Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fascist Watch – One More Minute To Midnight.

As the USA gets in ever more of a tizzy about ‘Islamofascists’ in general and Iranian ones in particular, attention starts to turn to what exactly is fascism and who, if anybody, is really the fascist now. The bombs are lobbed into both sides of the trenches as the Right point to the Left’s propensity for collectivisation, what the Right sneer at as ‘group-think’ but, quite honestly, on balance it’s not looking good for ol’ Uncle Sam.

The defenders of the status quo, the neo-con nutbags currently trying to rationalize their insanity in the Middle East by suggesting they commit more, claim that they are the true defenders of freedom and, in a text-book demonstration of Fruedian projection, accuse the left of being the heirs of Adolf and Benito.

As ‘evidence’ they squeal that liberals must be fascists because, well, they are vegetarians, they like organic food, and Hitler was a vegetarian wasn’t he? There you go then! Case closed! Indeed, the publisher’s blurb for the forthcoming and highly anticipated tome ‘Liberal Fascism’, a promisingly puzzling screed by Fox News darling and conservative ‘humorist’ Jonah Goldberg which was supposed to be published in April 2005 but whose current release date is now January 2008 and waiting, mentions liberals’ love of free health care and guaranteed jobs, supported abortion, euthanasia, public education, gun control, state-funded aged pensions and a racial quota system in their universities while hating inherited wealth, smoking and the free market as proof of lefties’ desire for totalitarian rule.

Jonah’s somewhat flimsy analogy appears to be premised on the notion that Mussolini was a former socialist and the Nazi Party’s full name is Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or, for the less Krautian among us, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, which apparently means that anyone vaguely progressive must be a fascist! Well, if that makes Elroy a jackbooted blackshirt then show him the way to the next Beirkeller! Who would want to live in a society where people were educated, healthy and employed? Baby-eating fascists! And, of course, liberal leftie treehuggers.

Goldberg happily ignores, or WILL happily ignore, the fact that he once said ‘If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one’, and will attempt to turn white into black; however, as that release date become ever more elusive, Elroy wonders whether Jonah’s little literary sleight of hand is proving just a little tad trickier to perform than originally intended when he started to spend his advance, purely because it is a load of bollocks, and as witness for the defense we present good old Benito Mussolini himself. ‘Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed’ he bloviated in 1932’s The Doctrines Of Fascism ‘to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere’. There. And he should know.

Such are the tactics of the right, from Anne Coulter to David Horowitz and, to be fair, such are the tactics of the left; they concentrate of fascism’s more unpleasant characteristics, the extreme nationalism and all attendant myths, the belief in military aggression, secrecy and propaganda, the confluence of state and corporate power, willingness to jail dissidents, murder scapegoats, pervert elections and seduce a population into submitting to an all-powerful leader who has placed himself above the law, all in the name of God.

Now, it is true to say that doctrinaire communism as practiced by them damned Ruskies also featured some of the above, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone endorsing them at, say, or the Daily Kos or, for that matter Let’s Ask Elroy!™. However, there are many worthy publications bending bookshelves across the civilized world about how the deeply, deeply corrosive policies of the Bush regime are more than reminiscent of those less pleasant characteristics of fascism, and although the Right take the higher moral how-dare-you ground when faced with such accusations, titles such as Goldberg’s level it with the bulldozer of hypocrisy and leave them wide open to whatever slings and arrows outrageous fortune cares to lob their way.

At this point the gentle reader might expect Elroy to launch into a 12,846,826 word rantathon about how the only difference between Bush and Hitler is the length of their respective moustaches (Answer: More than there should be), but he is going to show some uncharacteristic restraint and leave that to Edward Jayne in his wryly amusing 31 Similarities Between Hitler And President Bush, and Naomi Klein’s Fascist America In Ten Easy Steps, two fairly succinct articles to get youse in the mood, 1995’s Eternal Fascism – 14 Ways Of Looking At A Blackshirt by Umberto Eco , a piece echoed in a 2003 article by Dr. Lawrence Britt named The 14 Characteristics Of Fascism and, for a historical perspective, Fascism Part II: The Rise of American Fascism by R.G. Price

(Elroy would also like to highly recommend Klein’s The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and American Fascists – The Christian Right And Its War On America by Chris Hedges.

But enough of theory. ‘It’s all very well blathering on’ I hear you sigh, ‘but is there any solid proof?’ ‘Well’ I retort, ‘what sort of proof would you like? How about legislation passed within the last six months?’

The more observant among you (Yes, I’m looking at you) would have noticed in Elroy’s landmark Webessay Ejected, Neglected And Unelected – Blair, Howard, Bush And What Awaits Us the discussion of George W. Bush signing the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, a piece of legislation which ‘granted him virtual dictatorial powers in the event of a declared Catastrophic National Emergency, such an emergency being defined as ‘any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.’

‘In short’ Elroy’s masterwork continues, ‘this Executive Order allows Bush to assume power to direct any and all government and business activities without congressional approval or oversight. He has now put in place power to arbitrarily and unilaterally impose martial law, suspend the Constitution, assume virtual dictatorial power, deploy under his command military forces into U.S. cities to round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats, and retain control of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, military personnel, law enforcement agencies and private sector organizations until the CNE is declared over. And who declares the CNE over? That’s right…

So why is Elroy hauling over old ground like this? Because the situation has gotten decidedly worse. I draw your attention to the phrase ‘round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats’ – who are they? What citizens are to be deemed a security threat?

Enter stage right – H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007! This charming spot of legislation is the missing piece in the totalitarian puzzle that helps define just who those unfortunate citizens declared to be enemy combatants or security threats might be and what they will have to do to be one. C’mon, kids – let’s parse a-while!

(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

But what, pray, is an ‘extremist' belief system’? And who decides? Well, funnily enough it is to be a commission appointed by our friends over at the White House and the White House itself that get to say what an extremist belief system happens to be, and Elroy is happy to punt on the chances that it would not include anything concerning James Dobson, Pat Buchanan, Tim LaHaye or R. J. Rushdoony, all of which represent forms of Christianity which make the Taliban look decidedly comfortable and relaxed – No, Elroy is willing to bet the farm that it will be those with a more leftie orientated state of mind who suddenly find themselves to enemies of the state.

But surely this can only refer to any bomb-throwing nutbags caught in the act of fomenting violent revolution? Um…proceed, O gentle reader…

(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

Uh huh. So merely discussing violence on the internets is enough to secure a free trip to Cuba. But what, according to the act, is ‘violence?’

(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically-based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

Suddenly then, the Act becomes The FORCEFUL Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, but force isn’t violence – force could be a strenuous argument, or having to make an unpleasant choice (‘I didn’t want to vote for Kevin Rudd but I was forced to because of Workchoices) but the act is dangerously vague on what both ‘force’ and ‘violence‘ are.

Will it see the jailing of protesters? After all, 100,000 people marching with placards, bullhorns and a worthy cause could be considered pretty forceful, but far be it from Elroy to suggest that the Bush regime distorts and twists language and definitions to suit its agenda.

So, add The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 to The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive and The Military Commissions Act of 2006, another piece of freedom-lovin’™ law that allows ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ to be detained indefinitely, Habeas Corpus be damned, at anyone of over 500 Halliburton detention centers dotted around mainland USA to be subjected to ‘intensive interrogation techniques’, and you create the necessary conditions for a US president to declare martial law just about anytime and imprison just about anybody anywhere and torture them for any amount of time.

Scary, huh? Good job the House Committee on Homeland Security is on the case! Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore), a member of said committee, applied for access to the post-terrorist attack plan for the continuity of government as many of his constituents had complained of a ‘conspiracy’ buried in the fine print, but guess what? Access denied!

‘I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack’ DeFazio said, ‘I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee…maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right’.

How very reassuring! Thank god, then, that the Democratic Party have the majority in both houses! They should be able to scupper The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 before it makes it to the floor, right? Right?

Um, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 was passed on Tuesday 404 – 6. Oh dear.

So the fascism watch just moved one more minute to midnight. All the articles of law are now in place, and as there is little point in putting new laws on the books in you don’t intend to use them, Americans should be afraid, very afraid, and heed the words of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer when he said ‘Americans need to watch what they do, and watch what they say’.

Ah, what a good job the USA is the Home of the Free™!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blacks Are The New Whites

On Thursday the 11th of October 'Honest' John Howard, the Australian conservative Prime Minister who is staring down the barrel of electoral obliteration, woke up, copped an overwhelming snoutful of coffee and roses and executed a 180º triple backflip with pike, trout and flounder (degree of difficulty – unknown and unknowable) in declaring his love of the aboriginal people he has just finished finishing off. Once again the constitution was in his sights as he pledged, as he has a wont of doing, to add a preamble to that sacred document this time stating that blackfellas are grouse, that they are our ‘mates’ and that we probably shouldn’t have spent nations the first 150 years hunting them like dogs.

Out of the blue, symbolic reconciliation has become paramount to Dear Leader. It wasn’t so important to him when he officially declared war on black Australia back in 1996 when, as his first act as PM, he attempted to knobble ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) by appointing an administrator, and it was certainly not on his radar when he implanted his vile ’10 point plan’ to gut the High Court’s landmark Wik decision in 1997.

It didn’t put him off the Weaties he eventually wolfed down after sleeping in during 2000’s Bridge Walks for Reconciliation, and neither did he didn’t loose many ZZZs when he hurled the whole concept of reconciliation overboard in 2004 and sent the 'Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Reconciliation’ portfolio the way of button shoes, followed swiftly in 2005 by ATSIC.

There are myriad other examples of his hatred of the aboriginal lobby; Howard has consistently and vehemently denied what he so eloquently termed the ‘Black armband’ view of Australian history and so it is inevitable that those who know that his sobriquet was earned in irony will be fair rolling in the aisles, but the questions they raise are valid. ‘Why now?’ they ask, and ‘What now?’

So, ‘Why now?’ indeed. Elroy is happy enough that Johnny is superficially tottering in the right direction, and Elroy has come up with a quick lucky seven reasons as to why the Honourable may have done so.

1. ‘Look! Over there!’

The first thing that comes to mind is that such a massive dereliction of principle provides a great distraction from the opinion polls that have him languishing somewhere down around the levels of a post-war Hitler or, even worse, a current war George Bush; this magnificent volte-face was perfectly timed to suck up all the available media oxygen and make it all about HIM come his big announcement last Sunday.

2. ‘Shut up! Listen to me! I’m the Prime Minister!...’

Secondly, it put him thoroughly in charge of the agenda. Honest John has been looking more and more like the opposition lately, reacting to whatever bit of socialist madness the Labor Party have proposed or defending themselves against said commie’s scurrilous attacks, but not actually proposing much apart from a promise to dismember federation. However, with this jaw-dropping paean to all things indigenous, Little Johnny is looking decidedly statesmanlike. At last.

3. ‘…but I do have a sensitive side.’

The third reason is that, as his iron vice of a grip starts to weaken and the Liberal Party get a bit bolshy, Honest John recognised the need to lob some meat to the Party’s wet wing and its more swingin’ voters, the infamous doctors’ wives and their ilk who periodically fret about the bootless and unhorsed after lunch with the gals.

This bunch, the teeny ‘l’ faction, have been bulldozed into silence by the marauding economic irrationalists that have held the party hostage since Howard found a copy of Milton Freidman’s Capitalism And Freedom down the back of the couch, but now that the Labor Party have swung so far right that they make Menzies look more like Mao, Howie has had to make a magnificently empty gesture in order to make them think that he ‘cares’ and stop them taking that oh-so-short but significant trip to the dark side and voting for that ‘Nice’ Mr Rudd.

4. ‘See? I do care!’

This pronouncement helps deflect adverse criticism of his indigenous ‘Intervention’ program that has eradicated what small gains aboriginal people have made over the years and subjected them to an unholy panoply of unwarranted sanctions and hoops that the rest of society are not required to jump through. The intervention is apparently all for their own good, if only they would realise it, and it is obvious that Howard only has their best interests at heart because he is going to add them to the constitution, dammit!

5. ‘Nothing in my hands…nothing up my sleeve…presto chango…!’

The beauty of this audacious flip-flop is that it isn’t really one at all; it’s an illusion, a trick, a sleight of hand – the biggest sticking point for the Wee One has been the dreaded ‘sorry’ word and he has no intention of uttering it, but he’s trying to make it look as if he will.

On the Thursday he said ‘I recognise the parlous position of indigenous Australians does have its roots in history and that past injustices have a real legacy in the present’ but he also said ‘I still believe that a collective national apology for past injustice fails to provide the necessary basis to move forward’, which just goes to show how grudging and ultimately vapid his declaration is.

In making this symbolic nod to symbolism he can look like he is doing something while not actually doing much at all which is, ironically, what he has been grizzling about all these years. ‘I said a couple of years ago that part of my problem with the old reconciliation agenda was that it let too many people - particularly in white Australia - off the hook’ he intoned. ‘It let them imagine they could achieve something lasting and profound through symbolic gesture alone, without grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery.’

Which appears to be exactly what he is doing. If you are in any doubt about the down side of the intervention then you obviously haven’t read It’s A Black Thing, available here, which documents just how devastating it is, but Howard is hoping that the electorate is just going to take his word for it that the intervention is a you-beaut, final solution method of grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery and that, with his new little cherry on top, the problem will be forever solved.

John Howard is correct when he says that white Australia will be let of the hook, that they can imagine they can achieve something lasting and profound through symbolic gesture alone, without grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery, because he’s the one doing the gesturing. Aboriginal people have never been in any doubt that reconciliation will require both symbolic and practical approaches, but Honest John is not interested in real reconciliation and never has been – his offer of a referendum to add a preamble recognizing the prior ownership of the land is as useless as his current, er, robust approach to aboriginal affairs.

The one symbolic gesture that aboriginal people actually want, an official ‘sorry’, will ‘only reinforce a culture of victimhood and take us backwards’ according to Howard, which is ironic because that is precisely what the intervention is currently doing. However, what his symbolic gesture is meant to represent is not entirely clear.

The Liberals and their fellow conservative nutbags are constantly reminding us about the importance of the Judeo-Christian moral code, the rule of law and how free lunches will never be a reality for those outside Parliament House, but what they fail to understand is the importance of themselves obeying said moral code, that an important foundation of the aforementioned rule of law is that the fear of retribution does not justify the denial of criminality and that colonialism, whitey’s overlong and really free lunch, did have a price and is still not entirely paid for.

‘Thou shalt not kill’, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, ‘Love your enemies’, ‘Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me’ – all of these are in Volumes one and two of the Bible’s Greatest Hits, yet when it comes to indigenous affairs they are conspicuous only by their absence. The original inhabitants of Australia have been classed as fauna, shot at, imprisoned, disenfranchised and evicted, robbed, brainwashed and denied their basic human rights for over two hundred years, so it seems like the Judeo-Christian moral code can only applied so far and only when the suits those that trumpet its superiority.

With regards to the rule of law, the powers that be are adamant that it be revered at all times and that its word is final. The High Court is the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutionally correct unless, of course, you are John Howard, in which case you can take any old High Court decision that happens to displease you and legislate it away, particularly if it pertains to aborigines.

That’s what he did with the Wik decision, continuing a long tradition of ignoring the rule of law when it is convenient. From the first fleet onward, various treaties have been broken and legal judgments ignored as the English, their descendants, and whoever else happened to wander over more or less helped themselves.

Murderers and others that flaunt the law are called to account (CEOs and senior politicians excepted); they are not let go because they don’t feel like pleading guilty or don’t think they should, so why should the government be any different? The Liberals claim saying sorry is ‘divisive’, ‘offensive’ and ‘hectoring’ because the current crop of whiteys were not the ones firing the guns, poisoning the flour and stealing the children while at the same time, but just as the representatives of the Swiss Banks that kept the savings of the German Jewry after World War Two were not the hands that signed the passbooks, the banks were still judged to have benefited and ordered to pay restitution. Where is the difference?

Australia has been chowing down on a free lunch that has lasted over 200 years. We are told that the current crop of whiteys enjoying the spoils of oppression may fear that saying sorry will open the floodgates for compensation claims, but the end game of Empire is still being played out where ever the sun never set, from New Zealand to Zimbabwe to Australia to Old Blighty herself, and as long as long as the feeding frenzy continues then the descendents of the oppressed have a legitimate claim against them.

If ‘sorry’ is as uselessly symbolic as the Honest John would have us believe, then why not say it? On the other hand, if ‘sorry’ opens the Commonwealth up to compensation, surely that should be admitted and dealt with in a way which respects the aforementioned Judeo-Christian moral code and rule of law? How can the government duck the long arm of the law and still be regarded as legitimate?

Everybody knows that the indigenous people were treated inhumanly, so to bring the healing of this weeping wound down to a base and vulgar question of mammon is wholly immoral at best and at worst greedy and slothful, not to mention a certain amount of pride, wrath and, to push the boat out somewhat, jealousy, gluttony and lust, but distinctly lacking in the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, moderation, religion and fortitude. Well done, guys! Not bad going for a Christian nation!

Howard is now taking charge, saying OK, this far but no further, but again he doesn’t get it. He wants to own the issue by defining what he is willing to do, an arrogance which is not lost on aboriginal Australia, but he has so failed to explain why his symbolism is appropriate but another is not, but his offer is merely style over substance, form over content, all froth and no bubble – all tip, to quote Keating, and no iceberg.

To quote Malcolm Fraser, a man who must accept some responsibility for creating the horror show we know as Honest John Howard, the changes to the constitution would be ‘totally meaningless’ until we are told exactly what the changes are to be and, more importantly ‘It means nothing without a 20-year commitment to Aboriginal health, education, housing and also a commitment that will enable Aboriginals to cherish and preserve their own culture’ and that, funnily enough, is strangely missing from Howard’s treaty.

6. ‘Oooh! There’s a bear in there…’

Enough of fifth. Sixth, it is a classic wedge issue. Howard is trying to force Rudd into saying that he WILL say sorry so that Howard can scare the punters with lurid tales of the compensation claims and other racist fear mongering as outlined above (5).

7. ‘Hang on! I’m not quite finished yet! I’ve just got to…’

The last reason is that Howard has an eye to history and his place in it – when the truth of his 11 years of all-out war against Aborigines in general and the Intervention in particular are revealed in their full barbarity Howard will not be regarded too fondly, hence his current sop. He is going against his own advise and trying desperately to stuff a hog with whatever bon-bons and cream he can find prior to its sale, but it’s too late; so many chances to have done the right thing, the right practical thing and the right symbolic thing, have now whistled past his ear and into the garbage compactor of history where he has no hope of dictating what they will be recycled into.

He says this the ‘unfinished business of the nation’, but more importantly for Howard it is the unfinished business of his reign. He knows the jig is up and that history is going to judge him badly on the indigenous issue, particularly after the ‘intervention’ farrago, and so at five to twelve he suddenly slaps his forehead and says ‘Doh! The Abos! Gotta remember – do something about the flaming Abos!’ The word ‘cynical’ does not seem out of place, or even adequate.

But as much as he may admit that this journey to his micro-epiphany has taken in its fair share of ‘sidetracks and dry gullies’, the leader of the party which stresses personal responsibility above all else would like us to know that it is not his fault. No, society is to blame, society and Johnny’s poor old mum and dad. ‘The challenge I have faced around indigenous identity politics’ he lamented to an audience of like-minded stooges, ‘is in part an artefact of who I am and the time in which I grew up.’

The fact that many millions of others that grew up at the same time vehemently disagree with him doesn’t seem to register, so the problem for Johnny is obviously genetic as well as environmental, a subtle blend of nature and nurture against which he is so defenceless.

Far be it from the Little Man to challenge the status quo and orthodox thinking – if it was said to be true then it was true, and much as he might now claim to be challenging the dominant paradigm, all that has happened is that he has found a successor to the conservative values of Faith Bandler and Neville Bonner to legitimise his ureconstructed, old school assimilationism in the shape of Noel Pearson.

Pearson is the kind of Blackfella that Howard loves – a clever gentleman that rose from the stolen generation to become a spokesman for ‘his people’ who rails against welfare dependency and props up other conservative canards. It doesn’t matter that 90% of the other aboriginal leaders are opposed to his views, or that ‘his people’ are not the greater mass of aborigines as imagined by white society but a small group on the York Peninsula in far north Queensland who are quite culturally separate from the people of the Central Desert; what matters that Pearson is an aborigine whose views allow Howard to take the question of indigenous identity politics back to the comfy 1950s where the only blackfella he was likely to see was brandishing a spear on his authentic pokerwork Alice Springs souvenir pipe and slipper rack.

So what happens next? The signs were encouraging, but the day after his bunker-buster Howard held a somewhat qualifying press conference where he denied that it was an election sell out but added ‘I don't believe Labor could unite conservative and progressive Australia on this issue’.

It this kind of veiled threat that makes Howard look so slippery and lacking conviction, as mean and tricky as even his own party have painted him. Does this mean that he would actively fight against the position if he doesn’t get the guernsey? Does it mean that conservatives are such convictionless drips that they would only support reconciliation when their Dear Leader tells them to?

So, Honest John Howard in person and the intervention in general promised aboriginal people both symbolic and practical help but if, God forbid, he somehow manages to crawl back into Kirribilli House, what they will get is the final nail in the creaking coffin of reconciliation with the most meaningless paean the Government could muster in the shape of a couple of lines in an unread preamble to an unread Constitution, a worthless and grudging nod toward their ‘prior stewardship’ or some similar prolix prose, and a short, sharp asset-stripping exercise to finally wipe out what is left of their culture and drive them into the towns and cities in line with Howard’s assimilation agenda.

But if Honest John is sent to CentreLink, will he follow his new-found path and still push for some sort of reconciliation by putting the wedge back in the political tool drawer and bringing conservative Australia with him in bipartisan recognition of That Nice Mr Rudd’s ‘mandate’, finally admit the country is as divided as it was since Captain Cook unpacked his first picnic and attempt to rehabilitate his legacy by eventually, belatedly, at least allowing someone to utter the hardest word?

Or will he take his bat and ball home to XXXX after having used them to smash any attempts by TNMR to say it while perpetuating the conceit that Australia is ‘One tribe’? Time will tell, although there is growing evidence that, after 80,000 odd years, time for indigenous Australia is finally running out.

Australia has been at least two tribes – the colonisers and the aborigines – since 1776, and the only real attempt by the former to make us ‘one tribe’ has been by exterminating the latter. Elroy’s old daddy, Elroy Snr, Elroy the Wiser, Elroy the All-seeing and all-knowing, Elroy the Kind, Wonderful and Generous, always says ‘Trust only movement’, and Howard’s intervention policy is the practical proof, the concrete evidence that Howard knows this ‘One tribe’ malarkey with its ominous overtones of One Nation is so far from the truth to be somewhat laughable but not so far that it cannot be achieved.

The awful truth of John Howard’s relationship with indigenous Australia is that reconciliation is not the unfinished business of the nation – for the conservative elite, the true unfinished business of the nation is the ultimate destruction of black Australia as it disappears into the towering ghettos of inner city disadvantage and cheap houses of the outer suburban sprawl. Howard’s ‘One tribe’ is a project, a work in progress that will see the indigenous people subsumed, assimilated and no longer able to stake their claim; it will mean that blacks are the new whites and the genocide is finally complete.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dear John...

Dear John

We are not for sale. Unlike you, we know both the price and the value of everything. Money, it may come as a suprise to know, is not the be all and end all of our existance.

We don’t want tax cuts – we want services. We don’t an extra sandwich – we want schools and hospitals. We don’t want lower top marginal tax rates – we want higher top marginal tax rates. We want you to take your $34 billion of tax cuts and shove ‘em – shove ‘em into health, education, housing and alternative energy sources that don’t include coal or uranium.

We are embarrassed that we have homeless people, working poor, jails full of people whose only crime is to have a mental illness, people who can’t get a bed in a hospital ward, hospital wards full of old people who can’t get a bed in a nursing home and nursing homes full of young people who can’t get a bed anywhere.

We are sick of kids going to schools that can’t afford books next schools with books that the kids can’t afford. We are tired of paying off everyone else’s mortgage. We are sick of not being able to afford our own mortgage. We are over having to pay logging companies to destroy our forests.

We cannot pool our extra $15pw with our neighbours and build a hospital, or a school, or a nursing home –that's your job. Infrastructure. Economies of scale. Look them up.

We are over being lied to, we are over a government that is in the pocket of big business and we are over having to be at war with our fellow man to get ahead.

We are, frankly, over you, Mr Howard. And we’ll probably be over Mr Rudd in a year or two, but he’ll do for now as he is not, thankfully, you.

Bob Brown For President!



Thursday, October 11, 2007

So if not...then what?

Let’s Ask Elroy!™ has received a message from some old codger in Syd-en-neee concerning Elroy's last post, 'Oils Ain't Oils' that reads...

‘Well done…Nice poetry…making a very good point’ which we reply ‘Ta!’ while insolently peering at our fingernails. However, it goes on to ask:

‘On the other hand what do we use if we don’t use Ethanol? Are you going to give up your car?’ which we reply ‘Yay! Someone asked Elroy!’.

And a fair enough question; after all, it’s typical of lefty, tree-hugging, vege-munching, Osama-lovin’ freedom loathin’, commie-fuckin’ enviro-nazis to whine endlessly about everything that might not sit 110% with their precious, overblown, sanctimonious sensibilities without ever offering a solution, so here at Let’s Ask Elroy!™ we feel honour bound to break the mould and say that yes, there might be a way around it and that no, I will not have to give up pedaling my car.

It’s not ethanol per se which is the problem, more like what the ethanol is made from. Let Elroy take you somewhere, to an alternative planet where there is a magic plant that can produce four mature crops a year literally anywhere with far more material per acre per crop, which means far more methanol than we can squeeze out the highly subsidized crop of choice for ethanol production – corn.

Unlike corn, this stuff requires little water, less attention and no fertilizers, it produces less Co2 and is far more efficient than methanol made from other substances; it can be grown in rotation with corn and soy and so need not compete outright with it and, furthermore, it can not only be grown on marginal and degraded land that could not support a corn crop but it can also actually rehabilitate that land!

And as a food source it is somewhat miraculous. Its seeds are very high in protein and mineral, are not only low in cholesterol they lower cholesterol, its oil has the most perfect natural balance of essential fatty acids and the second highest level of Omega 3. It also has many medical applications, from pain relief to glaucoma to ameliorating the nauseating side effects of chemotherapy.

And while we’re at it we might as well mention the other things it can do, like make biodegradable plastics, replace timber building materials, make high grade paper, fabrics, and just about anything else you can name in a sustainable manner.

It’s the best proof yet of the existence of God and the best proof yet that mankind is so unbelievably venal, hubristic, proud, vain, judgmental, blind, deaf and stupid that is willing to kill the planet they live on while they kill themselves. Elroy admits that this plant is not going to save the world all on it own, but it would truly help the problems by reducing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, hunger and poverty and the world’s reliance on chemicals and fossil fuels.

What a shame we don’t have it on this planet. And Elroy knows what you are thinking – if this plant exists on another planet, how does Elroy know about it? And how does he suggest we get it? Well, the planet that this miraculous bush lives on is called Planet Tolerant but unfortunately we live on Planet Prohibition, so we will probably have to wait until we are all half-dead from whatever before we realize that forbidding the cultivation of hemp was such a good idea.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oils Ain't Oils

True to his word Elroy has posted twice in a week, and true to his threat he has done it in rhyme. If bad poetry is your love, go no further! However, if this just sets your teeth on edge just a tad too much then Let's Ask Elroy™ to stop immediately.

OK then, here goes. Harruuum. La-deeeez...and...genulmun! I Give youse...


Planet Earth has been bled dry
The oil is nearly through
Many wells
Are empty shells
So now what do we do?

Let’s all go fuck up the world
Fighting for what’s left
Crushing those
That dare oppose
And leaving them bereft

China wants the Russian slicks
But then, so does Japan
The Yanks attack
Saddam’s I-raq
And ‘liberate’ Iran

Kazakhstan is in the sights
Of Exxon, Shell and Fina
But other voices
Offer choices
That will make us greener

‘Fossil fuels are bad! They say,
They’re melting all the ice!
And people choke
On all the smoke!
It isn’t very nice!

We know there is another way
To make our engines go
Who needs a Sheik
When we can make
Our fuel from what we grow?’

It doesn’t fill the air with smog
It’s so clean when it burns
And unlike crude
It gets renewed –
Each season it returns!’

So what could be the problem?
Let’s plant it right away!
It’s going to charm
Those on the farm
With pay instead of hay!

Making all the fuel we need
Corn and soy and wheat
By the ton
Will mean there’s none
Left for us to eat

But we can grow our foodstuffs
In other peoples’ fields
In lieu of debt
We can jet
All a country yields

Back to where we’re living
And eat it all ourselves
And we won’t share
So people stare
At rows of empty shelves

And when those third world countries
Have all been dispossessed
Of all their land
They’ll all be banned
From moving to the west

Does Ethanol burn cleaner?
It’s dirty stuff to make
It tends to spew
And chaos in its wake

It takes more energy to make
A gallon of this goo
Than it releases
But it greases
Palms of you-know-who

Coporate vested interests
That stand to rake in stacks
Of subsidies
If you please
Paid for with your tax

To grow the fuel we cut down trees
And burn them then and there
And all the gas
Within their mass
Is sent into the air

And all the Co2 that forests
Normally absorb
Now just flies
Around the skies
Of our blue/green orb

Melting all the glaciers
Filling up the seas
Making more
People poor
To fuel our SUVs

We’re being told we’re helping while
The planet slowly boils
Which goes to show
What we should know
That they know oils ain’t oils


Monday, October 1, 2007

Dolly Downer's Democratic Dilemma

There is to be a change in editorial policy at Let’s Ask Elroy!™ In an attempt to remain vaguely relevant and be in the now we shall present more thoughts more often, heaving the ‘Webessay’ format overboard for the time being and becoming snappily tabloidesque although no less opinionated. Expect Elroy to report at least, and he means at least three times a week! Can he do it? The stakes are high...

The longer polemic/rant/screed/diatribe/ may turn up from time to time, but on the whole you’d better stick Let’s Ask Elroy on your bookmark bar and check in daily – who knows what he might hold forth on. So make it part of your breakfast experience, and once again thank you for being part of the exclusive family that is Let’s Ask Elroy!™ That is all.

(Having said that, the following is waaaay too long and a complete abrogation of the new editorial guidelines. Elroy has severely chastised the minion responsible but, as the staff are a bunch of wild and crazy kids who live for the now, don't expect it not to happen again.)

Dolly Downer's Democratic Dilemma

As the footy winds up, the sport of would-be kings is about to lurch out of the home-and-away season and kick into finals mode! Yes, the unelection campaign is nearly over and the quest for the keys to Kirribilli is about to hit high gear, and as it does the Liberal Government’s elite come out fighting in the ultimate festival of the boot, no matter how ridiculous they may sound and look, which leads us to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander ‘Dolly’ Downer and his peculiar notions of democracy.

The government, particularly this one, is very attached to the tri-yearly ballot-box farrago as it means that for the most part they can get on with doing whatever they want to do regardless of whether or not there is any kind of ‘mandate’ for it. The Westminster system of Representative Democracy gives politicians carte blanche to break every pledge they used to get elected in the first place – see Honest John Howard’s infamous 'core' and ‘non-core’ promises – they are unaccountable for around 36 months at a stretch, plenty of time to cause all kinds of damage as they plough the ship of state full steam ahead into iceberg after bloody iceberg.

So it’s no great stretch to see why Westminster-style Representative Democracy is touted by government as the be-all and end-all of societal organization, and although there are often exceptions that let the cat out pf the bag – former Liberal Party candidate and all-round political fruit-loop Pauline Hanson described it as ‘Mob rule’ – it’s not often that Liberal front men, those that are actively prosecuting a war supposedly based on spreading democracy around the Middle East like so much Vegemite, get all muddled about their product.

But Dolly Downer was so keen to deliver a hefty kick at Saint Kevin and his Laboring disciples he wound up sticking the boot into poor old democracy herself and unwittingly promoting an alternative system of government that Elroy thinks sounds far closer to how a society should be constructed. Yes, the truth is that Dolly, the bluest of bloods, knows that representative democracy is a dud for anyone but the ruling classes, and showed his disdain quite clearly On ABC television’s Lateline show last Tuesday.

While defending the fact that, because Australia did not ratify the Koyoto Protocol, we will have no vote at the upcoming Bali climate change conference, Dolly said

‘It's not like some Labor Party branch meeting, you know, all in favour of socialism and 35 put up their hands, all against two put up their hands, OK socialism's adopted. It doesn't work like that.’

Really, Dolly? Y’see, that’s the way it works for the punters back home. In general elections, the House of Representatives and the Senate – the ayes have it! So how does it work when nation states are the electorates?

‘What you do is you sit around in groups, have bilateral meetings, have plenary meetings and you negotiate the type of arrangement that we put in place and hopefully in the end there will be something of a consensus on what kind of an arrangement is put in place.’

Wow! Did you hear that? Let’s parse a-while!

‘What you do is you sit around in groups…’

Mmm. That sounds encouraging. Smaller arrangements of interested parties getting down to the nitty-gritty instead of everyone yelling at each other all together, kind of like having smaller class sizes in schools as opposed to trying to teach the entire school body in the one dining hall. And we all like smaller class sizes, right? So far so good, Dolly – what’s next?

‘…have bilateral meetings, have plenary meetings…’

OK, for us mortals, well, we know what ‘bilateral’ means (my trusty ol’ Oxford defines it as ‘Adjective: 1. Having two sides. 2. Involving two parties), but ‘plenary’? ‘1. Unqualified; absolute. 2. (Of a meeting at a conference or assembly) to be attended by all participants. Thanks for that Word Of The Day, Dolly – and now we know what it actually means!

Ok, so we have all interested parties involved, both or even every side of the argument sits down and no bunking off! No playing hookey! Not like the current situation in the House of Representatives, where most of the members are somewhere else polishing off another crate of Grange, no! Plenary! Everybody must attend! Absolute! No exceptions! And…

‘…and you negotiate the type of arrangement that we put in place and hopefully in the end there will be something of a consensus on what kind of an arrangement is put in place.’

So, a plan is developed through a process of consultation and conciliation by all stakeholders in the hope of finding consensus with the wider body. Terrific! Maybe Dolly is OK after all!

But I know what you’re asking: What else did he say? This visionary, this champion of the people, this democratic revolutionary, did he have more pearls of wisdom to impart? I mean, what is wrong with the obviously crude and distinctly primitive ‘democracy’ that he and is kind insists be adopted around the world? Hmm, Dolly?

‘After all, if you just have a vote and some countries vote against a particular proposition, you can't force those countries that have voted against a proposition to embrace it. It doesn't work like that.’

But again, that's the way it works for us. It works like that here. The constituencies that vote against a motion or a piece of legislation don’t get to reject it; we still have WorkChoices here in Melbourne Ports, no matter how our local member may have voted. So how does it work there?

‘What happens is that, and what should happen, is that there is an effort to put together an international agreement and that is what's in the best interests of the world.’

That is what should happen! Damn straight!

‘When you were talking at the beginning about the importance of this meeting, it's not going to be much of a meeting if it's conducted like some sort of Labor Party branch meeting.’

Maybe we should once again remind the Honourable Member for Mayo that meetings ‘conducted like some sort of Labor Party branch meeting’ are eerily similar to those held by that other rabble, the Australian Federal Government’s House of Representatives, and has even been known to have tried by the Liberal Party themselves! Fancy! Does Dolly know?

Is there any reason that Australia doesn’t organize it’s affairs this way? That we don’t have, say, an arrangement whereby all the political representatives of an electorate could have bilateral and plenary meetings to negotiate agreements so that delegates could reach a consensus? And that those that do agree with those agreements are not bound by them?

This would eradicate the kind of politics we have now where approximately 50% of the electorate are saddled with policies that they are vehemently opposed to, where one party is free to indulge in ideological excess and free to govern for the benefit of the vested interests that put them there.

The sky’s the limit! Using Dolly’s preferred formula, that vintage, nay, veteran democratic vehicle we all lumber along could be restored and renovated, hot-rodded for the new millennium! That old bus is hundreds of years old! It’s a steam-powered, string-driven, two-wheeled, us-or-them, black-or-white thingamajig that could really do with some radical revamping! It’s the 21st Century, man – let’s build a democratic process that provides a voice for everyone!

There is no shortage of ideas on what to do instead – ‘voting theory' is a branch of political science that has been actively discussed since the 18th Century and democracy comes in many forms – but if the international community has found a better way, why not us? Why, Dolly, can’t we mere mortals organize our affairs like you and your diplomatic chums?

‘It's got to be conducted in a sophisticated way by sophisticated people addressing a truly important issue.

And we are what, Dolly?

So can we look forward to some radical interpretations of democratic theory from Alexander ‘Dolly’ Dower during the election campaign? Can we expect him to agitate for change so that the interests of the great unwashed of Goddamorgidge ride in a style suitable for the upper echelons of the ruling classes? Or will they yet again get to lollop along in the venerable old ‘bus that’s wheeled out every three years to such fanfare and mock delight?

Elroy's going with the bus, because Dolly Downer's democratic dilemma is that although he knows full well that bus is broken, he also knows that because his grip on the reins of power depend on it he must keep telling us that it is fully operational and all of its circuits are functioning perfectly. He tells us one thing while believing another, and if that isn't lying then it is at the least a dereliction of principles, and is that what we want from our elected leaders? Elroy's thinking 'No'.