Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Now I will confess…

I am a closet listener to country and western music. Mind you, not all country and western music. But there’s some that is just good honest stuff, so why pretend to look down on it? And this one contains images close to home.

Troy Cassar-Daly has, I see in the National Indigenous Times, won a 2007 Deadly for song of the year with that. And as for my secret vice: I don’t mind John Nutting’s Saturday Night Country at all. (My brother loves the stuff, country man that he is through and through.)

The National Indigenous Times is a fortnightly edited from, I believe, a house in Canberra. It is pugnacious at times, but very wide-ranging in content, and is an absolute must for all Australians in my opinion as a counter to the government version of what is happening, and to much that surfaces in The Australian — though there are at times good things there. As for the wide range: the education supplement in the 20 September edition, which I picked up at lunchtime in Chinatown today, is a real eye-opener. I really had no idea about 75% of the things I saw there, and I think I am better informed than the average city guy on these things, partly of course because of my own Aboriginal connections.

main12768.jpgThere is an opinion piece in that 20 September edition by Larissa Behrendt, award-winning author of the novel Home, and a Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.

As George Bush spins his way around Iraq, Howard and the National Indigenous Council will have to come up with their own exit strategy after the NT intervention, writes PROF LARISSA BEHRENDT*.

Under growing pressure from his critics, this week US President George Bush announced that he would reduce troops in Iraq to their pre-surge levels while also predicting that US troops would have an on-going presence there in the years to come.

This result shows that he has no strategy on how to successfully end the conflict but has been trying hard to give the impression that the recent increase in troops has been working a treat.

The announcement was made after the US Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus addressed the Congress and reported that they were improving security.

The other members of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ were quick to jump on board. Our Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, took the opportunity to claim the President’s announcement was proof that the strategies in Iraq were working.

If only that were true.

Defence Minister Brendan Nelson recently had sympathetic columnists Miranda Devine and Dennis Shanahan accompany him to Iraq. They received briefings from General Petraeus before the report was given to Congress.

Both columnists foreshadowed the announcement of a dramatic reduction of violence in Baghdad and the reduction in troops, and quoted Petraeus when giving figures of a reduction of religious and ethnic deaths in Baghdad by two thirds, with drops of 50 percent over the rest of the country.

It all sounds pretty good, until you realise that the figures attributed to Petraeus were based on ‘massaged’ intelligence.

These figures were arrived at by comparing the number of deaths in August 2007 with those in December 2006.

December 2006 was the month of the highest number of civilian deaths since the invasion, so any other month was obviously going to show a decrease.

But contrary to the ‘positive spin’ provided by Petraeus (and Bush, Downer, Devine and Shanahan) deaths in August 2007 actually increased from the previous month and were higher than in February 2007, the very month the new surge started.

General Petraeus has a reputation for being positive and enthusiastic in the face of the increasing chaos in Iraq.

His claims of improved security are not only undermined by closer scrutiny of the facts, they were undermined by the assassination of pro-American Sunni sheik, Abdul-Satter Abu Risha, a few days after the General’s address to Congress.

Petraeus sounded like the knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail who loses his arm and refers to it as a flesh wound. He was a 2-star division commander in 2004, and was then promoted to a 3-star general training forces in Iraq in 2005.

Now the guy’s a 4-star general. That’s quite the meteoric rise.

Along the way he has embraced his role as the effusive poster boy for the positive spin spewed forth on the quagmire that is now Iraq.

Petraeus seems to have intuitively understood the rewards that can accompany singing to the Piper’s tune, giving the government the news it needs to work its spin.

Joe Hockey should find someone similar to help him sell the WorkChoices legislation.

Political commentator and writer, Guy Rundle has observed that Australia is the only partner in the Coalition of the Willing to have invaded their own country, referring to Howard’s intervention in the Northern Territory…

Now that is immediately going to get up some noses, but all I will say is read the rest, and then do a thorough read of the rest of the NIT site. I guarantee you will learn a thing or two.

joe.jpgAnd speaking of Joe Hockey: seems he may have gone just a bit too far with his Union-demonising schtick — WorkChoices researchers mull legal action over accusations. Would you buy a used car from that guy? Every time I see or hear him — he was on the 7.30 Report tonight — I keep thinking that once I did buy a used car from him… I mean, seriously, look at him. “Let MEEE do it RIGGHHT for YOUUU!!!!”

And speaking of cars and country matters, Part 2 of Thomas’s account of the Menindee Trip is now available.

That artwork I borrowed of the spin cycle comes from The National Indigenous Times. ” NIT’s graphic designer Margaret Ross was voted Trainee of the Year [in the Deadlies]. Despite still being in university, Margaret has already accumulated a large body of published work. Some of her credits include redesigning the entire paper and falling prone to what she calls ‘digital mischief’.”

Lord Malcolm once (at least) attended the Deadlies in which his late partner was a particpant one year.

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  1. Anyone else might be offended to be spoken about in the same breath as country music. I am not, as I think it is a great genre, and more-so when compared to some of the more popular ones of today. Even on a song-by-song basis.


    October 2, 2007 at 10:42 pm

  2. You’re too old to be a “closet” anything Neil. Try saying, “I love country and western music and I don’t care who knows.” Then say it again and then again. Very empowering. 🙂


    October 3, 2007 at 11:22 am

  3. I think you may enjoy this song by American country singer Iris Dement called Wasteland of the Free. Although written in 1996 I feel it is relevant to what is happening in the world today. The link below is to the free mp3 of the song.
    [audio src="http://brutusworks.com/Iris-Dement-Wasteland.mp3" /]



    October 8, 2007 at 4:05 pm

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