C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Don't you hate it when...

At a time when the radical right of Russia are beating people senseless for the heinous crimes of being homosexual, Jewish, or 'foreign', that the country, and its leader, Vladimir Putin, are accused of being 'leftist'?

The 2007 election result must have addled a few brains. I'm just waiting on confirmation that Bill O'Reilly is a communist.


Whilst the sabre-rattling continues in the West over the 'Iranian crisis', many of you will no doubt have seen a story about a state that comes a lot closer to genuine theocracy (I won't use the non-sequitur of a name, 'Islamofascism'), Saudi Arabia.

Iran still manages to be subject to regular scrutiny by our media and politicians, in advance of a possible strike by the US, Israel, or both.

Naturally, any such war will be presaged by a litany of 'human rights' abuses which bombing Iran will necessarily put right.

Never mind that it is Saudi Arabia's government who has defended a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip. The US State Department found enough confected outrage to term this sentence 'astonishing'. Nonetheless, the Republicans, normally so astute in matters Islamofascist, could not actually bring themselves to suggest that the sentence ought to be changed.

Never mind that of the minority of insurgents in Iraq who are 'foreign fighters' attacking 'our' troops, the largest proportion come from Saudi Arabia, according to a recent report.

Never mind the fact that, despite opposition from protesters, the Anglophone world's traditional imperialists recently (and sycophantically) rolled out the red carpet for King Abdullah, head of one of the world's least democratic regimes, Saudi Arabia.

Never mind that Judaism is banned in Saudi Arabia, and Israeli passport-holders are not permitted into the country. The purportedly genocidal Iranian regime cannot get rid of its Jewish population, even when the said population is offered bribes by Israel to leave.

No. It is Iran who must be punished, by sanctions at first, by war if 'necessary'.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Splinter in his Brother's Eye...

It didn't escape my attention that on the eve of this year's election, Noel Pearson launched a scathing attack on Kevin Rudd, branding him a 'heartless snake'. This attack was prompted by an apparent wavering by Rudd on the issue of holding a referendum that would mention Aborigines in the Constitutional preamble.

At one level, Pearson is absolutely correct in questioning the professed good intentions of Rudd and the ALP. Any sane person would have to question the will of both major parties on Aboriginal issues, given that none has any particular stomach for a protracted fight on behalf of the Aboriginal people (mid-2007 military stunts by Howard notwithstanding). I don't expect that Rudd would be any different.

In fact, surely apart from Pauline Hanson and a few relics in the Nationals Party, there would be nobody in Australian politics with more contempt for the Aboriginal people, than John Howard.

So they question remains: why this shrill and meaningless attack on the ALP on the night before an election? Could it be a mere coincidence that this attack occurred precisely when the Libs were mired in race-baiting issues of their own?

I have had previous occasion to question Pearson's judgement, and the legitimacy of his claims of 'bipartisanship'. Surely this latest attack, however, is no lapse in judgement. Pearson is courted by the News Ltd Press, and he in turn feeds this press, (almost universally well-disposed to the Liberal Party), with soundbites and 'bipartisan' pieces that praise the Tory's cack-handed 'interventions', and repeat right-wing think tank cliches about 'elites'.

In short, I think Pearson is talking a lot of shit, and it's about time he was called on it. He seems increasingly like just another culture warrior, cashing in on his PC credentials. Little wonder, then, that that other 'bipartisan' News Ltd hack, Paul Kelly, makes a point of editorialising his stuff.

Reading the Entrails (After the Bloodbath)

As opinion polling has predicted for the past 12 months, Howard's Liberal Government have been comprehensively repudiated by the Australian public.

The Liberals and their acolytes will need some time to pass before they can examine this result honestly. We can expect that, in the near future, only a few will have the intellectual cleanliness to admit that this election result was not merely a result of a bored electorate wanting a change. It was not simply a consequence of people thinking John Howard 'too old', and preferring a younger candidate.

Rather, Howard was lucky to have won 4 elections. Lucky in 1998 that he held onto marginal seats, after losing the popular vote. Lucky in 2001 that certain events (9/11 and Tampa) allowed the Libs to grimly hold on. And lucky in 2004 that Labor's Latham was perceived as unelectable.

Without world events or Labor implosions to assist, the Liberals never looked like the 'master politicians' that the News Ltd media think them.

Secondly, of all the reasons people have for voting against the Liberals (health, education, climate change), industrial relations is the single-biggest issue to distinguish this election from previous years'.

Many people, both on the left-leaning blogs, and elsewhere, argued that the polls pointed to a Lib defeat as a result of the 'doctor's wives' demographic. That is, the 'small l' liberals, also known as 'the Wets', would abandon Howard in the 2007 election as a result of the Liberal Party's social conservatism. It is well-known that the party is in thrall to far-right nutters and factional warlords in the NSW right branch. This, it was presumed, was driving the swing.

This hypothesis, in retrospect, was never entirely convincing. For instance, it did not account for why it was precisely in 2007 that the Wets would reject Howard, having presumably voted for him previously, when what we may politely term his 'social conservatism' was amply on display. It also failed to account for why, in this political climate, economically conservative and socially progressive parties (such as the Dems) could get no traction. As Robinson noted on the ABC site, 'liberalism' has been dead in the Liberal Party for some time now.

In contrast to this, I suggested a few weeks ago that there was a class-based analysis to which we could subject the polls. Namely, through his IR laws, Howard had declared economic and industrial war on Australia's poorest, many of whom would have been his erstwhile supporters. This suggestion did not find favour among some who encountered it at Larvatus Prodeo.

I suggested that if the Wets were driving the swing, then 'we should see big swings in seats such as Wentworth, Kooyong, Higgins, and Goldstein, among others'. If the class hypothesis were correct, then I predicted we might see major swings in places such as Corangamite, or McEwen.

Naturally, we cannot rule out the possibility of both options being at least partially correct. Nonetheless, I think the Workchoices/working class rebellion hypothesis goes the farthest in explaining the election result.

The results are not entirely counted at this time, but let us look at some of the figures thus far. The Wets' heartland in Wentworth appears to have recorded a 1.1% swing to the Liberals so far. North Sydney recorded a 4.8% swing to the ALP, in keeping with a trend that began at the 2004 election, and Goldstein experiences something similar (4.5%). Kooyong recorded a very minor ALP swing (0.7%), as did Higgins (1.9%).

How did the 'battlers' fare? Corangamite fell to the ALP (6.8% swing), and McEwen is poised to fall (6.6%). LaTrobe has recorded a similar swing (6.1%), with Holt voters changing their tune in a big way (11.1%).

Looking at individual polling booth results also yields some interesting analysis. For instance, in Kooyong, many of the wealthiest neighbourhoods (Hawthorn, Kew, Surrey Hills) actually recorded minor swings (1-3%) to the Liberals. In McEwen, for instance, outer suburban booths in 'mortgage belt' areas (Diamond Creek, Mill Park Lakes, Mernda) all recorded sizeable swings (6-10%).

Once final results are in, further analysis will be possible, but at this point, I think it is fair to conclude that Australia's working class has rejected the Liberals' cynical IR policies in a stunning fashion. We may also be approaching the time when we view 'liberalism' as increasingly irrelevant to Australian politics.

Any thoughts from readers on the electorates they know would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Earliest Memory Meme

This amusing post at Crooked Timber.

Yes, I realise it was only 5 minutes ago, but how much do you expect me to remember clearly?

Thanks anyway for the tag, Comrade McColl.

She's Confused...

I'm referring here to a staffer of George Newhouse, the ALP's candidate for Wentworth in the election this Saturday.

Her name is Rose Jackson (daughter of former ABC presenter, Liz), and she had the audacity to make the following faux pas:

In an email addressed "Dear activists", Ms Jackson wrote to an internet education discussion forum last year: "I oppose Zionism because it calls for the creation of a Jewish state, and I think all governments should be secular.

'No Jewish, Islamic, Christian states anywhere in the world, just good, robust,
secular democracies,' she said. 'By speaking out on behalf of the Palestinians
and Lebanese people, we can give voice to those that some governments and media
would wish to silence...I'm just opposed to theocracy. I certainly support the
right of Israel to exist, but not as a Jewish state.' (source)

Naturally, those great defenders of freedom and democracy (the usual suspects, I mean) have fallen over themselves, using Jackson's comments to demonstrate that all who criticise the Israeli government, or Zionism, are incurable anti-Semites, and inevitably of left-leaning persuasion.

At one level, these critics of Israel's critics have a point. Jackson's characterisation of Israel as a 'theocracy' is confused, a point that Jackson herself later conceded.

The main objection to Jackson's comment, however, was not her mis-characterisation of Israel's Government - such slip-ups occur routinely, on all sides of politics. Rather, her detractors were outraged that she had the temerity to criticise the Israeli Government.

To clarify how the 'logic' goes - Palestinians are all either terrorists or supporters of terror. Terror is here used by the anti-Palestinian crowd to refer to attacks on civilians. Given that Palestinians can be more or less equated, wholesale, with terror, Israel's targeted assassinations can be understood as 'self-defence'. Collective punishment of the Palestinians is entirely appropriate - after all, they never learn in any case. Sure, the IDF feels free to kill with impunity, to execute without a trial - but special circumstances warrant special pleading. Sure, many more Palestinian civilians have been killed than Israeli - but these are 'accidents' (as if, after bombing or opening fire on civilians, IDF troops say 'Oops, my bad' when inspecting the aftermath). Sure, Israel may control almost every aspect of Palestinian life, and may have integrated Palestinian land and resources into their own economy, but hey - the Israelis won it fair and square.

This is more or less how the story goes, is it not? Supposed leftists who take issue with this narrative do not, as far as I can tell, endorse attacks on civilians, or support the Islamists' theocratic fetish, or deny that self-defence is a legitimate right. Nonetheless, these points are almost never granted.

Curiously, the Israelis themselves are not so squeamish when it comes to acknowledging that occupation may not be a barrel of laughs after all. Hardened Likudniks are ready to admit that the occupation is a nasty (though necessary) business - anti-Palestinians in the West are not willing to concede even this much.

As you can see, any criticism of the Israeli government, no matter how qualified, is liable to be 'rebutted' with accusations of anti-Semitism. After all, these charges against Israel have no basis in fact.

So never mind the ex-Israeli soldier who, writing of his experiences in the West Bank earlier this week, said:

[S]till the expansion continues, and still the stranglehold on the
Palestinians persists. While the Israeli public stays silent, while their taxes
swell the government's coffers, they are tacitly aiding and abetting slow
torture on a national scale. On top of the sporadic killing that the occupation
inevitably causes, the killing of an entire people's hopes and dreams takes
place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (source)

Perhaps he is one of those called 'self-hating' by the anti-Palestinians.

We should also ignore the death of a Palestinian teenager earlier this week:

Palestinian medical sources said nineteen-year-old Muhammad Al-Najjar was
riddled with 13 bullets.Eyewitnesses said Al-Najjar was standing in the door of
his house when Israeli soldiers disguised in civilian clothes approached him and
shot him without provocation. (source)

We should remain silent about the Palestinian children who are denied medical treatment by the State of Israel, according to well known Communist rag Ha'aretz - after all, 10-year old cancer patients are a threat to national security. And we should the alleged IDF storming of a refugee camp, shortly after Tony Blair visited it on a 'peace' mission. After all, any mention of such things would make you 'nasty and extreme', according to the blogosphere's least pernicious and most respected conservative commentator.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Muslims are taking over Europe...

Or so some polemicists would have you believe.

In this article in the Financial Times, journalist Simon Kuper takes a long-overdue look at writers such as Melanie Phillips and Bat Ye’or, who eagerly propagate the notion that Islamic extremists are about to overthrow Europe.

The books in question in the review have salacious titles, such as While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within, or The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent.

It ought to be obvious to anyone who has spent 5 minutes in Europe over the past few years that these books are spouting bullshit. With that in mind, I won't comment on all of Kuper's points, but will highlight a few money quotes:

A fixed trope of “Eurabia’’ books is the writer behaving as though only
he or she and a few other resistance heroes see Europe’s impending doom. Bruce
Bawer, a US journalist living in Oslo, credits his aunt for coming up with his
title, While Europe Slept, but Melanie Phillips sees Britain as forever asleep
too. “Only if we take up this civilisational gauntlet that has been thus thrown
down at us will we stop sleepwalking to defeat,’’ she concludes her book.
(Phillips writes for the Daily Mail, and reading Londonistan feels like being
imprisoned with a never-ending Mail editorial.)

This is straight from the Steyn playbook - the heroic anti-jihadist who stands up against the might of the Islamic menace. All the while, it is necessary for these people to forget that, in Europe, at least, this 'menace' isn't all that mighty, except in the minds of a few white supremacists. Nonetheless, with the overblown rhetoric and feverish imagination of a Steyn or Phillips, its not hard for the paranoid to view Europe's present situation as analogous to that of 1938, and to label anyone who dares question this motif as an 'appeaser'.

All these authors start with disclaimers that not all Muslims support terrorist jihad. This is then swiftly forgotten as the plans for jihad in Europe are outlined. Ye’or, for whom Muslims are always the same, describes jihad as a 1,400-year-old strategy. Like Bawer, she explains that “they’’ never got over losing Andalusia in 1492.

This is another familiar theme of the far-right blogosphere, namely, that Muslims are carrying grudges held since they lost Spain. We might, just as (il-)logically suggest that Christian America's warmongering is a continuation of Christians losing Constantinople.

About 16 million nominal Muslims live in the European Union, less than 4 per cent of the EU population. A tiny minority are terrorists. Nobody sane denies that. But the “Eurabia’’ theorists - with the partial exception of Walter Laqueur, the most judicious of them - seem to regard the mass of Muslims as the enemy. Phillips sees “a continuum that links peaceful, law-abiding but nevertheless intensely ideological Muslims at one end and murderous jihadists at the other’’.

The refrain of the radical right - 'there are no moderate Muslims' - is here given its 'intellectual' legitimacy by way of the Eurabians' posturing. A 'continuum' is a convenient way of abolishing qualitative distinctions and lumping a diverse cluster of people into an undifferentiated mass.

Kuper helpfully attacks the idiotic myth that Muslims can simply take over by breeding everybody else out of existence. If power were simply a matter of numbers, Asia would have dominated that world stage for the past hundred years. As Kuper explains:

[B]irth rates are likely significantly to decrease “eventually in the
Middle East and North Africa’’. In fact, they already have. In 1970 Algerian and
Moroccan women averaged about seven children each. Today the Moroccan figure is
below three, while the CIA World Factbook estimates the Algerian, Turkish and
Tunisian figures at below two, lower than France’s. No serious demographer
expects an Islamic takeover.
The other problem with forecasting numbers of
European Muslims in 2100 is the premise that sixth-generation European Muslims
will still be a foreign body in the continent - Islam as a bacillus that even
secular former Muslims carry around, forever dangerous.

One thing that the opponents of Islam, specifically, and immigration, generally, fail to understand is that immigration is a two-way process. An individual does not simply move to a country, spend years there, and remain the same as when he or she arrived. We might expect that the North African and Turkish Muslims who move to Europe experience a kind of 'liberalisation', and, for the most part, this is indeed the case. The interests of the Turkish kebab salesman in Kreuzberg, or the Moroccan youth in Marseilles, are not so vastly different to the other inhabitants of these cities.

Finally, before recommending that readers take a look at the entire column, here is a parting shot:

Islamic terrorists have committed about as much carnage in Europe in
the last dozen years as far-left terrorists did in the 1970s. This is not
Armageddon. But to concede that would render “Eurabia’’ literature pointless.
Its target market seems to be the US.

He forgot to mention the bigots and idiots of Australia.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Poll Results

I think it's time to collate the results of my blog poll.

The question was:

Who is the most nauseatingly predictable, sycophantically pro-Howard 'writer' currently in Australia's Murdoch media?

The results:

Easy - Andrew Bolt - 74%

Piers Wankerman - 3%

Janet 'skanky ho' Albrechtson - 2%

Gerard Henderson is Murdoch media, isn't he? - 1%

The chimp who does the editorials for the Australian - 6%

Who can pick just one? - 15%

Bolta, take a bow!

Of course, the one poll that matters will be held in less than two weeks, and, based on today's Newspoll result (55/45, Labor's way), should highlight just how useful all the pro-Liberal brown-nosing has been.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Into the Stratosphere

Thanks to a little spat in the radical right-wing blogosphere, we have further evidence of the wingnuts drifting so far to the right, they're falling off the spectrum.

The spat itself is some irrelevant internecine tiff among so-called conservatives, with allegations that one group are siding with anti-Semitic neo-Nazis, and counter-allegations that the said fascists were planted for the purpose of discrediting real Tories. This argument arose out of a demonstration of white nationalists in Belgium.

Closer to Australia's shores, we have the lunar right's take on the matter:

My position is going to be considered very radical indeed, even by those I
regard as friends and allies. It’s this:Our present track is taking us
inexorably towards slavery, whether by the bureaucrats and governments of the
left, transnational elites or radical islam. I see no effective way right now to
counter that, since every major public institution has been captured by the
left.Therefore, I’ll work with any organisation, any person who opposes it,
regardless of their ideology.Because their far-right ideology may (MAY) not
survive the resulting civil chaos, but neither will the left and we can sort out
the ideological details after the dust settles. The urgent task is to derail the
left and I’ll make a compact with the devil if that’s what it takes to do
. (source)

Neo-Nazis, come on in! Just make sure you kick a Muslim or a lefty on your way. Apparently, this is justified because leftists and Muslims are forming an almighty alliance, and taking over vital institutions. Hey, we all knew that Marxists and Mohammedans ran the World Bank and the IMF.

The author explains his position further:

Should we on the Right insist on some ideal standard of ideological purity for
others before we'll accept them as allies? Revolting as anti-semitism is, the
far right hardly has a monopoly on it. The Left, remember is no friend of Israel
and anyone who doubts that has only to don a biohazard suit and trawl through
some of the more extreme lefty blogs.

I think he means those 'extreme' blogs that have the temerity to criticise Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people. This is somehow not merely anti-Semitic, but equivalent to neo-fascism.

We have to stop the left from setting the terms of this debate and if the
price of that is being labelled a Nazi or a fascist or a racist, then so be it.
They can take their labels and stick 'em where they belong--time enough to sort
that out after it has been made plain to the ruling elite that the voice of the
people will be listened to, or run the real risk of full-blown civil war.

The voice of which people? The ones rioting at Cronulla?

It's amusing that, at what should be the end of the Howard era, the true believers are either changing their stripes (like Bolt, for instance) or becoming increasingly unhinged (like Akerman, for instance).

As for the likes of our friend above, we will readily admit that most conservatives are not racist. Unfortunately for our friend, he is not a conservative, but a radical rightist. His talk of 'civil war' signifies that he has left the reality-based community, and is but one tinfoil hat away from a CAT referral.