Saturday, July 20, 2002

Hey kids! Want a fun way to eat your favourite snack, and still be able to hold your crack pipe?

Don’t say you weren’t warned.


The Sydney Morning Herald was lost it. Again. What was once a paper of record is now largely a student-level advocacy rag of opportunism and spite.

Again, we have the new cultural cringe of “what will the world think of us” in
The images of the two weeping boys being hauled out of the British Consulate-General in Melbourne has sparked renewed international attacks on Australia's treatment of children seeking asylum.

This must be Serious! International (hey, North Korea is international) attacks! Worth looking for, you’d think. And you’ll have to look for them yourself, since the worthies writing the lead, the editorial, or any of the six or seven follow up pieces don’t see fit to quote A SINGLE BLOODY ONE.
Let’s try Britain:
The British government is basically sympathetic towards the Australian government's position.

Nope, no international attack here. Over to you, New York Times:
The saga degenerated into farce when, after learning his sons were back in Woomera, Ali Bakhtiyari tried to enter the German consulate-general in Melbourne but was turned away.

Bugger. Washington Post anyone?
An official with Britain's Home Office in London said that since both Australia and Britain have signed a U.N. refugee convention, they judge asylum applications using the same criteria.
Therefore, "there are no grounds for anyone to seek asylum in Britain from Australia," she said on condition of anonymity.

Damn! Surely Central Europe will have something … anything …. (sound of wind whistling)

You know what? Screw it. I am not going to waste my time searching newspaper sites for some indication of these mythical “international attacks”. If these journalists (and I use the term loosely) have ANY evidence of ANY country that wants to stick its head up and say something, I’m open to it.

Moving on to the editorial, we have gems like this
The Minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, says he is not an Afghan farmer fleeing persecution but a Pakistani tradesman. In other words, not a refugee but a queue jumper.
There will be differing views about how fairly the Bakhtiari family's claims for asylum have been dealt with.

Differing views? DIFFERING BLOODY VIEWS?? There is a simple choice here: to believe the Bakhtiari family is, in fact, from Pakistan, and as such has TAKEN a refugee place from some poor bastard in an actual refugee camp in some god-forsaken country, who are the genuine refugees and presumably the people these Refugee Collective gits are supposed to be standing up for.

OR, you can believe that there is a very efficient conspiracy going on inside the Department of Immigration, which has examined the claims of Mrs Bakhtiari on several occasions, by different people, and (I’m willing to bet) the Federal Court, and still managed to convince all the officials involved to keep quiet about the cover up. And yet be so clumsy as to let the kiddies escape. So cruel as to deny refugee status, but not cold-hearted enough to ship them back to Pakistan.

None of the activists, defenders, collectives, lawyers, concerned citizens or other assorted basket-weavers have to integrity to say what they really think: that there is no outcome acceptable here but what they want, and that is permanent refugee status for the family. Courts may decide, appeals may fail, processes followed. It matters not a jot. The law? Irrelevant. Public Opinion? Bah! Due process? Sorry, gave at the office.

Tripe like this
Without an open system of determining such claims, the public is in a poor position to assess the conflicting claims of the Bakhtiari family and their lawyers on the one hand and Mr Ruddock and his department on the other.

simply points out the fundamental lack of consistency at play. What kind of open system does this entail? I can trot along to the Federal Court anytime I like, read the court papers, listen to the procedures. Does the Herald want every hearing, every interview, every Appeal, broadcast live? When the Refugee Action Collective starts letting non-members sit in on their policy meetings, then maybe they get to spout off.Is there a lawyer working for the family that can show where the law wasn’t followed? They can’t because it was. Law cannot be replaced with trial by photo opportunity.

Where to from here?

When the Bakhtiari family is shown to be from Pakistan, and I predict that will happen, the refugee industry should (if they had the slightest shred of integrity) turn and fall on them like ravening wolves. These people will be shown to be the lowest of the low. The Bakhtiaris will have taken time and resources away from genuine people in need, in the full knowledge of what they were doing, and to whom they were doing it. The father has obviously travelled into Afghanistan using his position as a Pakistani citizen to come and go as he pleased. He has done some research on the plight of the Hazari people, with the express purpose of appropriating their misery to improve his own economic position, and that of his family. Remember those leaky boats, crammed with desperate people? Well four of them are still on the beach, thanks to this family.

These are the very people the system of mandatory detention was set up to catch. The system worked, and worked in favour of genuine refugees awaiting legal entry into Australia. Had the Bakhtiaris slipped through, there would have been four less places for real refugees.

I wonder if Phillip Adams would volunteer to travel to an African refugee camp, and pick which four don’t get a visa?

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Greg Sheridan delivers strongly on why Australia should assist the US in Rogering the hell out of this guy.
The questions to ask, as a nation, before embarking on a military commitment in Iraq should be: Is it right or wrong; will it improve the security situation; does it restore or maintain a necessary international order; is it in our national interests and what consequences will it have on our key alliance relationships?
On all these criteria action to stop Iraq acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction passes the test overwhelmingly.

I’ll put as baldly as I can: as the world order begins to fray, small fry like us need to stand really really close to the big ‘uns.

Seriously, can anyone raise a decent argument for not knocking off Saddam? The region can’t get more unstable than it is when a belligerent dictator threatens his neighbours with gas and germ warfare. The arab world will not rise up in support of him. Their governments want him gone probably more than ours do. After all, they’re the ones he tends to attack, at least so far.

The people of Iraq have to be better off than they are now. And end to Saddam will mean an end to the sanctions, and a shot at rebuilding from the results of 20 years of aggression and repression.

Don’t give me any guff about “it’s all about the oil”. Of course it’s about the bloody oil! Why else would Australia, and the USA, have the slightest interest in what happens to a patch of desert thousands of miles away, if it wasn’t for the oil? And if you want to get down to brass tacks, Saddam has twice tried to take his neighbour’s oil, whereas we are defending our desire to PAY the owners SHITLOADS OF MONEY.

Jack’s back!
And I do believe the sand and the surf have mellowed him a tad. I can say this because he hasn’t got around to me yet. Let’s hope he doesn’t read too far back.

Memo to US readers: It might be confusing for you that someone might go surfing in what is our winter. I know, it can be a bugger in Sydney too. Why in the depths of winter, you can’t go to the beach (15 minutes by car) for days ay a time.

Robertson is taking unseemly delight in current corporate ructions here and in the US. Thinking the best of him, I have to assume he’s not glad that so many people’s retirement savings have been damaged. I’m sure he is aware that when wealth falls, tax receipts fall, and along with that, welfare and foreign aid payments. So we will assume that all the crowing is well-meant.

What I can’t understand is why the entire capitalist system is disproved because it only created 16 kajillion, instead of the projected 22. I’ll agree with this
Karl Marx has never been more relevant than he will be in the coming years.

though for entirely different reasons


Do you have daughters? Say something nice to them. Tell them their hair looks good, or "that's nice blouse".

If you don't think you can pull it off, ask for help. It doesn't have to BE spontaneous, only SOUND spontaneous. Plan ahead if you have to.

I am reliably informed by my good lady wife, that a compliment from a father is worth A LOT. Personally, I ask my wife to tip me off when there is something I should notice (hair, clothes, shoes), then I know to say something. We're not talking about a big deal, just once or twice a month.

Do NOT repeat NOT comment on her weight. In any way, ever. No exceptions.

Say something complimentary. Now.

I mean it; if she's in the house, tell her you love/like/appreciate her. If she's out, Make a call.


Wednesday, July 17, 2002


It is a rare day that some noodle doesn't get their head in a newspaper, telling us how they are "ashamed to be an Australian", because of the actions of our political leaders. One of the motivations often quoted is that today's end-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it will make Australia a pariah in the eyes of the international community.

Strangely, I never hear any of these types proclaiming that, for instance, the Serbs should feel ashamed to be Serbians, or Zimbabweans ashamed to be Zimbabweans. The crimes are far worse, the evidence is much clearer, the international condemnation a damn sight more obvious. So why the silence?

One of the great historical wrongs in Australia is the belief, mostly well-founded, that our British and American allies have often droppped our fighting men in the shit, in a bid to have our guys take the brunt of the assault. This happened at Gallipoli, The Western Front and Singapore. Since the orders are always given by senior allies, these events tend to create special resonance with the anti-American crew, and the anti-British and/or Republican movement.

But I wonder. When the yelping Left demands we not support the USA against Iraq, how much of it is an unspoken desire to have the USA take the hit, while we keep a low profile? And how does this make them better than the British Generals that used Australian soldiers as shock troops in World War One?

This is not a US operation, it is a UN-backed deal. If you know anyone who has ever bitched about Australia being in violation of ANY UN treaty (human rights, refugees), then ask them why they're not backing the war against Iraq. Hey, fun is where you find it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Suspected al Qaeda fighter John Walker Lindh has pled guilty to aiding the Taliban. No big surprise there.

But there is one interesting mention. As part of his plea arrangement, Lindh will
provide U.S. authorities with any information in their investigation of al Qaeda and perhaps other terrorist groups

Now if Lindh starts ratting on his mates, where does that leave all those claims of his innocence?

Now think about this: who would Lindh have had most contact with in Afghanistan? English speakers, like, say, Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. I wonder how those two are sleeping, now that Lindh has rolled over? And how long before one turns on the other?


Plenty of action from the peanut gallery in today's Letters pages. In the Sydney Morning Herald, George D'Aran of Nelson Bay thinks we can't worry about Iraq's weapons stockpile until
the capacity and record of the US for the same thing are taken into account.

after all, Iraq is
a country rich in the history of civilisation and tradition, posing no threat to Australia

one man's alliance based on shared values and security concerns is actually
cringing and crawling … to an even greater threat to world peace

Yes, so easy to confuse the two.

Grahame Wilson of Lane Cove thinks that a public debate over stem cell research raises the brave ethical question
Are Iraqis less important than microscopic cells?

Well Grahame, that depends on whether the stem cells are led by a bloodthirsty cancer cell who has the bloody bomb!

Ray Alexander of Port Macquarie wants to hold up on battle planning until the Foreign Minister sees to the business of
seeking a mandate from the Australian people you are supposed to represent, Mr Foreign Minister, before pledging our sons to a war in Iraq?

He needs to take this up with David McLintock of Kinka Beach, who knows mandates don’t count, since
A huge number of Australians were against the partial sale of Telstra and the loss of thousands of jobs, and an even greater number are against its full sale and many more thousands of job losses.

Not a majority mind, just an unspecified huge number. Accuracy is a bit difficult when your idea of advanced mathematics involves removing your socks.

G.W. Spence of Bruce near Canberra wants Prime Minister Howard and Foreign Minister Downer to
encourage their offspring to be at the spearhead - of any Australian troops who may take part in any such
idiotic adventure.

No worries G.W., as long as you promise to pledge YOUR assets to compensate anyone killed here by Iraqi actions. Good to know that debating techniques have progressed so much since 1965.

Monday, July 15, 2002

At the risk of being one who points out the blinding bloody obvious, can we all make careful note of the speed with which Chirac’s assasin was identified , and right smartly, as a neo-nazi?

Meanwhile, the political position of the killer of Pim Fortuyn remains unstated, or at best he is an “animal rights campaigner”

Which is a roundabout way of introducing this excellent article from Tech Central Europe.
What kind of philosophy says
The worst thing we could do in Ethiopia is to give aid [to the starving children] -- the best thing would be to just let nature seek its own balance, to let people there just starve."

In a war you have to take up arms and people will get killed, and I can support that kind of action

certainly not the same belief system that claims
When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.

Try to guess the authors of the quotes, before advancing to a very good parallel between eco-fascism, and the more garden-variety thug

John Hirst has pointed out that a racist xenophobic country running a growing, non-discriminatory program that includes refugees, is a contradiction in terms.

One of these descriptions must be untrue. Is it the one made by unelcted activists, or the one made by transparent, accountable officials?

Some people just want to put their heads on the chopping block. What else would drive Rear Admiral Smith to expose himself to the Wrath of Margo ™, and write this foolish letter:
Navy didn't turn its back on SIEV-X
I have read with considerable concern articles written by Margo Kingston about the loss of SIEV-X. In "Navy did all it could to find doomed ship: PM" (Herald, July 1) I was accused of giving false evidence to the Senate committee and retracting it to avoid contradicting with evidence from Coastwatch. This is untrue, and I take personal offence at the accusation.
Hansard records my words on April 4: "We had some information that a boat might have been being prepared in the vicinity of Sunda Strait but we had no real fixed information as to when it was going to sail. Indeed, the first time that the navy knew [it] had sailed was when we were advised through the search and rescue organisation in Canberra that [it] may have foundered in the vicinity of Sunda Strait."
Ms Kingston has given distorting emphasis to the latter part of my statement, portraying it as a denial that the navy had any information about SIEV-X. In my evidence I explained that unconfirmed intelligence had been received, and later added a letter of clarification that she absurdly labelled a "retraction".
The letter made the essential point that our intelligence reports come from sources of greatly varying reliability. Often these reports conflict, and cannot be solely relied upon to determine air surveillance patterns or the stationing of ships. This was the case with SIEV-X.
Those of us charged with the responsibility of sending Australians into harm's way are prepared to weather criticism of our decisions. But Ms Kingston's allegations about ordinary sailors ("Mass drowning case could sink Navy's reputation once and for all", Herald, June 4) are unjustified. She accused them of deliberately turning their backs upon people in peril, which is unfair.
The Royal Australian Navy is a highly professional service which places the highest importance on the safety of life at sea and, whenever we are able, we will always respond to those in distress.

Smith can't understand the difference between accusation, which would need Kingston to have SOME evidence to back her case, and innuendo, which is a useful tool for the journalist desperate top salvage their own reputation.

Sunday, July 14, 2002


Robert Corr has boldly taken us back through time. To a day when there were no occupational health and safety rules, no minimum wage, no child labour laws, and no legal unions. If not the union, what would stop the evil masters of capital from sending us down the mines when we were only ten? Cwertainly not all those giant Government bureacracies set up to deal exclusively with occupational health and safety, pollution, child labour and wage negotiation. Why, without Robert, life would be lived moment to moment under the jackboot of the boss, as he lights his cigars with medicines our poor little Timmy needs sir, please guv’nor, only a copper coin?

But you can’t keep track of the action without a rule book, so we here at the labor negotiation law firm Dewey, Screwem and Howe (strikebreaking, sweatshop enforcement and Welsh mining village design a specialty), along with our friends as Gouge, Grabbit and Runne (financiers to the Czar of All the Russias), have put together this handy bible. Never let it be said that we didn’t do anything for you. Now get down pit, and think yourself bloody grateful for job!

As a unionist, repeat after me
1. I have a greater right to my job, than you do to yours.
2. I have the right to join a union, as do you. You do not have the right to refuse to join the union.
3. You do not have the right to choose the union that will represent you, nor are you allowed to start a new union
4. I may choose to withdraw my labour, but you may not choose to supply yours, regardless of your membership of the union.
5. I am entitled to enforce my rights illegally, through violence, intimidation, threats, blockades and coercion. You are not.
6. It is legitimate for me to demand ongoing public subsidy for my job, regardless of whether it needed. Capital changes that threaten my employment will be resisted through legal and illegal means.
7. My union may charge non-members a fee for achieving higher wage outcomes that flow through to them. Anyone who individually negotiate a higher wage will be expelled if a union member, ostracised if not. Should these increases flow to union members, the original negotiators will not be compensated.

For the Union officials:
1. Secret ballots before strike actions are an affront to democracy
2. I will continue to get paid, regardless if the length, severity or outcome of your struggle
3. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a victory
4. It is better to send a business broke, and fire all the employees, than weaken the closed shop

Some informal rules:
1. The boss is a bastard, and anything that happens to him is justified. He or she has no family, no mortgage, no hopes or dreams. He is the class enemy, and as such is fair game.
2. Just because you make over $100,000 per year, doesn’t mean you’re not a “worker”.
3. All evidence to the contrary, the Tories are the only party that calls in the troops to break a strike

Here are some of my faves from Robert “the red flag still waves” Corr:
Remember, scabs are generally bussed in or protected by police.

Which has nothing to do with the mob of screaming, spitting unionists rocking the bus, does it? If the non-strikers wanted to exercise their legal rights to go to work, I’m sure those nice picketers would just wave them through. No need for the police here, officer, we’re just fighting for
the very existence of civil society

Then there’s this
If some out-of-touch organiser calls a strike and 80% of the workers don't join in, then they're not scabbing, they're demonstrating a lack of faith in the cause of the strike.

At what point does the balance tip over Robert? 60% against? What if it’s even? How about when 90% of the workforce votes NOT to join the union? Does the 10% on strike get to impose their “legitimate tool of struggle and protest” on the recalcitrant 90?

Here’s a giveaway
scabs have typically been coerced into scabbing by artificially high wages

So we see the aim of the strike is not better pay for all, it is higher wages for members only. If you are foolish enough to believe the fragile evidence of your payslip, and disregard the solid promises of the boys from union head office, then you deserve what you get.

If trade unions were as relevant to today’s society as they were 100 years ago, they would represent more than the tiny slice they do today. They wouldn’t need the closed shop to maintain the hold they do enjoy. They wouldn’t need violence and intimidation to enforce the strike rule. Union violence is simply enforcement of the rule of the stronger over the weaker

Corr’s excuses for his model for unionism are as outdated as his rhetoric

Reader Patrick writes about my call on aboriginal substance abuse.
Isn't this the exact opposite of the gun law situation? Howard could
introduce strict new gun laws, because the Liberals were the traditional gun
SUPPORTERS. There was no way Labor could turn around and fight for more gun
freedom. The Aboriginal issue is the reverse. If the Libs try to restrict
grog sales to Aboriginal communities, then Labor will just jump up and down
and chant "Racist".

Patrick has a point here. It is different to the gun law situation. With guns, we had the opportunity, horribly illustrated, of the need for gun law reform. We had a Prime Minister fresh from a massive victory, and no legislative or Constitutional barriers. The question was purely political, and Howard carried the day without question. But he did this by repudiating part of his support base utterly, and losing many of them to One Nation.

Would the ALP be willing to do the same to their aboriginal supporters? I don’t think so. Unlike gun supporters since the demise on One Nation, aboriginal supporters have somewhere to go. With their primary vote at the lowest point ever, internal ructions on union domination, US alliance, and the slowly simmering leadership tension, Labor will have enough trouble at the election without further alienating an eroding support base.

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