Attila the Pun
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
More Green scrutiny
Their policy on constitutional reform makes interesting reading. How does this:
1.6 Australia’s constitution and public institutions need fundamental change, which should be brought about through an ongoing participatory process.
square with this:
2.2 propose that vacancies in any House of Parliament (local, state or federal) should be filled by a member of the same party selected from a list submitted at time of election by the political party concerned
Surely a 'participatory process' would allow me to vote for a new candidate when the one I originally voted for retires, dies etc? Slotting in a hack picked by the party room is not democracy.
2.4 propose that section 44 of the Constitution be amended to remove the prohibition on public servants and other holders of an office of profit under the crown from standing for election.
Considering the number of ex-school teachers in the greens, this one is no great shock. Labor would love it as well.
And the Republic?
2.10 reform regardless of the ‘no’ vote at the 1999 referendum.
Don't like the result you get? Just ignore it and demand 'reform' anyway.
2.2.7 keep natural monopolies and other essential public services under public ownership and re-establish such ownership as necessary
Thats called nationalisation folks.
2.3.3 return the Reserve Bank to a twin target policy on both inflation and full employment, with targets set by the Commonwealth Government
So no more independent Reserve Bank?
Taxation is always fun:
3.3.2 introduce a greater range of marginal tax rates on a sliding scale, with particular increases for people earning high incomes
One wonders what the Greens consider 'particular increases' and 'high incomes'. They don't say of course - all their policies are deliberately vague. That is the benefit of heckling from the cheap seats - your own positions are never scrutinised properly. If they wish to be a serious contender, this has to change.
And you can forget about working hard and leaving something for your family - they want a piece of that as well:
3.3.11 an inheritance tax on estates with a total value above $2 million and including the family home
3.3.12 a supplementary gift tax designed to prevent the disposal of an estate prior to the death of wealthy individuals
3.3.14 an amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to stop family trusts being used for the purposes of evading tax.
Depending on the actual amendment, I actually agree with that one. As does Costello I think, but he has never been able to get it through the party room.
Foreign investment is of course anathema to the Greens, but so is Australians investing apparently:
3.3.22 seek to ensure that all income share dividends, including fully franked dividends, are taxed at the marginal personal rate for individuals and the company tax rate for companies
3.3.23 make special arrangements to ensure there is no double taxation for small business owner–operators.
Mmmmm - double taxation. How equitable. Oh, and as well as increasing tax rates, and increasing the medicare levy, they also want to introduce an environment levy and a carbon levy.
4.3.12 support enhanced anti-monopoly laws in Australia to stop companies, whether nationally or internationally owned, from gaining domination in the Australian market, as is the case at present in the media industry
So nationalising some industries, and maintaining government monopolies in other industries, is good, but private monopolies are bad?
The definition of human rights also comes in for an extension:
1.1 Participation in the arts is a human right. All Australians must have the opportunity to explore themselves, their identity and creativity, their communities, history and environment through the arts.
It sounds like there is a fair bit of self exploration going on down at Greens HQ
1.3 Government must take responsibility, through legislation and direct support, for:
- ensuring the media reflects the diversity of artists at local, regional and national levels
Oh great - more government control of the media.
- helping create conditions whereby artists can earn a living from their art.
We do that already - its called the marketplace. If people like your art, they will pay you for it. If they don't, then you need to find a new job. Simple really.
I won't delve into their drugs policy. The Herald Sun is pushing it as a major thing, but frankly it doesn't bother me (nor affect me) half as much as the economic side of things.
Always a touchy subject for the Greens. The die hard environment wing hates humans, and wants as small a population as possible. The rest of the party wants open borders and as many people in here as can afford the smuggling fees. They acknowledge this:
1.2 while immigration has the potential to add to pressures on the Australian environment, this concern is tempered by our:
- humanitarian obligation to accept refugees and reunite families
But then don't say what they plan on doing about reconciling it. When it comes to migration however, they do want a focus on:
3.1 Australia’s immigration program concentrate on family reunions, refugees and other humanitarian streams
3.2 the family reunion program be extended to encompass all interdependent relationships, including same-sex and intersex relationships
3.3 criteria for eligibility be reviewed to ensure potential immigrants are not unfairly discriminated against by, for instance, the preference to be fluent in English
So less skilled migrants who speak english, and more family reunion migrants who don't contribute to their new country, and will be provided with taxpayer funded:
legal and interpreter services
English language classes
appropriate programs to ease transition to Australia’s multicultural society
post-trauma counselling where needed
There is a lot more, and I may go into it when I have the chance, but it can be summarised thus - massive tax increases on individuals and companies, coupled with huge increased government spending and regulation of the media, industry and the labour market, as well as an open border policy and a complete cradle to grave welfare system. 1970's England, here we come!
Anybody but Brown
I would like to heartily endorse the Yobbo's campaign for people to vote for anybody but the Greens. Their policies are of the One Nation loopy variety (50% company tax anybody?, population cut by 2 million? etc) yet they get a free ride in the media.
Their website is also a good source for amusement (and despair, when you realise they may soon hold the balance of power).
A top story on their page encourages people to enrol to vote. I have no problem with that, and would encourage it, as a healthy democracy requires participation by the governed (though I do object to compulsory enrolment).
Further down however, is a link to a movie that Bob Brown and Merlin (the Big Brother contestant, not the Wizard), have made, demanding that we "free the refugees". If people enrol to vote, vote for candidates that will free the refugees, those candidates implement the policy, and the refugees are released, then great - democracy in action.
One problem - Merlin won't be voting for a Green candidate. He won't be voting for any candidate. Why? As previously mentioned, he isn't an Australian citizen. He illegally overstayed a visa, and has kept his German passport because "it helps him travel around Europe"
Hey Merlin - you want to lecture me? Try taking out citizenship first, then we can talk.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
I preferred the end...
I have opined previously that Moore's F9/11 acts a useful flypaper to bring the crazies out of the woodwork.
As part of our continuing series on the sad decline of the Age newspaper, please look upon, for as long as you can stomach, John Berger's piece today.
Using language that would be at home in an undergraduate essay, or student newspaper, he attempts to explain how important and revolutionary (in all senses of the word) F9/11. What he mostly achieves is to make himself look like a complete prat.
To truly appreciate it's awfulness, you really need to read the whole thing. Try not to do so with mouthful of softdrink however, as fizzy stuff up the nose is most unpleasant. Examples:
The film is trying to make a small contribution towards the changing of world history. It is a work inspired by hope.
To denigrate this as propaganda is either naive or perverse, forgetting (deliberately?) what the last century taught us.
Propaganda requires a permanent network of communication so that it can systematically stifle reflection with emotive or utopian slogans. Its pace is usually fast. Propaganda invariably serves the long-term interests of some elite.
The reference to the lessons of the last century are what we like to call a 'hitler alert'.
This single maverick movie is often reflectively slow and is not afraid of silence. It appeals to people to think for themselves and make connections. And it identifies with, and pleads for, those who are normally unlistened to.
Berger is credited as being a novelist. Apparently in the world of the novelist, the use of imaginary words like 'unlistened' is acceptable. The Age should be ashamed of itself.
Making a strong case is not the same thing as saturating with propaganda. Fox TV does the latter; Michael Moore the former.
What are the chances that Berger has watched more than 5 minutes of any Fox TV program? It is an unspoken (and occasionally spoken) assumption among a certain set that Fox TV is pure rabid right wing propaganda. To suggest otherwise, or to suggest that it mirrors CNN, invites patronising looks of disdain.
Ever since the Greek tragedies, artists have, from time to time, asked themselves how they might influence political events. It's a tricky question because two very different types of power are involved. Many theories of aesthetics and ethics revolve round this question.
I would hazard a guess that those two sentences could be dropped at random into any piece of writing that Berger has done, and would make just as little sense.
For those living under political tyrannies, art has frequently been a form of hidden resistance, and tyrants habitually look for ways to control art.
Woop-woop! The Bush=Hitler alarm is going off the scale in this one.
The Cannes award and the misjudged attempt to prevent the film being distributed played a significant part in creating the event.
The best lies just never die do they? There was no attempt to prevent distribution of the film. Sure, Disney refused to distribute to movie, but they did not prevent its distribution. Say it 3 times every morning John.
It's simply to remind ourselves that within the realm of the mass media, a breakthrough (a smashing down of the daily wall of lies and half-truths) is bound to be rare.
Aah yes - the crushing of dissent. Thats why it was such a miracle that Berger managed to get this 'article' published in both the Guardian and The Age. Second rate papers for sure, but mass media nonetheless.
The film proposes that the White House and Pentagon were taken over in the first year of the millennium by a gang of thugs so that US power should henceforth serve the global interests of the corporations: a stark scenario that is closer to the truth than most nuanced editorials.
Nuance alert! Berger acts as though this was some amazingly insightful and groundbreaking hypothesis. You could have read this theory on hundreds of moonbat websites and rag newspapers for years prior to Moore jumping on board.
It declares that a political economy that creates colossally increasing wealth surrounded by disastrously increasing poverty,
Another assumption - it is an article of faith that 'the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer'. The proof, if any is ever given, is that the gap between the mega rich and the poor is increasing. But this is a relative measure. Look at what is considered 'poor' nowadays, and compare it to the living standards of the middle class (as far as it existed) at the turn of the last century. What has created this unprecedented growth in prosperity? Among other things, it is the political system that Berger so derides.
It is always the poor who make the most sacrifices, Fahrenheit 9/11 announces quietly during its last minutes. For how much longer?
There is no future for any civilisation anywhere in the world today that ignores this question. And this is why the film was made and became what it became. It's a film that deeply wants America to survive.
For those who have enjoyed Berger's article, may i suggest you stop by Amazon and pick up a copy of Berger's book - "Ways of seeing". A reviewer writes:
"John Berger chronicles how oligarchical social structures have been perpetuated in western society via the Western European painting tradition (mostly Renaissance oil paintings of the 1500s-1600s). He briefly tries to deconstruct oligarchical myths (perpetuated via painting) such as "true art can only be appreciated by the elite few" and "women's selfhood/bodies must always be constructed to please the patriarchal version of men's gaze."
Or you could just carve out your eyes with a rusty spoon - its up to you.
Friday, August 27, 2004
Star Wars 3 is a great movie - 4 stars
Just in case there any doubts that people that write online reviews for products they haven't bought, movies they haven't seen, or games they haven't played, are wankers - there is this.
Thats right - people are leaving reviews on Amazon Japan's Playstation 3 webpage. Reviews for a product not released until at least late 2005.
Curiously, some have provided 5 stars, but one was apprently less than impressed with his imaginary hands on experience, and only awarded 3.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I wanna be a Rhode Scholar
"We are, in effect, the 52nd state of the United States. I don't believe that is the sort of definition I want of Australia."
Thanks Bob, and the 51st state would be? (answering Canada or the UK does not count)
That article also shows why it is so stupid to label any Liberal supporter as a closet One Nation supporter. Their supporter's obsession about foreign ownership, and opposition to free trade, fits much more comfortably with Labor than it does with the Libs.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Guardian of truth
You would never be able to guess that this story was sourced from the Guardian and reuters.
In relation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth allegations against Kerry, they write:
And another veteran who disputed Senator Kerry's Vietnam war record admitted he had no proof to back his charge that Senator Kerry fabricated the reports of enemy fire that won him two medals.
What he said was:
"I do not have a single document," Mr Odell said. "I have the fact that I wasn't wounded in that 5000 metres of fire that he wrote about. There was no enemy fire from either bank."
Aah, so what they mean is he had no documented proof. What he does have is his own recollection. And apparently the recollection of a Vietnam Veteran is always truthful - or does that only count for one particular veteran?
And now for a 'long bow' warning:
Mr Odell said he had met Republican strategist Merrie Spaeth, a public relations consultant to his group, and once bought a home from Bob Perry, a large Republican donor from Texas and close associate of Karl Rove, the President's chief political adviser.
This meant he lived in Texas - which is where George Bush lives! From these stunning revelations, they decide that:
The developments gave further credence to suggestions that the questioning of Senator Kerry's war record is tied to the White House.
If you say so fellas
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Razer thin logic
Criticising Farenheit 9/11, or those that profess their undying admiration of it, may seem to be flogging a dead horse. A rather large, smelly horse, but a deceased one nonetheless.
However, the film has served another useful role as 'flypaper', bringing the whackos out, as well as encouraging nominally non-whackos to show their true colours.
Considering her work on JJJ, it would come as no surprise that Helen Razer would be an unadulterated fan of the Tubsters work. Nevertheless, the breathtaking leaps of logic and blatant confessions of disregard for the truth which she exhibits in her piece regarding the film is amazing.
She expresses mild surprise at:
"the growing number of leftist critics who find this ramshackle auteur both dangerous and distasteful."
Apparently leaning to the left means you must automatically take leave of all of your critical thinking skills. Whilst this may be true in many cases, I do not find it surprising that there are some who have retained their faculties. She refers to Christophers Hitchens demolition job on Moore as:
a widely cited piece from Microsoft Corp's website slate.com,
Does that mean I should have referred to this as "Helen Razer's article from Fairfax's 'newspaper' The Age"? How childish is the use of the Microsoft boogeyman?
Hitchens himself is referred to as a "soft-left, stylish celeb hack" - something that is referred to as a 'personal attack' when people criticise Moore I believe.
Regarding the film itself, Razer is happy to admit that it is a work of fiction, not a documentary:
"No one who sits through F9/11 could genuinely suppose for a moment that it presents a scrupulous and impartial expression of the truth. ... There is rarely an instant where we are unaware that we are watching a Moore translation of reality rather than reality itself."
This film repeatedly disobeys documentary convention with gags, down-home tropes and a gaudy rock'n'roll soundtrack.
We know that this document is The Truth According to Moore. We are aware that it's every bit as skewed as the six o'clock news.
The film's refusal to be a genuine documentary and its folksy partiality have landed it in the multiplexes of the Western world.
"refusal to be a genuine documentary" Don't you mean 'failure' to be a documentary?
"However, it is not just Moore's charming gall that has delighted audiences and appalled so many liberal critics. Hitchens and others have specifically disputed many of Moore's claims. One writer in this newspaper insisted that most of Moore's assertions "disintegrate on any contact with evidence".
It is his 'charming gall' that has appalled critics? I don't think so. It is precisely his 'refusal' to present facts in context, avoid lying through implication and generally present an honest viewpoint that has so appalled critics. Hitchens, as a documentary maker himself, was particularly scathing on this point.
While Moore does maintain the same fluid relationship with truth that any raconteur might is beyond dispute.
Moore himself would dispute this - he claims that everything in F9/11 is completely true.
What is astounding is the volume of this painstaking critique and the fact that it so often originates from those who might be predisposed to a Moore's Eye View of the world.
Here we have the most illuminating part of the article. Razer is 'astounded' that anybody who may broadly agree with Moore's politics and goals would critique his blatant deceit in furthering those goals. If we all agree on the end, surely we aren't going to criticise the means?
F9/11 is not a documentary. It is a gloriously rickety vehicle for Moore and his passions.
Right, we have pretty much established that Razer admits Moore has made a film full of lies and half truths, but she agrees with its aims. But then this:
That being said, many of its broad central contentions are difficult to dispute: George Bush is marginally less statesmanlike than Britney Spears; the urban poor are over-represented in the US military; the war in Iraq has been shamelessly sanitised for electronic media consumption.
So it isnt the truth, and isn't a documentary, but it is difficult to dispute its 'broad central contentions'? What a wonderful phrase. Knowing that taken individually, huge slabs of the film turn out to be completely untrue, but if we look at its 'broad' (i.e. ignore specifics, like individual facts) 'central' (i.e. all the blatant lies are not central) contentions, then they are difficult to dispute? riiiiight.
This bit is also sweet:
While his document is a polemic, it is not, in the strictest sense, a "lie".
How about in a 'broad, central' sense?
And now, one final swipe at a writer whose talent exceeds razers by such a margin as to embarassing:
He makes current events much more entertaining than most journalists could. Perhaps that's why Hitchens remains so miffed.
Yeah, or it could be that people who lie on behalf of people like Saddam Hussein (witness the F9/11 scenes of childhood bliss in Baghdad), really really 'miff' those that aren't blinded by partisan hatred.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
He ate a meeces to pieces..
The 22 year old at the centre of mouse eating allegations has pleaded guilty and been fined $750.
He was said to be 'in shock' when later (i.e. once sober) he was told what he had done. Mind you, I don't think it was the mouse bit that shocked him, as he also
"set off a mouse trap with his tongue, eaten a bird seed cup full of maggots, sucked up three chewed up chillies through a straw, drank a pint of anchovies and skolled a pint of mouthwash."
The story contains several comedy nuggets:
"The court was told McGee had no recollection of chewing on the mouse, only that he remembered having a mouse "in his possession" at some point."
When asked outside court today if he had any advice for competitors, Gill said: "Don't eat mice."
Words to live by really.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Mostly petty point scoring
Peter Hartcher in today's SMH:
Like a jet fighter weaving to escape a heat-seeking missile, Howard threw out a great load of chaff yesterday as a distraction.
How exactly would chaff help against a heat seeking missile? Is it really warm chaff? I would suggest a flare next time...
Labor strategists recently have conducted detailed contingency planning against the possibility that Howard might produce a neo-Tampa. Labor has war-gamed a variety of scenarios, including national security crises and terrorist incidents, in an effort to guard against a Howard surprise.
They are wargaming scenarios where Howard might 'spring' a national security crisis or a terrorist incident? Are they insane? I understand that this is a journalist's spin on on it, but it is still an example of how the lunatic fringe is no longer particularly 'fringe'.
Witness the suggestions that Osama is on ice, due to be 'captured' just before the US election. Conspiracy theorists used to be treated as the whackos they are - now they are moonlighting as political strategists.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Who would have thunk it?
Remember the outrage that ensued when Howard suggested parents were avoiding sending their kids to state schools because they were "too politically correct and too values-neutral"?
Surprise, surprise, he was right.
Better discipline and a hankering for tradition, smart uniforms and moral values are driving parents out of public education and into private schools, new research reveals.
The report concludes that based on the research into why parents choose schools, "one factor stood out: the extent to which the school embraced traditional values". These values related to discipline, religious or moral values, school traditions and the compulsory wearing of uniforms.
The Age isnt going to give Howard a complete pat on the back of course:
"He was right in saying that people are looking for traditional values in schools," he said. "Of course, because we are dealing here with perceptions, it may not be the case that John Howard is right when he says these things don't exist in government schools. But people are perceiving them as not being there."
Mr Beavis said he could not explain why this perception existed. "I don't have the answer," he said. "You might want to say that the marketing managers of private schools have done a damn good job."
Yeah, it is all because of private school marketing managers....
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Testing 1, 2, 3..
There are some stories which, depending on their source, can be seen as deadly earnest, or almost tongue in cheek. Anything regarding Universities, coming from the Age, can safely be taken as deadly earnest.
Like this one, regarding the Government's proposed expansion of a graduate skills test. There is also a suggestion that funding
" would link university funding to a range of results including student progress, success and drop-out rates."
Not surprisingly, the Unis have opposed it, warning that
"the policy could see institutions rejecting students who were considered bad risks in terms of dropping out or securing employment."
Heaven forbid. Imagine stopping someone from taking up a university place, just because there is a high risk that they won't turn up to lectures, won't pass their subjects, and won't get a job afterwards. To justify this, they warn
Children of poor families could be among those affected, the paper said.
Err, so could children of middle class families and children of rich families. A lazy bum from a poor family is just as underserving of a university place as a lazy bum from a more well off family.
The Vice Chancellors are concerned that the Government's plan
"has a tendency to simply focus on the absolute outcome of what graduates know or can do,"
Trendy academics having an inbuilt aversion to absolutes of course - like truth, pass, fail etc. Further:
"Many of the statements from the government and Dr Nelson act against their policy position of seeking a more diverse sector."
Mmmmm, buzzwords... If by diverse they mean the running down of traditional courses in favour of post-modern wankathons, then I am all in favour of it.
"Universities look to a more complex analysis ... this is also supported by many employers."
I can almost smell the nuance from here. Universities look to a more complex analysis - specifically a qualitative, rather than quantative, approach. Why? Because it is a lot harder to be judged on. Who cares if your graduates aren't getting meaningful employment, or your research is no longer relevant or cutting edge - check out the diversity!
I am not suggesting that everything a University does can be boiled down to pass/fail rates, drop out statistics and employment graphs, but a stubborn refusal to even consider it does the Unis no favours at all.
I will leave the last word to the Bunyip, insightful as always:
What would be the point of training young minds to equate hamburger patties with Islamic terrorists if it were to become public knowledge that those so blessed can't actually hold a job at McDonald's?
Hmm, anyone think that this report in the Australian may have been written in Sydney, for Sydney?
SWANS spearhead Barry Hall has been voted the scariest player in the AFL by his peers,
fair enough, and not a huge surprise. But also
while Paul Roos is rated the second most loved coach in the competition.
Who cares about second - and why would the players vote on 'most loved'? Apparently the Australian cares, as they describe it as:
These are just two of the significant findings from a survey of 530 players commissioned by Melbourne's Herald Sun in conjunction with the AFL's Players Association.
If you continue reading, you discover that Roos was voted second as "the best coach other than your own"
Second on 17%. The winner, Leigh Matthews, polled 41%.
If I wanted to read the Sydney Morning Herald sports section, I would thanks.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Oops I did it again..
David Campbell is doing his impression of a writer again. As discussed previously, his hugely insightul and amusing method of political analysis is to pretend he is talking to his young son.
This method allows him to stink up the op-ed page of the Age with such gems as:
"You see, a lot of people don't like Peter Costello.
Oh, because he's kind of spooky . . . and he has a strange smile."
His opponent, Mark Latham, is just too unpredictable. I think he's also a bit of a bully. It's all been on TV. He lost his temper once and broke a man's arm. John Howard wouldn't do that . . . he's a very clever man.
Or it could be that he is just not a violent man.
Oh, don't take any notice of all that! It's just political stuff. Nothing to do with us. Life's too short and there are more important things to think about. Big Brother's finished, but there's still the footy. And the Olympics.
Aah yes, the perpetual disdain for anybody that doesn't agree with a certain mindset - Campbell implies that anybody that votes for Howard is obviously too stupid to realise that he is a "clever liar", as they are too distracted by sport and reality TV to worry about it.
If only we all had insightful children to show us the way....