Tuesday 21st of May 2019


The only way is up ()

Another big day in the life of NHJ. Thanks so much for your continued comments and emails, both positive, negative, constructive and a hell of a lot in between.

Today's big news is the coverage in the Australian Jewish News (AJN). My Hanan Ashrawi chapter was always going to get certain members of the pro-Zionist lobby hot under the collar. This week, Margo and I lay out our case on Israel/Palestine, the often underhanded nature of the Zionist lobby and illuminate readers to the central issues of the chapter, oh-so-strangely ignored by the paper and Colin Rubenstein in past weeks. I reckon there's an agenda going on here, to not fully engage with the issues raised, but respect to the paper for allowing us to put our position across. The web has only a partial version of the story, so grab the print version.

The letters section

NHJ! Eating Trees ()

Penguin Australia Marketing Director Daniel Ruffino advises that a second reprint has just been ordered; demand has been 'huge', he says. It's early days yet, but interest appears to be very healthy. Again, many thanks to those readers - pro-JH, anti-JH and everyone in between - who've given the book a go so far...

Old enough to remember Menzies & CD Kemp (father of Rod & David and a liberal). Voted every govt in & out until JWH. Don't belon

I picked up you book in the Perth Airport and it really resonated. Several years ago I commented to a conservative friend, JWH is the worst PM in my life time. At the time I didn't realise the extent, or how this would evolve though. Your book filled in even more concerning detail that I wasn't aware of, or only guessed at, and put it all together in one place. Thank you. Every thinking Australian should read it. It has validated my views and motivated me to have more input into helping this country realise its potential. A healthy democracy is a fundemental prerequisite to this, but we as participants do need to work to ensure this is so. In these last few years I have never felt so disempowered and unhappy about the direction of our country.

Site Funding? (Jack Robertson)

Can you inform NHJ! site visitors of the funding arrangements for this website?


Thanks Jack. Damned fine query, if I do say so m'self. What an incredibly astute, sharp, sceptical fellow you are. Why, perhaps you should consider standing for public office! In my unbiased view, you'd make a wonderful, wonderful Prime Min--[OK, OK, put a sock in it, Jack, we can see that this is just a test of the 'Queries' site. Anyway, it was Harry Heidelberg's query, and the rest of us know it - NHJ! Team]

The NHJ! website has been designed and set up at Penguin Australia (and supersidiary Pearson Australia) expense, using in-house IT Human Resources. Sorry, I should say in-house IT people. (Never know when Don 'Say No To Weasel Words' Watson is sniffing about.) As far as the daily maintaining of the site, it's done by the NHJ! Team on a volunteer basis (see 'About This Site'). Beyond whatever extra book marketing function this site may en

If you love something, set it free... ()

NHJ! reader Catherine writes with a truly beautiful idea:

I would like to suggest that once you have read Not Happy, John! that you release it into the wild through Bookcrossing. The more people that read this book before the election the better! Wouldn't it be great if we knew numerous copies were roaming Australia over the next few months.

Fly, NHJ!, fly...

Margo Kingston - Brave and True (Matt Black)

As a resident of Canberra my orange ACTION bus trundles past the house on the hill twice a day, after burying my nose in Not Happy John for the last few days, I now seem unable to look at the Parliament House in quite the same way. Friends who are staffers and staffers who are friends have given me a long standing BS-detector in the political game but to read the background to events such as the Bush visit opened my eyes yet further. Well done Margo, your insightful and witty take on our great Prime Miniature should be required reading in all schools.

His systematic destruction of what constitutes core democracy (or is that currently non-core democracy?) will be a blight on the history of this nation for many years. If we are ever rid of the bloke the legacy he leaves will be one of mistrust, greed, ambivalence and intolerance. It is a shame that a book such as yours will all too easily be overlooked as a partisan work of self-serving denigration, which it certainly is

Plagiarism! Plagiarism! Plagiarism! alert...? ()

NHJ! reader Sean Brady fires in a ripper which might - just might, mind you - give us all a bit of a hint as to where Tony Abbott gets his dazzling political ideas from. In Chapter 16 (Australians for Honest Politicians), MK asks Mr A: 'How did the [Australians for Honest Politics] trust get its name? Answer: I chose it.

Ah, but did he? Sean writes:

I think I may have the answer to where Tony Abbott and friends came up with the idea for their group 'Australians For Honest Politics'. Follow the link...and you'll see what I mean - sounds very Abbottesque to me!

NHJ! reports, you decide!

It's on for young and old ()

With just over two weeks since the release of NHJ, we're starting to get a pretty accurate view of the reaction it's been creating around Australia. Penguin Marketing Director, Daniel Ruffino, emailed me this afternoon telling me that after originally printing 10K (nearly all sold), then 3K more, now 6K in the last days, that's 19K total. We're understandably rapt and entry onto many number of top-ten charts will only help the message get even further. Word of mouth is key for NHJ so thanks for all your help in reading, writing and thinking about the aims of the book. As ever, this is a book for people to connect, work together and bring positive change to our democratic system.

So what else has been happening? Where to begin, really. After mentioning Bookcrossing yesterday (the idea of buying and reading a book, posting a comment online, leaving the book somewhere, and waiting for the next person to comment and so on), we've already got our here


Richard Walsham, from the NSW Teachers Federation, says Marcus Einfeld used a speech to attack the Federation over a resolution calling for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: go here

Worker in Community Sector (Owen Atkins)

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, well written, well presented. Thanks!

I think though, that this book could have been written about a leader of any stripe or party. There appears to be a real movement towards 'de-democratising' democracies. Perhaps the Iraqis will end up with a democracy while the rest of us drift off elsewhere. I think the big value of your work is in exposing JH as being a non-conservative. I remember Paul Keating speaking to this same subject last year (?). I'm glad you have expanded his comments in the way you have done. I look forward to 'Not Happy Mark (Tony, Peter....?)'

We really need to keep the report cards going on these guys. Thanks Margo.

Number 8 with a (mild) bullet... ()

Seems that NHJ! has snuck onto the Dymock's 'Top Ten' bestsellers list for this week. The other good news is that Penguin have already cranked up the presses for the first re-print.

Not a bad effort for a book on politics in this joint, we're told. Thanks to all buyers for your support from MK and the Penguin team.

Retired, 70+, brought up in Liberal heartland, moving further left the older I get! (Elizabeth Vitek)

I can't begin to tell you how this book made me feel. I thought I knew a bit about how things are in this country and have been getting more and more despairing by the day. But Margo, you have opened my eyes a lot wider to the truth. I have to thank you for showing me Brian Harradine and Pauline Hanson in a new light. I don't know when I have read anything that is so balanced, but at the same time so passionate. It was a privilege to meet you in Bungendore last Saturday, and I hope your book will be read by many, many people.

Lighting a fire for democracy. (Dave Gaukroger)

I have long agonised over the way so many Australians seem to be disconnected from our political process. Margo's excellent book will hopefully shake people out of their complacency and leave them more demanding of our elected representitives from all sides of politics. Let's regain control of our democracy and put the pollies on notice that we won't stand for their spin any longer.

This is a great book. Read it, lend it to others, give it as a gift, make sure that people know how we are being abused by people who want to control us instead of represent us.

Exciting, new and patchy, capturing the zeitgiest for the elites, at least (David Eastwood)

On balance I liked the book. Strong compelling arguments, well evidenced, got me in. But, a couple of flaws in the logic I reckon:

There seemed a bit of a tendency to play the man and not the ball. JWH certainly makes a convincing chief villain, but Australian politics has long been too cosy a duopoly and I'm sure it's fair to say that Labour are more than slightly complicit in trashing our democracy. I thought the stream of 'neo-liberal' bashing through the book was a bit mindless, and detracted from the main argument. It confused so-called economic agendas with social and political agendas to my mind, and ignored that the most public failings of the capitalist system in recent years have been human failures - venality of the pocket-lining variety exactly as was rife in socialist regimes of prior decades.

I put the book down after finishing it and thought to myself, 'will this change the world', or is it another introspective effort by the elites, for the elites? I sus

Judith Ireland's 'take' on Sydney launch ()

Sydney Uni media n' government student and freelance writer Judith Ireland - who recently did a SMH internship under MK's supervision - has a ripper take on the Sydney launch over at Vibewire. We particularly loved Judith's nod to some useful political anthropology. Here's a sample of her piece:

In 1961, the American political scientist Robert Dahl (no apparent relation to Roald) made the distinction between two kinds of people in democratic society. Most people, more interested in their daily existence than political decision making, fall into the first category of homo civicus or 'civic man'. In our super-busy, post-industrial world, different members of society specialise in different areas. Every voter may have been involved in the golden days of Ancient Greek democracy, but today we are happy to leave political decision making to the experts: the lobbyists, activists and politicians who make up the

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