July 19th 2008

  Buy Issue 2784

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY / MERCHANTS OF SLEAZE: Sexualised marketing targets young girls

EDITORIAL: Throwing cold water on global warming

FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Australia's sovereignty at stake

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The economic costs of the Garnaut Report

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: WA Liberals sliding towards defeat

REGIONAL COMMUNITIES: Could an Asian regional grouping work?

EUTHANASIA: I'm not sick - can I commit suicide too?

UNITED STATES: Health care - America's shame

EDUCATION: What is the advantage of rote-learning?

SCHOOLS: Political correctness rules in the classroom

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Faith restored / Buyers' remorse / French resistance / New world disorder / Back to my favourite bête noire / America

Natasha Stott Despoja a trail-blazer? (letter)

Partial-birth abortion (letter)

BOOKS: THE CHINA FANTASY: Why capitalism will not bring democracy to China, by James Mann

DVD: APOCALYPSE? NO! Why global warming is not a crisis, by Christopher Monckton

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Faith restored / Buyers' remorse / French resistance / New world disorder / Back to my favourite bête noire / America

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, July 19, 2008
Faith restored

Like Madam Melba, or rather that alley cat with nine lives, I have escaped, back into the fresh air... until the next time.

I was in the cardiac ward at Melbourne's St Vincent's Private Hospital, and it was the best in which I have ever lodged my carcass. My doctor was the most caring and the most resourceful that I have ever encountered, and I am infinitely grateful.

The nurses were a multiculturalist's dream: a Somali, a Palestinian, a young man from Africa, some Indians, some Chinese, some Indonesians, some English, some Irish, then Oz veterans, and young Aussies - some from the country, a traditional source of nurses, but most from Melbourne's suburbs.

Everything functioned well, the morale was high, and they rarely let up in helping us. A triumph that went a long way in restoring my faith, in what, too often, can be Bungle-town - or horror stretch. A good hospital still is possible.

If you asked the nurses whether they supported multiculturalism, they'd look blank, or change the subject. They have a profession. They were bonding. They were too busy for such infantilisms.

That can be left to the dysfunctionalists littering up all our institutions, the apparatchiki, the nomenklatura - bogus zealots, often "administrators" hell-bent on stopping the real workers, the really socially useful, from functioning.

Our zealots know that no-one is interested in them or their dogmas, but they've worked through our social systems like woodworm, backed by "New Labor" and the "new unions".

But anyway, I'm back.


Buyers' remorse

It would be nice to say that I was returning to enjoy, and praise, Australia's green and pleasant land; but alas, as we know, much of that has disappeared, over a quite brief period, and the rest seems visibly under threat.

But the latest disappointment is the performance of our new federal government.

Rudd's first six months have been deeply disillusioning for many who voted in Labor, so much so that some are talking of a one-term government.

The remarkable swings against Labor in the two Victorian by-elections on June 28 - the 8+ per cent movement against Labor in the federal seat of Gippsland and the 13 per cent swing in the state seat of Kororoit, in Melbourne's west, spell trouble.

And there will be a new Senate over which Labor has been denied control. If the economic gloom deepens, and people continue to be hammered with fresh taxes and charges, things could be interesting by Christmas.

The two Victorian by-elections might just be the beginning.


French resistance

Spending time in hospital draws you towards television - and what a woeful spectacle it is, a positive overkill of American pre-literate dreck, and some pandering to the English with their notably superior culture.

While observing the Rot-Box, and savouring the suffocating triviality of sport at its ugliest, ever more violent, on the road to nihilism, I noticed that test-match cricket still survives in a sense.

But the 23-day Tour de France stands out. Vive La France! Few people care about the bike-riders and the yellow jerseys - what was his name? - but the countryside of France, which is very beautiful, and reveals the continuing existence of small towns, villages and hamlets - often of great antiquity and which are still viable - is the cynosure of attention.

The fight of the French to defend their agriculture, and the economic base of rural and provincial France - a longstanding philosophy of French conservatism - has been totally justified. Of course, the young often finish up in Paris - where the work is - but enough remain to fight to preserve their homeland.

Brussels and globalism are the enemies of this kind of world, and I hope that the French keep the bankers and the barbarian bureaucrats at bay.

Stendhal wrote in 1823 that England was the most beautiful country in the world, and he may have been right. But that was before the industrial revolution really took off, with its dark satanic mills - the population quadrupling in a century - despite massive emigration. At which time urbanisation, roads, railways and canals began gobbling up England's farmland.

Oliver Goldsmith had already written The Deserted Village in the late 18th century, and William Cobbett, in his Rural Rides, had described the ongoing despoliation of Britain and Scotland. A catastrophe - which the French resisted, and which many of them still resist.


New world disorder

It is difficult not to look around the world without a measure of despair. There is in fact less and less world order, and what remains is precariously based.

Thus, the long-term prognosis for the survival of a credible or recognisable version of Western civilisation is very much in question, and under challenge.

The West's Trojan dinosaurs - well paid, half-educated Westerners who hate their countries and their cultures and histories, not to mention the majority of their fellow countrymen - have maintained a position first legitimised by the 1917 Russian communist revolution.

They see their society as the enemy, and therefore support anyone, including any outsider, who is the enemy of their enemy. I don't have to list the number of international and domestic nasties and monsters that our friends have supported and are supporting.

And the additional support for the deviant, the delinquent and the dysfunctional of their own societies is now a commonplace. Hence the tenderness towards the criminal as against the victim, the deviant as against the normal, the dysfunctional as against the socially useful, and just out-and-out parasites.

Perhaps, inadvertently, they have a lot in common with these people, whom they prefer. Incidentally, it may be that Australia is the only country that lionises a double-murderer and a bank-robber, who previously was a cattle-stealer and came from a criminal family: Ned Kelly, our patron saint.

Possibly in Sicily some outlaws have been briefly lionised, but Ned Kelly is closer to the hearts of most Australians than Sir Redmond Barry, who established Victoria's public state library, and was an eminent jurist.

So, any attempts by the only societies really interested in an adjusted, stable world order - if you like, the status quo, or something approaching it - have been routinely blocked or sabotaged by their own malcontents. As we nearly were in the approach to 1939, when appeasing Hitler, and refusing to see what Japan was doing.

For 60 years, we have been told that the foundation of world order, and the only protector of world peace and justice, is the United Nations. Started in hope, and designed so that it could keep the peace, the UN soon became progressively loaded with extramural responsibilities and extensions of power, one after another.

The UN finished looking like an aspiring superpower. Keeping the peace seemed more and more side-tracked. Yet, most of the agencies have grown in disrepute, as they have in resources and power.

The lynchpin, the UN as keeper of the peace - or as the repairer of fractures in the system - is now virtually inoperable.

Consider the conflicts to which it should be attending efficaciously: Darfur, Zimbabwe, Somaliland, Burma, Tibet - yes, Tibet - Iran, Palestine, North Korea. All of these are long-running tributes to the impotence, the divisions, and the increasing irrelevance of the UN in matters of war, peace, disarmament and the arms races, nuclear proliferation, and the international behaviour of rogue dictatorships.

The UN has had to be replaced by bilateral and multilateral deals between states, and between various regional groupings.

The most important of these groupings are the 52 African states; the web of associations among Arabs, such the Arab League; the European Union; and various Asian regional and sub-regional groups. These groups, almost entirely, are interested only in themselves and their respective regions.

As to human rights, when most people are told of these, they want them - for themselves... or their own group.

But for everyone? Until people's consciousness is raised to the level of saying that such rights are universal, I fear little progress is going to be made.


Back to my favourite bête noir

When in a hospital, or a prison, or a nursing home, and increasingly school, one is drawn to free-to-air television, for want of any other suitable source of undemanding stimulation. As I said, I've been looking at local telly, local in name only (ersatz American), and experiencing hernia of the face.

But what about the results of these voyages into apparently bottomless vulgarity on the part of the owners and their lackeys? PBL media (owner of the Nine Network, ACP Magazines, and other media interests) now has a market value of zero. That is, their debts equal their assets.

The Seven Media Group (owner of the Seven Network and Pacific Magazines, and dominated by Kerry Stokes) is now also valued at near zero, for the same reason. They must be dizzy with success.

James Packer started pulling out of his particular media Titanic some time ago. Very wise. He is going for Asian and US casinos, and other gambling venues.

But the competition there is heating up, so there could be nasty surprises for him. CanWest, the Canadian owners of the Ten Network had their network on the market for six months, but no serious takers. Their shares appear to have dropped 50 per cent in a couple of years. Would you buy a second-hand network from these people?

Actually, they had it coming, thinking that they could dictate and shape public taste, the whole thing being run by accountants, advertisers, and the odd "vintage entertainer", as have so many of our newspapers.

The party is over. Our hacks are scrambling to get a kip in one of Labor's innumerable sheltered workshops before that tap on the shoulder.

There was, for a time, an alternative - pay television - for those with some money, and who were turned off by the endless adverts and remorseless dumbing-down of free-to-air television and radio.

Left to itself, Pay TV might have succeeded, but greed soon showed its ugly head. Dumbing-down started in, and the erstwhile forbidden advertisements started to pile up.

Clever bottom-line stuff, of course. So, people are pulling out of TV generally, and radio, and much of the print media.



I don't want to buy into the American elections, for we have until November to watch our cousins turn democracy into a millionaire's playground.

But that sea-green incorruptible, Barack Obama, is performing the most extraordinary contortions, so as to drum up the swinging voters and break down Republican voters' dislikes. There will be little remaining of his original policies at the rate at which he is going.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is sticking to him like flypaper, so he'd better produce a good running-mate quite soon.

But, if she's not anointed, Hillary and her supporters could be very difficult to placate. What other ego-flattering job would a single-mindedly ambitious cliché-machine settle for?

Incidentally, thanks for all the little expressions of goodwill in my absence.

- Max Teichmann.

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