Michael Darby

Observations on politics and poetry by Australian bush poet, Michael Darby.

Michael was born in Sydney in 1945 and is a former Australian Army Officer who has been writing and broadcasting on politics and economics since 1972.

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Saturday, September 13, 2003
Authoritarianism from Keating

(Paul Keating is the most recent Leftist Prime Minister of Australia)

By Hal G.P. Colebatch

“The Australian” of 3 September carried a report of the launching of Stuart McIntyre's book “The History Wars”, by former Prime Minister Paul Keating. It was further reported in the Age the following day that in the course of his remarks at this ceremony Mr Keating stated: "Many people are dispirited by this period and they think that somehow the Andrew Bolts and the Paddy McGuinesses and the Frank Devines, all these people, have somehow got the upper hand. But they will simply be a smudge in history."

There are some things that need to be said about this in the utmost seriousness, if it had been correctly reprinted: for a politician to attack other politicians in such terms may fairly be called grossly unpleasant and even a long-term threat to democracy, but it is still something of a sparring between equals. Writers and academics who attack other writers and academics in such terms may also be unpleasant, but they are still, in a sense, picking on someone their own size. However, I believe that for an ex-Prime Minister to use such a forum to attack named writers in such venomous, deliberately de-humanising, language is an exercise in moral bullying with a totalitarian reek about it (This is setting aside the personal indignity of the matter, though I certainly cannot imagine Sir Robert Menzies or John Curtin so lowering themselves).

Many Australians are familiar with George Orwell's comments on the relationship between Politics and Language, with John Wesley Young's work “Totalitarian Language - Orwell's Newspeak and its Nazi and Communist Antecedents” (University of Virginia Press, 1991), and with the dehumanising language used by the Nazis to describe the Jews, and by Communists such as Lenin, Vishinsky and Zdhanov to describe Kulaks and other class-enemies, as a prelude to their extermination and as a part of the process of making that extermination politically acceptable.

I believe that for a former Australian Prime Minister to use such language about named writers in a public forum is utterly reprehensible and a betrayal of our democratic and civil polity. I also believe that if it is quietly accepted and in effect condoned this will be a matter of even greater seriousness.

Friday, September 12, 2003
This article implies but does not clearly state that the perpetrators are Muslim men...

Sexism in the Cités: Life in the immigrant ghettos of France can be violent and harsh for young Muslim women

“An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys.

GRIM AS SUCH crimes may be, they¹re becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyon or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France¹s major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they¹ve since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants; impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no.

Such stories, then, are not just about urban crime and rough neighborhoods. They reflect a core issue of Muslim integration in Europe.........

The problem is that to help the women of the cites in the long run, you have to help the men – not only to find jobs and education, but to learn to live in Western societies. And precious little has been done about that.”

More here

Thursday, September 11, 2003
Morale Booster

From Erich Kern in the United States

I sat in my seat of the Boeing 767 waiting for everyone to hurry and stow their carry-ons and grab a seat so we could start what I was sure to be a long, uneventful flight home. With the huge capacity and slow moving people taking their time to stuff luggage far too big for the overhead and never paying much attention to holding up the growing line behind them, I simply shook my head knowing that this flight was not starting out very well.

I was anxious to get home to see my loved ones so I was focused on "my" issues and just felt like standing up and yelling for some of these clowns to get their act together. I knew I couldn't say a word so I just thumbed thru the "Sky Mall" magazine from the seat pocket in front of me. You know it's really getting rough when you resort to the over priced, useless sky mall crap to break the monotony. With everyone finally seated, we just sat there with the cabin door open and no one in any hurry to get us going although we were well past the scheduled take off time. No wonder the airline industry is in trouble I told myself. Just then, the attendant came on the intercom to inform us all that we were being delayed. The entire plane let out a collective groan.

She resumed speaking to say "We are holding the aircraft for some very special people who are on their way to the plane and the delay shouldn't be more than 5 minutes. The word came after waiting six times as long as we were promised that "I" was finally going to be on my way home. Why the hoopla over "these" folks? I was expecting some celebrity or sport figure to be the reason for the hold up.........Just get their butts in a seat and lets hit the gas I thought.

The attendant came back on the speaker to announce in a loud and excited voice that we were being joined by several U. S. Marines returning home from Iraq!!! Just as they walked on board, the entire plane erupted into applause. The men were a bit taken by surprise by the 340 people cheering for them as they searched for their seats. They were having their hands shook and touched by almost everyone who was within an arm's distance of them as they passed down the aisle. One elderly woman kissed the hand of one of the Marines as he passed by her. The applause, whistles and cheering didn't stop for a long time. When we were finally airborne, "I" was not the only civilian checking his conscience as to the delays in "me" getting home, finding my easy chair, a cold beverage and the remote in my hand.

These men had done for all of us and I had been complaining silently about "me" and "my" issues. I took for granted the everyday freedoms I enjoy and the conveniences of the American way of life I took for granted others paid the price for my ability to moan and complain about a few minutes delay to "me" those Heroes going home to their loved ones. I attempted to get my selfish outlook back in order and minutes before we landed I suggested to the attendant that she announce over the speaker a request for everyone to remain in their seats until our hero's were allowed to gather their things and be first off the plane. The cheers and applause continued until the last Marine stepped off and we all rose to go about our too often taken for granted everyday chores......... I felt proud of them. I felt it an honor and a privilege to be among the first to welcome them home and say Thank You for a job well done.

I vowed that I will never forget that flight nor the lesson learned. I can't say it enough, THANK YOU to those Veterans and active servicemen and women who may read this and a prayer for those who cannot because they are no longer with us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

News item:

Death of Prof. Edward Teller

Edward Teller, a pioneer in molecular physics dubbed the "father of the H-bomb" for his role in the early development of nuclear weapons, died on Tuesday, a Stanford University spokeswoman said. Elaine Ray, a spokeswoman for the Stanford University news service, said Teller had suffered a stroke earlier this week and died at his home on the university campus on Tuesday.

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Hungary, Teller was a key member of a group of top scientists who fled Hitler's Germany and ended up working on the Manhattan Project, the secret program that developed the atomic bomb. After the war, Teller pressed the case for a continued strong national defense, persuading President Harry Truman of the need for the far more powerful hydrogen bomb.

The United States detonated the first H-bomb on the Pacific atoll of Eniwetok in November 1952. It was 2,500 times more powerful than the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which prompted Japan's surrender and brought World War II to a close. "It wasn't a choice. Nuclear energy existed," Teller told a newspaper interviewer shortly before his 80th birthday. "We would have found it no matter what we did. It's sheer arrogance to say we created the bomb."

At the time of his death, Teller, 95, was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, specializing in defense and energy policy, according to the posting on its Web site (www-hoover.standord.edu) on Wednesday. He was also a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Nuclear Society and a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences. Born in Budapest in 1908, Teller completed his Ph.D. in physics under Werner Heisenberg in 1930 at the University of Leipzig and did post-graduate work in Copenhagen with pioneering Danish nuclear physicist Neils Bohr.

COLD WARRIOR Teller was director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from 1958 to 1960 and professor of physics at the University of California from that time until his retirement in 1975, according to the institute's web posting. Teller's numerous published works included "Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics" (written with Judith Shoolery, 2001), "Conversations on the Dark Secrets of Physics" (1991) and "Energy from Heaven and Earth" (1979).

The H-bomb, never used in warfare, was the linchpin of the "MAD" (mutually assured destruction) defense doctrine that kept the United States and Soviet Union at bay during the Cold War . Teller said he regretted Truman's decision to drop the A-bomb on Japanese cities, saying he felt the weapon should have been tried first in a demonstration in hopes Japan's leaders would have been impressed enough to end the war. Considered too hawkish by many of his colleagues, Teller argued that the absence of defense can bring disastrous results, and he cited Hitler's takeover of Hungary as evidence.

Some scientists never forgave Teller for his role in discrediting J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of scientists who gathered at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to develop the atomic bomb. When Oppenheimer argued against quick development of the H-bomb, Teller and other critics accused him of disloyalty and persuaded the government to lift his security clearance. Teller came under fire again in the 1980s when he helped convince President Ronald Reagan the United States should spend billions of dollars on a space-based defense umbrella that came to be know as Star Wars ." Critics said the system, based partly on laser-equipped satellites designed to shoot down enemy missiles, was unfeasible and too expensive. Teller won the day, but the ambitious defense umbrella remains a work in progress.

There is a good deal of authority for the proposition that President Reagan’s willingness to invest in “Star Wars” convinced Mikhail Gorbachev that the Soviet Union could never defeat the United States of America, thus launching the process which saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismemberment of the Soviet and Jugoslav Communist empires.

President George Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edward Teller on 23 July 2003 at the White House, with Teller’s daughter Wendy accepting the medal on behalf of her father. The President said: "Edward Teller helped to shape the course of human history. . .

"He has been a strong advocate for national defense and the cause of human freedom. The United States honors him for his excellence in science and in education, and his unwavering commitment to the nation."

The Reuters reporter (above) seems to sympathise with Dr Teller’s opponents, whether from ignorance or from wistful recollection of Sovietism. The people of Hungary are in no doubt about the giant contribution made by the famous son of Hungary to the independence of his homeland and to world peace generally.

Following is a very significant article from the Fall 2000 Hoover Institution Newsletter, describing how Edward Teller was the first person to receive the prestigious Corvin Medal since 1930.

Edward Teller Awarded Hungary’s Corvin Medal For Achievement In Arts And Sciences

The Hoover Institution’s Edward Teller, the world-famous physicist best known for his work in atomic and nuclear physics, was honored in August with the Hungarian Corvin Medal, bestowed by the Hungarian government for exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences.

The award was presented in a private ceremony at Teller’s home at Stanford University. Delegates representing Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and the Hungarian consulates in San Mateo and Los Angeles read the proclamation in Hungarian. Teller, who was born in Budapest in 1908 and is a Hoover Institution senior research fellow, responded in his native language.

In the ceremony’s opening remarks, given in both languages, the diplomats explained that Prime Minister Orban revived the Corvin Medal this year. It was last awarded in 1930.

Maria Schmidt, of the Hungarian delegation, said that the prime minister considers Teller’s contributions toward ending the cold war to be the primary force behind the fact that Hungary is again a free nation.

The presentation honored Teller’s work for having "helped end the cold war without bloodshed." Teller himself, who has received a multitude of honors from around the world, said that this one accomplishment is what he believes to be his greatest achievement.

The Corvin Medal includes the right to bestow a three-year scholarship or grant of approximately $72,000 to the student or scientist of Teller’s choice.

Only 12 living people can hold the Corvin Medal. On Teller’s death, the next recipient’s name will be engraved below his on the back of the medal. When the space for names has been filled, the medal will be retired to the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest.

Teller served as director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) from 1958 to 1960 and holds the title of LLNL director emeritus.