Hard News by Russell Brown


Quite the Two-Step

What do you call it when a lobby group knee-jerks in two different directions at once? A jig? The Ombudsman's call for a Royal Commission inquiry into the criminal justice system is "doomed to failure" says Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McMcVicar. And the same call is "long overdue" says Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman (and new National Party candidate for Wigram) Marc Alexander.

To add to the mirth -- and someone must have chuckled at Scoop -- the two statements were published exactly one minute apart on Friday. It's classic conservative rent-a-quote action in stereo. Why bother waiting to form a considered view when you can rush out a press statement based on the first thing that comes into your head?

An unexpected side effect of the stoush over the Electoral Finance Bill: party pills for Christmas! With the EFB dragging on, it looks like there won't be time this week to pass the BZP ban legislation. You've got till after the Big Day Out, kids.

The US presidential race, meanwhile, is endlessly diverting, especially on the Republican side. Giuliani (startlingly corrupt) and Romney (wrong kooky religion) are beginning to tank, but the new frontrunner, Mike Huckabee, has been somewhat derailed as (presumably with the assistance of one or more opponents) the story of Wayne DuMond swings around.

As governor of Arkansas in 1996, Huckabee ignored urgent testimonies and helped secure the release of convicted rapist DuMond -- who was eventually paroled in 1999 and raped and murdered two women the following year.

The backstory is beyond bizarre. DuMond was convicted of the 1985 rape of a teenager who was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. But he became a cause celebre as angry conservatives claimed he had been framed by Clinton supporters. They weren't the only ones to feel sympathy for DuMond at the time. The Village Voice's Ward Harvarky wrote a story describing how, long-before he got to court, DuMond had been hog-tied and castrated by two men who broke into his home. One of them forced DuMond to give him a blow job first. The local corrupt cracker sheriff displayed DuMond's testicles in a jar, but never found anyone to charge with the grotesque assault, or for the arson of DuMond's house. Um, wow. Let's move on.

Meanwhile, Huckabee has told an audience that his surge in the polls is the work of God. As was, he told an NRA meeting, his miracle shot on an antelope in a hunting contest in Wyoming. They have antelopes in Wyoming?

Just to repeat: this man is the Republican frontrunner for the most powerful job in the world.

On the other side of the race, Hilary's in some trouble.

In the interests of ending on a cheery note, Harry Hutton has reappeared.

PS: And don't forget to vote for the Public Address Word(s) of the Year 2007.

PPS: This just in: Conrad Black gets six and a half years in prison. Good.

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