46 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. Is it my imagination or did I really see Mark Veile on TV this morning attempting to fix Australian wheat sales to Iraq by enlisting the help of that swindler and conman Ahmed Chalabi?

    Words fail.

  2. The 10 year anniversary of John Howard’s election is being quietely celebrated.

    The Australian is publishing a book outlining his term in government. It’s rather interesting that apart from the Barnett book in 1996, there has not been any other biography published on Howard.

    Is it because Liberals don’t read?

    ALP voters are great buyers and readers of political biographies. There were about 6 books on Hawke, three that we know of on Keating. Even Hayden had one. Evans had one. Whitlam had a few.

    Why don’t Liberals read biographies of their political heroes?

  3. Interesting to see Tony Abbott calling for a dialogue with hardline Muslims. In his words “Why shouldn’t the Muslim version of the Enlightment and an Islamic docrine of the separation of church and state be fostered in Australia?”

    There is a short term and long term aspect to this. The short term aspect is Abbott’s rivalry with Peter Costello and the contest to succeed John Howard. Abbott’s comments couldn’t be in contrast to Costello’s, who just last weekend called for hardline Muslims to leave the country.

    The long term aspect is what I think will be an emerging convergence between anglo social conservatives and hardline Muslims. After all, they have much in common in their general attitudes to women, homosexuality and what falls under the umbrella term “family values”; it’s just that the hardline Muslims go that little bit further in calling for gays to be stoned to death, but this is just a matter of degree, not principle. Of course, Abbott and the social conservatives will never be able to make common cause with hardline Muslims while they are threatening, and carrying out, mass murder against Australians. But once that stops, there will be quite a lot of agreement on things like the Enlightenment and the separation of church and state.

  4. Sorry, that should be “Abbott’s comments couldn’t be more in contrast to Costello’s”

  5. The announcement of the taxation review is all a bit silly. Wouldn’t a simple Google search provide all the necessary info? And why should the review take over 12 months?

  6. Those who like reading long complicated reports on the US might like the Federal Reserve’s report on family finances 2001-2004 available from

    Click to access financesurvey.pdf

    Apparently the news isn’t too good. The Wall Street Journal (quoted by Mark Thoma at his blog Economists View (http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/02/owning_less_of_.html)):

    “Fed Study Finds Drop In Household Incomes, WSJ:
    Average U.S. household incomes fell in the 2001-04 period after adjusting for inflation, and growth in household wealth slowed sharply from the previous three years, according to Federal Reserve data released Thursday. The Fed’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances shows real average household income shrank in the latest three-year period…â€?

  7. Australia played its first game in the Asian cup. None of the players involved in the World cup qualifier played.

    The first half was awful in terms of football technique. Bahrain scored once and was unlucky again however with a strategic substitution We came back and won comfortably.

    Bahrain is/was the fifth best team in Asia yet we beat them well without any of our best players.
    True the class players such as Thompson and Skoko showed the way but it does show we will get through to the world Cup next time.

    We will as well see a ‘second string” team more often given the large amount of matches involved.
    This will give great incentive for A-Leaguers.

    I agree with Fossy. We need a high class Technical director ahead of a ‘Hiddink’ type coach now

  8. BBEP – Thomson and Skoko played in Bahrain and against Uruguay.

    Completely agree about the Tehncial Director issue. Its been long over due.

    However, must question the claims of Bahrain. In recetn weeks they played Palestine and lost at home! This is not the same Bahrain that played Trinadad and Tobago in the lasst of its WC quals.

    It will be interesting however (http://weekbyweek7.blogspot.com/2006/01/asian-cup-lebanon-in-sydney.html) it will be interesting where the FFA decides to play the Lebanon match (if Cornulla is factored in!)

  9. Sydanee please.
    Neither started nor was it ever likely.
    Thompson has improved since his brief sojourn to PSV however.

    Bahrain did come fifth in the playoffs for the World Cup and that matters not friendlies.
    The Asian cup matters.

    Impressive effort don’t you think.

    Michael Burgess where for art thou?

  10. WBW – we Liberals do like to read Bios about our political heroes – people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Winston Churchill, Moshe Dyan – I could go on. . . Do you think we should be reading about Fraser?

    It isn’t so much that we don’t read – it is that writers don’t write about the people we are interested in. Most Right-Wing types are more interesting in having productive careers than being writers. Most writers are left wingers and hence focus on left wing subjects. Hence more books by lefties about lefties than books by righties about righties.

  11. Razor,
    Those trailing commissions have been getting to you.

    in both the UK and USA there is rough equivalence in biographies of politicians of either party however not here in OZ.
    It is a disgrace that Howard only has a badly researched hagiography written about him.

    Typical liberals compalin about the 3Rs because they never could pass them!

  12. Razor – apart from Dyan I’ve read bios of those luminaries too (ps what’s your favourite Churchill bio – Gilbert for mine!)

    I should have added that everyone on the right of the ALP (at least those that I know) all read PJ O’Rourke

  13. BBEP – are you discounting Montevideo?

    Never said that that the Asian Cup enver mattered. However, losing to Palestine (friendly or not) is still no acceptable.

  14. WBY,

    Asian cup matters because you either progres or you don’t.
    Friendlies have a history of being meaningless.

    I do like that Bio too

  15. BBEP – got anymore wet tram tickets to bash me with? And, as I said before I’m fee based so you are way off the mark with that swing.

    WBW – can’t answer that question – need to go home and check.

    Recommend Serle on Monash – greatest Aussie Military Leader so far and yet most young Aussies would only know Peter of Timor (excuse me while I bang my head on the desk.)

  16. Razor,
    it was friendly jest .
    If you took it seriously I apologise.

    damned right about Monash.
    He knew how to win in WW1 but had three problems
    1) he was Jewish
    2) he was Australian
    3) he was an engineer not a professional soldier

  17. BBEP – no offence taken.

    Mercury – I tend to consider myself to have a good sense of humour and a reasonable grasp on satire but I can’t say I connect with that one.

  18. Is it my imagination or did I really see Mark Veile on TV this morning attempting to fix Australian wheat sales to Iraq by enlisting the help of that swindler and conman Ahmed Chalabi?

    Chalabi might possibly be a lieing two faced bastard, but he is the democratically elected deputy PM. Who else could we talk to?

  19. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,18265489%255E2702,00.html

    The above article alludes to the life expeience of the PM in terms of growing up in a household where the primary income was from a self employed business owner. Clearly life experience influences our sense of justice and our political inclination. Growing up in similar circumstances had a massive impact on my outlook.

    I would be interested to know who else here grew up in such a household and how it shaped them.

  20. Lies , lies , lies we have more lies : gettem while they are hot coz they are going out the door .
    From the Australian 27.2.6
    JOHN Howard says the refugees he falsely accused of throwing their children in the sea deserve no personal apology because they did the next worst thing – “they irresponsibly sank the damn boat, which put their children in the water”.
    Compare this with

  21. Terje, I would venture to suggest that a petrol station would have been a reasonably well paying business pre the 1980s or so, does anybody have any figures? Didn’t servos used to be bought (anecdote…) as a kind of superannuation?

    You’re right about the sense of justice and political inclination – I grew up with divorced parents (a nurse and a welder) in housing commission. First one in the family to uni etc. etc.

    But if Costello is the social wet of the Liberals there’s no way I can support them! Pity he’s not more like his brother…

  22. Perhaps, as with the Bible, the best biographies are written long after the events they describe. And perhaps it is also true that keeping quiet about his intentions serves John Howard’s purposes very well.

  23. Spiros (9.45am)

    Did Tony Abbott really say that? If so, that’s a dog whistle even Costello couldn’t hear.

    Islam wasn’t even aware the Enlightenment was “Now Showing” and as for separation of Church and State, well, Saddam (for all his faults) knew all about that.

  24. “It is a disgrace that Howard only has a badly researched hagiography written about him.”

    Especially seeing as how one of the authors would have been able to give us great detail on Howard’s views on Uganda given all their conversations on the topic over many years.

  25. Terje – I grew up in almost identical circumstances: the old man was a service station owner from after the war (ie WW2). He hated it and joined the public service at the age of 50 years and 9 months (the cut off was 51 apparently). I gained no appeciation of private enterprise at all from him (which I genuinely feel was a pity – and a waste). He hated all aspects of it. Mainly, he hated that we were the BMC (later Leyland) dealers in a town where the Holden dealer was the Mayor and the local paper was the Daily Liberal. The various shortcomings of BMC/Leyland products aside, join the dots. He’s way left of me on everything, particularly economic policy. His views of Howard cannot be reproduced in such an august blog as this.

  26. Phil,

    Thanks for your perspective. Clearly two people can have the same experience and arrive at different views about it. I find the variety of ways in which we create meaning out of events to be fascinating.


  27. Terje – Thanks for your response and I share your fascination. If I have any really big regret, it’s that I didn’t start even thinking about creating meaning out of events until far too late in life.

  28. I didn’t start even thinking about creating meaning out of events until far too late in life.

    If getting older is an event, then your choice of words suggests you have chosen to associate a very specific meaning with it.

    I would suggest that we can not avoid the process of creating meaning out of events. It is inherient in out wiring. The issue as I see it is more about what sort of meanings we create and whether we do it passively or actively.

  29. With just over 8000 votes from 2.5 million, you’d be hard put to say Chalabi is the “democratically elected” deputy PM.

    And that’s the problem. Our present government seems pre-disposed to seek out the least democractically legitimate elements of foreign governments and deal with them.

    It’s how they got into this mess in the first place!

  30. Did anyone hear what “respected Asia watcher� Dr Jim Walker had to say on AM this morning?

    TONY EASTLEY: China’s booming economy has created huge demand for iron and coal which has in turn helped underpin Australia’s economic success.

    But a respected Asia watcher is now warning that China’s boom might be over. Dr Jim Walker is Chief Economist at Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia.

    A decade ago, he sounded an early warning about the Asian financial meltdown. Dr Walker is now predicting that China’s growth rate could halve this year and fall even lower in early 2007. As well, he says China isn’t the only big economy about to suffer.

    Dr Walker, who’s speaking at a series of conferences in Australia this week, outlined his views to Economics Correspondent Stephen Long.

    JIM WALKER: It’s hard to put numbers on Chinese economic data just because they tend to be fairly well managed, but we expect that the growth rate will fall from where it was last year, which was 9.9 per cent to something in the region of five to seven this year and then probably a bit lower in 2007.

    More here: China boom headed for meltdown

  31. The Asian economic meltdown in 1997 was due to US dollar deflation and fixed exchange rates in Asia. The result was a lot of non-performing debts and a sharp business contraction. There is absolutely no sign of US dollar deflation or Yuan deflation at this point in time.

  32. I would like to offer my congratulations to John Howard.

    Single-handedly he has: made lying into an art form; turned fear into a powerful political weapon; used greed to create captive voters; took Australia to war despite the protests of the majority of Australians; welded Australia to the most feared and despised country in the world; massively advantaged the rich to the disadvantage of the poor; allowed media tycoons to further dominate and influence news reporting so as to advantage capitalism and stifle truth and democracy; turned workers into pawns of employers, etc. etc.

    The most sickening aspect of Howard is his playing the ‘I’m your humble servant’ line while putting into place his own small-minded, right-leaning, Christian Fundamentalist, suburban solicitor agenda.

    Australia may be financially richer since Howard slid into the scene but its people are rapidly becoming spiritually impoverished and at risk of violent retaliation by those being trampled by the mad American juggernaut!

  33. Dear Terje,
    to tell the truth I actually voted for Howard. Twice. Following the Iraq fiasco, gradually the scales began to fall from my eyes.
    What amazes me is that our John, who possesses the inspirational qualities of a used tissue, manages to deceive so cleverly. Pehaps voters are blinded by the increase in the value of their share portfolio and their real estate or, given the complete impotency of the ‘Opposition’, have little voting choice.
    Whatever the reason Australia, as a nation, has been severely diminished by John Winston Howard.

  34. One thing to notice is that John Howard’s parents gave him the middle name “Winston” at a time when Winston Churchill was in the wilderness.

  35. The only similarity between Winston Churchill and John Winston Howard that I can think of is…well…maybe…damn! I can’t think of a single thing.

  36. There are plenty of similarities.

    “Anyone can rat [change parties], but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.” Rat. Check.

    During the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns should be used on the striking miners. Howard’s thing was dogs, rather than machine guns, but Howard actually used the dogs. Check.

    Furthermore, he was to controversially claim that the Fascism of Benito Mussolini had “rendered a service to the whole world”, showing as it had “a way to combat subversive forces” – that is, he considered the regime to be a bulwark against the perceived threat of Communist revolution. Anti-liberty, pro-fascism. Check.

    His expressed contempt for ideas such as public health care and for better education for the majority of the population in particular produced much dissatisfaction amongst the population… Check.

    The British were not appeased by any of this, and wanted a return to the previous arrangement as well as a removal of Mossadegh for his insolence. The effects of the blockade and embargo were staggering, and lead to a virtual shutdown of Iran’s oil exports. Thought he had control of the middle east, but stuffed up badly. Check.

  37. SJ, You also left out “Ordered the use of poison gas to keep down rebellious Kurds in Iraq. check?”. Oops – JWH has not gone that far.

  38. You’ll both note that I also left out: “Had a bunch of mindless, bootlicking cultists as supporters”, because as far as I can tell, Churchill didn’t have that.

  39. Actually, British arm’s length control of the Middle and Near East (the latter jointly with France) was pretty solid until after Churchill’s day, when it was only overthrown by US ringbarking. (That is not a comment on ethics.)

    My original remark was aimed at JH’s parents’ minority perspective, back in pre-war 1939.

  40. Ben

    I think petrol stations were a reasonably well paying activity pre early 1980s. I had an uncle with one and a small repair shop and he managed to send four boys to private schools. The trouble came later when the oil companies cancelled the leases (?late 80s cant quite recall) and forcing operators out (and started providing the larger petrol stations) name branded.


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