Definitely an Own Goal – but Whose?

A week’s supposed to be a long time in politics but it seems that it’s nowhere near long enough for those insightful people over at the Rupertian to get over their peevishness at the way the voters let them down by electing a bunch of trade union leaders and other assorted riff-raff to replace what’s his name and his annointed successor, Chinese submariners willing. However this morning’s opinion section brings one promising sign that the engorged spleens and gall bladders of the editors and commentators at our rag of record are now merely distended – the task of paying out on the people for electing Kev, Julia and the ARRP (Australian Riff-Raff Party) has been contracted out to an overseas supplier for the day.

The supplier is Mark Steyn. His article “A loss for civilisation” is a good follow on from Paul Kelly’s last piece, where he argued that what Australia had on November 24th wasn’t any ordinary election: it was a great national enema, a purging of the bowels of the body politic with the warm soapy waters of democracy.

Steyn begins:

ACCORDING to my Oz-watching pals in Britain and the US, John Howard is not a failure but a victim of his own success. He made Australia safe for the Labor Party: or, at any rate, safe enough that a sufficient number of bored electors were willing to take a flier on a house-trained Labor on the short leash of a quasi-Blairite leader.

That, at any rate, is the spin. Even if it’s correct, and accepting that in parliamentary democracies even the greatest generals go a bridge too far, I regret Howard’s end. True, I object in principle to Australia’s gun laws, and I regard much of the Aussie economy as embarrassingly overregulated after a decade of supposedly conservative rule. But, as the former prime minister put it in one of his most famous soundbites, this is no time to be an 80 per cent ally.

I am a 100 per cent ally of Howard.

It strikes me that there’s really only one sensible place for Mark to go from there – and that’s a final paragraph announcing his voluntary retirement from the columnising game in favour of a job as humble library technician which will allow him to mentor new up and coming columnists. That after all, is where all the 100 per cent allies of John Howard in the Liberal Party are headed – with the possible exception of Tony Abbott.

In fact, Steyn goes on for several boring paragraphs to belabour us – the people who voted Rudd in and the Rat of Straw out. By his own admission Mark isn’t arguing from an informed, knowledgeable position (you’d no doubt have guessed that from his objection “in principle” to Australia’s gun laws – which are none of his damn business because he doesn’t bloody live here):

From my perch several thousand kilometres away, I won’t pretend to be an informed analyst of the internal dynamics of the Liberal Party. During my last visit, en route to yet another meeting, there’d usually be someone in the car explaining why the fellow I was on the way to see was on the outs with whichever prime-minister-in-waiting I’d met the day before…

Mark doesn’t let his admitted ignorance stand in the way of giving us a good telling off for letting down Western civilisation – and hence the whole world:

What mattered to the world was the strategic clarity Howard’s ministry demonstrated on the critical issues facing (if you’ll forgive the expression) Western civilisation.

There’s more absurd bollocks after that declaration, and a lot of name-dropping to let the reader know Mark’s actually met some Aussie politicians. We natives might find them laughable, but Mark’s willing to wise us up on a few points, such as this:

Costello’s exhortation to Aussie couples – have one for mum, one for dad, and one for Australia – gets the stakes exactly right…

The Coalition was all but unique in understanding the three great challenges of the age – Islamism, demography, civilisational will – that in other parts of the West are combining to form the perfect storm… I liked to call Alexander Downer my favorite foreign minister, which, in hindsight, was damning with the faintest of praise.

Yes, we had our chance to re-elect the Rodent, and we blew it. Nonetheless, there’s still a way that something might be salvaged from this – not for Australia specifically, but for the Western Civilisation of which we’re a small corner:

As a distant observer of Australian affairs, I had some small personal contact with Howard and co. over the years. Merry, feisty, blunt and fair, they were exactly what we need at this moment: happy warriors. I’m saddened Australians feel differently. But if it’s too late to get the US constitution amended in time for them to run for president next November, the savvier candidates ought to snap ’em up as speech writers.

There’s no way I can beat that for a punch line.

Posted in federal election '07
83 comments on “Definitely an Own Goal – but Whose?
  1. Guido says:

    Steyn sounds a bit like those kooky RWDB blogs that were mentioned on Road to Surfdom.

    These North American neo-conservative types bemoan that they have lost another defender against Islam, maintenance of Western values, and America is all alone.

    They see Rudd’s Labor as another ‘Socialist European’ type party. They are so ignorant that they don’t know that Rudd is probably on the right of Barack Obama.

  2. patrickg says:

    god, that guy is such a dickhead. Every time I read one of his noxious vomit farts I think “he can’t get any lower, surely?” and he beats me, every time.

    All this ‘western civilisation’ crap. I mean seriously, wtf? Is this 1910? It makes Kipling look like Orwell. Steyn should bloody trundle off to his gentlemans’ club, where he can riff about the coolies and jigaboos all day without subjecting us to his interminable drivel.

  3. Tony D says:

    Wow, Steyn has really bought that clash of civilizations nonsense.

  4. Paul Burns says:

    Could be Spengler rather than Kipling.
    ‘civilising will’ – what the f…k has this bloke been reading – Nietsche or Mein Kampf.
    I’ve read the latter in my attempts to understand European Fascism and I can tell you it wasd a thoroughly unpleasant and also slightly ridiculous experience. But this kind of rubbish is not really a laughing matter, especially if its some kind of pointer to where the Libs are still headed.

  5. David Rubie says:

    Costello’s exhortation to Aussie couples – have one for mum, one for dad, and one for Australia – gets the stakes exactly right…

    Damn. I’ve been subverted. I thought that we had another child because we liked the first two so much. Now, thanks to Mr Steyn, I realise that child number three has been purchased (and cheaply too) as another proud warrior in the endless game of keeping the world safe for oil companies.

    Damn those sneaky neo-cons and their nefarious schemes. Why didn’t we see through it all? I’m guilty, comrades, a fifth columnist of the worst kind. A useful idiot. Worse than merely being cannon fodder myself, I create and supply multiples of raw material for the glorious neo-con revolution. Weep for me and my unwitting offspring.

  6. gandhi says:

    Just to bring this conversation across from the other thread

    Mark asks “why such tripe that appeals to such a small number of people is of any use to those who support the Iraq War, GWOT, etc. ”

    Steyn and his ilk appeal to a racist conservative mindset. These people form an important “base” of support for rightwing political parties like the Australian Liberals and US GOP.

    Howard’s humiliating election loss needs to be rationalised into a continuing worldview if these people’s support is not to be lost.

    So what Steyn is trying to do is rally the demoralised Aussie troops (fighting keyboarders one and all) with a fantasy version of history that they can cling to for self-substantiation.

    I think Ken at Surfdom did a post showing how Howard’s loss sent a shock through Steyn’s little global wingnut community. Of course, Steyn’s logic makes little or no sense, but he has nothing of substance left to offer, and he knows that logic is not a prerequisite for the wingnuts anyway.

    How does all that help his Big Business backers? Well, they need at least a fig leaf of public support for all their nonsense projects, don’t they? Look at how GW Bush once cited the Fadhil brother’s pro-neocon ITM blog as “proof” that things were getting better in Iraq! This is a war of spin, and you and I (fellow taxpayer) are the real targets.

  7. gummotrotsky says:

    But this kind of rubbish is not really a laughing matter, especially if its some kind of pointer to where the Libs are still headed.

    More perhaps a pointer to where the Rupertian is at right now, I’d say. As a pointer to where the Liberals will head it’s very wobbly given for the most part it’s Steyn trying to sound knowledgeable on topics of which he knows about 3/4 of one per cent of Jack.

  8. It’s not Orwell or Kipling or even Spengler. It’s Gilbert and Sullivan. I can even imagine the libretto:

    In spite of all temptations; To belong to other nations:
    He remains a CanadianAmerican…

  9. Sorry, that should be “He remains a CanadianAmerican…”

  10. Jenny says:

    I like to think that in the pre-rodent era no self-respecting columnist would have dared to espouse such racist crap. The good news from electorates like Bennalong and Lindsay is that Australia is on its way back.

  11. Futt Bucker says:

    “supposedly conservative rule” Is this guy insane?

    If we pretend Greg Sheridan is left wing for a minute than this guy is on the far right of Sheridan. Scary stuff and The Australian does not deserve sympathy nor pity for allowing this extremist garbage to print.

  12. mbahnisch says:

    Steyn and his ilk appeal to a racist conservative mindset. These people form an important “base” of support for rightwing political parties like the Australian Liberals and US GOP.

    Howard’s humiliating election loss needs to be rationalised into a continuing worldview if these people’s support is not to be lost.

    Again, gandhi, that may be so, but I doubt any of those people are actually reading the Australian, apart from the tiny wingnut community! I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence that the Hanson voters are anything other than a fast declining demographic, and to be a tad Marxist for a second, I think the Hanson phenomenon was caused by economic change in the last instance.

    Australia isn’t America!

    I think the (ex)GG is in a process of transition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Mitchell get bumped upstairs to some sort of exec role in NYC. The Paul Kelly editorship demonstrates that Rupert’s flagship always cosies up to those in power, and I’d expect that sooner rather than later it’ll resume pushing the neo-liberal bandwagon rather than being a Tocsin in the culture wars. There really isn’t any future in that crap any more.

    Incidentally, it’s interesting to see Steyn get one thing right – the Costello rhetoric was in part a racist and sexist pile of crud responding to his putative “demographic crisis of the West”… I seem to remember Kim and I arguing that quite forcefully at LP and a lot of people responding that it was just policy, dude…

  13. MarkWW says:

    Lest we forget that Mark Steyn was flown out here and paid by the DFAT as an indulgence by the former Foreign Minister known as Dolly.

    If I recall correctly Dolly’s justification for this extravagance was that Australia needed to hear alternative views on the great struggle for the survival of civilisation AKA the Global War on Terror.

    So instead of Dolly, the Rat and the other suckholes recycling the crap that issues forth from Chicken Hawks in the US (like Steyn), we lucky Aussies were given an opportunity to witness one the many sources of this toxic effluent being generated first hand.

  14. “I loved Downer for his gleeful mockery of transnationalism and its pointless committees stuffed with representatives of what he called “busted arse countries”.
    In more genteel mode, he put it like this: “Multilateralism is a synonym for an ineffective and unfocused policy involving internationalism of the lowest common denominator.” See Darfur, the Iranian nukes, the UN’s flop response to the tsunami.”

    If Downer actually said that, then he was nowhere near the hopeless case his detractors made him out to be.

  15. amused says:

    It’s the last brain fart of a faction that has been run over by noisy, untidy and messy events that are now completely out of their rhetorical control-the epochal debacle of Iraq, global warming and its threats to food security in places where governments are overturned for not ensuring people can eat, and the financial and political consequences for the western working and middle class of the end of the asset bubbles, which have passed as ‘wealth creation for the masses’ and whose legacy is a very nasty mess of declining asset values, increasing debt servicing, and declining real wages.

    Each one of those issues has the capacity, all by itself, to create serious headaches for the serious people that really matter, unlike the Steyns of this world, who are little more than court jesters, burbling irrelevancies about threats no-one, except poor ignorant wingnut fodder, takes seriously.

    Social liberalism, (women’s rights, gay rights, multiculturalism and the rest) far from being vanquished by the cultural warriors who were tasked with providing a populist veneer to the seriously reactionary agenda of the last decade or so, has proved to be a political force capable of acting in the real world, taking out governments in Australia, the US Congress last year, and next year, the US Presidency.

    I am watching with interest just how the cultural warrior type Right in the US and Europe, manage the transition of their particular faction from ‘Insiders to conservative activists’ and I think the trick here is to follow the serious money, which always follows the punters-the best clue as to the next issue du jour, will be to listen carefully to Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and the less loony nominees of the Republican Party. This will tell us all what serious money, as opposed to wingnuts like Steyn, really think, and which faction has been given the ‘go ahead’ to manage us all for the next ten years.

  16. gandhi says:


    It’s not just a case of who reads Teh Oz, but how widely rightwing thinktanks like the self-acclaimed IPA can distribute their propaganda.

    I don’t expect Teh Oz to change much until Rupert is dead.


    DFAT paid Steyn’s expenses? Wow… that should be a good enquiry in it’s own (far) right!

  17. murph the surf says:

    “The good news from electorates like Bennalong and Lindsay is that Australia is on its way back.”
    Pity the good people of Blaxland aren’t in on the act then. And to think it’s been held by the ALP since 1949.No hang on , that means ….. what exactly?

  18. josh lyman says:

    murph, the community opposition to the proposed school in bass hill has been fairly free of the Islamophobia of Camden. Building a private school there is a bad idea for a range of reasons, not least of which it violates the government’s own policy that public school land not be sold to private schools. It’s a shame the Herald chose to link the two developments, which is harsh on the folks in Bass Hill.

  19. that means ….. what exactly?

    Probably that the council’s decision will be appealed by the school’s proponents. Other than that, sod all, especially given the little that your linked article tells us Murph.

    If you want to debate the merits of planting pigs’ heads on poles with an Australian flag hung between them as an expression of “community opinion” I suggest that you get yourself a blog and write a post about it.

  20. Oh, and what josh just said, re the link between Bass Hill and Camden.

  21. murph the surf says:

    No , the point is that any one electorates choice of House of Reps member isn’t a great way way to decide that negative sentiments towards others has suddenly arrived in Australia.

  22. murph the surf says:

    that should be “abated” , not arrived in the previous comment.

  23. josh lyman says:

    murph, I agree with your latter point (the swing was because the libs were caught, not because they were racist), but why link that to the bass hill protest?

  24. murph the surf says:

    It is just a case where longstanding ALP controlled electorates haven’t lead to any enlightenment among the voting population .
    You could even argue that this part of Sydney suffers some of the worst of the ALP’s corruption by way of branch stacking and local member intimidation.

    Some think that an essentially conservative electorate like Bennelong changing it’s house of rep member in this instance to an ALP person presages a new country wide age of tolerance and religious and racial harmony .
    The SMH article at it’s end contained the information about the action of the residents of Camden and it wasn’t part of my point.
    Of the 1829 objections to the new school I wonder how many are based on council planning problems and the RTA will be used as a scapegoat in this case.
    Buck passing as usual.

  25. Ken Lovell says:

    God knows where this fashion came from to turn faux political punditry into third rate stand-up comedy. People like Steyn and Coulter usually link together a series of cheap one-liners and pass it off as serious commentary. Although if this piece is an example of Steyn trying to develop an actual argument for once instead of being a smartarse, his decision to write mainly for laughs is a sensible one.

    Merry, feisty and imbued with civilisational will … what a touching epitaph for the bog-ordinary bunch who just got booted out. It would be news to most of them that were committed to anything apart from staying in office.

  26. mbahnisch says:

    I don’t expect Teh Oz to change much until Rupert is dead.

    I imagine it will, gandhi. Consider, as Paul Kelly might pontificate, what it was like under Paul Kelly’s editorship. Full steam ahead with privatise and deregulate everything but support for reconciliation and the republic. Keatingism without the social justice aspect. Murdoch likes to stay close to power. The Pearsons and Steyns now have none, and are a joke.

  27. Birdie says:

    The Australian is trying to put all new staff and appointees on five year AWAs.

  28. silkworm says:

    The director of planning will recommend to Bankstown Council tomorrow, December 4, that the application to build the Al Amanah College at Bass Hill be refused. From an article in the local paper, the principal reason was that “it would have an adverse impact on the local area”.

    Significantly, the original proposal was to accommodate 1200 students, but the plans submitted to council showed they were really going to build for 2,000 students. The college refused to answer the necessary questions over this and other issues. the site will now be sold, and the proceeds used to upgrade Bass High School next door. A victory for secular public education!

  29. disinterestedobserver says:

    I think that we’re all missing the bigger picture here.

    Mark Steyn is also well known for his uncovering of the ” fact” that Muhammed is the second most popular name on birth certificates in the Netherlands (or ir may be the third or the fourth, or it may be Amsterdam)

  30. gandhi says:

    I wish I could share your optimism, Mark. But human nature is what it is, and Murdoch’s pockets are deep: he has copped a loss on numerous publications for many years in order to keep pushing this sort of nonsense.

  31. […] Steyn’s unreadable obit for his mate Dolly and the crew he was part of, about which much has already been written at LP in […]

  32. mbahnisch says:

    gandhi, that still doesn’t explain why the Oz was quite different under Kelly’s editorship when Keating was PM (and a bit beyond). Same Rupert, different editorial line. It’s trimmed to suit the prevailing political circumstances.

  33. Nabakov says:

    The core problem with Mark Steyn is that he’s confused and bitchy that real life doesn’t unfold into a satisfying conclusion like ‘Oklahoma!’ does.

  34. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    The Rupertian might change, but Pearson will never do so. We have to differentiate between paid, employee journalists, who will do as they are told or be let go as the boss’s drift alters (see ya Rohan, see: and pathologically ideological devotees whose ideas a are very fixee. We have ask ourselves had CP lived at another time and his name was Magda, would he have given them a cyanide nightcap lest they live in less ideologically pure times?

  35. mbahnisch says:

    Oh sure, we can always rely on CP. But will he continue to get the column inches? That, Sir Henry, is the question.

  36. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Oh CP will always find column inches somewhere, Mark, even if he has to go downmarket eventually to get them.

    Now from the other thread but more apposite here: Mark Steyn is worth reading, all right. He articulates very well what his boses are thinking. It’s the next best thing to a listening device in the the corridors of power.

    He is a provocateur like Stan Zemanek (a recently deceased Sydney radio shock jock from the crude right end of the dial). Stan’s widow Marcella, who is putting herself about to flog Stan’s unfinished opus says that “he was abrasive and obnoxious but what he said to me was, `If I stay nice and stay with the pack I’ll never make a name for myself’ so he decided to leave the pack and do what he did.” (My Way or the Highway is published by New Holland RRP $29.95. at your bookseller and better newsagents, now.)

    Just as Stan was a Frankensteinian creature of Laws (he was his panel operator and producer for many years before he went solo), so Steyn is a bastard child of Conrad Black carefully nurtured and brought along.

    Stan Z. and Mark Steyn would espouse seemingly outrageous propositions to see the reaction. In this way they would act as forward scouts to test the territory for their masters.

    Listen to Steyn, and you have a precis of a conversation at a private party with Dubya, Dick Cheney, John Bolton and Ehud Olmert in attendance, after a few bourbons.

  37. Nabakov says:

    “Stan Z. and Mark Steyn would espouse seemingly outrageous propositions to see the reaction. In this way they would act as forward scouts to test the territory for their masters.”

    I doubt they’re that co-ordinated. I reckon its more of a monkey swarming thing. Y’know, suck up groomers picking salt flakes off the alpha males and sticking their hand in the termite mound first to take the bites of the common soldiers protecting those fat white grubs full of taxpayer juice.

    OK, yes, I’m sure there’s some co-ordinated Overton Window action going on. But if they really that are organised, how come they keep getting their dicks caught in the shutters?

  38. kimberella says:

    What Nabs said.

    People here are giving this sad bunch of old farts too much symbolic importance. Bolton’s probably muttering into his cups in a thinktank somewhere, Rummy can’t raise enough money to get his up and running, and Cheney can’t organise an invasion of Iran in a teacup (or even in an Israeli cabinet). This mob are history, and their dumb-assed backwoods rhetoric dies with them.

    I’m not saying we live in some sort of left utopia now, but if you think the blatherings of Pearson, Steyn, et al, have any relevance whatever, then you haven’t caught the zeitgeist of the Rudd era yet, and you’re still in the Howardian mindset. As Peter Garrett predicted, it’s all changed.

    Murdoch himself probably couldn’t give two figs for all the culture wars crap. No one became a billionaire from pushing cultural exclusivism and reining in fun. Maybe a few preachers struck a rich motherlode for a while, but that ain’t big capital, folks. If you think this sort of stuff will be tolerated in a global world for much longer, you’re not reading the signs of the times aright and I’m sure Rupe got there before you. Like Mark said, The Australian has run a different line before and it’ll run a different one again. The common thread is support for a right wing economic agenda. If this kind of “oh! look! a Muslim! Yikes! There’s a lefty!” stuff doesn’t serve to keep us mushrooms fed and in the dark anymore, it’ll be ruthlessly junked.

    It’s a big mistake to think that successful capitalists have any ideological commitments other than capitalism. Why else do you think Rupe’s been climate change converted and cosying up to Hillary lately? By all means run a radical critique of business, the media and culture, but please make it a realistic one.

  39. extrapreneur says:

    Fair point, i’m not too sure.

    Check out my blog at

  40. Futt Bucker says:

    This might not belong here but concerns The Australian. The paper has just released an apology to Newhouse over his “encounter” with Overington on the website.,25197,22865525-5013948,00.html

  41. Nabakov says:

    “If you think this sort of stuff will be tolerated in a global world for much longer,”

    “zactly. For starters, several hundred million if not billion cluely Asians now fumbling for the global car keys are gonna find Steyn, Bolton, Cheney et al as relevant as we find the Manchus and Moguls now. And Dubya? A short run of moulded rubber Halloween masks on Production line 32 before they switch over to a serious six figure order for Putins.

    After watching the recent CCN You Tube Republican debate, all I can say is “Game over man! Game over!” Not one question was asked about the economy, currently walking a tightrope. Instead it was all complete pointless culture war shit by web whackos. “Will you testify in public you believe every word in the Bible?” ‘I come from a small town where we like big guns.” It made Jerry Springer look like Parkinson. The hard right faction of Western civilisiation is becoming as ludicrous and marginalised as the Trots and Sparts were before them.

    The future belongs to smooth Confucian style technocrats of all colours and cultures trying to manage rich and slippery marketplaces, tackle climate change, failed states and pirate havens and brushing off the extreme political insects from all sides. There’ll still be wild and unpredictable outbreaks of craziness but the days of coherent world-shaping crusading ideologies is fading away.

    It’s the end of history. Again.

  42. Nabakov says:

    Also,extrapreneur, what is the point of your comment?

    For someone who seems to busting a gut at satire, general shitstirring and/or self promotion
    “Fair point, i’m not too sure.”
    is not a real eyeball and mind magnet introduction.

    Hope no one from MENSA is reading your contribution here otherwise they’re gonna repossess your frontal lobes for starters.

  43. Nabakov says:

    Actually that extraprenuer blog is distinctly weird. Starting to think its just a cunning stratagem to build up the hit rates for some registered “extraprenreur” domain and apply porno clickfarm tech among a network of other sockblogs, all aimed at gullible ESL students abroad. From spam emails to ham blogs.

    Oh fuck it, I was just snarking off at some botblog scam wasn’t I? Quelle embarrassment! Let that be a lesson to rest of you. Don’t drink clean skin wine “liberated” from work at 5am and then comment.

  44. gandhi says:

    I don’t like to rain on everybody’s parade here, but if you think the Rudd victory spells the end of the Steyn-style neocon nonsense you are living in a fantasy world just as much as they are.

    Bush still has 11 months to run and the people who put him in the Oval Office are still very much in power. Here’s just one example:

    Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters.

    Another example: Karl Rove now has a gig as a well-respected (by some) media analyst with Newsweek.

    Rupert is an American who tours the world spreading his disease. Australia is very small fry, but anyone who thinks the wingnut worldview will shrivel up and die just because it has been totally discredited is fooling themselves: Steyn et al will keep writing crap, Rupert will keep pushing it, and some very sad people will keep buying it.

  45. gandhi says:

    Still on Teh Oz, it’s worth noting this news from Habib’s defamation action against that paper:

    AN ASIO agent has revealed for the first time that US security officials and an Australian Federal Police officer where present when he interviewed Mamdouh Habib in Pakistan just days before Mr Habib claims he was kidnapped by the Americans and sent to Egypt to be tortured.

    The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation spy also admitted to the NSW Supreme Court yesterday that he did not tell Mr Habib that he was an ASIO officer, nor did he tell him who the Americans were.

    Royal Commission!!!

  46. gummotrotsky says:


    The neocon nonsense – and other nonsense from other sources – will no doubt continue. But right now, little of it looks politically relevant here in Oz. After Bush gets rolled out of the White House I’d expect the neo-cons in the US to become the marginal laughing stocks they deserve to be.

    That ain’t complacency – it’s optimism. Incautious optimism maybe, but hey, after 11 years of having my chronic depression aggravated by a Coalition government, I reckon I’m entitled to treat myself to a good mood now and then.

  47. Katz says:

    Fascinating Gandhi.

    How did Habib’s mouthpiece get an ASIO officer into court in a defamation suit?

    This must have been some mighty fancy lawyering.

  48. gandhi says:


    Good moods, like lunches, are for wimps! Only the eternally pessimistic are always right! Get with the program, buddy!


    My reading of the neocons is that they are just the forward line for the pro-Zionist lobby, and that Lobby will continue pushing a very powerful media agenda for some time to come. The USA’s recent $20 billion arms sale to the Saudis provided an interesting insight into how this lobby stacks up against the Big Oil interests.

  49. Liam Hogan says:

    My reading of the neocons is that they are just the forward line for the pro-Zionist lobby

    You’ve left out the Vatican, the Freemasons and the international financiers, Gandhi.
    Why can’t the radical Right be radically Right because they actually, sincerely, believe in radically Right politics?

  50. murph the surf says:

    “You’ve left out the Vatican, the Freemasons and the international financiers, Gandhi.”

    You think he forgot ? Or made a mistake ?
    Liam ,Gandhi actually believes what he wrote.
    Why can’t anti zionists be radically anti zionists blah blah blah etc etc …
    I told you before , invite Leo over fron Online opinion( or opinion Online ? ) and the party will really kick off.

  51. gandhi says:


    My comments here are in the context of deliberate rightwing media manipulation of public opinion.

    Sure, Murdoch can be rightwing coz he’s rightwing, but how many of his readers are rightwing coz they get fed a constant drip of this nonsense? That’s what I’m talkin’ a-BOUT!

    Whether you call it Neocon or pro-Zionist or Corporatocracy or Looney Tunes, it’s not going to go away in a hurry. We live in a globalised media economy where the shit that gets pedalled overseas will inevitably find its way to our shores, re-packed for people like Steve At The Pub.

    Look at the Australian political landscape from THEIR p.o.v today – here we go, another decade of pretending to be P.C.! More bloody enquiries into people who were just Doing Their Jobs (which may or may not have involved locking up children, killing civilians, etc). More money for the ethnic groups who are killing our Kulcha…

  52. adrian says:

    I agree with Ghandi, and think that it is naive in the extreme that the neocons are simply going to disappear due to the fact that they happen to be sliding into irrelevance as we speak.
    They are as capable as any group of reinventing themselves, as the new world order demands, and their rat cunning and complete lack of principle will surely assist them in that regard.
    The next 50 years will raise challenges that we are only beginning to comprehend, and you can rest assured (or not) that the re-badged neocons will be out to exploit any fear, uncertainty or turmoil that these challenges will surely bring.

  53. adrian says:

    Yes, I also agree with gandhi as it happens…

  54. gummotrotsky says:

    Guess the post-electoral tristesse is starting to wear off for some people.

  55. Hal9000 says:

    Given Chris Mitchell’s self-proclaimed editorial stance when he ran the Courier-Mail, perhaps we should be calling the rag the Opposition Gazette now?

  56. kimberella says:

    Seems to me that those who love to hate their enemy forget to know their enemy.

    While the Neocons in the American power structure will survive the eclipse of Bush-ism, their power is already a shadow of its former self. The downfalls of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should demonstrate that, and the turn to a confused realism under Condi. They won’t go away, but the almighty fuckups that most in the US foreign policy community now accuse them of won’t see a return to influence in the near future. Again, the turn against them from the trad GOP powerbrokers such as Baker should have been a signal. Particularly if there’s a Democrat in the White House from 2009, they’ll have a long road back to any influence.

    That’s not to say that American foreign policy under, say, Hillary wouldn’t be malign in some respects!

    As to their discursive role, youse all have short memories. Steyn etc. are useful fools, as Lenin put it. When their use runs out, they’ll be discarded. The “clash of civilisations” crap has been fading from view for a while now – remember that the 90s right wing motif was ‘there are no alternatives’ and the triumph of globalisation. Another one will be invented. If you see Murdoch as some sort of great Satan (and his influence only looks big in Australia because of his media dominance here – it’s nowhere near as big from an American or even a UK p.o.v.) then give him the credit for some smarts and not tying his horse to a wagon going off the rails.

    Like I said, by all means, run a radical analysis of what’s happening, but please let go of mindsets that no longer apply and try harder to understand what we’re up against.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  57. Birdie says:

    The Australian may use the Caroline O debacle to offload one or more of an excessive number of over-exposed wingnut journos and columnists, most of whom have taken quite a beating and been subjected to widespread ridicule (including internally) with the Howard defeat, but the neo-con agenda hasn’t been defeated and Murdoch’s papers will continue fundamentally to act as a neo-con mouthpiece. We are seeing it now. adrian and gandi are correct that to believe otherwise is naive and, I’d add, flies in the face of history.

  58. kimberella says:

    It depends how you define NeoCon. There’s a lot of imprecision in this discussion, which is why some people are missing what’s going on. Yes, as I’ve been arguing, Murdoch will continue to push a right wing line in The Australian, but it will be a right wing line that suits the temper of the times. In the 90s, foreign policy and “clashes of civilisations” were little heard of. But Murdoch’s mob still pushed a hard right economic agenda editorially.

    As Birdie implies, a minimum of credibility is also necessary for this stuff to have any effect.

    Just because Chris Mitchell enjoyed favour and promotion, don’t imagine that means he’s there forever. Murdoch has bumped his editors upstairs before, and he’ll do it again if it suits his purposes. The naivety in this debate lies in a failure to understand that media magnates change tack to preserve their influence, as history demonstrates, and that their prime concern is producing the conditions for the triumph of neo-liberal capitalism not some tired shit about “culture wars” and the like.

  59. adrian says:

    Credibility never has been and never will be an issue when you are peddling fear, misinformation, hatred and lies. You are assuming that what the neocons are trading in is appealing to reason, logic and intelligence. When you are exploiting the antithesis of these qualities, credibility to those for whom you never had any credibility is irrelevant. Surely the past ten years has taught us that.

    Know your enemy indeed.

  60. adrian says:

    And who cares about Chris Mitchell. There’ll always be a market for this sort of stuff, especially as the world becomes more precarious. And if it’s not The Australian or Murdoch filling that market, it’ll be someone else that we can all come to despise.

  61. Liam Hogan says:

    Kimberella, you keep teaching, I’ll keep ringing the bell. There’s a few assumptions that Gandhi, adrian and birdie seem to be using uncritically.
    Assumption one: a newspaper is an effective instrument of policy. (They aren’t).
    Assumption two: media institutions and government institutions co-operate. (I’m sure most Governments wish they did, but they don’t).
    Assumption three: the Coalition Government under John Howard was neo-conservative. (It wasn’t anything but traditional right-wing social democracy, in any significant sense).
    Assumption four: it is in the financial interest of News Limited to have a conservative Government. (It’s not).
    Assumption five: opinionists such as Steyn, Bolt, Blair, Kelly, Overington, Albrechtsen, etc. etc. or for that matter Adams, Ramsay, O’Brien, etc. etc. exercise significant discursive power in policy-making or vote-changing. (They don’t).

  62. kimberella says:

    No they don’t Comrade Liam – the election’s proof of that, if any is needed. But they do contribute to the climate of politics – their main contribution, actually, was to keep the left on the back foot and over-obsessed with their rantings. Get over it folks!

    You’re also right that the lack of precision in defining “NeoCon” is central to all this.

    And yep, Murdoch can do quite well in a biz sense, thanks very much, from (slightly) left of centre governments. Hence the support of the London tabloids for Blair in 97 – when no one could have predicted Blair would go all Gladstonian with moral crusades and wars. The Labor and Labour governments in countries such as Oz, the UK and NZ have been the ones who’ve done the hard lifting on economic reform – the Tories often just sit on their asses. The real agenda has to do with the neo-liberalisation of everything, not some crappy war on people we don’t look like.

    I think those with short memories would find that The Australian also opposed Hansonism fairly vigorously. Most of the time, racism is bad for biz.

  63. Andrew says:

    The radical right wing nuts like Steyn are no more going to disappear because Howard has gone than the loony left disappeared during Howard’s reign. For every Pauline Hanson there is a Bob Brown. For every Mark Steyn there is a Phillip Adams.

    For every loony redneck muslim hater in the West there’s a loony muslim demanding Muhammed naming teddy bear teachers be executed. For every crackpot christian cultist there’s a crackpot Muslim jihandist.

    Steyn is irrelevant – always was, always will be.

    Thankfully Australia is firmly grounded in the centre – a fact which Rudd successfully exploited in his campaign, and hopefully his policies.

  64. gandhi says:

    Seems to me we are not all quite as much in disagreement here as it may appear. I agree that those we call Neocons will fade, to be replaced by similar ideologues with a new brand name. But it’s the same right wing disease which ultimately needs to be stamped out (preferably through improved education and tighter media monopoly laws).

    kimbarella, you wanna talk about long memories, let’s talk about the Church Commission enquiries post-Nixon. Rummy and Cheney were hiding under the desk back then, and Uncle Sam quickly called the whole thing off when it got too embarrassing (MK Ultra etc.). Of let’s talk about Iran-Contra, and how guys like Negroponte have survived and flourished. Even Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, which is now supposed to be a matter of pride!

    It’s not enough to just close the book on these things and give each other a big hug – we need JUSTICE! And Murdoch is just one more war-monger who needs to be brought before a court in shackles, to show generations to come what happens to those who recklessly promote the murder of a million people and the destruction of an entire country.

    So getting back on topic a bit, voices like Steyn’s now are rallying the base, rounding up the wagons, and lighting an ideological campfire around which the Howardistas can sit, talk history, respond to the issues of the day, and ultimately reinvent themselves. The names may change, the marketing may be tweaked a bit, the power structure may shift, but these guys will never admit they were wrong (even in jail) and they will keep spewing their bile as long as people like Murdoch give them a forum to do so. And Murdoch will most assuredly provide them with that forum. Whaddaya think he’s gonna do with the Wall Street Journal, eh?

    PS: The Australian only opposed Hansonism because it was a threat to Howard.

  65. gandhi says:

    Meanwhile, ASIO is pretending Habib is pretending he was tortured because he doesn’t want to explain where he really was! And the documents they given to Habib’s lawyers are more censored than the versions provided to Teh Oz!

    God news is the judge has already decided that Habib was slandered by Piers Ackerman, now it’s a compo decision pending…

  66. gandhi says:

    srry 4 teh typoz

  67. kimberella says:

    gandhi, I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m a joint Aus/US citizen. Having lived in both countries as an adult and been politically involved both here and in California, I can tell you there is a huge difference in almost too many ways to mention. There is a “base” for that warmongering shit in America, but there really isn’t here. It was just a bunch of crapulous commentators and chicken hawks pounding keyboards in this country, and we’re better off, IMHO, saying that as loudly as possible so that this bunch of turkeys never gets a grip on our collective psyche again rather than treating them as if they still count for something. They don’t.

    And I still think your analysis is too simplistic – what’s good for big biz is cosmopolitanism (within very defined limits) rather than backwoods redneck racism. The Australian may have partly opposed Hansonism because of partisan considerations, but there’s another picture there.

    Btw, the WSJ is already loony right on its op/ed pages, dude!

    As to holding people to account, that’s where the faith people put in international law is sadly misplaced. No one from the US or Australia is ever going to face any sort of tribunal for what’s happened, with perhaps a few minor exceptions (for instance, charges may be laid over AWB). Courts and legal processes are no substitute for political action, and that’s where the left is often lacking.

    I do agree with you that it’s important to keep pinging the bastards for their crimes though.

  68. gandhi says:


    Hi! I don’t know if you know this but before seeting up my Howard Out blog I ran a Bush Out blog for several years. I think I am pretty familiar with US politics.

    And I think that after a decade of Howard there is very much a “base” for that warmongering shit – I work with guys who love the whole idea of war! Arthur Chrenkoff was an Aussie! Working for a Liberal Senator! The US military/industrial complex is moving into Adelaide big time, ably assisted by fools like Nelson, Hill and Downer.

    Sure, the media and political and social manifestation of this disease is different here to the USA, but we have been contaminated by the same military/industrial virus. Compare us with NZ, eg.

    As for international law, it’s what we make of it. You seem to think we should all be quiet and the wingnuts will go away, but there’s no point calling for Justice because it will never happen…? Isn’t that a contradiction in thinking?

  69. kimberella says:

    gandhi, no I didn’t know about the earlier blog. And there’s no contradiction in my thinking. I’m not saying “be quiet” I’m saying “speak out” but don’t hold your breath waiting for some sort of justice. You have to fight for it, not wait for it. And again, there’s all sorts of conflation and confusion in your comment. Those responsible for war are those who’ve been sitting in the White House, etc, not some dingbat like Mark Steyn. Ignoring the latter is a good move – because they get extra oxygen and a new lease on life if we waste time on them. They’re just there to provoke us, so don’t fall into the trap!

    As to a base – naah, dude. A young Lib like Chrenkoff? That’s it? And porkbarrelling in SA was going on under the Hawke/Keating government – it’s electoral populism not an indicator that there’s some great movement out there in favour of war. Sure there are those who like to muscle up their masculinity and cheer on war, but they’ve always been around. It’s a wholely different phenomenon from the very large constituency in the States who are prepared to ignore their own economic and class interests in favour of cowboy adventurism. They’re an Imperial power, we’re not.

    Again, if this phenomenon exists, why did the Libs run a million miles from their own foreign policy in the lead up to the election? The Iraq War has never enjoyed anything but (probably fairly soft) minority support in Australia. By acting as if these commentators are on to something, you’re falling into their trap and magnifying an effect that in this country is and should be irrelevant.

  70. It’s not enough to just close the book on these things and give each other a big hug – we need JUSTICE!


    Now how about we all take a deep breath, count to ten and slooow things down a little? Get with TEH ZEITGEIST dudes.

  71. gandhi says:

    I guess we have to agree to disagree on this one, kimbarella…

    You have to fight for it, not wait for it.

    Um, assuming that’s not physical violence you are talking about, my online (and other) activism says something, non?

    Those responsible for war are those who’ve been sitting in the White House, etc, not some dingbat like Mark Steyn. Ignoring the latter is a good move – because they get extra oxygen and a new lease on life if we waste time on them. They’re just there to provoke us, so don’t fall into the trap!

    1. Steyn and Murdoch and the GG editors are complicit in the deaths of a million Iraqis. Bush & Co would never have been able to do it without their help.

    2. Steyn & Co are not just there to provoke you and me. They are consolidating a solid base of public support. Look at Bush, who still enjoys around 30% support NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES. Sure, these guys try to stir up controversy (“colour writers” as Murdoch calls them, helps sell papers) but they have a dual purpose, particularly online where critics seldom visit their sites anyway.

    Chrenkoff is a good example of that. I doubt many Aussies realise how widely distributed his “Iraq good news talking points” were – the online blogs fed on every detail, and the US media punditry fed off that. Sure, it’s all a complete farce, nothing but hot air, but it floats the balloon of pretence. And for that hardcore 30%, thats’ enough. For another disengaged 30%, it’s enough to muddy the waters.

    And porkbarrelling in SA was going on under the Hawke/Keating government…

    We are out of the fire and back into the frying pan, I’m not pretending anything else..

    It’s a wholely different phenomenon from the very large constituency in the States who are prepared to ignore their own economic and class interests in favour of cowboy adventurism. They’re an Imperial power, we’re not.

    Do you really think “Howard’s battlers got anything out of 11 years voting for him? Aside from some cracking good stories from their bestest mates in Afghanistan? We are an adjunct to that Imperial power, and being subsumed by it. Witness our disgraceful record of pro-Israel votes in the UN…

    Both Labor and Liberal prefer not to make Foreign Policy an election issue (same as GOP and Dems in the USA). It is the plaything of the elite, not for the likes of us. That’s why there are so many millions still living in grinding poverty around the globe.

  72. gandhi says:

    Slow things down a bit, Gummo? We have been living in the frickin’ 1950’s for the past eleven years!!!!

    Spead it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up speed it up!

    Rudd singed in and immediately signs Kyoto – brilliant! Now what?

    There is much to be done.

  73. gandhi says:

    There is much to be done, and I will tell you one thing about the Bush administration – part of the reason for their “success” (if you look at it that way) is that they have attacked relentlessly on multiple fronts every single day for the past seven years. By the time a story explodes on the front page, another story is already replacing it.

    Let’s do that, Kev! Let’s do that, but in a good way!

  74. gummotrotsky says:


    As it seems you can’t, or won’t, slow down voluntarily, I’ve given you your own personal speedhump. Using the example of the Bush administration to support the idea that we should attack relentlessly on multiple fronts is absurd – the local version of that approach is what created the civic mess of the “Howard Legacy” in the first place.

    Why don’t you take a rest for the night – I’m getting a little tired of this “more activist than thou” tone you’ve started to adopt and I suspect I’m not alone.

    In other words, you’re in moderation for the night.

  75. Liam Hogan says:

    Why moderation? That’s a bit harsh.
    You know, sometimes I suspect I’m not alone either. That’s when I go and make myself a cup of tea.

  76. joe2 says:

    “You know, sometimes I suspect I’m not alone either. That’s when I go and make myself a cup of tea….

    Hey, Liam, is that like being ‘two with the cup’.
    After years of meditation I have yet to have that experience.

  77. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Smooth Confucian style technocrats? Fecal matter, that’s a worry. Extrapreneur sounds like one of them intercoursers.

  78. kimberella says:

    There is no place for that sort of extrapreneurial shenanigans in the Rudd era, Sir Henry!

  79. kimberella says:

    Ps – gandhi, happy to agree to disagree. But just go away and have a think… that’s all I’m asking!

  80. Birdie says:

    neo-liberalism uses neo-conservatism, populist nationalism, racism, xenophobia, war-mongering, imperialist military intervention in “failed states”, etc., when it suits, when it is able to get support for these within significant sections of the community or nation. The idea that these things will magically disappear forever in Australia now that we have a right wing social democratic government for who knows how long is quite wrong, very short-sighted and misunderstands Austalian history and world politics.

  81. gandhi says:


    I was hoping Mark would step in here but he asks me to take it up with you. This link is all I will post in support of my arguments above.

    Tolerance is the essence of Democracy. LP bloggers should show tolerance to people who actively support this blog.

    If I do not receive an apology from you for being placed in “moderation” then I will not be coming back here again.

  82. adrian says:

    The irony of course is that gandhi would have been shown more tolerance on any number of News Ltd blogs than on LP. Not to worry, gandhi there are still a number of interesting blogs not owned by Murdoch

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