18 May 2006
‘Recently, a number - one billion - in the New York Times stopped me in my tracks. According to a report commissioned by the foundation charged with building Reflecting Absence, the memorial to the dead in the attack on the World Trade Center, its projected cost is now estimated at about a billion dollars and still rising. According to Oliver Burkeman of the British Guardian, "Taking inflation into account, $1bn would be more than a quarter of the original cost of the twin towers that were destroyed in 2001."
For that billion, Reflecting Absence is to have two huge "reflecting pools" - "two voids that reside in the original footprints of the Twin Towers" - fed by waterfalls "from all sides" and surrounded by a "forest" of oak trees; a visitor will then be able to descend 30 feet to galleries under the falls "inscribed with the names of those who died." There is to be an adjacent, 100,000 square-foot underground memorial museum to "retell the events of the day, display powerful artifacts, and celebrate the lives of those who died." All of this, as the website for the memorial states, will be meant to vividly convey "the enormity of the buildings and the enormity of the loss." Not surprisingly, the near billion-dollar figure does not even include $80 million for a planned visitor's center or the estimated $50-60 million annual cost of running such an elaborate memorial and museum.’
17 May 2006
‘But who is Osama bin Laden really?
Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden?
Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.’
16 May 2006
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER
THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP
ADDRESS AT THE OFFICIAL ARRIVAL CEREMONY
THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON
It is possible, Mr. President, to count on the fingers of our two hands the number of nations that have remained continuously democratic over the last 100 years. And two of those nations are of course the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Australia. Our common history, our common commitment to liberty, and to democracy, has been an important bond that has united the people of America and the people of Australia.
But it's also been our shared values that have been an important constant in that relationship. A belief that the worth of a person is defined not by his or her race, or religion, or nationality, but rather the worth of that person's character, and his or her commitment to the common future of the nation of which he is a part; a belief that the greatest force for good within any society is stable families, because it's families that bring out the best in people and provide them with the greatest source of emotional support and sustenance; and also, a belief that economic future and economic liberty is best defined by competitive capitalism and the working out of market forces, provided our societies provide an understanding of the need to protect those who, through no fault of their own, may need assistance.
And they are many of the values that have defined both of our societies, and they are some of the values that have brought our two societies together.
You rightly recall Mr. President that the fighting men of our two countries first joined together on the 4th of July, 1918, at the Battle of Hamel, in World War I. And in every significant conflict since, Americans and Australians have fought together in pursuit of our common goals and our common objectives. And I pay tribute, in particular, to the way in which the United States of America came to the assistance of Australia in the dark days of the Pacific War in World War II. And successive generations of Australians will never forget the vital assistance that the United States extended to our country in our hour of need, in the darkest days of World War II.
And it is important on an occasion like this to recall not only our history, but also to repeat our common resolve about the future. I will recall our meeting here at the White House on the 10th of September, 2001. It was the first time that we had met as President of the United States and Prime Minister of Australia. And in our discussions, contrary to what the critics of our two societies say, we were not speaking evil of other people in the world, we were not condemning other religions, we were not condemning other countries. We were expressing hope about a more peaceful world, a world in which Christian and Muslim would work together, a world in which the nations as a world would unite in harmony and peace.
And the following day, of course, the world changed forever. And so much of the common effort of our two societies since has been directed to the fight on terrorism. It will be, as you've said, Mr. President, a long and difficult fight. Progress is being made, but much lies ahead. And Janette and I are very conscious of the great sacrifice in lives of the men and women of your country. And we pay tribute to them, and we share the mourning and the grief of their loved ones here in the United States.
But our cause is a just cause. Terrorism respects no value system; terrorism does not respect the tenets of the great religions of the world; terrorism is based on evil, intolerance and bigotry. And no free societies, such as Australia and the United States, can ever buckle under to bigotry and intolerance.
Mr. President, I come here as the elected leader of a nation of 20 million people; a nation that shares so much in common with your country; a nation that will shoulder her responsibilities in the Pacific region; a nation which historically has interacted not only with the people of our own region, but the people of your country and the people of Europe.
I thank you again Mr. President for your personal friendship. I admire the leadership and the courage and the commitment that you have brought to your responsibilities and to your office. You have reasserted with strength and clarity the great values of the United States. You have presented a firm leadership to the free world against terrorism. The world needs an involved, committed, concerned United States years into the future. The world needs a President of the United States who has a clear-eyed view of the dangers of terrorism, and the courage and the determination, however difficult the path may be, to see the task through to its conclusion. And in you, sir, the American people and the world have found such a leader and such an individual.
I salute your courage and your commitment, your personal decency and your personal leadership of this great democracy, of this great country. And I thank you very warmly for all the Australians present for the grace and dignity and genuineness of your welcome.
I suppose it’s only natural that political leaders who practice deceit, treachery & bigotry & who have been co-conspirators in great crimes, including war crimes, would seek to stroke & reassure each other through flattery & an acknowledgement that their mutual conceit is a value to be admired.
Our little rodent was in fine form in heaping praise on the great American gansta, the great “decider”, George W. Bush, completely oblivious to the fact that his words would turn the stomachs of 71% of Americans who recognise their President for what he is.
But of course, little johnnie needs to bask in the reflected glory of others, no matter that it’s manufactured, simply because true leadership & statesmanship is beyond him: better to be remembered as the loyal lapdog of the worst American President in history than not to be remembered for anything other than turning mediocrity an art form.
We’re used to the empty & hypocritical weasel words of our Prime Meanster, but junior needs all the help he can get these days, so someone from out of town mouthing the necessary niceties is a rare & valued commodity these days.
Waxing lyrical about the alleged common commitment to “liberty & democracy” that has characterised the relationship between America & Australia down the years, our little Sneaky, as White House guest spruiker, conveniently skipped over troublesome facts of history that render such a position a complete fabrication, even at home.
To make that point, we would need only to ask the people of the developing world, whether in Africa, South America or Asia about their experiences with “liberty & democracy” American-style. More recently we could consult the peoples of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan & West Papua to gauge their appreciation of our hollow commitment to their “liberty & democracy”.
Whilst we were at it, we could ask these same people what they think of the “shared values” that our fake leaders espouse: critical values such as “character, the family & competitive capitalism”, according to the great liberal thinker from the Antipodes.
Of course, fine words are inevitably debased when they are used by liars & scoundrels, so the Prime Meanster ironically succeeded, unwittingly, in providing us with a fine parody on the worth of his best friend: military deserter, electoral fraudster, shallow opportunist, warmonger, cheat, liar & chief lawbreaker - & that’s on a good day.
And the great sledger didn’t stop there. No sirree, plenty of opportunity for our little Prime bigot to claim that he & his fraudulent mate, Dopey, shared a common resolve “that Chistians & Muslims would work together for harmony & peace”. Try telling that to the 200,000 innocent people of Iraq, slaughtered by “the coalition of the willing” & its evil accomplices. Try telling it to the people of Palestine, poked in the eye by Israel & the international community for more than 60 years & systematically the victims of war crimes & acts of genocide.
Try telling that to the people of Iran, who have never mounted a war of aggression against anyone but had to fight single-handedly for almost a decade to defend themselves against another war of aggression, mounted by Saddam Hussein with US support & encouragement: the same valuable “friend” of the US who suddenly morphed into the most evil & dangerous person on the planet, once he’d reached his use-by date.
And try telling it to one of the smallest minorities in Australia: our Muslim community. Publicly sledged, slandered, vilified & victimised by members of the rodent’s government, who he himself has dog-whistled at every cowardly opportunity.
And finally we have terrorism: the phoniest war in history.
“But our cause is a just cause”, babbles our great military prince.
“Terrorism respects no value system”, he claims, ignoring the fact that the bulk of the world’s modern terrorists have been armed, funded, trained & set loose by his host’s nation.
“Terrorism does not respect the tenets of the great religions of the world”, asserts our little aussie crusader: the irony of his words completely lost on him.
“Terrorism is based on evil, intolerance and bigotry”, carps our little master of history. Small matters such as oppression, context & means don’t count, except when the terrorists are serving our interests.
And finally, before retiring to once again be fed by the President of the world’s most gluttonous nation, our great leader left us with the exhortation: “And no free societies, such as Australia and the United States, can ever buckle under to bigotry and intolerance.”
But hypocrisy, victimisation & exclusion are fine …. as long as they’re practised elegantly.
14 May 2006
‘Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.
During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.
Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.
It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.’