Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Socialist Dis-ease!

Palin/McCain have whacked Obama upside the head with any amount of tall tales and untruths since the Straight Talk Express™ got gassed up and ready to roll. ‘He’s inexperienced!’ He’s a secret Muslim!’ ‘He’s a terrorist!’ ‘He’s a Muslim terrorist!’ ‘He’s a vote rigger!’ ‘He’s an Indonesian!’ and the latest ––He’s an inexperienced secret Muslim terrorist vote rigging Indonesian SOCIALIST!’

Now, don’t think for a moment that the moneyed elites of the USA don’t believe in socialism – it’s just that they believe in for themselves. The poor folk can have capitalism, at gunpoint if necessary, as what the rich like to do is privatize gain and socialize loss, but this meme has gotten the odd couple a little traction with lately, as inspired by Obama’s alteration with Joe the Plumber, that Barak Obama is a socialist; however, it’s all a bit late because the jig is, more or less, up. Rampaging hordes of Bolsheviks have overrun previously redder-than-redneck states and plastered the hammer and sickle over Old Glory from sea to shining sea while Palin/McCain are engaged in a final dance of death by irrelevancy, pulling out of more and more states as they hunker down in Pennsylvania, their best last hope, betting the farm that working class whites will be too racist to vote for the black man and too stupid to vote for themselves; however, the comprehensive demolition of the American Dream™ by the USA’s ‘elected’ criminals and their coterie of assorted miscreants has awoken the great unwashed to a terrible truth – that the promises of the last thirty years were complete bollocks and that life doesn’t have to be this hard.

Like a six-year-old figuring out that there ain’t no Sanity Clause, suddenly they have realized that the lazy fuckers who couldn’t be bothered to pull themselves up by their bootstraps are them, that they have been swindled out of their retirements, their homes, their jobs, their health and their kids’ futures by an establishment that should have known better and who did, in actual fact know better – they knew better than Johnny Subprime and Suzy Foodstamps that they would make out like bandits while everyone else whistled Dixie for their lo-fat petrochemical by-product – and the teeming mass and ain’t too happy about it.

When Grumbleguts accuses Obama of being a socialist, many fervently hope that Grumbleguts is, for once, telling the truth – Americans, or at least a crucial majority of them, have had a gutful of conservative ‘individual responsibility’, particularly when they are being held individually responsible for maintaining the lifestyles to which Wall Street wish to remain accustomed; now when they hear Sean Hannity splutter ‘We're going to become European socialists, we're going to be France, and wave the white flag of surrender, and we're going to nationalize health care and we're going to spread, redistribute the wealth, that's our patriotic duty’ many are thinking ‘Good!’, ‘Why not?’ and ‘About time!’

Americans are, quite frankly, a mess of contradictions. For instance, they have always boasted of being the most technologically advanced and modern of cultures while brandishing an allegiance to a vengeful God that Europe ditched just after the Mayflower heaved-to in Plymouth Harbor; they deny and decry the concept of Darwinism and the origin of the species but celebrate Social Darwinism and the origin of squillionaires, and they revel in being borned in the USA and a turbo-charged patriotism but deeply resent having to contribute financially to the country’s physical well being, up-ending the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s proposal that property is theft and declaring instead that taxes are theft – of property.

This is why the French are considered the USA’s enemy No.1 – the ruling elite are terrified that the star spangled suckers from the Land of the Free® might learn the truth about their continental cousins and their tax-happy ways, that they might discover the French, for a mere three percent more tax than is squeezed out of Johnny Subprime, enjoy free universal healthcare, free childcare, free universities (all of them, even the posh ones) and four months maternity leave, thirty days mandatory holiday and unlimited sick days, all on full pay, that it must be possible to live in an industrial and/or post-industrial nation without having to put the preservation of shareholders’ rights above those of their own children, the sanctity of the Free Market™ over that of their own health or throw starving citizens out onto the street.

It has for years been crucial to American power that US citizens remain ignorant of places such as la belle France, places where the entire automotive industry is not for sale on e-bay. where working more than thirty-five hours a week is illegal, where they have, after long and detailed study, noticed that eating cheap processed food will kill you, where unions are strong and proud, where the peasants understand that handing over their modest wealth to the captains of industry in the hope that this aristocracy, once they have done every other conceivable thing with it, might not invest it in infrastructure and production capacity after all and so do not give them the option and where any attempts to mess with these vital elements of daily life are regularly met with flaming riots and armed insurrection. and so Johnny Subprime is told tales of snobbery, snails and cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

But the captives of the Home of the Brave have much more in common with their Gallic counterparts than they realize; they are both, despite each displaying varying veneers of sophistication, have elements which are deeply racist, coarse, vulgar and violent and, most importantly, both gained their freedom via bloody revolution – indeed, the French bankrolled the American Revolution as a means of annoying the English, and the French though it such a hoot that they had a crack at it themselves helped, ironically, by the wretched effect the American frolic had on King Louis’ coffers – but the great difference, however, is that the French have not forgotten how their freedoms were achieved and as ready to lob half a brick in defense of the Republic as ever.

Or the yanks could take a peek at the Danish way of doing stuff. The Danes, without bragging about it to the world at interminable length, have developed a patriotism that relies less on singing about lapel pins and more on actually being a united people with a combination of free market individuality and welfare state collectivism they call a very post-modern ‘Flexicuirty’.

There’s something in it for everyone; 85% of workers are on collective agreements worked out on the job or across the town’s bosses, and those bosses can flex their muscle and feel superior because they can hire and fire at will with no redundancy payments and can raise or cut their worker’s hours from week to week, so long as the workers average a, get this, 37 hour week.
But what’s in it for the workers? Well, if you do get fired, dole payments are up to 90% of your previous wage and you become immediately eligible for government-financed retraining and/or education to train you for a new gig, and employers and unions have agreed to give employed workers the right to leave their job temporarily on 85% pay to undertake relevant training.
On the family front, new mums get up to 29 weeks of paid maternity leave and daddies get five weeks paternity leave from a fund financed jointly by all employers, while the state provides free child care so mothers can combine work and parenting, and teachers and child care workers are treated with the respect normally reserved for clergymen, not real estate brokers.

Not that any of this is really socialism – it is merely using the power of the state to provide a bottom line of existence for their citizens so that they are free to create opportunity and happy, fulfilling lives, what the vindicated Keynesians among us call a ‘mixed economy’ a very popular and successful system of organization for a good fifty years after the last capitalist clusterfuck – but the baying hordes of the Republican base do not or cannot recognize that it was this kind of society that their precious founding fathers had in mind I the first place, not mention various subsequent heroes of the conservative movement.

A socialist? Thomas Jefferson? By modern GOP standards, absolutely! ‘Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property’ he wrote to James Madison in 1785, ‘is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.’

And how about Roosevelt? No, not the communist FDR – his Republican uncle! ‘I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective’ said Teddy before hitting it right between he eyes and sending Grover Norquist off to blub to his mommy with ‘…a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.’ A Republican death tax! Woo hoo!

Who next? What other traitors can we dredge up? Oh no! Come on down, WW2 hero and father of the American middle class, Dwight D. Eisenhower! Whaddaya like, Ike? ‘Every dollar spent by the government must be paid for either by taxes or by more borrowing with greater debt. The only way to make more tax cuts now is to have bigger and bigger deficits and to borrow more and more money. Either we or our children will have to bear the burden of this debt. This is one kind of chicken that always comes home to roost.’ Wow! Roosting chickens? Sounds like Barack Obama and Malcolm X! Got any more? ‘An unwise tax cutter, my fellow citizens, is no real friend of the taxpayer.’

Golly! Jefferson? Roosevelt I? Eisenhower? Who else we can get to round out this gang of four? Well, when Ronnie Ray-gun passed the earned income tax credit for low-income workers that hiked take-home pay above poverty levels and reduced the impact of payroll taxes he said ‘It's the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress’

Of course, it must be mention that it was Ronnie who doubled payroll tax on the lower orders in the first place and set this whole ‘Let them eat caviar!’ ball rolling for the rich, but even he had the top tax rate set at 50%! And Eisenhower hit ‘em with 91%!!! Seeing as Obama only wants to return it from the current 35% to Clinton’s 39%, I should expect the loyal Republicans are relived to be well shot of those wretched communist anti-Americans Ike and Ron.

But Grumbleguts has a handle on history too, and he is now telling us that he is FDR to Obama’s Herbert Hoover, which would make him, McCain, the socialist! What the…? Conservatives hate FDR more than Karl Marx, as Rush Limbaugh said ‘Roosevelt is dead. His policies may live on, but we’re in the process of doing something about that as well!’ and for Obama to be Hoover then Obama would have to be of the party that created the clusterfuck, but that’s…oh nevermind, McCain is liable to say just about anything now, no matter how bizaare, so best not to worry too much. Unless…

Palin says that ‘Now is not the time to start experimenting with socialism!’, but that’s strange because The People’s Democratic Socialist Republic Of Alaskanistan has been experimenting with it for some years now, and with great success. For all their bluster about being the last frontier full of bootstrap pullin’ rugged individuals, Alaska’s very existence is due to the largesse of the Federal government whose funding accounts for 80% of it budget and who gives it $2 for every $1 Alaskanistan coughs up in that nasty tax stuff.

Meanwhile Palin has stuck the oil companies with a windfall profit tax which is then mail to every man, woman and moose in the state, not to mention a couple more thousand in state goodies…now, let me see…employment dependent on the federal government…redistribution of oil wealth…yup, it seems the biggest socialist around right now is none other than…Governor Sarah Palin!

And if anymore irony could be possible, it turns out that Sarah and her hubby have for years been involved with the Alaska Independence Party, a motley crew of separatists who have sworn blind to relieve themselves of the ‘lower forty-eight’ no matter what, which makes them revolutionary separatist socialist terrorists and leaves us wondering what they will spend their remaining pocket money on.

And as the sun sets on the McCain’s campaign and career, his advertising in these dying days is getting kind of, well, sad and desperate. Now it turns out that being a secret Muslim is OK – hell, the USA was founded on the freedom of religion – and being a terrorist ain’t so bad as, ‘y’know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and being Muslim terrorist, well, in this day and age that’s a legitimate lifestyle choice, isn’t t? Is he a vote rigger? Oh,…who isn’t these days, and as for being an Indonesian, gosh – we’ve all been to Bali too. Socialist? No more than Teddy Roosevelt and Ike Eisenhower!

No, the MCain campaign has given up on all these and returned to where they started, back to before it hired a tyrannical housewife who says she can stare down the world but who cannot stare down her own teenage daughter, back to a simpler world where Barack just doesn’t have the runs on the board, where he just doesn’t have the experience.

But it’s sadder than that – in his last ad McCain is even throwing Palin’s 2012 presidential run under the wheezing wheels of the Straight Talk Express™ as he implores voters that it’s not even as if Obama won’t be a good president one day, it’s just that he’s not ready…’yet’.

‘Yet.’

‘Give me one go, just one go on the bike and I don’t give a %^$# who gets to ride it next time. Hire ‘That one’ next time – he’d be good next time – but please, please, hire me now. I deserve it. Because I said so. I’m John McCain, and I don’t care anymore. Look, I‘m begging now. Begging. Is that what you want of your war veterans? Get off my @*^$ lawn!....’

Socialism. It’s what saved capitalism from itself in the ‘30s and what will save it again now. We all know that socialism is what works when all else fails and that America will embrace it again ¬– as Winton Churchill said, ‘In the end, America will do the right thing . . . after she's exhausted all other possibilities’.

Beyond The Palin.

There has been much high dudgeon at Let’s Ask Elroy!™ as we, the LAE Editorial Taskforce struggle to pin the guv’nor down on everything that has been up – the rise and fall of Ice Queen of Nowhereville, Alaska, the rise and rise of Barak Obama, the fall, rise and fall of John ‘Grumbleguts’ McCaiin and the falling, falling, ever falling western capitalism, otherwise known as the End Of The World As We Know It®, who will win, why, what will happen if they do, or don’t, and a host of other intellectual and philosophical conundrums intentions, inventions, interventions, introspections, contentions and contraventions that have Elroy’s head fair exploding with informational tidbits of every dimension.

The thing is that as soon as something happens something else does, and Elroy is such a dann completist and perfectionist that the LAE™ Nerve HQ is nose high with waste paper as the definitive say on the future of the free world is written, rewritten and re-rewritten for you, our dear reader’s, edification and education; however, as it looks as if election day will come and go with Elroy still chewing his crayon in despair, the Editorial Taskforce has taken it upon themselves to sort through the entrails of 568 reams of Reflex and attempt to approximate his intentions.

We know that it is now unfashionable to have a crack at the Thriller From Wasilla – dissing Sarah Palin is sooooooooooo October – but hell, what’s to lose? Palin was originally a stroke of brilliance, a malevolent act of evil genius by the Bush/McCain campaign team; with McCain supplying the privileged-scion-of-the-establishment-with-a-prodigious-ability-to-drink-fuck-and-be-rescued-by-daddy part of the equation (go here for a good low low-down on the John McCain story), Palin completed the candidate by being a folk-ready yokel whose main claim to power is an uncanny ability to mangle the English language and the belief that all you need to know about the world you can learn in Fuckbucket, Idaho.

The hardcore GOP faithful initially had concerns about Grumbleguts’ ‘maverick’ status – they thought this temerity to challenge the lock-step status quo meant he was maybe just a touch too lib’rul – so the McCain campaign hired a ‘leader’ with the redneck touch to counter this paranoia, a Washington cleanskin whose hands were not smothered in the crimson currently coursing from erstwhile titans of Wall Street, a conservative everywoman and a sop to enraged Hilla-crats, a dedicated hockey mom who got into politics because, gosh durn it, those politicians obviously jus’ don’t how to run a railroad.

Never mind the litany of her gross mismanagement, abuses of power, maniacal spending, tax-raising, bribery, dereliction of duty, hypocrisy, deceit, extreme religious convictions and terminological inexactitudes that have characterized her time as mayor of the snow-bound speck she turned from sleepy Santa stopover to debt-ridden, dead drunk and drug-fucked dump, and her general lording it up as Governor of Alaska – and if you’ve missed it there’s a handy-dandy fact-sheet available here – the fact that her actions in these endeavours manifestly contradict everything she is now espousing does not in anyway preclude her from high office – in fact, by GOP standards it made her most eminently suitable.

Palin coasted into Alaskan high office by challenging the cosy little den of corruption enjoyed by the Republican incumbents – she was a ‘reformer’ which meant, by biting the hand that fed her, she was a ‘maverick’ too, but she soon leant how to manipulate her newly acquired power with the best of them. McCain, of course, never wanted her on the ticket – he wanted fellow namby-pamby bed-wetter and sometime Democrat Joe Lieberman to be his VP ¬– but to demonstrate just what a ‘maverick’ he really wasn’t he rolled over like a big old houn’ dawg and allowed the top GOPsters to have their wicked way, and so we have been subjected to the Palin/McCain roadshow, a ‘team of mavericks’, if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms, promising to overthrow Washington and git some Wasilla kinda’ thinkin’ in there, you betcha!

And if you’re wondering what ‘Wasilla kinda’ thinkin’’ is, look no further than Palin’s, um, novel interpretation of the first amendment. According to Saint Sarah, her rights are being trampled if anyone criticizes her calling Barak Obama a secret Muslim Marxist terrorist, that ‘free speech’ means she be allowed to say whatever she likes about whoever she likes and be unchallenged – Obama’s free speech right to defend himself do not, apparently, count.

Meanwhile, The Palin/McCain double act of accelerating erraticism got funnier by the day; in the face of a global governmental effort to bring the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse down at the second or third fence by indulging in massive Keynesian deficit pump-priming and public spending, the Ice Queen of Nowhere, AL, promised to balance the budget. Now they think of it! At just the moment where deficit spending is required, after however many years when deficit spending wasn’t required but done anyway – ‘Reagan’ snarled Dick Cheney in 2002 over a lunch of live puppy and barbequed welfare dependent, ‘proved deficits don’t matter’ – she wants to somehow pay off the ten, count ‘em, ten trillion dollar debt!

Then they called for more regulation for the financial system while exhorting government to ‘git out the way!’, with no hint of irony, and generally put themselves in the bizarre position of being in opposition to their own party – ‘Throw the bums out!’ out they cry, hoping that no-one will notice that they are themselves the bums in question, while that other Christian fundamentalist’s fundamentalist, the New English ‘Texan’ rube who has winked, mugged and howdy-doodied his way though eight years of economic, human and constitutional carnage is, yet again, AWOL., safely gaffa-taped and stashed under the White House sink.

The Palin/McCain show has been a train-wreck of epic proportions, like watching Grandpa Simpson in a remake of ‘Fargo’, but as we get closer to ‘the day’ the wheels of the Straight Talk Express™ are a-wobbling more than somewhat. The have opted for a strange kind of populism which stands up for the rights of millionaires to hang on their cash while the people at their rallies don’t know if they if they will have homes to go back to, but the irony is that if Grumbleguts had just had the courage of the convictions that made him a ‘maverick’ in the first place, like the opposition to the Bush tax-cuts, torture and, in these weird economic times it might have got him over the top with all those fence-straddlin’ independents and vacillating undecideds, and rejecting the bailout would have made him a hero without risking anything as there was no way that wasn’t going to pass.

However, as Grumbleguts is ultimately an opportunist cruising down the path of least resistance, he thew those convictions under the wheels of the Straight Talk Express™ and joined the barking mad Palinites bid for lowest common denominator. Mixed messages be damned, they turn the fruits of the cherished meritocracy into the detested ‘intellectual elite’, where having an education is some crime against humanity and there is something clever about being stupid, and pledge undying allegiance to the unborn while not giving a flying fuck about what happens after God’s miracle has occurred and the now all-too-born is living in a car and eating out of dumpsters, all of which has but the most one-eyed punter smelling several dead and festering rats.

And as the Straight Talk Express™ swerves off the campaign highway and ploughs flaming into the ditch of electoral oblivion, Palin has done what she has always done, and what she accuses Barack Obama of doing, and stuck her finger into the air to see which way the political wind blows. As a result she has gone rouge and is now deliberately ignoring and contradicting whatever McCain’s people tell her people but, as can be seen from her history in Alaska, this should come as no surprise. ‘I’m not doing this for nought’ she told the ABC, and while some McCain staffers told the media other things, like she is a ‘Diva’ and a ‘Whack job, there can be no doubt that she is a also megalomaniac who now sees herself as deserving of the top job and so is setting herself up for a tilt in 2012.

This will at least give her a chance to come to terms with the real world and the evil it contains. In another example of free speech being, as Dubya would have it, just a bit too free, she took a personal call from France’s President Sarkozy in the last days of the campaign and spoke freely about how dangerous is hunting with Dick Cheney, how much fun is shooting baby seals from a helicopter, how hot is Carla Bruni and how ace was Hustler’s soft porn video’ documentary’ Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, a conversation broadcast across the airwaves by the Montreal radio station CKOI-FM because she was not talking to Sarkozy – she was talking to the Maked Avengers, two Montreal radio pranksters. ‘But it’s a radio station in France!’ she can be heard telling the aide who had relieved her of the phone. Grrr! Stoopid first amendment! Needs to whopped upside it's head with the censorship stick – hell, it worked for the Wasilla public library!

Who do Americans want answering the ‘phone at 3AM? Someone who can tell when they are talking to comedians.

But Palin is not the only everyperson out on the make on the trail – somewhere along the line there materialized out of nowhere the phenomenon of Joe The Plumber, an average Johnny Subprime who nailed a doorknocking Obama on his tax plans and how they would effect the business Joe was about to buy. Grumbleguts was delighted by this and made Joe an overnight sensation; Joe was symbolic of all that the McCain campaign represents, which quickly became ironic indeed as it turned out that Joe’s name was not Joe, he is not actually a plumber, he had a much chance of buying the business he worked for as Elroy does of buying General Electric, he is a registered Republican and is related to the same Charles Keating who got McCain into so much hot snot over the Savings and Loan scandal of the late ‘80s that cost US taxpayers billions. Again.

Ah well, you can’t say McCain doesn’t help the working man – Joe now has a book coming out, a record deal, an agent and plans to run for congress in 2010 – he’s so busy he can’t be fucked turning up to Grumbleguts’ rallies, leaving Grumbleguts to yell ‘Come on up, Joe the Plumber!’ to a bewildered, embarrassed and silent smattering of die-hards; never mind, perhaps he can phone it in.

And meanwhile the more sober and serious conservative intellectuals, if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms, are shaking their heads in despair, a small coterie which grows larger every morning and who, as the loonies take charge, spend their waking hours paraphrasing both erstwhile GOP high priest Ronnie Ray-gun and goddamn Democrat LBJ. ‘I didn’t leave the Republican Party – the Republican Party left me’ they mutter into their triple single malts, and ‘There goes the entire country for several generations….’ as they slide off the vote...for Obama. Even Fox News,, with the obvious exceptions of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, is busy sliding over to the Democrat side of things…Rupert Murdoch does not like being on the losing side.

Ah, what a shame. Poor pl' Grumbleguts. Yet we find no tears on Elroy’s manuscript...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The King Is Dead – Long Live The President!

And so it came to pass that the post-election crisis that has seen the Liberal Party flounder in and a by whatever measure of public opinion one cares to name caused by Dr Brendan ‘The Locum’ Nelson scoring spectacular own goals with the bullet riddled feet wrenched from his own copious jawbone with such priceless acts of political absurdity as loudly demanding that the government follow a certain course of action that he then, with his very next breath, declared that he would never follow were he ever Prime Minister, is over; The Locum, the ex-ALP Liberal Party try-hard that Libs had suckered into being ‘leader’ while they indulged in hissy-fits various, stabbed each other in the back and licked their wounds, has been sent back to where he so rightfully belongs, i.e. the backbenches, to contemplate what it’s like to be had while the rest of the chaps get on with being serious again.

Yes, it’s all change as Big Mal Turnbull, the Valcuse battler squillionaire barrister, merchant banker and scourge of concerned conservatives everywhere proves that money can, indeed, buy anything if one tries, and has, enough. Big Mal tried to purchase the presidency when he hijacked the Australian Republican Movement and, when that little balloon was punctured by Mal’s nemesis, the erstwhile Liberal and extremely conservative Prime Minister ‘Honest’ John Howard, Mal popped out and bought himself a seat in the House of Representatives with an eye to becoming PM himself. Now it's his party, which he'll buy if he has to, Ambitious? Mal? He will be king, goddamn it! Whatever it takes.

Surprised? Not if you read Let’s Ask Elroy!™, but will Mal make it all the way to The Lodge? Not so fast, Elroy, not so fast. For a start there is the man himself, a gung-ho hip-slinger who shoots first and finds out who’s dead later and who also flirted with the ALP when it suited him; Big Mal is a lone wolf who has all the propensity for consensus and collaboration as Pol Pot, is what other electorates in other places call a ‘maverick’, is a bull-dozer who sweeps all before him, colleagues and all.

And this will not please his peers – remember, even though The Locum’s poll ratings were lower than his shoe size, and he is not a big man, Big Mal only got four (4), count ‘em, four more votes than The Locum, so it’s either fight against every fibre of his being and – eww! – consult with his colleagues or spend the next year making the eventual ascension of The Smirking Wimp a mere formality.

And who, pray, be The Smirking Wimp? Why, it’s none other than the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma and available in hardcopy from that remainder shop near the station, Peter Costello! It has occurred to Elroy that he who dares not has not, as yet, actually exited stage right – he is still mooching around the backbenches, possibly sharing play-lunch with The Locum, and taking solace from the tales of such titans that played the long game and spent their years in the wilderness as Winston Churchill, Bob Menzies and – eek! – John Howard himself.

It took eons for these legislative leviathans’ parties to whack themselves on their collective foreheads and see the light, so stay tuned – The Wimp is going nowhere but the members’ bar to wait for the Liberals’ faceless men to come beg, nay plead, nay, demand that the smirkster lead them to victory come whenever.
Mal has ambition and cash to burn, but his head is just as super-heated who has only just arrived; he has only been in parliament four years – our own Obama/Palin – while The Wimp is a lot more battle-scarred and has endured plenty of downtime in the house in which to study his well-thumbed Machiavelli.

Costello maybe lazy, he may suffer from delusions of grandeur and a sense of entitlement that would make Prince Charles squirm, but he is not entirely stupid; he knew there would be a bloodbath if the Liberals lost the election and so has contrived, via the excuse that he was ‘working on his memoirs’, to remain above the fray and await the call when all other contenders are dead in a ditch.

If there is one thing The Smirking Wimp hates more than the Australian workforce it is Honest John Winston Howard, and he will be buggered if he will let Johnny deprive him of his birthright. Revenge being a dish best served chilled with a light Chianti, the Whimpy one is merely on ice – waiting, waiting, waiting – as the fat lady has not yet even finished her lunch. Watch this space.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Axis Of Evidence!

It strikes Elroy that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy abroad in the world, and that double standards abound on some very, very big topics which annoy Elroy more than somewhat. What counts for one issue does not matter for another, so in the name of consistency, truth, justice and the humanist way, Elroy would like to iron out a few of these wrinkles and make the case for applying principles in a manner which is, well, principled.

So, what are the issues? Well, in no particular order, here are three big ones that more or less define the post-modern condition, the axis of evidence that spill from one into the next – the Iraq War, Global Warming and 9/11.

Nothing much then, just the most volatile, contentious and partisan, bi-partisan, cross-partisan and non-partisan subjects of public debate currently on the table, so what’s the problem?

The problem, dear reader, is one of approach, of truth, of working out the who-what-why-where-when of it all. Let’s take the Iraq War. We were told, back in 2002, that Iraq was a threat that could not be denied or ignored, that the cost of doing nothing was far greater than the cost of doing something and, if we didn’t act now, the cost of acting then would be too much too bear, that humanity could not afford the risk, after all, with all those WMD with Saddam, the future of the entire planet was at stake etc etc, blah blah blah, waddaya waddaya, and the naysayers and doves who argued and asked for proof, who found experts that knew full well Saddam had as many WMD as the Easter Bunny, were shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed.

So many people, faced with what they were told was incontrovertible proof that world was in eminent peril, went along with the invasion and occupation of Iraq – shame that it was completely bogus, but that’s not the point – the point is that the threat was too, too great and so literally untold billions of dollars have been spent to mitigate said threat.

Which brings us to another issue which has some similarities with the Iraq war in that it is also a threat that cannot be denied or ignored, that the cost of doing nothing about it is far greater than the cost of doing something and, if we don’t act now, the cost of acting then will be too much too bear, that humanity could not afford the risk because, after all, the future of the entire planet is at stake and we are faced with incontrovertible proof that world was in peril, but the people that sold us this logic to go to war with the WMD menace are the very ones that deny the existence of this other highly pressing subject.

The climate change deniers, those that were the head cheerleaders for war, take all the arguments that the peaceniks used to talk the hawks out of combat – the financial cost, the human cost, the lack of verifiable scientific evidence – and use it to beat environmentalists over the head, despite the remarkable volte face it requires.

The logic used to argue for action against global warming is the same as was used to prosecute the Iraq war, but for some reason those that once urged haste urge caution, and visa versa, but there is a crucial difference – the WMD of Saddam Hussein, if they ever actually existed, which they didn’t, could never have actually turned the lights out from pole to pole, whereas global warming actually can.

Another feature of those intent on lightly poaching the globe in its juices is their sudden expertise on all things climatic; even the most rationally challenged blogger has become ofay with the intricacies of climatologising, and one can hardly peek at a conservative website these days without being barraged by arcane scientific data of the most intricate and obscure variety which desperately tries to prove that it’s all a big con put up by evil, tree-hugging climatologists hell-bent on retaining their funding and living it large at the tax-payers trough.

‘It’s a conspiracy!’ cry these devotees of Newton and Galileo who also generally exhibit a distinctly unscientific allegiance to an all-powerfull, all-seeing, all-knowing unknowable ‘creator’, ‘They’re just after the cash!’, while spurning any suggestion that the Iraq war was set up in part as the mother of all boondoggles for the military/industrial complex. They also whine that they are merely asking for proof, that they have found experts who know full well that the planet is getting colder, and that the are being shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed, yet if the anti-war mob got the kind of media coverage the climate change sceptics have been accorded there would still be running water on the Tigris.

Indeed, one of their ‘experts’, the ‘mathematician’ (cue approving nods) Mr David Evans, has been widely quoted as whining that ‘The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990’, but when one takes into consideration that the entire global GDP is approximately $64 trillion, that works out to more or less $3 billion per year which, when spread across all 6-odd billion, of us is chump change!

$3 billion a year for a whole planet? Where else are you going to get a bargain like that? It’s certainly better value than the warlords plan for global preservation, currently running at $3.5 billion per week.

Naturally there is nothing to prove the climatologist/research complex conspiracy theory, but so what? That just shows you how crafty them there scientists are, but not all scientists you understand – the scientists that deny the reality of global warming are totally altruistic and not really in the pay of big oil. Like our friend Mr Evans, many are not actually climate scientists either, but never mind – they’re clever, that’s what counts, and that’s what makes them eminently quotable.

However, when it comes to the third corner of our trio of tribulation, science is suddenly back in its box and Osama Bin Laden’s true believers return to their faith-based approach to investigation and mercilessly mock those campaigning to discover the truth about 9/11; the ‘troofers’, as they are so sneeringly referred to, have many quite reasonable points to make about 9/11 and what really happened that fateful morn, but their opponents are having none of it – the troofers are as batshit crazy to them as the The Lavoisier Group are to Friends Of The Earth and the US Marine Corp appear to Code Pink.

Suddenly quoting experts, real experts, honest-to-god physicists, civil engineers, architects, jet pilots, demolition riggers, military personnel of every stripe and the fundamental laws of Newton and Galileo is cause for much scoffing and derision, as one is precluded from using any such evidence unless one actually has the relevant doctorate and not even then.

There are many ostensibly sane people who argue that they are not advocating a conspiracy theory so much as viable hypothesises that attempt to include all of the known facts, that are merely asking for proof, and they have found experts who know full well that buildings do not drop straight down through the path of most resistance without help, but they are being shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed.

Of course, like the anti-war movement, if the troofers were granted the same amount of media oxygen as the climate change deniers – there are more docos that go out of their way to slam down the former next president of the United States on the telly than Australian soap operas, all in the name of free speech, doncha know – there would likely be a run on pitchforks as a million man mob advanced on the Capitol Hill with menace aforethought, but those that bleat about scheming weathermen are too busy yelling about tin-foil hats and Elvis driving the Roswell spaceships to care, or notice the irony.

Another problem is that these issues do not break along partisan lines. There are many lefties who originally supported the ousting of Saddam Hussein ¬¬¬but who are committed environmentalists, committed environmentalists who repudiate the alternative 9/11 propositions, pro-war advocates who agree that 9/11 is not all it seems, anti-war global warming sceptics, pro-war troofers and all stops inbetween; indeed, the one common bond they have is that the tactics that they complain are used on them are the exact same ones they use on everyone else.

And so here we are, where evidence is permissible unless it isn’t, the laws of physics are immutable until they aren’t and that cold, hard science is the ultimate arbiter unless God is, where groups that demand to be heard demand others aren’t, where experts aren’t experts unless they are, or not, where quoting said experts is legitimate or proscribed, where the interwebs is either a vital conduit for the free flow of information or a free-for-all cesspool of errant nonsense open to every miscreant nutter to stagger down the pike.

But does it matter? So what if these disparate bands of hard-disk jockeys go adjective and verb at each other? Well, in a word, yes, because if 9/11 was not perpetrated by 19 malcontent Saudis then the entire Bush presidency becomes even more illegitimate than it already is, if that’s at all possible, and because the case for the Iraq war, proven or otherwise, could have been solved in ways other than wholesale slaughter had Dick Cheney not been in charge, if it had to be solved at all.

It was successfully argued that there was no alternative to the chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark furture for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death that the Coalition of the Willing™ has visited on Mesopotamia and that, without immediate action, chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and death in general would be visited upon us.

Well, it turns out that not acting on the so-called ‘threat’ of Saddam Hussein would have actually brought about a wave of wealth, happiness, wisdom, a future for the children and life in general, as would averting global warming. Indeed, NOT averting global warming could well bring chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death in general while action will bring wealth, happiness, wisdom, a bright future for the children and life in general. And if it doesn’t, well, it can’t hurt. Can it? We don’t even have the quaint old ‘diplomacy’ option on this one, so can we risk not doing it?

Can avoiding climate change cause chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death? Surely cutting down on the use of fossil fuels can only help mankind? Anyone out there care to argue the opposite? Elroy assures you that all evidence will be heard and listened to, and challenged where applicable, if you can promise to do the same.

All we, the world, need is the will and the decency to hear the case for and against war, for and against global warming, for and against the origins of 9/11, soberly, sincerely, dispassionately and without regard to our own petty biases and beliefs to ascertain the truth and stop the endless churn of the axis of evidence before we all fry for one reason or the another.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Hate Macs? I Hate PCs.

A while ago, The Grauniad newspaper in England published a vindictive, scurrilous and unprovoked attack on Apple Mac users by a man obviously suffering from several psychological disorders. Now, Mac users do not particularly seek or invite such abuse – we are more than happy to be left alone to get with the higher cerebral cortex functions that make us tick – and we certainly do not make such unwarranted assaults on PC users. We normally don't bother attempting to reply either, but this time Elroy has had enough. Please, take in Charlie Booker's ill-considered savaging and then savour Elroy's erudite and comprehensive demolition of same.

I Hate Macs
By Charlie Booker.

Unless you have been walking around with your eyes closed, and your head encased in a block of concrete, with a blindfold tied round it, in the dark - unless you have been doing that, you surely can't have failed to notice the current Apple Macintosh campaign starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, which has taken over magazines, newspapers and the internet in a series of brutal coordinated attacks aimed at causing massive loss of resistance. While I don't have anything against shameless promotion per se (after all, within these very brackets I'm promoting my own BBC4 show, which starts tonight at 10pm), there is something infuriating about this particular blitz. In the ads, Webb plays a Mac while Mitchell adopts the mantle of a PC. We know this because they say so right at the start of the ad.

"Hello, I'm a Mac," says Webb.

"And I'm a PC," adds Mitchell.

They then perform a small comic vignette aimed at highlighting the differences between the two computers. So in one, the PC has a "nasty virus" that makes him sneeze like a plague victim; in another, he keeps freezing up and having to reboot. This is a subtle way of saying PCs are unreliable. Mitchell, incidentally, is wearing a nerdy, conservative suit throughout, while Webb is dressed in laid-back contemporary casual wear. This is a subtle way of saying Macs are cool.

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign - the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show - probably the best sitcom of the past five years - in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, "PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers." In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

PCs are the ramshackle computers of the people. You can build your own from scratch, then customise it into oblivion. Sometimes you have to slap it to make it work properly, just like the Tardis (Doctor Who, incidentally, would definitely use a PC). PCs have charm; Macs ooze pretension. When I sit down to use a Mac, the first thing I think is, "I hate Macs", and then I think, "Why has this rubbish aspirational ornament only got one mouse button?" Losing that second mouse button feels like losing a limb. If the ads were really honest, Webb would be standing there with one arm, struggling to open a packet of peanuts while Mitchell effortlessly tore his apart with both hands. But then, if the ads were really honest, Webb would be dressed in unbelievably po-faced avant-garde clothing with a gigantic glowing apple on his back. And instead of conducting a proper conversation, he would be repeatedly congratulating himself for looking so cool, and banging on about how he was going to use his new laptop to write a novel, without ever getting round to doing it, like a mediocre idiot.

Cue 10 years of nasal bleating from Mac-likers who profess to like Macs not because they are fashionable, but because "they are just better". Mac owners often sneer that kind of defence back at you when you mock their silly, posturing contraptions, because in doing so, you have inadvertently put your finger on the dark fear haunting their feeble, quivering soul - that in some sense, they are a superficial semi-person assembled from packaging; an infinitely sad, second-rate replicant who doesn't really know what they are doing here, but feels vaguely significant and creative each time they gaze at their sleek designer machine. And the more deftly constructed and wittily argued their defence, the more terrified and wounded they secretly are.

Aside from crowing about sartorial differences, the adverts also make a big deal about PCs being associated with "work stuff" (Boo! Offices! Boo!), as opposed to Macs, which are apparently better at "fun stuff". How insecure is that? And how inaccurate? Better at "fun stuff", my arse. The only way to have fun with a Mac is to poke its insufferable owner in the eye. For proof, stroll into any decent games shop and cast your eye over the exhaustive range of cutting-edge computer games available exclusively for the PC, then compare that with the sort of rubbish you get on the Mac. Myst, the most pompous and boring videogame of all time, a plodding, dismal "adventure" in which you wandered around solving tedious puzzles in a rubbish magic kingdom apparently modelled on pretentious album covers, originated on the Mac in 1993. That same year, the first shoot-'em-up game, Doom, was released on the PC. This tells you all you will ever need to know about the Mac's relationship with "fun".

Ultimately the campaign's biggest flaw is that it perpetuates the notion that consumers somehow "define themselves" with the technology they choose. If you truly believe you need to pick a mobile phone that "says something" about your personality, don't bother. You don't have a personality. A mental illness, maybe - but not a personality. Of course, that hasn't stopped me slagging off Mac owners, with a series of sweeping generalisations, for the past 900 words, but that is what the ads do to PCs. Besides, that's what we PC owners are like - unreliable, idiosyncratic and gleefully unfair. And if you'll excuse me now, I feel an unexpected crash coming.

This week: Charlie watched some episodes of Larry Sanders (on his PC). He played the customised Fawlty Towers map for Counterstrike (on his PC). He listened to the Windows startup jingle every 10 minutes as his PC repeatedly rebooted itself.

However, Elroy has not let him get away with such libel. Ahem...

I Hate PCs
By Elroy


PC users don’t use Macs – they wear them. While Mac users waft around their expansive white loft conversions reading Baudelaire and Keats the PC element eke out drab little lives in their parents’ houses in Dagenham and Hull, the highlight of their miserable existence being a Saturday morning computer swap-meet where they buy arcane bits of compu-gizzards from another bespectacled lard-arses and then scurry home like fretting moles to, yet again, pull apart their long suffering odes to beige in order to make it half as fast as a Mac ten years its senior.

And it must be noted that, on that self-same Saturday morning, the Mac user is settling into his second Notting Hill ‘Latte while gazing into the adoring eyes of the very handmaiden of God whose image Mr. PC just spent three days failing to download. I guess it’s all a matter of choice.

PC users are always bleating that Macs are too expensive, but here’s a little secret: do you know how us superior beings afford our Macs? By having more productive hours in our day. And how do we achieve that? By not having our noses poked under the hood of our CPU for most of it. The savings made by not constantly buying obscure little plug-ins and other nasty little shards of silicon to make render our computers operative allows the Mac owner the luxury of seeing daylight on occasion, but it’s also true that the Mac pays for itself because of the invaluable WriteBook 1.9, a nifty app that effortlessly knocks out searing indictments of our times while one is taking a light lunch on the terrace, tomes which happily cover the cost one’s thirteenth century Tuscan monastery. Ah, the dignity of honest labour.

I hate PCs and their users because both are stubborn, righteous, boring, annoying and ugly both inside and out. They are unstable masochists who spit out the serial numbers of their SAD Pf54u364iX fatherboards along with generous amounts of spittle and last night’s Hawaiian Supreme, impotent and frustrated little drones who dare to berate me about the inadequacy of my very being because I choose to use a machine that works while they ferret away on computers that are so insecure that they have to ask the user to verify the action at every little teeny single step. I hate them, utterly and completely.

And I hate Charlie. I hate how he purports to be a man of the people, championing ‘loveable’ contraptions against the crushing might of an imaginary elite, as if the world’s PC ‘enthusiasts’ were being rounded up into re-education camps and trained to love the one true workstation, and I hate how, like all true fascists, he really knows that the exact opposite is true.

Every populist demagogue knows there is immense power in the tyranny of the masses and Charlie cynically manipulates it for all he’s worth, trying to convince us that PC users are but good and noble folk battling the sinister forces of the Mac-black pack, but PC users are not the rugged cyber-warriors of Charlie’s fond imaginings – they are cyber-trainspotters. When Mac users swish by in the first class carriage of a Eurostar Class 373 heading for a mini-break in Avignon, only the huddled masses on Gillingham Station know that they are not headed for Brussells because they have noted that the train is not a Class 373/1. These people own PCs.

Charlies’s notion of PC user as underdog is somewhat smudged by fact that Ubernerd squillionare siver-spooner and corporate monopolist William Henry Gates III had to license the best bits of Windows from Apple anyway. For all his ‘genius’ he turned out to be a follower and, furthermore, being as imitation is no longer the sincerest form of flattery but a devious form of intellectual copyright infringement, Apple had to sue Billy for his blatant theft of the other bits he thought he’d just pain steal. Even so, Mac users must still suffer the relentless abuse and prejudices of an army of PC dweebs who do as they are instructed by Billy-boy and Big Blue, a beige brigade who, although they have everything, still whine, even though PC users have Macs to thank for their very existence.

The Nazis thought they were victims too and, talking of fascists, it really does require both some heavy-duty wielding of unelected power and some seismic style shafting of the US Anti-trust laws to have the government take you down for running a monopoly – what was that about elites again?

So Charlie depicts the braying mob as poor, quivering underlings repressed by the privileged haut monde but, far from being an elite, it is Mac users who are oppressed by the common herd – the Apple Mac is the black man of computers, a status reflected by their users’ preferred shade of costume. Macs are a tiny minority who are shunned and ignored by software developers and the Establishment at large but, like other subjugated cultures, they are the engine room of creation; just as Al Jolson and Vanilla Ice made their mark by appropriating black culture, so IBM-compatibles have gained a foothold in the wider world by a gruesome aping of the Mac visage – ‘Windows’, so-named because it goes ‘Crash!’, was no accident.

This deliberate attempt to cash in on the hard work performed by those innovative iconoclasts over Apple has now given us shops crammed with a plethora of grotesque Mac-inated PCs, slightly funk’ed-up looking CPUs that that have grown cyber-sideburns and are screaming ‘Dude! I’m nearly a Mac!’ in a sad attempt to fool the gullible and ill-informed that it will perform as well as the real thing.. Like those coppers that used to dress up as hippies to pass unnoticed during love-ins and peace rallies, the PC is desperately trying to be ‘groovy, maaan!’, but real hipsters know when beige is in the house and what really lurks below the blueberry paint job.

But so what if mainstream software developers despise the Mac? Who needs them? This week’s brand new Mac operating system, the one that Apple promises might still even be current by Tuesday next, now comes bundled with the simply divine application suite EliteWanker 3.0 including not only the latest WriteBook update but also MakeMovie 1.9 and GongWinner Pro 2.0! This may mean building an extension to one’s Loire Valley Château to house all the Oscars, the Bookers, the Pulitzers and Nobel prizes heading one’s way, but such is the price of fun.

PCs may well be the ‘ramshackle computers of the people’; citizens of the former East German Republic will tell you that they had a similar description for their national car, but now that they have other driving options the Trabant has curiously fallen from favour. Fancy that! However, I’m sure some PC krauts still shuffle their decaying Dells around in otherwise unloved Trabbies which are, like their PCs, customised ‘into oblivion’ (if only), although a Trabant with a spoiler, mag wheels and a hood scoop is still, at the end of the day, a Trabant. See: silk purse/pig’s ear. Verstehen Sie?

When Mac users breakfast on Catalonian muesli and triple-fermented Tibetan yak yoghurt in their steel and platinum meal preparation zones, the toaster that sits next to their Mac works. It gleams, it is wildly expensive and it makes good toast. Hot and brown. Yum. However, this toast would not be good enough for PC users, as they could not eat a slice of lightly browned organic mung-bean and flaxseed Sour Dough unless had been cooked in a toaster lovingly reconstructed from the guts of thirty-nine other dead toasters retrieved from various car-boot sales that only works if you slap it.

Actually, they couldn’t eat organic mung-bean and flaxseed Sour Dough at all because they can’t afford it ¬– they spend all of what passes for a disposable income on spare toaster parts and going to toaster building conventions, and anyway, they are not aware and they do not care that any other form of bread other than Wonderwhite exists which is fine by me – the quicker they all die of bowel cancer the better.

But really, what is the glory in putting together a machine from scrap if it inherently and invariably fails to perform its function? Surely the victory in producing an item from rubbish is to make one that actually works? I am aware that it can, in theory, be achieved, but the only PCs that ever run for any reasonable amount of time, i.e. over 30 minutes, are buried in pre-loved pizza boxes, owned by fanatical caffeine-addled insomniacs and filled with so-called ‘games’, the loading of which has necessitated removing from the hard disc such extraneous fripperies as anything approaching anything useful.

This is what passes for ‘fun’ in the land of the Big Blue ¬– the ability to crack the ninety-ninth level of SmackaMac 2: Death to the MachinePeople and bring the magic bong back to the Gatesmeister, a skill which might buy heaps of Kudos on gameloser.com and impress the Pizza delivery guy, a close personal friend of the family by now, and but it’s uses in the real world, i.e. outside the bedroom, are limited. In that real world, where Mac users dwell in neo-modern expressions of urban dissonance with harbour views, fun is booting up one’s Porche and heading off for a meeting with one’s publisher to choose exactly which legendary Hollywood director will be allowed to film one’s latest WriteBook generated novel before calling Orlando, and maybe Nicole, to share a couple of the driest of martinis and enjoy some particularly challenging but ultimately satisfying performance art.

Do they insist that PC users join them? No, they do not. They leave the PC users at home to continue booting up their CPUs, again, bump into their parents accidentally on the way to the toilet, call up for another Hawaiian Supreme and settle in for a long night attempting to reach that ninety-ninth level which, unbeknownst to them, does not actually exist. Which world did I choose? James, warm up the Boxter!

It is a common conceit that dogs look like their owners, or owners look like their dogs, and while this is debatable it cannot be denied that the phenomenon is also true with computers. Witness, if you will, the sleek disposition of the slim, simple, elegant and uncluttered Apple Mac and the beret-bearing sophisticates that utilize them, versus the clumpy, knob laden and indomitably beige PC and the cardiganed, raincoated tragics who call it ‘friend’.

Even heath issues are in play! Mac users radiate a certain glow, a fine fettle born of bio-dynamic tofu enemas while PC users seem to enjoy a permanent sniffle, always dabbing at their bright red noses with Mum’s damp hanky and swallowing buckets of Payless Vitamin C.; likewise, PCs spend 24/7 quaking in fear that a malevolent teenager in Xingtao province with a broadband connection and a bad attitude will choose that day to unleash a virus that will instantly turn the world’s PCs to landfill while Macs merely issue a languorous yawn of an AM and set about saving the planet, unencumbered by worries that they might catch cyber-cold because no one writes malicious code for them – to know Macs is to love them and their masters.

Mac users create things – PC users create things to create things with. Eventually. God willing. After they’ve rebooted. Again. After they’ve played Exterminate: Zlad of the Pluuud Nexus 1.9. Again. Macs are for getting round to writing novels on while PCs are ostensibly to enable the enhancement of the possibility of thinking about maybe getting round to writing novels on. If the thing can stay booted that long. Whatever. No matter how much PC users soup up their wheezing crates, they will never be able to run EliteWanker 3.0 as it is resolutely not cross-platform for the simple reason that PC users have nothing to say. PC users have nothing to say so they spend their time in cyber-worlds, spending real money on things that don’t exist, for fuck’s sake, rebuilding their softdrives and rebooting. Again.

If Macs are, as Charlie asserts, the Fisher-Price Activity Center of the computer world then PCs are the plastic Meccano; flimsy, fiddly, irritating and fruitless ‘projects’ which never look like they do on the box and which require their constructors’ constant attentions. Look, us kids blessed with the Fisher-Price Activity Centers had our the right side of our brains nourished, resulting in our holistic approach to life, our grasp of the abstract, of language, art and music; the children of Meccano, however, were saturated in left-brain activity which promoted their linear, concrete thinking and encouraged them to delight in making fundamentally useless things with little bits and pieces, an experience which admittedly set them up perfectly for a life time of transistorised tinkering.

PC users love switches, knobs, potentiometers, sliders, actuators, whatever; these simple devices serve as distractions from actually getting on with some work, but the only Mac owners are interested in is the one that turns the G7 on, and they kind of loose interest in that after the first day or two because, quite frankly, they never need to use it again. Their machines just sit and purr, ready to spit out a chick-lit pot-boiler any time their black-clad, goateed, running lackey-dog-of-the-bourgeoisie gets around to opening WriteBook after all their other exciting and lucrative projects have been fully realised.

Like Macs, Fisher-Price Activity Centers are a means to an end whereas PCs and Meccano are a means in themselves. The sons of Gates never really ever got over that Meccano stage of pre-adolescence, leaving them with the exasperating latent desire to fuck with stuff. This truth is vehemently denied by the tech-anoraks, but it explains why they constantly refuse to act in their own rational self-interest. I mean, why anyone would drive a Robin Reliant when a Lamborghini is available little extra cost unless the act of driving is not really his or her primary concern?

Sigmund Freud, a Mac-man if ever there was one, would have had a chuckle or two over Charlie’s wild-eyed screed, not for its dangerously unhinged tone so much as how it goes to prove Sigmund utterly correct. PC users types also have some very serious personal identification issues; they suffer from either the unearned high self-esteem of the typical bully who thinks himself superior to those he torments, or the low self-esteem of the perennial victim who has to imitate his tormenter to bolster his self-worth – I don’t know which yet; maybe I should get around to using that AutoDoctorate function? – and they pretty much wear their penis envy on their sleeves as their obsession over ‘whose is bigger’ is hard to hide. They, and particularly Charlie, their self-appointed ‘spokesman’, sputters with incandescent rage and indignation at the idea that someone else’s ‘rig’ might be more powerful than theirs, their very manhood threatened to the core by the thought that someone else may have more RAM. It’s very sad.

Denial is another trait easily identifiable in poor old Charlie and his acolytes; the Apple Macintosh is, by all know criteria, the superior machine, and faced with this threat to their collective ego they do the only thing they can do – deny its truth, and rationalise it away by whining that the Mac must be the lesser consumer durable because it doesn’t have two buttons on its mouse or some such pettiness. Bugger the fact that the Mac does what it’s told when its told to do it, THE PC’S GOT TWO MOUSE BUTTONS! Why do PC owners get so mad with Macs? Why, its reaction formation of course! According to Siggy, PC owners that froth at the mouth in their commendation of Macs are merely demonstrating their own inferiority! Wow! It all makes sense! See what you can do with a Mac? Intelligently examine the evidence. What can you do with a PC? Um…

Or is it projection instead? Maybe its projection as well! Let’s have a look. Do PC users accuse Mac users of the very crimes they commit themselves? Yes? Bingo! Projection! Or, if you prefer, hypocrisy. PC users like to paint Mac lovers some sort of pack of corporate drones while maintaining the conceit that they themselves are all mavericks and iconoclasts, crazy young kids livin’ for the now because they prefer to acquire their hardware from the tip, but don’t forget kids, IBM-style edifices are not called clones for nothing.

Before computers had really taken the world hostage I had an extended stay in hospital, and during this ordeal I was befriended by a nurse named Ian. He had an extensive Jazz collection on vinyl and video, and would stop by at dinnertime, just as my favourite show came on the telly, to tell me about it. Well, when I say tell me about it I mean tell me about how he had catalogued it, on index cards which crossed-referenced each track with what musician in any given year on label X etc etc. The filing cabinets that held it took up more room than the records themselves. I asked him if ever actually listened to the records and he looked confused, upset, and gave me a quizzical glance. Listen to them? I obviously didn’t get it, so he started telling me all over again. I sat back and dreamt of the morgue.

When I saw Ian again not long ago he informed me that he was still living at his mum’s and that he was in the process of transferring his index system onto his new computer. It was a PC. He had just started to explain which programme he was using, and how much extra RAM it required, when I affected an escape; I understand that Ian was out of the Intensive Care Unit and taking solids foods shortly after, but I also understand that the suicide rate amongst the staff in the ICU rose sharply in that time. Ian remains, to this day, the world’s most boring man. Ian owns a PC.

Mac users never preach to anyone that did not express an interest, yet PC users are worse than Christians. They evangelize about a subject that they insist is fact but is, in essence, based on faith; ‘Better pray this works’ say the nerds before booting up, again, and Mac users are constantly having their languid Chardonnay and sex-fuelled Sundays interrupted by a knock on the door from two cyber-losers in burger-stained neckties asking if said Mac user had heard the good news about Vista, donks who are greeted with the Zen Buddhist calm typical of our people and wished well with their spiritual journey, after which the Mac users return peacefully to their tantrical pursuits.

Charlie Booker is correct on one count – the Mac ads are devastatingly accurate, and the fact that he so cheerfully identifies with such a pack of drab saps indicates a mental illness for more worrying than any suffered by the clear-eyed and level headed Macsters. Indeed, apart from either the narcissism or a pathological self-hatred, and penis envy, denial, reaction formation and projection previously mentioned, Charlie is quite obviously suffering from an anti-social personality disorder that sees him regard negative personality traits as positives, the Millwall FC ‘No one likes us – we don’t care!’ approach to computing, but his victimhood is a grossly misplaced – IBM and Microsoft are not exactly what one might describe as vulnerable to exploitation or abuse from larger entities.

Much as Charlie Booker may like to flatter himself, PC users are not idiosyncratic; just like people who say ‘I’m so zany!’ and ‘I’m bonkers, me!’ are invariably found to be completely sane and utterly dull, PC users are not eccentric or quirky mavericks but common or garden drones of the most dismal hue. He denies that people define themselves by the technology they choose because that would mean he defines himself as a bland, dreary, faceless member of the great unwashed, but in pretending to revel in being unreliable and unfair he has done just that – defined himself by the technology he chooses and demonstrated an unhealthy external locus of control by taking on the characteristics of a computer that is notoriously unreliable and run on software declared by the courts to be manifestly unfair.

Mac users, on the other hand, exhibit an internal locus of control by defining the ‘personality’ of their chosen technologies – Macs are designed by the people that use them, they are machines created for baby-boom hippies by baby-boom hippies, reliable, fair and true iconoclasts who live nice lives in the hippest digs with great food and greater drink, beautiful lovers and A grade recreational pharmaceuticals. They are independently wealthy, well read, well respected, fulfilled, creative, prolific and spiritually at one with the universe, and if that makes them wankers it’s a small price to pay. Now, excuse me while I move the bed to opposite the windows and adjust some bamboo flutes to maximise the flow of chi.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Frank And Thorough Exchange Of Views.

Yeah, Elroy knows, but he's been busy. If you tuned in for Just Say No!, the latest from your one and only favorite interwebs wundkind, Elroy is sad to relate that it had to be recalled urgently due to some fatal flaws and errors in logic and reasoning. The mistake was made in production and the appropriate minion has been duly sacrificed, but not before offering an abject and groveling apology to all and sundry, and Elroy hopes you can accept with the same good grace that he sadly failed to muster.

Meanwhile he has been locking horns with The Arctic Fox, so take a peek at the goings-on here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and, of course, here, and report back with your scores or join the fray!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Iran! Iran – So Far Aw-a-a-y!

Did Iran this about the USA?

'Hopefully the...leadership will take a different position than the one they've taken in the past, which is basically, who cares what the free world says, we're going to — we'll go our own way.'

Did the USA say this about Iran?

'Human rights are being extensively violated...setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tappings of telephone conversations, intercepting private mail and frequent summons to police and security centers have become commonplace and prevalent.'

Answers to the comments section please...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Want to save the world? Vote McCain!

Uh oh! Elroy’s blown a fuse! What’s happened? Has he fallen into a bottomless pit of someone else's money? Has he come good part two of the ol’ ‘If you’re not a socialist when you’re sixteen you don’t have a heart…’ canard? Or have the passionate arguments of committed and idealistic conservatives finally won the day in the great marketplace of ideas?

No, it’s worse – he has been taking the advice of Rush Limbaugh, the Republican propagandist who makes Benito Mussolini look like a member of Code Pink and who has been exhorting his millions of foam-frothing followers, ‘free-thinking’ fundamentalists who call themselves ‘Dittoheads’ without a shred of irony, to commit executing his pet plan for knobbling the Democratic Party – ‘Operation Chaos’ (Full range of merchandise available here)

In a Oxycontin-induced haze of deluded grandeur, El Rushbo is the puppet master of a campaign that requires his hapless, dyed-in-the-wool conservative disciples to register as Democrats and vote for Hillary Clinton in the primaries in order to keep her in the race and cause a Democratic presidential candidate smackdown fight to the death with Barak Obama at the Democratic autumn convention, resulting in the complete implosion of the Democratic Party and never-ending Republican Party domination. Ah, jus’ doncha lurve conservatives’ love and respect for the democratic process?

But as two can play at that game, Elroy is launching Operation Annihilation whereby he hereby encourages members of the Democratic Party to vote for McCain in the general election ¬to ensure the complete destruction of the Republican Party and the never-ending enlightenment of Democratic domination. If democracy is a now a war, then strategic, long-term planning and sacrifices are going to be necessary to achieve one’s objectives.

When Bubba Clinton ambled off the world stage in 2000, the USA was in a parlous state. The US economy was in surplus, the world was more or less at peace and the Democrats were looking like they were going to continue the peace and prosperity scare well into the 21st Century – thank god then that George W. Bush true and righteous minions were on hand to, er, appropriate the 2000 presidential election and return the country to its natural condition of fear, death, debt, corruption and control in amounts far greater than have ever been seen outside of a combination of Zimbabwe, Argentina and North Korea courtesy of the single-minded commitment of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and their ideological drones.

The trouble is that 7.5 years of the great project later, it still isn’t finished. The supposedly successful whack-a-mole strategy, the manly ‘surge’, has ensured that the various Iraqi militias and insurgent groups are well-rested, armed, financed and ready to take on the US and each other with a renewed vigour that will, in Elroy’s esteemed opinion, leave the past five years look like a ice-creams and lollipops all round and, as the USA will not have the manpower to deal with it, they will be left with two politically ugly options: pull out completely or institute the draft.

On the economic front, the Dubya’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ has resulted in the impoverishment of thousands, if not millions, of his ‘fellow Americans’ as the neo-con dream of complete deregulation raped, pillaged and left for dead the real estate market of Townsville USA, and his friends in high places managed to gut and ship to China and Mexico what was left of America’s once mighty industrial muscle. Recession is being kept at bay, it seems, by the power of prayer alone as John and Jane Doe work a sixth job to pay off the credit cards while the War-o-meter keeps ticking over at a rate of three hundred and sixty-odd million borrowed dollars every, single, bloodstained, day.

The problem is that the US is delicately poised on the edge of an abyss the likes of which have never been seen in any generation, and the Republicans know it – that’s why they have put mad, bad and older-than-the-hills, John ‘Insane’ McCain up as their candidate. Hopefully the electorate will know a nutbag when they see one and vote accordingly, thus ushering some poor, hapless Democrat (a chick or a coon would do nicely) to take the rap and leave the Grand Old Party to fight another day.

The whole thing, people, is a trap. Do you honesty think that the Republicans would have put up such a motley crew of cranks and nutters as candidates if they thought there was Jew’s chance in Palestine that he might become POTUS? Mitt Romney? The dumb-as-a-brick millionaire member of a bizarre magic underpants cult which only 100 years ago was as toxic to Johnny Button-shoe as Islam is today? Mike Huckabee? The completely fucking loony Baptist preacher who thinks the wall between church and state is an open-plan renovation opportunity? John McCain? The irascible old philanderer who is willing to say anything, absolutely any-180º-volteface-on-everything-he-ever-held-dear thing that might get him over the line after being beaten by his sworn enemy, oops, new best friend GWB, in order to get the nod?

Bollocks. If the GOP wanted a serious candidate there are plenty, well, a few serious, intelligent and telegenic Republicans out there who would have been more than happy to become President of the United States if the job was worth having, but guess what? It ain’t, not this time, so resist I say, fight the power! Subvert the dominant paradigm! Get mad as hell! Don’t take it anymore! I exhort all Democrats, please, resist your better instincts, do not act according to your beliefs, vote against your immediate interests!

When Elroy was a mere slip of a lad, his despairing parents attempted to beat into him the idea that it was incumbent on him to clean up his mess after him; he took no notice, naturally, as he was not the leader of the free world at the time, but the concept continues to haunt him to this day now that the US presidential elections draw close and so he has seen the wisdom of his old folks’ ways and how they should applied.

The point is that the US and, as a result the rest of the world, is going to hell very fast in a very large handbasket thanks to thirty years of Free Market™ madness, but if we are ever to banish this nuttiness forever we must let its architects finish the job. If the Democratic Party get up in 2008 they will be blamed the entire farrago, for the destruction of the world economy and the loss of Iraq to a Shiite theocracy which then screws the US for that ol’ light sweet crude, so vote McCain and make sure that the bucket o’ shite lands on him and not Obama.

Even Hillary knows this! She is giving Obama the irrits just to have something to do while playing the long game of letting Barak be the patsy so she can come in to clean up the mess in 2012. Naturally, the GOP is in the hunt as well; Karl Rove and the rest of the neo-con cabal are looking to this very strategy to regain the White House next time around, so it is imperative that the forces of good do not get sucked into ending the torture of the interminable Bush years and thinking of the future.

So join Operation Annihilation and hold the GOP accountable – give McCain the chance to live up to his election promise to stick with Iraq no matter what or, even better, to withdraw the troops himself, demonstrate just how much he does or doesn’t know about economics depending on what day it is, and generally inflict Four More Years!™ of the Bush agenda on the world and by doing so completely and utterly destroy the Republican Party for at least two generations or more.

Yes, the only way out for Planet Earth is to make sure that the GOP are buried forever, so if you want to save the world – vote McCain! You know it don’t make sense.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The First 100-Odd Days Of Opposition – Oh, The Hypocrisy!

And oh how they laughed, the happy people! It’s been somewhat of a riot down here – Elroy has been drunk for months – as we celebrate the end of Honest John Howard and his pack of mewling scaredy-cat and the installation of the grown-ups. Talk about funny – who knew the Liberals were such good comics?

The humorous antics started immediately after the smoke had cleared from the Liberal Party HQ and Honest John was found in the wreckage to be the only the second ever Australian Prime Minister to lose his seat – indeed, many uncharitable and downright un-Australian communists were seen to snigger mightily, yea, and to guffaw out loud at the mess the Libs had gotten themselves into.

Y’see, when he was PM, coalition backbenchers were struck dumb with terror at the thought of the Man of Steel wandering off to the Twilight Home for Politically Expended and begged him to stay on forever in to eternity, amen, and so he did. ‘I will remain the leader of my party’, Howard intoned in his finest Jim Hacker, ‘for as long as my party wants me to’, a declaration of loyalty that was but a cunningly disguised challenge from the semantics master for the gutless wankers to come and get him if they dared.

However, as the ALP seemed committed to experimenting with leaders guaranteed to keep them further from the treasury benches than the Citizens Electoral Council – the avuncular oaf, the sneering union machine man and the complete fucking lunatic – no Lib dreamed that the Howard Reich could ever end.

But the ALP would not remain Rudderless for ever, and when faced with the proposition that a mandarin-speaking mandarin from Queensland here to help the socialists turn the wide brown land into the People’s Republic of Kevinstan was playing Honest John for a putz at every turn, the Liberal Party did actually gird their loins and gave Honest John his marching orders.

Yup, the Liberals, smelling their own blood in the air, decided to make a stand on the line in the sand on the land and to rescue the party from electoral oblivion, to hand the Prime Ministership over to the man that had spent the last ten years nagging Howard for it, treasurer Pouty Peter Costello, and so with steely determinism the inner sanctum stomped right up to Dear Leader and, um, suggested very politely, not in anyway that might upset the greatest Prime Minister the world has ever seen, ever, and yes that does include Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher, that if he could just maybe see his way clear to, well, maybe toddling off a little, in the nicest possible way, well, gosh, that would be super. If it was OK with him, that is. They didn’t want so seem ungrateful or anything, it was just that, well…

Absolute and unequivocal! Sort of. ‘Unfortunately, you know, he wasn’t told that he should go’ mumbled rightist henchlacky Andrew Robb when he hoped no-one was watching (They were – he did it on telly) ‘he was told that that people thought in Cabinet that he should move on, but it was ultimately his decision.’

And as Honest John is a man who knows a weasel word when he sees it, he took that decision in a way only conservatives know how – with total disregard for the wishes of his compadres and all four eyes glued on his personal posterity. This was a do-or-die, death or glory strategy based on the ultimate conceit that the Australian people would be so outraged that the Liberal Party had kicked him out then they would vote Labor and so really he was doing the party a favour…or something…

Ah well, as Howie is such a cricket tragic it should not have come as any great surprise that he would attempt to make the parliamentary Wisden’s with a record-breaking comeback and election tally, but it was not to be. The only consolation for the broken and shattered party he left behind is that he made the record books as the only other PM to be rejected by his own electorate.

But why should Howard have been expected to act as a team player? The whole concept just reeks of socialism. No, in putting his himself ahead of the party he was taking a principled stand for the fundamental tenet of modern conservatism – self-interest. How could he have ever done otherwise?

Anyhow, now that his eleven years of iron fisted discipline was over and the party a fractured shadow of its former self, who would want the poisoned chalice of party leadership now? Certainly not Poutey Pete! No, he had decided that, although it was his turn on the bike, now that the front forks were bent and the tyres were blown, and that some other bloke had the map, well, he just wasn’t that interested any more. Bzzt! Next!

So who else? Surely this was time for Malcolm Turnbull to step up and bellow ‘Outa-my-way-I’m-a-comin’-through’ to the quivering saps in the party room and propel the Libs fifty years forward into the 21st Century, no? No! Even after the drubbing, the shellacking, the bollocking that the coalition has handed in 2007, somehow they did not read the writing just about everywhere and managed to organize a contest between Mal, their only possible choice, one of the more barking mad conservatives and a third who really doesn’t mind whose side he is on so long as it’s all about him.

Yup, just when we thought we were all laughed out, Tony Abbott, the man who explained his outright asininity on the telly as “Shit happens’, who told his opposite number after a televised debate that he was half an hour late for that she was talking ‘Bullshit’, who said a dying man who had devoted the last years of his life to securing compensation for thousands of people mortally injured by one corporation’s conscious negligence indulged in ‘stunts’ and was not ‘pure of heart’, and did all this while on the campaign trail, this guy, Abbott, and here’s the punch line, said he would be a fine choice as leader because he had ‘Good people skills’.

Oh my lord, that really is comedy gold! The other guy was another of Elroy’s faves, the good Doctor Brendan Nelson, but it didn’t really matter because the thing was a foregone conclusion, right? The Libs would realize that electorate had swung decisively left and that they should seek a more centrist road, not?

Again, no! Out of party modernizer, far-right thug and Dr I-am-but-what-you-want-me-to-be, they chose…the Doc! It seems that Thoroughly Modern Mal jumped the gun and started spouting incendiary socialist propaganda by suggesting that the government apologize to the indigenous population and sign the Kyoto Protocol in a wanton betrayal of bedrock conservative principles that left hard-right Senate king maker Nick Minchin no choice but to stitch him up by carving out a deal with West Australian Liberal Party throwbacks to vote for Brendan to ‘lead’ as a puppet for the rapidly dwindling Howard faction.

So he scraped in by the merest of margins, but how is Brendan Nelson, now known as The Locum due to the fact that he is the a medical practitioner whose presence is temporary, and the rest of the conservative cause traveling now that they are Betty’s loyal opposition?

Well, the hilarity continues unabated as the Liberals discover the wisdom of the old saw ‘Be careful what you wish for’, what goes around comes around and what one does while high on hubris can tend to return for a spate of bum biting.

Let us, for instance, take those two core conservative beliefs that left Thoroughly Modern Malcolm cooling his heels for a week or so – Kyoto and the ‘Sorry’ thing. After years of Liberal’s staunch denials that whitey had ever done anything but hold the aborigines welfare in highest regard, The Locum paid his dues to his backers with these words: ‘We formally offer an apology to those Aboriginal people…’, obviously a searing rebuttal to That Nice Mr. Rudd’s pathetic capitulation to the bleeding-heart inner-city ‘indigenous lobby and a vindication of Minchin’s faith, and ‘I can now say to you that we will support the ratification of the Kyoto protocol’ is a likewise defiant stance guaranteed to thrill the heart

But it didn’t stop there! Nuclear power? Gone! Gay rights? In! Workchoices, the policy the Liberal Party died in a ditch for? No more! That’s right – five immovable pillars of policy that defined the Liberals at the 2007 elections, five policies that Honest John hung his hat on, five policies that were considered integral, core to the fabric of modern Australia conservatism – poof! Gone with what wind? The breeze of the ALP storming into the 21st Century.

And what’s also hilarious about all of this is that The Locum was the conservative faction’s leader of choice! Imagine if they had chosen Turnbull! They’d be fighting over voters with the Greens! Oh, it’s just so much fun! The Liberals have elected a wet that they thought was a dry to keep out a wet! That the Right still have so much influence is pretty strange seeing as how it was they who were crushed in November, but that’s the Liberal Party for you. Such is the animosity for the only guy that can save them, Big Mal, that they elected as their leader someone who used to be a card-carrying member of the ALP!

Liberals are, however, pretty good at holding their tongues for the sake of power. The wet faction were under the jackboot heel of the party whip and Honest John for over a decade, so now that it’s their turn to be in the ascendance, will the right shut up for a while? No, it seems that if they can’t be heard, interminably, to the exclusion of all others, the dry-hards just don’t show up.

It’s obvious who used to call the shots in the party room because we are now faced with the unedifying spectacle of Costello nodding off on the backbenches while perusing the situations vacant column and Dolly Downer whining because question time nearly interfered with his teeing off on a couple of rounds with Mark Vaile, the ex-National Party leader and therefore ex-Deputy Prime Minister but supposedly current Member for Lynne who has just distinguished himself by spruiking for Liberal Party sugar-daddy ServCorp in sunny Bahrain while he was supposed to be in House of Reps earning his paltry $127,000 p.a.

Never mind! The Locum was on the case! ‘Had he consulted me about this before he had gone’ the leader of the opposition offered most politely, ‘I most certainly would have advised him in the strongest possible terms that it wasn't appropriate for him to be overseas’. That’s the way, Doc! You tell him! Those wayward backbenchers always respond well to a bit of party discipline! You really do run a tight ship! Good job Vaile didn’t ask you, then!

Politicians are like dogs and horses – they smell fear and instinctively know who commands respect. As conservative pollies in particular like nothing more than having a hard man at the helm, the Liberals just titter at The Locum’s ‘advice’ – if that is a sample of his ‘strongest possible terms’ then some long lunches loom – indeed, there seems little reason to go into work ever again.

Still, spare a tear for poor Mark Vaile – it’s not his fault. In a typical display of conservative abrogation of responsibility, Dolly Downer went into bat for him –although one might consider that, at the moment, Vaile would be better of being defended by Ivan Milat – and begged for understanding. ‘I would go easy on him myself’ sniveled Dolly, himself currently odd-jobbing on talk radio and suffering near terminal ennui with the entire democratic process, ‘It’s easy to sneer [but]….he has lost over $100,000 in income’ Right. Just to be clear then, politics is all about serving the public – it is not, repeat, not about the money.

But this was possibly a rort too far for Mark – even Liberal kingmaker Nick Minchin was grumpy. ‘‘If he's going to be in parliament, his job is to represent his constituents’ Nick harrumphed before taking a swipe at all the other recalcitrant Libs mooching about the place, ‘it's approaching the point where they need to indicate their intentions as to whether they're going to stay and serve out the three years or retire at some point in this term.’
Ooh! Put up or shut up slackers, or Nick will punish you severely by making you leader!

Mark Vaile, being a good country boy who is not going to get kicked around like a ute-tied heeler by no city-slickin’ chardonnayists, fought back valiantly b accusing Rudd of wandering the globe with some dodgy Chinese outfit who no one had ever heard of except, it transpired, oops, John Howard and Vaile’s boss-at-the-time John Anderson. Oops! Yes, when some photos were pulled in rabbit-type stylee out of the parliamentary titfer of aforementioned unknown dodgy Chinamen having a jolly old knees-up with the cream of coalition leadership, poor Markie went all quiet. Oh, coalition ¬– is there nothing you can’t fuck up?

(The forces of conservatism are wary of Rudd’s fascination with China – who can forget Dolly Downer’s petulant pouting over Kevvie’s speechifying in full-on Mandarinese, where Dolly sulked that Kev was ‘show off’ and that he, Dolly, could pull the same trick in French if he felt like it, which he did and in doing so immediately proved that he couldn’t – but they can’t escape the fact it was they, not Labor, that had President XXXXX address the entire Australian parliament on the same weekend as George W. Bush, sending the message that the Chinese regime was a-okay with the west despite being a bunch of commies and all.

Well, when I say entire Australian Parliament, I mean the entire Australian Parliament minus Bob Brown and Karen Nettle, the two Green senators whose notions of free-speech were considered to a little too free for the governments liking and so were barred from entering the House of Representatives. Long live democracy!)

But the suspicion that all Liberal Party MPs have an irony bypass on completion of the membership forms was confirmed when a somewhat tipsy Dolly Downer, caught bunking off parliament, again, this time to lunch with another of his super-duper pals, simpered in his own defense ‘"For me, as an Opposition backbencher, to spend one afternoon not listening to Julia Gillard's childish ranting and party politicking in an era when Rudd promised new standards, on reflection, I think I was better off having lunch’

What is Dolly saying here? That the numerous pontifications he delivered during his eleven looong years as Foreign Minister (and a most humorous short but oh so sweet spell as Opposition Leader back in the day) should have been stopped if only Honest John had the ticker to implement his rarely seen and quickly forgotten Parliamentary Code of Conduct? That Dolly’s boring drones were quite OK but, well, it’s a disgrace to let those others carry on like, well, like him? Does he have absolutely no shame? And is it any wonder that he is feeling somewhat, er, redundant?

Elroy is no stranger to Dolly Downer’s peculiar notions of democracy, and even now in abject defeat his hubris know no bounds. ‘The way Question Time works’ he opined the next day, ‘is that the 50 per cent of the questions are asked of Government ministers by Government backbenchers written in ministers' offices - and they just berate the Opposition,’
Well, who knew? Um…Dolly. Again, after spending years of fielding softball Dorothy Dixers from fawning backbenchers too terrified to put a white shoe out of line and, er, berating the opposition, suddenly the very system that gave him all he has is simply now not good enough. And this man was in charge?

But his whinge-a-thon was not finished yet! ‘ And the other 50 per cent of questions are organized by the Opposition frontbench. So if you are an Opposition backbencher you just sit there.’ Oh, for fuck’s sake! He left the front bench! Himself! Of his own volition! And did we ever see him agitating for a change in procedure when he was on the frontbench? Working to kill off Dorothy? To give backbenchers more of a say? Maybe even to reintroduce the practice of backbenchers being able to ask supplementary questions, a bit of random democracy that Honest John shut down when it became a tad to tricky? No. Dolly was, of course, as the grave on the matter of backbench participation when it was his turn to wax lyrical on the achievements, such as the were, of the Liberal government. What a surprise!

And that is not the first time that this its-alright-when-we-do-it-but-beyond-the pale-when-they-do-it sniveling has been heard on the trembling bottom lips of our erstwhile overlords; indeed, on the historic occasion of the first day of parliament’s momentous ‘Sorry’ speech, the Liberal opposition were shocked, shocked I tells ya, when a couple of Labor staffers joined hundreds of others in the Great Hall of Parliament House and around the country in turning their backs on The Locum during the harangue that was his reply to That Nice Mr. Rudd, in which he said that Whitey had, sniff, had had a hard time too, that really the abos had done all right out of colonization, that they were removed from their parents for their own good and that they really should be grateful etc etc..

It was a pathetic sop to those blood-skulling bastards that had voted him Head Poobah and who wanted some dripping flesh for their considerable trouble; for his part, The Locum looked more like a man delivering his last speech as leader than his first, and he did so with all the sincerity of Honest John Howard telling the country that there would never ever be a GST because the irony is that The Locum is a wet, he agrees with the apology, yet he was elected to support the dark side. Sorry! Did we say irony? We meant hypocrisy. Ah, Brendan – is there nothing you won’t sell out for?

The Locum is still the leader of the opposition...oh, hang on – what time is it? – but once it's safe to go back into the water, Thoroughly Modern Mal will be rinsing his Speedos, polishing his board and waiting for the starter's gun for the Liberal Party Iron Man contest to begin. There even has been talk up north of a new force in Australian politics, a new conservative party that would take in the remnants of One Nation and its more insane off-shoots, the nuttier Nationals and the barking mad Right rump of the Liberals, leaving the small ‘l’ libs, the North Shore doctors wives and others with nowhere to turn but the all-inclusive broad church of the ALP and driving the left-left into the welcoming foliage of The Greens.

Anyhoo, that some insignificant little Labor apparatchiks could disrespect the upholder of all that is great and good was an outrage, naturally, for the foot soldiers of decency, and so the call came for the perpetrators to be shot at dawn. No questions. Liberal moppet and Gen X attack puppy Sophie Mirabella zeroed in on their antics and called the act ‘disgusting’, although how she’d know is something of a mystery as she didn’t even bother to show up.

But along with the rest of the Upholders of Family Values, she also reserved her opinion on the contempt shown by fellow Liberal grunt Chris Pearce, a spiffing cove who somewhat blunted Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition attack on those pathetic pinko penpushers when he, after deigning to grace the House of Reps with his presence, proceeded to spend the entirety of That Nice Mr. Rudd’s landmark monologue leisurely reading last month’s Better Homes Than Theirs or some such glossy inconsequential. Fabulous! Glad to see those conservative double standards survived the election onslaught intact.

And despite the fact that many on the Keepers of Public Morality’s benches were not in slightest bit sort for anything, al all, ever, they were nevertheless consumed with rage that writing the apology they had spent eleven dreary years avoiding, denying and ignoring was, get this, taking too long! ‘If this is indicative of the way the Government is going to run the Parliament’ fumilated Joe Hockey to no one in particular, ‘then it says that this Government is arrogant in the very early days of its term in office’. This is a hoot for three reasons; one, the ALP had actually done in 3 months what the Libs couldn’t do in 1322; two, that he dead-paned the word ‘arrogant’ as if his mob were the model of humility and three, that he still thinks the Liberals’ opinion actually counts for anything.

The opposition has been raising a few giggles on the subject of running parliament too. For instance, after eleven long years of having the Speaker of the House jammed firmly up their collective orifice the Liberals blathered on about how they hoped the new one would improve parliamentary standards and be a beacon of impartiality, i.e. be better than the last one that let the Libs run amok with impunity. It’s all very well for the Liberal Party to ignore and pervert the democratic process, but the ALP? Goodness gracious! They’re just oiks!

And subvert and pervert the democratic process they did! The Locum can squawk about the need to consult the coalition on important issues, there was never any of that from the Liberals in power; senate committees were given next to no time to discuss major pieces of legislation, the considerable blame of all and any ministerial cock-ups was routinely transferred onto the nearest public servant, ministerial statements were avoided in favour of unilateral statements by the PM to sycophants like Lawsy or Jonesy lest they be, gasp, debated by parliament!

The arcane delights parliamentary sitting days has also grabbed the psyche the ex-ministers on the opposition benches and, despite the fact that they reduced the number of sitting days during their extended tenure, they were apoplectic that the Rudd administration had declared that parliament sit on Fridays, but not necessarily with a government quorum present, in order for backbenchers to speak and advance their private members’ bills. Again, ignoring calls for a quorum to be present was all in a day’s work for the coalition when in power, but now, well, it just won’t do, and so the Liberal/Nationals displayed the respect for parliamentary standards and procedure by mounting a three-ring circus in the house complete with fire-breathers, clowns, acrobats, trained animals and cardboard cut-outs in protest at this manifestly unparliamentary measure.

Now, one might have thought that the likes of backbencher Dolly Downer would welcome the opportunity to be heard, especially considering how he was deeply concerned that ‘the questions…asked of Government ministers by Government backbenchers [are] written in ministers' offices’ and that as an ‘opposition backbencher you just sit there’ but on the other hand, considering his enthusiasm for the longer lunch and few rounds with his trusty nine-iron, Dolly is probably less concerned about preserving parliamentary procedure and more about preserving his long weekend.

Still, the new speaker has cracked down on the asking wide-open Dorothy Dixers which give the government to opportunity to grandstand with a pre-packaged reply, which will no doubt please the deeply un-ironic Liberals no end, as would also the return of the highly democratic practice of allowing MPs supplementary questions. However, as Howard banished this to the same pit of infamy as his ‘Ministerial Code of Conduct’ it is unlikely that it will eventuate, and so the coalition can just ruminate on the proposition that they really should be more careful what they wish for.

Like pension policy. The Liberals were on a real winner here – cutting a yearly lump sum payment to carers and the disabled introduced as an election ploy by the then coalition government in 2004. It’s an outrage! Something must be done! Who will think of the children?! Now, it’s always amusing to see the conservatives cast themselves as hand-wringing bleeding hearts and champions of the downtrodden – ‘Pick on someone your own size’ wept The Locum – but even more amusingly, it all fell apart as quickly as it popped up.

Bear in mind that the idea of altering the payment was never actually budget policy; it was a leak, and if Elroy remembers rightly the Howard government were always somewhat reluctant to discuss budget policy before its official launch – chattier ministers were known to extraordinarily rendered to the back backbench for discussing such matters – but no matter! The opposition had themselves some red hot, ironclad conjecture and rumour and they were going to use it!

It took a few days until Parliament sat again and the PM could straighten the matter out, and this was cause for even more howls from the coalition as they accused Labor of being a one man band under the jackboot of the Ruddster while forgetting the reign of terror they themselves had lived under for the past eleven years. Indeed, Honest John featured heavily when Tony Abbott got the laughs rolling in Question Time as he attempted to shame the government by referring to Howard’s empathy to towards the underprivileged. ‘John Howard, the former prime minister’ sucked Tone, ‘he was never one to boast about his compassion credentials’ – um, there’s a reason for that, Tony – ‘He just delivered, that's what he did, he just delivered’. Tony was quiet about exactly what is was that Howard ‘delivered’, but Elroy can’t help thinking about Honest John’s moves in 2002 to throw the disabled off the Disability Support Pension and onto the dole.

But the attack continued with The Locum exhorting That Nice Mr. Rudd to, sob, ‘walk a mile in their shoes!’ and to guarantee the payment. ‘OK’ said Rudd, pretty much straight away, ‘I give an absolute guarantee that those carers will not be a dollar worse off as a result of the budget’. There. Settled. No?

‘Will these lump sum payments be made, yes or no?’ bellowed Abbott? Well, the government acquiesced and agreed, but not before reminding the coalition that this put the government ahead of the opposition when they were in power. ‘If re-elected’ reads the then government’s somewhat optimistic propaganda ‘the Coalition Government will consider continuing to pay these bonuses depending on the economic circumstances of the time.’ Uh oh! Elroy reckons that sounds a tad non-core! So, just to recap, a rumour that the opposition would never have dignified with an answer on a position that the government never held but the opposition did was refuted. Good. Got that straight then.

And so with that in mind, consider the unedifying spectacle of The Locum crying over That Nasty Mr Rudd heartlessly handing over a $5000 ‘Baby Bonus’ to aboriginal mothers who obviously can’t cope with having that much cash all one hit. Unfortunately for what was left of is credibility, he somehow not only forget that it was his government that introduced said bonus four years ago but also that he was whining about the possible disappearance of that carer’s bonus four days ago. ‘The measure of a caring prime minister’ he had simpered, ‘is the extent to which he will reach out to people to make sure their meagre family budgets are secure’ but that, apparently, only counts if you’re white – aborigines can’t be trusted to budget.

As the Liberal Party is the party of individual choice and personal responsibility, an organization committed to reducing the influence of the nanny state on the lives of over-regulated citizens, it brings yet a another wry smile to one’s dial when they recommend, um, increasing the influence of the nanny state on the lives of over-regulated citizens. The coalition’s quarantine-the-dole strategy is a one-size-fits-all imposition on every aborigine in the Northern Territory, regardless of their ability to manage their finances or not, which ties them and Centrelink in a forty miles of red tape and mostly benefits Coles and Woolworth’s, as the grocery duopoly is given preferential treatment when it comes to shopping vouchers – so much for championing small business and choice.

The coalition further proved it was committed to creating work for aborigines by firing them all from the CEDP program so that the money could be quarantine, and the proof that this move is inherently racist is that they had to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act to do it. But it’s OK ¬– bad whiteys will also be subjected to these restrictions, although they will be managed on a case-by-case basis because they are obviously the exception and not the norm.

What else was there? Oh, that’s right – the Liberals whining that Rudd’s child-minding arrangements for his son at The Lodge as he changed school were to be funded by the tax-payer, conveniently forgetting that Howard impounded renovated Kirribilli House on the pretext that his offspring should not be subjected to the same iniquity, multi-millions spent because Howard, or more likely Janette, quite frankly just didn’t want to live in Canberra, and that it was all about them can be proved by simply looking at what they did when the kiddies left home – Janette and John stayed in Sydney.

There has also been some argy-bargy concerning the freedom of press as conservatives are now up in arms at suggestions that maybe some of the right’s more barking mad right-wing commentators have lost their currency due to the country’s lurch to the left. This is evidence of a deeply held canard and their conspiracy paranoia – that the press is controlled by the left and that rich white Christians are a persecuted minority. Its not, and they aren't, but as these simple truths do not fit into their preferred story so they are denied at great lengths and at great volume, and we must continue to put up with the fevered bleatings of Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman etc and forget about the eleven years of hearing conservatives moan about how the press are against them and how lefties like Robert Manne, David Marr et al should shut the fuck up,

Indeed, the ABC has obviously been a hot-bed of revolutionary Marxist-Leninists for many years, full of communists who have sought nothing less than the violent overthrow of the fascist Howard regime for the past eleven years, despite the Liberals’ repeated attempts to cleanse it of such seditionists and stack the board with higher minded individuals. But the ABC’s urban guerillas can throw down their arms now that Labor are in power, safe in the knowledge that their mission is complete, and the Liberals can rest happy that they have had one of their dearest wishes granted and that, at last, the ABC reflects the attitudes of the government of the day.

What’s that? The Liberals still want to privatize the ABC? But that would mean that it always reflect the attitudes of the conservative parties, whether they were in power in not! Gosh! Maybe those Libs ain’t so dumb after all! Mean and tricky maybe – conniving, manipulative, mendacious, self-serving, deluded and conceited certainly – but stupid? No, not if your definition of ‘intelligence’ is ‘rat cunning’.

But are we finished? Oh, no! Once upon a time there was the ‘mandate’, an inviolate charter granted by the electorate that cannot, repeat, cannot be usurped by such insignificant scabs on the edge of the democratic process as the opposition. The Liberals claimed a mandate to introduce the GST, a claim that Elroy could happily dispute if he felt like it, and they then claimed that an accidental senate majority was a mandate to introduce the WorkChoices, legislation they never dared to go to an election with; however, now that Labor emphatically has won an election where their intention to scrap WorkChoices was front and centre, suddenly Labor don’t have mandate!

And if that doesn’t make you dizzy enough, apparently the coalition do have a mandate to stop the WorkChoices rollback on account of an accidental left -over senate majority that they lose in July when the, um, newly elected senators move in to take their seats. As elected. To rollback WorkChoices. Hmm. Oh well. However, as noted previously, the opposition have stuck to their philosophical guns and decided to let the centerpiece of the raison detre go to the wall regardless, but they have found some other uses for their senate majority which play to matters just as close their hearts as stripping the proles of their working conditions.

Yes, now that, they have decided that labour market ‘flexibility’ is all way to hard despite their claims of economic superiority – remember how nasty unions were going to raise wages and fuel inflation while responsible WorkChoices was going to raise wages and…and…? – Ah well, as they’ve only got until July before they become even more irrelevant than they are now, they have decided to concentrate on cleaning out the trough and beating up the darkies.

Upon finding themselves in the unlikely and undeserved possession of a senate majority in 2005, the coalition set about knobbling Labor’s attempts to set up select senate committees on the grounds of fiscal responsibility; however, mindful of ways to supplement their paltry $127,000 pa now that they have lost their tickets-to-ride on the supplementary gravy train but still have that oh-so-handy-but-soon-to-expire key to the senate cash box, they suddenly found a renewed interest in select committees and granted themselves three in the in the first two days of sitting to do work quite within the scope of the current standing committees. This means that they get to pocket the $14,000 paid to the committee chair and prove that fiscal responsibility is relative to whether or not you are a coalition senator in opposition.

The other matter they are willing to die in a ditch for is the all-important culture war that Howard bravely fought against the communists, specifically indigenous affairs. The coalition may have rolled over on the ‘Sorry’ business but so what – it was only symbolic – but the idea that the Labor government might mess with the coalition’s Northern Territory ‘Intervention’ policy, a piece of legislation that can cause solid, tangible, concrete and demonstrable harm to aboriginal people, well, that is just a bridge too far, and so they will continue to fight this last crucial battle in the culture war in the senate until they are led away a-wailing and a-gnashing all the while.

But the show rolls on! Another of Elroy’s favorites is the ‘Ancient history’ whinge. It is a well-known fact that any major change to an economy or governmental policies takes an estimated seven to ten years to flush through the system, and political parties rely on some sort of fiscal skeleton being found a-dangling up the back of the treasurer’s filing closet to renege on any election promises they didn’t like; indeed, John Howard showed his mastery of this shifty little ruse when he used some highly creative accounting to come up with Labor’s ‘ten billion dollar black hole’ to inflict his now infamous ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises on a bemused nation back in ’96 when ten billion meant something.

Now of course, everything is different. To flog what little life there might be left in Peter Costello’s much loved ‘finely-tuned racing car’ analogy, the coalition have handed the keys to a Ferrari of an economy to Labor, and if they crash, well, there’s only Labor to blame – never mind that the coalition haven’t put any petrol in it since 1996, that the brake linings are shot, that the steering fluid is gone, the oil has never been checked and the only reason it is still moving is that it is rolling down hill in neutral with the wind behind it, none of which help when it is heading for a brick wall Made In The USA.

Yes, according to The Locum any mention of anything pre-26/11/2007 is ‘ancient history’ and off limits, although the ten billion dollar black hole still gets a mention whenever an erstwhile government MP spends more than 2.4 minutes on the television. Funny that – but I guess that’s just another example of that good old ‘personal responsibility’ conservatives always bang on about right after they’ve finished with the ten billion dollar black hole.

Wages have been quite a rich source of mirth over the past couple of weeks; as we read before, wage rises are only non-inflationary when the coalition hand them out and, yet, again, suddenly The Locum and Thoroughly Modern Mal are weeping bitter tears of 1958 Chateau Latour for the plight of the underclass they spent so long subjugating.

After many tedious years of high decibel carrying-on about how any wage increase for hard-grafting gutterslugs would inflate the economy like a helium blimp, there is now much concern and hand wringing all round as the forces of darkness pretend to care if their Afghani cleaner scores an extra twenty bucks a week courtesy of the humourously named Fair Pay Commission, conveniently forgetting that these are the very people that, only four months ago, the Liberals were trying to rob of their rights and conditions, the same saps that Honest John was demanding enter into ‘negotiations’ with a boss who is more than eager to cut his costs by all and any means either necessary or available.

Such heart! And unemployment? Pah! Here’s something Elroy has learnt about unemployment – it’s a good thing! It’s a good thing, and the idea that it’s a bad thing, well, that was just a lie. Unless it’s not, in which case it isn’t. Or something. Elroy remembers seeing a big bank head honcho on the telly not long ago explain that twenty years ago, when the government said there were plenty of c, well, that was a complete fib; there wasn’t plenty of jobs and there was way too many punters looking for them but now, now it’s different, now there REALLY are plenty of jobs if only people could be bothered looking, so could we? Pretty please? Because I know we lied before, but now…

In fact, Thoroughly Modern Mal becomes Thoroughly Post-Modern Mal on this sticky point. Elroy heard the former Liberal government whine about how we needed improvements in productivity, but it looks like productivity was bad thing because it led to unemployment. Hmm. That wasn’t the story in 1996 to 2007 – then anybody without a job was merely a parasite leeching off the lifeblood of society – but according to Post-Modern Mal, it now seems that those slackers and bludgers that the Liberals had so much fun whacking around the head were doing us all a favour, as full employment means employing a bunch of duds and nuff-nuffs who wouldn’t know a day’s work if it bit them and therefore dragging productivity down to zero.

Yes, because the coalition was really the friend of the downtrodden all along, we find that what looked like an eleven-year hammock driven snooze-a-thon was in which they did nothing but roll like Uncle Scrooge McDuck in a Money Bin full of Chinese mining cash and ignore secondary and tertiary pubic education was really a go-getting strategy aimed at providing work for all and damn the productivity levels.

And oh God, there’s so much more – after years of complaining about the sound of high-flyin’ lefties ‘running down Australia’ and carping ex-Prime Ministers, John Howard had to slink off to Washington DC to find anyone dull enough to put up with him snivelling about his unjust ousting and so, in front of such similar ex-luminaries as Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz John Bolton and other sympathetic about-to-be has-beens at the American Enterprise Institute, John Winston Howard became a carping ex-Prime Minister running down Australia.

Ah, well. They were his guys, his audience, his homies – Rudd may have stolen his gig back home but the Bushistas would never call Kevvie a ‘Man Of Steel’. Would they? Fast forward three weeks and what do we see?

Reporter: Is Mr Rudd the new Man Of Steel?
GWB: Heck, yeah!

John Howard fair pummelled the lectern over Our Kev’s dastardly intention to withdraw troops from Iraq when he gave his speech to the American Enterprise Institute at the start of the month, which must have made Liberal Party henchman Andrew Robb choke on his truffle and lark’s egg soufflé as he had been talking to the US about Howard’s intention to do this very thing nine months before, but now that Rudd was fer it, he wuz ag’in it!

Sadly for poor ol’ Johnny, however, the yanks are nothing if not practical and tend to take a ‘The king is dead ¬– long live the king!’ approach to regime change, and so when the Kruddster told George II about said intentions Shrub said that it was jus’ fine with him. ‘He’s a man of his word’ said Dubya, ‘and it shows that we are being successful.’

In the non-descript suburban social club in inner city Leichhardt where John Howard was enduring his testimonial dinner, Johnny mulled over the full meaning of Paul Keating’s portentous quote ‘There is nothing quite as ‘ex’ as an ex-Prime Minister’.

Maybe Howard should have thought through his legacy and the long-term ramifications of his vice-hard grip on his party and the national debate, but thinking things through was never the Liberal’s strong point. Indeed, it turns out that the Liberal’s strong point was throwing money around in ever-increasing amounts and, despite being nominally small-government conservatives, it seems that the greatest economic managers on the planet certainly knew how to use tax-payers funds to great advantage; the only problem for the rest of us was that this advantage was theirs.

Despite having claimed the scalp of Sports Minister Ros Kelly for distributing grants via a white board, the Liberal/National government managed to jack the amount of ‘discretionary grants’, that is grants that are within the gift of a minister, up from $729 million’s worth in 2004 to $9.1 billion’s worth in 2008 with $4.5 billion of that splashed out in the last year, and this from the greatest financial managers the country has ever seen, the small government conservatives who were fighting inflation caused by their eleven years of hammockin’ by over stimulating the economy. Err, right.

Still, now that the government have a mandate to exterminate WorkChoices (or not, depending on your stripe), the opposition have agreed to support them or, to be more exact, not going to oppose them, one may have expected the Liberals to do what they said they would do. Hah!

One has to remember that the slippery semantic stylings of John Winston Howard have had a profound effect on the soul of the Liberals and that they now seem unable to take an ethical and unequivocal stand on anything. Just as they have jettisoned everything they had ever held dear in order to make themselves more palatable to the people, this duplicitous streak in the Liberals means that nothing they say can be taken at face value; in 2000, ex-Northern Territory Nationals’ Chief Minister Shane Stone famously called them ‘Mean, tricky and out of touch’, and this was proved to be as true today when industrial relations minister Julia Gillard called on the opposition to never again put their precious unfair dismissal laws into action.

This idea, that the opposition should be true to their word, sent them into apoplexy. How dare the government ambush them like this! There they were, not opposing the legislation, agreeing, in fact, that the electorate had demanded that it happen because the electorate was obviously too dim to understand that having no rights at work was a GOOD thing, and those scum-sucking communists wanted them, the guardians of all things decent, to make their repudiation of a policy so unpopular it had cost them power a core promise! Why, the very nerve! It would go against their entire ethos not to double back and perform a flippy-floppy 180º U-turn with pike whenever they thought the could get away with it! Who did the Labor Party think they were, anyway? The government?

Then there is the general grumbling that Rudd isn’t a plain speaking man o’ the people, which of course has those that have spent the past eleven years trying to decipher the triple-speak that passed for public discourse as it emanated from Howard in a series obfuscations, distortions manipulations, PR spin and flat-out terminological inexactitudes collapsed on the floor in hysterics – Rudd-speak’ the opposition call it, but it must be confusing to them merely because it is vaguely penetrable.
Elroy always enjoys a bit of deadpan humour and so looks forward to when The Locum starts on his ‘Rudd is a control freak’ routine, insisting that Kev likes to micromanage every aspect of government while ignoring the eleven years of Howard dictatorship that has left The Locum’s party so completely bereft of direction and leadership, so, if I may, rudderless, and then compounding the irony by whining about Rudd going overseas on his first official tour when he should be in Canberra micromanaging everything.

And The Locum wasn’t finished there! He went on to give Kevvie a hard time for meeting ‘celebrities’ like, er, George Bush, Hillary Clinton and Ben Bernanke while doing his international rounds, probably because the bushes Brendan is meeting on his domestic version of the Grand Tour are more flora to Kev's fauna, although arguably more articulate, and still Nelson appeared to be oblivious to his erstwhile boss’s embarrassing habit of popping up at every major (and minor) sports event played between 1996 ¬– 2007 for a photo op with the winners, the losers and anyone else who might be assessed as suitably impressive to the battlers down on Struggle Street.

The Locum then beseeched Ruddy, with a nod and a wink, to look up Led Zeppelin while in ol’ Blighty and tell them that it’s been a long time since rock ‘n’ roll down here in God’s Own Sunburnt Wide Brown Land because, although it’s bad for Mr. Rudd to press the flesh of the great and good if they are the leaders of the Free World™, it's good if they are superannuated devil worshipping degenerates. ‘You don't need to meet all the celebrities…you need to go to Washington, you need to see the key leaders, including the financial leaders’ The Locum grumbled. Later in the day, however, he was cracking hearty wuth ‘The big issue – and I really think this is important for Mr. Rudd – when he's in London (is) he's got to get to Led Zeppelin management and talk those guys into coming to Australia.’

Look, it's good to see that The Locum is getting the hang of his position's comic possibilities, but it seems that irony and self-depreciating humour is now the exclusive domain of the Liberal Party (who'da thunked it?) as That Nice Mr. Rudd managed o get himself into all sorts of hot water with a suddenly po-faced Brendan when Kevvie 'saluted' Dubya at NATO. '"Well I think it's conduct unbecoming of an Australian Prime Minister' The Locum pontificated, 'and Mr Rudd appears to conduct himself in one manner when he thinks the television is upon him and another when it is not.'

It is obvious, then, that Nelson had a deprived childhood free of both jolly banter and the works of A.A. Milne, as it is equally obvious to those who knows those flows of prose that Rudd was merely quoting Milne in kind. We refer of course to the story of Bad Sir Brian Botanty which, the more Elroy thinks about it, is a fine allegory for Bush's colonial adventures and which, as no one is really looking, Elroy is going print in full for your edification and delight.

Bad Sir Brian Botany

Sir Brian had a battleaxe with great big knobs on;
He went among the villagers and bopped them on the head.
On Wednesday and Saturday, but mostly on the latter day,
He called at all the cottages, and this is what he said:

"I am Sir Brian!" (ting-ling)
"I am Sir Brian!" (rat-tat)
"I am Sir Brian, as bold as lion -
Take that! - and that! - and that!"

Sir Brian had a pair of boots with great big spurs on,
A fighting pair of which he was particularly fond.
On Tuesday and on Friday, just to make the street look tidy,
He'd collect the passing villagers and kick them in the pond.

"I am Sir Brian!" (sper-lash!)
"I am Sir Brian!" (sper-losh!)
"I am Sir Brian, as bold as lion -
"Is anyone else for a was?"

Sir Brian woke one morning, and he couldn't find his battleaxe;
He walked into the village in his second pair of boots.
He had gone a hundred paces, when the street was full of faces,
And the villagers were round him with ironical salutes.

"You are Sir Brian? Indeed!"
"You are Sir Brian? Dear, dear!"
"You are Sir Brian, as bold as a lion?"
"Delighted to meet you here!"

Sir Brian went on a journey, and he found a lot of duckweed:
They pulled him out and dried him, and they blipped him on the head.
They took him by the breeches, and they hurled him into ditches,
And they pushed him under waterfalls and this is what they said:

"You are Sir Brian - don't laugh,"
"You are Sir Brian - don't cry"
"You are Sir Brian, as bold as a lion"
"Sir Brian, the lion, good-bye!"

Sir Brian struggled home again, and chopped up his battleaxe,
Sir Brian took his fighting boots, and threw them in the fire.
He is quite a different person now he hasn't got his spurs on,
And he goes about hte village as B. Botany, Esquire.

"I am Sir Brian? Oh, no!'"
" I am Sir Brian? Who's he?"
"I haven't got any title, I'm Botany"
"Plain Mr Botany (B)."

Did you hear that, Doctor? Do you get it now? 'Ironical salutes'. I rests me case, m'lud. Elroy is planning a series of benefit concerts to raise funds to send The Locum a copy of When We Where Very Young and Now We Are Six; they might be a little over his head but he'll soon have plenty of time to study the subtleties of the text as is looks like Pouty Pete's chums are begging him to take the lead as the anti-Turnbull forces panic about Brendan falling at a fence any day now and leaving the field clear for Thoroughly Modern Mal to romp home. They are obviously scared that if The Locum represents the choice of the party's right then Mal won't be contemplating an amalgamation with the Nationals so much as with the Socialist Alliance, but as The Locum knows which side is buttering his parliamentary bread he has asked, nay, begged Pouty and Dolly to stay on lest he gets roughed p by the beastly Mal. Laugh? Elroy nearly voted Liberal!

There’s been other stuff, lots of other stuff, but as Elroy feels that if he doesn’t end soon the Liberal Party will have ceased to be. Indeed, with their poll numbers hovering down around their knees and The Locum’s preferred Prime Minister numbers barely bigger that his shoe size (and he is not a big man), the Nationals’ Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce push to amalgamate with the Libs, which The Locum has endorsed in a do-or-die effort to do, well, something, this demise might be more imminent than anyone supposes.

Meanwhile, we shall keep a-rolling in the aisles at the Liberals hi-jinx as they continue to sell the Howard legacy down the Swanee and whine at any behaviour by the Labor party that is in any way reminiscent of the way they had comported themselves when smug and fat and corpulent with power.

Australia is a much sadder, badder and madder place than it was in 1996; the people are poor, scared, and wondering when the riches that the Liberals have been boasting about were going to trickle down to them, but now that they find that the party is over and they are footing the bill they are getting angry. The conservatives can bluster and puff all they like but their days are not numbered, they are over, as the people start to comprehend the size and nature of the con that has been perpetrated on them and demand that the new crowd do something, anything, about it.

What really irks the Liberal Party is that Rudd is actually getting things done and showing them up to be the bunch of high-talking, low-achieving, greed-infested parasites that ever sucked the public teat and, not because they pretend that the well-known political axiom which holds that any power one grants ones self will be used by one’s successors does not apply to the Libs, and not because they pretended that these powers were vital to the country’s well-being when bringing them in; no, they are the definition of hypocrisy because they pretend that they have jettisoned just about every tenet of a philosophy which they once held so dear, tenets that those in the reality-based community know they will bring back if ever given half a chance.

Having said that, all that, at great length to nobody in particular, the 21st Century ALP are as much in thrall to the economic voodoo of Milton Friedman as Honest John's mob, so the hope is that they might just a little more circumspect with the spoils. The Washington Consensus is still firmly in place and Labor are just as prone to hypocrisies as the Liberals, it's just that this is not the article to point them out. No, right now it's time to kick the corpse of the Howard Government around a bit, a lot, after 11 years of their pernicious evil, because hey! – that's what free speech in a democracy is all about.

Albert Langer for President!