“A Vast Scene of Confusion”

September 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, HISTORY, Ulalume |

"the tide of popular fury returned..."

On the eve of the ides of September 2015, Monday 14th, the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was assassinated in the Liberal Party room and his usurper, Malcolm Turnbull, assumed the imperial purple.  One hopes this will end a strained period in the nation’s body politic – over the last 6 and a half years, there has been blood in the corridors of power, and 3 serving Prime Ministers elected by the people have been boned. 1/12/2009 – Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, is defeated by Tony Abbott by one vote.  Mr Abbott becomes leader of the Coalition opposition….

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The Holt Report

Open water

(by John Larkin and Geoffrey Barker) (1968) Yes, Americans can joke about President Taft being eaten by wolves (particularly greedy wolves) but only in Australia could a serving Prime Minister be taken by a shark.  On Sunday 17 December 1967, Prime Minister Holt went for a swim near his beach house at Cheviot, near the Heads leading from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, into the Bass Strait, and was never seen again. Though a shark is The Varnished Culture’s preferred theory (and after all this time, chances of finding traces are approximately nil) there are a number of other possible solutions; kelp…

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Primary Colors

June 6, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

"Aw, c'mon, Henry. This is ridiculous: you've gotta be with me."

(Dir. Mike Nichols) (1998) Probably the best political road movie, almost a primer of American Democratic Presidential politics.  Great direction by Mike Nichols, solid performances and a sensational script (by Elaine May). The book published by Anonymous (Joe Klein) is a roman à clef about the Bill Clinton comeback campaign of 1992.  Profane, salty, clever, hilarious and sad, it is a fascinating story of the politician’s challenge to be all things to all, a marathon, run as a sprint. John Travolta is uncanny as Governor* Jack Stanton.  In P’s favourite scene, where Stanton addresses a union crowd in a cold, closed-down factory,…

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Essence of Dick

"Let Me Make Something Perfectly Clear" (1970 photo of Nixon by Jack E Kightlinger)

      “A place in the national firmament… Greatness is more than government. To make exciting mischief or dull salt; Hazard the chance of ruin, lay on fault, Set the highest stakes through piracy But who the hell to handle it, to cut free; To build me a mad image, up to anything Other than domestically, one who’ll thus bring A welcome beard. Under my dark sun, hold hard! The one you serve was dealt the bleakest card.”     (What serves power, if one’s form at flood Is splendidly bedight yet daubed with mud? And the ‘new King’…

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Malcolm Fraser – Vale

March 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics |

Life wasn't meant to be easy

(21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) Fraser is a rather opaque figure.  Not warm, not particularly consistent, diffident in personal and political relationships, and for all his aloofness and well-heeled background as the squire of Nareen, he was rather a mushy ‘wet’.  He actually stood up for the downtrodden and appeared to mean it, both as Prime Minister (1975-1983) and afterwards, often when it was unfashionable, such as with African poverty and apartheid, Vietnamese boat people, and aboriginal land rights.  He formally broke with the Liberal Party around 2009 but had been a thorn in its side for years…

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