Flint on Howard — the Geoff Boycott of politics:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Flint: Does Rudd really have Howard’s mettle?” (Yesterday, item 15). Is David Flint living on the same planet as everyone else? John Howard, a man of vision? I didn’t need to read any further, but like a car accident happening in front of you, it was impossible to look away. John Howard’s “vision” is similar to Geoff Boycott’s, actually scoring runs was incidental to just staying at the crease. I would challenge David Flint to nominate what that vision is, preferably without reference to “the elites”, except you might run it. Please stop giving this strange man a voice in your e-zine. He adds nothing, but he subtracts substantially. What were you thinking!

Dave Liberts writes: David Flint has accused many John Howard opponents of being “elitist” over the years, apparently for the reason that if ordinary Australians have elected Howard, then opposing Howard means opposing ordinary Australians. Now Flint himself is suggesting that if those same ordinary suburban or regional Aussies are about to vote Howard out, then they’re being risky with Australia’s future and selfish too. How elitist is that? The rest of Flint’s arguments are grossly selective and ignore any of Howard’s failures or disasters. Maybe after the election, Prof Flint and a bunch of recently unelected Lib politicians can find an uninhabited island to colonise, where John Howard can become the monarch-for-life and not have to worry about those pesky ordinary Aussie voters.

Harold Thornton writes: I used to whinge and moan about David Flint’s contributions to Crikey. But no more – the man I have for years mistaken for a dolt’s dolt is in fact a comic genius. John Howard – “mantle of greatness”… John Curtin would have joined a unity government headed up by Pig Iron Bob Menzies but for The Left… Kevin Rudd will cross the floor to join the Liberal rump… I weep with laughter – steady on, boy. Anyhow, David – all is forgiven, you clearly have a future in the entertainment business. Maybe The Chaser crew can find a spot for you – a bit like Sam Kekovich’s slot on The Fat in years gone by.

Adam Rope writes: Can you please ask David Flint to send some of what he is smoking up to the Northern Beaches? Our current crop doesn’t give us anything like the paranoid fantasies, and delusions of Howard’s grandeur, that he is seeing, and I feel we are missing out. PS. I do not smoke anything, other than tobacco, and thus am breaking no laws.

Roger Dunscombe writes: Oh for God’s sake – I’m all for diversity in the media but please spare us from Flint’s worshiping of false Ming idols and particularly from his heroic rewriting of history- and he says the left sees it all as class struggle. So enough already.

Barney Langford writes: I just read David Flint’s commentary and I now think I understand what the Quantum theorists mean when they say that quantum physics allows for the existence of an infinite number of possible universes. One day Flint may choose to return to the one the rest of us inhabit.

The Beattie resignation:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Rudd grows with every premier departure” (yesterday’s Special Edition, item 2). Does Peter Beattie’s retirement – now added to Gallup, Carr and Bracks – simply put more emphasis on the fact that John Howard stayed on too long! Is it Beattie’s greatest act of support to K. Rudd?

Mark Duffett writes: Re. “Confident Queensland: the Beattie legacy” (yesterday’s Special Edition, item 4). “Queensland, the most decentralised state”? I don’t think so, Ben Eltham – by any measure that would be Tasmania.

Liz Johnston writes: I’m sad he’s gone and glad he’s gone, because he was great but lately less so in terms of political smarts. But he hasn’t taken the Q for Quixotic out of Queensland. It’s the weather, stupid. It will always mean Queenslanders can be Smart One Day, Stark Raving Troppo the Next.

Malcolm Mackerras writes: Apropos of Christian Kerr’s article in the Crikey special on Peter Beattie I think it should be pointed out that the senior premier is now Mike Rann of South Australia who became premier on March 5, 2002. He is also the only current premier who led his party out of Opposition and into Government. All the rest are successor premiers. John Brumby is in a situation I think must be unique. Although he is the Successor Premier to Steve Bracks he had been Leader of the Opposition in Victoria from June 1993 to March 1999. The point is that, unlike Mike Rann, he did not lead his party out of the wilderness. If anyone can think of a precedent for the premiership of John Brumby I would be glad to know of it.

Nixing the CDEP:

Mirek Szychowski writes: Re. “Is nixing CDEP Howard’s assimilation solution?” (Yesterday, item 5). Certainly, it is a major assault on the Aborigines, perhaps the biggest since the days of the Stolen Generation, then, as now couched in pious terms of “protection” and assistance. The real aim, always hidden, is to depopulate the remote communities, and create this time for real, a Terra Nullius, where the Big Mining can move in “legal”, and a “safe” repository for nuclear waste can be established. The possibilities are endless, and there is big money to be made. Pity about the original inhabitants of this land, but they cannot be allowed to stay in the way of progress, can they? Unfortunately, we don’t know Labor’s exact position, but Rudd certainly wasted no time in endorsing this “National Emergency”.

Need vision? Try Aspirationalism:

Tony O’Donoghue writes: Re. “The PM’s belated search for the vision thing” (yesterday, item 7). Are you kidding? John Howard and the Liberals don’t stand for anything? They don’t have a vision? I have one word for you: Aspirationalism. Actually, it’s not a word—they made it up. But, boy, it’s got vision stamped all over it!

John Howard, a man of teal:

Andrew Tanner writes: Re. “Sydney Declaration: saving the planet or political hot air?” (Yesterday, item 11). So we kinda think the concept of some sort of target to shoot for would be an OK idea, if it’s alright with everyone else. Phew – and we were worried this whole APEC thing was going to be a waste of money. Forget Man Of Steel – this latest watered down non core promise of a promise on climate action makes JWH a Man Of Teal (an appearance of being green-ish, but not really).

Worth a bet:

John Goldsworthy writes: Re. “Portlandbet makes Labor all but unbackable” (yesterday, item 8). It is very hard to believe that John Howard does not have at least one more rabbit to pull from the hat. But why tip your hand too early. Remember John Hewson and the election he could not lose with his GST. It took Keating more than three months to find an answer to Hewson. Hewson showed his hand too early. Might be worth a small bet at what seem to be very good odds right now.

Noel Whittaker writes: At our usual family Sunday night dinner this week, I asked the assembled children and their partners whether they were going to vote Labor or Liberal. The response was unanimous “we are going to vote for Kevin Rudd”. I replied “that means you are voting Labor – why do you prefer their policies to the Liberal policies”. Their response “we prefer Kevin Rudd to John Howard”. If this is the thinking of the electorate in general it gives a very sad picture of the way presidential politics have taken over and policies no longer matter.

Conservatives or radicals?:

Ralph Kyte-Powell writes: I am concerned that columnists, including Crikey’s Christian Kerr, keep referring to John Howard and his loony right wing cheer squad as “conservatives.” I had always understood conservatives to be people who were against sudden or radical change to the established order. Against this, Howard and his cronies are anything but conservative. They have ridden roughshod and ruthless over so many Australian conventions that they are much better described as “radicals” or “revolutionaries.”

Out of step:

Peter Rosier writes: Re. John Shailer (yesterday, comments). The ones who are out of step and not supporting our American friends are Bush and Howard. It’s extraordinarily clear that Bush’s invasion of Iraq is now being marked a huge mistake, likely the worst in US foreign affairs, and that the significant majority of Americans want out, too. It will take them a year longer than us to be rid of he who will not hear this, but the fact is that we’ll offend very few Americans when we bring our troops home.

St Janet of Albrechtsen:

Victoria Collins writes: Re. John Kennedy (yesterday, comments) who wrote: “Janet Albrechtsen is p-ssed off that she did not get the Senate seat she was secretly negotiating with Liberal party.” Now, that’s what I want to see: Howard steps down from the Prime Ministership and the seat of Bennelong, effective immediately. He nominates St Janet of Albrechtsen to replace him on behalf of the Liberal Party (shades of St Joan of Arc leading the battered to a religious epiphany and victory on election night). Janet goes toe to toe with Maxine McKew during the election campaign. What sport!

A lazy and selfish attack on Critical Mass pinheads:

Derek Barry writes: Re. “APEC losers: PC Dum and PC Dummer” (yesterday, item 14). Michael Pascoe was doing so well with his synopsis of APEC police heavy handedness in yesterday’s Crikey. Then he had to go and completely ruin his analysis with his final remark “if only they would show such strength in ridding our streets of the Critical Mass pinheads that actually do disrupt traffic, unlike the occasional jay-walker”. Oh gosh, poor old Michael, probably disrupted by a few nasty cyclists who don’t share his obvious love of our gas-guzzling traffic. Maybe if Pascoe ever got out of his car, he might notice that these so-called “pinheads” are calling attention to the problem, not causing it. But no doubt caught up in some traffic snarl on a Friday night in Sydney, it was all too easy for him to blame the messengers and ignore the thousands who blissfully drive their cars into the city in the 99.99% of peak hours when the critical mass is not happening. This is lazy and selfish journalism more in keeping with the Tele than Crikey.

More buyer than sellers:

Justin Randles writes: Re. “How one lanky shareholder and a rooster moved the News Corp share price” (yesterday, item 26). Stephen Mayne, why did the News stock price go up? As my stockbroker brother regularly tells me when I ask him questions like these, “more buyer than sellers”.


Christopher Ridings writes: Re. “Will McCann allegations signal the end of public emotionality? Not likely…” (Yesterday, item 19). Guy Rundle wrote, “Madeleine (a French name meaning ‘sacrifice in the wilderness’ – ‘mort-dans-l’air’).” Not really so. I understood that “Madeleine” derives from “Magdalene” after Mary of Magdala, one of the great mystery women of the Gospels. No one really knows what became of her, either.


Brett Hetherington writes: Re. St George Orwell. Niall Clugston (yesterday, comments) urges us to “read the man’s essays of the period” so that we discover George Orwell to be “a windsock – a cross between a weathercock and a windbag.” I’ve read them again and again and come to a quite different view. Orwell was obviously no “saint” during his lifetime but virtually every sentence he wrote is heavy with the kind of integrity that comes from personal experience. Orwell was not always right but he regularly examined his own faults and prejudices as well as those of others and put them into print. Clugston could have quoted something from Orwell’s writing that makes a case for him being “hysterically dishonest” about many in the intellectual left, but he instead just opts for the much cheaper trick of name-calling. This is what too often passes for genuine debate.

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