blogorrhoea
Saturday, May 10, 2003
 
Blogorrhoeaic vulgations shall be rather fewer and further between for a few weeks, as necessity draws me more often from the blogoshed's womb-like precinct.

UPDATE: Still a few nasty days to go before I get to lock the world out long enough to think up a post. Do feel sorry for Simon Crean, though. I thought the alternative budget speech went very well (both as politics and as policy), and that he was more or less obliged to grab the moment by declaring an end to unrest in the caucus. In doing so, Simy gave Bomber a chance to look like he was putting Oz and Labor first, and Bomber didn't take it. So the headlines are all gladiators and personality again, and Labor's best chance for months to grab some policy traction looks fatally undermined. Again. That's the media's fault, too, of course. But Bomber has to take a chunky share.

So poo or get off the pot fast, Big Fella, or the game won't be worth the candle.


 
 
THE INVISIBLE HAND OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

... in which LSE international economist Robert Wade argues that 'The United States rigs the international economic system to its own advantage.'

Wade concludes a terrific article with an insight shared by nearly all but our elites; namely that, 'The US and its allies can stamp out specific groups by force and bribery. But in the longer run, the structural arrangements that replicate a grossly unequal world have to be redesigned, as we did at the Bretton Woods conference near the end of the second world war, so that globalisation working within the new framework produces more equitable results. Historians looking back a century from now will say that the time to have begun was now.'

Bretton Woods was a noble effort, but I reckon it'd have saved the world about a century of pain if they'd gone along with Keynes then. The new hegemon wouldn't have a bar of Keynes then, and I fear Wade is preaching to the converted now. Still a beaut article, though.



 
 
ANOTHER ORWELLIAN MOMENT

It seems the illegitimately-US-held David Hicks, currently a prisoner at the illegitimately-US-held Guantanamo Bay, is not about to be allowed home. It has long been known that the Australian government has been unhelpful to the Hicks family in this matter. It turns out the US are quite happy to hand him over, and that the Australian government has indeed refused to have this Australian citizen back on Australian soil. Hicks's crime is apparently that he has not broken any Australian laws.

I'd missed this particular piece of madness in an ever madder world, and thank Zem for the heads-up.
 
Friday, May 09, 2003
 
GOTTA COUPLA WEEKS AHEAD OF ME FORGED IN THE VERY BOWELS OF HELL

... so I'll dump what I got all in a row here and now. Thanks to PEN-L's Jim Devine for this drop of evidence that the State Department is not altogether pleased with the Pentagon (and the AEI, and the PNAC and the CLI and the Whitehouse, and the Supreme Court, and the Floridian electoral aparatus ... )

A frontpage piece in the LA [Times] looks at just how angry State Department officials are about the increasingly central role the Pentagon is playing in developing foreign policy. Said one current diplomat, "I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, 'There's been a military coup,' and then it all makes sense."
 
 
HISTORY IS BUT CONTENDING DISCOURSES ...

How Hollywood's scriptwriters are going to fashion a blockbusting flagwaver out of this Jessica thingy, I don't know. No battle wounds, no rescue, no evil torturers, no enemy soldiers - not even a fair go, if three Nasiriya doctors, two nurses, one hospital administrator and several local residents, each independently quizzed by Toronto Star staff, are to be believed.

What Hollywood is left with is the Iraqi doctor who came to consider Lynch a friend after nurturing her through the worst of her injuries; the hospital's most nurturing nurse, Khalida Shinah. At 43, Shinah has three daughters close to Lynch's age. She immediately embraced her foreign patient as one of her own; and a hospital staff who made a point of giving Lynch the best of everything, he added. Despite a scarcity of food, extra juice and cookie were scavenged for their American guest ... "We only had three platinum plates left in our supply and at least 100 Iraqis were in need," Raazk said. "But we gave one to Jessica."

So far, we have an episode of Country Practice at best. Although they could stretch to a Carry On flick if they bear in mind that "[t]he most important thing to know is that the Iraqi soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier,". But wait. There's more. Dr Houssona goes on. "The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them `We have Jessica. Take her.'"

There's a bit for Mel Brooks fans, too. When F-Troop does finally turn up, they handcuff bemused staff and wounded patients, and proceed to trash the joint: The Iraqi medical staff fanned out to assess the damage. In all, 12 doors were broken, a sterilized operating theatre contaminated, and the specialized traction bed in which Lynch had been placed was trashed. "That was a special bed, the only one like it in the hospital, but we gave it to Jessica because she was developing a bed sore," Houssona said.

But these are tired old genres, and thankfully the US military PR machine seems bent on allowing screenwriters a little more room to move:

What troubles the staff in Nasiriya most are reports that Lynch was abused while in their case. All vehemently deny it.

Told of the allegation through an interpreter, nurse Shinah wells up with tears. Gathering herself, she responds quietly: "This is a lie. But why ask me? Why don't you ask Jessica what kind of treatment she received?"

But that is easier said than done. At the Pentagon last week, U.S. Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Ryan Yantis said the door to Lynch remains closed as she continues her recovery at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Centre.

"Until such time as she wants to talk — and that's going to be no time soon, and it may be never at all. The press is simply going to have to wait."

So maybe there's still a chance for that flagwaving blockbuster, eh?


UPDATE: This just in from Associated Press and picked up by The Agonist:

"Dr. Greg Argyros, assistant chief of the Department of Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Lynch is being treated, said evaluations of Lynch so far suggest there is only a slim chance she may remember her ordeal."

The Agonist suspects it's not amnesia.


FURTHER UPDATE: Maureen Farrell muses along very similar lines and affords some handy historical context.

 
Thursday, May 08, 2003
 
MARKETING TO THE LEGITIMATION CRISIS

It's hard to know which institutions are the ones Australia (the nation state) needs a decisive proportion of Australians (the people) to trust.

I'd consider the Head of State, churches-in-general, both major political parties, banks, bosses, the stock market, industry-regulators and corporate executives to be well and truly on the public nose - years of good behaviour and even better PR away from redemption. The executive, the judiciary, the police, the insurance sector, investment funds, and the mass media are all copping a suspicious squint. Marriage is doing it pretty tough, too. Same with The Hegemon. And Australians never really went in for public intellectuals. We're not all that sure about sports clubs, sports heroes, fathers, husbands, teenagers, doctors, public servants and economists either. Alternative medicine is right out, and Hendo's retired.

So if I have the zeitgeist right, what's left with which a resonating nationally cohering election campaign image might be fashioned? Mebbe Kylie? Done up in slouch hat and fatigues, perhaps? Probably stood on Bondi Beach. And mebbe nursing an infant. We still rate mums and there's nothing like a wide-eyed sprog for that starting-all-over-again-towards-a-better-tomorrow touch.

Can't think of much else ...
 
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
 
BLOGORRHOEAIC THORTS FOR MAY

Vale Walter Sisulu. What a bloke. What a loss.

...

I realise the GG's travails strengthen the Republican movement with every passing day
I realise the GG is a rather conservative chap
I realise the GG has ideas about age, agency and responsibility that don't afford kids the protection they need in this world
I realise the GG has made mistakes that have scarred some lives
I realise the GG can't string half a dozen public words together without inviting yet more indignation
I realise the ALP's policy-free approach to politics loves this sort of thing

But the GG seems a thoroughly decent fellow to me. So I hope he leaves his anachronistic and inevitably politicised office, utters a dignified farewell, and takes his ailing bride somewhere nice.
We don't need a GG. Nor do we need any ornamental office. Nor do we need the lie that the bearer of such office could securely remain above and beyond politics.
Pity the Republicans couldn't agree on that trivial little truism before The Master Manipulator made a laughing stock of their naive arses.

...

I think The Master Manipulator is bent on destroying Medicare. Money he is pouring into private insurers' pockets could fund the universal system Medicare always has been and, if it is to survive, always must be. If 'Medicare was never meant to be a universal system' is an obscene furphy, 'this is the only way to afford the deserving poor bulk-billing', 'over-servicing is destroying the current system', and 'demographic trends and the cost of technology are rendering public health insurance obsolete' are at least its equal.

...

My Blog Hero, Tim Dunlop, is periodically obliged to resist accusations that he just plain detests Dubya. I don't. Resist the accusation, that is. I detest John Howard, too. And Tony Blair. I think they're murderers. I think the PNAC mob are wall-biting mad idealogues, too. I think cosmetic democracy, economic crisis, corporatism, mercantilism, cultural exceptionalism, lap-dog media, militarism, imperialism, expansionism and xenophobic paranoia all combine to constitute a political system worthy of the tag 'fascism'. I think the USA is currently on that road and am left wondering what exits are left available to it. And us.

...

I think Queens of the Stone Age's *Songs For The Deaf* is a superb record, and 'No One Knows' a veritable four-minute text on how to do Rock'n'Roll in a confused age.

...

I think Harold Nicolson's *The Age Of Reason* is the most enjoyable book I've read in 2003. Proof you don't have to agree to love. Of course, had I read a Patrick O'Brian novel in 2003, the former assertion would not be true, though the latter would.

...

I think Washington's MOAB-backed lip-service to the notion of secular liberal-democratic sovereign states is producing sectarian, illiberal and undemocratic puppet-non-states wherever it goes. I present Kosovo and Afghanistan as evidence for the prosecution, and expect to add Iraq to the list shortly. And then some others.

...

I think the world's most beautiful noise is made by the Australian Magpie (at 5.10 am every morning, alas). The second-best is made by the Kop (which hurts to admit), and the third-best is made by the Australian race-caller (the only reason I found myself able to articulate on demand when once I'd confessed to home-sickness whilst abroad).

...

I think Gianna evinces admirable discernment in her expressed preference for older bearded men. They're Life's Golden Secret, Gianna.

...

I think Tim's right in intimating that Free remain the best band Britain has ever produced.

...

I think it's very comforting to know that, whilst a genitalia-rotting venereal disease threatens East Africa's baboons, Australia's own troop is coming along nicely.

...

I think we all need a good tug every now and then, and that none comes better than Australia's own.

...


I think The Winds Of Change are on the blow and that we can but hope The Powers That Shouldn't Be sniff the nascent breeze ere we're all blown to hell.

...

I think Australian blogging (at least that portion worth reading) is lapsing a little, and needs Gary to resume normal service pronto.

...

I think that it's too early to buy shares in anything. Shit happens. And it takes longer to happen than most realise. If invest you must, I suggest Platinum Scissors over two thousand or more. Yep. All the way to thirty-two hundred.

...

I think Australian comedy is dead.

...

I think that Australians are as funny a population as any I've moaned amongst, and have no idea why they can't make decent ads (except for the 'don't-talk-on-the-mobile-while-you're-driving' ad - they shove that one down our necks twenty times a day and I still laugh like an ambushed drain)

...

I think I'm blogging merely because I feel I should. Another tip for newbie bloggers. Don't.
 
Sunday, May 04, 2003
 
WARNING TO NEWBIE BLOGGERS

NEVER write long, carefully composed and hauntingly beautiful posts straight into Blogger. The link will break just as you attempt to post it and you'll lose the !*#@! lot.

Sigh.
 
political economic and cultural observations in the register of dismal dilettantism

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