary in the process.

You end up with a police state not unlike Saddam's, of course, but at least we will have guaranteed stability in the region(*). Oh, yes: and we will control the oil, of course.

Any Aussie soldiers who cannot support such a strategy should not be in the service. We are facing a ruthless enemy and we need to be even more ruthless and blood-thirsty if we are ever going to "win". These terrrrsts sew dogs' heads onto the corpses of their victims, don't you know. We're obviously going to have to ratchet it up a few notches beyond that.

So toughen up, you whinging bastards, or piss off.

(* we may need to subdue a few other countries too)

26 Apr. 2007

Was Young Kev Rudd Buggered By A Priest

Well, this article certainly insinuates it:
Never a rugby type, Rudd studied piano and, as the Ashgrove Blue and Gold yearbook of 1970 records, acted in the year 8 production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, "which literally raised a laugh a minute"...

The way Ashgrove old boys from the early '70s tell it, the place was fairly typical of Catholic boys' boarding schools of that era. Every student had to play rugby, regardless of his talent or inclination, chapel was at 6am each day, canings were a daily occurrence, and some of the Brothers had a dubious affection for their young charges. Former students can still remember the brother who would always volunteer for shower duty.
Which determined Aussie journo will chase down this important story? Miranda Devine? Gerard Henderson?

And of course, in the interest of fair and balanced journalism, somebody should also ask Howard the same important question: has anyone ever given it to him up the Khyber Passage? I mean, besides George W. Bush, obviously.

Hey, Tim Dunlop! Did You Exchange...?

A walk-on part in a war

For a lead role in a cage?

Tim Dunlop Slams Murdoch - NOT!

Still no sign of that post...

25 Apr. 2007

Bolfobitz The Banker

The latest disgraceful developments from the New York Times.

Lettuce, Mayonaisse, Beer And Blood

I have been meaning to write a post introducing a lovely little Aussie blog called Man of Lettuce, but I didn't expect to be doing it with this link (ckeck the comments).

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has been accused of covering up civilian deaths. Well, they would, wouldn't they? It's only soldiers' deaths that matter, apparently.

UPDATE: Never mind. Turns out that Adrian, the taxi-driving author of that blog, is just another intolerant fool. A pity, since he writes rather well. Why is it that even mildly successful bloggers get so damned territorial and ... well, ... Fascist?

Rupert Spews Bile: Where Is Tim Dunlop?

Still no sign of that anti-Murdoch post following Murdoch's disgraceful speech in support of Bush (see below), in which he berated the media for questioning King George's righteous path, and questioned the "alleged" science of global warming into the bargain. (And now his US flagship paper is further disgracing itself).

Remember, when Tim moved to News Ltd he defended his decision on the grounds that he could be more effective working inside the tent than out (or words to that effect).

So where is that post, Tim?

Taking bets: will Dunlop attack Murdoch, or me?

Rupert Murdoch Finally Puts His Mouth Where His Money Is

The Hollywood Reporter broke this story around lunchtime on Anzac Day:
Rupert Murdoch wore his politics on his sleeve Tuesday, telling a large audience of business leaders that the press is routinely unfair to George W. Bush and that the president doesn't seem capable of defending himself.

"I'm a supporter of President Bush, but I do believe he's a bad -- or inadequate -- communicator," Murdoch told attendees at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.

The News Corp. chairman and CEO said that, personally, Bush is "persuasive, strong and articulate" but that "he seems to freeze whenever a television camera appears."

Motioning to Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch said, "Apart from your newspaper and mine, there's a sort of monolithic attack on him every day of the year."
Mind you, Murdoch's New York Post has been running at an estimated loss of $70 million a year. Murdoch's been forced to double the cover price to 50 cents, but you can still get a year's subscription for just $13 – or about 5 cents a day. So maybe he should get the message.

And the Wall Street Journal thinks bloggers like Arthur Chrenkoff and the Fadhil brothers are reputable sources of information. 'Nuff said.
"The atmosphere is absolutely toxic," Murdoch said of the partisanship of U.S. politics and much of the media. "You can't really expect anything to be achieved in the next 18 months, and it's a very serious, sad problem for this country."

Murdoch also lamented a U.S. populace that can't agree on how serious a threat militant Islam is, and he suggested skepticism about the danger of man-made global warning.

The environment is a long-running theme at the Milken event, now in its 10th year. In the past, former Vice President Al Gore has promoted his message about the perils of global warming, and this year Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., did likewise.

But Murdoch said that "alleged climate changes" and other problems are far more manageable than is the threat of Islamic terror, which will worsen significantly if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

"It's a tragedy that we're not more united" in the war on terror, Murdoch said.
The question I'm asking myself about this stage in the article is this: Does Murdoch support Bush, or does Bush support Murdoch? Tellingly, David Rubenstein, managing director of the Carlyle Group, was on stage with Murdoch as he spoke. Who do you think picked the idiot from Texas for Prez anyway?

The LA Times has some good background on the event where Murdoch was speaking:
Think the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, without the skiing and antiglobalization protesters and with better shopping.
You have to wonder what other participants like Al Gore and Ted Turner made of Murdoch's remarks.

Interestingly, the News Corp staff in Oz seem to be playing this story with a straight bat. At least this speech should help them sort out their confusion about where the boss stands these days.

So like I said, this story broke from Beverly Hills about 12 hours ago. Still no sign of a post from resident News Ltd blogger, Tim Dunlop.

PS: I apologize unreservedly for ever suggesting that Rupert had morphed from a global warming sceptic into a supporter. It was the headlines on his newspapers that fooled me. Evidently the editors of his papers still have some capacity to report reality, if and when they choose to do so.

23 Apr. 2007

John Howard Is Dribbling Spit Down His Cheeks Now

How's this for a sign of progress in Iraq?
"People, their bodies didn't end up in the morgue in those days [under Saddam], they ended up in mass graves."
That's from the latest interview in PM John Howard's 24/7 "Save My Sorry Ass" media blitz.

So according to Howard, Iraqi's whose bloated corpses are dragged from the River Tigris with drill-holes in their knee-caps should stop complaining. They never had it so good!

According to Howard, ordinary Iraqis and heroic Aussie soldiers must continue to die so that... um... err... George W. Bush does not get embarrassed:
It would be a "colossal blow to American prestige in the Middle East and around the world" if the coalition pulled out of Iraq and appeared to have lost the war, he said.
What utter, utter nonsense. In case Howard hasn't noticed, repeated studies have confirmed that "American prestige in the Middle East and around the world" is not in very good shape at the moment. And it's not the terrorists' fault. Oh, and by the way, John, the USA already "appears to have lost the war".

Howard is still trying to drive home the old "with Bush or with the terrorists" wedge:
"There is nothing in it for Australia in seeing America humiliated in the Middle East," he told ABC Radio.

"And that's the effect of calling for Australian withdrawal, because if it's OK for us to go why isn't it OK for the Americans and the British to go?"
Well, of course, it's not only OK for them all to go, it is bloody well necessary. And the Brits are already preparing withdrawal plans, and the US Democrats are doing whatever they can to achieve a (limited, of course) exit, and the US people are sick of the whole thing, and ordinary Iraqis have been telling us to leave their country since Day One. So yes, John, it is "OK".

But Howard doesn't care about the news. Like Duby, he is focussed on the long term. The next 50 years will be just like the last 50 years, I tell ya, or my name's not Uncle Johnny!
Mr Howard said history made it clear that American power and support was very important to Australia's security.

"I'm simply not going to support a policy that leads the humiliation, the withdrawal and the weakening of American power and prestige around the world," he said.

"That would give great power to terrorists."
Guess what, dickhead? You have been supporting a policy that leads the humiliation, the withdrawal and the weakening of American power and prestige around the world for the past four years or more. And by the way, John, WWII was officially declared over in late 1945.

If Howard really believes that Australia must stay in Iraq so that the USA does not get "humliliated", then somebody should ask him how this war is ever going to end in anything but humiliation for the invading parties.

Whoo Hoo! Dead Australian Soldiers!

Just in time for Anzac Day!
Two Australian soldiers were injured when a roadside bomb went off near their armoured vehicle in southern Iraq, defence said.

MORE TO COME...
What, only injured? Never mind, that will do! They are still heroes, right?

Quick, prep the PM for the cameras! Make-up!!!

UPDATE: Sorry, John, they are not quite dead yet:
One man suffered wounds to his lower legs while the other suffered less serious injuries in the explosion, which heavily damaged their ASLAV. The vehicle was then destroyed by the ensuing fire.

Four other soldiers in the patrol were not injured, while the second ASLAV was too damaged to move.

The soldiers were treated at the site of the attack before being evacuated by helicopter to a US hospital at the Tallil airbase.

They could be transferred to Baghdad if further treatment is needed but it is not yet known whether they will be forced to return to Australia.

The soldiers were based in Darwin before being sent to Iraq. Family members have been informed of the attack.
This was supposedly "a routine patrol" and it would seem to be the worst attack to date on Australian soldiers in Iraq. Let's see how Howard spins that when asked if things are improving.

Complicity Is Easy When The Truth Is Too Hard

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know.. it — now."
- Patrick Henry, 1775
What about YOU, gentle reader? Can YOU handle the truth, "whatever anguish of spirit it might cost"? Or do you only tolerate a certain level of truth, enough to make you feel "in touch with reality" but not enough to violently disturb your sleep?

At I.C.H. today, Donna J. Thorne curses the continued apathy, bitterness and "eery silence" of Mainstream America:
Why,when confronted with a black-and-white record of autocratic offenses, are so many sensible Americans ignoring and even endorsing the current administration as it openly paves a tyrannical road to hell? Are we so deluded by rhetoric and weapons-grade propaganda, that we are no longer able to distinguish truth from fiction, thereby allowing, if not abetting our own enslavement ?
I think the problem comes down to self-censorship. Many would agree that the mainstream media currently has a major problem with self-censorship, but I think this problem extends right through supposedly "progressive" sites and publications, all the way down to anti-war blogs.

For example, here's an AAP report about Condi Rice gleefully telling the world that Alexander Downer is "fun to be around":
The praise comes as Australia remains steadfast in its commitment to the Iraq war despite the war having killed about 60,000 civilians according to the website Iraq Body Count.

Prime Minister John Howard has so far refused to consider an exit strategy from Iraq despite major coalition partners like Britain preparing to draw down their forces.
OK, so they take the bold step of saying that Howard has "refused to consider an exit strategy from Iraq". Bravo, well said. But why are they still using the Iraq Body Count figure of 60,000 dead, rather than the figure of over 650,000 dead compiled by the Lancet study, which has even been endorsed by the the UK Ministry of Defense’s top scientist?

It's all about credibility, you see. If you say more than 650,000 people have been killed in Iraq since we invaded illegally four years ago, a lot of people will automatically dismiss your words as nonsense. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not the words are actually true.

The same thing applies to generally progressive websites. "Reputable" sites like HuffPo and Salon are loathe to publish or even link to articles like Donna J. Thorne's if they include text like this:
When confronted with hard facts and scientific evidence linking key government officials to the attacks of 9/11, ostensibly intelligent, levelheaded people angrily and defiantly reject said information without a moment's deliberation.
Tsk, tsk, girl! You should not even imply that US government officials were involved in the great tragedy of 9/11, if you want people to take you seriously. Sure, the neoconservatives wanted a massive "catalyzing event" which just happened to occur within a few months of them seizing power, but that's just a coincidence! And as we all know, BushWorld abounds in such coincidences. Sure, the 9/11 Commission was politically manipulated and left lots of major questions unanswered, but we have all moved on from that.

And of course, we all have to keep "moving on" from everything, don't we? Because that is the nature of the news cycle. So it is that major questions are left hanging in the air, major outrages are quickly forgotten, and true accountability is never delivered. And thus it is that certain very serious questions, like US government complicity in 9/11, tend to drift slowly into the lower echelons of media and social consciousness, till they become irrelevent, unmentionable, taboos.

Sadly, this same attitude of self-censorship also applies to many bloggers. And again, perceived levels of credibility appear to be the culprit. Ambitious bloggers who want to be taken seriously (and maybe even make money) do not go where even the media fears to tread. And that is a real tragedy, because the great thing about blogging is that you CAN go where the media fears to tread. In fact, you probably should! Surely bloggers, of all people, should be prepared to pursue hard truths wherever they may lead?

Take the recent bombing of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad, for example. I have speculated on my Riding The Juggernaut blog that the USA might have been behind the apparently clinical destruction of this major Baghdad resource. And I have previously said that I think the USA was behind the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra.

Rupert Murdoch is never going to pay me to say such things, of course, and George Soros probably won't either. But who gives a shit? I am a blogger! I have a right to state my opinions, whatever they may be, and to argue them with all the facts available to me. And surely, if enough bloggers and other good people are prepared to keep chasing down hard truths, and expressing their outrage as vocally as they can, without needlessly censoring themselves to fit the status quo, surely then, one day, this disgraceful public "apathy, bitterness and eery silence" will come to an end?

The truth matters!
Descartes in his pyjamas famously wrote: "I think, therefore I am." We are forced to assume that our perception of reality, although necessarily subjective, is sufficient basis for further rationalisation. Otherwise, everything becomes absurd and nothing whatsoever will stand up to further analysis, logical inspection or reasoning. Consciously or otherwise, we all make such a leap of faith as the basis for our understanding of reality.

But how can we prove something is real, if another person says that it is not? My view of reality and your view of reality will necessarily differ from time to time. This difference is often demonstrated by reviewing the testimonies of witnesses to a car accident - although a dozen people may have seen the incident occur, all may have widely varying beliefs about what actually happened. A detective trying to ascertain what really happened needs to analyze all these viewpoints in relation to other solid facts that can be universally verified by all (the tyre marks on the road, the broken windscreen...). By such means, an objective version of reality can be reached, proven and generally agreed upon by all parties. The acknowledgement of such an objective reality is the basis of civil society.

I like to think that this all has something to do with the purpose of our lives here on earth...
Don't be afraid of the truth, folks. Only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will one day set us free.

22 Apr. 2007

Australia Must DIE So That Howard May LIVE!!!

Maybe I underestimated the spinelessness of the little bastard, his party and (dare I say it?) the country he leads. Howard's vapid speech today has somehow captured the headlines of our government-spooked ABC.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Fairfax staff have been on strike over enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiations. The irony is of course (for anyone born yesterday) that Fairfax has been leading the media charge (such as it is) against such radical IR reforms. Here in SE QLD my beloved mum remains disturbed that she is "being forced to buy" The Murdochian alternative.

The only way to kill this beast, evidently, is to drive a wooden stake right through it's still-beating heart:
By 1939, serious leadership ructions had begun to emerge in the UAP. The ambitious Deputy Leader Robert Menzies sought to keep Lyons to his promise to resign in his favour. Menzies did not have widespread support, and was particularly disliked by the Country Party and its leader Earle Page. Various plots were made to advance former Prime Ministers Billy Hughes or Stanley Bruce to the leadership of the UAP. Menzies resigned as Deputy Leader, and less than a month later, in April, Lyons died.

When Menzies narrowly defeated Hughes to be elected as UAP leader following Lyons' death in April 1939, Page withdrew the Country Party from the Coalition, and Menzies became Prime Minister of a UAP minority government. The coalition was re-established when Archie Cameron replaced Earle Page as Country Party leader in March 1940. However, the Government had lost much of its popularity, and many thought Menzies' leadership in the first year of World War II had been mediocre. At the general election in September 1940, there was a large swing to Labor and the UAP-Country Party coalition lost its majority, continuing in office only because of the support of two independent MPs.

Continuing problems with the administration of the war effort and the undermining of his leadership by a group that were described by Arthur Coles, one of the independent MPs, as "the UAP lynch-mob", led Menzies to resign as Prime Minister in August 1941.
Bear in mind that Menzies is still hugely respected as Australia's greatest leader, the man who won WWII, and a visionary who emulated John Howard's eyeborws before they even existed.



Maybe one day, hopefully in my lifetime, Australian history will be rewritten from the true perspective of ordinary soldiers who returned, sorely disillusioned, from wars in Europe, Vietnam and Iraq, only to realize how cynically they had been played for fools. Or from the perspective of ordinary people like me who watched the tragedy unfold again and again.

Iraq Warmongers Dragged Away Kicking And Screaming

Despite losing the next election last Friday, John Howard is determined to soldier on. Like his fellow Iraq war-mongers, the only way Howard will go down is kicking and screaming, dragging down his party, the prestige of his office, and a whole lot of taxpayer-funded dollars with him.

Whenever George W. Bush gets in big trouble with the polls, he goes on a national speech tour (and makes things worse). Howard is once again following Dubya's lead:
The prime minister is embracing his underdog status and will go on the offensive with the first in a series of speeches setting out a wide-ranging coalition agenda for the future.

"Today's speech will focus, amongst other things, on the kind of world that we will all face, by say the year 2020," Mr Howard said in his weekly radio address.
The problem is that talking about safeguarding the future does not resonate well from a man who has spent the past decade making such a mess of the present (think Global Warming, Iraq, etc).

Howard's inside team are now in crisis mode, pumping stories to the media as fast as they can. But I'm not sure that this story was supposed to come out. Howard has ferreted away an additional $2.3 billion, on top of an estimated $12 billion surplus from this year's budget, which will be "available for pre-election promises":
The extra funding exists in government discretionary spending programs, which have yet to be revealed, Fairfax newspapers report.

The money has funded past projects for regional and rural development, schools and water programs.

But the projects that would benefit have not been announced, giving way for a host of funding announcements in the lead-up to this year's federal election.
This is actually even more good news for Kevin Rudd: if Howard can promise to blow this wad, so can Rudd, right? It also gives Rudd ammunition against the standard "rates-will-rise-under-Labour" meme.

Also in crisis mode is an old fellow war-monger at the World Bank Headquarters, where Paul Wolfowitz is reinforcing widespread public perceptions of both himself and the institution as disgraceful tools of US Imperialism:
Joining a long line of critics of former U.S. deputy secretary of defense Wolfowitz, additional Bank officials are urging the institution's president to step down.

Two sources confirmed to IPS that about 110 country directors, their deputies and program coordinators sent a message Friday saying they want Wolfowitz out.

At issue is a scandal involving excessive pay he coordinated for his girlfriend and then-Bank staffer Shaha Riza at a time when he was spearheading an anti-corruption campaign at the Bank and in its projects.

The officials, many of them considered senior staff, had met with Wolfowitz Wednesday at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC, where he was asked repeatedly to resign. At least four country directors publicly called upon him to leave his job which he took in June 2005, the sources say... More than 100 people were in attendance, the source says.

Wheeler, who had called for Wolfowitz's resignation a day earlier, received "a huge ovation" for his position, the source says.
More interesting background on the Wolf Man here:
Meanwhile, Wolfie's wife, Clare -- that's right, he's not divorced -- is reported to have written George W. warning him years ago that her husband's adultery could jeopardize national security!
Here's Steve Bell's take:

Sigh... It didn't have to come to this, did it? But that's how these people are. Bastards all. So, which Bush stooge is gonna go next: Wolfie, Gonzo or Karl Rove (a man who won't let even Sherryl Crow touch him)?

Meanwhile in London, fellow Iraq war-monger Tony Blair's long, windy, God-awful farewell is finally coming to an end, just before the cops start nabbing his mates:
One Labour MP said: "He is going on May 9 - the day after the Northern Ireland Executive takes power.

"He wants to go out on a high note, not wait around to hear if or when the CPS are going to prosecute any of his friends.

"That would be the worst possible way to bow out."

Police are said to be determined that charges should be laid against three people involved in the cash for honours affair. It is believed officers leaked information that their inquiry had uncovered "serious wrongdoing".
May 9th is only a couple of weeks away. There could be more Iraq warmonger blood on the carpet by then. Bring it on, I say!

Howard will probably survive at least a few weeks beyond Blair, given how gutless (and equally tainted) his cabinet colleagues are. It looks like the next few week's will be Howard's own private last desperate "surge".

21 Apr. 2007

Kevin Rudd Just Won the Next Election

Well, that's it, it's all over bar the shouting. Kevin Rudd will be Australia's next PM:
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has endorsed Labor leader Kevin Rudd, saying he would make a good Australian prime minister.

Mr Rudd met for a one-hour private meeting with Mr Murdoch at the News Corporation's New York headquarters but the meeting was extended when the pair decided to have dinner together at a local restaurant.

Channel Seven reported that when asked if Mr Rudd would make a good prime minister, Mr Murdoch replied "Oh, I'm sure."
Channel 7 showed a beaming Mr Murdoch striding across the forecourt of his News Ltd HQ with young Kev, also smiling nervously, in tow a few paces behind.

Murdoch's remarks were very short, and most TV viewers would discount this as just a polite response to an expected question. But Murdoch knows how power works. You don't give Rudd a free dinner, a photo shoot, a nod and a wink for nothing.

The cameras and microphones were nearly all aimed at Murdoch, of course. These press boys know how things work.
Mr Murdoch has previously given his public support of world leaders who went on to win their elections, including Britain's Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush.

He also has been a supporter of Prime Minister John Howard but would not say if Mr Howard should step aside.

"We'll have to see and make a judgment at the end of the year," he said.
Howard is toast. As Josh Marshall might say, put a fork in him.

Now get out the popcorn, if you so wish. Watch the editors at The Murdoch Australian fall over themselves trying to reverse their positions on Rudd. Watch for some trenchant, biting criticism of Howard from unexpected "expert opinion" corners. Watch for mounting Coalition leadership speculation. Watch Howard's big bottom lip start to tremble, the sweat beading on his brow, the angry little eyes flitting to and fro, bursting with barely supressed ire behind his bloodied bifocals.

Or just switch off your TVs and wait till the whole stupid show is over and done with.

UPDATE: Murdoch was "firm" when dismissing speculation that Howard should have handed over to Costello. So who will it be? The "murmurings" have already begun:
Confidants of Mr Howard said the murmurings, sparked by backbenchers spooked by Labor leader Kevin Rudd's extended political honeymoon, was completely unfounded.

"He has no intention of resigning or retiring," said an informed Government source...

One senior backbencher outlined a scenario in which Mr Howard would step aside in May, after Mr Costello delivered his 12th budget. The Liberals' national conference in early June would then become a farewell tribute to the Prime Minister, the MP said, and kick-start a Costello-led charge to the polls.

The MP said the fear in some marginal electorates was that voters had stopped listening to the Prime Minister and it would take something "radical" like swapping to Mr Costello to switch them back onto the Liberal message. A few MPs expressed concern that Mr Howard appeared to have lost his political touch.
Howard's boys are insisting he has nipped speculation in the bud, and he isn't going anywhere. Popcorn, anyone?

I am changing the title of this blog from Howard Out (originally it was going to be a campaign blog, but it's not much of a campaign when Howard still trails by 20 points) to Howard Death Watch. I will make a similar change at my Bush Out blog, and hopefully spend more time blogging at Riding the Juggernaut.

19 Apr. 2007

Howard and Costello: Shameless Global Warming Wankers

Oh. My God. etc.

Peter Costello is a frikkin' shameless asswipe:
"The point I'm making is we have to work to bring emitters like China, the US, India, those countries that really do matter in relation to global warming into the system, otherwise it's a futile activity."
Only one other major industrial country in the world has supported the USA in it's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, Pete. Can you guess which one it was? Let me refer you to an old wikipedia entry:
Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has refused to ratify the Agreement and has argued that the protocol would cost Australians jobs, due to countries with booming economies and massive populations such as China and India not having any reduction obligations.
Oh yeah, Pete, I guess "countries with booming economies and massive populations" would include the USA as well, wouldn't it?!

In fact:
The United States was, as of 2005, the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. China is projected to take over at the top of the table by 2010.
But surely that has nothing to do with us, right Pete? Or maybe...?
As of 2005, Australia was the world's largest emitter per capita of greenhouse gases.
Oh my Gawd!!! How did we ever get into this predicament????!!!

God, seriously mate, what did I do to deserve to live to see these days? This morning I woke up to read that John W. Howard, after a decade of pretending that human-created contributions to global warming were an ABC media conspiracy and/or an illusion (and global warming itself was too) has now urged all Australians to "pray for rain" in order to save our nation's most important water system.

Smite them down, God. Please! Now!

18 Apr. 2007

Keeping Things In Perspective

Thank God for humour:
Why not just round these flying rats up in a big net? Surely the council could find some practical use, for example setting up a tasty pigeon pie stall in the centre of town. I for one would be grateful to see these horrific beasts removed from the Royal borough altogether! They are a nuisance, and also the flying wizards of Satan. There, I've said it.
Follow the link and check out the comments. Hilarious.

Cricket Terrorist Conspiracy Acceleration Distortion

If you had any idea what democracy means and what your country has done, you’d be down on your knees begging God to forgive you every day for the rest of your life.
- Qetesh the Shaved Abyssinian
Anyone who knows that the CORIOLIS EFFECT is deserves Big Respect. So lemme hear you say YEAH for da bomb, el muy estimado Winter Patriot.

Click the frikkin' link or I will bite you.

17 Apr. 2007

Murder: It's A Professional Career

I was rather surprised last week when Eric Martin, normally an intelligent US contributor to Ozblogistan, came out with this nonsense post in defence of US soldier Mario Lozano, the man who opened fire on the airport-bound car of former Iraq hostage and Italian newspaper journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

Martin implied that domestic politics in Rome are the main reason why an Italian court is today putting Lozano on trial in absentia for murder. He suggests that the Italian court will not be impartial, and throws his support behind a US Army enquiry which has already found Lozano innocent of any wrongdoing.

Martin completely fails to mention that the US and Italian governments have wildly divergent versions of exactly what happened that day:
The United States says Sgrena's vehicle was moving at least 50 mph, while Italy says that it was closer to 30 - and that it stopped before being fired upon.

The United States says there were warnings, but Sgrena has denied this, saying the flashing lights and bullets - 58, she said, quoting Italian investigators - came simultaneously.
The quote above comes from a New York Post story (highly sympathetic to Lozano) from which Martin otherwise quotes copiously. Strange how Eric missed that. Maybe it had something to do with his big night at "the Armory" farewelling a close friend from the Fightin' 69th?

It is worth noting here that the Italian case against Lozano is not a witch-hunt aimed at stringing him up, but an attempt to get a full explanation about the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, which have been hushed up by the US Military. And that in turn is likely to lead to a fuller disclosure of the unhealthy links between the Bush and Berlusconi governments, and the lies that got us into this war in the first place. For example, that “16 words” Yellowgate intelligence hoax was originally sourced by Italian intelligence, with whom US neocons like Michael Ledeen have strong ties.

Putting himself in Lozano's shoes, Eric Martin says he would have done exactly the same thing:
Let me tell you, if my finger is on the trigger (or thumbs in the instance of a .50 cal IIRC), I would opt for the occupants of the car just about every time.

I wouldn’t do so without remorse, but that’s war. And that’s human nature. To expect our soldiers - aware of the numerous attacks from Vehicle Borne Explosive Devices (VBEDS) at such checkpoints - to behave any other way is as unrealistic as it is dangerous for them. Our soldiers deserve the benefit of the doubt in such matters.
Note the cool reference to V-beds. I bet he got that one from the Armory.

Martin says soldiers "don’t have a choice, and a system that would give soldiers a choice would be a system that eats itself".

They do have a choice, and they must have a choice. They are of course human beings. The idea that they do not have a choice is just an illusion drilled into them with training. It is also a comfortable illusion for those who plot and plan wars on paper (or even blogs). And, as modern history shows quite clearly, the military system actually DOES "eat itself", leading to ever more wars, death and suffering, albeit supposedly in defence of those disinterested civilians who always become the most widespread victims.

Eric Martin seems to think that such carnage is inevitable due to the limitations of our "human nature", and therefore must be endured. But surely human nature can and must rise above such barbarity?

We, the people of this world, should urgently be working to terminate military spending and stop the industrial production of weaponry all over the globe. We need to genuinely commit ourselves and our govermnets to the moral principles which we so loudly proclaim.

We, who still enjoy something close to democracy, need to hold our War Criminal governments responsible for the Iraq War outrage. And we need to start by re-committing ourselves to upholding the visionary post-WWII International Laws which basically provide a hard-earned blueprint for lasting peace on Earth.

The governments who led this illegal invasion have done their best to delegitimize the UN, the International Criminal Court and any other international laws and treaties that might embarrass or restrict them. A fully-supported ICC in particular would go a long way - in the long run - to ensuring that future despots like Saddam and Kim Jong-Il (even Bush, Blair and Howard) are contained before they can do too much damage. It would even - I venture to say - help ensure that atrocities like Rwanda and Darfur are nipped in the bud.

The time is now. We, the people, need to start looking upon our bloated military forces as murdering, anachronistic, counter-productive and wasteful.

Does that sound harsh? Well, ask yourself this: how did Lozano get himself into that dreadful situation in the first place?

When you sign up with the armed forces, you are agreeing to kill people, on order, without question. That’s the deal.

Soldiers are trained to not think independently. The orders in Iraq are to shoot first and ask questions later. Lozano did exactly as he was trained and ordered to do. But that does not make it right. The only soldiers who have acquitted themselves admirably in Iraq are those who have refused to go there, or those who have deserted. The rest are no better than the paid Blackwater mercenaries with whom they nightly down brews in the Green Zone.

Pro-military windbags in the mainstream media have decried Australia's David Hicks as a stupid, gun-loving idiot who foolishly got himself into a situation where he was (knowingly or not) supporting terrorist violence. Every one of our soldiers in Iraq is just as bad, if not worse, and open to exactly the same criticism. I have no sympathy for any of them. Support the troops? Not me, mate.

It is the soldiers like Ehren Watada who are showing real courage in this war. Not self-pitying fools like Lozano.

Lozano’s checkpoint was just one of many. Nicola Calipari’s death was just one more civilian death in a bloody war that intentionally and repeatedly targets civilians.

That's right.

The US military has already paid out $US32 million to civilians in Iraq for wrongful deaths and injuries. Another million has gone to citizens of Afghanistan. The figure rose from $5 million in 2004 to almost $20 million in 2006. That’s a heck of a lot of collateral damage!

E&P's Greg Mitchell provides some examples from the US Army’s own records, including this one:
“Claimant’s son and a friend were fishing, in a small boat, 15 kilometers north of Tikrit on the Tigres river at 2200 hours on 31 March 2005. The claimant and his son had fished the Tigres many nights recently, but the father did not join his son this night. U.S. Forces helicopters were flying overhead, like they usually did and there were no problems.

“A U.S. Forces HMMWV patrol pulled up to the beach near where they were fishing. The patrol had spotted and destroyed a boat earlier in the evening that had an RPG in it. They set off an illumination round and then opened fre. The claimant’s only son was shot and killed. His friend was injured, but managed to get the boat to the other side of the river. At the small village across the river they received medical help and were taken to the hospital. But, it was too late for the claimant’s son.

“The claimant and his son were huge supporters of democracy and up to this day held meetings and taught there friends about democracy. The claimant provided two witness statements, medical records, a death certificate, photographs and a scene sketch, all of which supported his claim.

“Opinion: There is sufficient evidence to indicate that U.S. Forces intentionally killed the claimant’s son. Unfortunately, those forces were involved in security operations at the time. Therefore, this case falls within the combat exception.”
The policy in Iraq is intentionally deadly to civilians, and the US military policy at these checkpoints is a big part of that.
It is widely acknowledged that the US “rules of engagement” for these checkpoints contravene the Geneva convention. Even British military commanders have said so. Of course, it makes no sense if the real goal is to win over the “hearts and minds” of Iraqis and spread true democracy. But clearly that is not now and never was the true goal of the invasion.

The whole point of the Iraq invasion is not to militarily defeat an enemy force, but to subjugate the civilian population. Why? Because this is the only way that Cheney’s Big Oil friends will be able to exploit Iraq’s oil resources. The US military’s relentless over-the-top violence is no more an accident than the torture used at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

Again, what’s the point of killing innocent people, making blood enemies and destroying any moral prestige you may have had, if your real goal is to bring democratic peace to the region? US grunts on the ground in Iraq treat the locals as “untermenschen” and are quite happy to kill as many of them as necessary, innocent or not, just to ensure that they get their own sorry asses back to their flatscreen TVs in Iowa.

If Lozano was justified in killing an innocent non-combatant then all other soldiers in Iraq are also justified in their killings, even of innocents. And by the same logic, I suppose, the Iraqi resistance fighters are also justified in their killing, even of innocents. And certainly they are justified in their killing of the soldiers who have killed their families and destroyed their houses. No? So where does it all end? Where do YOU draw the line?

Eric’s argument boils down to the Jack Nicholson Defense. T whit: Lucky pacifists like me, whose taxpayer dollars fund the globalized corporate war machine, and for whom our galant heroes in uniform systematically slaughter innocent people, are “afforded the luxury of staying above the fray”. Any discomfort that may cause is just “aloofness”.

Martin's attitude is of course highly prevelant in society, particularly among soldiers themselves:
“On several occasions,” Giammatteo said, “I, and others I have spoken to, felt that we were being judged as if we chose our nation’s foreign policy and, as a result, received little if any assistance.”
Of course, soldiers do not get to choose their nation’s foreign policy any more than you or I do. But they do get to implement it, personally, when a war is declared. That, after all, is the whole purposes of the Armed Forces. And if they are not prepared to implement their government’s policies, whatever government may be in power, and whatever policies they may adopt, then they should not enlist.

The US Army has now acknowledged that the U.S. military had a policy of shooting approaching civilians in South Korea. Back then, the US military would have been bloody ashamed to admit it had a policy of shooting civilians, now it boasts that such a policy is not only necessary but in fact moral.

The targetting of civilians is also widespread today in Afghanistan.:
American marines reacted to a bomb ambush with excessive force in eastern Afghanistan last month, hitting groups of bystanders and vehicles with machine-gun fire in a series of attacks that covered 10 miles of highway and left 12 civilians dead, including an infant and three elderly men, according to a report published by an Afghan human rights commission on Saturday…

One victim, a 16-year-old newly married girl, was cut down while she was carrying a bundle of grass to her family’s farmhouse, according to her family and the report. A 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son said he did not recognize the body when he came to the scene...

The deputy director of the human rights commission, Nader Nadery, warned that attacks like the highway shooting had greatly contributed to outrage in Afghanistan, contradicting efforts by coalition forces to win people’s support away from the Taliban. “This is not an isolated case” he said. “People are realizing more that they are a victim of the conflict from both sides, from the Taliban and from the international operations.”
Mind you, such policies are hardly surprising given that the architects of this war are pople like Juan “Honduran Death Squads” Negroponte and Iyad “CIA destablisation of Saddam through bombing of civilicans” Allawi. Incidentally, Lozano’s checkpoint was only there to protect the passage of a Negroponte convey.

The military sucks. Soldiers suck. War sucks. It is an immoral, disgraceful, money-sucking farce.

We will never stop wars like Iraq from happening again and again around the globe if even anti-war activists continue to insist that soldiers are brave and honourable, and killings like Lozano's are not only justifiable, but in fact acts of bravery and honour.

Lozano outraged Calipari's family by speaking to the US press but refusing to attend the trial in Italy. Now his lawyer has further outraged them:
Mr Lozano's lawyer, Alberto Biffani, said his client had no formal knowledge of the trial proceedings.

Lawyer Franco Coppi called that statement "an insult" and accused Mr Lozano of "a form of arrogance".
It sure doesn't look like Lozano is trying to be very co-operative, does it? Not much sign of repentance either.

The US military is also refusing to coperate with a British investigation into a March 2003 crash which killed 12 soldiers. And so it goes...

When it comes to lies, stalling and even threats, the US Military has lots and lots of form:
The US military at first reported that the Iraqis, among them seven women and three children, had died in the bomb blast and subsequent firefight, but later said that was incorrect.

There was no full US investigation into what happened until three months after the event when video footage taken by a local human rights activist of the aftermath reached Time Magazine.

Once their report showed flaws in the initial marine statement, an investigation began.
24 Iraqis, including 11 women and children, died that day in Haditha. A year and a half later, a military judge is still trying to decide if there is enough evidence to convene a court martial.

And of course those well-paid ex-soldiers are also enjoying the killing spree in Iraq:
Isireli Naucukidi who was part of the group with 3 former US soldiers said their leader, Jacob Washbourne shot a 70 year old Iraqi taxi driver at point blank range as target practice and then laughed with the other two American soldiers after being told that it was a "NICE SHOT".


The BBC's John Simpson unfortunately echoes Eric Martin's "don't blame the soldiers" meme, but has some illuminating observations nonetheless:
The killing of Nicola Calipari was only a better publicised example of what usually happens when American soldiers kill someone by accident - there is a brief internal enquiry, which tends to find that the action was justified. End of story.

Some of the worst "friendly fire" cases of the 2003 invasion were never properly investigated. The killing of the British ITV television team, headed by the distinguished reporter Terry Lloyd, for instance.

When 18 people, including my Kurdish translator, were killed in a bombing incident during the invasion, we were assured that a proper investigation would be held.

Nothing more has ever been heard about it

If American soldiers, understandably nervous and rarely trained for the job of patrolling foreign streets, know that even if they kill a man as prominent as Nicola Calipari, nothing will happen to them, it is scarcely much of an incentive to be careful.

The British army learned a difficult and sometimes painful lesson in Northern Ireland about operating successfully in a hostile environment.

Holding ordinary soldiers, the unfortunate grunts on the front line, to account for what they do is a part of it.

But there has to be a change of attitude at the top as well.
More specifically:
There was a time when the British army behaved like that in Northern Ireland: jittery, resentful, too quick to fire, an easy target.

Thirty-five years ago, in Belfast and Derry, I saw British soldiers behaving just as aggressively towards local people as the Americans do in Iraq.
Aftermath of suicide car bomb attack
Checkpoints have been targeted by suicide bombers

That was before it dawned on the British army that if they treated every passer-by as an enemy, it wouldn't be long before every passer-by was an enemy.

The army's eventual success against the IRA in Northern Ireland owed a great deal to this basic change of attitude.

Damn! I Should Have Moved To Argentina Two Years Ago When I Sold My House

New poll shows Aussies are behind global anti-US zeitgeist... but we still don't trust the USA one bit:
Fifty-nine per cent of Australians surveyed said they trusted the US either a "great deal" or "somewhat" and the Philippines, Israel and Poland were the other staunch supporters with 85, 81 and 59 per cent respectively.

But 40 per cent of Australians answered "not at all" or "not very much" when asked how much they trusted the US "to act responsibly in the world".

But 80 per cent of Australians think the US takes on the role of international enforcer more than it should, agreeing with three out of four Americans.

Globally, the majority of respondents answered "not at all" or "not very much" when asked how much they trusted the US "to act responsibly in the world".

Eighty-four per cent of Argentinians answered "not at all" or "not very much" as did 80 per cent of Peruvians.
I think this reinforces exactly what I and many other anti-Bush bloggers have been saying for years, that the USA has been taken over by a relatively small cabal of shameless, currupt fools intent on personal profit. These people are determined to hold onto power at any expense. They will drag down the US Constitution, International Law and any other obstacles that stand in their way, whatever the cost, if they can possibly get away with it.

I'll give you a Sri Lankan and a Rohingya for 2 Cubans

How crazy is this?
Asylum seekers detained on Nauru would be taken to the US and Cuban refugees held at Guantanamo Bay resettled in Australia under a new detainee exchange scheme.
What on earth is the point of that? The only logical reason is pure political expediency. Howard and Bush are just swapping refugee problems. Bush can say he has solved the Cuban refugee problem, Howard can say his Nauru detention facilities have a great clearance rate, but none of them are getting into the Great White Land.

And of course, as usual, we taxpayers will be picking up the bill for the transport of this human fodder.

UPDATE: Checking out the Oz Politics blog, I noticed that Tim Dunlop had followed up this post with a similar one at News Ltd (not the first time Tim has been a few hours behind me). Tim was baffled:
I don’t understand this new deal [Howard] has done with the United States about asylum seekers.
Breaking my vow never, ever to visit News Ltd sites (but there are so MANY of them!!!!) I went to see if Tim had any idea what was going on.

He could only see half the story, so I helped him out. Still he didn't get it. So I helped him out a little more:
Of course it does not "solve" the real Cuban refugee problem for the USA, it merely helps solve the political problem of Cuban refugees (a big issue in US politics, as you know) by allowing the Bush GOP to point to some statistics which are sure to be cleverly manipulated by November 2008.

It's not about pointing to positives, it's about negating the negatives. Bush's GOP and Howard's Liberals both have enough problems on their hands without the seemingingly-intractible dramas of Cuba and Naura.

This is a radical solution to a relatively minor issue. It may look over-the-top to the casual observer, but the architects of this madness are now quite desperate people.
But that's enough, I think. The foul taste of Rupert excrement hangs in my nostrils.

I have had enough of Tim's old Road To Surfdom blog, too. I wasn't going to comment there any more, but then I saw a rather surprising pro-military comment by the normally intelligent Eric Martin and I just couldn't help myself.

Enough. Life is too short. The internets are big, and blogs are many, or so I hear. I shall go a-wandering...

Adios, Tim Dunlop. I hope you escape your News Ltd prison one day soon.

UPDATE 2: Tsk, tsk. Looks like Tim has banned/deleted my comment above (comments moderation is of course in place at Rupert Inc). Presumably he will justify it by saying I used the pseudonym "harper" instead of the equally anonymous pseudonym "gandhi". Maybe I should have called myself "Billy Bob Smith"?

Also interesting is that Kevin Rudd is pretending not to understand what this is all about. But Greens senator Kerry Nettle gets it:
"This is about political mates helping each other out," she said.

"Immigration issues in Australia and in the United States have been issues that conservative governments have sought to stand up on and they're now helping each other out.

"It's nothing more than a political fix in the lead-up to the election campaign."
That help, Tim?

BushWorld: A Culture Of Violence

It's not just university campuses and shopping malls, there are also guns going off in the White House:
Two Secret Service officers were injured after a gun held by another Secret Service officer accidentally fired inside the White House gate, according to a spokesman, Darrin Blackford.
Unfortunately, Bush himself was nowhere near the building at the time. (That's a joke, Tim)

As for the Virginia campus shootings, the main issue over the past 24 hours seems to have been whether the shooter was some white redneck wingnut (as many first assumed), or a Chinese student on a one-year student visa (as was early reported), or (as it turns out) a South Korean who had been in the USA since the age of 8.

Not that it matters, right? Mind you, as Kevin Drum says:
When stuff like this happens, people like to talk. And when they talk, they talk about all sorts of stuff. They're just being human.
But a lot of people probably got egg on their faces trying to hang their prejudices on this hook.

This stuff from a former classmate was pretty illuminating:
"When I first heard about the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, my first thought was about my friends, and my second thought was 'I bet it was Seung Cho."

Back at school, he added, "When we read Cho’s plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn’t have even thought of. Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter. I was even thinking of scenarios of what I would do in case he did come in with a gun, I was that freaked out about him. When the students gave reviews of his play in class, we were very careful with our words in case he decided to snap. Even the professor didn’t pressure him to give closing comments."

Informed Comment On Israel

Juan Cole has some informed advice for Australians:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking in Australia, said he left it to Australia and the US whether to withdraw from Iraq or not. He said that he did want to stress that if the US and Australia withdrew, they should do so in such a way as to retain their authority and preserve their gains in the region.

The problem with this advice is that it is impossible to follow it. Any US withdrawal from Iraq will inevitably affect its prestige. But then, the quagmire is a daily reminder to everyone in the region of the limits of US power.

Olmert made a big deal about 'living in the region' and therefore 'knowing something of its dynamics.' I think his war on Lebanon last summer demonstrates the falsity of the latter claim, and my advice to Canberra would be pretty much to keep his track record in mind. Even in Israel, he is at 14% in the polls.

Anyway, I think the implication of his statement, despite his beating around the bush, is that he doesn't relish a US and Australian withdrawal from Iraq because he thinks it will adversely affect Israeli security. Olmert doesn't understand regional dynamics and doesn't seem to see that the longer the US and its two remaining major allies in Iraq try to stay there, the worse the situation gets, which actually is the thing that is threatening to Israel.

The Belgian Minister of Defense has demanded that Israel pay for the clean-up of the 1 million cluster bombs Olmert ordered fired into south Lebanon, mostly in the last 3 days of the war last August. There was no military purpose to this act of vicious sabotage, and it was clearly a war crime. The goal was to injure Lebanese civilians returning to South Lebanon, and, since they largely support Hizbullah, to weaken that group in the south. Kudos to Andre Flahaut for daring stand up on this issue. Israeli politician Shimon Peres has admitted that deploying the cluster bombs was a "mistake."

So if the Australians know what is good for them, they won't pay too much attention to Olmert, perhaps the most inept prime minister Israel has ever had.
Ironically, while Olmert visits Australian, Aussie Jewish blogger Antony Loewenstein is promoting his book "My Israel Question" in Israel's leading newspaper.

16 Apr. 2007

The Forgotten



The media have all but forgotten David Hicks already. And nobody is even talking about the other Gitmo detainees.

14 Apr. 2007

Dead Soliders Vote Liberal In 08!

Howard has now virtually guaranteed that dead Aussie soldiers will be coming home from Afghanistan in the lead-up to the election. Kev Rudd will of course race to be at the airport an hour before the plane arrives (hopefully with the correct body on board), but Howard will be the man with the big, trembling bottom lip on all our TV screens, spouting pithy nonsense about what a glorious death our boys have died. Rudd will insist that their deaths were even more glorious that Howard said they were. The salivating media will lap it all up and chew over every detail of these glorious dead soldiers’ stories (bravery, heroism, and danger abounding) for day after day, week after week.

Rudd will try, hopelessly, to maintain his current distinction between the war in Afghanistan (good) and the war in Iraq (bad). But the distinction will become increasingly muddied, especially as other soldier’s mates and soldier’s wives come on TV with trembling bottom lips and angry words for anyone who dares question the bravery of every Digger who ever lived on this planet, ever.

So my question is: do you think the Australian public are really stupid enough to fall for this? And the answer, based on previous elections, is TOO BLOODY RIGHT THEY ARE. As Howard well knows.

The truth is that whatever moral justification our military might once have professed for entering Afghanistan is long gone, and our troops are now doing no more good there than in Iraq. They should be withdrawn. If there really is a military job to be done there (as I know many here would argue, presumably calling it “peace-making”) then we should be leaving it to other countries with a bettter track record in the region.

Sure the Taliban were an evil mob, and sure they harboured bin Laden. But the Taleban today are resurgent, thanks largely to our own government’s short-sighted, greedy, thrify and basically incompetent efforts. How many of those joining the Taleban today are motivated by the “collateral damage” death of a loved one, or by the horrendous scenes coming out of Baghdad?

Remember, Bush refused the Taliban’s offer to hand over bin Laden, who was of course trained by the CIA, and whose family has close ties to the Bush’s. And the US-led military has been blowing wads of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan for many years now with very, very, VERY little to show for it. In fact, much of what they point to as “success” has involved hushed deals with barbaric local warlords who continue ruling their feifdoms the same as they ever did.

So from any ordinary Afghan’s point of view, who are the good guys? Nobody. You throw your money in – if you have to – with whichever side you think is winning. Moral high ground? Pull the other one, mate. Aussie troops are brave heros dying to bring you Democracy, peace and an end to female genital circumcision? Sure, whatever you say. Wanna buy some hasheesh?

Then there is the little matter of those oil pipelines...

Nota bene: this post was cross-posted from my comment at Road to Surdom on a thread which has brought this and some related issues to the fore. For the critics: I am not cross-posting from my blog TO RTS, but vice versa, as I have often done in the past but am not likely to do in the future.

12 Apr. 2007

Boom! Brendan Nelson Surges Into Action

Did you hear the one about the suicide bomber who strolls into the heart of the Green Zone? It's a cracker! But it could have been even worse:
The parliament security officials, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, said two satchel bombs also were found in the parliament building near the dining hall. A U.S. military bomb squad took the explosives away and detonated them without incident, the officials said.
Insurgents also destroyed a key Baghdad bridge, tossing cars into the river and killing at least ten people, and there are rumours of two US helicopters being shot down. Meanwhile Turkey has started attacking Kurds in Iraq's north. And that Algerian terrorist blast has now claimed at least 24 lives. And a new British study blames Bush, Blair and their blind devotees in the GWOT for inciting such horrific violence around the globe.

But never fear, folks! Brendan "Boy Genius" Nelson is still focussed on "the job", whatever it is (his boss still won't tell us):
"Whilst it's disappointing that this kind of thing could occur in the middle of a security crackdown, it will only strengthen our resolve to see the job through," Dr Nelson told ABC Radio.

"It also reflects the fact that perhaps there are some people within the Iraqi security forces that have been infiltrated by insurgents and terrorist organisations."
No!!! You think so, Brendan? Really?

So I guess we won't see George Dubya handing out plastic turkeys in that cafeteria anytime soon! In fact, John McCain's pleasant stroll down the boulevardes of Baghdad might be the last Western political visit Iraqis see for a while... Unless they are going really, really, really bad in the polls!

Mind you, if you really want to target Iraq's wandering semi-exiled vacation-loving politicians, the last place you are likely to find them is actually inside the Iraqi parliament. Iraq's PM expressed his outrage... from South Korea. Following Brendan Nelson's courageous lead, al-Maliki is also demanding a full enquiry.

Yeah, right... that'll teach 'em. Another big enquiry, at huge public expense, with lots of committees accusing each other of bias, and a draft report that can be closely scrutinied by the Higher Ups before it is selectively leaked to the press on a Friday afternoon. That'll teach those Al Quaeda bastards!

Meanwhile, the black helicopters are already buzzing Sydney...

UPDATE:
And I thought young Nelson was the genius! John "Little Man Genius" Howard actually saw this attack coming:
"It was not only lethal, horrific and cowardly but also very symbolic but this had to be expected," he said on Southern Cross Radio.

"This surge has got to be broken and be made a failure if the terrorists are to win in Iraq and they know what's at stake.

"They know this surge, if it works, could represent a turning point."
Oh, God, please save us all from any more "turning points"! On the assumption that Australia is about six months out from a federal election, I would guesstimate that one Howard Unit is roughly equal to one F.U.
Atrios introduced the neologism Friedman as a unit of time (six months). The term was coined in reference to the discovery by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting of journalist Thomas Friedman's repeated use of "the next six months" as the time period in which, according to Friedman, "we're going to find out...whether a decent outcome is possible" in the Iraq War.
And of course, just to channel Kevin Rudd for a moment (brrr!), if this "turning point" in Iraq is so important, why are we sending more troops into Kabul, not Baghdad?

11 Apr. 2007

Howard's Latest Election Ploy: Throwing Fresh Aussie Meat To The Taleban

The BBC today highlights the fact that Australia's sudden increase in troops for Afghanistan is totally out-of-step with our cautious mostly-NATO-commanded allies:
The Australian plan to nearly double its forces in Afghanistan, to about 1,000, again illustrates the division between the countries that are willing to fight against the Taleban and those that hold back.

Significantly, the deployment will include many more special forces. The province where the Australians are based, Uruzgan, is expected to be the scene of increased fighting...

The main forces are the Americans (12,000 in Isaf, with another 8,000 under their own national command), the British (going up to 7,700 soon), the Canadians (2,500), the Dutch (2,100), the Poles (who reinforced earlier this year to 1000) and the Australians (going up to 1,000 by 2009).

There are also fighting forces from Denmark, Estonia and Romania.
Many nations who participate have included legal caveats blocking their troops from engaging in areas where heavy fighting is expected. No doubt Australia has a few of our own caveats in place, hence the minimal casualties to date.

But now all of a sudden PM John Winston Howard has just thrown our Special Operations Task Group into one of the bloodiest areas. Howard is earnestly warning the Australian public to expect casualties:
"All of the intelligence advice suggests that there is a heightened security risk. There is the distinct possibility of casualties and that should be understood and prepared for by the Australian public."
He provides no explanation for why Australia has twice withdrawn troops beforehand, of course.
In late 2002 there was only one Australian soldier in the country.
History is bunk, dude!

All this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that an election is looming, of course. It surely has even less to do with the fact that Howard is way, way behind in the polls.

Of course, a few Australian casualties in Afghanistan, with super-saturated Murdoch media coverage, might possibly help Howard take the moral high ground in defending his controversial "anti-terrorist" deployment to Iraq, but once again I say: this has nothing to do with the coming elections.

And of course, a few highly-publicized Australian soldiers' deaths in Afghanistan would be the perfect "wedge" opportunity for a PM who has mastered the art of over-simplification for the unwashed masses: DO YOU SUPPORT OUR TROOPS OR DON'T YOU?
The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, supported the deployment yesterday but remained opposed to Australia's presence in Iraq.

"Afghanistan involves a continued military campaign against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, the people responsible directly for September 11 [2001]," he said. "It's a military campaign which we need to prosecute to the end."

He said it was different to Iraq, which was chiefly a civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions of Islam, necessitating a political solution rather than a military one.

The Prime Minister disagreed, saying there were terrorists in both countries and all needed to be defeated.
You see? Howard has already (repeatedly) tried to pin down the Labour opposition on this nonsensical issue, with very minimal success to date. The blood of our "heroes" will not doubt change the dynamics of the debate. How clever. How cynical. How fucking CRIMINAL.

Let's get real, folks. Anyone who dares to say that Mr Howard is cynically throwing Australian troops into an extremely dangerous situation purely to save his own sorry ass at the coming elections is totally out of order! M'kay?

And they are probably a whinging pacifist idealist to boot.

Bastards, I tell ya! Bastards!

10 Apr. 2007

Global Economic Meltdown Looms

There were big smiles on Australian TVs last night as finance gurus enthused that the Aussie dollars was at a 17-year high against the US dollar. Why are these idiots smiling? The coming (and now inevitable) Doomsday for the Greenback will not be pleasant for anyone:
It is impossible to fully anticipate the effects of the falling dollar. The dollar is a currency unlike any other and it is the cornerstone of American power—political, economic and military. As the internationally-accepted reserve currency, it allows the Federal Reserve to control the global economic system by creating credit out of “thin air” and using fiat-scrip in the purchase of valuable manufactured goods and resources. This puts an unelected body of private bankers in charge of setting interest rates which directly affect the entire world.

Iraq has proven that the US military can no longer enforce dollar-hegemony through force of arms. New alliances are forming that are reshaping the geopolitical landscape and signal the emergence of a multi-polar world. The decline of the superpower-model can be directly attributed to the denominating of vital resources and commodities in foreign currencies. America is simply losing its grip on the sources of energy upon which all industrial economies depend. Iraq is the tipping point for America’s global dominance.

When foreign central banks abandon the greenback the present system will unwind and the “unitary” model of world order will abruptly end.
The only positive that will come of all this is an opportunity to change how the system works, remove the Big Money power-brokers from the political process, and create a more equitable system of global wealth. What are the chances that we, the people of this Earth, will seize that opportunity? Even as our entire planet overheats, human greed, fear and hatred are most likely going to dominate the post-crash landscape.

How bad will it get? How does this sound:
Grown men will weep and cry: "I'm sorry, kids, it wasn't meant to be like this!" Lifetimes of corporate servitude will be flushed away as homes are repossessed and middle class families are reduced to begging. Men with guns will roam the streets. Bizarre religious cults will flourish. Gangs will spring up among the homeless. Today's anarchy on the streets of Baghdad will be the model for Australian cities tomorrow.
Couldn't happen here? Let's wait and see...

UPDATE: The IMF - that prestigious body in the grip of US and European power elites - says everything is going great, although... um... perhaps not for the USA. Of course, they would say that, wouldn't they?
Under US and European domination since its inception towards the end of World War II, the IMF has traditionally been a lender of last resort to countries embroiled in financial crisis.

But 10 years after crisis swept through East Asian economies, the IMF is seen as barely relevant to fast-emerging powers like China...

"They’re rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic," said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who argued that the IMF faces an inexorable loss of power.

"This is an institution that’s been controlled by the US for 60 years. They’re not going to give that up," he said.

Talk of an Asian monetary fund has revived, while Latin American countries are pressing ahead with their own multilateral lending initiative.

Meanwhile, a slew of countries like Argentina and Brazil have been paying off their IMF debts early, eager to escape the Washington institution’s economic tutelage.

And with world financial markets awash in private capital, all but the poorest countries have easy access to other sources of cash, a headache also for the IMF’s sister body, the World Bank.
Meanwhile Paul Wolfowitz is doing a heckuva job reforming that other noble pillar of international finance, the World Bank. Witness this:
Yesterday, bank staffers were stunned to see on their internal e-mail "kiosk" a blogger reporting that Wolfowitz's two aides, Robin Cleveland and Kevin Kellems, earn net salaries of about $250,000 and $240,000, respectively.

"What remains of the utmost importance to me," Wolfowitz wrote in his e-mail, "is the protection of the interests of this institution as a whole, and our need to remain focused on our agenda of helping the world's poor."
And this:
"How can the WB talk about governance when its president broke international legality with the Iraq war?" asked Mexican officials during a consultation process late last year, according to documents posted on the bank Web site.
Yes folks, it's true: the global economy is in the hands of self-deluding ideological fools like this, and we are heading over the frikkin' brink without a paddle, and the mainstream media and your government are all in cahoots with it, and nobody - nobody! - has any credibility left at all.

Except me, of course.

UPDATE: Bring on The Great American Catalyzing Event!!!