Doug Bandow

The Australian

Is cash for comment a conflict of

The fall-out from
US lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s activities goes “beyond Capitol Hill in
writes Dough Bandow. And although “I’m hardly famous as commentators go”
– I took a big hit for having accepted occasional payments to write about
issues of interest to Abramoff. The blame “lies with me, not him, so I deserved
to pay a professional price.” But still, I am not and never have been a
reporter. I am “a commentator, an openly biased one at that.” And the ethical
boundaries in this business “simply aren’t as obvious as some might think.”
After all, “virtually everyone I worked with or wrote for had an axe to grind.”
The basic problem is that people have different motives for supporting the same
end. What’s an “aspiring ideologue” to do if he or she believes something in
principle and the “person willing to offer support has an economic interest in
the outcome?” And I never took a position contrary to my beliefs. My biases are “too fixed and well-known to
allow a convenient conversion.” In retrospect “my actions were stupid” because
they created an appearance that would bring all of my work into potential
disrepute. But it’s “silly to suggest that a thousand dollars or so would buy my
Crikey Says: Doug Bandow’s headline (“Is cash for comment a conflict of interest?”) actually has a one
word answer – yes. It’s simple stuff – the moment a commentator accepts cash for
their comment, their credibility has been compromised. Can’t help but wonder if Doug would be this
remorseful if he hadn’t been caught.
Salman Rushdie

The Sydney Morning

Ugly phrase conceals an uglier truth

Beyond any
shadow of a doubt, the ugliest
phrase to enter the English language last year was “extraordinary
rendition,” says Salman Rushdie. To those of us who love words, this
brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to
deceive. Language,
too, has laws, and those laws tell us this new American usage is
improper – a
crime against the word. Every so often the habitual newspeak of
politics throws
up a term whose calculated blandness makes us shiver with fear – yes,
loathing. Terms like “ethnic cleansing” and “final solution.” But now
Senator John McCain has forced a reluctant White House to accept his
against torture, its attempts to get around it by the “rendition” of
judged torture-worthy merits closer scrutiny. We are beginning to hear
names and stories of men seized and transported in this fashion.
Lawsuits are
under way. And the question here isn’t whether a given individual is
“good” or
“bad” – but whether we, and our governments, are. Where one begins by
corrupting language, worse corruptions swiftly follow. Britain’s
law lords have spoken out on torture in words that are simple and
“Torture is an unqualified evil,” said Lord Brown of
Eaton-under-Heywood. “It can never be justified. Rather, it must always
punished.” The dreadful probability is that the US
outsourcing of torture will allow it to escape punishment. It will not
allow it
to escape moral obloquy.
Crikey Says: Rushdie does what he does best: weaves
his masterful way with words to show us just how deceiving they can be.
The perfect illustration of a point.


Don Mackay

The Age

Put artists back in the arts

often claimed we have a healthy arts industry. It is more accurate to
say we have a healthy arts administration industry. The bulk of
permanent staff of arts organisations are engaged in marketing,
administration and finance. The people who write, design, stage and
perform are mostly casual workers on short contracts. We have a lively
fringe theatre scene, with new shows opening every week in old shirt
factories, storerooms and backrooms. Much of this work is of a high
standard. What is never publicly acknowledged is that most of the
people who write, act in and design these shows will come away unpaid
and, in many cases, have personally subsidised their seasons. So the
Australia Council’s promised new focus on practitioners is a
good first step, but it will take fresh thinking to discover how
actually to carry out this aim. There is also a considerable challenge
to people in the profession to take a greater responsibility for the
future of their industry. They must involve themselves in making
decisions, join committees, write to the newspapers, make their
opinions heard and not leave it to the bureaucrats alone to make the
important decisions.
Crikey Says: Mackay mounts a pretty good argument that
it’s time for the artists – and not administrators – to take greater
responsibility for running Australia’s arts industry.


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