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Evan Whitton
26 November, 2008  
Whitton's World

From war torn Darwin … to the Tour d’Argent ... to the launch of the latest Gough bio … to The Big Sleep, Evan Whitton casts his searing gaze. He also offers some solid advice to Barack about the Afghan war and an apology to Mr K.R. Murdoch AC, KCSG


The Katherine Derby

imageIt is reported that the film Australia, Or At Least Some Northern Parts Thereof features a Japanese air raid on Darwin (civilian pop. 2,000) on Thursday, February 19, 1942.

The aeroplane ratio was 242-30; 251 people were killed; an invasion was expected momentarily; chaos ensued.

I’m hoping the film shows how the legendary Mayor of Darwin, Harry Paspalis, dealt with the crisis.

Harry sensibly led half the population out of town on his bicycle, and he was first to arrive at Katherine, 337 kilometres south-east of Darwin.

“And”, my informant, a military gentleman, said admiringly, “Harry’s bike didn’t even have a chain”.

The death of irony

It was reported on November 7 that the NSW Bar Association is trying to get a barrister, the Hon Marcus Einfeld QC, stripped of his silk jersey on the ground that he is a liar.

Gough v Gar

To the steaming Empah Room at Parliament House (Sydney) for the launch of Part I of Jenny Hocking’s biography, Gough Whitlam (MUP).

The subject, 92, beavered away at signing copies for the usual suspects.

imageThe often hilarious book is a snip at $60, and I am naturally averse from pointing the finger at the great man.

After all, I have scoffed the rognons at Allard and the pressed duck at the Tour d’Argent in the distinguished presence of His Excellency, the Ambassador to UNESCO, as he then was. (M. Claude Terrail’s – pic – certificate from the latter reads: “Votre Canard: 647,661, 14th September, 1984.”)

However, it has to be said that the old Goughter was a remote, if inadvertent, cause of billions being picked from the pockets of wage and salary earners. Thus:

When Sir Garfield Barwick QC, went into politics in 1958, it was rumoured that Bob Menzies QC, the famous liar, racist and war criminal, saw “the undisputed lion of the Sydney Bar” as his eventual successor as Prime Minister.

Unfortunately, Barwick could dish it out to poor devils in the witness box, but he couldn’t take it on the floor of the House.

The security section of Barwick’s Crimes Act 1960 had the sort of outrageous assault on the liberty of the subject that we have come to expect from politicians of his kidney.

It had a presumption of criminal intent for persons of “known character”.

imageWe know what Sir Charlie Spry’s secret police would have made of that. Whitlam referred to it as “this odious provision”.

Notice now Barwick’s (pic) capacity for self-deception.

It is beyond dispute that he regularly perverted justice from the day he was admitted to the bar in 1927 to the day he left the High Court in 1981. Yet, says Professor Hocking:

“Barwick was accustomed to unquestioned respect, to reverent acceptance of his legal opinion; this depiction of his proposals as dangerous, draconian and undemocratic besmirched his reputation and disturbed him.”

Whitlam called him a liar, and, refusing to withdraw, told the House:

“This truculent runt thinks he can get away with anything.”

The tragedy of the legal system is that Barwick DID get away with it, before the bench and on it, for 54 years.

But not there and not then, when Whitlam nailed him. Harold Holt led Barwick, bawling, out of the chamber.

“Garfield Barwick’s political career,” reports Professor Hocking, “was effectively over.”

Whitlam’s coup de theatre meant that Menzies eventually had to find Gar another job.

He could have sent him somewhere harmless, like Ambassador to Uttar Pradesh, but he put him on the High Court, where his lies on tax matters were frankly criminal; see Justinian July 25, 2005, May 31, 2006, February 26, 2007, August 27, 2008.

(That’s enough Gar – Ed.)

Footnote. I am happy to report that at the launch, the Hon N.K. Wran QC, Premier of NSW 1976-86, who kindly, if derisively, made me an honorary QC 25 years ago, graciously wrote on my copy: “Every good wish.”

Roy eclipses Monty

A typically obtuse British general, Bernie Montgomery, who liked to surround himself with pretty young adjutants, knew as little about cricket as he knew about running a pursuit of General Erwin Rommel across North Africa.

When Monty boldly claimed: “I’m going to hit Rommel for seven”, one of the pretty young adjutants hastily told the reptiles that the gallant goose meant he was going to hit Rommel for three and happily get four overthrows.

So far as I know, Monty’s drivel remained the record until Thursday, November 20, 2008, when Australia’s Andrew (Roy) Symonds actually hit New Zealand’s Iain O’Brien for eight: a four (all run) with four overthrows.

The Halberstam slug

imageIn The Jackie Years (ABC1, Mondays), self-serving assertions by various politicians, urgers and hangers-on in the Jackie camp are going through to the keeper largely without critical comment.

For the sake of accuracy, I’d say the series desperately needs liberal use of the Halberstam slug.

This useful device derives from that great loser, the Vietnam War. At 5 pm daily, paid liars briefed reporters on how a typically obtuse US general, Billy Westmoreland, was winning the war.

A New York Times reporter, David Halberstam (pic), later said the organ would have served its customers better if, after every fourth paragraph, the knackers had inserted a slug:

This is bullsh*t.

How the Ruddman can do Barack a favour

The world is on tiptoe to see whether Mr Barack Obama is or is not likely to be the saviour of the US and indeed mankind.

An early test of his judgment will be the linked matters of War Minister Bobby Gates and Afghanistan.

Gates came out of a body, the Central Intelligence Agency, which has always been a wholly owned subsidiary of the War Party, i.e. the Republicans.

We will know there are holes in Obama’s judgment if Gates remains War Minister for one second after midnight on January 20.

Afghanistan is an obvious loser; Obama’s task should be to get out of that sad country with what face he can.

imageThe Ruddman can help Obama by replicating what Harold Holt did for Lyndon Johnson on the Vietnam mess.

Vietnam was having a civil war, but the Johnson/Menzies intervention in 1965 was sold on the basis that Ho Chi Minh – like Saddam Hussein – was a threat to the “free” world.

In July 1967, Johnson sent a lawyer, Clark Clifford (1906-98 – seen here), who had advised presidents back to Harry Truman, to ask Holt to supply more fodder for the meat-grinder.

Holt knocked him back.

This made Clifford wonder whether, if Australia was not willing to send more troops, the US had overestimated old Ho’s threat to “freedom”.

Johnson made Clifford War Minister in January 1968.

His first task was to deal with Billy Westmoreland’s request for another 206,000 to go into the grinder.

Clifford persuaded Johnson to deny the request and to set up peace talks.

The Taliban are hardly a threat to the “free” world. A Ruddman refusal to send more fodder would give Obama an excuse to get out.

Apology to Mr K.R. Murdoch, AC, KCSG

Mr Rupert Murdoch’s scintillating Boyer Lectures are titled A Golden Age of Freedom.

Unfortunately, on November 4, this column said the title is A Golden Age of a High-Order Abstraction.

I most profoundly beg Mr Murdoch’s pardon for any hurt or distress this deplorable error may have caused the highly respected media mogul – grovel … grovel.

It will be recalled, however, that Mr Murdoch and his organs enthusiastically supported the war of aggression against Iraq, and that his Farxx News, disgusted with France’s craven refusal to take part in that illegal war, said French fries should be called something else.

I could thus perhaps be forgiven for suggesting an alternative title for Mr Murdoch’s lively and informative talks:

A Golden Age of Freedom Fries.

Ms Palin’s appeal to the hard core

imageKeen students of the hugely profitable libel bizzo will recall that in 1957 The [London] Daily Mirror’s Bill Connor described Mr Wladizu Liberace (1919-87 – pic) as:

“A deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.”

Liberace, who died of AIDS, falsely denied he was gay, and got a token £8,000 from the Mirror when the beak held that “fruit-flavoured” imputed homosexuality.

So, leaving out “fruit-flavoured”, it might said that Connor’s “winking” etc. stuff almost fits Ms Sarah Palin, 44, who the War party offered US voters as their vice president.

Ms Palin is a lady of surpassing ignorance, not to say fairly relaxed ethics, but the party’s smallish hard core of racist, bible-whipping rednecks are entranced with her, and I think I know why, however wrong their estimate actually is.

imageThere’s a scene in The Big Sleep (1946) in which private eye Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, is observing a quarry from inside the Acme Bookstore.

The proprietress, played by Dorothy Malone, wears horn-rimmed spectacles and her dark hair in a bun, and generally comes on like a demure librarian.

However, Mr Bogart, trained investigator, detects something else.

Judging there will be no action on the quarry front for an hour two, he asks Ms Malone: “Do you fool around?”

Ms Malone’s response is to close the shutters.

Farxx does Barack a favour

The Democrats are praying the Republicans will run Ms Palin for President in 2012, and Farxx News seem to be doing its bit for that worthy cause.

They sent Greta van Susteren, 54, to Wasilla (est. pop. 2007: 9,780), Alaska, to conduct a cheery interview with Ms Palin.

Ms Susteren is a lawyer, Scientologist, and a “fair and balanced” reporter.

As a lawyer, she can naturally argue any or all sides of a case, and made her reputation at CNN by putting the defence case for O.J. Simpson at his murder trial in 1995.

Ms Susteren had cosmetic surgery before moving to Farxx in 2002, but it didn’t seem to take; her grin retains its unfortunate resemblance to Dick Cheney’s snarl.

On November 14, Farxx ran two hours (!) of goo between Ms Susteren and Ms Palin. Jon Stewart asked plaintively:

“Doesn’t Fox have an editing machine?”

We can hear Mr Obama saying:

“Thanx, Rupie.”

The dingo’s breakfast

There are two types of Rugby scrum-half: the Ken Catchpole type who whips the ball away quick and long, and the Dingo’s Breakfast type: a p*ss and a good look round.

The current half, Luke Burgess, is in the latter category. But where his predecessor, George Gregan, also took a couple of steps before delivering his celebrated Emergency Ward pass, Mr Burgess is inclined to take four.

The players outside Burgess will be entitled to withdraw their labour if the coach, New Zealand’s own Robbie Deans, does not take prompt action, e.g. bringing in Mr Catchpole to show Mr Burgess how to do it.