You glow boy   30/9/2004

Those darned disrespectful Cheneys, mouthing off on the hustings again.

Vice President Dick Cheney, at a town hall-style campaign event in Minnesota, told the audience that student proctors could be seen wearing orange shirts.
Lynne Cheney asked her husband what the shirts “remind you of?” The veep paused, prompting his wife to say, “I’ll say it: How about John Kerry’s suntan?”

The Kerry camp fired back with:
“Is Mrs. Cheney jealous, considering how hard it is to get sun in the undisclosed location with her husband Dick? Or is she distracted over how red-in-the-face George Bush should be considering his failed presidency?”

No second prize.


Oh dear, Kerry’s gotta be in strife if the far left Sydney Morning Herald is having a snigger.

Matt Drudge, who runs the Drudge Report website, wondered whether Kerry had been campaigning too much “in the rust belt”.

Oh, those Cheneys, they just won’t let it go:
During a Republican U.S. Senate fundraiser in Washington the other night, Cheney quipped of Kerry, “It’s not easy being orange.”

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Lacker’s a big chance   

Unless the Coaltion gets some cajonnes quick smart, Labor will steal this election. The free hospital care for silver tops pledge is straight out of the Irresponsible Whitlamesque Policies handbook but attractive enough to lure the economically unsophisticated who will decide the poll’s outcome.
Imagine it in practice: hospitals cluttered with fogies demanding — and getting — new hips, knees, hearts and livers. In just a handful of years Germaine Greer will probably come home — after dutiful apologies to the indigenous, of course — for a free boob job.
The sawbones will make a killing; likewise the hospital builders, the bed pan swabbers, prosthetics manufacturers, soft food chefs and ambulance chasers suing for negligence (“if my client’s dad had received just one more heart transplant he’d still be with us today financing my client’s heroin addiction”).
Who’s going to pay for it, you ask. Fergeddaboudid, this is Son of Whitlam politics, you know, crash through or crash. And crash it will be if Latham wins and this madness posing as policy is adopted.
What’s the odds on a doubling of the Medicare levy within three years? And GST to 15 per cent?
Hmmm, just checked Centrebet and they’re not offering odds yet on those outcomes. But they’ve still got the Coalition paying $1.40 and labor $2.70.
The Coalition’s best hope is to jump right onto this with scorn and ridicule and plenty of reminders of the Whitlam influence on Latham. That should scare the bejeepers out of a few oldies. And he should throw down the gauntlet with a deadline demand for Treasury costings of all Labor policies. Howard should insist that detailed policies are in Treasury’s hands within 24 hours and bring down the granddaddy of “What are you hiding” campaigns when they’re not.

I’ve just been reminded of PJ O’Rourke’s take on this matter:
“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”
Nuff said.

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Labor shortens   29/9/2004

Punters have responded to generous Labor odds by backing the party back into $2.70. Centrebet has the Coaltion at $1.40.
Odds are steady for the US poll with Kerry paying $3 and Dubya $1.33.

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Lad sidelined   

Seems The Currency Lad is having techno difficulties. Can someone help him get back online? After all, he’s one of the best Aussie bloggers going round.

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Lacker whacked   28/9/2004

Never has so much damaging material been dumped on one person. It’s the Latham Liverpool files.
Haven’t read this account of ex-Mayor Latham’s record at City Hall thoroughly yet, but here’s a damning sample:
In 1993:
Tripling the 1992 cost of Council Officers to prepare Local Environment Plans for rezoning (from $600 to $2,000 for one applicant and from $700 to $2,500 for more than one owner and from $900 to $3,000 if the application required an environmental study);
Introducing new building inspection fees ranging from $50 for properties valued at under $20,000 to $500 for properties valued over $2 million;
Increasing the fee to use the council’s swimming pool by 10c for adults and 10c per waterslide ride, 20c for children, parents accompanying children to learn to swim lessons or attending school carnivals and non officiating parents on club swim nights, 80c for widow pensioners, $3.00 per hour for school carnivals;
Increasing the licence fee for undertakers (from $50 to $54), public entertainment (from $160 to $200) and Introducing a $10 licence fee for buskers;
Introducing a charge on water-cooled air conditioning systems — $80 for water cooling and warm water systems and $60 for evaporative systems65.
In 1994:
Increasing the cost of childcare, from $115 a week to $135 a week for longcare (this meant childcare fees had increased $25, or 23% in just two years);
Increasing parking fees by 60% at the Northumberland Street Car Park, 54% at the Bathurst Street Car Park and increases ranging from 25% to 50% for more than two hours at the Plaza Car Park;
Increasing the fees for sporting field hire by 50%;
Doubling the cost of hiring tennis courts ;
Further increasing swimming pool admissions by 25% for all age and concession categories. 66

Crazy? Bully? You decide:

Calling the police to help control Council meetings…

On Monday 23 March 1992 Mayor Mark Latham reportedly called the police to evict Cr Tony Pascale from a Council meeting after asking a question about rorting by truck contractors78.
Reportedly, all Cr Pascale had wanted to do was ask a question of town clerk David Mead (as other Councillors had been allowed to do in the past). Mr Latham however ruled it out of order. After a 15 minute adjournment, Mr Latham said Pascale would be allowed to sit at the meeting if he apologised. After Mr Pascale refused, Mr Latham called the police to forcibly evict him79.
According to the local Chamber of Commerce President, John Henshaw, “the spectacle of police being called to a council meeting at the behest of a political faction is no different from past performances where former aldermen publicly settled differences with fist fights or offers to do so outside” and that “it is a shame sixth-rate politicians pretending to be business managers are effectively doing the same thing to the multi million dollar corporation of Liverpool City Council.”

The question now is, how will the media treat this?

Judging from early responses, with kid gloves.
AAP has just announced the release of the dossier without including any of the claims in detail. It gives equal coverage to a letter from the commissioner of inquiry into Liverpool who said there was no evidence of mismanagement during Mr Latham’s time at the helm, from 1991 to 1994.
Time to go to work, bloggers.

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Latham and Kerry are both drifting in the odds. Centrebet now has Labor paying $3.33 for a win, out from $2.70 late last week and $3 yesterday.
Kerry has eased from $2.70 yesterday to $3.
These are rank outsider odds in a two-horse race.

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Lower than shark droppings   

Christopher Hitchins is ropeable about this comment from the old Heinz Kerry bag:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared in the next month.” Teresa Heinz Kerry to the Phoenix Business Journal, referring to a possible capture of Osama bin Laden before Election Day.
The Ketchup Kween’s comment was “deplorable, detestable, unforgivable”, Hitchens said.
The plain implication is that the Bush administration is stashing Bin Laden somewhere, or somehow keeping his arrest in reserve, for an “October surprise.” This innuendo would appear, on the face of it, to go a little further than “impugning the patriotism” of the president. It argues, after all, for something like collusion on his part with a man who has murdered thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of Muslim civilians in other countries.
I am not one of those who likes to tease Mrs. Kerry for her “loose cannon” style. This is only the second time I have ever mentioned her in print. But I happen to know that this is not an instance of loose lips. She has heard that very remark being made by senior Democrats, and—which is worse—she has not heard anyone in her circle respond to it by saying, “Don’t be so bloody stupid.” I first heard this “October surprise” theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago. Since then, I’ve heard it said seriously or semiseriously, by responsible and liberal people who ought to know better, all over the place. It got even worse when the Democratic establishment decided on an arm’s-length or closer relationship with Michael Moore and his supposedly vote-getting piece of mendacity and paranoia, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The DNC’s boss, Terence McAuliffe, asked outside the Uptown cinema on Connecticut Avenue whether he honestly believed that the administration had invaded Afghanistan for the sake of an oil or perhaps gas pipeline, breezily responded, “I do now.”)

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Cutting commentary   

He’s sharp, he’s slick, he’s the Razor. Persuasive blogger Alan Anderson has convinced the SMH’s chiefs to let him be the Margoyle antidote. You need powerful medicine to block that poison and Al’s got it. For a start, he can spell and he’s no apostate to the apostrophe. He’s also rational and a foe of big gummint. Regrettably he ain’t got a comments facility. Hopefully he’ll get one or, like Stinkston, will publish email responses. I’d expect Alan, unlike Stinkston, to publish ALL responses.

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Deja vu   

In a bid to revive Kerry (and Latham’s) diminishing electoral chances, the Left is again whining like shot diffs about the quagmire and general hopelessness of the coalition’s cause in Iraq. They pretend concern and disappointment but in reality delight in the people’s suffering that brings so many difficulties for the hated importers of democracy.
Might be time to again reproduce an illuminating post-WW2 article from Life magazine that made its first reappearance on the Jessica’s Well blog.

The first winter of peace holds Europe in a deathly grip of cold, hunger and hopelessness. In the words of the London Sunday Observer: “Europe is threatened by a catastrophe this winter which has no precedent since the Black Death of 1348.”
These are still more than 25,000,000 homeless people milling about Europe. In Warsaw nearly 1,000,000 live in holes in the ground. Six million buildings were destroyed in Russia. Rumania has her worst drought of 50 years, and in Greece fuel supplies are terribly low because the Nazis, during their occupation, decimated the forests. In Italy the wheat harvest, which was a meager 3,450,000 tons in 1944, fell to an unendurable 1,304,000 tons in 1945. In France, food consumption per day averages 1,800 calories as compared with 3,000 calories in the U.S.
Germany is sinking even below the level of the countries she victimized. The German people are still better clothed than most of Europe because during the war they took the best of Europe’s clothing. But their food supply is below subsistence level. In the American zone they beg for the privilege of scraping U.S. army garbage cans. Infant mortality is already so high that a Berlin Quaker, quoted in the British press, predicted. “No child born in Germany in 1945 will survive. Only half the children aged less than 3 years will survive.”
On Germany, which plunged the Continent into its misery, falls the blame for its own plight and the plight of all Europe. But if this winter proves worse even than the war years, blame will fall on the victor nations. Some Europeans blame Russia for callousness to misery in eastern Europe. But some also blame America because they expected so much more from her.

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Another worthy rump   27/9/2004

Those who are heartily sick of political parties bribing us with our money will look favourably at the Libertarian Independents reduced tax policies. The LIs are standing for the Senate in NSW and deserve rational consideration.

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Bob’s book   

Must-read of the day: Newsweek’s interview with Bob Dylan on his new memoir Chronicles, Volume One.
Ever the enigma, Dylan is bound to upset many fans by skirting over almost a third of his life in the autobiography.

Yet further disillusionment for radicals who thought Dylan was their man:

As time passed and the ’60s receded into the 1970s and then the 1980s, Dylan says he found happiness and inner peace.
“In my real life, I got to do the things that I love the best … Little League games, birthday parties, taking my kids to school, camping trips, boating, rafting, canoeing, fishing … I was living on record royalties.”

The mag has an excerpt which I plan to read over dinner tonight at the saltmine.

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Spewing hate   

Although not particularly religious myself, I admire those who put some effort into their faith. For a start, you can generally expect them to treat you fairly as they go through life striving to do good. And except for the folk singing Micks, the gay Anglicans, the Socialism-is-the-new-god Methodists and the child molesters in cassocks, the righteous have clearly defined values that are compatible with the betterment of humanity. Chief among those is that the keystone of a fair, orderly, lawful society is functional family structures.
That’s why I’m glad to see this Family First crowd entering the political fray. If a political rump can influence the major parties to view the family unit as the essence of society that’s all right with me.
Sure, the party has sprung from the holy rollers’ end of town. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I don’t hear them screeching hatred for their philosophical opponents or claiming that other groups — such as the theological lefties — have no right to political involvement.
Yet this group has been subject today on the letters page of The Australian to vile, hateful attacks that should shame anyone connected to the authors.
In a selection of letters Family First is described as fundamentalist, a religious organisation that preaches intolerance and bigotry, Christian Taliban, extremists, (mounting) a bid for political power built on lies, Pharisees, gullible pietists (who believe in) a Semitic god, disturbing.
Imagine the outrage if a letter-writing campaign used similar language about Muslims.
Breathtaking hypocrisy.

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Showing faith   

I was sceptical of this at first but the Truth or Fiction site claims to have contacted the individual in the report who it says verified the account.
If Bush doesn’t get an immediate boost in the faithful’s vote, I’ll be dining on Akubra. Excerpt:
I said to him, ‘Mr. President, I know you are a busy man and your time is precious. I also know you to be a man of strong faith and I have a favor to ask you.’ As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Just name it.’
“I told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that day. He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he said,
‘So that’s it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on your heart today. I could see it in your eyes. This explains it.’
From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with his seal on it and asked, ‘How do you spell her name?’
He then jotted a note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength of prayer. “When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of an earlier cancer and that if it is they can get it all with this surgery. He said, ‘If it’s okay with you, we’ll take care of the prayer right now. Would you pray with me?’

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Recognition at last   24/9/2004

How long has the blogiverse been onto the rathergate fiasco, two weeks, plus? Finally, The Australian is giving it something near the treatment it deserves, leading yarn on the opinion page.
It’s by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds who delights in using old media to explain how the new commentators have exposed the inhabitants of “legacy media” to be inept, lazy, lockstep banner carriers.
Our bull-goose Aussie blogger gets a mention:
That makes them disposed to find even obviously bogus claims about Bush (such as the oft-repeated story that he served US troops in Iraq a plastic turkey on his visit last year, an exploded claim that Australian journalist-blogger Tim Blair gleefully points out whenever it resurfaces) credible, despite the evidence.
Worse yet, they tend to talk mostly with people who share their beliefs. The result is an insular culture, rife with the prejudices of the New Class, which believes all sorts of absurdities and peddles them to the public in the sometimes honest, if often unfounded, belief that they are true. Even when they are exposed as false, the response is often to assert, as Rather did for a while, that the story may have been false, but that it was justified because the underlying point (people who agree with us are good, while people who don’t are bad) is nonetheless true. After all, everyone they talk to thinks so.

On the money.

Gotta go. I’m off to a pre-Grand Final lunch at Kardinia Park. It’s in aid of St Joseph’s Football Club. Centrebet is giving only 2/1-on that there’ll be a redhead at our table.

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Hacks harangued   23/9/2004

Tim Blair is carrying an outburst by Herald Sun finance whiz Terry McCrann against his political hack colleagues who don’t appear to comprehend the unreliability of opinion polls.
A commenter to the post suggests this indicates that McCrann’s proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, has concluded that Latham’s looking a winner and he’s sent riding instructions to his Oz underlings to soften up for Labor.
It’s a long bow. I think Terry, like many journalistic curmudgeons, is just appalled at the ever-dumber, lockstep, unconsciously partisan coverage emanating from the campaign trail.
However, Centrebet now shows Labor has firmed further from $3 to $2.70 with the Coalition easing from $1.33 to $1.40. Not yet a trend but tomorrow’s odds will be interesting.
Centrebet’s odds for Howard and Latham governments mirror those for Bush and Kerry administrations, respectively.

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Blogging banana-benders Todd and Murph have moved into shared space at Gravett world headquarters. Todd explains how the merger materialised. It is not a pretty story. Now I’ve got to add them to the blogroll. This is becoming a daily chore.

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PJ O’Rourke is back in print and positively dazzling. This extract is from the soon-to-be-released Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism.
I almost feel sorry for the left. They’ve got no one who can go close to matching his wit and style. What’s that you say, they’ve got Phillip Adams and Moron Dowd? Precisely.
Americans hate foreign policy. Americans hate foreign policy because Americans hate foreigners. Americans hate foreigners because Americans are foreigners. We all come from foreign lands, even if we came 10,000 years ago on a land bridge across the Bering Strait.
America is not “globally conscious” or “multi-cultural.” Americans didn’t come to America to be Limey Poofters, Frog-Eaters, Bucket Heads, Micks, Spicks, Sheenies or Wogs. If we’d wanted foreign entanglements, we would have stayed home. Or – in the case of those of us who were shipped to America against our will – as slaves, exiles, or transported prisoners – we would have gone back.
Being foreigners ourselves, we Americans know what foreigners are up to with their foreign policy – their venomous convents, lying alliances, greedy agreements and trick-or-treaties. America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don’t think that way.
We don’t think much at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you’ve got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags. A fundamental American question is: “What’s the big idea?”

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Hilarity hazard ahead   22/9/2004

Iowahawk will have you clutchin ya guts.

“I’m saying you’ve been played like a pawn shop fiddle, Rather. Set up. Conned. Slipped a mickey.”
“What are you implying Kurtz?”
“Snookered. Bamboozled. Flimflammed. They sold you a first class ticket to the Palookaville snipe hunt on the Gullible Express.”

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fine speech   

Stayed up after work last night to watch Bush’s speech to the UN. It was impressive — eloquent, determined, conciliatory and challenging. Squirm factor was high among the poodle delegates.
It was clear they understood Bush was telling them in polite terms, what football coach John Kennedy entreated to his players at three-quarter time in a Grand Final: DOOOO SOMETHING! JUST DOOO SOMETHING!
Anyway, you decide. Excerpt:
At this hour, the world is witnessing terrible suffering and horrible crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan, crimes my government has concluded are genocide. The United States played a key role in efforts to broker a cease-fire, and we are providing humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people. Rwanda and Nigeria have deployed forces in Sudan to help improve security so aid can be delivered. The Security Council adopted a new Resolution that supports an expanded African Union force to help prevent further bloodshed … and urges the government of Sudan to stop flights by military aircraft in Darfur. We congratulate the members of the Council on this timely and necessary action. And I call on the government of Sudan to honor the cease-fire it signed, and to stop the killing in Darfur.
Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace. We have witnessed the rise of democratic governments in predominantly Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian cultures. Democratic institutions have taken root in modern societies, and in traditional societies. When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom.

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Kidnap avoidance   

Ross Stevenson on 3AW this morning made an interesting suggestion. Why don’t Iraq contractors install tracking microchips in or on their workers so that if they’re kidnapped they can be satellite-tracked?
Presumably the chips could be programmed so that if the person unexpectedly moves beyond a set boundary, say a residence, the tracker sets off an alarm.
A sound reason why this would not work is probably staring me in the face. But dumb old me just can’t see it.

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