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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
PM Howard running over political crocs to VP Cheney visit Feb 22, safe haven or vortex of demise?
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: election Oz 2007


Picture: Poster of the aging Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee movie franchise: Is Howard having a fit of vanity seeking to reprise the hairy chested tough guy persona who fights off scary 'crocodiles' in a world of fiction to a bemused USA audience? 




All the commentary in Big Media the last 48 hour news cycle has correctly bought into PM Howard's determined sledge of Barak Obama presidential candidate in the USA, and the Democrats generally, as a ‘friend of terrorists’ for daring to promote a withdrawal from the Iraq war:


But they haven’t quite got the gist we think regarding the impending Dick Cheney visit.


Howard’s statement was deliberate if bogus provocation unlike suggestions of guest Katherine House on 702 Glover show last afternoon that Howard was turning "cranky". On the contrary a Qld govt backbencher yesterday egged the pudding by adding Obama’s view was “evil”. That’s how willing the PR tactic is.


Not only is Howard not sending 20,000 more Australian troops as challenged by Obama, but more to the point he would never let his own sons over to that meat grinder, just as Michael Moore famously interviewed stony faced USA federal politicians about their own children going to war. Oh no, everyone else is cannon fodder in this war.


SAM's editor watched the Oaks interview on Sunday that kicked this all off, skipping to Insiders when possible for my political talkies piece but I must admit I didn’t expect Howard’s malice to capture all the Big Media attention.


Where indeed is the news value? Is he really interfering in USA electioneering? It was on Ch9 in Sydney not USA news services until they ran it. It was a proxy derivative comment for Much Bigger Politics in Uncle Sam so in that sense nothing new. So far it's just Howard’s monstrous cruel pro war dogma as “the slaughter” to quote Richard Neville pours bucket after bucket of blood into a vortex of civil war.


But there is news, as Opposition Leader Rudds says, in Howard deliberately attacking the ascendant Democrats in the Senate and Congress as potentially damaging Australia’s alliance relationship in the future. Indeed Howard is becoming “a menace” to quote Senator Brown (Greens). He will be gone most likely as PM if the US Democrats win the presidency in 2008, even if he Howard wins here October 2007. Yet here he is throwing his destructive weight around now. That's indulgent and vain.


But there is more to the ridiculous Obama attack as if he were a Republican conservative governor in the West Wing TV show in the 52nd State.


Firstly Howard seems to be ploughing the ground for the arrival of his role model in radical global interventions and military arrogance one Dick Cheney Vice President of the USA who will be visiting our country later this month Feb 22nd to 27th 2007. And there is alot of ploughing to do for such as Cheney.


This war is so unpopular and Cheney so unloved that veteran Alex Mitchell wrote in the Sydney SunHerald recently that the VP should be arrested for “war crimes”. That’s a big call for mainstream press. Yet he is Howard’s mate and he will be here on Howard’s platform.


Secondly to coin a phrase 'trouble loves company', and Howard is in unprecedented strife himself as Coalition leader: Adverse polling as Rudd goes ahead in the preferred PM polls;  climate change denial come home to roost in the voters minds; Premiers stonewalling Howard’s big budget sledgehammer on Murray Darling water restructure (a $10B political posture which side stepped Cabinet no less).


So this sad joke framing of Howard and Australia on ‘the world stage’ with a mere symbolic 1400 troops there in Iraq under the skirts of W Bush - is some kind of political leap across the back of domestic political crocodiles.


For instance conservative Sunday Telegraph has Milne writing “Rudd’s clever manoeurvring has Howard on the ropes” including this amusing comment:


“One seasoned Canberra watcher observed on Thursday: 'Howard’s like a cobra, bobbing and weaving, probing for a weakness and wanting to strike. Trouble is, the other guy is a mongoose.' " 


Milne quotes last sentence “one hard headed senior cabinet minister"  as follows:


“We’re going to have [sic] swim harder and faster now if we want to win”.


Matt Price same paper similarly has “Our lives could depend on this” referring to climate change gravity Howard has lost credibility on. And notice Howard man Switkowski promoting nuke power economics in the wake of any carbon trading scheme:


Carbon trading would boost nuclear: Switkowski - Sat Feb 10 18:19 ...


Old technology for old ways of thinking. Howard is yesterday’s man desperate for a change in news cycle, and prepare the way for Cheney. He’s playing for distractions and for time and likely will have some kind of choreography around the Cheney visit seeking to recapture essential ‘momentum’ in this critical election year.


And observers can smell the lack of momentum, the political blood. Ex PM Keating and rival to Howard was using his usual melodramatic language yesterday on abc radio (queried about a major urban planning issue he worked on) about “putting the sword” to leaders “glued to their seat” like “dessicated coconut” Howard “who stayed too long”.


Howard appears to be employing an eye catching political gymnastic stunt leaping into USA affairs and toward Cheney's visit over his own domestic worries. But will he make it to a political refuge? Experienced rock climbers will tell you when are stuck (like Howard was at the end of a bad week) there is one way to confound the viewers - go for a dynamic move like this, but you need a good landing place at the other end, or it's uh oh, free fall. It all comes down to the final clinch or pad.


Is Cheney such a 'juggy' hand hold the other side? Or solid island in the river depending on your choice of metaphor. I don't think so. And Howard is very high with a long way to fall (or sink). Likely it will be an ugly spectacle especially in the last split second.


A good start to analysing the quality of Cheney's PR promise around his visit can be found in a story which ran with a rediculous sledge of Nancy Pelosi third in line to the Presidency, for upgrading her plane transport in a time of war.


It refers scarily to Cheney applying fraud to the case for going to war with Iraq:




War evidence 'dubious'


February 10, 2007

WASHINGTON: Top Pentagon official Douglas Feith provided intelligence of "dubious quality" to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq, an investigation has found.


A classified Pentagon report found Mr Feith, one of the main architects of the US invasion of Iraq, engaged in "inappropriate" activities involving important intelligence reports before the war.


The findings were a "devastating condemnation" of Mr Feith's Department of Defence office, which had a key role in drumming up domestic and international political support for invading Iraq in 2003, Democrat senator Carl Levin said yesterday.


The Defence Inspector-General's report concluded Mr Feith, former undersecretary for defence policy, issued intelligence assessments on the relationship of Iraq and al-Qa'ida at odds with what the wider US intelligence community concluded.


It appeared to refer to allegations made by Mr Feith in 2002 and 2003 that Saddam Hussein had active links to al-Qa'ida, used by the administration to link the invasion of Iraq to the September11 terror attacks.


The bipartisan commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks later reported that no collaborative relationship existed between thetwo.


"The office of the undersecretary of defence policy developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qa'ida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community, to senior decision-makers," the unclassified summary of the report said.


It also found that Mr Feith's office "was inappropriately performing intelligence activities ... that should be performed by the intelligence community".


The Pentagon paper said Mr Feith's reports were used by top government officials, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.


"Indeed, Vice-President Cheney said the principal Feith office assessment was the 'best source of information' on the alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qai'da," Senator Levin said.


The latest revelations came as Democrats in the House of Representatives readied plans for a marathon debate over President George W. Bush's Iraq policy just days after Republicans blocked a similar effort in the Senate.


"We're just saying no" to Mr Bush's recent decision to add 21,500 troops in Iraq, house Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi said of the proposed non-binding resolution.


House Democrats will declare support for US troops, but opposing Mr Bush's plan to send more.  .... AFP, Reuters


[bold added]




Similarly Matt Price writes in The Australian Saigon a reminder of another hard war recently of


I'm still convinced the Prime Minister will call an election shortly after the APEC summit in Sydney winds up in September, thus cashing in on playing host to the global gabfest and its attendant world leaders. Yet as MPs reconvened in Canberra this week, several Liberals were openly dreading the prospect of Bush visiting Australia and thought John Howard might seriously contemplate calling a pre-APEC election to avoid this prospect.


Unlikely, I think, but given the PM's intimate links to the White House I find it astonishing Howard didn't pull strings and, if necessary, scream down the telephone to dissuade Dick Cheney from visiting Australia later this month. Even the US Vice-President's friends can't find a decent word to say about Bush's discredited right-hand man. War veteran, respected Republican and possible presidential candidate John McCain said Bush "listens too much" and "has been very badly served" by Cheney, an old confrere. Before dying, Gerald Ford found time to record an interview pouring scorn on the Vice-President, his ex-chief of staff.


During a staggeringly brazen and delusional interview with CNN, Cheney boasted the US had done "exactly the right thing" invading Iraq. "Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes," the Veep proclaimed. Asked to ponder any mistakes, Cheney came up with: "We underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness." This submissiveness hasn't been especially evident in the subsequent slaughter. Cheney arrives in Australia as his former-chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, stands trial for attempting to smother criticism of the war. Just this week US financier Jeremy Grantham issued a scathing critique of the White House's response to global warming. He writes; "Successive US administrations have taken little interest in either oil substitution or climate change and the current one has even seemed to have a vested interest in the idea that the science of climate change is uncertain." It's a common criticism, remarkable mainly for the fact Grantham is Cheney's personal investment manager.


So besides acting as a beacon for critics of Iraq, Cheney - a champion of the US oil industry - will be horsemeat for the climate change brigade, too. In the partyroom this week, the PM copped a grilling over the maltreatment of David Hicks. According to South Australian MPs, discontent is red hot in the terror suspect's home state where the Government must defend five marginal seats. Exasperated by the barbs, the PM at one point blurted to colleagues: "What do you expect us to do?" Queensland backbencher Warren Entsch yelled back: "Bring him home like the Brits have done."


This kind of disgruntlement, bordering on insubordination, was once unimaginable and is driven by internal concerns Howard has aligned himself too closely to a dud White House. "I do not believe this country should abandon America," the PM told his partyroom. "The alliance will be judged by the fidelity of its partners in times of trial."


While it's true the politics of withdrawal are fraught, the architects of the Iraq disaster have run out of credibility. Bush and British PM Tony Blair are already suffering the political consequences and those reverberations may belatedly have reached Australia.


Cheney is here for five days this month and has allegedly expressed an intent to go fly fishing. Many Coalition MPs would be perfectly happy were the Vice-President to spend most of his visit in soggy wellingtons hidden away in the bush, attracting local trout instead of unwanted attention. pricem @theaustralian.com.au


[bold added]


Like the comic Crocodile Dundee movies




John Howard is almost certainly one sequel too many.



Postscript #1 14th Feb 2007 -

In a parrallel of the USA House of Representatives debate underway anytime now, the two major Parties in federal parliament here are going at it as per The Australian reports today

Rudd slams 'gutless' Howard's Iraq strategy

OPPOSITION Leader Kevin Rudd has turned the attack on Iraq policy back on John Howard, accusing the prime minister of being gutless and without a plan for the future of Australian troops in the troubled country.

Posted by editor at 7:55 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007 10:47 AM EADT

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