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150 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Lefty E

    Does Abbott seriously think some low-rent commetns about “public sector waste” will give his shonky roadshow credibility?

    What a tiresome, moronic spectacle Australia politics has become. I cant scarcely believe this inane shit was even reported.

  2. tssk

    I think Abbott is under the mistaken assumption that a line that’s worked so well in the US will work here as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, we could all lose a little weight but the best way to do it is not to plunge a knife into your chest and start removing ‘surplus’ organs.

  3. Wantok

    Abbott’s long awaited finance and fiscal statement yesterday was an absolute cop-out and his, and Hockey’s, threat to sack 12000 public servants will throw the ACT into recession and have a long term impact on how people view public service as a career. Apart from reversing all the Labor legislation and having a double dissolution to ‘fix’ the senate his ‘signature’ policy is to provide well-heeled mums with their normal income during maternity leave by a tax on business.Give me a break!

  4. Lloyd

    What’s more it was reported by Micelle Grattan verbatim with no ‘analysis’ whatsoever.


    Contrast with anything she has written about the Government lately and you get a good sense of a journalist who has completely lost her bearings.


  5. Mercurius

    @1 snap!

    I’m wondering about the quality of Abbott’s advisers and whether or not he is listening to his colleagues.

    Leave aside for one moment the “merits” of the issue, and just consider the politics for a moment:

    – Somebody, somewhere, in Liberal Party HQ must surely have done a calculation to decide whether “cut public service dead wood!” is a net vote-winner, or at least a net vote-winner in the seats that matter.
    – Now, Abbott has more-or-less promised to axe thousands of Federal public service jobs (in one ABC radio broadcast, I actually heard 6,000 reported), but has not given any specific notion of which departments, which regions, which levels will be targetted.
    – So, notionally, every Federal public servant in the land, and their families, and the local businesses they patronise, must be wondering whether they would be in the firing line.
    – And again, notionally, every small town in small-town Australia must be wondering whether their town is going to cop the service cuts, or the program cuts, or the grant cuts, for the programs on which they rely.
    – Obviously their votes are not going to Abbott, but does he make a net vote-gain from all the people who get all hot and bothered over the thought of public servants getting it in the neck?

    I’d really love to know what is their reasoning, their political calculation…I can’t see how the numbers add up to a net vote-gain spruiking this sort of policy.

    All the above presumes that a rational vote-winning calculation has taken place, of course. It could be just another Abbott brain-fart. Which do you suppose?

  6. Wantok

    Mercurius: Abbott did actually target the federal departments of Education and Health with allusions to ‘Yes Minister’ by pointing out that these federal departments don’t actually have any patients or any pupils.

  7. Mercurius

    Hmmmm….targetting for cuts the two areas that are consistently rated as ‘most important’ by Labor voters. That’s sure to peel off votes from the ALP!

  8. Mercurius

    …Does the fact that Abbott so consistently play to his own base suggest he has some shoring up to do, that his position is not so secure?

    Wouldn’t a rampant, confident, successful opposition leader be going in on issues to grab votes off of Labor/Green, instead of preaching again and again to the choir?

  9. Fran Barlow

    Wouldn’t a rampant, confident, successful opposition leader be going in on issues to grab votes off of Labor/Green, instead of preaching again and again to the choir?

    Not necessarily. Abbott knows he’s never getting the votes of left-of-centre folks in numbers that would make a difference, and any attempt to do so would be a net loss for him. He wants his core to look solid enough that everyone outside it who wants a show of getting their way has to come through him. He knows if he keeps the core, anyone demoralised by the regime who is not on the left either goes with the LNP or stays silent as his trolls dominate public discourse.

    The strategy wouldn’t work of course if he didn’t have the Murdochracy behind him running interference. Their ability to work with his trolls to maintain an air of crisis around public policy and to render questions about LNP alternative policy entirely moot (even though they say they are ready to contest an election right now) is invaluable.

    The bizarre thing is that the ALP is playing into this strategy, pandering to people who are never voting ALP and casting aside the advantages of incumbency so that only the negative aspects of this are salient. This is not the worst government in history — as the LNP claims — but it is the most politically inept in living memory.

  10. CMMC

    Just resuscitated another dead laptop, wine spill late at night.

    They can always be brought back to some semblance of workability.

  11. Fran Barlow

    This is fun:

    In Positive Economic Sign, Republicans Starting to Say Obama Wasn’t Born in US Again

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In what some experts are calling a strong indicator of improvement in the economy, Republicans in recent weeks have begun renewing their claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States {…}

  12. faustusnotes

    I got published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday. I co-authored an article on the effects of Japan’s economic stagnation on mortality amongst working age males. The article is available free at the website, and there’s a post on my blog with a bit more detail about the findings.

    Basically we found that Japan’s economic collapse and long-term stagnation led to a reversal of previous inequality between professional/managerial workers and the rest of the workforce. This happened because the people in those two occupational categories experienced a rapid worsening in their health. It’s quite a counter-intuitive finding but one I hope that the UK govt (and Tony Abbot, if he ever gets to exercise his muscle on the Australian public sector) think about a little.

    In other news, the Guardian has a cute puff-piece about people who live next to a nuclear plant.

  13. Lefty E
  14. Link

    Mercury retrograde tomorrow. No war ‘with’ Iran for a while yet.

    I think and it’s probably been mentioned on another thread, that ‘Spillard’ has been a negative for the Coalition. That they are a policy-free zone led by a goose, is glaringly obvious. Sacking thousands of public service jobs to satisfy the ‘greed of treasury’ is exactly the wrong thing to do. The government’s job is not to create more unemployment in a world where jobs are getting rare. How can they talk about dissing people’s livelihoods so cheerily as if it was a good thing? Old economic paradigms no longer work and politics is really caught between a rock and a rock.

    Does anyone believe Greece can or will pay back their ‘debt’?

  15. Fran Barlow

    Once again, it has fallen to Sea Shepherd to Stop the Boats.

    Well done them — only about 266 whales were taken before the Japanese pirates were forced to leave. They were exposed as having used Tsunami aid to run their security.

    Sidebar: It’s hard not to admire Paul Watson. I love how he handles media. If only we could draft him to lead the ALP … (right after we had them devise some worthwhile policies)

  16. Tyro Rex

    Mercurius, Abbott’s chief of staff is married to Liberal party HQ.


    If you want a good idea what Credlin’s like, read Andrew Elder’s blog, it’s fucking hilarious … I mean horrifying (at the prospect these people might end up running the country).

  17. Bushfire Bill

    Now Abbott is saying “The ADF doesn’t want Stephen Smith,” based on one article in the Fairfax rags. Apparently he doesn’t seem interested in the job, with fits in nicely with the “Wants to be FM” meme.

    The ADF not wanting Smith actually sounds like a qualification for the job, not a disqualification.

    Lives are at stake! Military patrols are in jeopardy! Forget about all that sexual bullying endemic right across the three services… this is WAR!

    Gee, it’s simple isn’t it? You get one of your mates to write something in the papers, then – ooooh-aaaah, because it’s “in the papers” – it can be bootstrapped into a general vote of no-confidence in the Minister via the LOTO.

    Last I heard, the ADF (or any other staff in any other department) didn’t get to pick their own minister, hiring and firing via one-off newspaper opinion pieces.

    So far we’ve had Smith accused of allegedly bucking for PM, trying to woo the female vote, bored out of his brain, disinterested, over-reacting, bullying a Commodore(!) and told (by Shanahan, no less, in a state of high dudgeon) to resign.

    The previous minister was stitched up by Fairfax and the ADF too, and is now suing.

    Being unpopular with the Colonel Blimps (especially the retired ones) sounds like a great reason to stay, to me. Smith seems like he’s onto something: 750 somethings, in fact.

  18. Ootz

    Tyro is spot on. Credlin, aka ‘Queen of No’, is the crucial factor to understand the ‘rational’ in the Liberal leadership, she is Abbott’s anima. Her power is further consolidated by her marriage to Brian Loughnane, Federal Director of the Liberal Party of Australia since February 2003. Hence my jib the other day about the liberal kitchen cabinet residing at Peta and Brian’s place. Tyro’s references are well worth to read and a good start to get the gist of the powerplay within the libs.

    Just before the spillard, Peta got seriously warned off by Slipper for heckling Gillard in QT from the advisers box, for something like “Just shut up you *derogatory name*” from memory. I did a bit of digging and had a lengthy comment prepared on her, then ….. blam the ruddster thing blew up with minds engaged otherwise and no one would have been interested.

    At the same time I was checking out Arthur Sinodinos’. He was recently put ahead of a newly formed liberal razor gang, in charge to whack some ‘integrity’ back into the libs economic position.

    My bet is, that major fault lines will start to open up between Peta and Arthur at some time, you just watch. Must see if I saved the comments and links somewhere and post it as I am too crook atm to start again from scratch.

  19. Link

    Lefty @13. That’s a great article. Seems to me an injection of funds from the IMF is a toxic kiss of death. Who is the IMF really? International Motherfuckers Inc.


    Maybe we have to get over the fairy tale of impossible wealth for no apparent reason. It’s a bit Hollywood really.

  20. Jacques de Molay


  21. robbo

    The one trick phony is credlins puppett, she pulls the strings and he dances. Truly terrifying indeed.

    And profound thanks to Sea Shepherd for doing what the Govt. wouldn’t and saving so many whales. Paul Watson is a legend.

  22. Mercurius

    @19 – Link, that acronym for the IMF reminds me of a wonderful acronym I heard about 20 years ago, for IBM, back in the days when IBM were still a Goliath of computing, and an unavoidable part of any IT strategy — they were “Intergalactic Brotherhood of Motherfuckers”.

    For some reason it tickled my funny-bone and has stayed with me ever since!

  23. Fran Barlow

    Maybe we have to get over the fairy tale of impossible wealth for no apparent reason.

    One could easily mistake this for some throwaway piece of potted wisdom, but it’s actually a quite serious point.

    When one asks what wealth amounts to, one is forced to the view that it is the scope one has to induce others to render you service in preference to themselves or others. Unless one has oneself rendered some equivalently valuable service to others which one is now exchanging for a service one may wonder at the basis upon which one can claim any service at all.

    When one examines the super-rich, one can easily see that it would have been utterly impossible for them to have met the terms of fair exchange above. Clearly, the only way they can have become super-rich would be by insistently embezzling some of the value of the services others have performed for third parties. In the case of our compatriot, Ms G Rinehart, what she is embezzling is the value of services performed by her employees in transforming a finite resource so in a broader sense she is also running down the capital stock of country in the process. She has become super rich through positioning herself between the resource and the end users, rather than by adding any valuable service. How this action is distinguished from brigandry is not at all plain.

    It does seem that she is aware of the fragility of her claim, which is why of course she is willing to trade at least some of her ill-gotten gains in seeking control of the organs of public expression, the better to hold onto the rest of them and more gain yet. Having embezzled the commons, she seeks to use the proceeds of this theft to debauch and ultimately foreclose discussion in public space of her conduct by those who have been her victims. In this respect she is a shining exemplar of the conduct of the boss class as a whole.

    I don’t agree though that the term “fairy tale” quite covers “impossible wealth for no apparent reason” though. It is more a piece of reactionary utopian whimsy that meets the needs of the boss class to affirm that the solution to every person’s problem is a purely individual one — how to clamber over the bodies of others, enrich yourself at their expense and yet be celebrated for your reckless daring.

  24. Chris

    Mercurius @ 5 – the ALP has also been consistently cutting the federal public service too so the policy is hardly unique to Abbott. Its your standard opposition mantra whatever party you’re in to say you’ll cut the “wasteful” public service.

    With that sort of rhetoric so early before an election I do wonder though if the libs are giving up on their ACT senate – they almost lost it to the Greens in the last election. The lower house seats are all safe ALP seats so no votes really to be lost there for the libs.

    btw I don’t think the general public really link federal government cutbacks with local service cutbacks. Abbott is appealing to the sentiment (often wrong) that the people in Canberra (and a lot of it is outsourced these days anyway) are just overhead. Thus the push also to decentralise out of Canberra. Seems to be a cycle between centralisation and decentralisation.

  25. Chris

    Lefty E @ 13 – doesn’t Greece have the additional problem of being in the Euro so they can’t let their currency depreciate to compensate? And if they do leave the Euro all the Greek banks will fall over which will make a recovery much harder (and lots of lost savings for everyday people).

    It would however make Greece a really cheap tourist destination :-)

  26. joe2

    Pome from Lune Pond…eat your heart out Gina…

    The globe is sadly groaning with debt, poverty and strife
    And Gina’s children now are pleading to enjoy a better life
    Their hope lies with resources buried deep within the earth
    And the enterprise and capital which give each project worth
    Is their future threatened by Facebook photos seized by undesirables
    Or is the family full of emails and irreconcilables …?


  27. Lefty E

    Sit would probably require a return to a devalued drachma, yes. Argentina had to uncouple their peso from the US dollar, so there was a parallel. They now refuse to let external agencies rate their banks.

    The same dire predictions were made – now Argentina has the strongest economy in Latin America.

    Let’s face it – these bailouts are about rescuing external banks, not the Greek economy

  28. Thomas Paine

    Land of the ‘free’ home of the ‘brave’…..how low can the USA fall.

    FBI Director: I Have to Check to See If Obama Has the Right to Assassinate Americans On U.S. Soil

    FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday said he would have to go back and check with the Department of Justice whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s “[criteria] for the targeted killing of Americans also applied to Americans inside the U.S.


  29. Jake Gittings
  30. Joe


    sounds like Smith is doing good work in a tough job. Nice link.

  31. Katz

    Too right, Laurie Oakes.

    The Skype Incident was a particularly egregious and easily documented instance of serious illegality. Identification and punishment of the malefactors were for Kofer the highest priorities.

    Yet, Commodore Kofer chose to imperil sure and speedy prosecution of this serious matter by insisting instead on pursuing some minor infractions of the victim of a serious crime.

    Either Kofer was risibly lacking in insight and incapable of ordering his priorities, or he was attempting to cover up serious illegality.

    Either way, Kofer should not have been permitted to resume a post of responsibility.

    The fact that various mouthpieces of the military boys’ club defend Kofer’s actions is deeply disturbing. Clearly this militarily induced perceptual blindness is at epidemic proportions.

  32. Link

    Fran my comment about fairy tale wealth had more to do with the article I posted on Iceland and their decision to take their former PM to task over the financial collapse. To me it seems like a cautionary tale in microcosm.

    Once the poorest country in Europe, which before 1990 did not have its own stock market, Iceland in the years after the millennium set out to reinvent itself as a global financial hub, embarking on what has been described as “one of the purest experiments in financial deregulation ever conducted”.

    Successive politicians privatised Iceland’s natural resources and dismantled its regulatory mechanisms, sparking an economic bonanza for its bankers and mixing for its citizens the now-familiar toxic cocktail of bountiful credit, flaccid financial oversight and an unspoken collective agreement not to ask too many questions but just keep on spending. In 2007 Iceland topped the UN Human Development Index as the most developed country in the world.

    Its three main banks, controlled by a tiny elite cabal, had a paper value of more than 10 times the country’s GDP.

    I consider Gina Rinehardt to be more of a troll– a very rich troll, guarding her pile of dirt. She has made her wealth through (prepares to be shot down in flames and note I cannae stand the woman) honest means, insomuch as she has been actually flogging real stuff. Or so it would appear. Whereas the fairy tale I allude to is the ‘product’ creations of financial institutions, which never made any sense to me. In my old fashioned view, banks provide financial services, not financial ‘products’.

  33. CMMC

    98 major advertisers say no to Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and other right wing radio shows


  34. zoot

    Link @32: as I understand it a large part of Gina’s wealth comes from royalties paid to her because her father pegged some mining claims.
    For every tonne of ore dug up she receives a payment – the ultimate in “sit-down money”.

  35. Fran Barlow

    Link said that Rinehart:

    {…} has been actually flogging real stuff. Or so it would appear. Whereas the fairy tale I allude to is the ‘product’ creations of financial institutions, which never made any sense to me. In my old fashioned view, banks provide financial services, not financial ‘products’.

    I’d call this a distinction without a difference. What people who buy iron ore or coal or copper get is the transformed product, delivered to them at predictable quantity and quality. That is a service embedded in a product. If you eat out, you get transformed carbohydrates, protein and fat served to you. What banks do is no less or more real than digging up ore and flogging it off. One thing the banks have over Big Dirt is that their product is not finite. There is no limit of the potential supply of such products. Big Dirt on the other hand is being paid outrageously for is to transform a finite thing belonging to the commons something that will sooner or later become waste. The more waste they create, the more we pay them for transforming the commons capital stock.

    On the whole then, I rate Big Dirt as somewhat more pernicious capitalists than Big Money (noting as I do however that the two are often inseparable relatives married by financial ties).

  36. Link

    Zoot I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute.

    Fran I’m not in the least trying to justify what Gina does.

    Not so long ago the money men of Wall Street and London thought Germany was a bit of a joke. Still manufacturing things in villages when the real money was in just shuffling money around, making collateralised debt obligations or structured asset backed security tranches or other things too complex to understand for which they paid themselves billions of dollars while destroying the global economy. Well no one’s laughing at Germany now. Tempting as it might be.

    Have quoted from this specifically for the lines:

    shuffling money around, making collateralised debt obligations or structured asset backed security tranches. . . .

    Says this kind of financial gobbledy gook better than I.

    Gina just digs up dirt and gets paid to sit on her fulsome derriere for past dirt dug. She’s raking it in for as long as China continues to manufacture ‘stuff’ to meet worldwide demand. A demand which promises to fall off pretty sharply anytime now as we all go broke

    The above excerpt is from here.

    I do like the wry Eric Campbell and this program was a beauty.

  37. Chris

    Katz @ 31 said:

    The fact that various mouthpieces of the military boys’ club defend Kofer’s actions is deeply disturbing. Clearly this militarily induced perceptual blindness is at epidemic proportions.

    And yet Smith (as far as I’ve seen) has been careful not to actually criticise the report itself but saying it was undertaken in consultation with him and his office. Why is that?

    Oh and while defence may not want Smith to be there, its pretty clear that Smith would also rather be in a different ministry :-)

  38. zorronsky

    Fran @23
    Seems that theme could apply to the children’s trusts if the extreme lengths Mummy has been going to is any indication. More to come tomorrow.


  39. David Irving (no relation)

    Yeah, zorronsky, I’ve been wondering why Ms Rinehart wanted all the details kept quiet as well.

    Oh well, her kids are probably as toxic as she is, so I’m struggling to care.

  40. Terangeree

    @ zorronsky and DI(nr):

    As I understand it, from the article in yesterday’s Gina Rinehart Financial Review newspaper, the court case that was under the suppresion order arose from a family trust established by Lang Hancock in the 1980s which his grandchildren are the beneficiaries of and his daughter (Gina) is the sole trustee.

    The trust was to mature on the youngest grandaughter’s 25 birthday, with the proceeds to be divided amongst the four siblings — but the trustee had quietly had the date changed moved 50 or so years into the future without the childrens’ knowledge.

    So three of the children took Mum to court.

  41. patriciawa

    That’s unfair, David Irving (nr)! Even I am prepared to concede them reasonable motives like a natural desire for independence of their parent for starters.

    We may be pleasantly surprised when they eventually emerge from what must surely be particularly suffocating protective clutches.

  42. patriciawa

    On second thoughts I’d prefer to describe that as a particularly suffocating maternal bosom. Not sure that clutches can suffocate.

    Odd isn’t it that Gina Rinehart manages to convey a combination of clutching and grasping greed as well as big bosomed bossiness and forcefulness. The long hair which I suspect she retains as a softening feature suggests nothing of the kind to me, rather it brings to mind a less than lovely Brunhilde, the antithesis of the legendary heroine.

    Apologies to all of you out there with lovely big bosoms

  43. Mercurius

    Well….I’m still tittering over the quip that Gina = Auntie Jack!!

  44. GregM

    [email protected] this is for you:

  45. Joe

    I had this friend from highschool, who went into the army. He was a really funny guy at school, and fairly smart and sensitive, but his dad had been a commando in the second world war, and I guess, the die was cast fairly early on…

    Anyway, I ran into him in Brisbane, and he’d just decided to sign up again for the second time. We were just chatting about army life and a couple of stories stuck in my mind.

    He said, how they were dong some artillery training somewhere near townsend, and they had a couple of new mercedes trucks and there was an accident with the munition, after which everyone took cover in a creek as everything preceded to blow up. They pulled back to base and the next day when they returned, there was a crater, a clearing and some wreckage, all that remained of the hardware from yesterday.

    Life in canberra seemed to centre around the porn shop– back then access to the internet wasn’t so easy and porn shops were illegal, except for in Canberra and the Northern Territory.

    As soon as “the grunts” had leave it was off to Thailand for some sex-tourism-fun.

    But the pay was good, it was tax free and there was catering.

    Now, this is a fairly withering account of life in the army from my memories of a conversation, I guess the army has more to offer, like apprenticeships, etc. but I do wonder…

  46. patriciawa

    Thanks Greg M for reminding me why I don’t the Aunty Jack image fits Gina Rinehart. She may be ‘big, round and fat,’ but that’s where the likeness ends. There is nothing benign about her at all. If only she would plummet away and then definitely not come back.

  47. codger

    ‘anyone demoralised by the regime who…stays silent as his trolls dominate public discourse.’
    Lordy lordy Fran not while you breath & pass wind.
    On a similar sanctimonious note may I say rodent roundup on ratsack Monday has come & gone; blonde or red, the greatest ever moral crumpet & resident psychopath or the we are us drone toast & serial full forward. All Bow.
    But wait there’s the miniseries

    Other casualties include 10 minute deals, Andrew Who, a lopsided happy teeth, a spluttering ride on mower,anything said by the following Crean, Swan, Roxon, Burke, or potato head (phew)
    photo ops with the Great Mate in Chief & serial Drone. Tent embassy early warning systtems, Shorten’s mobile, spin machines with damaged big ends etc.

    Collateral damage includes several cars; used one & auctioned Monday, no deposit Tuesday, stolen Wednesday or that commie kim one…and that gab central & leadersheep ferret whatshisname; Friday’s vintage car the Kissinger Kisser & we are us a lie ants peddlar; Mr. Green’s ‘hair that would be treasurer’ and Palestinian realtor& serial indyk cator Danby.

    Vicious, erratic and unpredictable. Nortee.Nortee.

    Still if you buy a used vintage car off the red rodent standby for operation also wran.
    Meanwhile up in Kev ville it’s Campbell’s web or Anna’s blight. The choice. & no soup!

  48. David Irving (no relation)

    Nice cut-up, codger! I’m impressed, it’s better than anything we did back in the day after smoking way too much weed. Almost up to William Burroughs’ standard, although slightly less comprehensible.

  49. Paul Burns

    If a political party is not willing to provide government services WTF are they doing there?

  50. Paul Burns

    Wow. Re [last week’s] Saturday Salon on sidebar. For a moment there I thought I’d lost a week. Thanks, tigtog.
    Anybody else getting upset at the stupidity and the war crimes in Afghanistan or am I just being stupidly shocked and emotional over the whole thing.
    Vizt: the burning of the Koran, the massacre of civilians, men, women and children by our jarhead allies, if you haven’t been following the news lately.

  51. akn

    No, Paul Burns, you’re not alone. It is the inevitabilityof this sort of massacre that causes spiritual weariness and subsequent silence. Lt Calley revisited, it seems. Quite why the perpetrator hasn’t been charged with murder under Afghanistan law has not been made clear. Perhaps, to state the bleeding obvious, it’s because he’s, you know, a loyal trooper and the victimes were, you know, ragheads?

    Meantime Bradley Manning rots in gaol and Assange appears set to join him. Given this sort of provocation it’s just a matter of time before someone manages stage an effective attack inside the US again whereon it’ll be teh Western civilization under attack all over. On and on.

  52. Johnny Rotten

    [this commentor has now been banhammered ~ moderator]

  53. faustusnotes

    I somehow doubt the Afghan people are concerned about such nuance, Johnny Rotten. If we weren’t there, this wouldn’t be happening. And the Taliban would likely have dealt with a murderer of this kind quite harshly. I imagine lots of people in Afghanistan are beginning to feel we’ve outstayed our welcome. Some 10s of people died in demonstrations over the Koran burnings, and now 16 more have been killed in cold blood. All apparently women and children, some probably asleep.

    If an American soldier in Australia on shore leave did that, I’m sure you wouldn’t be disputing the nuance of timing to trial and whether he represented an entire country.

  54. Jules

    According to the US officials it was one rogue soldier.

    According to Afghani witnesses it was a group of allegedly drunk soldiers.


    Who do you think we should believe Johnny?

    One thing is for sure, this is the first time since the US went into Afghanistan that something like this has happened so its clearly not a pattern or anything.

  55. Johnny Rotten

    [this commentor has now been banhammered ~ moderator]

  56. Katz

    The Afghan eye witnesses are quite specific about the involvement of a group of US soldiers, adding the detail that “they” burned the bodies of the victims.

    Certainly these actions aren’t part of any specific rules of engagement. Yet these actions are inevitable consequences of soldiers sent on a mission they cannot complete among a population they either despised before they arrived in Afghanistan, or learned to despise after their arrival.

    In this sense it may well turn out that this atrocity is closely analogous to My Lai.

    Newt Gingrich got it right:

    Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says he thinks U.S. involvement in the region around Afghanistan may be risking the lives of young troops in a mission that “may not be doable.”

    Gingrich says the U.S. should reassess the region and ask whether there isn’t “a harder, deeper problem” that can’t be solved with military force on the scale the U.S. and its allies are willing to commit.


    I was saying this mission was “not doable” way back in 2001.

  57. Mercurius

    @55 JR you’re being too cute by half.

    That ‘lone soldier’ is there at the behest of the US Government, authorised by its Commander-in-Chief, backed by the entire apparatus of the mightiest military in the world, armed and equipped by its industries and corporations, trained by its elite soliders and barracked for by entire swathes of the US media, and millions more of its citizens.

    He’s not a lone backpacker getting pissed and causing mayhem. He’s there because a very large and very powerful hegemon put him there.

    Why wouldn’t we point the finger at that hegemon?

    If you can’t see the systematic and institutional reasons that led to the massacre, I’d suggest you need to take off the blinkers.

  58. Ootz

    “I was saying this mission was “not doable” way back in 2001.”

    Ditto, based on the history of the USA and Afghanistan and their relevant skills and commitment in dealing with the opposing forces choice of warcraft. I keep on saying, how can you ‘win a war’, if you don’t even know how to pronounce the opposing country’s name properly. However, in the end, that war was probably fought with never the intension of ridding the Taliban from the place.

  59. Katz

    war was probably fought with never the intension of ridding the Taliban from the place

    Depends whose intention we are talking about here, Ootz.

    For example, Hamid Karzai had to be persuaded to accept the poisoned chalice of pretend leadership of Afghanistan. George Bush probably believed that if the US dropped enough bombs victory would be complete.

    Maybe there were strategists in the Bush administration who always angled for an outcome negotiated with elements of the Taliban. But while angling for that outcome they had to simultaneously lie to The Imbecile.

    Remember the mantra was “we won’t cut and run until the job is done.” The definition of “done” wandered all over the geopolitician’s lexicon.

    Now, for the first time, Gingrich as a figure of the inner circle of the US political classes has stated the verbal formula of surrender: whatever the “job” is, it is “not doable”.

  60. Joe

    Maybe they should ban guns in the army?

    OK, such glib statements probably only detract from the crime, but what can one say?

    I only feel sure that the US Military and either implicitly (or explicitly) the US government will be trying to minimize the effect of the massacre. The problem is that out of the patchwork of institutions that are involved not all of them have the same ethical standard– and I mean this, with respect to the principles of the US constitution itself. There are, without doubt, institutions in the US, which will be trying to hide the truth about what happened, and which will be prepared to, at the very least, spread disinformation.

    Was it a group of drunken US soldiers? I don’t think that we’ll ever know for sure. The investigation will not be trustworthy. It must actually be simple to match bullets to weapons and prove or disprove scared Afghani witnesses. Of course, there are elements in Afghanistan, which will also be seeking to maximise the damage to the US by the massacre by spreading their own disinformation.

    So, that’s war, I guess. Dirty, brutal, out of control, etc.

  61. akn

    The US has no right to do anything other than hand the confessed murderer over to Afghani authorities. His killings were not an act of war. It is murder and murder which needs to be dealt with by Afghani courts. Without that there can be no faith at all in the project of bringing democracy to Afghnistan.

    BTW: Gillard remains “on message” about the whole matter. “We will not be deflected from our commitment…” (or words to that meaning). Robotic and affectless like someone on tranqs.

  62. zorronsky

    Okay akn..
    so let’s have your reaction if you were the leader of our country .

  63. dylwah

    Doonesbury is being pulled from a few papers in the US again, for this strip.

  64. GregM

    The US has no right to do anything other than hand the confessed murderer over to Afghani authorities. His killings were not an act of war. It is murder and murder which needs to be dealt with by Afghani courts. Without that there can be no faith at all in the project of bringing democracy to Afghnistan

    No Anthony you are wrong.

    1. There is no evidence at this time that the alleged murderer has confessed to anything (unless you can point us to a site that shows his published and verified confession).

    2. There are reports, mentioned on this page, with links, that he was not a lone gunman but one of a number of drunken soldiers who committed these murders. That must be investigated. If this is a group atrocity it should not have a scapegoat. All involved must be punished.

    3. The punishment for this crime in Afghanistan would most certainly be death. However Australian law opposes, without exception, the application of the death penalty in any circumstance, no matter the heinousness of the crime and no matter in which country it occurs. Are you opposed to Australian law in this regard and if so why?

    Let the law take its course.

  65. Terangeree

    Ian Turpie died.

  66. Terangeree

    Early Turpie for the 40-somethings and older.

  67. Mindy

    @GregM – what has Australian law got to do with it? The soldier is American.

  68. akn

    GregM: you are full of shit.

  69. faustusnotes

    gregM, I agree with your 1 and 2 but not your 3. I think it’s likely that the US has forced an arrangement on the Afghan govt in which US troops are not subject to Afghan law, which means that they won’t be tried according to the law of the land on which they committed the crime. I think you’re usually supportive of e.g. Australians who go to Indonesia living by Indonesian law. Of course in this case it’s kind of a technicality, since murder is illegal everywhere and both countries have the death penalty … but still. If he kills Afghan citizens on Afghan soil I would prefer he were tried under Afghan law. If such a thing exists yet in a functioning form.

  70. David Irving (no relation)

    I think you’re being a bit of a spoilsport, tigtog. I was actually having a lot of fun with Mr Rotten. (Kind of like a cruel child pulling the wings off flies: he’s an unarmed opponent in a battle of wits.)

  71. Joe

    I mean it just shows the lie that is Afghan government– Afghanistan is really an occupied country. And we’re part of the occupying force– Oh, what a bloody mess this is turning out to be.

    Merkel, after arriving in Afghanistan for a visit, is apparently sceptical that the troops will be able to pull out by 2014.

    Certainly, if Afghanistan is supposed to be left in a state, which isn’t going to support the exportation of terrorist activities, actions like the killing of innocent civilians by ISAF personell are extremeley counter productive.

    It’s hard to know just how this can be turned around. The oppertunity to pull out seems like it may already have been missed. Setting a date for a withdrawal, seems to have had the negative effects that many said that it would.

    As a soldier, with what prospect are you placing yourself in the line of fire in Afghanistan? It’s clear now, that the Taliban will not be defeated and that Afghanistan will not be left a better place. It’s debatable, as to whether or not we are even any closer to the long-term goal of reducing international terrorism?

  72. akn

    He won’t be tried under Afghan law but at least the US military is able to provide the death penalty .

  73. Jacques de Molay

    As usual Bernard Keane spot on:

    Which brings us back to Swan’s perhaps unconscious description of his preferred model of civic engagement.

    The key characteristic of Australian democracy since the 1980s, and probably earlier, is not that of ordinary voters being manipulated, but of their wholesale disengagement from politics, and its outsourcing to a professional class. That class has responded to disengagement by establishing mechanisms to preserve and strengthen its own position. That class has also widened to include a range of occupations engaged in the essential process of public policy: lobbyists; statutory board appointees, government relations advisers, union officials, media advisers and spinners, economists, marketers, pollsters, public servants, journalists, CEOs, consultants.

    This class has an iron group on policy-making through their close and regular involvement in it. In comparison, voters are only consulted every three years, or appear via proxy in the form of polling and focus groups. This class is, for the most part, supportive of the liberal reform agenda of the past 30 years, even though key elements of that agenda, and particularly privatisation and deregulation, remain trenchantly opposed by the electorate. And the atomising impact of that reform agenda only serves to reinforce civic disengagement.

    This is a new version of the “disinterested” landed elites of civic humanism. And voters have status only as workers, consumers and sources of data for the remorseless growth of state and corporate surveillance. Or, if they can be appropriately manipulated, as intruders into a policy process controlled by elites.

    What was most amusing about Swan’s jibe at those elites who won’t play by the rules any more was his attempt to co-opt the language of the Occupy movement, which has as its heart the goal of reversing the elite control of, particularly, US politics, which is far more advanced than here and accelerating, not diminishing. Polling here suggests that, even if they didn’t directly support the Occupy movement, voters share the concern that government is too quick to look after the interests of corporations rather than those of the community.

    But that will only be reversed when voters re-engage politically and seek to disrupt the operation of the political class that controls public policy.

    At that point, the current structure of Australian politics would become unsustainable.


  74. joe2

    Alby Schultz writes to Hope Rinehart Welker that she is “already seen in the media as too spoilt, greedy and unappreciative and too young to have money”.

    “Hope, please consider dropping this expensive and embarrassing legal action for it will only cost you money and we believe do irreparable damage to your good name. It is already making you look like a member of the Rose Porteous family, not your mother’s wonderful and beautiful daughter.”


  75. Katz

    The Hancock/Rinehart ménage are fighting for control of a significant slice of the public assets of Australia.

    There is a public interest in who controls these assets.

    The litigants choose to air their dirty laundry in pursuit of their claims. Clearly, they believe, either rightly or wrongly, that this information will assist their claims.

    Alby Schultz and Barnaby Joyce, the Dumb and Dumber of Australian politics, believe that the Rinehart circus does reputational damage to the plutocrats who control Australia’s public assets. This fear is quite rational. Stupidly, however, they commit their thiughts to paper, exposing the motives of the Tories. These Coalition politicians are steadfast, though incompetent, handmaidens of Australian plutocracy.

    Australians have a powerful interest in learning how the Coalition goes about the business of promoting plutocracy.

  76. Tim Macknay

    The US has no right to do anything other than hand the confessed murderer over to Afghani authorities.

    Who are the ‘Afghani’ authorities? The Afghanistan Central Bank?
    Oh, I get it – you mean Afghan authorities.

  77. Tim Macknay

    Alby Schultz writes to Hope Rinehart Welker that she is “already seen in the media as too spoilt, greedy and unappreciative and too young to have money”.

    Nice to see that Gina has members of the Liberal and National parties so deep in her pockets that they’re happy to act as her winged monkeys, even in disputes with her own children. What charming people.

  78. akn

    Tim Macknay, it is best best to get your own facts straight before you go correcting other’s use of the language:

    Afghani may refer to: The Afghani, official currency of Afghanistan; An as yet irregular alternative for Afghan (something of, from, or related to Afghanistan).

    Either that or hit the rectinol before you hit the keyboard.

  79. joe2

    [Australians have a powerful interest in learning how the Coalition goes about the business of promoting plutocracy.]

    Yer, do tell what this about Barnaby?

    We thought you woz just a poor New England accountant now pollie for the bush; not one of them and moonlighting as an agony aunt to billionaires.


  80. Tim Macknay

    akn @79 – yes, I’m aware that the term ‘Afghani’ is an ‘as yet irregular alternative for Afghan’ – the reason for that irregular usage being that so many people are ignorant and/or lazy. As far as I’m concerned, the use of the term for the Afghan currency to refer to the Afghan people disqualifies the user from being taken seriously. Not that you needed further disqualification.

  81. akn

    Suit yourself but when I was in Afghanistan, in 1973, the term Afghani was in common use amongst Afghan peoples.

  82. Tim Macknay

    when I was in Afghanistan, in 1973, the term Afghani was in common use amongst Afghan peoples

    Yes, I understand it still is – as the name of the currency, as well as an alternative name for the most widely spoken language (Obviously, I am making the assumption that you didn’t speak fluent Pashto in 1973).

    Anyway, it’s refreshing that you’ve chosen to be civil.

  83. faustusnotes

    In other news, I’m very pleased by the widespread, vocal and angry response to Katter’s stupid ad. I guess good old Mr. Rabbit won’t bother to condemn it, but it appears that the entire rest of the community thinks it’s wrong. Very heartening.

  84. Jacques de Molay

    Bob Carr off to a fine start:

    A killing spree by a rogue US soldier has reignited the debate over Australia’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt will try to start a debate in parliament over the deployment.

    He will call on the government to set a date for the return of Australian troops.

    “This latest atrocity in Afghanistan reinforces the need to bring our troops home,” Mr Bandt said in a statement.

    Earlier on Tuesday, incoming foreign minister Bob Carr rejected the withdrawal call.

    “I would caution against such dangerously simplistic thinking,” he told reporters.


  85. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Bleeding hell, [email protected] Hope Welker is 26 with two children of her own. Yet Barnaby Joyce decides to patronize her as if she was a kid. No wonder he’s now insisting it’s a “private letter” that he would prefer to keep private.

    Take away the plutocratic overtones of the case and his party alignment; we’re left with someone who’d meddle in other people’s family dramas for shit and giggles. Nobody likes that. It looks bad. Even he knows that… now.

  86. Ambigulous

    The International Criminal Court will soon announce its first verdict.

    From a UN website: The verdict in the trial of Mr. Lubanga Dyilo will be made in open court on 14 March. His trial started in January 2009 and the closing statements were presented by the parties and participants in August last year.

    In accordance with the Rome Statute that established the ICC, to convict an accused person, the trial chamber must be convinced of his or her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

    In the event of a conviction, the trial chamber will consider an appropriate sentence. Irrespective of whether the accused is acquitted or convicted, the court is required to establish the principles to be applied in relation to reparations, and it may make orders regarding awards of reparations to victims.

    Mr. Lubanga Dyilo is accused of having committed, with others, the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the rebel group known as Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo), and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri district in north-eastern the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between September 2002 and August 2003.

  87. Chris

    faustusnotes @ 84 – I would not be surprised if the ad was deliberately designed to be controversial. It’s not like anyone should be suprised by Katter’s party views given his own. And getting criticised by the Greens would be seen as a positive given the demographic they are looking to vote for them.

  88. joe2

    Nobody likes that. It looks bad. Even he knows that… now.

    Down and Out, what also looks bad is the private jet trip to India with Gina for a wedding and then not declaring it in the parliamentary pecuniary interest lodgings.

  89. CMMC
  90. Darin

    Given the coverage, Bob’s smart.

    It’s not a vote changer in the electorates they would be chasing, and keeps his party top of every news broadcast.

    I wonder if it’s a coincidence that this followed neatly after the whole “the AEC is killing us” thing? For a new party with no budget, they’ve managed to be one of the top stories every day in this campaign.

  91. su

    Tangentially related, insomniac me managed to catch the documentary, The Real Ann Lister in wee small hours this morning. I think this is its first run, but clearly it could not be allowed to pollute the hours before midnight. WTF ABC?

  92. Joe


    if what you have said is any measure of success, we are truly damned to walk soulessly forever, etc.

    Bob Katter is a mirror to our stupidity.

  93. Patrickb

    Stupidity would appear to be the Zeitgeist of the right. Katter is attacking Newman, surely a more natural ally than Bligh, for expressing a view that could be construed as not opposing civil unions for homosexual couples. What is really stupid though is that Campbell, despite not opposing said unions, will in fact repeal the recently passed legislation enabling those unions. Wha? He’s going to repeal a law that supports his own beliefs? This is an insidious stupid disease that has traveled here from the US. Romney and before him McCain resiled from long held positions on a range of issues because they were thought to be too liberal. Politics on the right has lost the ability to be reasonable. What’s next?

  94. faustusnotes

    I know I’ve got into trouble for saying this here before, but I think this, from Ambigulous at 87:

    In accordance with the Rome Statute that established the ICC, to convict an accused person, the trial chamber must be convinced of his or her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

    is a terrible idea. You should not have to establish guilt “beyond reasonable doubt” for convicting war criminals. You simply need to prove that person X was in charge of army/unit/brigade/militia Y, and that Y committed the crimes. It should not be necessary to prove that X ordered Y to commit the crimes directly.

    This idea in the ICC weakens the concept of command responsibility, and I see it as a rejection of the principles established at Nuremberg. I think it’s terrible.

  95. Katz

    Politics on the right has lost the ability to be reasonable. What’s next?

    One reason for that is that politics of the “reasonable” right have been expropriated by the “reasonable” left.

    The big losers in this evolution are left libertarians who no longer have a home in mainstream electoral politics. Instead, erstwhile parties of the left pander to populist religiosity, militarism, anti-feminism, xenophobia, racism, and a raft of other retrogressive impulses.

    For evidence to support this contention, look at how both Rudd and Gillard pandered to these retrogressive ideologies.

  96. akn

    Warren Entsch is putting forward sensible legislation for recognition of same sex civil union. It leaves the churches to their own private business with their various gods at the same time as wedging god believing gays and lesbians. It leaves this group to negotiate with their own churches and their own consciences. Or they can leave and join a church that recognises and campaigns for their claims to equal marrige rights.

    Entsch doesn’t reckon it will get up. Now, that is a disgrace, that there aren’t enough federal parliamentarians prepared to vote in support of civil recognition of something that they have no political right to oppose in a liberal democracy. The vote on this proposed legislation will really flush out the homophobes and the reactionary christians.

  97. Chris

    akn @ 97 – isn’t that what Turnbull suggested the other night? I wonder if the ALP would allow a conscience vote on it – if so, surely would not require that many LNP MPs to cross the floor?

  98. su

    The Greens won’t vote for it, in what is to me the understandable belief that it just defers the passage of legislation that would offer same-sex people genuine equality.

  99. Darin

    So, the HSU investigation is in. No criminal charges, 4 people facing civil action. However, they are going to table the report in the senate after all as no criminal proceedings to jeopardize.

    Should be a fun read.

  100. akn

    I don’t know Chris. Just that Entsch didn’t think he’d get the numbers.

  101. akn

    Ah, su, didn’t notice your comment until I’d posted to Chris above. Well, while I’m generally a Greens voter I reckon their dead wrong on this. The churches are not obliged to follow the dictates of the state. If the g&l community wants ‘genuine equality’, as they seem to think it might be located in religiously sanctioned marriage, then it’s between that community and the various churches. It is a private matter between them and their religions. The liberal democratic state has no role in picking winners in such private matters. The state can and ought to offer an alternative, as it already does for hetero couples, the civil marriage.

  102. su

    Yeah sure akn, but this is not a civil marriage, it is a separate entity, the civil registration of a partnership, they are two distinct things.

  103. su

    Sorry, Tigtog, crossed again.

  104. Chris

    su @ 99 – I think the Greens are right in that it would defer changes to marriage act. However, if a civil union provided exactly the same legal rights as marriage (ie exactly the same except in name) is it really worth risking nothing changing for a few more years?

    If a civil union bill passed then in say 5 or 10 years, revisit the marriage act. When the sky has not fallen in and it can be shown that there is absolutely no difference between civil unions and marriage except a label it will be very difficult to run a fear campaign against a merger of the two.

  105. akn

    I decided, after reading Alexanda Kollontai’s (1927) Red Love, that marriage was for mugs. Most of what Kollontai wrote on intimate relations remains true so far as I can see. Hence my disintrest in supporting anything other than necessry civil registration of intimate relations. No-one much reads Kollontai these days which is a pity because her realist appraisal of marriage would save a lot of pain.

  106. akn

    This is too good tonot share:

    The “crude individualism” that adorns our era is perhaps nowhere as blatant as in the organisation of sexual relationships. A person wants to escape from his loneliness and naively imagines that being “in love” gives him the right to the soul of the other person – the right to warm himself in the rays of that rare blessing of emotional closeness and understanding. We individualists have had our emotions spoiled in the persistent cult of the “ego”. We imagine that we can reach the happiness of being in a state of “great love” with those near to us, without having to “give” up anything of ourselves.

    The claims we make on our “contracted partner” are absolute and undivided. We are unable to follow the simplest rule of love – that another person should be treated with great consideration. New concepts of the relationships between the sexes are already being outlined. They will teach us to achieve relationships based on the unfamiliar ideas of complete freedom, equality and genuine friendship. But in the meantime mankind has to sit in the cold with its spiritual loneliness and can only dream about the “better age” when all relationships between people will be warmed by the rays of “the sun god”, will experience a sense of togetherness, and will be educated in the new conditions of living. The sexual crisis cannot be solved unless there is a radical reform of the human psyche, and unless man’s potential for loving is increased. And a basic transformation of the socio-economic relationships along communist lines is, essential if the psyche is to be re-formed. This is an “old truth” but there is no other way out. The sexual crisis will in no way be reduced, ‘whatever kind of marriage or personal relationships people care to try.

    Alexandra Kollontai (1921) Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle

    Leavng aside failed aspirations for the class struggle as the universal form of liberation this remains a powerful critique of dominant forms of intimacy, g&l or otherwise.

  107. faustusnotes

    Does it occur to you, akn, that maybe the opinions of a person from 1920 on marriage are no longer relevant? Things have changed a bit in the way the genders relate since then, and in women’s economic freedom.

    Also, what is it with a lefty telling people that their liberation should be left to their individual interaction with an institution? That’s a fundamentally conservative position.

  108. alfred venison

    Alexandra Kollontai, for some reason, makes me think back to the days when i studied Yevgeny Zamyatin.

  109. Fine

    Oh please, akn. That piece sounds like a parody. Of course once all personal relationships are arranged along the correct Communist lines, we’ll all be happy. It reminds me of 1920s Soviet films in which happy peasants work cheerfully bringing in the harvest for the greater good. Down with bourgeois individualism!

    I don’t give two figs for marriage. But, it’s not my place to decide this issue for other people.

  110. akn

    Alfred Venison: I’m not really surprised that Kollontai puts you in mind of Zamyatin. I think her value lies in her occasionally remarkable insight rather than the results of her ‘diligent’ application of Leninism to literature.

    madge: please forgive me for citing someone from last century. Especially a state subsidised writer on the subject of sex. Old people and sex. Eeeeuw! What would they know anyway?

  111. akn

    alfred venison: I’m not really surprised that Kollontai puts you in mind of Zamyatin. I think her value lies in her occasionally remarkable insight rather than the results of her ‘diligent’ application of Leninism to literature which she does with all of the energy and subtlety with which a plumber swings a hammer gainst a rusted fixing.

    su: as per above to av – the value of Kollontai lies in her identification, early last century, of the impossibility of satisfactory intimate relations though institutions like marriage.

    fn: please forgive me for citing someone from last century.. Especially a state subsidised writer on the subject of seyux. Old people and seyux. Eeeeuw! What would they know anyway?

    So, same sex couples demand the right to the same levels of intimate misery that hetero-normative couples enjoy, do they? On the same terms – exclusive possession of another until they’ve each exhausted their capacity for pojection and delusion.

    What a project. Where’s my Marcuse?

  112. akn

    Fin not su. Humble apologies.

  113. Fine

    I don’t mind that it’s last century. I mind that it’s silly.

  114. alfred venison

    dear Fine
    your remarks put me in a mind to recall dmitri shostakovich’s “song of the forests” – a paen to the 1949 re-forestation project, which received an acclaimed performance in chicago in 2009.

    akn, i don’t think zamyatin wholeheartedly supported the “sexual revolution” of his time – it didn’t seem so great to the characters in we, as i recall.
    yours sincerely
    alfred vension

  115. su

    My personal opinion is that marriage is a horribly oppressive institution, I won’t be doing with it myself, but for it to be anything other than a crude form of social control and the prime vector of patriarchal values it needs to be reimagined by as diverse a group as possible. I don’t support same sex marriage because marriage is so delightful but because it is a basic principle of equality that the law should not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference and because, unlike the conservatives, I welcome the prospect of marriage (as it currently exists) being thoroughly dismantled by its diversification.

  116. Fine

    Yes, and we all know what happened to Shostakovich. One of the indictments of the old Soviet Union was how the artists were treated. Toe the line, or be terribly punished, or escape if you could.

  117. Joe

    +1 su!!

    Pretty much, and it gets reintegrated into society, because it is a fundamental partnership. Strong interpersonal relationships that mean something and aren’t just symbolic ultimately benefit society (not offering any justification for this!)

  118. Fran Barlow

    While I have a lot of time for Kollontai, my own view is that we commun|sts ought to avoid attempting to specify anything that might be taken for (mistaken for!) a “marxist” sexual/interpersonal relations paradigm. I’m hard pressed to think of anything in this vein that doesn’t read like utter tosh. An insight into the intersection between the material forces driving history and the impacts of these things on human consciousness and resultant agency is of absolutely no use, IMO, in determining the meaning of “love” between people, and improves not at all on speculative metaphysics.

    The usages and drivers of close pair bonding is something that is inevitably private and not greatly amenable even to close analysis by those with specialised skills and detailed knowledge of the subjects. Beyond rather banal statements about respect for the humanity of one’s partner, it’s hard to imagine what meta-analysis could offer.

    Certainly, one is entitled to hope that in a rational world of material abundance, where class society had vanished, nearly everyone would know their own possibility well enough not to mess with that of others, to choose partners with greater care and not be so needy and defined by one’s interpersonal relationships, but as that time is a long way from today, it seems idle to speculate on anything less broad brush than that.

  119. zorronsky

    What happens between couples can be dealt with momentarily. Marriage then is irrelevant. Add children and a vow that transcends the moment can be helpful, if not definitive.

  120. akn

    su @117: that’s more like it. Although I’m sure you’d agree that there might be some ethical issues associated with supporting others’ attempts to get access to an institution tat you despise. Still, so long as people are aware that you see g&l people as anti-patriarchal shock troops then there ought not be problem.

    Fran: I rather thought you’d be pretty innocent of contact with the Frankfurt school.

    Fine: Surely its possible to retrieve what might be of value from the horror of the USSR without convicting those doing so of guilt by intellectual association?

    av: well, poor old Zamyatin. What a fate. But his name lives on as a writer and a determined humanist.

  121. Grey

    How about that Foreign Affairs genius, the new Talleyrand, Bob Carr?

    We’ll show those clowns up in Papua New Guinea whose boss around here.

  122. su

    akn you are confusing the comment that marriage as an institution is oppressive with the idea that each and every marriage is an oppressive experience for its participants, the first doesn’t necessarily entail the second. If I was to be as ungenerous in my interpretation of your reasoning I would say that you are paternalistically prescribing what is and is not good for all same-sex couples, despite the testimony of many of them to the contrary.

    And did it occur to you that people might want equality before the law even when they don’t intend to avail themselves of absolutely everything that is legally available to them? I can think of quite a few areas in which the law sets down entitlements but I have never had reason or need to access them.

  123. Grey

    Actually that should be who is boss rather than whose boss, but no matter.

  124. akn

    su writes:

    akn you are confusing the comment that marriage as an institution is oppressive with the idea that each and every marriage is an oppressive experience for its participants, the first doesn’t necessarily entail the second.

    If it is true that not every marriage exempifies the oppressive nature of the institution then wherein lies its oppresive nature? Surely, slavery is oppressive across the board. How can you say that, for some slaves, it works? If the institution is oppressive what explains exceptions?

  125. su

    akn @ 126 But in the instance we are talking about the most obvious way that marriage is oppressive is that it singles certain kinds of relationships out as favoured, while others are lesser, not sanctioned, and therefore deviant. It is one of the many ways in which people who don’t conform to a heteronormative ideal are punished in society.

    I suppose you were referring to heterosexual marriage though. While many of the legal conditions that made marriage oppressive within heterosexual relationships have been changed; women can apply for loans without their husband’s permission, they can buy a house when single, they can remain at work after marriage, they can seek a divorce when the relationship no longer functions, or when it has become abusive, the way that people experience marriage frequently does not match the legal status conferred upon the partners. Functionally, men will still often control joint resources, women are often forced to pay for all costs of childcare rather than it being a joint expense, women still do more of both the household and care work of a relationship, and women suffer economically more from loss of income and promotion due to child bearing and child rearing, even though this is now nominally deemed to be an equal responsibility, women are punished by the legal system for making complaints of abuse against their spouse in the context of family law disputes, women are more likely to be assaulted by an intimate partner than anyone else, once in a relationship where children are involved, the threat of violence against those children can be used to coerce the woman into staying, there are just so many examples.

    It is hard to talk about this in either incredibly diffuse ways or by recourse to anecdote but I will plump for the second if you really feel this needs explanation. One of the reasons I will never again be tempted into marriage is the subtle shift that occurred immediately after I gave birth, I won’t go into details but there was an occasion when both I and my late spouse were obviously thinking the same thing: it had suddenly become much, much more difficult for me to leave. This had nothing to do with violence I hasten to add , to explain further would get into TMI but the ways in which marriage acts to control and police and corral women are many and varied.

    Some of the social control that marriage makes possible are much more benign; the gentle urging for people to take care of their health, to seek treatment, to get enough sleep, to not work too hard etc, obviously contributes to the health benefits that are usually cited for married men in particular, hopefully in more equitable relationships, whether hetero or some other non traditional pairing, this benefit would accrue equitably also.

    I could be going into waffly territory here , but the idea that married relationships should be centred on a sexual relationship is also one that I think needs challenging. There have always been successful married partnerships that did not conform to this notion, but it’s kind of the dirty little secret of the history of marriage, or if it is spoken of people talk about it in terms of very restrictive and censorious paradigms; the loveless marriage of convenience, or the sham marriage to cover for each other’s deviant sexuality. It seems one of the most transgressive notions is that people may have a committed and loving relationship while not having any desire for a sexual relationship (with each other). Why people think that sexual relationships are the most stable basis in which to, for example raise children, is beyond me, to me they seem less stable. I think that marriage needs to be uncoupled not only from heteronormativity, but from the idea that it has any form of necessary or essential relationship to the participant’s sexuality however they manifest. But that’s me.

  126. alfred venison

    dear su @117
    i know the caravan’s moved on & its bed-time for old fogies and i don’t want to distract from your sport elsewhere tonight, but i just wanted to say i share your abhorrence of marriage & i loathe its effects on people & society.

    you say marriage is a prime vector of “patriarchal values” where i’d say a prime vector of “bourgeois values”. a small point, imo, given how much is left that we agree, even to the point of favouring “vector”.

    but will gay & lesbian people transform marriage, or will marriage transform gay & lesbian people?

    i may be wrong, but my feeling is that the majority of people crave marriage as a signifier of “normality”; an easy shorthand to fitting in – its the epitome of bourgeois conformity & it is a projection, into all the sub-cultures it affects, of the pernicious notion that bourgeois cultural values are normative.

    my fear is that the institution of marriage will not be much weakened by being extended to gay & lesbian people, but, rather, that normative bourgeois values will penetrate further into gay & lesbian counter-cultures, and, as a result, yet amore counter-cultures will be assimilated to the norm; the bourgeois norm of the ruling class.

    i fear this only because i’ve witnessed over many years & much to my chagrin, the uncanny & unnerving ability of bourgeois culture to assimilate potentially change-driving counter-cultures by normalising them to itself; normalising them along the vectors of its values. i fear marriage will endure a long time yet, unfortunately & not much modified, either. hope i’m wrong this time. and, yes, in the circumstances i support everyone having equal right by law to have a crack at making themselves miserable through it. or not.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  127. su

    Although I understand that fear Alfred, I think the effect you speak of could be overstated, marriage has changed quite a lot in this century but also across its history; Victorian times were probably worse than some previous centuries for example, though the vast disparity in how it manifested depending on class probably accounts for much of the difference, Victorian times coinciding with a great expansion of the middle class.

    That was an unnecessarily long and mistook strewn comment of mine up there. eep.

  128. Terangeree

    “Costello Savages Future Fund ‘Shemozzle'”, the headline reads.

    If there is a shemozzle, then isn’t there also a hemozzle?

    Do mozzles marry?

    Do they worry about the social constructs of oppression and the mozzlearchical constraints upon the instution of mozzle matrimony?

    And what do savage Costelloes have to do with the prospective financial status of female mozzles?

  129. David Irving (no relation)

    Terangeree, I think Costello is most upset by Conroy’s sly implication that he’s a muppet.

  130. alfred venison

    dear su
    overstated, understated: there’s the nub. i’m less encouraged by the “progress” of marriage since the era of bourgeois ascendancy than i am dismayed by the resilience of bourgeois culture to “turn” potential for its transformation into more extensions of its same normative values. i may be wrong but i’m too battered & bruised by past experience to be hopeful now for transformation out the present prospect of gay & lesbian marriage equality. have a nice (unmarried) day.
    yours sincerely
    alfred vension

  131. Chris

    DI @ 131 – I think its a storm in a teacup. If anything was unusual it was Rudd appointing recently retired liberal MPs in the first place. Perhaps someone should ask Conroy that if Costello is so incompetent why they appointed him to the board in the first place.

    The process is a bit odd – appointing someone to report on who should be fill the position and then appointing them in the end. I suspect that what has really happened over time is a change in a position in the government in appointing people with strong connections to the previous liberal government. They no longer see any advantage to be seen to be unbiased in their selections by allowing the appointment of political opponents.

  132. alfred venison

    dear akn
    “ethical issues associated with supporting others’ attempts to get access to an institution tat you despise”
    respectfully, that’s baloney. i’m a pacifist & i support women having access to all roles in the military. same with marriage – i don’t support equality of access only to things i agree with. i just won’t argue forcefully in support of those i disagree with.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  133. Paul Burns

    Isn’t it spelt “schmozzle” ? Or have I been labouring under a misapprehension all my life?

  134. Pollytickedoff

    “They no longer see any advantage to be seen to be unbiased in their selections by allowing the appointment of political opponents.”

    Then there is also the matter of Costello appearing in the SMH almost every week with some complaint about the government.

    Why should he then expect them to provide him with a plum job?

    Also, why should he expect them to buy into and reinforce “the world’s greatest treasurer” myth?

  135. akn

    su and alfred v above: I find myself in agreement with both of you at various points.

    su: re yr second para @ 217 – I know. It has been my experience that whoever puts themselves in the ‘woman’s positon’, ie, of economic dependence where they are the primary care giver for children, gets it in the neck. I got the woman’s compensation – an AVO protecting me and an excellent relationship wth my kids; she has an excellent relationship with her wallet and a finely honed sense of historical grievance.

    All of which goes to my reservations about the institution of marriage which reflect those of av – especially about marriage as a bearer of bourgeois relations of power. Power is gendered and sexed but these appear to me to be epiphenomena to power itself.

    So, yr comments are very interesting to me and I don’t think that you overwrote the topic at all.

    av @134: I support my own principles first and offer contingent support after that. I can’t see any liberatory principle at work in women seeking equal participaton in the armed services. There is a principle of democratic participation at stake which I do support however it ought not to be conflated with liberation. In other words while equal participation in the armed services would be an advance in the politics of democracratic presence there’s nothing wrong in saying that it is nothing to celebrate. I reserve celebration for those women who refuse to participate in war.

  136. Eric Sykes

    This is interesting:


    “The data show that a disproportionately large percentage of young adults from working-class families who, according to their test scores and grade point averages, are equipped to earn a B.A., are either not going to college, or failing to finish — relegating them to a life of stagnant or declining wages. There is a reservoir of resentment over this fate waiting to be tapped by either party”.

  137. David Irving (no relation)

    Chris @ 133, I never understood why Costello got the gig in the first place either, particularly as no-one in the business world was prepared to give him a job.

  138. Chris

    DI @ 139 – he does have a couple of other jobs in the business world already. Your standard post senior government MP consulting gigs it looks like. I was surprised by the number of former liberal MPs that Rudd appointed though. The ALP in SA seems to do it quite a bit as well, though there has been a lot more time since the libs were in government here.

  139. Terangeree

    PB @ 27-times-5:

    I always thought it was spelled “schemozzle”, but my old copy of the Concise OED gives “shemozzle” as the primary spelling and “schemozzle” as a variation.

  140. Jacques de Molay

    Chris @ 140,

    Two former SA Liberal Premiers come to mind in John Olsen & Dean Brown. The old mafia maxim “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer”. Probably a Bruce Hawker inspired move to keep them suitably nobbled during election campaigns.

  141. faustusnotes


    Functionally, men will still often control joint resources, women are often forced to pay for all costs of childcare rather than it being a joint expense, women still do more of both the household and care work of a relationship, and women suffer economically more from loss of income and promotion due to child bearing and child rearing, even though this is now nominally deemed to be an equal responsibility, women are punished by the legal system for making complaints of abuse against their spouse in the context of family law disputes, women are more likely to be assaulted by an intimate partner than anyone else, once in a relationship where children are involved, the threat of violence against those children can be used to coerce the woman into staying,

    I don’t see much of that as having anything to do with marriage. And if any of these problems are related to the institution of marriage, I doubt that any alternative institutions (e.g. civil unions) will change them. Marriages are easy to leave, and they confer no special rights on the man.

    This is why I think akn’s 1920s memorabilia is irrelevant: marriage was an oppressive institution while women lacked the independence and rights of men, since society was constructed so as to force them into it and then trap them there. But society is not constructed to force anyone to marry and it does not trap women in marriage. The social and material conditions governing women’s lives are completely different from those that obtained during the heyday of marxism, and it’s silly to apply marxist analysis or anything resembling it to modern gender relations.

    Also, I like what Fran said about the impossibility of analysis of human relations.

  142. akn

    Oh groan fn. Try this from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Mary Wollstonecraft:

    Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1798) was a moral and political theorist whose analysis of the condition of women in modern society retains much of its original radicalism. One of the reasons her pronouncements on the subject remain challenging is that her reflections on the status of the female sex were part of an attempt to come to a comprehensive understanding of human relations within a civilization increasingly governed by acquisitiveness.

    I know that old people and dead white females cause you to suffer a type of intellectual vertigo but do try to grasp the relevance of lived history.

  143. FDB

    It’s schlemazel thank you very much, you bunch of schlemiels.

    All these derived spellings can kiss my tuchus.

  144. Terangeree

    There’s a job vacancy just come up near London, if Peter Costello wants consolation for missing the Futur(ist) Fun gig.

  145. Chris

    Functionally, men will still often control joint resources, women are often forced to pay for all costs of childcare rather than it being a joint expense, women still do more of both the household and care work of a relationship, and women suffer economically more from loss of income and promotion due to child bearing and child rearing,

    Wow, do many couples separate their finances to such a degree like that? Am surprised if that is the norm – well at least I don’t of any who do that, though most of them women I know are tertiary educated so perhaps a bit more proactive about finances.

    Also in case of separation/divorce courts these days do take into account the earning potential of each partner when dividing assets. The greater your earning potential, the smaller the piece of the pie you get. Of course it requires that there are sufficient assets that exist to compensate. Though if one partner’s earning potential has been signficantly affected during the marriage the courts in Australia will even award ongoing spousal support.

  146. su

    Chris, I have personal friends who have been in that situation, where their income had to cover childcare and their own personal spending and where they had to ask for money for housekeeping, which was rationed, it still happens. I’m not sure how often it happens but something that happens quite often is for women to give up work because the costs of childcare mean that as a couple they are financially worse off. This obviously affects lower paid couples the most, if you are better off overall then you may choose to work even though that means a net cost. Link:

    48% of women said the cost of childcare negatively hit their career but not their partner’s career
    71.6% of women said their partner’s career had not been held back at all
    24% of working mothers say working isn’t viable however they remain in the workforce due to independence and the necessity for career progression

  147. faustusnotes

    you really aren’t capable of argument are you akn?