45 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. On Whitlam and the CIA I note that Peter Carey’s latest book, Amnesia, reviewed yesterday, is centred on and around the dismissal. The title seems to sum up his incredulity at the way that Australians either forget true history or are, in my view, clubbed into silence on the subject.

  2. Yes, interesting that Carey says;

    “Well, I mean, I’ve always been concerned about or angry about what happened to our country in 1975, where it is my belief and the belief of many serious journalists and writers that the US Government destabilised and helped overthrow our elected government.”

    Note the words “…the belief of many serious journalists and writers that the US Government destabilised and helped overthrow our elected government.”

    He might also have added “the belief of many serious intellectuals”.

    Now, before the quibblers and medieval schoolmen start on the word “belief”, Carey means “my thesis based on considerable real world evidence”. There is a difference but I don’t expect the medieval schoolmen to understand that point.

    Medieval Schoolmen are kind of like “The men with sticks and rope”. 😉

  3. I note, with unsurprised disgust, that the ALP (via Marles on Murdoch’s Sky – according to the Grauniad) is going to adopt boat towbacks.

    I have less contempt for LNP voters than I do for ALP voters. You don’t hear LNP voters pretending they don’t support their party’s cruel policies or denying that LNP policies are what they are.

  4. @Megan

    Yes, LNP voters are openly inhumane and proud of it. ALP voters pretend they are humane and then vote for the same inhumane policies. One wonders which action is worst.

  5. If Peter Carey’s put it in a novel, how can it be questioned? Is there any test more decisive than adoption as the thesis of a novel?

  6. @Ikonoclast

    One wonders which action is worst.

    The ALP voters are worse in my opinion.

    The ALP can’t survive without the rusted on true believers saying one thing and then voting for a party that does the opposite – consistently – and lecturing those of us who retain our humanity that it is our fault that this country is so fascist.

    I turned on the commercial TV news (Channel 7) to see if they mentioned the Marles/ALP refugee story. They didn’t, but they did run a story about a young girl detained by immigration in filthy cramped conditions – it was a tragic story. This girl was scared and has no idea if or when she will be released. Her family and friends are desperately worried about her, and thanks to Channel 7 I imagine a lot of other people will voice their support.

    Of course the only reason we care about this girl detained by immigration in such conditions is because she is an Australian tourist, the detention is in Mexico (which she entered illegally) and she is white.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    Actually, the reference you made to a position being held by many serious intellectuals, as if this was a relevant test, is exactly the sort of thing to be expected of a medieval schoolman.

  8. @Megan

    [I note, with unsurprised disgust, that the ALP (via Marles on Murdoch’s Sky – according to the Grauniad) is going to adopt boat towbacks.]

    There must be a word for the kind of disgusted you are when you hear something disgusting but are so little surprised by it that you are no longer more disgusted than before you heard the news. All I can manage is a world weary sigh, a shake of the head and a feeling of profound sadness that the ‘world is f*kt’ and there’s nothing I or anyone who is as almost as scandalised as I am can do about it.

    Not so very long ago, Richard Marles turned up at the Toongabbie Community Centre with local member Michelle Rowland. He was as lamentable as you’d imagine — defensive, dissembling and unable to defend either the ethics or even the efficacy of his party’s position. I stood up and harangued him for a few minutes. The gathering, which was substantially of Tamil origin enjoyed the ‘speaking truth to power’ moment and when the meeting broke up a few came to thank me for the sentiments. Nobody in the room had supported or indulged Marles but on he went all the same.

    I felt better for a time, reminded of why I don’t give preferences, but I knew it was all moot as far as the policy went.

  9. @Fran Barlow

    Fair point. But they still manage to disgust me even further!

    On Twitter you can see “@RichardMarlesMP” his second most recent Tweet (behind the one where he proudly announces his appearance on Rupert TV):

    A joy to speak at the #walktogether day in Geelong welcoming refugees to Australia. @welcome2aussie @DiversitatGee

    What a scumbag.

    PS: 12 of 13 replies to his tweet are critical of his/ALP hypocrisy and 1 purports to praise the ALP adoption of LNP policy.

  10. The more I learn about Gough the more I like him. I think the venomous hatred of him from the feral Right is due to the fact that he blew the cover off their game that we cant afford to care for everyone at least a bit. Things can be otherwise – oh no ! I think I’m melting down !.

    I love that they have adopted the term ‘lone wolf’ since lone wolves dont exist. Wolves live in packs ,made up of extended family members and others ,just like domestic dogs do (except that they dont accept human members). It is a very widespread myth that wolf packs have a dominant male that kicks out the younger blokes once he starts feeling threatened by them. Wolves have a bad name like rats and Leftists do.

    This lone wolf phenomena ,and the difficulties it presents, was widely and easily predicted years ago. I havent read it but I imagine that Chinese guys Art of Warfare book would say dont pick fights you cant win ,and dont fight on your enemies terms. Its hard to bomb an idea. Imagine the massive level of public surveillance and control, the effort , the money, needed to intercept all the lone wolves in time .Its hard to win when each of our citizens is valued at at least 100 000 of theirs and we are so easily terrified by a disturbed boy who might use household objects as weapons if we push him far enough . Maybe its not about winning at all- now there’s an idea ? – a shame that our politicians had to throw a few ANZAC s into the meat grinder then (not to mention the millions of Muslims). The day those towers came down it was known that Mr Bush’s biography would be titled ‘How The West Was Lost’. They could not resist the bait.

  11. @sunshine

    Really? They are calling him a ‘lone wolf’? OMG as “Charlene” demonstrates, some people – Mel in sock puppet mode? – are very confused as to how things are in this world.

    As you say the term ‘lone wolf’ is another of the mis-characterisations about animal behaviour and evo psych that some men have taken on board and use as evidence that their dysfunctional desires are ‘natural’ and the impulse to dominate women and girlie men – is a good thing.

  12. @sunshine

    [This lone wolf phenomena ,and the difficulties it presents, …]

    Phenomenon is the singular here …

    Yes … It’s a nice pair with the equally bogus ‘alpha male’ characterisation.

  13. Tim Wilson has a quiz all about freedom here:


    He includes the following statement:

    “The right to freedom of expression (commonly referred to as freedom of speech) provides the foundation for individual autonomy, the capacity for individuals to think for themselves and impart knowledge, and a strong democracy where opinions and ideas can be debated freely. The right enables discussions and debates about political and social views, and in so doing, creates the basis for the effective exercise of many other human rights and freedoms.”

    It’s a bit difficult for me to follow how the right to freedom of speech provides “the capacity for individuals to think for themselves”. But I have to admit that I have always been slow to understand and follow the reasoning when libertarians explain things.

    Tim goes on to say that:

    “The right to freedom of expression is an extension of the absolute right of freedom to hold opinions without interference.”

    But when he sent the text that went something like “people who think freedom of speech is freedom to be heard, time wasters; send in the water canons”, one would think that he was saying this is not the case.

    Perhaps he was doing a Barry Spurr and being whimsical?

  14. Here’s part of an item I found on the website of the International League for Human Rights (FIDH):

    The Caesar report is … evidence smuggled out of Syria, including photographs of around 11,000 detainees’ corpses. The source of the report is … a former photographer for the Syrian military police and his job was to take pictures of killed detainees. Ten of the photos were released publicly in January 2014. The report was made available to human rights groups, governments and the UN. …

    The … report includes examinations and remarks from three eminent international lawyers whom examined thousands of pictures and files recording the deaths of detainees in the custody of Assad’s security forces from March 2011 to August 2013 … Sir Desmond de Silva QC, the former prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the former lead prosecutor for former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic and Professor David Crane,founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he was the one who indicted President Charles Taylor at the SCSL.

    The graphic photos show thousands of victims …; many of the corpses are emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture, strangulation, electrocution and some had no eyes, showing evidence of having had their eyes gouged out. Three experienced forensic science experts examined and authenticated samples of 55,000 images corresponding to around 11,000 victims. The report says, “Overall there was evidence that a significant number of the deceased were emaciated and a significant minority had been bound and/or beaten with rod-like objects.” …

    The inquiry team said it was satisfied there was “clear evidence … of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government. It would support findings of crimes against humanity and could also support findings of war crimes against the current Syrian regime.” Professor David Crane said, “… This is the first provable, direct evidence of what has happened to at least 11,000 human beings who have been tortured and executed and apparently disposed of … We have pictures with numbers that marry up with papers with identical numbers – official government documents and we have the person who took those pictures. That’s beyond-reasonable-doubt-type evidence.” …

    Here’s part of another item from the same website:

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), … has been informed by reliable sources about discriminatory acts, including violations of the right to freedom of association and assembly performed against members of the Russian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals (LGBT) Network, because of the nature of the human rights they defend.

    The Observatory expresses its concern for the discriminatory impact on the right to freedom of assembly and of association of the anti-LGBTI Law of July 2013, which prohibits “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations”, jeopardizing further the work of LGBT activists.

    More generally, the Observatory denounces acts of discrimination repeatedly faced by LGBT defenders in the Russian Federation and calls on the authorities to take necessary measures to ensure that LGBT rights defenders can carry on their peaceful activities without discrimination or harassment.

  15. Whatever else one may say of Wilson, his original tweet didn’t confuse cannon and canon. 😉

  16. In news just in, some moronic men have staged a protest at the federal parliament ostensibly complaining about the (apparent) privilege afforded to women of the Islamic faith that allows them to wear a face covering in the House. One of these gormless fools actually dressed in a KKK outfit. The story has been picked up by the world’s media. I can only imagine the outrage and subsequent ill feeling that these idiots have generated towards Australia. Is it any wonder that a lot of us are reticent to sing the unmitigated praises of our country?

  17. @patrickb

    Not even an original idea.

    Just like Corman’s ‘girlie man’, they stole it from Shaun Micallef’s brilliant TV show “Mad As Hell” (Wednesday night’s, ABC1 8pm).

  18. After WWII the US brought thousands of nazis to America. They also left millions of jews in the concentration camps for several years after the war – often guarded by Nazi POWs.

    The newly formed CIA brought thousands of Nazi war criminals to the US and used them as spies, in their war against Russia and in their weapons programs amongst other things.

    The CIA prevented them from facing war-crime prosecutions well into the 1990s, even though the CIA knew exactly who they were.

    Some of them had been involved in the murders of thousands of jews and tens of thousands of other enemies of the Nazis, such as communists, unionists, gays etc… – one particular example was the forced labour factories producing the V2 rockets. The nazi running that was one of the main ‘brains’ behind the US moon mission.

    Eric Lichtblau reports all of this and more in his forthcoming book: “The Nazis Next Door”.

    The CIA is a fascist organisation. The people of the US, and the world, would be best rid of it.

  19. The following comment has also been posted on my web site here. So far, it includes two other links that I would noyt have been able to include here.

    JD (@ #17(?)) wrote on October 27th, 2014 at 20:29:

    Here’s part of an item I found on the website of the International League for Human Rights (FIDH):

    Why didn’t you include the link? I tried to find it with a search engine and couldn’t.

    JD continued:

    The Caesar report is … evidence smuggled out of Syria, including photographs of around 11,000 detainees’ corpses. The source of the report is … a former photographer for the Syrian military police and his job was to take pictures of killed detainees. Ten of the photos were released publicly in January 2014. The report was made available to human rights groups, governments and the UN. …

    Almost certainly this is a fabrication by the same liars who gave us Russian tanks in East Ukraine, Iraqi WMDs, incubator babies, USS Liberty, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Warren Commission, etc.

    Until you show me where you obtained this, I cannot comment further.

    As for claims that the Russian government discriminates against gays: If true, this would be of concern, but compared with the monumental violations of human rights by the Kiev regime and even more monumental violations in Iraq, Libya and Syria, the prohibition of “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” seems almost insignificant by comparison.

  20. Megan @ (#25(?),) November 1st, 2014 at 21:10

    Curiously, less than two decades later, JFK, whose brother Joe had died fighting the Nazis in Europe and who, himself, almost perished in 1943 when PT109 was sunk by the Japanese, was to be menaced by the pro-Israel lobby in the US. Check out Kennedy, the Lobby and the bomb of May 2013 on Voltaire Net. This shows that if the USS Liberty incident had not been witnessed by a Soviet warship, there would have been no survivors and the incident would have been blamed on Egypt, thus providing a pretext for the United States to intervene in the Six Day War on the side of Israel against Egypt. We came that close to having the Six Day War turn into a far more terrible conflagration in the Mediterranean.

  21. @James

    ‘Other people do worse things’ is neither a justification nor even a mitigation.

    When I use FIDH as my search term, I get their website as the first hit. But if I put the link in this comment it’s likely to get held up in moderation. I shall try putting it in a separate comment all by itself.

  22. This is the abstract from a publication that was discussed on RN this morning, that uses Motivated Cognition and the other cognitive biases underpinning human thinking to explain conflict.

    “Political conflict between American Democrats and Republicans and ethnoreligious conflict between Israelis and Palestinians seem intractable, despite the availability of reasonable compromise solutions in both cases. This research demonstrates a fundamental cognitive bias driving such conflict intractability: Adversaries attribute their ingroup’s actions to ingroup love more than outgroup hate and attribute their outgroup’s actions to outgroup hate more than ingroup love.

    This biased attributional pattern increases beliefs and intentions associated with conflict intractability, including unwillingness to negotiate and unwillingness to vote for compromise solutions. In addition, offering financial incentives for accuracy in evaluating one’s outgroup mitigates this biased attributional pattern and its consequences.

    Understanding this bias and how to alleviate it can contribute to conflict resolution on a global scale.”


  23. @Megan

    The USA, Russia and China (to name the three biggest powers) are all authoritarian states. There is no credible way we can be rid of them or their secret security apparatuses, at least not in the short to medium term. For the long term, which I would call 50 years or more, it is not possible to predict anything in these matters.

    The USA, Russia and China are converging in terms of their essential nature. All are becoming more capitalist, more corporate and more oligarchical. Each is doing so in its own way with its own characteristics but each is trending towards an almost final form of capitalist corporate oligarchy. Each is becoming more of a secret police state as this transition progresses.

    People seem to assume that natural enmity always flows from difference. It may do so at times. However, the most virulent natural enmity flows from similarities of certain kinds. Totalitarian regimes are completely intolerant of each other. The theory of offensive realism would probably posit that Machiavellian regimes would be most likely to infer Machiavellian intentions in their opponents.

    Thus, the final (or near final) stage of capitalism gives us capitalist blocs which are corporate capitalist oligarchies, empires and completely intolerant of each other. The tensions of this situation do not appear to reach a crisis point while there are further portions of the undeveloped world (say India) to be turned into genuine capitalist countries.

    The final stage must be reached when one of two things happens. Either the entire world is made or rendered capitalist or the world’s resources (including natural waste sinks) prove to be inadequate for the full transition to a completely capitalist world. My own view is the latter will occur first but no matter. Whichever occurs first, it presages an era of declining standards of living for the exploited masses. The USA is the model for this. We cannot say yet that the USA has hit the limits to growth. Even so, inequality increases and the absolute poverty of its underclass increases. This is the natural tendency of the final stage, corporate capitalist oligarchy.

    The ideal of each oligarchic class bloc (arranged and opposed along the current national empire lines) would be a single world corporate oligarchy comprised of themselves only. Something like the TPP is another wedge or plank designed to render national government secondary and subservient to international corporate governence. I don’t see this culmination of world oligarchic government as likely. Geography, ethnicity, nationalism and logistics are stubborn facts and will remain so.

    I think the key question is this. How much poverty and inequality will be tolerated before revolution? The broad Western middle classes will be the first mass class in history to achieve education, security and plenty and then lose it all again. The key, in the West at least, will be how and when the collapsing middle class / working class reacts to its mass collapse into the underclass.

  24. > How much poverty and inequality will be tolerated before revolution?

    Anger comes with frustration: revolution comes when an improving trend is cut off. If things monotonically get worse there’ll never be a revolution: I suspect that for some this is the plan.

  25. @Collin Street

    “revolution comes when an improving trend is cut off.”

    I guess this is part of my argument. For the Western middle class an improving trend has been cut off. There is only one way now for much of the Western middle class and that is down, all the way to the underclass.

    But I also think there is relative dissatisfaction and absolute dissatifaction. A long, slow decline of class fortunes could conceivably lead to relative and containable dissatisfaction. However, there is the rock bottom of basic subsistence. Beyond that point there are food riots and mass insurrections.

  26. I made a mistake with the ‘<blockquote>’ tags in the previous post. Please delete that post Professor Quiggin.

    The following has also been posted here. Links which I cannot include here have been included there.

    J-D wrote on November 2nd, 2014 at 07:24 :

    ‘Other people do worse things’ is neither a justification nor even a mitigation.

    Where did I write that the staged murders by the neo-Nazi putschists in January and February and its subsequent war against the people of East Ukraine justifies the persecution of gays in Russia?

    On November 1st, 2014 at 21:59 I wrote that, in comparison to the war crimes of the Ukraine regime and the even greater crimes of the the United States in Iraq, Libya and Syria, “the prohibition of ‘propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations’ seems almost insignificant by comparison.”

    We may have to differ on whether the latter is ‘trivial’ or ‘insignificant’ in comparison to the former, but I fail to see how the latter could any way be likened to the former.

    JD wrote on November 2nd, 2014 at 07:25 :

    (The web address of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) that he cited earlier to show that the Syrian and Russian governments are guilty of human rights violations.)

    I can see that the FIDH is no more than yet another a vehicle to manufacture pretexts for the many wars launched by the United States in recent decades. This is shown by its article “Crimea: 16 March referendum not admissible in international law” (16/3/14).

    “Since the announcement of the ‘referendum’, the self-proclaimed Crimean authorities, supported by the deployment on the territory of increasing numbers of Russian military forces, have carried out abductions and expulsions towards continental Ukraine pro-unity activists, acts of intimidation of local communities, and the closing down of all independent media, thereby violating Ukrainian and international Human Rights legislation. Given the lack of security, many persons are presently fleeing from Crimean territory.

    “At the same time, the Russian media under government control have organised a continuous disinformation campaign, pretexting the defence of ethnic minorities for propagating a message of hatred and threats. The representatives of the Russian and Jewish minorities in Ukraine, along with the Crimean Tatars, have frequently denounced such an attitude.”

    Curiously the FIDH has had nothing more to say about Crimea in the ensuing 8 months in spite of the ominous developments of which it wrote in that article.

    I would have particularly thought the FIDH would have had a lot to say about the Crimean prosecutor, Natalya Poklanskaya. Surely Natalya would have to have been complicit in all of the crimes of which FIDH complains? But, not a word has been written of her by the FIDH.

    A good many who read about Natalya and see her astonishing youthful good looks, whose anime-style images have gained her overwhelming popularity, particularly in Japan, would inevitably want to know why she, and the near unanimous majority of Crimeans, have supported the Russian government against the Kiev regime. If this were to happen, a vastly greater number of people would scrutinise the Ukraine narrative of both the Western mainstream media the FIDH and see it for the tissue of lies that it is.

    The claims made against the Syrian government by the FIDH are no less deceitful. Much of the fearful 195,000 death toll in that conflict is the consequence of such lies by phony human rights organisations such as FIDH.

  27. @James

    I could go on to quote from other sources, but I am wondering whether perhaps it would be more efficient to ask what kind of sources you regard as reliable, and why.

  28. The following, including other links, has been posted to my own web site.

    J-D wrote on November 3rd, 2014 at 07:42:

    I could go on to quote from other sources, …

    Or, perhaps, you could just respond to the arguments I posted above (on November 3rd, 2014 at 02:03). If you were to dispute any of what I have written, you could always ask me to provide sources.

    As it is, in the copy of the post on my own web site linked to above, as well as two links to the FIDH, there is a link to one other article on my own web site which has been republished from rt _dot_ com . That article includes that 2:05 video of Natalya Poklonskaya. If you look at the tags at the foot of the article I have linked to here, you will find a large number of articles, most of which also contain citations from elsewhere.

    Tags at the bottom of that article include: anime, Crimea, feminism, Japan, Natalya Poklonskaya, NATO sanctions and Ukraine.

  29. @Ikonoclast

    James posted some statements about Russia, its government, and Vladimir Putin and about Syria, its government, and Bashar al-Assad.

    I made no comment about James’s sources. I posted some other statements on the same topics, sourced from Amnesty International.

    James’s response argued (if I understood correctly) that Amnesty International was not a reliable source of information.

    I posted some statements sourced from the International League for Human Rights.

    James’s response argued (if I understood correctly) that the International League for Human Rights was not a reliable source of information.

    I could, as I already indicated, post more material from other sources, but it seems to me that worhtwhile communication will not take place if I keep posting material from various sources and James dismisses each in turn as unreliable. In order to have any sort of worthwhile communication it’s necessary to have some shared reference points. Since James first raised the issue of reliability of sources (by questioning mine), it seems reasonable to me to invite James to give a more general indication of the criteria by which he judges.

  30. Well I just watched Bill Shorten on Kitchen Cabinet – I just don’t think he’s a natural politician I’m afraid.

  31. J-D wrote on November 3rd, 2014 at 07:42; November 4th, 2014 at 17:12 and November 4th, 2014 at 19:15

    … what kind of sources you regard as reliable, and why[?]

    I would have thought the answer was self evident:

    The sources, I find reliable are those which I have cited in the various discussions on this site and on my own web site.

    Why do I find them reliable?

    I find the reliable, because no-one – least of all, you – have been able to show me that any article, cited by me, is wrong.

    Of course, feel free to prove me wrong. Just choose any article written on my own site, candobetter -dot- net or any of the other sites I listed in the Gough Whitlam discussion:

    globalresearch -dot- ca, voltairenet -dot- org, landdestroyer -dot- blogspot -dot- com, presstv -dot- com and rt -dot- com

    … and show all of us, with evidence and logic, how wrong it is.

    Of course, I won’t hold my breath waiting.

  32. @James

    You have not shown that the International League of Human Rights is wrong; therefore, by your own stated standards, it is a reliable source and you have not justified your rejection of its reports.

  33. J-D

    I note that on November 5th, 2014 at 16:26 you did not take up my challenge to “show all of us, with evidence and logic, how wrong” even one article from any of the web sites I “regard as reliable” is.

    Presumably, J-D, you agree with me that those are credible and authoritative web-sites.

    As for the FIDH, On 22 May 2014 the “Caesar Report” has not once again been mentioned in any of the FIDH’s articles about Syria since it published those allegations on 13 May 2014.

    On 22 May 2014 the “Caesar Report” was dismissed by Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin as “based on unconfirmed information obtained from unverifiable sources”. So it would seem that by making no further reference to the “Caesar Report” the FIDH concurs with Vitaly Churkin’s assessment. It’s a shame that the FIDH has not said so publicly.

  34. @James

    Silence is not affirmation. If I have not said anything about your sources, that does not equate to an affirmation on my part of their reliability. If FIDH has said nothing about Russia’s dismissal of the Caesar Report, that does not equate to concurrence with the assessment or disavowal of their previous position. You have not shown that FIDH is wrong. Being contradicted by an ambassador does not constitute proof of error.

    I am confident that you don’t accept as reliable everything that I have not shown to be wrong. That would represent an extraordinary level of credulity. Seriously? You read something, you check whether I have shown it to be wrong, and if I haven’t, then that’s good enough for you to accept that it’s correct? No, that can’t be the principle you work on.

  35. J-D wrote on November 6th, 2014 at 19:01

    Silence is not affirmation. If I have not said anything about your sources, …

    When you write something substantial in response to my previous posts, we will resume this discussion.

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