Saturday 20th of July 2024

the value of a self-important rattus .....

the value of a self-important rattus .....

from Crikey …..

Our Johnny keeps the Obamas out

Richard Farmer writes:

It is always a bit embarrassing in Washington when there's a new President. The old one hangs around in the White House for two and a half months after the election while the new one prepares his team to take over.

The normal thing to make the home switching as painless as possible is for the incoming President to take up residence a couple of weeks before the official inauguration in Blair House, the President's guesthouse, managed by the Office of the Chief of Protocol at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue. This January things have been different and Washington insiders were puzzled as to why Barack Obama, his wife and two children were spending their time in a Washington Hotel.

Did this mark a new point in relations between incoming and outgoing, Democrat and Republican? Was George W Bush practicing some final form of revenge?

At last such unwholesome speculation has ended with the Washington Post revealing this morning "Blair House Mystery Solved: It's John Howard". The veil is lifted, said the report. "We now know who is booked at Blair House, kicking President-elect Barack Obama and his family to the waiting list and across Lafayette Park to the Hay-Adams Hotel. The only overnight visitor at the presidential guest manse is none other than John Howard, a former Australian prime minister and leading member of President Bush's coalition of the willing in Iraq."

Our Johnny will be in Washington to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from his retiring friend George Dubya on 13 January. Whereas fellow recipients of that honour, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, declined the presidential invitation to stay at Blair House and found private accommodation the Howard entourage accepted the invitation to bunk down at Blair House on the night of 12 January.

The Obama family are now scheduled to move in on 15 January.

a macabre joke .....

So George W Bush - the Commander in Chief of Global Terror - is to give our former Prime Minister John Howard - the Man of Steal - a freedom medal for his “work in improving the lives of [his] citizens and for [his] efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad.”

As Tom Lehrer said when Henry Kissinger - the man who bombed the hell out of Vietnam and Cambodia and killed millions - won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize: “It was at that moment that satire died. There was nothing more to say after that.”

Giving Howard the freedom medal is a macabre joke. But neither Bush or Howard, nor that other accomplice in terror, Tony Blair, are laughing.  They think this is serious stuff.

I suppose the man who won the 2000 Presidential election by five Supreme Court votes to four feels no compunction in giving this “honour” to John Howard who in the name of democracy won the 1998 election with 48.9 per cent of the popular vote (on a two party preferred basis.)

George W Bush is the antithesis of freedom.  His sanctioning of rendition and torture and his establishment of the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay are but two indications that he is opposed to freedom. His invasion of Iraq has killed 1 million Iraqis - roughly the equivalent of September 11 wreaked on the Iraqi people every week.

His support for the terrorist state of Israel has reached the highs of now encouraging and condoning the present campaign of genocide - a campaign going back more than 60 years - against the Palestinian people.  These are the actions of a warmonger and war criminal, not a man of peace.

staunch medallists...

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has received the United States' highest civil award - the Medal of Freedom.

A week before he leaves office, President George W Bush bestowed the honour on Mr Blair for his work to "improve the lives of citizens".

The president praised Mr Blair and thanked him for his "staunch" support for the US after the attacks of 9/11.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former Australian PM John Howard also received the award.

Mr Blair's spokesman said the medal was a "great honour".


Denigrating the medal

Moir and Leunig see the funny side of John Howard receiving the Medal of Freedom. I see it differently.

My father, Murray Tindale, was one of about 12 Australian servicemen who received a Medal of Freedom (which I still have) from President Truman after World War II.

My father, who spoke fluent Japanese, received his medal for his service with the 158th Regimental Combat Team, including "successfully handling over 600 prisoners of war during the Luzon campaign" in 1945.

I have the newspaper cutting listing the famous Australians, such as General Frank Berryman and Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Morshead, who bravely served their country when Australia was in peril. These are normally the sort of people who are awarded this very high honour by the US.

To present the Medal of Freedom to John Howard denigrates the award, its holders and their achievements.

Gretel Woodward Watsons Bay


So farewell then, Dubya. It is with tears in our eyes that we watch you leave the stage after eight tumultuous years, though in my case they are tears of appreciative laughter.

I defy anyone to watch one of those internet anthologies of Bushisms - the gaffes and bloopers of the outgoing president - without a sense of wonderment at his Prescottian battles with the English language.

In his gift for surreal improvisation, he resembles an unintentional Paul Merton, a linguistic Dadaist armed with nuclear weapons and a worrying sense that God is on his side. No longer will the White House be inhabited by a man who blissfully jumbles Slovakia and Slovenia, who fears for the fate of the "Kosovians", or who believes the secret of Balkan stability is "to keep good relations with the Grecians", with their lustrous black locks.

We say goodbye to the global strategist whose sunny optimism still persuades him Japan and America have "had a peaceful alliance for 150 years" - something of a revelation to the people of Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima - and we say goodbye to the conservative thinker and moralist who understands "families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream", and yet finds compassion for the unmarried mother of two. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family," he told her.


Gus: and please make yourself scarce... No grand public speaking tours et al. Just go away and we might throw shoes at photographs of your face instead of throwing them directly at your mug...



a staunch most inconvenient houseguest

from the Washington Post

America's most inconvenient houseguest received the presidential medal of freedom today during a White House ceremony.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard accepted America's highest civilian honor after spending the night at Blair House -- edging out President-elect Barack Obama for that lodging. The 119-room mansion across from the White House serves as an official presidential guesthouse.

Howard, a staunch supporter of President Bush criticized by his political opponents for sending Australian troops to Iraq, was soundly defeated for reelection in 2007 and suffered the indignity of also losing his seat in parliament. Bush called Howard "a sturdy friend in time of need," and noted that Howard was in Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and "saw the burning Pentagon."

Most recently, though, Howard's stay at Blair House caused a stir here and in his home country. Obama and his family had hoped to stay at the mansion prior to his inauguration so the Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, could start school. The Bush administration declined the request, saying the mansion was taken. It later was revealed that Howard and his wife were was the only overnight guests during the period the Obamas wanted to stay at the mansion. The Obamas opted to stay at the Hay-Adams Hotel until they move into Blair House on Jan. 15.


Gus: May the medal rust...

a happy chappy...

From the SMH letters (23/06/09)
Howard: my good mood

Obviously Peter Hartcher cannot handle the fact that I did not lapse into wrist-slashing depression after the 2007 election ("Why Howard still denies his deputy's economic legacy", June 20-21). So he has attached himself to the bizarre theory that the reason I am so "upbeat" "active" and "chipper" is that I kept Peter Costello out of the prime ministership, due to my "visceral hatred" of him.

Hartcher strains credulity when he invokes John Faulkner as authority for his ludicrous proposition. The views attributed to Faulkner say more about the bitter political psychology of a tribal Labor insider than about me. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as "projection".

For Hartcher's benefit, my positive frame of mind is the result of the great support of a loving family, plenty to do and a continuing zeal for national and international affairs. It also helps to know that the government I led left behind an economy which placed Australia in a better position to weather the financial storms of recent times than virtually any other nation.

When in government I often said Mr Costello was Australia's best ever Treasurer. That remains my view. We worked together productively and effectively for almost 13 years. As a consequence, Australia was a stronger, prouder and more prosperous nation in November 2007 than when the Keating government was defeated in March 1996.

John Howard Sydney


The last paragraph does not hold water.

Actually the whole letter does not stand up to scrutiny in my opinion — except that if John Howard wants to smile he is entitled to it. But John Howard despite his grand illusions took Australia on the road of rev-heads with a donkey where I and more illuminated financial wizzes were seeing the oncoming debt traffic about to hit us. Lucky that the long standing Australian prudential regulations (which were not his baby although I suspect he was about to dismantle some of them to help profiteers), protected this country like an old fashioned bumper bar.  It's okay to boast about government surpluses but the people of this nation had to get into massive personal debt to survive the Howard government fanciful-financial footwork. The porkies about Iraq and many others littered the political landscape with bad smells.

And Keating had sowed most of the good seeds for Costello to cruise along till John Howard's government ran out of compost.

see toon at top...

And why would he not be a happy chappy?...

The wise man in the street smells a rat, actually a rattus:

The Federal Opposition is refusing to back down on its calls for Treasurer Wayne Swan to resign over the OzCar affair.

The Opposition has conceded it cannot sustain its case against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, after federal police found a crucial email to be fake.

Police yesterday raided Treasury official Godwin Grech's home, uncovered the email and declared it a fake. They suspect Mr Grech was involved in creating it.

Mr Grech, who is in charge of the Government's OzCar scheme, gave key evidence about the scandal to a senate inquiry on Friday, saying he received a short email from the Prime Minister's office asking him to assist John Grant.

The Opposition had accused both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan of giving political donor and friend, car dealer Mr Grant, favourable treatment and then misleading Parliament about it.

The Government is demanding the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, apologise to Mr Rudd and resign.

But the Opposition's Treasury spokesman, Joe Hockey, says the Coalition has a responsibility to hold the Government to account.


The wise man in the street sees a few Machiavellian forces at play. For starters one of the treasury public servants used to work directly for Joe Hockey. That's Godwin Grech, the fellow who looked for a few moment like having drank a full bottle of Listerine during the inquisition by a Liberal member, Eric Abetz, who himself knew "which questions to ask" about the email before it was even published... According to the man in the street, another public servant who was working till about a couple of weeks ago in treasury, used to work for a Lib and prior to that worked for John Howard... See the man in the street's drift?

So the wise-man in the street sees a well constructed machination designed to embarrass Rudd, Turnbull and Swan all at the same time... And it does not matter if the email is found to be fake... The mud sticks and more mud is flying. Otherwise why bother with "fake" emails. easily unpicked... It forced the government to release some "private papers" on which Turbull thinks he still has traction but really the main "barking dog" is Joe Hockey. Meanwhile Minchin and a few other Liberal heavyweights (John Howard loyalists) stay well clear of the flying mud and are eloquent by their silence.

Now you may ask, why would someone in the Liberal party try to damage Turnbull? Good question. But this is where the Machiavellis in the Liberal Party-shoes shine. According to the man in the street, the Liberal party is "divided" between a few factions, but manly deeply entrenched along the lines of "republicans" and "monarchists"...

The reason given by the man in the street why Costello never got the Prime Ministership gig is that Howard is a staunch royalist and Costello was a republican. Thus, no go Peter... Simple.


"Hockey even saved Rudd's life. "We'd stopped by a fast-flowing stream and Kevin was 20 metres upriver when he stumbled," remembers David Koch. "Joe and I saw him go down, unable to get to his feet. Quick as a flash, Joe thrust his hand out and saved him." Back home, Brendan Nelson says it "raised a few eyebrows on our side".


Joe Hockey "is" a republican but the many caveats he has on Australia taking the plunge is more or less making him a closet monarchist. He's the heir apparent to Turnbull who appears to be more and more losing it. Thus the Howard faction of monarchists would have possibly got some advice from the master to muck things up all around: Turnbull is a loose cannon ... and a "republican", although it was Turnbull and his club of snouty elite republicans who managed to sink a sure thing, back in 1999... So, let Joe Hockey bite. Wait and see till the dust settles.

Meanwhile one could expect a few more "fake" stuff poking the wheels of the Rudd government, until Joe Hockey gets to the top dog level in the Liberal party...

Sulphur smells... And John Howard can smile to his heart content... That's what the man in the street thinks. He may be wrong, but rarely...


 see toon at top