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Well, Federal politics is way insulting to the intelligence this last week or so, isn't it? The Rodent and his men, desperate to find some way to tear Rudd down, have invented a whole new crime of "being in the same room as Brian Burke". In an attempt to make this seem like a real issue, they've temporarily removed a minister (I say temporarily, because it's blatantly clear that if Howard is re-elected he'll be straight back into cabinet, probably with a promotion for his loyalty).

Interestingly, it does show up the level of corruption and insider dealing that goes on in our politics - but don't expect to see much coverage of this. Brian Burke, convicted former WA premier, now lobbies for anyone willing to pay him - lobbying his former party-mates. Former Victorian treasurer Alan Stockdale and former NSW premier Bob Carr both up and leave straight for Macquarie Bank. Mac Bank pretty much lives or dies by government regulation - they make massive sums of money from privatisations and the like. No potential for insider dealing there. The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Arthur Sinodinos, departs for a job at Goldman Sachs - again, no potential for conflict of interest there. The former head of the Department of PM and Cabinet, Max Moore-Wilton, now heads Macquarie Airports (owner of Sydney Airport) - you think there might be various government regulatory issues with Sydney Airport at all? And that's not even talking about cases like the former treasurer of the Federal Liberal Party Ron Walker having nice little chats with his good mate the PM about making money from nuclear power.

There's a foul stink that hangs over all this - in a sane world, there'd be rules about a decent 12 month interval before you take a job that involves playing on your existing government job and the relationships you've formed. Of course, that's not actually going to happen - certainly not under Howard. Remember his Ministerial Code of Conduct? That's OK, he doesn't either.

In the meantime, we get to experience the relentless trivialisation of our politics. Who met with the dodgy man in the panama hat? When did he meet him? Does anyone give a fuck?
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THE Howard Government has paid $11,364 of taxpayers' money to conservative News Limited columnist Christopher Pearson to write speeches for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, including an address to the Hillsong Church.
...
However, the department refused to pay for one speech written by Pearson because it contained material that did not meet the public service's apolitical guidelines.
This speech was Mr Downer's controversial Earl Page lecture in May 2005, in which he accused the Labor Party of having a history of appeasing Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.
Asked why Pearson was not paid for that speech, department assistant secretary Lynette Wood told the estimates hearing that he "was asked to provide material on freedom and foreign policy, but it did not meet the contractual guidelines on apolitical material and so therefore was not paid out of departmental monies".
Pearson, a former speechwriter for Prime Minister John Howard in the 1990s, has a column in The Weekend Australian writing on national politics and foreign affairs.
His speechwriting service for Mr Downer is not disclosed.

.......


Nice. Very nice.
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Wow. This week is turning into the week the federal liberal party starts to seriously lose the plot. First up is this SBS Insight show (from roadtosurfdom). Michael Mori, Terry Hicks, constitutional law experts were arguing against Phillip Ruddock and one of the US prosecutors. To say that Ruddock does extremely badly is to understate the case. Darryl Mason has a summary at the roadtosurfdom link. Ruddock attempts to claim things such as "Hicks is entitled to a presumption of innocence" and that the Australian government had never been happy with Hicks' internment. The moderator of the show called Ruddock on his dissembling pretty much immediately, and Terry Hicks also confronted Ruddock directly. It's awful, compelling television. Some points to Ruddock for agreeing to this and showing up. And once again, massive points to Maj Michael Mori. His passionate advocacy for Hicks is a wonderful example of the very very best that the US military can be. I hope he's not subject to the same fate as the US military lawyer Charlie Swift.

Meanwhile, Lexy Downer goes from calling the majority of Australians terrorist sympathisers to getting pwn3d by Tony Jones on Lateline.

Yesterday, the Father of The Nation Howard accused Rudd of "being a bit full of himself" for criticising him.

And today, we had Downer and Nelson spinning like their pants were on fire over the UK pullout in Iraq.

Madness. If things don't change soon, there won't be a liberal party by the election, they'll just explode.
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[livejournal.com profile] fooishbar pointed me to this obscenity:

PRIME Minister John Howard has launched a broadside against US presidential hopeful Barack Obama, warning his victory could destroy Iraq and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Mr Howard's stinging attack against the popular Democrat, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic candidacy overnight, also appears to commit Australian troops to staying in Iraq well into 2008.
Only days after saying Australia's alliance with the US was about more than his personal friendship with US President George W Bush, Mr Howard warned that an Obama victory would be a boost for the terrorists.


Holy fuck. I mean... just... wow. This is unbelievable, even for Howard. This is a man who aided an abetted a vile war. A war that has done more than any other thing to help boost Islamic fundamentalist terror. And he has the utter, shameless, disgusting gall to attempt to tell people that Obama Barack would make things worse??!? I'm sure that Bin Laden gets up every morning and thanks Allah that he is opposed by leaders of the calibre of Bush, Blair and Howard. They've done everything he could have hoped for, and nothing he would have feared.

Roll on the election. I'm not going to say Howard will lose - the man is a vile political cockroach, and he will do anything, sacrifice any principles, spend any amount of money to win. Watch his almost pathetic attempts to cast himself as someone deeply concerned by David Hicks and someone absolutely convinced of the need to address climate change. As Mungo MacCallum pointed out this week, he has nothing else in his life than politics and winning. If he wasn't such a foul disgrace and stain on our political life you could almost feel sorry for him. And Rudd doesn't fill me with extraordinary hope - except that I think he's probably the best chance we have to see the back of the loathsome Howard and his merry band of sorry hacks.
If you were a senior liberal party official, you'd have to be praying with all of your heart that Howard wins it. If he does lose, the Liberals are fucked for years to come. Howard's Führerprinzip approach to leading his party leaves them bereft and rudderless after he's gone. I have no idea why Costello, Turnbull and others (including, laughingly, Downer) think they could lead it after him. They'll be inheriting a party of no ideas, no principles and no guiding vision. I mean, what do the Liberals stand for? Corporate power, sure. Centralised power, sure. But what is that power to be used for?. Once upon a time the Liberal party actually had beliefs and stood for something. No more. Look at the sad wreckage of the state parties - Howard's need to control and rule has left them a shambles. There's no way the NSW ALP should win the election due shortly - but they're in with a damn good shot, because the Libs are so broken.
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Been wondering how the Howard Fan Club that run the Australian newspaper would handle Howard's collapse in the polls?

Based on this editorial, they've suffered a complete mental breakdown. It's hard to actually figure out exactly what they're arguing through the layers of crap and nonsense, but I think the relevant claims are:


  • progressives are responsible for the Cronulla riots, somehow (and I thought it was a bunch of nongs, egged on by scumbags like Alan Jones)
  • cheap, grandstanding displays of nationalism are good. (paging Jackie Kelly - your endorsement opportunities await) - indeed far better than actual, complicated thinking.
  • "the Left" (hearts) Saddam (damn you Chomsky, for supporting him all those years! no... wait.)
  • "the Left" supports all atrocities, so long as they're not by the US - even those of "the Right". (Er. Show your working, please. Or even examples. Note that citing Socialist Alternative, Green Left Weekly or the like as "the Left" is not sufficient)
  • therefore, multiculturalism and tolerance are bad


Seriously, I can't figure out what the fuck this piece is trying to say. That gosh, actually being proud of Australia is good? No shit, sherlock. That somehow only people not of "the Left" are proud of Australia? Bollocks. That "tolerance" caused Cronulla? What the fuck?

And finally, note that when they quote Daniel Pipes talking about Muslims in any way whatsoever, you should take the "facts" provided with a gigantic arseload of salt. Wikipedia has a collection of some of his greatest hits. (Note also that they're quoting as an informed source, in a piece accusing the Left of being Saddam-snugglers, someone who actually was a Saddam-snuggler. Ponder that delicious delicious irony. Feel it melt on your tongue, releasing all the tasty goodness inside.)

It's pretty sad when "As a fully qualified novelist, I resent those stupid churches attempting to say what Jesus would or would not believe" is not the stupidest thing on your editorial page. (This latter one is a piece that is almost fractally silly - the closer you look, the more silliness you see)
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Antony Lowenstein points to this utterly bizarre Oz editorial on Iraq (2nd one down):

All of this means that there is now effectively no difference between the Government and Opposition when it comes to bringing the troops home. Last night in Washington, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer warned against any "precipitous withdrawal", saying such a move would have "disastrous" consequences. Mr Rudd's shift is likely to pay dividends to both the Government and Opposition. A precipitous withdrawal would be bad battlefield strategy and needlessly damage the US alliance. And politically, neither side seems eager to talk much about Iraq as both Mr Rudd and the Howard Government have every interest in keeping Iraq off the domestic agenda, though the Opposition could profitably highlight its commitment to a responsible pullout. The Government does not need the public being reminded of its commitment to an unpopular and, on current trends, unwinnable war. But despite this, sensible Australians do not wish to see ADF personnel beat a hasty retreat and leave a vacuum to be filled by al-Qa'ida insurgents and secular militias, thus contributing to yet another bloody betrayal of the Iraqi people.


Ah yes, good old "sensible Australians". Gods fucking save us from them. The same dynamic is occurring in the US. The vast number of people surveyed want the troops brought home - but they're just "not the sensible people".

And what about the first highlighted bit? They admit that it's "unpopular" and "on current trends, unwinnable". And yet, goddammit, that doesn't mean we should re-evaluate it. We certainly shouldn't, say, remember that the Murdoch press (and in particular, the Australian) has been a relentless advocate for this stupid and criminal war. Don't mention the war!

Others have already made this point, but it bears repeating. If you were fucking wrong about the war (as the Australian was): Shut. The. Fuck. Up. You were wrong, plenty of others were right. You're still wrong, and the longer you hold onto these stupid views, the more wrong you get. The Iraq War has been a disaster in every single way. And it was a disaster that was completely forseeable - albeit not by the "sensible Australians" who write for The Australian's editorial page.

It's not clear to me that Rudd has committed to following the Americans to hell for as long as it takes. The piece in The Age today seemed to say he took issue with this characterisation. I think it's safe to say, though, that any Rudd ALP government could not be as idiotic in their boosterism for the war as the current mob. (See Downer, A. and Nelson, B.)

[update: Tim Dunlop had the same reaction I did.]

*applause*

Dec. 12th, 2006 10:03 pm
anthonybaxter: (Default)
Remember the last Federal Election, where the ALP's game-playing with preferences meant we got a Victoria "Family" First Senator?

And how something so stupid could never happen again?

Read it and weep. 2 Upper House members from the DLP.

Genius, ALP, fucking genius. But hey, at least you managed to show those Greens who's boss, didn't you?

Kids - DON'T VOTE ABOVE THE LINE. Ever. Political parties play stupid games - you have no idea who your vote will end up helping. Sure, you save yourself a good 2 or 3 minutes every couple of years - is that worth it?
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Remember this morning's post? clemnewtonbrown was going to attempt to engage wif da kids by using things like a blog. Ooo. Let's have a look, shall we? According to the slightly dodgy paper mail (more later on this) I received, it's at http://clemnb.typepad.com/. There was even a special little full-colour leaflet promoting this site.

First thoughts - ugh. That's only ugly-arse site. Hire someone who understands CSS, for the love of god!

There's no datestamps on any posts. I wonder why - ah. If you dig in a bit you can get the permalinks for the posts. You're looking at no more than a couple of posts a month. So much for the welcome message of "what will follow is a diary of an election campaign from the perspective of a candidate trying to win a seat in the Victorian State Parliament."

Secondly, let's look at the content. As far as I can see, nearly all of the posts are just dumps of various local issues clem has been harping on about. Once again, I note that things like Prahran Pool and parking meters are council issues. It's nice that you care about this, but it's not relevant to the election!

Basically, the content is the same collection of crap you'd see if you read his campaign literature. That's pretty much it. So much for all that. I hope he got a cheap printing rate for the publishing of the leaflets promoting it.

And is it just me, or is the idea of someone who's so mad keen on cycling (including suggesting putting bike lanes on Chapel St, for fuck's sake!) running for the Liberal Party slightly odd? This is the pro-speeding Liberal Party. How exactly is encouraging people to drive faster a good thing for cyclists?

There's a piece in there complaining about the state of local schools in the Prahran area. He touts what the Liberal party will do for schools. I hate to burst your bubble, but a lot of us can remember what the Liberals did to the schools last time they held government here. To put it simply - they fucked them. Underfunded them, closed many, and generally made a hash of it. But I'm sure that under a Baillieu government, they'd be better this time. I mean, it's not like Ted's going to listen to his mentor Jeffrey Gibb Kennett, is it?

I should close off by noting that based on what clem cares about (his bio lists a bunch of volunteer work) he's probably not a bad human being. But he made the choice to stand as a Liberal. Those scumbags totally fucked the state over last time the were in power, and they haven't shown any indications that they've learned otherwise. Last I looked, the state party was still firmly on the side of global warming denial. And their policies seem rather slanted towards the cheap populist stunts that appeal to the letters page of the Herald-Sun. In addition, I'm finding his rather tragic attempts to appear hip and online somewhere between hilarious and irritatingly patronising. There's politicians who blog, and who make a half-decent effort at it. clemnewtonbrown isn't one of them.
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A few pieces about the state election as it applies to my electorate (Prahran).

First up, The Age has what I can only describe as a completely useless piece on the makeup of the Prahran electorate. There's no actual useful content in here, just a pile of stereotypes and trite observations. No author's name is attached to the piece - probably out of shame.

Secondly, this piece from the Oz from a few months ago about clem newton-brown.

A VICTORIAN Liberal candidate has been caught distancing himself from his party in an apparent bid to boost his chances in the November election.
Clem Newton-Brown, a friend of state Liberal leader Ted Baillieu, hopes to secure the trendy inner-city seat of Prahran using only "discreet Liberal branding".
In a letter to potential campaign donors, seen by The Australian, Mr Newton-Brown promises to run a "campaign quite unlike the typical Liberal campaign" that "pushes the boundaries of usual campaign techniques".
"For example, I have been putting out flyers on very local issues with only discrete Liberal branding," he said.

...

Mr Newton-Brown declined to explain why he had played down his Liberal affiliations yesterday, but in his letter he talks about trying to secure the youth and green votes.
"The blog site is designed to attract the younger, swinging voter who is not interested in party politics but may vote for a candidate who has engaged them in an unusual way," he writes.
The electorate - which includes Prahran, South Yarra, and parts of St Kilda and Toorak - was previously a Liberal seat, but fell to Labor in 2002 and is now held by about 4.5 per cent.
Liberal state director Julian Sheezel declined to comment on Mr Newton-Brown's campaign approach, but other Liberals condemned the former Melbourne City councillor's tactics.
"People who try to run with no party association always fail unless they are a really big name," one senior Liberal said. "And he isn't a big name. No one would know who Clem Newton-Brown is."


Aside from the obvious typo - guys, it's not Clem Newton-Brown, it's clem newton-brown - a good piece. We've already looked at the youtube video. How about that blog? I'll come back to that, later today. Stay tuned.

ahahahahaha

Nov. 1st, 2006 06:53 pm
anthonybaxter: (Default)
Christ. One day into the official campaign, and Baillieu already looks like an idiot. In this case, during an interview he attempted to pass off bracksbrokenpromises.com.au as some sort of independent thing.
Pity about the domain being registered by the Victorian Liberals and the website featuring a tagline saying "Authorised by" the state director of the Liberal Party. Even more of a pity for Baillieu, during an interview with 3AW's Neil Mitchell, Mitchell knew this, and made Ted look like a shifty little doofus. The transcript's on the Age politics blog.

In this case the people responsible actually authorised the site correctly. I'd not be at all suprised to see dodgy attempts at negative sites "anonymously" popping up. If you see something dodgy, don't forget to check the 'whois' entry for the domain to see who registered it. There's plenty of web-based interfaces for this - for instance, this one.
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THE Liberal Party is considering a preference deal with the Greens, despite issuing warnings to any Victorian considering voting for the minor party.

...

Mr Baillieu would not say whether he found the Greens (whose policies include provision for medically supervised heroin injecting spaces) or Family First (anti-abortion with a strong Christian base) more offensive to Liberal Party philosophies.
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Wow. Liberal candidate "clem newton-brown" (as he shall be known from now on) is right there wif da kids. he's posted a movie to youtube explaining why you should vote for him as a local councillor. unfortunately, he's running for state parliment.

Mary Bolling has the video, and more.

You should be warned in advance, though - this video features background music that will cause your brain to bleed from the ears.
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I can't say I watched it often, nor can I claim to be surprised (a little birdy told me this was going to happen, a couple of weeks ago):


THE ABC last night axed its popular and irreverent television comedy show, The Glass House, which has been at the centre of a storm over allegations of anti-Howard Government bias.
...
The decision to axe The Glass House came despite the show achieving its highest ratings since it first went to air in 2001 - with average audiences of 728,000.
The program regularly outrated commercial programs in the same time slot and this year won a peak audience of almost 860,000 viewers.


What a shock. The Culture Warriors on the right strike again. All Must Conform To The Glorious New Order.

How much longer will Clarke and Dawe last? Any bets?
anthonybaxter: (mini-me)
Family First in hacker attack

Well, if by "hacker attack", you mean "they had an open form that encouraged you to post blog entries", then, sure.

The journalist in question (Jane Holroyd) got spun, plain and simple. Poor work on her part.


"It is day one of an election campaign and it is interesting that you found out before Family First found out," [party spokeswoman Felicity Dargan] told Theage.com.au.
"It shouldn't happen in politics. It's just not necessary."


Then don't create a webpage that allows anyone to post entries, you fools.

Perhaps the reason the age found out before you is because you're idiots? Just a thought.

Kyle and Damien have more.

(A pity - I was going to post something from "Jamie Packer" thanking Senator Fielding for the several billion dollars I now have to spend on increasing my gambling empire, but it got yanked first)
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LABOR could be looking at preferencing the conservative Family First party ahead of the Greens at next month's state election in a bid to shore up support in marginal eastern suburbs seats.


Argh. Argh, argh, argh. They couldn't possibly be so stupid, could they?

Caveat - this story appears incredibly thinly sourced. The only actual reporting in there is a quote from a Greens candidate saying that they're worried about it, and a non-commital Family First statement. There's a standard no-comment from the ALP.
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Both of these on the front page today:

The Age: Liberals face crushing loss at poll
The poll, conducted last Friday and over the weekend, shows support for Labor after distribution of preferences at 56 per cent, way ahead of the combined Liberal/Nationals vote of 44 per cent.
This represents a swing away from the Government of two percentage points since its record win at the 2002 election — but a one point move back to Labor compared to the last poll, taken two months ago.

The Hun: Poll reveals Labor backlash
THE Bracks Government is facing a voter backlash and could lose up to 16 seats, an exclusive Herald Sun poll shows.
The poll of 800 Victorians, conducted on October 17 and 18, shows that the primary vote for Labor has fallen to 44 per cent, down from the 48 per cent recorded at the 2002 election.
On a two-party preferred basis the swing against Labor is 5.8 per cent.
Liberal support rose from 33.9 per cent to 39 per cent.

The Age: And it records a surge towards the Greens. Their vote is up from 10 per cent at the last election to 13 per cent
The Hun: The vote for the Nationals, who hold seven seats, rose marginally while the Greens vote fell from 9.7 to 7 per cent.

The Age: If the vote in the latest ACNielsen poll were repeated at election, Mr Bracks would be returned with only a slightly reduced majority. A uniform two percentage point swing against the Government across the state would result in Labor losing just three seats — Evelyn (held by Heather McTaggart with a margin of 0.4 per cent), Hastings (Rosy Buchanan, 0.9 per cent) and Gembrook (Tammy Lobato, 1.6 per cent).
The Hun: THE Bracks Government is facing a voter backlash and could lose up to 16 seats, an exclusive Herald Sun poll shows.

Confused? Yes, well, that's hardly suprising. The Age is reporting two-party-preferred numbers, while the hun is reporting primary votes. Neither of them, in their online stories, report things like margin of error, or the full set of data. Of course, it's also pretty clear that the hun is going all out for the Liberals, the age is biased (but less so) towards the ALP. But still - guys. This is bad reporting, on both sides. It's totally unclear what the polls actually said. I'm guessing that at least the age probably had the full table of data inside the paper, and I'd hope the herald-sun did, too. But only sad politics geeks like me check that stuff out.
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Prime Minister John Howard says people worried about News Corporation buying a stake in the media group Fairfax need to calm down.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has paid $364 million for a 7.5 per cent share in Fairfax.

Mr Howard says the Government's new media laws are not behind the acquisition.


Uh huh. Sure. Right. It's just a GIANT COINCIDENCE that Packer sold off a chunk of PBL (while maintaining control, nice effort), Stokes is moving on the WA newspapers, and now Murdoch is moving on Fairfax.

I mean, there's assuming everyone is stupid, and there's assuming everyone is really, really, really stupid.

From the same article:

Communications Minister Helen Coonan says she is not surprised by the string of media deals being struck this week.

Last week Senator Coonan said she did not expect to see a wave of takeovers as a result of the Federal Government's new media ownership laws.


Oh my god - look! ABC bias in action! Pointing out that a federal minister is spinning absolute shite!
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