Monday, October 19, 2009

‘The bulls set us an example’: transcript of Lateline interview with controversial National Party Senator

I swear to God I saw this the other night on Lateline.

I had never heard of any Senator Ernest Smythe, but I was quite impressed with his ability to outdo in the logic stakes none less than Christian fundamnetalist Family First Senator Stephen Fielding. Senator Fielding, of course, is a a climate change sceptic who nonetheless mananged to blame divorce as a cause of global warming.

I believe the Dylaneqsue Mr Tony Jones handled him very well, as usual.


MR JONES: We have with us tonight Ernest Smythe, the National Party Senator for Queensland. He joins us via satellite from his cattle farm in Werethafukami, which is located about 600 kilometres north-west of Idunno. An outspoken MP, a loose cannon his enemies say, he is undeniably popular with the hardline wing of the Nationals, many of whom view current leader, Barnaby Joyce, as far too liberal. Thanks for speaking with us, Mr Smythe.

SENATOR SMYTHE: Always a pleasure, Tony.

MR JONES: You have built a reputation as being very outspoken on a number of controversial issues of the day...

SENATOR SMYTHE: Out here, in the bush, we speak our minds. We say what we mean, Tony, and we don't care who we offend. That's how it is out here, that's how this country was built. You find the salt of the earth out here.

MR JONES: And some people.

SENATOR SMYTHE: Some people, yeah. Not too many. It is a tough life out here, most young people prefer to get as far away as they can the minute they get their drivers licence. We breed 'em tough out here. For some reason they then leave.

MR JONES: You have been very outspoken in your opposition to the “hot-button” issue of same-sex marriage. What is your opposition to allowing two people of the same sex, who love each other, having their relationship granted equal legal standing with a marriage between a man and a woman?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Well, I'll tell you something you learn when you spend your life out here, on a farm. It's a tough life but it’s full of lessons. Tough lessons, lessons maybe those in the cities don't learn. I'll tell you a lesson you learn very early out here: that is ... what was the question?

MR JONES: Same-sex marriage.

SENATOR SMYTHE: Right, well you learn something about that on a farm. For instance, we breed cows. Now, if you want to breed a cow, you don't put two bulls together. That's one of the tough lessons you learn out here. You take the road of trying to mate two bulls, you're screwed. [Said off to one side] Isn't that right love? Two bulls wont get you a cow? Sorry, that's my wife, June. She agrees. Two bulls are useless.

MR JONES: Okay, well...

SENATOR SMYTHE: You don't see that sort of a thing on a farm. Growing up round these parts, you don't have a mardi gras. You just don't see it. You don't see two bulls asking to get married. You don't see two bulls play around about together. No, well, there was that time, [to the side] when was that love? Last month.

MR JONES: Two bulls...

SENATOR SMYTHE: Two bulls last month, yeah, it was ah, Jack and... [looks to the side questiongly] oh Jack, yeah that's right. We caught Jack and Jack. We call all our bulls Jack, much easier that way. They were up to, well you know.

MR JONES: Right, so..

SENATOR SMYTHE: It was unfortunate. But you know the thing is, Tony, they didn't then ask to get married.

MR JONES: They didn't?

SENATOR SMYTHE: No. I can't say I personally approve of their activities, but say what you will about Jack and Jack, at least they don't go around seeking to wreck the sacred institution of marriage. Jack and Jack are not trying to destroy the very pillar of family life, on which this nation was built.

MR JONES: Okay, well how about the times when your bulls do mate with your cows. It could be said with the same logic, surely, that this too is destroying the institution of the family if all of this mating occurs outside of marriage?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Absolutely Tony. We always marry our bulls and cows before mating. We like to do things properly out here. Maybe that’s old-fashioned, maybe we seem like hicks to the trendy inner-city set sipping lattes. Maybe they find that a bit strange...

MR JONES: Marrying your bulls and cows?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Quite possibly they do, I don't know. And frankly, Tony, I don't care. We don't apologise for standing by the values that built this country, for which the Anzacs died.

MR JONES: I assume you would expect the bulls and cows to follow their marriage vows. But presumably, in order to run an economically viable farm, you can't afford to allow one bull to only mate with one cow?

SENATOR SMYTHE: That is a problem and the bovine species are not that different in this sense from humans. They too are born in sin. It is in their nature. A bull has no desire to only mate with one cow and the cows don't seem bothered about what else a bull gets up to. This is not unlike many people these days, unfortunately, and, like in our society, this causes many social problems.

MR JONES: Such as?

SENATOR SMYTHE: The divorce rate is shocking. It is a tragedy, but we can't allow our stock to live in sin. So once the marriage has occurred and the mating done, we have no choice but to perform a divorce so a new marriage, and new mating, can take place. The bull has no thought for the sacred institution of marriage, unfortunately, so the process repeats itself many times.

It is a sad fact but true: the divorce rate out here is very high. It is a tough life.

MR JONES: So to summarise, Senator, this is why you oppose same-sex marriage?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Yes. I think the example of Jack and Jack is very instructive. Whatever their weaknesses, whatever their sins, they know that God made Adam and Eve not Jack and Jack and they respect that.

MR JONES: If I may more on, now, to another major issue in which you hold outspoken views. You have caused a lot of controversy with your repeated insistence that there is no such thing as global warming. How do you make such a claim in the face of overwhelming evidence from the scientific community?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Global warming is a conspiracy theory. That’s not a popular thing to say. It’s not politically correct. But out here we call things as we see them. It is a hoax. It has no basis whatsoever in science.

MR JONES: But, surely, as a farmer you would be well aware of the long-lasting drought rural areas have been suffering. How do you respond to those scientists that have linked this with climate change?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Homosexuality.

MR JONES: I'm sorry?

SENATOR SMYTHE: The one answer most of the scientific community refuse to investigate, in the middle of all their talk about “scientific evidence”, is that the drought is punishment from God for the rise in homosexual activity.

That’s a tough call, but is hard to blame Him. It is getting out of control.

MR JONES: Right, well...

SENATOR SMYTHE: I've tried to tell Jack and Jack. I tried to explain to them that they’re only hurting themselves. For whatever momentary pleasure they get out of their perverted activities, they’re only denying themselves the green grass they need to eat.

But like so many humans, they refuse to look at the reality, at the cold hard facts. Rather than face up to our sins, we prefer to invent fairytales about “global warming”. That is much easier for people to believe in.

MR JONES: People find it easier to believe in human-induced global warming than drought being a punishment from God for homosexuality?

SENATOR SMYTHE: Exactly. The scientific community are very closed-minded. They refuse to even consider the alternatives. I have not found a single so-called climate scientist willing to debate me on the topic of homosexuality versus human-induced global warming.

MR JONES: Well, unfortunately, I think that is all we have time for. Thanks, again Senator, for that illuminating conversation and we hope …

SEANTOR SMYTHE: [to the side] What’s that? Shit! [to camera, getting up] Sorry, Tony, I am going to have to … it’s Jack and Jack again. [to the side] Get the hose love — we can’t afford another year of drought, not with our bills. [Walks off]

MR JONES: That was Ernest Smyth, National Party Senator for Queensland, from his farm at Werethafukami.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Orwell belatedly recognised (or the Nobel Peace Prize — just like the Grammys only bloodier)

Well it’s that time of the year again, when the world stops and waits with bated breath to discover who a committee of Norwegian people have decided to honour with the Nobel Peace Prize.

This year, they made a seemingly brave choice.

The distinguished committee has gone for a literary reference — a somewhat unsubtle acknowlegement of the works of George Orwell.

As the panel on literature is left in the safe hands of the Swedes, we can only assume this sideways foray into the field is a swipe at the Norwegians hated Scandinavian rivals — who never saw fit to give Orwell his due in his day.

Of course, the Norwegians fail to realise the Swedes were talkin' Orwell before the author was even born.

War is peace, indeed. It has been the case from the beginning.

The Nobel Peace Prize, after all, is named after Alfred Nobel, the renowned 19th century Swedish arms manufacturer.

In fact, the Norwegians themselves have been making the ironic point for years — without anyone appearing to have gotten the reference. So they keep atryin’.

In 1919, the “peace prize” was won by then-US president Woodrow Wilson — whose thoroughly Orwellian commitment to peace involved him taking a reluctant USA into the pointless, mass slaughter of World War One just two years earlier.

1973 was the year for possibly the greatest acknowledgment to Orwell's celebrated concept of “double-speak” — in which a totalitarian regime insists, in his nightmare novel 1984, that “War is Peace”.

The winner that year was Henry Kissinger.

Then-US secretary of state, Kissinger was one of the truly great war criminals of the 20th Century — a century that featured so many top mass murdering names.

Among his many unpeaceful acts, Kissinger was an architect of the Vietnam War (and the bombing of Cambodia, which helped pave the way for the Khmer Rouge to seize power).

And Kissinger famously helped organise the 1973 Chilean military coup that brought the dictator Pinochet to power.

Kissinger uttered the immortal line about the elected left-wing government he helped bury under the corpses of tens of thousands: “I don't see why we need to stand by and allow a country to go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.

“The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

Never, I have always believed with good reason drawn from personal experience, trust a Chilean.

In that, I am entirely with the former US secretary of state, as well as the Bolivians.

But should legitimate mistrust ever be allowed to degenerate into barbaric and unseemly mass slaughter?

I fear I must draw a line.

Kissinger, of course, also gave Indonesian dictator Suharto the green light to invade to invade East Timor in 1975.

Before Indonesian occupation, supported and armed by the West, finally left in 1999, around one third of the population had died.

Suharto had come to power in October 1965 in a military coup coordinated with the US embassy. (That old joke — “Why has there never been a military coup in the US? Because Washington has no US embassy.”)

In the aftermath of the coup, one of the 20th century’s great mass murders occurred. As many as half a million members of the Indonesian Communist Party, suspected members, suspected sympathisers, and general leftists and suspected leftists, were butchered.

The Australian PM of the day, Harold Holt, said with glee about Indonesia in a speech to a dinner party in New York, as the bodies were still being buried: “With 500,000 to 1 million Communist sympathisers knocked off, I think it safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.”

It is a truly severe tragedy that Holt disappeared while swimming a little over a year later.

This most unfortunate circumstance no doubt is the sole reason Holt was not, justly, awarded Australia’s first and only Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his humanitarian spirit.

I still, to this day, do not see why the Norwegians could not have granted it to him posthumously.

And here we are in 2009, and the Norwegians are as canny and sharp as ever.

In keeping with an understanding of peace that only a prize named after a man whose fortune was made selling things that explode in order to rip human flesh apart could uphold, this year’s prize has been won by the leader of the nation with the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

A leader of a nation actively using the weapons on civilians in three countries, while happily supplying them for a profit for active use in a number of others.

Yes, US President Barack Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Some cynics and/or communist agents (just because the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago doesn't mean the Laos People's Democratic Republic does not have its agents working to undermine the Free World) suggest there is something odd in this choice.

It is true that in Obama, the hopes of millions of ordinary people desperate for change and an end to his predecessor’s policies of war are embodied.

It is also true that this is a peace prize handed to a man not just overseeing, but escalating an actual war.

It is a bold choice. Even when they handed Kissinger his award, it was for the Paris peace accords that recognised that, more or less, the US had lost the Vietnam War.

Kissinger was at least being rewarded for losing a war.

Obama, on the other hand, is yet to even be defeated. And, by the looks of Afghanistan, it isn't as if the Norwegians would have had to wait that long.

There is not much peaceful about Afghanistan. The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner has sent more US troops that his predecessor.

There is increasingly little peaceful about Pakistan either, to which Obama, in a stroke of military genius akin to Kissinger’s brainwave that the way to win Vietnam was to invade Cambodia, has decided to extend the Afghan war.

It makes perfect sense. The Afghan war is being lost, the solution is to start more war next door in a nation more populous.

I try this technique all the time. Horribly drunk after far too many beers, I solve the problem by following each further beer with whiskey chasers.

The results for me are about the same as for the US Empire — pain, tears and stained carpets.

It may well be true, as Spinoza said, that peace is more than the absence of war.

But it is usually considered that an absence of war is, at the very least, a precondition for peace.

Life is more than breathing oxygen, but try it without the fucking stuff and sees how you go.

Drunkeness is more than one beer too, but you can’t reach the nirvana state with only iced water.

The US-led occupation forces was, presumably, working for peace when the US Airforce, as it has repeatedly throughout the war now in its ninth year, bombed a gathering of civilians killing more than 100 in September. And in May. And this month.

Such stories actually occur week in and week out.

No doubt Obama is working for peace when pilotless drones, controlled from a bunker thousands of kilometres way, bomb a Pakistani village that the Taliban have long fled.

No doubt the Obama administration is also working for peace in Honduras. Certainly no one can doubt that, in endless state department press releases, the administration is claiming it is.

In Honduras, the elected president Manuel Zelaya annoyed the hell out of US corporations by raising the minimum wage by 60%.

Not long after, he was kidnapped in his pyjamas, bundled into a place and exiled to Costa Rica.

This act being carried out by a military in which every officer is trained by the US School of the Americas.

The head of the military (and coup) is so keen he graduated from the SOA twice.

Zelaya was flown out of the country from the US military base in Tegucigalpaa.

Despite a public response of, “Hey! Guys! C’mon that’s not nice”, the US continues to train Honduran military officers.

And, claims by state department press releases notwithstanding, has still not cut off the large majority of its aid to the regime.

The military Obama refuses to cut ties with is right now killing and torturing unarmed civilians demanding the president they elected be returned.

In case Latin America didn't get the hint, straight after the coup occurred, it was announced that there would be five new US military bases in Colombia.

Colombia is the third largest recipient of US military aid, which it uses to further world peace by killing civilians pretending they are guerrillas.

It also is home to the highest rate of assassination of trade unionists each year of any other nation. In fact, some 60% of the world total occurs in Colombia.

Of course, the biggest recipient of US military aid is Israel, of which Obama is such an outspoken supporter.

Standard rhetoric about the need for a peace deal, contained in the same state department press releases circulated for the last 15 years, notwithstanding, this continues under Obama without any risk.

Enabling, of course, Israel to commit crimes against humanity.

Whatever the intention of those inscrutable Scandinavians, it does appear that, to win a Nobel Peace Prize, no actual talent in the field of peace is required. The very opposite seems rewarded.

Not unlike the Grammys really.

And, if we look it at it, we must admit: the Obama administration’s contribution to world peace is not really all that different to multi-Grammy winner Mariah Carey’s contribution to music.

Their effects on their respective fields are, in fact, strikingly similar.

And I do find listening to Mariah Carey enables me to feel, in a small way, something of what it must be like to be a prisoner held indefinitely without charge in the US-run Bagrahm prison in Afghanistan.

Those lucky enough to have trialled the services available to a prisoner in both Bagrahm and Guantanamo say they prefer Guantanamo.

Obama made the high-profile pledge to close Guantanamo. Bagrahm, continues unhindered in its torture policy.

And Orwell is at last rewarded with a belated Nobel Prize.

“When you left I lost a part of me, it's still so hard to believe. Come back baby,
'cause we belong together”. This Grammy-winning song’s contribution to the field of music is similar to Barack Obama’s to world peace.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Who’s really waging the war on drugs?

In my last post I highlighted my good friend Conehead the Barbiturate’s serious drug problem. Which, as Conehead has always maintained, is his dealer.

Well, it seems his experience is not unique.

The following, from entitled “My dealer — my anti-drug”, is so perfect an account of Conehead’s Man as to raise serious questions about the possibility Yankee potheads spying on innocent Sydneysiders.

“Darryl, if I come over and give you money for weed, are you gonna shot at my car?”. It is possible all drug dealers in the world are in fact cleverly placed state narcotics agents working quietly at the grassroots to disprove the commonly-held belief that the “war on drugs” has been a total failure.