Political high brings new lows for dump taking

November 12th, 2008

Willow, London

While everyone else was shedding big fat tears of joy over the Obama win, your flint-eyed correspondent was scouring the Sunday paper to see who was taking a dump: putting out all the news you probably won’t read because you’re too captured by all the history making that’s going on.

And what a treasure trove of ratbaggery I found in the Sunday Times alone, hiding between the cartoons of potential first dogs and shiny happy Obama people. (the trend for high profile first dogs is a political spin phenomenon isn’t it, no doubt designed to capture the affections of the growing numbers of people who don’t have kids and remain unmoved by pictures of the smiley little first children…)
First dump was spectacular enough to make front page - but who has time for headlines with all the pictures of glistening-eyes amongst glittery streamers - was the fact that the banks have told their new owners - the taxpayers as represented by the government - to cop it over high mortgage interest rates. Banks are “not charities” they huffed (no, maybe charity cases is a better word given how much of our taxes have gone to them in recent months)

So - banks get not just emergency billions, but lower interest rates too - all while houseowners get higher interest rates on plunging assets and savers have their interest cut. The government seems impotent against it, despite racking up the national debt to save these very same institutions.

As one commentator put it: the quickest way to get everyone to hate you is to take over banks, and so Gordon Brown is finding. Last week’s headlines were about banks - including the newly nationalised Northern Rock - using some loophole to repossess people’s houses for debts as small as 1000 pounds.
The second example was smaller but more fun for spin-lovers around the world.

There on page two, the flushing loo of newspaper dump-taking, was from the self-styled master of spin himself, Peter Mandelson showing us he’s the spin boss, despite all the strange and murky stories about him and Russian oiligarchs.

In fact, the story was about him and the oiligarch. A spokesman for Peter Mandelson said he had indeed discussed EU trade with Oleg Deripaska, even though Mr Mandelson said previously he had not done so.

It leaves gaping questions open, of course, but now all his people will say when questioned is “that’s old news, it was in the paper last week.” If it only made it to page two then- it can’t be that exciting…..

The interesting thing about all the Mandelson-fuelled hyper-spin is that I’m not so sure the public is buying it. A recent poll said most Brits still feel the government is responsible for the financial mess. Still, Gordon Brown has come a long way from just a couple of months ago, and he’s back and politically alive, so I guess he doesn’t care about details too much.

Classic propaganda from the ages…

November 8th, 2008

“Our textbooks were ridiculous propaganda… one chapter was about a model youth who drowned after jumping into a flood to save an electricity pole because the pole would be used to carry the word of Mao…”

From Wild Swans by Jung Chang

A triump of spin… hope it’s a triumph for world peace too…

November 7th, 2008

Willow - London
Well done to Barack Obama and his team. Let’s hope you live up to the PR of hope, the moniker “the one” and that the millions of Americans who have been glumly touring the globe feeling embarrassed about their homeland can perk up now. Let’s all hope that the subtance can live up to the rhetoric, and that America restores itself and that the war is quietly and responsibly packed up and replaced with the creativity and drive that country is famous for. Let the triumph of style and substance, together, begin….

Oh - and windupwillow - you are right, I owe an apology to the new President for writing in an earlier piece that his visit to his granny was perfect spin …. I do apologise, and I offer here sincere condolences on the death of Mr Obama’s grandmother, who sounds like a remarkable and admirable woman. I pray that she rests in peace.

Little Boy on the two big races on the first Tuesday in November

November 4th, 2008

While I like to think I keep politics in perspective and its place in the bigger story of life, it’s frustrating me that people with a level of political ignorance you can’t jump over, are all of a sudden experts on the US election. Say nothing of all the silly rumours that tend to surface days out from the vote (like Barack Obama’s fathered a black child).

Of course we’re reminded of this seasonal ignoramus-to-expert phenomenon this time of year through the Melbourne Cup. Speaking of which, I’m looking at:

1. Profound Beauty
2. C’est La Guerre
3. Mad Rush (courtesy of having the best looking trainer in the all-time history of trainers, Francesca Cumani)
4. Allesandro Volta

Henrietta rants against the Labour she used to love…

November 2nd, 2008

Water cooler talk is hot and bothered this week over the subject of self-funded retirees not being able to access their cash management accounts.PM Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan’s hastily put together unlimited guarantee of Australian banks has had the unwanted - and apparently not thought of - domino effect of hemorrhaging money from cash management accounts (not secured by the guarantee) as self-funded retirees, rich bitches and fat cats move their savings into the safer waters of Australia’s highly regulated and safer than houses banking sector.

Trouble is, those moving millions have caused major players like AXA to fear a run on their money and have now frozen withdrawals. Okay, they’re still paying the regular dividends as set up within each individual account but people who need new hips, want to take a trip around Australia, help their kids cop a break on the property ladder or generally enjoy the money they’ve been salting away to play with on a rainy day - are unable to do so. Well, it’s raining for some and they want to see their cash. Many of the trusts say ‘no can do’. Wayne Swan’s helpful response? Go and see CentreLink. Sorry. Excuse me??

Oh sorry. For a minute there I thought these folk were being helpful members of society by ensuring they’d saved enough money to fund their own retirement, and having done so, could enjoy the fruits of their labour any time they pleased. Nope. For the time being at least, their cash is frozen and I, at least hope, they will not need to suffer the indignity of lining up at Centrelink to get a hand-out or a loan. Treasurer Swan’s Centrelink gaffe was guffawed at by half the Australian community - including the opposition leader (who by the way, had allegedly already removed his money from a cash management property trust!).

It’s fair to say that people who wisely stash their cash in a move not to be a burden on the economy later in life should be treated better than this. The government had better put back on the training wheels. It’s been revealed in the last week that Rudd & Swan did not even consult with the Reserve Bank of Australia before making their guarantee public (good stakeholder engagement!!) and now, their lack of consultation is showing harshly how dumb they’ve been.

The problem is, it’s not them who’ll pay (well, not a few years yet!). Yep, that’s ‘moving forward with fairness’.

Good humor never goes old… says Rodent

November 1st, 2008

“I made a killing on Wall Street a few years ago … I shot my broker.”

Groucho Marx

Oh please…. how perfect can one man be?

October 22nd, 2008

By Willow,

Yes, I know his middle name is hope, etc etc, but honestly, does Barack Obama really have to take the day off to visit his sick grandma? Could he be any more of a perfect schmerfect.

One part of me is already perversely missing the stuttery and strange, imperfect days gone by, when the perfectly white American teeth were surrounded by mouths that didn’t have all the perfect words, and often quivered a bit….

I know, I should love him because he is the perfect spin creation, the rebound person of poise after a President who was known to read from a book that was upside down. But to me Barack is the man you’d date and he was so good, you just knew you weren’t going to love him…..

Willow wonders: Where to now for Glam Cam?

October 22nd, 2008

Never has such a dour man been so brightened by so much darkness as the self-proclaimed superhero we know as Flash Gordon.

So exciting is the new myth of G, that it has revived my hitherto frozen-with-frustration union mate.
“So, where does this leave the Tories?” she wrote me with glee the other day.

And so I have become vexed with the problem. She’s lovely, but I really can’t stand it when her side is riding higher in public opinion.

So, here are a few off-the-cuff thoughts.

1/ Every Tory I know has been telling me about the “blank looks”, “disinterest” and limp nature of a key Tory player. This player needs to be moved. If he knows where the skeletons are, then the skeletons have to come out and be dealt with now. And, big Dave, if you don’t know who that is, then you’re not really listening

2/ Deal with a working class crisis - the decline of Britain’s power. Yes, it’s hard. Yes there are lots of downsides. But if you keep turning away from it, facing only the green side of the fence, then you’re not showing the courage we need to know you have. So, tour some nuclear sites, ask the hard questions about nuclear waste, gasp - go to a coalmine and start to grapple with these things that need grappling with now, before they turn into another crisis with Vlad turning off our gas and us unable to keep the heaters on - giving ol’ Flash the chance to come up with some deeply unpalatable plan to stave off the crisis of his own making….
And take some solace from the polls - you are still way ahead in general and you are even beating ol’ Flash in the area of who best can manage the economy. Who cares if your mug isn’t on the telly in association with this epidemic of financial fear?

Look what Rodent found on the fax machine…

October 22nd, 2008

Melbourne

PRESS RELEASE: DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY

Professor Announces Modern Narrative for Australian History 2009 Curriculum

After an exhaustive review, we are pleased to announce the new revised national Australian History Curriculum.

The First Australians: The glorious environmental management systems and cultural harmony of the indigenous occupants.

The First Discovery: The Chinese discovery of Australia in the 15th century and their noble decision to allow the perfect society they found there to develop unhindered.

Settlement: Should Captain Arthur Phillip have been tried for genocide?

The environment in 2 Parts:

1/. MacArthur and the merinos.

2/. How the Franklin River gave rise to our environmental savior Bob Brown

The squatters: The founding of a landowning oppressor class

Gold: Environmental and social degradation caused by naked capitalism

The Labour revolution: The glorious martyrs of the shearers’ strike. The birth of the union movement and the ALP. Bob Hawke as a modern day Messiah.

Federation: How we became a lickspittle subject of a foreign tyrant.

Gallipoli: Australia’s role in the last Crusade and the creation of false borders resulting in modern day upheaval in the Middle East.

The Depression: How capitalism failed.

WW2: The price of Empire. Our part in delaying the rise of Asia.

Religion in 2 Parts:

1/. How the Catholic Church and the Reactionaries stopped the socialist revolution.

2/. How the Howard Government silenced, intimidated and disenfranchised the Muslim community

Post WW2 in 2 Parts:

1/. The lost opportunity of the Menzies years

2/. The environmental and cultural enlightenment of the late 60s and early 70s.

Post War Immigration: From ‘Welcome’ to Woomera

Vietnam: Our part in American Imperialism

Modern Political History: Why Whitlam is a hero. Why Kerr was a drunken puppet.

Academia: How I shafted Prof Geoffrey Blainey to take the top history job at Melbourne University and discredit his conservative reading of Australian History

By Willow

October 15th, 2008

At least now we now who read the Church of England’s prayer for financial crisis 8000 times on Friday - the PM!

After his bold statement in The Times that Britain would “lead the world” out of the swirling black hole by shovelling wads cash into it, the PM must have been watching the first bourses to open on Monday.

Australia bounced nicely - and the rest of the world, according to the traditionally secular Times, “rejoiced”.

And so, Gordon’s big gamble of 500 billion plus quid, and his 8000 CoE prayers, have paid off.

But there’s no time for humility in these times of spin and prayers: in this morning’s Times Gordon takes all the credit and compares himself to Churchill as the leader for these fear-torn times.

Bold - but remember, Gordon, what happened to spin-meister Winston when the war was over.