A crackdown on the boats – but who is the message aimed at

July 21, 2013

The politics of Kevin Rudd’s lurch to the right on asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat are horrible and predictable from a desparate man who wants to wedge his political opponent and neutralise a damaging election issue.

That @KRuddMP is a hypocritical piece of racist shit goes without saying, but it’s worth saying anyway.

In 2010 he rightly criticised Julia Gillard for a proposing rightward shift in an attempt to appease the horribly racist core of Australian voters who think refugees are stealing jobs, etc. In a bid to hang on the Prime Ministership at that time, this is what Rudd had to say:

In 2010, Mr Rudd called a press conference after former Prime Minister Julia Gillard tapped him on the shoulder for a ballot.

His speech was his plea to caucus to keep him, and the main point he made was: “this party and government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers as some have counselled us to do”.

After spectacularly promising that there would be no lurch to the right and after calling for a more humanitarian approach to asylum seekers, Rudd has done a 180 degree ‘pivot’ on the issue so that disaffected Labor voters who might be toying with voting for the #Abbocolypse because of the Mad Monk’s cute little three-word slogan “STOP THE BOATS” would think again. He is now saying he won’t “lurch to the left”.

What the PM has done is launch a cynical attack on potential refugees — he called them a “scourge” this week — knowing full-well that no matter how much it upsets and alarms refugee supporters it is not going to make them vote for the coalition. Any protest vote we make to the left of Labor will eventually flow back in preferences.

Rudd knows this and so in his maniacal and overwhelming desire to regain and hold onto the Prime Ministership he is prepared to abandon every principle he ever had.

We should not be surprised by this. Rudd is like all the other creatures in the Parliamentary wing of the ALP — including the fake lefts Kim Carr and Albo, Cameron, etc —  he is a careerist and an opportunist and, it seems, a heartless bastard to boot.

Not one of the left-bum-cheek excuses for a Labor Party caucus member, not even the caring and sharing women, will dare to say anything against this travesty and denial of what they claim to stand for. Instead, they will sit quietly and look away, pretending it’s not about them and silently praying that this monster will deliver them another four years on the Treasury benches.

As a piece of political theatre Rudd’s ruthless demonising of Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Sri Lankans and other asylum seekers was brilliant. But, it won’t stop the boats. As many have pointed out, dealing with the causes of the exodus from source countries requires more aid and more humanitarian policies.

It might also require an admission that Australia’s role in the global (and laughable) “war on terror” and decade long occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan might have something to do with the humanitarian crisis that causes global population flows (‘refugees’, if you like). None of that is likely from KRudd and his spineless caucus colleagues.

I think that the real target of Labor’s new slogan: You won’t be settled in Australia, is not asylum seekers waiting for the next leaky boat in Indonesia and it’s not Iranians contemplating leaving Iran because of political persecution (Rudd’s so-called ‘economic’ refugees — at this point I need to expel one almighty “GET FUCKED!” in his direction).

The real target of the reactionary and inhumane slogan – which incidentally breaches just about every UN protocol on the treatment of refugees – is Australian voters.

It has to be. How else can you explain the decision to spend a boatload of cash on placing full-page advertisements in the Australian national press this weekend.

How many copies of The Australian, the SMH, the Daily Telegraph, the Age and the Herald-Sun are sold in Jakarta, Colombo, Kabul, Baghdad and Teheran? “Diddly-fucking-squat minus infinity” might be the right answer.

Of course News Limited and Fairfax Media give away hundreds of papers each day to the airlines so maybe the idea behind publishing the offensive ads was to make sure that the low-paid cleaners who service Qantas flights in far-away airports might pick up a discarded newspaper and show it to family members of friends thinking of making the perilous journey to Christmas Island by boat.

It is sure to change their minds.

Incidentally, now that this new ‘policy’ (excuse me while I barf copiously and wipe up the vomit with my Kevin 07 T-shirt) is in place and going forward, try Googling Immigration Department Australia, it is an interesting exercise:

The paid-for Google listing

The paid-for Google listing

The top-ranked hit is a paid-for spot and the link takes you straight to this.

I haven’t seen a television commercial carrying this message yet in Australia, but it can’t be far away.

And it won’t be tagged with “authorised by the Australian Labor Party, Canberra.” It will be badged as an “Australian government” ad, just like the others that are cloggiing up our TV screens at the moment, for the NDIS, the NBN and family payments.

I bet we won’t be seeing ads for the removal of FBT benefits for people who salary sacrifice cars though. This is a very unpopular policy and it seems to be the direct cause of hundreds of clerical workers losing their jobs in the novated lease industry.

Fucking great KRudd, you’ve staggered so far to the right that now middle income Australians who get a small tax break for buying a new car on a novated lease are being demonised as ‘fat cats’ by your government.

Next thing you know, anyone who complains about the disgusting, vile stinking mess that the modern Australian Labor Party has become, or who dares to remind people that it once had a strong working class ethos and actually defended the rights of workers who were fighting bosses for the eight-hour day, or that Labor fought racism to unionise the Chinese furniture makers of Melbourne, will be carted off to Manus Island and resettled in Papua New Guinea.

Lucky for us, KRudd regards that basket case as an “emerging democracy”. I, for one, can’t wait to enjoy my future there.

I know, this is an angry post, it needs to be. Sometimes it is good to get stuff off your chest.

In the end, I can always calm myself down. This time it might take a dose of jumping around the kitchen, singing loudly.

Let’s start with this one.


Newspeak in the 21st century – Media Lens and angry analysis

November 19, 2009

I’m currently reading a great book on the British media by the two guys behind Media Lens, David Edwards and David Cromwell.

Newspeak in the 21st Century is an angry, but analytical, and very damning report about the state of the British media and the soft-left, liberal veneer that coats the ugly conservative heart of the mainstream press and, it has to be said, the BBC.

The take-away message and one that I’m going to come back to in some detail when I’ve finished the book and have the time to write a good review is a simple one that’s going to offend some people, perhaps even some of my friends, but it has to be said.

Journalists like to invoke the mantra and the ideal belief that their job is to serve the public interest and that they best do this by holding the powerful to account. However, despite the best intentions of the best and the brightest, this rarely, if ever, really happens.

It is a powerful myth that liberal news outlets like The Guardian and the BBC are fighting the establishment. They’re not. Rather, the establishment media is all about propping up the establishment and propogating the lies that keep the system going. Like the lie that Israel is under attack and only acts in self-defence; or like the lie that Iraq had WMDs.

Newspeak in the 21st Century makes this very clear through a thorough content analysis of many of the key stories of the past 10 years or so; from the NATO bombing of Serbia in retaliation for alleged human rights abuses in Kosovo; through the whole lying and deceitful charade of the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to Israel’s continuing aggression in Gaza to the beat up of Iranian nuclear weapons programmes.

The unfortunate truth is that the news media is complicit in keeping the truth from us, rather than exposing the lies at the heart of the system.

Two brief quotes for now:

Journalists have been demonising other countries for so long, it seems they cannot stop. Always it is the 1930s; always Hitler is plotting our destruction always we need to recoil in fear, disgust and horror. Is this the real world? Or is it journalism as pathology? (p.160)

This is the perfect link between Newspeak in the 21st Century and Orwell’s 1984.

For the mainstream media, an opinion barely exists if it doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if it is not voiced by people who matter. The full range of opinion, then, represents the full range of power. In that sense the mainstream media is balanced. (p.161)

Finally, Edwards and Cromwell talk about “state capitalism” and they don’t mean Russia and the USSR pre-1989. They’re talking about the system we inhabit today as a global economy. I will return to this as well, because I think they’re right about that too.


Al Giordano @ The Field: Interesting updates on Iran and background

June 24, 2009

Al Giordano at The Field has some very interesting commentary on the state of play in Iran.

For anyone interested in thoughtful analysis and deep background, I would recommend that you visit his site.

In a post from 23 June, Al’s talking about the situation in Iran from an informed perspective that certainly accords with my own thinking at this point:

What we can see in Iran today are two simultaneous struggles, one from below (people with legitimate grievances against their government), and one up above (a power struggle between factions).

Although many had hoped that the post-electoral struggle in Iran would be a one act play, this one seems more likely to be headed into a saga that is four or five acts long. Like many previous social movements throughout history, this has turned from a hundred yard dash into a marathon.

I don’t know about Al’s politics, but his analysis of the importance of a general strike to the success of any secular/humanist overthrow of the Islamist regime is spot on:

The conflict is now moving into a Second Phase, in which massive street protests show diminishing returns (it would be near impossible to keep them massive when communications are subject to such constant censorship and interference) and different sectors of the opposition – electoral, non-electoral, students, labor, religious, etcetera – have called for a General Strike, using varying words to describe it.

There are unconfirmed reports today that a national strike is underway already, including by Iran state television which has reported that today, Tuesday, thirty percent of workers in the country have not shown up on the job.

If state media is admitting 30 percent, it is a safe bet that adherence to the strike is larger than that. It would also be very impressive because the government has warned that any citizen that participates in a strike will be fired from his and her job, or lose his or her space in the public markets. Thirty percent compliance on what is only the first day a strike would also be heartening for the resistance because some sectors – specifically a call by the Grand Ayatollah and spiritual elder Montazeri for three days of mourning beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, have not kicked in yet.

I suggest that if you’re interested in this line of thinking, checking out The Field should be a higher priority than following the Twitter feeds, or mainstream media.

For the MSM, the story has now moved into a second phase too: one that privileges Washington and London over the bazaars. I will post more on this later, particularly the awful Fox network coverage from this week.

One other interesting source is a guy called NiteOwl who’s posting updates at Anonymous Iran and who claims to only be distilling his information from the Twittersphere. I like his writing style and the fact that he covers himself with a large disclaimer.

People Outside Iran: This is as clear and concise as I can be. I have not included ANYTHING that I have sensed to be remotely fishy, but human error will always manifests itself in even the most flawless of non-mathematical things. However, this includes nothing from the Western media, including the BBC which I have been generously using to inform people and I laud them for their courageous journalism.

People Inside Iran: Don’t believe a WORD of what I am telling you. Do what you think is best, keeping everything in mind. I know LITTLE of what you know so make your decisions based on your OWN judgment.

This should be on every news story coming out of Iran at the moment.


Tumeke boycott a red herring

April 23, 2009

I will not be joining the Tumeke boycott instigated by Whaleoil and now supported by Something should go here, maybe later and its stablemate Keeping Stock.

Tumeke’s mildly left-of-centre-ish in a libertarian pro-capital kind of way; Whaleoil is hard-right. Keeping Stock and SSGHML are variants of  some weird Christian intermediate thingy which both lean heavily rightwards.

The ostensible reason for the boycott, according to Whaleoil, is that Tumeke host Tim Selwyn is a holocaust denier because he dared to criticise media coverage of the walk-out during a speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN anti-racism conference in South Africa a few days ago.

Holocaust denial is actually a hard charge to sustain against Tim on any reading of his post. The main thrust of which is to have a go at New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully for not attending the conference in the first place; to have a go at the soft coverage given to the walk-out and to point out that Zionism is actually a racist ideology.

Nothing wrong with that. Tim does not make any reference to support for the holocaust deniers and he doesn’t offer much defence of Ahmadinejad either. He mainly talks about how New Zealand is too close to the Americans on foreign policy – such as military involvement the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations.

Read the rest of this entry »


Free Roxana Saberi

April 20, 2009

Freelance journalist, Roxana Saberi, was jailed for eight years in Iran this week on sham charges that she was engaged in espionage. Roxana is in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran where political prisoners are often held. [NPR Broadcast on notorious Evin Prison]

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Evin is a hellhole and inmates often subject to torture:

At least two journalists have died ‎there in the last six years amid circumstances that have not been fully explained, CPJ research shows.Omidreza Mirsayafi, a blogger serving a 30-month sentence on a charge of insulting religious figures, died at the prison in March under mysterious circumstances.In July 2003, Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died from a brain hemorrhage that resulted from a beating at Evin Prison. An intelligence agent charged in the killing was acquitted after a flawed trial. Kazemi had been jailed because she took photographs outside the prison. [CPJ 18 April]

The CPJ [9 March] has launched a petition calling on Iranian authorities to release Roxana. Iran is also under mounting diplomatic pressure to free her. The petition is available for signature on Facebook Causes and so far has over 10,000 signatures.

Join the Facebook cause Protect Journalists

The BBC has an interesting profile of Roxana, who was born in America to an Iranian father and Japanese mother. In a weird little footnote, she is a former beauty queen and has a Masters degree from Cambridge. The Huffington Post has more coverage.

There’s a whole diplomatic “back story” to this incident that many are saying is linked to Iran’s attempts to push the United States into more concessions over its nuclear programme. Roxana is now a pawn, it seems, in this zero-sum game of brinkmanship.

The Asian-American Journalists Association has established a Free Roxana website that is being staffed by her friends and former colleagues at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

It is important to get Roxana out of Evin, but also to understand the brutality of the regime. The online Persian Journal – an outlet for dissident writings about Iran – has a first person account from a woman held in Ervin prison. It is not pretty.


British soldiers get paid for the story of their capture

April 13, 2007

The ethical outrage of this week has been the news that the British soldiers and sailors who spent two weeks in an Iranian prison after their capture in the Shat al Arab are to be paid to sell their stories to the British tabloids.
It created a bit of outrage in all the right places and led to accusations that they were now being used as propaganda tools by the British government. even though Tony Blair’s office has denied this as ‘outrageous’. The ex-captives’ colleagues are also taking the piss on several military-themed websites. It seems that the idea you sould be able to make money out of your suffering is anathema to the balls-out military tradition of take-it and suffer in silence.
There are serious issues though, such as the use of chequebook journalism and the role of the media in the way that the whole episode was reported. No one comes out of this looking good.


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