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

By their Senate preferences, shall ye know them

1 October 2004

I’d been too engrossed in my investigation of the RTA’s perpetual campaign for more motorways to pay much attention to the federal election campaign, but when I sidled into the Brushtail Café for lunch I could see I was about to go up the learning curve. Joadja was chatting to Abdul The Cabbie and was clearly in one of her dark moods.

“Have you seen this outrageous preference deal the ALP and the Democrats have done with the so-called “Liberals for Forests” and the religious nutters?” She asked.

“We’re talking about the Senate here?”

“Yeah, the Senate positions for NSW. It’s ‘let’s stop The Greens at any cost’ time. Any pretence of political principle is out the window.”

“What’s this Liberals for Forests thing? I’ve never heard of them.”

“It’s another of those miss-named right-wing schemes lashed together by Glenn Druery. He was the bloke whose mini-micro party preference-swap deals led to the election of Malcolm Jones of the anti-conservation Outdoor Recreation Party in the 1999 state election.”

“Yeah, I remember, that was the election where 264 candidates ran for the Legislative Council, and the ballot paper was the size of a tablecloth.” I said. “Malcolm Jones got elected on just 0.2 per cent of the vote, on the preference flows from a bunch of tiny single-issue parties. But he was eventually chucked out of parliament for rorting his entitlements.”

“You got it. But Druery didn’t get elected in ’99 so he tried the same scheme in 2003, running as the Fishing Party. In that election he was swapping preferences with the Four Wheel Drive Party and the Horse Rider’s Party … who were also redneck micro-parties opposed to sensible conservation measures. He missed out again … fortunately.”

“All a rort. So what’s this Family First mob the Dems are giving their first preferences to?”

“Basically it’s a front group for the right-wing fundamentalists of the Pentecostal Church. You’ll love them. They might publically deny they’re nutty Christian zealots, but if you spend an hour on the internet it all becomes clear.”

“What do you reckon their agenda would be if they got into office?”

“Well, for a start, like John Howard, they’re into breaking down the distinction between church and state. You can bet they’d like to see ‘creation science’ introduced into the schools.”

“Ah, that anti-scientific twaddle about God making the world in seven days, ’round about 4004 BC.”

“Yep. And they hate gays and they don’t like Moslems and you can bet they’d be into the Iraq war like a rat up a drainpipe. Politically, most of them are Christian Zionists.”

“Zionists I know, but what is a Christian Zionist?” asked Abdul.

“They’re fundamentalist Christian neoconservatives who hate the Palestinians (even the Christian ones) and support the most extreme vision of the craziest Zionists – a Jewish theocratic state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

“Which is a curious development because historically Christian fundamentalism is the natural home of anti-semitism. Up until a few years ago fundamentalists saw Jews as the killers of Christ, blah, blah. Then suddenly, these folk saw Islam as a mortal danger. They’re steeped in the gibberish of Biblical prophesy and, as they see it, the quicker the ‘End of Days’ happens, the better, so they’re pretty sanguine about the prospect of Israel nuking the Arabs back to the Stone Age.”

“Armageddon, how charming. But please explain how this preferences work?”

“Okay, let’s say you vote ‘above the line’ for the Dems. If they don’t get a quota (that’s a bit over 14 per cent of the primary vote), then your vote flows to Family First, then to Liberals For Forests, then to Fred Nile’s Christian Democrat Party, and only then to The Greens.”

“You mean to tell me the Dems have organised it so that, if they don’t fall over the line, they’re passing their vote, first, to a bunch of religious nutters, and then to the bloke who gave us the tablecloth ballot paper and then to an anti-gay bigot, and only then to The Greens.”

“Yep. Such is the unprincipled desperation of a clique of egotistical careerists.”

“And what about the ALP?”

“Well, they’re not much better. In NSW they’re giving all their preferences to the Liberals for Forests, then one third of their preferences flow to Fred Nile and only two-thirds to The Greens.”

“So as a result of all that”, I said, “Labor or Democrat supporters who vote for their party ‘above the line’ risk electing senators who’d probably support Howard over the Iraq war, destroy public services, fully privatise Telstra and woodchip the environment?”

“You got it.”

“So what happens if you vote above the line for The Greens?”

“All very cut and dried. Your second preference flows straight to the Democrats – they’re not going to get in anyway – then on to Labor and only then (and very improbably) to the Libs and the right-wing nutters.”

“Looks like the way to go”.

Marching to the drums of madness
1 May 2004
Good Christian boys and girls abusing Iraqi POWs ... John Howard's God Squad lashing out at secularism ... our hero ponders the religious right's march to madness.