Weighing in on Bolty*

Disclaimer: At the risk of having my employment threatened, I just want to say that Andrew Bolt is a “respected national columnist” and he totally rocks my world.**

Ausculture‘s Jess points out that even the Herald Sun agrees Bolty is a waste of space.

Why does he keep spouting off the same RWDB opinions over and over again? No one cares, Andy, sweetie-dear.

Yes, we know you’re against anything which has an even remote connection to being fair to people and/or accepting that some pretty awful things happened in this country in the past which we might be able to learn from.

So there’s no need for you to tell us that the Australian Research Council providing

grants for 10 more investigations on gender issues, eight on race or racism, another five on reconciliation and seven on global warming. Plus a couple of studies on how anti-terrorism laws are a menace, and Islamism isn’t

is bad.

Heaven forbid people trying to find some ways to solve Global Warming. What’s the point in that?

I have agree with him on the anti-terror law thing though. Everyone already knows they’re a menace, why do we need to do a study on it? Bah, damn those Leftie Academics and their eschewing of economic rationalism!

But does he really need to be whinging about the Eureka Conference? Of course he’s going to hate it; he’s so damn predictable that he doesn’t need to even mention it. Hello, it’s to celebrate the 150th of the EUREKA STOCKADE.

No Liberals have turned up to speak.

My. God. Isn’t that just shocking?

I think the Right needs some new material.

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* How can I consider myself a playa on the Left of the Blogosphere if I didn’t have at least one post on the critically acclaimed genius-slash-unstoppable sex god himself?

** Did you ever play Opposites Day at primary school? Ah, the memories are flooding back.

The L-Word

Before my Politics and Media exam yesterday* I ran into this American Study Abroad student whom I accidently snogged last month (it turned out that he’d postal-voted for Shrub, thus making it an Accident**). When he learned my exam was for a unit run by our Illustrious Collage of Arts Foudation Dean who also happens to be a Big Leftie, my American friend kindly offered me some, uh, sage advice to help me pass.

“Be liberal,” he said. “Simon will love it.”

If I were hispanic, I would’ve done that don-tchu-no-giv-me-noh-ahtitood neck rotation thing*** and said “You don’t have to tell me to be liberal, honey, it runs in my veins.” But I’m not, so I just laughed nervously at a further generalisation he made about my lecturer, politely wished him well for his exam and excused myself. Back. Away. From the Republican. Slowly. His ignorance could be contaigious and might be set off by sudden movements.

Anyway, the way this guy mentioned being ‘liberal’ got me thinking. It was like he thought being ‘liberal’ was contrary to the way human beings would/should normally operate and must only be feigned when writing an exam set by some weirdo commie bastard who may or may not have worked at a terrorist training camp in Cuba.

It was like being liberal was dirty.

What the hell is with some people’s problem with liberalism, huh? Why is it bad to think that everyone deserves a chance to access decent education, healthcare, reasonable living and working conditions and a fair? Why is it wrong to support civilised diplomacy rather than reckless aggression, fairer income re-distribution, services which benefit larger parts of the community and not just those who can afford it, equal pay for equal work, the right of women to choose what happens to their bodies, the right of people to choose their faith coupled with an obligation to not impose their beliefs on others, the right of grown adults to decide whom they want to marry, and the sustainable use of natural resources?

Please, just let me know where I’ve got it wrong, because it’s killing me.

Now, if I am totally and utterly convinced by flawless and brilliant reasoning (something other than If It’s Not Right It’s Wrong, please) that I’m in the wrong camp and I capitulate and repent for the error of my nasty liberal ways, what should I do? How should I act? What am I supposed to believe in? (Heaven would forbid me, as a new Tory, to think for myself.) The Democratic Underground author I’ve linked to above points out that

many conservatives I have met usually espouse one or more programs and policies that are mainly self serving – including the reduction or elimination of taxes, protection of the status quo and states rights irrespective of societal inequities, “my” religious convictions – not yours, prosperity at any cost, business interests – not the public’s, the right to own assault weapons, a powerful military rather than universal public health and education, or finally America first – the U.N. never! In a more vernacular sense, “I’ve got mine, Jack, to hell with you.”

Don’t Americans love themselves from being the land of liberty? Well then get with the facts, dammit, and celebrate liberalism. Because it means sticking up for everyone, not just yourself. Because it means giving a fuck.

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* The exam was a treat, and I think I did pretty well. For the question on blogging, I quoted John Quiggin, Tim Dunlop and Robert Corr, and for the question on the media’s role in Iraq I mentioned stuff I’d blogged about last week. I knew I started doing this for a reason!

** Note to self: interrogate all potential snoggees about their political viewpoints beforehand, regardless of cuteness.

*** That would be rotation on the y-axis, cf the chick in The Exorcist. I can’t think of a better way to describe it right now.

PS — More on the Shrub election: The Election is Over. The Fight is not.

A Declaration of Dependence

To the citizens of the United States of America

In the light of your failure to elect a proper President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchial duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honorable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

  1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminum.” Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favor’ and ‘neighbor,’ skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix “is” will be replaced by the suffix “ise”. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary”. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won’t have to use bad language as often.
  • On your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize”.
  • You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to Cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents – Scottish dramas such as “Taggart” will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon”. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” >e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.
  • Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as “Men Behaving Badly” or “Red Dwarf” will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.
  • You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
  • You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders” which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.
  • You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. “Merde” is French for “Shit”. The 97.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  • July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.
  • All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  • You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps”. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
  • As a sign of penance, 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.
  • The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer”, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager”. The substances formerly known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as “Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.
  • From December 1st the UK will harmonise petrol (or “Gasoline” as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon – get used to it).
  • You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.
  • Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.
  • Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

    Thank you for your cooperation.

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    email forward via Annabel; thanks bubs!

    Fighting God-policy

    After yesterday’s debate on The Balance of Creation over at Rob Corr’s, I was interested to find this post in my Nation LiveBookmarks folder this morning. Katrina vanden Heuvel outlines the systematic infiltration of Creationism into US education policy and the “rightwing assault on the Enlightenment [which] extends well beyond putting creationism on equal footing with evolutionary science”.

    The article ends with a warning to those of us who find this trend disturbing…

    People of reason must be savvy, and just as tough as the intolerant Right, in defending scientific discovery and the ideal of human progress from the retrogressive forces now rallying behind this White House. With a messianic militarist in the Oval Office, social conservatives are seizing the initiative and assailing the Enlightenment. Time is not on our side.

    Link

    Rice is the new Pasta

    Excellent, the new US Secretary of State is the ex-namesake of an oil tanker. Doesn’t that just fill your hearts with warm fuzzies?

    But is there a good side? David Corn writes that this provides an excellent chance for the Democrats to keep pestering the Bush 2.2 Administration:

    Why didn’t the president and you bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before he decided to go to war? Why weren’t there Cabinet-level meetings on what to do after the invasion about the obvious economic, political, legal, and security challenges that would be faced in Iraq? Why did Bush say there were “stockpiles” of biological weapons in Iraq even when the overstated intelligence did not report this? Why did he devote more time pre-9/11 to ballistic missile defense rather than to counterterrorism? Oh, the list could go on for days.

    Update 18/11: This column by John Nichols* sums up why I dislike Condi quite nicely.

    After Rice appeared in that city in September, the Seattle Times newspaper pointed out that, “Rice sounded at times like a candidate.” In a sense, she was. Prior to the election, Washington was abuzz with speculation about the all-but-certain departure of Secretary of State Colin Powell, the closest thing the administration had to an independent man of government — as opposed to the programmed politicos who peopled most major posts in the Bush White House. Rice, who began campaigning for the Secretary of State post before the 2000 election, did not want there to be any doubt on the part of Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney, the man who runs foreign policy for the administration, that she would be a more loyal and dramatically more politicized player than Powell.

    Just as she politicized the national security adviser to an extent never before seen, she will politicize the State Department. Any pretense of independence or pragmatism will be discarded as quickly as was the tradition of keeping the national security adviser out of politics.

    With Powell, its feeble defender, on the way out of the State Department, the last small voices of dissent within the foreign policy bureaucracy will begin to fall silent. If Rice is confirmed, as seems certain considering the partisan divide in the Senate, the Department of State where Thomas Jefferson, William Jennings Bryan and George Marshall once presided, will be little more than an arm of the White House political operation. And the Secretary of State, who has already proven herself to be more interested in campaigning than in defending the best interests of the nation or its security, will not be a diplomat. She will be a politician, nothing more and, certainly, nothing less.

    One of my politics lecturers predicted Powell would go before the start of Iraq War II last year, either because he felt dirty being associated with Dubya or because he’d be chucked for having a brain capable of thinking on its own. Dr Rice shouldn’t have any of those problems, but it looks like the embedding of partisan interests in the Bush 2.2 Administration is just going to get worse. And this can’t possibly be a good thing.

    Even if she is a politician (because, let’s face it, who isn’t these days?), the position of her politics is dangerous. If I’d blogged when Powell was appointed I would have said the same thing, but honestly, how can someone who was in charge of national security (you’d be kicking yourself if 9/11 happened on your watch, eh?) and so gung-ho about going to bloody war be a diplomat? I know I’m a bleeding heart liberal idealist who will just get crushed like a bug if I ever moved away from my laptop, but surely the whole point of diplomacy is to avoid war?

    Why not just get rid of the Secretary of State job altogether? It’d be perfect economic rationalist policy. I understand Rice’s appointment is a logical conclusion after an ex-General, but this just solidifies the Administration’s obsession with political realism in foreign policy. National interest, alliances, military might, blah di blah di blah. Is it working, darlings? No, no it bloody well isn’t.

    Dr Rice should remember what she used to teach at Stanford:

    C students rush to war, while A students work diligently and patiently toward peaceful solutions to international problems. When the Iraqi crisis has ended, what grade will the current Administration have earned?

    I’d give them an F.

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    *Ah, The Nation. I would be adrift in a sea of “Huh?” and “Umm” without you.

    Fallujah War Crimes Caught on Camera

    From Reuters/ABC.net.au:

    The US military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after a television pool report by US network NBC showed a Marine shooting dead a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Fallujah mosque.

    If I may offer a suggestion for Dubya’s banner makers: Misson Fucked.*

    The Power of the Media

    I did a unit this semester called Setting the Agenda: Politics and the Media.** Taking it was half of the inspiration for starting up this blog (the other half came from Rob Corr, who, after the last couple of weeks, is officially my blogging idol). The unit really made me question that grand old idea of the Fourth Estate as ‘an independent and impartial watch dog of government and other powerful interests.’ When looking at the mainstream media’s response to 9/11 and hearing about the antics of the Murdochs and Alan Joneses of the world, most of the time the mass media just comes across as a lap dog (excellent, from now on I will only refer to Murdoch as Tinkerbell**).

    When things like this show up, though, it gives you just a little bit of hope. Hope that maybe the megamedia has realised they spent immediate post 9/11 period and the lead up to Iraq 03-?? acting as the US Government Stenography Service and now understand the crucial role they have to play in protecting us from the tyranny of the majority. Another entry on hope/faith later (not).

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    * As pointed out by GT, my most appropriate typo ever! :)

    ** Therefore this entry counts as exam study, woo.

    *** Paris Hilton’s chihuahua.