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Issue No. 199 10 October 2003  

Those of us preparing to protest US President George W Bush’s visit to Australia must tread a fine line – between condemning the policies of an illegitimate president with a dangerous agenda and damning an entire nation.


Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


 Rail Whistleblower Attacked - Again

 Royal Con on Tape

 Call Centre Stumps Umpire

 Breakthrough for Email Privacy

 Harbour Sell Off Sparks Occupation

 Harvey World Travel Locks Up Tour

 STOP PRESS: Telstra Drops Out

 Workers Voice Gets Hard Edge

 Employees Disable Hard-Ball Bosses

 Canberra Eyes Crash Windfall

 Bush Whacker - Dubya Fingered

 Assault Costs Education Department

 Uni Workers Stand Up To Feds

 Thousands Say No to Cole

 The Town that Struck

 Activists Notebook


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

 On The Waterfront
 An Honest Job
 Letter From America
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Tool Shed

The Toolinator

They may say, "Only in California", but this week fear and loathing took on a bizarre new dimension as reality eclipsed satire and a one time body builder triumphed in a battle of style over substance to be elected Governor of the world’s sixth largest economy.

Remember the last time an expatriate Austrian came to a position of power?

This week California elected a condom full of walnuts to the position of Governor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger brings with him the ability to learn lines and stand around looking like a more sullen version of a Chesty Bonds commercial. How this is supposed to help California's economic crisis is not apparently clear.

Just when the world was coming to terms with George Dubya's Wild West view of the world, US Politics has decided to throw up another crazy white supremacist.

Much has been made of our Tool Of The Week's rise from the cave in Conan the Barbiturate, but that's where it seems Der Gropenfuhrer left his attitude to women - boasting in a magazine interview of the jolly good time he had pack-raping a woman back in his seventies heyday.

When Schwarzenegger was married in 1986 he made a very lavish and glowing toast to one time Waffen SS Nazi, Kurt Waldheim. In the past he has also praised his fellow Austrian Adolph Hitler and the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

He's also an admirer of that contemporary Austrian right-wing nutter, Jorg Heider.

Our Tool Of the Week may have to entitle his next movie "Triumph Of The Will".

Black former body-builder and Mr. Universe Rick Wayne has spoken of the racist comments he said were made to him by Schwarzenegger in the 1970s.

The election of Schwarzenegger is a victory of style over substance. It's the difference between a man standing at a rally with a straw broom promising to "kleen haus" up against an incumbent who has done more to alleviate the position of California's low paid than any Governor in living memory.

It comes as no surprise that trade unions in California campaigned heavily to save Arnie's opponent. They know that this lunatic spells bad news for anyone who doesn't shop on Rodeo Drive.

US Unions have copped this before - when ex-wrestler Jesse Ventura became the spectacularly disastrous one term Governor of Minnesota. Just because it sounds good on a late night chat show doesn't mean its good policy.

What does Arnie stand for? A glib populist fascism that will see the working conditions of California's state employees run into the ground. The interests of Texan power moguls protected; a green light for the big end of town to go on a bender.

And the media have lapped it up with all the critical engagement of a carnival spruiker.

It may prove to be the high water market of politics of spin.

As the poet Richard Rodriguez said, Los Angeles was a Mexican city long before it became a blonde American city. Now the Aryan master race is ensconced in a smug position of power while democracy is hung out to dry as a beauty contest and real ugliness is hidden under layers of dross and spin.

To see popular culture junkies lap this sort of stuff up is enough to make any thinking person throw up. We are a culture so star struck that we give credibility to people on the strength of their ability to remember a prepared script. It's not about ideas. It's not about policy. It's about a big smile and an acting career.

If this is the future of western politics then we are all headed for hell in a taxi.

Could it happen here? Probably.

We are as captive of the cult of celebrity as anywhere else in the western world. The Tall Poppy Syndrome isn't popular in some circles, but it's an important check for a society being led down the garden path by showmen, egomaniacs and Malcolm Turnbull. Its about making people realise that famous does night necessarily mean right; and that we have good reason to be suspicious of people who think that they're superior to us.

Bad news loves company. The one redeeming feature of Arnie's election was his ineligibility to follow in Ronald Reagan's footsteps and run for the presidency. Now even that hurdle is being challenged by US lawmakers.

While Arnie may have been all over our TV screens and newspapers last week the truly scary thing is...

...he'll be back.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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