Monday, February 24, 2014

Dogs in search of fleas ...

When the work of the hagiographer gets tough, the tough hagiographer gets going.

What to do, between a Minister making a fool of himself on the weekend and a Minister covering himself in glory?

Go for the glory mais naturellement: 

Yep, celebrate a talk fest that puts out a communique and makes a pious statement about growth and after the festivities and the junketking, everybody heads back home and confronts the realities of their world ...

2%? Most polls these days have a bigger margin of error. The result is a modest pie in the sky proposal, verging on the completely meaningless, and if, like all the domestic blather about a million jobs in five years, it fails to rise like the average Hockey souffle, who will care?

As for the other?

Well if you still lived in the age of tree killers, you'd see an entirely different spin by the Fairfaxians:

That splash was backed up by stories demanding attention be paid, amongst them Michael Gordon's Scott Morrison's comments and conduct need examination (forced video at end of link)

Morrison might think he can sell the pup of correcting himself in the dead of night on a Saturday, by explaining he's just keeping the public informed of changes in his understanding of what happened. Staying in touch, keeping everyone posted hour by hour, a regular update man ...

But when you've behaved in a condescending, arrogant, furtive and secretive way, it's hard for that pup to fly.

Who can remember the days - they seem so distant - but it was only in January when the world copped Morrison stops weekly briefings on asylum seekers (forced video at end of link).

Well it certainly showed the Fairfaxians that you could attract the attention of the demographics with Morrison's current folly:

Here "most popular" might also be seen as looking "most like a fish gasping for air".

Right now Abbott is standing by his man, on the strange basis that he's not a wimp, as if bashing the crap out of refugees is a way to certain glory.

Then, just as the pond thought matters couldn't get any more surreal, this news story took top place in the Fairfaxians' digital edition:

If you read Australia asks Cambodia to take asylum seekers amid violent crackdown, you realise it might not be a Monty Python sketch.

It might even be true that this is a government that will consort with dictators and extend its colonial attitude to anyone in Asia who will listen. Not satisfied with ending the rule of law in Nauru and painting Papua New Guinea as a dark place where all the bad stuff happens outside the fence - when it seems that the bad stuff might have happened inside the fence, now we're alleged to be seeking to spread the colonialist mindset to Cambodia.

While sucking up to a petty, vicious dictator.

Hun Sen, a significant figure in the Khmer Rouge and at one time a puppet of Vietnam when it mattered, has maintained his long career as a dictator by a heady mix of corruption, brutality, violence, and an ostensible ballot-rigged democracy that would make Vlad the impaler Putin go green with envy. Go on, do a Greg Hunt, wiki him here.

Head off to The Phnom Penh Post, and you can read PM lauds military for handling of protests, wherein you'll find the usual George Orwell  "war is peace" jargon:

The armed forces, Hun Sen added, must continue defending human rights and respecting democracy. “In this spirit, [we] must join together to defend the constitution, our independence and our full sovereignty and guarantee our national institutions,” he said. 
Hun Sen also hinted at more confrontation, saying that in the event of further attempts at “violence and unrest in society”, the armed forces must take “action according to the law”. 

And that action?

Since September, six civilians have been shot dead by security forces. The government has yet to take action against perpetrators of the incidents.

And that's just the dead ones, not the ones that have been locked up.

The pond could spend the entire post detailing Hun Sen's misdeeds and the corrupt and violent way he's mis-ruled Cambodia, but enough misery on a Monday already.

In these circumstances, what should be at the top of the agenda?

Before the visit, Human Rights Watch urged Ms Bishop to put rights abuses at the top of her agenda in meetings with Cambodian leaders, saying under Hun Sen's rule, ''basic rights, such as freedom of expression, assembly and association, are under regular attack, while corruption is rampant, severely affecting the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights by a very poor citizenry''.

Instead, what do we get?

The Abbott government wants to send some asylum seekers to Cambodia, at a time when the country's strongman prime minister, Hun Sen, is overseeing a brutal crackdown on dissent in one of south-east Asia's poorest nations. 
Facing growing opposition after decades of authoritarian rule, Hun Sen last month authorised a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and striking garment workers that left five people dead and dozens injured. 
A request on Saturday by Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, for Australia to initially send a small group of asylum seekers to live in Cambodia comes amid the strongest challenge to Hun Sen's rule since he took power in 1985, becoming one of the world's longest-serving leaders, with a reputation as a wily operator who destroys his political opponents.

And this cosy snap of Julie Bishop smirking as she shakes the paw of a dictator:

She's been gathering a real collection of dicators, up there with collectors of Tamagotchi Bandai Trading Cards ...

What's remarkable is that Bishop and Abbott would give Hun Sen and his government a veneer of credibility and respectability, while at the same time proposing to exploit a poverty-stricken country and abuse asylum seekers by displacing them into a poverty-stricken dictatorship.

As for Hun Sen's record on refugees? 

Well it's off to The Phnom Penh Post again, back on 8th January scribbling UN's refugee office in Cambodia shrinks:

The number of people seeking refuge in Cambodia has dropped precipitously from 250 in 2008 to just two last year. Rights groups have pointed to the dip as evidence of poorly implemented asylum policies, which have seen political exigencies put ahead of refugee conventions. In 2008, for instance, just 16 per cent of those 250 people were granted asylum. 
 Most who were rejected were Montagnards who faced ethnic and religious persecution but still found themselves forcibly repatriated to Vietnam. Two years later, the government labelled 20 Uighur asylum seekers “illegal immigrants” and sent them back to certain death in China just days after taking over registration duties from the UNHCR. 
The government’s unwillingness to adhere to basic refugee conventions is a possible explanation for the downsizing, said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.

And so on. But the pond takes it all back. It seems that Tony Abbott and Hun Sen are a perfect fit, a wondrous meeting of minds.

As for shame? No sense of shame at all, it seems. 

You'd hope that it was a scurrilous press rumour and that it would be denied - with scorn and indignation - by Bishop and Abbott, but they're so obsessed by the need to demonise boat people and carry out their three word slogans, and bail out the inept Scott Morrison that they'll stoop to anything. Even if lying down with dogs means getting up with a multitude of fleas ...

But it's Monday, and a long week stretches ahead, so let's not be gloomy, and instead let's celebrate with jolly Joe, who seems to have found a new love:

Earlier yesterday, Mr Hockey praised Dr Yellen for her "superb" work as head of the US Federal Reserve. "It appears to me that Dr Yellen is exactly the right person at exactly the right time for the US Fed," Mr Hockey said. 
 "At a time when there are sensitivities associated with tapering, I think her handling of this is superb." (here, behind the paywall, because true teen love should be kept private)

Naturally David Rowe was right on song, and remember more Rowe here:


  1. How significant is the political power of social media?

    Last night 1000s of Australians attended candlelight vigils at 100s of sites around Australia to 'Light the Dark' [that was the hash tag name or whatever] against our treatment of asylum seekers.
    10,000 in Sydney, 5,000 in Fed Square Melbourne, thousands more in Brissy, Adelaide and over 600 places around the country. See Facebook for photos.

    All organised within 36 hours via social media.

    Yet apart from 1 mention at Fairfax there has been media silence.
    ABC RN had a session on Manus etc this morning but failed to mention the vigils. Would have been an ideal opportunity to do so I would have thought.

    A portent of things to come from an emerging power?


    1. Was there a prior comprehensive, ready to publish media release with pics, silliness, juicy bits, controversy, confrontation, celebrity, and issued in business hours (before lunch)? If so, was it dumb enough? It maybe that abundant great big searchlight free copy blots out candle lit illuminations?

  2. Not only dictators DP! For example, Bishop/Abbott have gone further than any US client state ever, or even the US itself, in praise and support for Israeli actions against UN resolutions and international law in occupied Palestine. The Woodside mates got a slice of the Israeli off-Palestine-shore gas pie shortly after...

  3. I agree we don’t want a “wimp running border protection”, but neither do we want a chimp running it and a chump endorsing the chimp.

  4. Today’s SMH reports that “more than $15,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on a second custom-built bookcase to house Attorney-General George Brandis' extensive collection of books and law reports.

    The cost of the new bookcase comes on top of a $7000 taxpayer-funded bookcase purchased for Senator Brandis in 2010 to house $13,000 worth of taxpayer-funded books and magazines.”

    Last year Brandis spent “$13,000 on reading materials including political thriller The Marmalade Files, Best Australian Political Cartoons and Christopher Hitchens' autobiography Hitch-22.”

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak would make an excellent addition to his voluminous but incomplete library.

  5. Dorothy, Morrison will not be going anywhere soon- the asylum policy is working exactly as it is meant too and is vote winning popular in many areas.
    When people tell you that they should shoot refugees as they arrive, the idea of someone dying in a camp, or being shunted off to Cambodia, well, they are not going to be crying about it.
    It's never been about border control, human rights or basic human decently. It's about trawling for votes among people who should know better.

  6. Vale Harold Ramis.

    A tribute -


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