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Bob Carr’s Diary reveals a true satirist, a self-made grotesque

Bob Carr is at least as vain as your average politician. The unusual thing is that he knows it. And the shocking thing is that he doesn’t seem to mind letting us know that he knows it. Such are the complex…

‘I am not like you suburb-dwellers,’ Carr is telling us. ‘I am extraordinary.’ Alan Porritt/AAP

Bob Carr is at least as vain as your average politician. The unusual thing is that he knows it. And the shocking thing is that he doesn’t seem to mind letting us know that he knows it.

Such are the complex ironies that attend the mounting controversy about, among other things, the lack of English subtitles for Wagner in Singapore Airlines’ first-class cabin. Even before the publication of his Diary of a Foreign Minister, tasty examples of comic observation and complaint are leaking out, the largest batch so far in the Fairfax media.

From these we learn Carr’s favourite exercise is the “wonderful one-legged Romanian deadlift” and that he sometimes "has more energy than 16 gladiators”.

Retired politicians who can write well are rare creatures. And the subset among them with an engaging sense of humour isn’t much larger than Carr and John Button. Carr is cagier than was Button, more the trickster figure, and a true satirist who would rather provoke his readers than enlist their sympathy. Comics want finally to be loved, but Carr seems to have the wild satirical characteristic of not caring what people think as long as he gets a reaction.

No doubt the parts of the new Diary already in the public sphere are broadly unrepresentative of the rest of the book. There will be a lot there about local and international politics; much of it will be worth reading and some will be special pleading slipped in under the guise of serious analysis or comic invention.

Never trust an apparently self-exposing ironist not to be smuggling a sub-text under the show of self-immolation. It’s the job of politics and foreign affairs experts to check the book for that sort of disguised freight.

However, as a researcher of political satire, the really interesting thing in the leaked passages made public about fat Americans and steel-cut organic oats is what might be called the “bonfire of the vanities” effect. Politicians and their minders go to extraordinary lengths to pretend they are ordinary people doing ordinary work for all the ordinary voters out there.

This is one of the most cherished illusions of Australian political life. And Carr blows this illusion away, exposing the rarefied atmosphere, the celebrity culture, of his echelon of ministerial life. Now that he really and finally has retired from politics he can expose the fake humility and hypocrisy it demands of the driven people who get close to the top.

“I am not like you suburb-dwellers,” Carr is telling us. “I am extraordinary and bizarre in my talents, my discipline, and my obsessions. And I have to be like that to make it this far in public life, because a normal person isn’t welcome or useful here at the top.” It is not what we want to imagine our representatives are like. We want blander, stabler versions of ourselves, but the life is too punishing, the temptations too big, the satisfactions too petty.

Carr seems to be coming out as a self-made grotesque, as an exemplum not just of how power works, but of how it corrupts. The last nugget in the Fairfax article illustrates the point. Carr writes:

When we stop in LA I will tell our embassy at the UN not to adhere to that steamed-fish policy.

Every meal the Foreign Minister is served bland steamed white fish. This apparently reflects a Fuhrer-directive that I had the department send out about my diet. But whoever drafted it overshot the mark.

I want turkey, I want grass-fed beef .. This is the new Führer-directive.”

This is unlikely to be psychotic self-exposure. Carr was too cagey a politician for too long for that to wash as an explanation, and no sane person calls himself Führer without irony.

The joke opens a window into a world in which the minister is like an absolute ruler surrounded by sycophants, where a politician is exactly like a rock star, throwing his weight around by making childish demands.

So, while I don’t doubt that Carr really is a vain and eccentric man, he is also capable of writing like a satirist, exposing the way power distorts self-perception and value. This may detach his fellow Australians at least a little from our fond myth of egalitarianism.

At the end of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Gulliver has returned to England from the land of the rational but horse-shaped houyhnhnms. He cannot stand the stench of common European humanity, so he spends his time in the stable with horses that at least remind him physically of the creatures who have thrown him out of their excellent and rational land.

As long as the oats are steel-cut and organic, Gulliver can expect the company of a former premier and foreign minister any day now.

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124 Comments sorted by

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  1. con vaitsas

    worker

    This is the same man who has been a vocal opponent against a Bill of Rights for Australia, the only western country without one. Good on ya Bob, a former politician who thinks only politicians know what is best for the public.

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    1. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to con vaitsas

      In all honesty, I do not understand why this is newsworthy.

      The ramblings of a former megalomaniac have as much appeal as getting a brazilian with a cheese grater.

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    2. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      After seeing Carr on ABC I intend to read this book and ego aside I expect there is much more to this book than at first meets the eye.

      I hope the grater is blunt.

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    3. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to con vaitsas

      If we did have one, I wonder if we would have had to wait so long for someone to call for all these inquiries and the royal commission in progress on the systematic abuse with religious institutions in particular, and breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
      He knew what was best for the public, when he assigned his Papal Knight mate John MCarthy QC as Ambassador to the Holy See as far as that goes.
      The Canberra Times April 29 2012 gave good coverage on the connection with Carr Takes Tough Decisions for His Mates.
      It would bring in Carr's views on his remarks on the Jews, the Palestinian problem and their supposedly powerful political influence.

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    4. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So it seems Michael, the question is, will it reveal anything, not already known by those of us the great unwashed, that have been paying attention anyway?

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    5. Andrew Brown

      M. Professional Accounting, B. Arts (Public Policy & Sociology)

      In reply to con vaitsas

      I'm assuming your'e referring to the bill of all rights and no responsibility... arguably the curse of our current age

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    6. Enrique Topo Rodriguez

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Bruce,

      Make no mistake Carr still is and will die a MEGALOMANIAC!
      So many years "supposedly serving" the public through from the farsical political platform, ALL wipped out with one little dirty book. The charity receiving the proceeds should be ashamed of such association!

      TOPO

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  2. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Great article. Is Carr an alien? Look at the eyes.

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  3. David Menere

    part-time contractor

    If Bob has as big an intellect as he seems to be claiming, why does he need subtitles for Wagner operas? Isn't he sufficiently skilled in German?

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    1. Martin Wesley-Smith

      snark-hunter

      In reply to David Menere

      If he were listening to what an Australian Foreign Minister should be listening to on a plane - contemporary Australian music of all kinds - or if he were watching Australian opera, then he wouldn't need sub-titles. The fact that there isn't any Australian opera on DVD is an indication of his contribution to the collective failure of Australian politicians to inculcate a thriving industry in home-grown arts.

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  4. Susan Nolan

    retired

    Yes, he talks and writes entertainingly but what, if any, were his accomplishments in the ten years whilst he was Premier of New South Wales?

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  5. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to John Crest

      yes, an individual's writings certainly reveals the character flaws of that individual...

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  6. Michael Lew

    logged in via Facebook

    When I read the first paragraph I reacted with "I know that", but I'd never thought it before. You have made my ideas of Carr crystallise into a perfect diamond! Thank you.

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    1. christopher muir

      retired TV executive

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      For those who know George MacDonald's hilarious "Flashman" novels there will be an instant recognition - while absorbing Carr's narrative - of the fictional central character Sir Harry Flashman VC. Nothing daunted Flashman - he used outrageous ruses to gain the upper hand in the tightest of military situations. Creature comforts were of importance to him. He also had a way of concealing an immense ego at the expense of others.

      I wonder whether Bob Carr will be missed at the next G20 forum.

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    2. Peter Wilkin

      Australian Realist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Could it perhaps be healthy to allow that our politicians are actually important rather than self important? They did get elected after after all and that means their importance comes from other people aside from themselves.

      We could also maybe allow that their recollections of life in office could be useful to us.

      The people worthy of real blame in politics are the optimistically gullible, selfish, monstrously fickle, and just plain bone lazy, apathetic, ignorant Australians with the memories of gnats who do the voting.

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Wilkin

      Thoughtful comments.....

      I wonder what are the criteria we want our politicians to fulfil.

      I wonder if BC thoughts and revelations are intended to educate us, or merely illustrate and amplify the foibles and inadequacies of others.

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    4. Peter Wilkin

      Australian Realist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Education is all about discovering our foibles and inadequacies and fixing them where possible.

      Sometimes what we really need is a good reminder of what those foibles are from a teacher we actually admire.

      Problem is jealousy has come to prevail over all and thus most of us despise those we ought to admire, We only admire those who cater to our egos by never challenging us in any way. This is a dangerous state of affairs that can only breed mediocrity and stagnation.

      I want my politicians to make the tough decisions - to acknowledge the real threat of global warming for example instead of pandering to deniers , and in the instance of a change of government I want them to refrain from destroying out of spite what good was done by their predecessors.

      I want my politicians to be other than evil clowns. Also the speaker could stop doing such a good impression of Mrs Umbrage from Harry Potter.

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    5. Tim Thornton

      Retired Dairy Farmer

      In reply to Peter Wilkin

      Here here, Peter; but surely the problem is we are all Homo sapiens, mere humans full of foibles and inadequacies. However, some professions e.g. politicians and lawyers, seem to attract those at the far end of the far end of the distribution scale when it comes to self importance. The attacks on Julia Gillard, from the Opposition, and from within her own Party and Government, were such a clear demonstration of the "patheticness"/ self promotion, of those we elect. Now Abbott and co are really showing us their true worth (worthlessness)....don't' forget "Hey hey, Tony A, how many lies have you told today" and as many variations as you can make up !!

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Yes indeed ... Trevor ... but my goodness it'll have to carry the weight and substance of Swift to justify revealing Cabinet discussions and votes ... gotta be more purpose to it than self-justification.

      When he was Premier Bob was predominantly concerned with his legacy ... he was moved to do great things in expanding trhe National Parks system (but failed to find the dough to actually manage it) ... but in the meantime there were noxious weeds of every description thriving in his own Cabinet…

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Wilkin

      I don't see too many foibles or inadequacies being "fixed".

      It either points to poor educations, or a bunch of recalcitrants.

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    8. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      " ... a poll dancer ... "

      a lovely turn of phrase that provoked an involuntary coffee snort.

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    9. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, your list of Carr achievements is incomplete.

      1. Single-handedly Carr almost closed the Grafton NSW timber industry to satisfy a promise made to city tree huggers about 500km south.

      2. Obeid & Co were established after the 87 bank crash in response to a bank demand for a loan repayment by the ALP that was met from funds provided by Obeid. The ALP responded in kind by giving Obeid the No 1 position on the NSW Upper House ticket. The rest is being discussed in ICAC at present.

      3. Carr managed to re-direct almost all NSW infrastructure funds into the Sydney Olympic Stadium site before the 2000 Olympics so that the only major project north of Newcastle was the $137 million Kempsey Jail, (locally termed the Purfleet Hilton) on the same day as the Olympic Committee received $147 million for petty cash.

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    10. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Talking about noxious weeds, why would Carr, a noxious weed himself, clear his cabinet of his fellows.

      I will not be reading the book let alone buying it as it would sicken me to feel I have contributed one penny to this egotist's purse.

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    11. harry oblong

      tree surgeon

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      , not true many northern nsw people are very happy with tha decisions carr made.......

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  7. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    So he knows he's arrogant and an egoist.

    Probably far worse than not knowing it.

    It must have been taxing to have been a dilettante in NSW politics.
    A bit like Anthony Mundine in Swan Lake.

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  8. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    “I am not like you suburb-dwellers,” you say he is telling us. Completely true. Your average suburb dweller might have thought twice before closing perfectly good public schools to sell the real estate; or closing down country rail stations; or – and this is perhaps his worst legacy as premier – allowing poker machines in pubs.

    He is not funny. He is without principles.

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    1. con vaitsas

      worker

      In reply to John Newton

      Dead right John, although he probably has a point about the pro Israeli lobby having far too much influence

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    2. Jay Wulf

      Digerati at nomeonastiq.com

      In reply to con vaitsas

      > "although he probably has a point about the pro Israeli lobby having far too much influence"

      When the pro-Israeli lobby makes news complaining that someone asserts they have too much influence... that is proof enough that they *DO* have too much influence. Though I am surprised that there are no claims of anti-semitism, which is the usual way the Israelis attack any criticism of their activities, justified or not.

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    3. Rab Abernethy

      helicopter pilot

      In reply to Jay Wulf

      Well, the good old 'bigot' label got trotted out by Michael Danby in his reaction to Bob's comments about the Jewish influence. And threatening to cut off Bob's supply of bagels from Double Bay speaks volumes about the seriousness of Danby's anger.

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  9. Trevor McGrath

    uneducated twit

    The funniest response so far was the effort by Mr Michael Danby MHR this morning on ABCRN. Mr Danby obviously does not think that Mr Carr's comments are best ignored as the mumblings of a know nothing. It really was funny. Mr Danby's interview should be replayed in full on Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell. Cheers

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  10. Neil James

    Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

    With all his egotistical affectations and foibles at least Bob Carr had a life-long intellectual interest in foreign affairs. Making him foreign minister made some sense.

    The greatest tragedy of Carr's factional parachuting into the Senate to replace Mark Arbib was, however, his displacement of Stephen Smith as foreign minister.

    While Smith was loathed by most DFAT staff for many reasons, his ability to cause great harm to them and the national interest was somewhat limited by the nature of…

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    1. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Neil James

      I always thought Stephen Smith was good PM material, I wonder why he was never selected within the party?
      I know for a fact he was definately impartial in relation to addressing issues within the Catholic Church without fear or favour in line with his position as Foreign Minister, not like others afraid to rock the boat.
      He also took on the role of bringing the abuses within the defence force to the fore without pulling any punches.
      Much respect is warranted for this man, for his principles.

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Neil James

      Neil, this diatribe appears to be straight out of the Coalition dirt file.

      What was so wrong with exposing the sexual abuse and bullying at ADFA, or the long standing 'traditional practices' with cadets??

      Then "an eccentric egotist" may be preferred to the 'house mouse' image created by one highly ranked recently retired military person.

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    3. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Neil James

      "… Bob Carr and his appointment as Foreign Minister by Julia Gillard meant Smith was moved to the Defence portfolio. "
      I thought Stephen Smith was replaced by Kevin Rudd, and Bob Carr was appointed foreign minister to replace KR when he went to the back bench.

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    4. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Lynne,

      Unfortunately your view is not based on the actual facts.

      Smith's interference in the ADFA "skype" affair actually made the first victim's situation worse and created a second victim in Smith's improper and probably unlawful scapegoating of ADFA's commandant.

      The commandant was later vindicated by an independent inquiry by a QC and ADFA itself was largely cleared by an inquiry by the federal sex discrimination commissioner.

      Despite this, Smith has never apologised to the commandant for this in particular or for Smith denying him natural justice in general. Nor has Smith ever apologised to the many cadets at ADFA after he had so delayed ministerial confirmation that what the media was sensationally claiming was almost entirely false.

      This is also why some members of the public are still confused over the "skype" affair.

      In fact Smith never even visited ADFA during his three years in the portfolio. Even before the "skype" affair.

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    5. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Neil James

      There was much more than just the 'skype affair, and in saying that, I doubt anything at all would've got off the ground if it hadfn't been for if Stephen Smith with the menality of the 'one of the boys' by higher echelons including now GG Peter Cosgrove who touched on what went on in his memoirs.
      I also read Michael O'Connors views to refresh my memory, where he compared the ADF to the abuse within the Catholic Church as a virtual witch hunt and we can see what has been the outcome there.
      In both instances, parents can have some peace of mind when it comes to their children whether in the forces or in the church
      Smith is both a Catholic and a father and I would certainly want him on my side and I stand by my views with respect for yours.

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    6. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Well said, Lynne. In addition Smith has a reputation second to none as a politician who discharged his portfolio responsibilities with fairness, treated all factions in the ALP equally (without fear or favour or playing off one side against the other) and who placed his constituents first.These are rare qualities in a politician and he is widely regarded as an honorable man!

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    7. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Michael,

      Your opinion on Smith's reputation would not be widely shared in the ALP, the federal government and the informed community.

      Within his own faction, the WA Right, he was regarded as an opportunist and a careerist, not a real believer in the importance of moderate Labor beliefs. Across the wider caucus, especially among those from all factions who remain informed about defence issues, he is despised for his undermining the ALP's credibility on defence issues that took two generations…

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    8. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Not true Lynne.

      The military police and AFP investigations into the skype affair began the afternoon it was first reported to the ADFA hierarchy. There never was a "cover-up" at any level. The Hot Issues Brief that Smith received that night from the ADF explained this, and which he eventually released publicly months later, proves this beyond doubt.

      The real question - which he has never answered - is why he took so long to refute mistaken and even malicious reporting of the issue.

      Nothing…

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    9. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Neil James

      The woman referred to wasn't the only one he was concerned about, it was for women within the forces per se at sometime in the future.
      Unfortunatley when it comes to men 'being boys' as far as sexual proclivities are concerned there's always an uproar, whether within the defence force the Catholic priesthood or within society, the latter two easier to get away with.

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    10. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Neil James

      So the military, as always, was as pure as the driven slush?

      I guess the poor young woman involved simply had no sense of humour?

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    11. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Neil James

      Neil, Thanks for your post.

      To the extent that this blog concerns Stephen Smith I simply wish to point out that, like Bob Carr, the high quality of a politician cannot be judged by the proximity of their positioning in following Mary MacKillop up the queue for papal canonisation.

      With due deference to your opinion, your role is hardly without bias or at least an interest in presenting a point of view that holds members of the Australian Defense Forces in the highest regard. As an Australian…

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    12. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Michael, I think you misunderstand the role of the ADA as the independent, non-partisan, national public-interest watchdog for strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.

      We only stick up for the defence force when they are wrongly or ignoranntly criticised.

      At other times we criticise aspects of our defence prepredness where this is warranted.

      The ADA is also well known as a consistent opponent of genuine sexism - and of mistaken or false allegations of sexism. You will not, for example, find a female member of the ADF who thinks otherwise.

      You are, of course, entitled to your wider ideological stance. As a scrupulously non-partisan organisation we avoid ideologies of all kinds because they are not germane to our public-interest guardianship efforts.

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    13. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, see my comment below.

      As you can easily find out on the Net, the ADA has consistently condemned actual sexism in the defence force. We have also championed widening the opportunities for females in the ADF and criticised inaccurate media reporting on this topic.

      And, to be just as consistent, we have always condemned mistaken, false or malicious allegations of sexism.

      We have also been a consistent defender of both victims of the "skype" affair. The female cadet wrongly filmed (and therefore abused) during consensual intercourse with a fellow cadet, and the ADFA commandant wrongly and improperly scapegoated by Stephen Smith.

      The independent inquiry into the "skype" affair itself, and the wider inquiry into gender relations at ADFA by the federal sex discrimination commissioner, subsequently vindicated our stance.

      It is simply absurd for you to imply otherwise.

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    14. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      One of the ironies of the Stephen Smith saga is that females in the ADF tend to loathe Stephen Smith even more than the males.

      This is probably due to what they regard as the insincerity of his motivation and the capricious nature of his actions.

      What they do respect, across both genders, are the senior officers of both genders who stood up to Smith when he so abused his ministerial authority and betrayed the loyalty and thrust of the men and women of the defence force.

      In three years as minister, for example, Smith never visited ADFA once. Even before the "skype" affair.

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    15. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, as you well know from your previous behaviour, the ADA does not respond to trolls.

      Especially when google would quickly satisfy the ostensible question.

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    16. Martin Wesley-Smith

      snark-hunter

      In reply to Neil James

      You calling Peter Ormonde a troll??? He is consistently one of the most intelligent and perceptive correspondents on TC. Ormonde for PM, I say!

      But where is Liz Minchin when we need her? A while back, during discussion of the Great Barrier Reef Authority's approval of dumping within the park, she, as moderator, summarily deleted, never to be seen again, a line of discussion she judged to be off-topic. This thread, about Stephen Smith, is more off-topic than that one was (I thought we were discussing Bob Carr?). I don't think Neil James' posts and their responses should be deleted, but perhaps they could be moved down to the bottom of the page so that readers can follow the discussion about Carr without having to wade through what looks like a character assassination of Smith.

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    17. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Neil James

      Neil, Thanks for the prolific publication list. I'm now convinced that Bob Carr was wrong and that the ADFA has in you a more stentorian propagandist than even the Israel lobby that was the subject of Bob's original plaint.

      It's a tad regrettable that you haven't also ventured into the realm of polished satire that might enable you to sell your message more effectively on TC, as the turning tide in regard to Bob's memoir now appears to have achieved ;)

      Perchance you could turn your passionate defense of our defense forces to explain and resolve, if not indeed to change the following peculiarly mean and in my view abjectly UnAustralian practice:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/11/cowboys-on-the-timor-sea-one-rule-for-our-navy-another-for-indonesian-fishermen?CMP=ema_632

      Kind regards.

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    18. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to Neil James

      I have been waiting for this whole series of comments about Stephen Smith, the skype affair, and sexism and sexual assault in the Australian Defence Forces, the ADFA commandant, etc. to disappear for being severely off-topic from this thread about Bob Carr's diary.

      But, since it hasn't, I, too would appreciate some links to back up your statements, Neil James.

      You imply that your statements about the skype affair and the ADFA commandant have been vindicated by the federal sex discrimination…

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    19. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Michael, My reply was to endorse Martin's expression of respect for Peter and his humorous call for Peter to become the PM.
      I have never had any "claim on" anyone who makes comments here and therefore you cannot have a "prior claim". But, if some system of 'claims' (of which I'm unaware) actually exists: then you are welcome to be 'first in the queue'.
      I expressed a (humorous) "hope" and an opinion about the commenters here missing Peter's wise, and often witty, contributions, should he depart for Canberra.
      ( BTW I think anyone stepping into the PM's shoes at the moment would probably feel safer in the rattlesnake cage at the zoo … )

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    20. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Neil James

      Neil , it’s hard to know what to make of your comments. The following article from “The Australian” a medium not particularly known for its labor adulation makes a hard task of arguing your particular case.
      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/adfa-chief-canes-defence-minister-stephen-smith/story-e6frg8yo-1226697388352#mm-premium
      Then there is another element to the story of Stephen Smith
      https://www.adfassistancetrust.org.au/home/message-from-defence-minister-stephen-smith.html
      I’m sure there is lots more, but that’s probably enough for people to gain a bit of a picture.

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    21. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Now calm down, Mz Jane. There are lots of women and men and those in between who love Peter O to death, so there's little point in denial. I might stop there in case Brigadier James makes counter-allegations and instigates his own inquiry into sexual shenanigans on The Conversation ;)

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    22. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      "Now calm down, Mz Jane.
      There are lots of women and men and those in between who love Peter O to death, so there's little point in denial."
      I never press the report button, Doctor Michael, so I will ignore your offensive psychobabble for now and all your comments in future.

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    23. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Chris, its all a matter of context and dates.

      For example, the link you cite from "The Australian" was a disgraceful "beat-up" of a legitimate action under administrative law (the submission of a Redress of Grievance) and occurred as a result of, and long after, the commandant's abusive treatment by Smith started two or so years before.

      The ADA protested this the untruth of this media sensationalism at the time. See http://ada.asn.au/commentary/letters-to-the-editor/letters-2013/adfa-commodore-kafers-natural-justice-submission.html

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    24. In reply to Neil James

      Comment removed by moderator.

    25. In reply to Susan Nolan

      Comment removed by moderator.

    26. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Neil James

      Alright everyone, let's get this back on topic (that being Bob Carr's diary).

      The Conversation does indeed moderate against pseudonyms and we're currently looking at ways to do so more effectively.

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    27. Neil James

      Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

      In reply to Susan Nolan

      Susan, you have the correct report. This was the first of a phased series of reports into gender relations in the ADF by Elizabeth Broderick and her team.

      You have, however, misunderstood my clear reference that the report you quote was into ADFA itself, not the "skype" affair particularly.

      What I actually noted was that "The commandant was later vindicated by an independent inquiry by a QC" which I then supplemented with "... and ADFA itself was largely cleared by an inquiry by the federal…

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    28. In reply to Neil James

      Comment removed by moderator.

    29. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Hang on Cory, that does not give me much comfort that I’m a real person. I think what Neil was possibly saying was that my revealing of further details so that his statements could be judged in an open forum similarly as Carr’s book is being done here, meant that I was just being vexatious, that I really needed an organisation’s banner behind my name so that I could be further identified by my affiliations. Truth is, information is a precious commodity, and I really do like the light being shed upon political (and defence) matters. Making my own mind up on things possibly wouldn’t make me a very good soldier, but maybe a worthy voter.

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    30. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Neil James

      Dear Neil

      Your suggestion that a person called Peter Ormonde doesn't exist has left me bereft and bewildered. My puny contributions to these columns have been based on the assumption that I will somehow meet up with the man, if not in the flesh then in some kind of epistulatory heaven.

      Moreover, as one who appreciates wit and is accomplished in the use of the occasional bon mot, I regard him as more than merely witty but instead a major contributor to exposing the cant that passes for serious…

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    31. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      'Truth is, information is a precious commodity, and I really do like the light being shed upon political (and defence) matters'

      We differ. That is an area upon which sports ground like lights ought ought always be blazing, day and night so that nothing gets by in the change over from daylight to darkness.

      'Making my own mind up on things possibly wouldn’t make me a very good soldier, but maybe a worthy voter.'

      With that I agree, but I fear no political party ever would! Or any authoritarian, for that matter!

      Dare to question the government, police, military, --- who of course can and would do no wrong --- and you have permanent black marks, along with the odd scar, of which I bear a few.

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    32. Ron Bowden

      Entropy tragic

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Michael, I wouldn't dream of buying into Neil's little tanty, but please append my endorsement to your remarks.

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    33. In reply to Susan Nolan

      Comment removed by moderator.

  11. Andrew Winter

    -

    "The joke opens a window into a world in which the minister is like an absolute ruler surrounded by sycophants, where a politician is exactly like a rock star, throwing his weight around by making childish demands."

    A very true comment by the author. Having worked closely with Ministers at a state level, childish demands, preening, sycophants and decisions based on ego rather than even the logic of political survival are all day-to-day business.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andrew Winter

      I worked in the Vic state public service.

      Whenever the minister came on a visit, the place was spruced up, and any semblance of a "normal" office was eradicated.

      It was if a demigod was deigning to step into our mundane existence. The management practically wet themselves with delight and trepidation.

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    2. Robert Phiddian

      Deputy Dean, School of Humanities at Flinders University

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      And I can assure you that university politics can be much the same. One of my pet theories (impossible to demonstrate) is that our business and politics life are becoming more 'medieval' with power held personally and arbitrarily by leaders who are surrounded by courtiers. By 'wetting ourselves' before celebrities we contribute to this.

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    3. Tim Thornton

      Retired Dairy Farmer

      In reply to Robert Phiddian

      Robert, you may not be able to prove your theory, but there is ample anecdotal evidence to indicate you are correct. That the rich are getting richer and the mega rich are being worshiped is evidence enough. The fact that this business of being mega rich is largely inherited is surely medieval. I see this all in extreme in the Philippines where 5% of the people control / have 95% of the wealth, and the system there is pure medievalism form the 18th / 19th century in Europe or the UK.
      I love your bit about celebs, what have we become when we worship pop stars, who are as talented as a dead rat, but so cleverly marketed.

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Robert Phiddian

      All the more medieval with knights and dames now strutting their stuff in the higher echelons.

      I can see a raft of knights (mostly) and a dame or two amongst the business elite (read rich and powerful) all given the touch in the shoulder our future Abbott.

      Perhaps he's only done it to get the chance of a knighthood or peerage, like Casey and Menzies.

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    5. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Robert Phiddian

      Technically Robert it is a hypothesis but I get your point.

      The Kardashians and Paris Hilton etc are easy examples.

      What is even more concerning though is the fawning over these so called hero's, role models, inspirations etc and I would much rather acknowledge the value to our society from a nurse as against for instance a billionaire making money from digging holes in the ground.

      I wonder do we still refer to Arthur Sinidinos as the Honourable Member and is our new GG more eminent than Victor Chang or Fred Hollows?

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    6. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I experienced one ministerial visit while working in the NSW PS. For some reason she paused at my desk to say hello. We had a chat and I suggested that reading police reports was a bit like reading Dickens for an insight into human tragedy and disaster. A young man, apparently her adviser or minder, curtly interrupted whereon I asked him how long he's been doing work experience in the Minister's office. He came back, bridling, ten minutes later and I was able to say "Fuck off mate, I'm the delegate".

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    7. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Robert Phiddian

      Then Robert, there is the Peter Principle and Parkinson's Law that determine why so many academics are out of their depth.

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    8. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, re the sprucing up. When I was a student-nurse at Carinus Nursing College and later in Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, we did the same thing before "Matron's rounds".
      In my own years as a "DON", you've made me wonder if the staff did the same thing before I walked around the facility!

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  12. John Canning

    Professor at University of Sydney

    I have to say when I read the excerpts in the paper this morning I found them hilarious! Sure he's vain and may very well have been associated with, or turning a blind eye to, the emerging organized white collar crime which may have grown, under directives from the Gosford Empire, exponentially during his time as Premier.... Certainly losing attention to someone else would have dented his enormous pride. But he does write well and is hilarious and it sparked up an otherwise boring tabloid... ("First class tosser" in one tabloid). Of course he knows he is a tosser and the reflections do lend weight to someone who would be partial to bending the law to get first class treatment...but in the same vein as another "infamous" author Chopper Reed he makes a good read... might even buy the book now!

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  13. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Astute observations and nice writing Robert recognizing that Carr indeed has a "subtext smuggled under the show of self-immolation'. But no it is NOT "the job of politics and foreign affairs to check the book for that sort of disguised freight". It is that of every single person in this country who votes for a government. They have the moral responsibility to inform themselves of the facts/truth about how the governments they put into power actually operate. Carr is actually performing a great…

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    1. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Whilst at first I was treating this book as another self indulgence from a former pollie I really started to get interested once the, as you say, "MSM red herrings" started.

      Thanks to the very media that wants us to remain disengaged I am now very keen to read what Mr Carr has to say.

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Oh dear Pat, you have been digging around in your garden again and look at what has just flowered. The first sensible in depth analysis of a period of recent history that has been much maligned by MSM churnalists and political interests intent upon stripping Australian voters of their natural resources, especially energy resources.

      I am reminded that Whitlam was overthrown by US interests and CIA operatives because he promoted Australian interest ahead of US interests.

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    3. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      And Jack it is of interest that Whitlam's sense of self parody and humour was also vehemently disliked by the MSM "churnalists"; beautiful term.
      But whistle blowers are to be thanked: be they Whitlam, Snowden or Carr. You don't have to like them, I'm just grateful.

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    4. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Somebody might get to write an explanation of as to why the PM -- any PM -- has a 'right of veto'.

      Merely front person, merely an mp, with one vote on any issue s what I say.

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  14. alfred venison

    records manager (public sector)

    oh come on, bob carr, real wagnerians don't need subtitles ! -a.v.

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    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to alfred venison

      Yeah, I would have said that too Alfred, but the answer is he can't be a 'real' Wagnerian and he suspected as such; after all another language come to late in life and not spoken in real living context must miss the nuances. I saw Madame Butterfly only recently with sub titles, and gee it took on a whole new meaning when I realised she was only 13. Before that she was playing the victim, after that she was the victim for real.

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  15. harry oblong

    tree surgeon

    gee ,the press really know when to run with the trash stories ,next week it will british royal visit rubbish i suppose...i thought the conversation was better than that....

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    1. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to harry oblong

      Practising my curtsies already harry. Such a privilege - Real live Royals. It's sooooooooo exciting. Such a treat.
      Where are my smelling salts …

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Might I add Ms Jane how utterly disgraceful it is that OUR Prime Minister is off playing footsies with the yellow peril - complete with car yard bunting and those wavy armed tube man gadgets - instead of making sure that our streets are suitably swept and polished in anticipation of OUR own royals popping in with their princely sprog. I feel so ashamed.

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    3. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Embarrassing innit. At least give them credit for colour coordination, yellow peril, green army, red faces (ours) ; sometimes I feel like just giving up on the Real Australia; but I still hope it's there, somewhere - it's just the boots on our necks giving us a headache right now.

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    4. Peter Wilkin

      Australian Realist

      In reply to harry oblong

      I'm a pretty staunch labor voter but imo labor has made a huge mistake being so rabidly republican. Most people actually like the royals and labor is supposed to be for the people.

      We're apes and we like to know who the alpha ape is. Royals are the best fitting manifestation of that. Changing pseudo-royals every several years by election has proven to be an uneasy and unsatisfactory substitute for Americans, many of whom have come to dislike their government to a pathological degree.

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  16. Peter Sommerville

    Scientist & Technologist

    I really could not expect an academic esconced in SA to really understand what a pompous prig Bob Carr really is. So shallow he is vacuous, as any thinking person who lived under his administration can attest. He is no satirist. He is and always has been a narcissist.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I am still mystified as to why Michael ... like it's not like the plight of the Palestinians has nearly as much significance say as steel cut organic oats or the lack of wagnerian subtitles. There would indeed be reasons for Carr's stand - but I'd be looking at his eccentric narcissism and his factional entanglements rather than any particular attachment to principles or rights, sadly.

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    2. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, its a measure of how low our politics have sunk that we should thank heaven for such small mercies. Last time I checked no one on the Coalition side had ever raised an issue of justice and peace in relation to their portfolio, whether current or 'disinherited'.

      Contrary to some here I think Carr's persona has become so caricatured (the American Civil War, the elocuted accent) that he doesn't know the difference between being himself and performing.

      So, what the hell! He has nowhere to…

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    3. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      No, no Peter it is likely more personal than that. I am reminded that Carr was gifted a directorship in Macquarie Bank within minutes of announcing his retirement from being Premier.

      Now which financial organisation benefitted from the NSW government policies of tunnels and toll roads?

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    4. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Hi Michael, I agree. I have seen photos of Rudd wearing a yarmulka at funerals, and Hawke. I found it somewhat off-putting. I don't know, but for an old Australian, it is a strange sight. I understand showing respect, but respect once would have meant you did not wear them, but preserved them for the Jewish belief followers. You respected their right to wear them, but if you were PM then Australia's secular state came first, well so I would have thought. Now it seems like our PMs are branded…

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    5. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      "Do Australian governments intend to always treat the Australian public's preferences as secondary to a foreign nation's?" Yes they do and they are corrupt.

      Even the Greens are afraid of the Israeli lobby and that upsets me no end.

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    6. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      'because if good and competent women and men don't offer themselves for public office'

      Well, of course they do not!

      (Apologise to the very few who have)

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    7. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      The Palestinians have been being screwed for far longer than has anybody else.

      A clear indication of just how 'racist', or 'colourist' the Western world is. Human rights, international law, moral? Dream on.

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  17. Jack Arnold

    Polymath

    Methinks the author doth protest too much in this matter. I am reminded that old journalists never die they just run out of ink.

    A successful journalist turned very successful generally progressive politician turned corporate director turned international politician by request and the jackals of journalism howl in despair when (shock!! horror!!!) that journalist writes about his experiences. Isn't that what journalists do????

    So, perhaps this enormous outburst is a bad case of concentrated professional jealousy following the apparent editorial directives at News Ltd mastheads to denigrate everything that can vaguely be labelled ALP.

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  18. Rab Abernethy

    helicopter pilot

    Bob's certainly a man of the last century, a self-appointed grandee of the old court with his finicky manners and expectations how a gentleman of his status should be treated.
    Nevertheless he has to gain kudos for admitting freely how powerful the Jewish Israel lobby is in this country, something we've all known for years but were denied open dialogue in the media. To label him a 'bigot', as did Danby, is to show the anger of the old guard at 'Double Bay' - no bagels for Bob!

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  19. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    I seriously doubt BC has any racist leanings, Jewish or otherwise.

    He's far too civilised for that. He strives for higher realms.

    Perhaps he's just telling it like it was or is.

    The pro-Israel lobby in America is hugely influential, the anti-Palestine stance of the US government is proof of that. Why shouldn't the same sort of body exist here.

    Just another lobby group among many who aim to influence government decisions and policy.

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  20. Stephen M Sasse

    CEO

    A true elitist does not require translated sub-titles of the Ring Cycle. Carr is an embarrassment

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  21. Enrique Topo Rodriguez

    logged in via Facebook

    Dear Readers,

    Well, I think just about every story has the up and the down side. we have seen heard and read about the LOWEST DOWN. No doubt The Not-so-Honourable Carr is o wants to be seen as a "pompous-self-serving-prick". Prickly always was, no surprise here.....Pomposity, it comes when a country pays for your expenses, and this MAKES ME SICK. Our taxes mantain his "style or lack of it"

    For the UP, may I suggest we use his persona and recent behaviour displays as a "yard stick" for "Doing the Carr". Thus we could measure ex-politicians as being better or worse than CARR similarly to LAST MAN SATANDING Steven "Gold" Bradbury (a charachter much more loved by all).
    Just food for thought.

    Enrique TOPO Rodriguez

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  22. Ai Rui Sheng

    Retired

    Has anyone read the book before commenting? The book is very funny and full of self-deprecating jokes. Quite the opposite of what is being reported.

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