From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.

 


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Brushtail Graphics

Fear and despair at Owl Farm
Hunter S. Thompson cashes his chips


1 March 2005


Character is Destiny. Richard Nixon told me that, the first time we met.

HST, ‘Return to the Riviera Café’, 1989

A few days after Dr Gonzo blew his brains out, Joadja organised a night of readings from The Greatest Prose Stylist Since Jane Austin. Old Possum read from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and Joadja did ‘Nixon and the whale woman’ and I did some bits from ‘Bad craziness in Palm Beach’ which is his account of the Pulitzer divorce case, and surely one of the greatest pieces of journalism ever penned.

There was standing room only in the Brushtail Café with much wry laughter and not a few tears.

“So why did he do it, do you think?” I asked Joadja as the last dregs of the group sat around the big table, just before closing time.

“Reread his coverage of Nixon and the Watergate affair, and of Nixon’s fall”, Jo replied. “Of course he hated Nixon and wrote eloquently about him. Listen to this:

Innocence? It is difficult even to type that word on the same page with Nixon’s name. The man was born guilty – not in the traditional Vatican sense of ‘original sin’, but in a darker and highly personalised sense that Nixon himself seems to have recognised from the very beginning.

… the mainspring of Richard Nixon’s energy and ambition seems to have been a deep and unrecognised need to overcome, at all costs, that sense of having been born guilty – not for crimes or transgressions already committed, but for those he somehow sensed he was fated to commit as he grappled his way to the summit.


“That’s from Rolling Stone in 1974. Now compare that with his despair over George W. Bush – some people will talk about Hunter’s waning powers, but this reflects a darker, highly personalised, political despair, I reckon:

To say this goofy child president is looking more and more like Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974 would be a flagrant insult to Nixon.

Whoops! Did I say that? Is it even vaguely possible that some New Age Republican whore-beast of a false president could actually make Richard Nixon look like a Liberal?…

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world – a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us... No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.

“That’s from Kingdom of Fear, 2003. The anger is deeper but despair and frustration have sapped his eloquence and vitality. When Nixon stepped down, he thought he’d seen – and helped defeat – the very worst American politics had to offer, but now, thirty years later, the world is worse, much worse. It’s hard to be witty about the madness of this regime. Things are too serious now, too dangerous.”

“And think about how the world of journalism has changed for the worst”, Old Possum chipped in. “In 1968, Hunter was a young virtually unknown stringer covering the presidential elections for Pageant magazine. And he has a few drinks with the candidate’s minders and they offer him a ride with Nixon to the airport and he finds himself – wearing a badge of the far-left Students for a Democratic Society – sitting in the back seat with Nixon chatting amiably about pro football. And later, when Nixon resigns, after Watergate, Hunter, who’s been writing the blackest, most flamboyant, anti-Nixon stuff, can still stroll down to the White House, flash his press card, get admitted, and wander out to stand by himself at the door of the President’s helicopter to farewell the old crook.

“You compare that with today. It took Maureen Dowd, a big time scribbler for the New York Times, six months to pass through the security vetting to get a White House press pass, but Jim Gannon/Guckert, can get the run of the house instantly.”

“Oh yeah, Guckert, he’s the bloke who fronted for a Republican Party fake news service posing as a conservative, “family values”, anti-gay Christian but is actually an active gay prostitute who ran porno websites with a US Marines theme. But they let him in so he can toss soft questions to the President and his spokesman and put shit on legitimate journalists who asked hard ones, and the mainstream media hardly utter a peep about this outrage.”

“Yep. Is it any wonder Hunter wrote this:

The prevailing quality of life in America – by any accepted methods of measuring – was inarguably freer and more politically open under Nixon than it is today ..."

“Things have slipped horribly backward and Hunter was too old to weave the magic of his mad libertarian shtick on the ugly new reality and too sane to think it could change anything.”

“Yeah, if Hunter had tried to interview Dubya, they’d have arrested him.”