Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dennis Shanahan, Tony Abbott, and for a little light nutty cornflake relief, presenting Dr John Harvey Kellogg ...

(Above: nothing like a healthy love of corn to correct a woman's interest in "abnormal excitement").

Poor old Dennis Shanahan is in thunderer mode, and so he thunders Unhealthy obsession with Abbott could rebound on government.

'The Rudd government has an unhealthy obsession with Tony Abbott's obsessions', he thunders, thereby showing that Dennis Shanahan has an unhealthy obsession with the Rudd government's unhealthy obsession with Tony Abbott's obsessions, and perhaps worst of all that Tony Abbott is in the grip of some serious obsessions.

And what are the obsessions which obsess Shanahan and Rudd and therefore anyone else interested in the obsessions of the media and politicians?

Well of course amongst them is door stopper and propper that Tony Abbott gave by way of interview to The Australian Women's Weekly:

There is clearly a co-ordinated government effort to portray Abbott as a preaching moralist wanting to force his religious and moral values on to the public, a man who wants to suppress women and who is a climate change denier.

Um, it's a government co-ordinated effort that led Abbott to spruik to the Weekly? As opposed to free falling manna from heaven? (More on manna here).

Tony Abbott was forced by the government to blather on about his bedroom philosophies?Blather inspired by the Catholic church, even though the key part of his talk - overlooked in the general hysteria - is that he approves of the use of contraceptives, and therefore in the eyes of the Pellites, immediately becomes a heretic?

The common images and language invoked by ministers to describe Abbott's comments about advice he would give his daughters on sexual activity demonstrated publicly what Labor considers is Abbott's electoral weakness.

An excited Craig Emerson told Brisbane radio Abbott was "sermonising to people, telling them what to do in their private lives" and that he was worried "what his government policies would be in implementing or enforcing his moral values".

Well of course they would say that, but if Shanahan could only bring himself to admit it, the deeply consternating thing for conservatives is that in the process of Abbott exposing himself, Chairman Rudd, himself a deeply boring religious and social conservative, has been able to have his cake and eat it. By sending out his attack dogs, while doing his pious church door stoppers to the media:

Wong suggested Abbott was lecturing people "about what are deeply personal matters" while Julia Gillard, in the midst of a highly successful and positive campaign on school ratings, took time out to suggest his comments in The Australian Women's Weekly "will confirm the fears of Australian women about Mr Abbott and about his desires to impose his morality on others".

The Deputy Prime Minister, who is the government's most effective parliamentary and media performer and who will face Abbott every Friday morning on television while Rudd gets a solo free shot on his old Sunrise program, went further to suggest people didn't want "Tony Abbott to stand in their bedroom and give them advice".

Oh, it just ain't fair. A free shot while Tony shoots off his mouth.

This co-ordinated campaign followed a completely misleading attack before Christmas on Abbott based on false claims that he wanted to introduce compulsory bible studies.

False claims? Completely misleading attack?

Hang on, has the Herald Sun, that other bastion of Chairman Rupert's antipodean media empire, been making things up? Did Aaron Langmaid invent All kids must read the Bible, federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says:

Bible classes should be compulsory so children have a fundamental understanding of Christianity on leaving school, federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

"I think everyone should have some familiarity with the great texts that are at the core of our civilisation," Mr Abbott said.

"That includes, most importantly, the Bible.

"I think it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity.

"That doesn't mean that people have to be believers."

Sadly Abbott means well, but shoots from the mouth while aiming at his foot. In many ways he's more engaging and interesting than the dullard Chairman Rudd, but he confuses his own confused emotional honesty with what people find interesting and relevant to their lives. It's only the likes of loon pond that deeply cares.

Well, fair's fair. Here at loon pond, we think people should be made to read religious texts, especially if their absurdities can be pondered, and we're firm believers in the use of contraception.

But Shanahan isn't interested in nuances or subtle shades of gray. He just broods about the unfairness:

Rudd, who has campaigned to get Labor to appeal to religious believers and who has launched political wars against gambling and teenage drinking as well as expressing his disgust at a photographic exhibition that included pictures of a naked girl, has been more circumspect.

Well of course, because Rudd is in fact John Howard, and he doesn't have to stumble into these moral mine fields, as the dog whistles have already established that he's heroically in favour of an exceptionally dull time for all Australians - including the censoring of the intertubes.

And what do conservatives care about stopping Stephen Conroy?

Because those pieties accord with conservative thinking, and that leaves poor old Shanahan fuming on the sidelines, wondering how this rampant religious Labor party beast - worse than the DLP - might be tackled, since an embrace of 666 tactics is just not the conservative way.

How about climate change?

Since returning from leave, the Prime Minister has also devoted significant time to promoting the issues and policies that will arise from the Treasury demographic report on Monday.

But Rudd has used the formula - as have Wong and Gillard - of describing Abbott as a climate change denier whenever they do talk about their commitment to an ETS.

And would that happen to be because Abbott described climate change as complete crap before deciding to change his stripes to a more suitable profile? And he's still at it:

Mr Abbott also mocked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for declaring climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time.

"It's an important issue but even if dire predictions are right and average temperatures around the globe rise by four degrees over the century, it's still not the 'great moral challenge' of our time - as Mr Rudd has described it on 14 occasions - let alone the 'greatest' moral challenge of our time - as Mr Rudd has described it at least four times," Mr Abbott said. (Abbott and Wong fired up over climate change).

Which is of course an exceptionally silly thing to say, because if the average temperature did rise by four degrees over the century, things would begin to look like a Hollywood disaster movie, and in saying it, Abbott gives the likes of Wong a free kick to sound apocalyptic about the future. Which she did (the Great Barrier Reef would be devastated, the Murray Darling would be cactus), leaving Abbott to devise his own apocalyptic fears:

"Adapting to changing rainfall patterns, for example, will be hard but it won't supplant the threat of war, injustice, disease and want as the biggest problems with which humanity must grapple."

Well if it were four degrees, it would be hard. And by adopting the spectre of the four degree extremists, Abbott reveals once again his taste for a biblical approach. Because of course it would make all the other things he mentions much harder or even worse - such as the threat of war and injustice, disease and food and water supplies.

Who knows how much the temperature might rise? Deep down it's likely that Abbott can be so blithe and such a carefree spirit about a four degree change because he doesn't actually believe in climate change theories, and he doesn't expect it to happen.

And then Abbott reverts to a bit of pot and kettle talk:

Mr Abbott said Mr Rudd and others resorted to the language of morality in order to cast opponents as "bad people" rather than simply wrong, which was a case of "intellectual bullying".

This from a Catholic moralist? Supported by the likes of Christopher Pearson, Catholic moralist?

It leaves poor old Dennis Shanahan, trying his little heart out to be a damned good cheerleader, looking a little out of touch, as he demands the government concentrate on its own policy agenda rather than give Abbott undue attention, which may ultimately work in his favour.

Or may not, as the case may be, because there's an exhibitionist streak in Abbott, and he loves to be the centre of attention. As a result of his attention seeking, if you're blessed with a series of free kicks, should you just send the ball into the crowd, or aim at the goalposts?

Well here at loon pond, we're not obsessed with Dennis Shanahan's obsessions, and as we sat down for breakfast, it occurred to us that Dr John Harvey Kellogg was a much more interesting case of obsessive enthusiasms.

Yep, the name on the Kellogg cereal box means your breakfast comes with bonus nuttiness every day, and since we've recently mentioned William Chidley, it seems only fair to keep on keeping on with bedroom philosophers and their cray philosophies.

Kellogg, when not inventing cornflakes with his brother, and fighting about it, was a devoted advocate of sexual abstinence, and spent a large amount of his time discouraging sexual activity. He constantly warned against excesses and was a dedicated campaigner against masturbation:

... neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism.

Possibly not even a four degree warming of the planet could have such devastating results, as wanking leads not just to nocturnal emissions but to impotence, epilepsy, insanity, debility and cancer of the womb.

As a result, Kellogg favoured circumcision for boys, along with some neat BDSM tricks - tying hands, using patented cages to lock up genitals, sewing the foreskin shut, and delivering electric shock treatment - while for females, he found an application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent way to get rid of "abnormal excitement".

And there's lots more. Including his faith in nuts, his dedication to water enemas, his love of yogurt, and his fondness for breathing exercises.

You can read a neat summary to this under the wiki John Harvey Kellogg, and if you want to torture yourself more, Alan Parker's feeble adaption of T. Coraghessian Boyle's comic novel The Road to Wellville copped a bad Roadshow 4:3 release in region four some time ago (a fictionalised take on Kellogg and his whacky zany sanitarium).

There are plenty of Kellog related links on the wiki, and plenty of other sites you can google, as for example the cheerful Museum of Quackery, dedicated to great American quacks and questionable medical devices, here.

Well here at loon pond, we just love quacks and quackery, and while we don't have an unhealthy obsession with them - we hope - we do so like leaders who put their obsessions on display. Which is why, whatever Shanahan might say, we love the way we can spend time obsessing about Tony Abbott's obsessions.

Each time we open up the cornflakes pack in the morning, and brood on the uppity difficult ways of women, who seem to have been put on earth purely for the perverse business of giving Dennis Shanahan and Tony Abbott such a hard time, we think, yep, a little pure carbolic acid will fix what ails ya.

(Below: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg with cocky. More on the noble cocky here).

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