Monday, August 09, 2004

This opinion piece from The Age by our former ambassador to Iraq is quite a good little reality check about the war. There's also this article about Howard's response to the call for 'truth in government' with 43 ex-senior official dudes as signatories. Funniest part of the article is this sentence in which Grattan/Forbes capture Howards's response;

"Mr Howard said the criticism over Iraq was 'repetitious'."

Larf! However, Robert Manne's piece about Latham and the forthcoming election is a less nice reality check. It's a really good piece and accurate and with credible analysis and all that, it's just that he predicts that Howard will be returned to government, and, like him, I really hope he's wrong. Because Howard sucks. And I don't get why people would vote for him or why he has won support by doing some of the horrible things he's done. Anyway, the bit in Manne that goes "under Howard the Coalition has captured a considerable part of the working class through its victories in the culture wars over issues such as asylum seekers, Aboriginal land rights and law and order" is really disheartening to me. First of all, I don't like it that it's always the working class who gets blamed for switching allegiances to the party that's using racism and fear and general shittiness in its campaign. I don't think the middle class is free from this charge at all, but we don't seem to bear the brunt of it, and I don't think that's fair. But generally I trust Manne to know about this culture war shit because he has been fighting on the opposite side to Howard, and apparently losing despite the clarity and correctness of his arguments and the shamefulness and deceptiveness of those of the other side. Anyway, I still find it quite incomprehensible that people, whatever class, have been moved to support Howard because he has been at the helm for such 'victories' as a) an expensively mean exercise against desperate people fleeing serious shit, calling them liars and locking them up and traumatising them only to find that, hey, most of them really are refugees requiring asylum, not 'queue-jumpers' or 'boat people' or 'possibly terrorists', b) the continued and growing resistance to granting our indigenous population recognition of their rights, with toxic public denial about australia's history, and with Howard conducting himself with horrid pettiness when making policy or public statements about aboriginal issues, and approving of the same conduct in others, and c) the move away from the 'let the punishment fit the crime and hey, what about rehabilitation' ethic of sentencing towards a more 'populist' lynch mob kind of deal that nevertheless gives the state more power over sentencing and takes discretion away from judges, [breathe] not to mention all that shit providing increased powers to search and detain and trample on people's rights in response to terrorism, blah.

Sure, I don't know half of what I'm supposed to know about this stuff, but oh man, we've had conservative government since 1996 people. That's EIGHT YEARS! That's SHOCKING! That's a hell of a lot of time to move in the wrong direction, for a lack of progress on national maturity issues flagged under Keating, like a Bill of Rights, reconciliation, becoming a republic, and so forth. Please, WE CAN'T have another three years. That's just too terrifying a prospect.

No comments: