STRAWS IN THE WIND: by Max TeichmannNews Weekly
John Howard's last hurrah? / Putin's new Russian empire / Junk-food on children's television / Corruption in Victoria / Banking on Kevin Rudd
, November 24, 2007
John Howard's last hurrah?
John Howard addressed a packed meeting of selected Victorian Liberal Party faithful at a hotel in Melbourne at what could have been his last hurrah.
Our friend Mark Lopez turned up - to observe - and asked if he could use his little camera. He was politely refused, but noticed that a nearby hooker was quietly operating one. Good old Melbourne media.
Apparently, Howard made a good speech and introduced some interesting new material and proposals. But you may have found it very difficult to track down any evidence in our media of this address having been made. After all, it was only by the Prime Minister of Australia.
;Putin's new Russian empire
People who picked up on SBS television's two-part Cutting Edge
documentary, The Putin System
, on Vladimir Putin's Russia, and his plans to turn his country into a pro-active superpower
via the use of its enormous oil and gas capacities, would have found the whole story a chilling scenario.
We had already covered a lot of this in various issues of News Weekly
, but nevertheless try to see this documentary if it is ever re-run.
Similarly, the spectre we identified of Putin's determination to force Russia's breakaway states back into the fold - e.g., Ukraine, Estonia, and even that old trusty Belarus - is at work again in Georgia. The government there is in real danger of being overthrown in a coup organised from Moscow.
Naturally, the squeaky-cleaners in the Kremlin indignantly deny all knowledge thereof, as they do of any connections with the incremental murders of their Russian critics - domestic or in exile.
Georgia has had a sad history, quite apart from being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. It regained its independence in 1918 from the Tsarist Empire, electing in fact a Menshevik government.
It soon fell prey to a coup urged on by Lenin and carried out by Stalin and Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze (notice the pregnant reference, in Khrushchev's 1956 secret speech to the 20th Congress, to Stalin's purge of his faithful old comrade Ordzhonikidze in the 1930s purges.)
Anyway, Georgia lost her freedom soon after she had obtained it. Regaining it once again after Gorbachev, she was first ruled by the former Soviet foreign minister and Marxist stooge Eduard Shevardnadze, who stuck to the Moscow line and ran an exceedingly corrupt and unjust state.
The Georgians then voted him out, and four years ago were able to put in an independent government, which is on good terms with America and Western Europe.
Putin is not going to allow that, any more than he or Boris Yeltsin would allow the Chechens to be free. In a similar spirit, Khrushchev invaded Hungary in 1956, and Brezhnev launched into Czechoslovakia in 1968, when those peoples sought full independence, not vassalage.
Nothing has changed - only Moscow's modus operandi. And the same collaborators both there and in the West are struggling to muddy the waters or just drop the subject, as they did in earlier days.
Yes, Chechnya and Georgia are "about" oil and oil pipelines, stupid. But they are also about Great Russian imperialism and racism.
And the same applies to some of China's contemporary incursions - being in part the Han Chinese claim to primacy over the lower breeds - including
You won't hear much of this from Amnesty International or human rights bodies, including NGOs, for they are too preoccupied with the legal rights of terrorists and terrorist-supporters here and in Iraq. Junk-food on children's television
Someone in the Liberal Party must read News Weekly
. In the last issue (November 10, 2007) we denounced the policy of allowing junk-food advertising during children's television time.
We especially denounced Kevin Rudd's decision to drop the ALP's opposition to such junk-food huckstering - yet another Rudd "me-too" performance.
But, lo and behold, Prime Minister Howard and his Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan, announced a few days later, an $80 million project to create a new children's television channel, to be run by the ABC, with no junk-food advertising.
Everyone involved, including the ABC, has rejoiced, except a spokesman for the Friends of the ABC, who appeared quite miffed. It would have to wait on what the commercial networks said.
Ahem. With friends like these …
The commercial networks have completely cut out all news of this proposal: for it could kill their
so-called children's programs.
And the press has followed their example. This move of Howard and Coonan is a masterstroke greatly needed, and attributable to our enormous
influence. Corruption in Victoria
The Victorian Police corruption investigation is picking up speed, and it is Labor Premier John Brumby's job to prevent a breakout, at least until the federal election is over - just as Anna Bligh's Queensland Labor Government has freely admitted that disgraced surgeon Dr Jayant Patel's finally being extradited to Queensland will be held up until after the same election. ALP democracy at work.
But Mr Brumby, I think, is being unwise in rushing in to give a clean bill of health
to all but "a handful of police" - for only a handful ever rise to the positions whereby they have the opportunity to do what this handful have been caught doing. So that question doesn't arise. And we haven't counted all the fingers yet, have we? Is this the beast with five fingers? Or 15?
If the terms and the clout of the inquiry into the Victorian police isn't widened to include some public servants and political advisors - and names are already being bandied about - then we will have got far less than justice.
And was it necessary for the new, latest police minister - the third - and Premier Brumby to give the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon their full and instantaneous backing?
Such encomia are no use to her, and she may not even have wanted them, for more and more of this Victorian state government appear as "damaged goods".
Brumby's people only seem intent on strait-jacketing the kind of frankness that all Victorians, other than the politically compromised, are demanding.
What with this inquiry, and the Victorian Legislative Council select committee's simultaneous investigation into former Cain Labor government minister David White, Tattersall's, and the tendering processes, etc., the state Liberals possess two big piles of dynamite with slowly burning fuses.Then
, there is convicted drug-baron Tony Mokbel. Banking on Kevin Rudd
A son of mine is starting to doubt the efficacy of political propaganda campaigns in the last stages thereof, especially the kind of promises made in the closing days of an election. People can't remember them, assuming that they are still even listening.
And of Howard's very late propaganda - why were they left so late? Admittedly, they have
had the effect of forcing Kevin Rudd, time and again, to junk Labor policies and say "me too". So much so that the big banks - the National Australia Bank in particular - which seem determined to bring about the defeat of Howard, are searching around for ways of protecting Little Kev.
So when the Government keeps promising to distribute money on new projects, the banks say this will stoke inflation. But if it delivers big tax-cuts instead, this will also stoke inflation. So, hopefully, people shouldn't trust the conservatives' economic credentials.
If Kevin stops also handing out bags of money, he is being "statesman-like". If he gets into difficulties after winning, and welshes on his promises, he will again be "statesmanlike".
What more can the banks do for their friend? Well, disappointed that there aren't apparently going to be any more interest-rate rises before the election, they are already announcing that they may be putting up their lending rates, regardless. And when they do, it will be Howard's fault.
Among these mega-banks - for that is what they now are - leading the charge and having the most say is the NAB, which had such embarrassments a while ago in its English operations, along with some of its currency-traders here.
Nevertheless, the NAB regained my trust when I read that, in 2000, their then senior loans officer, in granting Tony Mokbel a loan of almost $5.7 million, described him as a "visionary" ("Banker praised Mokbel's integrity", The Australian
, October 1, 2007). Tony already had a string of convictions.
So John Howard really has his work cut out to win - but, provided that the Government didn't lose too heavily, this would be the election to lose.
Next year, worldwide, things might begin to go very badly. Let's hope not, for the poor and the vulnerable are the first to be thrown out of the lifeboat. How many of you readers can swim? Postscript
A number of News Weekly
readers have written me very friendly and interesting letters. I am just coming up for air, almost literally.
I shall answer these kind folk ASAP.- Max Teichmann