Sunday, July 31, 2011

The anonymous editorialist at The Australian, and more from the annals of chutzpah ...

And so we come, with a heavy heart and a profound sense of futility, to one of the recent efforts of the anonymous editorialist at The Australian, scribbling Rational argument is the only response to Norway, and most particularly to this line:

Whatever his churchgoing habits, it is wrong to smear Christians generally with this appalling crime. It is people, not religion, who are to blame for evil acts.

Uh huh. Let's run a variety of flags up that particular pole, and see who salutes it:

Whatever his political habits, it is wrong to smear Communists generally with this appalling crime. It is people, not politics, who are to blame for evil acts.

How about this variant?

Whatever his environmental habits, it is wrong to smear greenies generally with this appalling crime. It is people, not environmentalism, who are to blame for evil acts.

Or this?

Whatever his churchgoing habits, it is wrong to smear Muslims generally with this appalling crime. It is people, not religion, who are to blame for evil acts.

Uh huh. Why that sounds just like the anon edit him or herself:

In the shock of Islamist-inspired terrorist acts, the faith of Islam has been served a grievous injustice. Terrorists who claimed to act in the name of Allah have damaged the reputation of a noble religion. But that does not justify a similar denigration of Christianity in this case. News reports, including in this newspaper, have claimed Breivik is a fundamentalist Christian.

Denialism takes many forms, but this form of denialism is the most pathetic.

Breivik was a fundamentalist Christian, just as 9/11 was carried out by fundamentalist Islamics. There, done and dusted, in much the same way as it's possible to say that the Oklahoma bombing was carried out by a fervent anti-government militia sympathiser.

So here's how The Australian should have written that line:

Whatever his churchgoing habits, it is wrong to smear Christians generally with this appalling crime. It is people acting on distorted theological, ideological or political impulses who are to blame for criminal acts, and The Australian deeply regrets in the past having generally and illiberally smeared Muslims, greenies, socialists, communists and anyone else blessed with an alternative way of thinking, by tagging them with the crimes of unbalanced individuals.

Yes, let's drop the the notion of 'evil', and let's get down with secular notions of criminality, and let's acknowledge that the words and ideas of extremists, in all their forms, can have an impact on people and the world, and that embedded within certain texts (the Bible, the Koran, Mao's little red book) sit all kinds of tantalising extremist possibilities.

Let's in particular forget the futile war on terrorism that has cost way more lives than were lost in 9/11, and concentrate on criminal actions.

Sorry, the anon editorialist still can't let go:

The organised nature of Islamist terrorism, the scale of the atrocities, the preparedness of rogue nation-states to bankroll their operations and their ability to exploit the anti-modern fears of hundreds of millions of people puts the Islamists in an entirely different league from the lone operator in Norway.

Let's give that one a make-over too:

The organised nature of western military industrial terrorism, the scale of the atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the preparedness of the rogue George Bush and Tony Blair to bankroll their military operations and their ability to exploit the anti-Islamic fears of hundreds of millions of people puts the western alliance in an entirely different league from the lone operator in Norway.

Why, that's a shocking heresy.

So let's not give rogue Christians a free pass to get by "Go" with a handsome five hundred bucks, while all the other ideological and theological zealots cop a pasting from the right, and from the minions of Murdoch.

Let's also not give the media a free pass, though here's how the anon edit would like to do it:

The disintegration of our national conversation into a blogging, tweeting, cacophony is an unfortunate development in a civil democracy. Yet it is pouring fuel upon the fire to respond to the illiberalism of one's cultural opponents with equal intolerance. An ad-hominem tweet, or inflammatory invective on talkback radio, will never win the argument, but that is not what their authors intend. It takes effort to assemble a rational, logically sound argument; it is easier to intimidate and shame your opponent into silence and thereby, in the manner of Steven Bradbury, triumph by being the last man standing.

By the sound of that, you'd think it was a cacophony of illiberal bloggers that had done down the national conversation.

Yet I can't think of any places on the tubes where you'd be more likely to find fuel being poured on fire than in the blogs hanging off News Corp mastheads - to name a few, and in no particular illiberal order, since on any given day they're packed to the ceiling with fiery rhetoric and ratbaggery, Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, Piers 'Akker Dakker' Akerman, and The Punch.

It's even got to the point where The Punch has punched out Andrew Bolt by publishing Even the worst nightmares can't keep Bolt upright, and scored over four hundred comments, most of the raving ratbag kind.

So let's do some more handwringing:

We have seen in this country in recent months the development of a febrile atmosphere in which people at extremes of the ideological spectrum feel empowered to attack their opponents or even their questioners, with scant regard for civility or rational argument. It is difficult to pursue genuine public debate about important social, political and cultural issues without being accused of running an agenda. Yet rational debate has never been more necessary at a time where virtually everyone has access to free, unfiltered publication of their views.

What, like the Murdoch press? Or Tony Abbott standing under a sign saying 'Ditch the witch' or Alan Jones suggesting Gillard be drowned at sea?

Did the anon edit happen to see the front page of the Daily Terror on Friday last, which for sheer malicious inventiveness and concocting nonsense without regard to civility or rational argument, surely took the cake. Come on down Gemma Jones, still reeling from the carbon tax, to spruik another wave of green-induced financial pain, as if items in a discussion paper were about to be implemented by close of business that Friday. (Relax, I picked up a copy kindly left on a train seat, here no cash for Murdoch, no Murdoch paper getting cash here).

And then of course there's the "yes but" routine, which sees robust Pontius Pilate hand washing:

This newspaper has always supported Australia's open-migration policies.

Now for "yes but":

Many fair-minded Australians hold legitimate concerns about the effects of globalisation and are troubled that the nation and the patriotic values they hold dear are threatened by an influx of people from different cultures. They are concerned, as we are, that government policy that celebrates difference and ignores the values that bind us together is bad for the nation.

Now that's how to dog whistle. And to dress it up in fine sounding, hypocritical humbuggery:

They are concerned that we are surrendering the values implicit in our succinct but effective de facto bill of rights: the fair go. To hold these opinions may be unfashionable in some circles, but they are not a crime, and the correct response is to reason, not to censor.

The correct response is to reason?

But wait, we already know that difference is bad, and we should all be troubled by the influx, and hide under the bed. The Oz has told us that all our fears are valid, and things are bad for the nation.

Oh the humbuggery makes for a rich dessert indeed, from the empire that brings you everything from criminality in journalism to the random right wing excessive musings of Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda the Devine ...

No wonder the anon editorialist wants to let Alan Jones off lightly when he got his carbon figures wrong, and inanely defended himself as a broadcaster rather than a journalist:

lan Jones, was wrong on this occasion and his rhetoric sometimes crosses the boundary between strident and offensive. But we respect his right to say what he thinks and note that he gives voice to many Australians excluded from the debate by many other media outlets.

Uh huh. So blogs are an offending, fuel on fire cacophony, but Alan Jones is merely saying what he thinks and giving a voice to others to say what they think?

Really if any teacher wanted to give a student an exercise in illogical thinking, they'd do well to hand the student this exercise in piety. And then worst of all, the anon edit offers up this final bit of humbuggery:

If any encouragement can be drawn from this tragic, dispiriting week, it is in the work of people such as former British prime minister Tony Blair who are prepared to stand against the tide of rampant secularism to declare that interfaith dialogue may indeed be the answer to fractured globalisation.

The man who joined in the war in Iraq, helped set the killing fields in motion, in a country where a dozen people a day still get killed by mayhem? And now he talks about interfaith dialogue?

Oh dear, time out. There's a feeling of nausea welling in the pond.

Meanwhile, Guy Rundle had already nailed this kind of double think to the wall, and no doubt could have nailed the anon edit as well:

A prism will split a single beam of light into a full colour field. No surprise then that the Right’s reaction to Anders Breivik’s act of terror/assassination should undergo such a process, for Breivik’s act is such a crystal, though a dark one to be sure. His act was completely transparent and self-knowing; he understood the magnitude of what he was doing, and the reaction it would provoke. The only honest analysis is that it ranks as one of the more clear-eyed political atrocities of recent times. Thus it is inevitable that attempts to find another way of explaining it will end up scattered across the spectrum. (here).

Rundle is particularly good on the way that members of the right wing commentariat have attempted to turn a mass killing into their own victimisation.

By golly a few have made that kind of chutzpah into an art form as handsome as the anon edit thinking that Breivik's crimes were just a random act of violence, and nothing to do with his theological inclinations. Take it away Daniel Pipes:

"Beyond massacring innocent Norwegians, Behring Breivik damaged conservatism, the counterjihad, and (in particular) those authors he cited in his writings, including myself. A close reading of his manifesto suggests this may have been purposeful" - Daniel Pipes.

Talk about from The Annals of Chutzpah.

And as always, Jon Stewart nailed it too:

Not to mention that victim, rational discourse thingie that usually disappears down the rabbit hole when a minion of Murdoch steps into the room:

Yes, it takes real chutzpah to explain how the Murdoch press in this country is leading the way in calm, measured, rational discourse, or perhaps a special kind of self-justifying, hypocritical blindness.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fred Nile, George Pell, Michael Jenkins, and hark, hear how the crickets sing like angels ...

(Above: a parable of a snake and a joker. See if you can pick the joker and the snake).

"They always disappoint", as Parker says to Wilson in one of my favourite lines in The Wire, as Wilson grapples with the notion that Carcetti's political ambitions wouldn't allow him to take state money for the sake of the schools and the kids.

Speaking of schools and kids, it seems like NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has already had his Carcetti moment, breaking an election promise not to abandon the ethics classes introduced into state schools as an alternative to scripture classes.

Such is his desire to crunch public servants, O'Farrell folded like a well-worn deck of Queen's Slipper playing cards, when confronted by Fred Nile's power of veto in the upper house.

Nile of course was intent on proving once again that hypocrisy, double dealing, political knavery, blackmail and fear of competition are standard tools for Christians embarking on a career in politics.

And the stench is likely to get worse in the coming months, as Nile practices the black arts:

Mr Nile, who has indicated a general willingness to support government legislation, has submitted 21 bills to the government.

While he would not say which were being discussed, they include bills to repeal legislation allowing same-sex adoption, to ban the possession of X-rated films and to ban alcohol advertising. ''That co-operative spirit is well and truly in place,'' Mr Nile said. (O'Farrell bows to Nile over ethics).

The co-operative spirit!

Well that's the fanciest way we've heard to describe Barry O'Farrell playing a foot stool.

Pity the moderate genuinely liberal mug punters, fed up with the wretched Labor government, who took O'Farrell at his word, and helped deliver his landslide.

Some people have suggested O'Farrell would benefit from having taken ethics classes during his schooling, but truth to tell, they always disappoint.

It's to be expected of politicians, and Christian politicians are part of the same pack of cards ...

Of course the commentariat has been yammering about the ways that the Federal Government is under the onerous yoke of the Greens, and the independents, and how duplicitous and scheming and fanatical they are in getting their zealous puritanical way. We look forward to a plethora of columns about Nile and his devious, puritanical ways.

Hark, was that the sound of crickets?

(Above: found here).

Back in the day, the pond fondly remembers being hectored by an extremely obese Irish priest, who had absolutely no interest in theology, the bible or the redemption of students, as opposed to an unseemly interest in food and drink, and a desire to rush off to the golf course the moment the class ended. We were wedged somewhere between a Chinese restaurant lunch and the nineteenth hole ...

This unholy wretch did much to arouse the class's interest in atheism, but really it's a great pity that by persecuting the innocent, the religious will drive even more in atheism's direction.

A general appreciation of the assorted gods, and the ethical and moral structures some humans derive from them, is a good way to spend a lesson. Speaking of lunch, they might begin to understand why in various places, pigs and cows and lobsters and crabs are off the menu (and fish on a Friday) and women shouldn't climb for coconuts, nor play the didgeridoo ...

But the Niles of the world aren't interested in education, so much as in indoctrination and compulsion and a lack of choice, in a way that matches the earnest theological niceties of North Korea.

Oh dear, Godwin's Law gone again, but hey, the Nile contagion serves as a good introduction to our weekly tour of the Pellist heretics and the Jensenist nepotics.

If BAPH states feel left out, please insert your own favourite brand of heresy here, but truth to tell, be glad that for some strange reason, the worst of the religious worst reside in Sydney, Orstralia, you bloody beaut, and for that, if she ever comes back, god forgive Sydney.

As we always do, we start first with the week old Sunday Terror thoughts of Cardinal Pell, because they never age, in much the same way as rotting fish never stink for those born without a sense of smell.

Pell turns his keen mind to the General Financial Crisis and comes up with a startling borrowed insight:

Hector Tedeschi who is the president of the Vatican Bank recently claimed that one cause of European financial stagnation is the decline in the birth rate.

The instinctive reaction of many would be to exclaim that only a Catholic could come up with such a hare-brained idea. However, the reasons he gives bear examination.

Okay, I'm game. Only a Catholic could come up with such a hare-brained idea.

The thesis is that because the general populace hasn't been fucking and breeding for Jesus and the pope that the demand for a better lifestyle has been financed by debt.

Somehow Pell manages to conflate the issue of Italy's birth rate and economic situation (okay Berlusconi, that get out of jail card has just landed) and Europe's, and the United States', with Australia's birth rate (just under the replacement rate of 2.1) and its economic situation and never mind the role the resources boom might be playing.

Of course if the thesis were remotely likely to be true, the demographics of the United States would be in a precarious situation, but as the wiki proposes here, a combination of births and immigration has kept population growth in the USA ticking over at a relatively fast rate

At the end of this outburst of silliness, Pell attempts a glimmer of sanity:

Good commentators would argue that the so-called GFC resulted from human and corporate greed combined with a failure of regulation rather than changed birth dates. But Tedeschi has highlighted one important reason why European governments are struggling to escape from the crisis.

Of course Pell, being Catholic, doesn't mind an affluent lifestyle (oh yes, the marble stolen from the Roman ruins for St. Peters tells you that), so if you want a corrective enema berating affluence, materialism and vile atheistic secularism, you can take a plunge into the world of Phillip Jensen and The Irony of Affluence.

Sheesh, if we shake off the economic crisis, it's only to be forced in to Jensenist socialistic ways of sharing.

Never mind. Reading the Pellist screed reminded me of the constant hectoring of women - including my mother - in the old days by Catholic priests operating under orders from Rome.

The primary directive?

To abandon any contraception, and fuck and breed for the Pope. It was populate or perish, to make sure that there was plenty of fodder to drop money in the weekly envelope and keep the church expanding, like a vast, giant, corrupt Ponzi scheme.

As the planet heads to a population of nine billion, this is the best economic nostrum the Pellists can offer? We must breed even faster to indulge in an extravagant lifestyle? Oh and along the way, Pell offers absolution, perhaps only a few 'hail Mary's' to the bankers, and pins the blame on government:

The lack of growth in the economy was compensated by an expansion of credit and the governments who allowed or encouraged these almost unmanageable debts are even more culpable than the banks who loaned money to people with little possibility of repaying.

Oh dear, it seems like only yesterday that the Pellists and George Bush were such jolly good chums.

Hey nonny no, and with Phillip Jensen's warnings Pellist-bred affluence ringing in our ears, off we go to Sydney Anglican Michael Jensen's latest offering, Who can we believe?

Despite his very best Christian endeavours, Jensen sounds somewhat cynical about politicians and political spin (especially that red-headed atheist really unreal hussy, Julia Gillard).

So how to we know if a politician is genuine?

... it seems to me the example of his (Jesus's) life tells us at least this: that the person who speaks and acts as if God is the only important judge of their words and deeds is the person who we know is genuine.

So Fred Nile is genuine?

Oh dear, it gets even worse:

This then ought to be the pattern for Christian public speech, if we are to cut through the world-weary cynicism of our times and say something that is really real, and known to be really real.

Really truly rooly real? Like Julia Gillard or Barry O'Farrell on steroids?

What, and say that ethics classes are unfair competition, and they should be stamped out forthwith, and even those who have no interest in scripture classes should be punished, banished to the library, or dragooned, conscripted into scripture torment?

Well Jensen has an answer for that:

We should seek opportunities to speak the truth in times and places and in a manner that shows that we don’t have self-interest as a primary motive; or at least, that we would declare this truth even if it would cost us to do so.

Uh huh. Well we look forward to the Sydney Anglicans rising up as one, and declaring that self-interest isn't the primary motive in the matter of scripture v. ethics classes, and smoting Fred Nile mightily from a great and righteous height.

Hark, was that the sound of crickets?

(Below: and since Fred Nile has had the floor, why not a final Fred Nile cartoon? We of course do not refer to, nor draw any implications from, that story of researchers accessing porn to check out that pornography exists on the intertubes - Fred Nile caught in web porn scandal. We were shocked, perhaps even startled, to discover that there is indeed porn on the tubes).

Kate : The internet is really really great
Trekkie Monster: For porn
Kate: thanks to the NBN, I’ve got a fast connection so i don’t have to wait
Trekkie: For porn
Kate: Huh? There's always some new site...
Trekkie: For porn!
Kate: I browse all day and night
Trekkie: For porn!
Kate: It's like i’m surfing at the speed of light
Trekkie: For porn! (Avenue Q).

Forget it nerdy, pimply Jake Trekkie. It's Barry O'Farrell and Fred Nile town now, and abstaining from an R-rating for video games is just the beginning ...

Oh and it being Sunday, and since Cardinal Pell took the trouble to explain the real cause of the current financial crisis in the United States, how about some real credit where credit is due:

Specifically, they(the Republican party) did four things: cut taxes (with a heavy tilt toward the rich), waged two wars on the national credit card (one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America), passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for (the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source), and deregulated Wall Street (which helped turn the American economy into a casino and touched off the Great Recession). (here).

If only there was a god to help the United States of America, because these days the gop ain't no god, and the words of the Pellists and the Jensenists no use at all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Christopher Pearson, Tony Abbott, and how to freefall through featherless flight ...

(Above: the pond, home to cutting edge scientific questions).

"This is a draconian new police force chasing an invisible odourless, weightless, tasteless substance," Mr Abbott told the Nine Network today. (Abbott slams 'draconian' carbon cops).

Here we go again.

Tony Abbott describing carbon dioxide as odourless, tasteless and weightless, that is, and doing it all over the news cycle yesterday.

Two out of three is good enough?

Can someone please send him off with Dr. Google? That way might come across this page, here:

CO2 gas is 1.5 times as heavy as air, thus if released to the air it will concentrate at low elevations. Carbon dioxide will form "dry ice" at -78.5ºC (-109.3º F). One kg of dry ice has the cooling capacity of 2 kg of ordinary ice. Gaseous or liquid carbon dioxide, stored under pressure, will form dry ice through an auto-refrigeration process if rapidly depressured.

Heavy? Concentrate at low elevations? Kgs? Que?

Does Abbott have the remotest clue how it jangles the nerves to hear him mangle schoolkid science on such a regular basis?

As for tasteless?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a slightly toxic, odorless, colorless gas with a slightly pungent, acid taste.

As for invisible, we could get picky, because solid carbon dioxide is all too visible, and since Abbott used the word 'substance', we'll gong him for that too.

Colourless is a little more accurate. In pure gas form carbon dioxide is invisible, with the white mist arising from solid carbon dioxide likely to be water vapour, and the visible discharge from a fire extinguisher white because of the mix of condensed water vapor and solid CO2 "snow". (or so I was told here at the fire extinguisher news).

Does Abbott realise how silly he sounds, especially when the 'weightless' routine is picked up on a 24/7 news cycle? There's sound bites, and then there are really silly sounding sound bites. Abbott knows how to sing from the song sheet, over and over again, by mindless rote, but who's writing the lyrics?

I suppose as a small mercy he didn't say harmless:

Air with a carbon dioxide content of more than 10% will extinguish an open flame, and, if breathed, can be life-threatening. Such concentrations may build up in silos, digestion chambers, wells, sewers and the like. Caution must be exercised when entering these types of confined spaces.

This kind of idle chatter has nothing to do with climate science, in much the same way that drinking a can of coke only proves the stupidity of the politician involved. (Try holding your head in a bowl of coke for five minutes to see how harmless it is. Try water. Just try ...)

Why would anyone trust a politician who doesn't have the most elementary secondary school understanding of that which he babbles on about, simply so he can sound off about carbon cops? (Yes, yes, he's stealing the title of an ABC television show. So much for conservatives and intellectual property rights).

Well we know someone who trusts Abbott, who hangs on his every science-offending word, who worships his fit, lithe athletic body, who admires his willingness to go for the throat and never mind if it's a halal killing, just do the killing, and who celebrates science as an arcane way to practice their Latin, mutatis mutandis.

Yep, it's Christopher "Simon Crean for PM" Pearson, so what's he up to this fine Saturday?

Mangling science with the help of his overlord, or mangling the Labor party?

Well the hook for his piece Don't mention the carbon tax, starts thus:

Call him crazy? Done deal.

Can we move along now? No, no, let's note the many fine ways he goes on to praise the fearless energiser bunny ways of Tony Abbott, and to demonstrate how wretched Julia Gillard is, and to explain how naughty former Chairman Rudd is.

And how is the Ruddster naughty? Why, if you're a Pearson paranoid and your business is blather, and you look through the entrails and the runes on a regular basis, it's to do with the timing of his heart operation:

The kind of surgery he's having is fairly run-of-the-mill nowadays and there's no shortage of surgeons able to perform it. He must have known for years that he would need it sooner or later and it could have been scheduled at any time that was convenient. It's also the case that it's not by any stretch emergency surgery; he wasn't sick enough to have to cancel last week's trip to Africa.

Why, then, when the parliament has a five-week recess and the normal recovery period for this operation is up to seven weeks, did he not arrange to have the procedure as soon as the house rose, or even seek a pair for the last sitting week, which he would certainly and quite rightly have been granted? As things stand, he'll be able to absent himself for four full weeks of parliament.

What game is he playing ?

Uh huh. Caught a whiff of the flavour? A man goes for an operation, and since nothing is but what is not, it can't actually be a man going for an operation. It must have an underlying hidden agenda which only Pearson can detect by checking out the liver, the kidneys and the entrails, and above all, the spleen:

I think he's reminding the public, the parliament and especially his colleagues how indispensable he is and how precarious the government's hold on power is. What's more, he's removing himself with impunity from the equation when an unpopular carbon tax is being debated, Gillard is drowning in the polls and there's a sense that something's got to give.

Did someone say we should call Pearson crazy? Feel free ... because there's a sense that something's got to give.

But wait, it gets better:

Perhaps he's messing with the minds of those in caucus, casting himself as Lazarus -- if not, like his predecessor, with a triple-bypass then at least with a new aorta.

Or perhaps he's messing with Pearson's mind, knowing how the paranoid mind behaves, and knowing that he'd love to make cheap jokes about John Howard.

Perhaps he's hoping that absence will lift his ratings in the opinion polls and his stocks in the parliamentary party.

Perhaps he doesn't know that Simon Crean is the Pearson-anointed new leader in waiting, and that his scheming - by having an operation on his heart, in a pathetic attempt to improve his ratings in the opinion polls and his stocks with his colleagues - is futile up against this powerful nomination.

His main motives may just be wanting time out to consider his options or to engage in some leisurely plotting.

Or his main motive might be to have a necessary operation.

Oh sorry, there we go again, looking at the superficial surface again. Call me crazy ..

And then comes a piece of vindictiveness which admirably shows the cast of Pearson's Catholic Christianity:

The party whips agreed that Rudd would be given carte blanche in the form of a pair for the period of his absence and unfortunately Abbott didn't over-rule the decision. While it's easy to understand the Coalition's reluctance to play hardball over a member who says he needs surgery and who could be cast in the role of an innocent victim, there's no doubt that the political problem of the government being down a vote was all Rudd's own doing. I don't think persuading the public -- or even the Canberra press gallery -- that he's tricky and manipulative would have been all that hard a task.

Deny Rudd a pair for a heart operation because former the former chairman is tricky and manipulative?

Truly, Pearson is as self-described. As mad as a march hare. Sensibly Tony Abbott didn't have a bar of this kind vindictive ineptness, which would have put him in a lose-lose situation of the worst kind ...

No, much better to call carbon dioxide weightless, because only pedants care about such weighty matters.

If carbon dioxide was weightless, it would help sort out the climate science, though it might create a few problems for the carbon cycle, and the atmosphere.

The gas could float into space, perhaps through the hole in the ozone layer.

Sometimes I wish Tony Abbott and Christopher Pearson were weightless.

But I'd settle for someone giving them a short, sharp whack over the head with some weightless dry ice ...

It reminds me of that zen koan:

Christopher Pearson, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Tony Abbott of Canberra.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is weightlessness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received, and no scales to provide meaning."

Abbott, who was riding a bicycle, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked young Pearson with a quite heavy block of dry ice. This made the youth quite angry.

"If everything is weightless," inquired Abbott, "where did this lump on the head come from?"

Oh okay, here's the original, Nothing Exists, which you can find here:

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

Paul Sheehan, Dennis Glover, and how about a little physician heal thyself?

(Above: a couple of Savage Chickens to get the show on the road. More Savage Chickens here).

There's something quite moving about projection and transference.

Let's take it from the top:

Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings. (and more here at the wiki).

Now here's Paul Sheehan, setting it all out for the shrink in Nothing splendid in all this isolation, as he broods about attending a conference on the Great Barrier Reef, and the way it was a golden marital age in the fifties and sixties when women were trapped in marriage by custom, circumstances and at fault divorce provisions:

While at the resort, I kept seeing a man who dined alone. He was plain and portly, about 40. When he asked for a table he was polite and timid. Each day I saw him sitting alone at the beach, staring at the sea.

He prompted the same feeling I usually have late at night when I pass people waiting in bus shelters.

Of course the plain, portly, timid, polite man might well have been staring out to sea, contemplating the koan supplied by his Zen teacher the night before:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?" (and more of our favourite koans here, as that's just 1 of 101).

Forget it, Zen master, Paul Sheehan is full of his own opinions and speculations - especially when it comes to long lost supposed golden ages - and as if somehow there's no pleasure to be derived from being alone or being solitary, or occasionally eating by oneself, even if a stranger travelling in a strange land, surrounded by suspicious, intrusively staring Paul Sheehan types:

There's something deflating about bus shelters at the best of times, but especially late on a winter's night. I want to scoop those waiting people up, put them in a taxi, and get them home. Because these are people of humble means and necessary patience.

Actually they might be solid, upright citizens, completely afraid of sharing quality time with a psychotic Sydney taxi driver, or perhaps greenies who believe in the virtues of public transport, and if they copped Sheehan coming at them with a warm blanket, a cup of tea and a rich vein of condescending sympathy, they'd run like hell. Or call the cops. Or tell the silly bugger to sod off, and keep his eastern suburbs wanking to himself. You know, like a cheerful cockney, enduring the bombing of London.

Luckily, it's unlikely to happen:

But I don't. Mostly we keep our distance. Mostly we seek a balance between empathy and self-absorption, with self-absorption usually victorious. Though, as every parent knows, selflessness has been thrust upon them - whether they feel noble or not.

Uh huh. Well at that point, I think we can let the psychiatrist get to it, and leave Mr. Sheehan alone with his thoughts, while quietly muttering thanks that he likes to keep his distance.

Oh okay I'm being mean, but really Sheehan's morose, indulgent mood piece really does take the end of the week commentariat cake for complete flatulence, brooding and sulkiness.

At least we now know why he routinely writes about the end of the world on a weekly basis.

No doubt he does his writing by taking his lap top to a cafe and posing as plain, portly, timid, polite man staring out to sea while wrapped in deep thoughts, and worrying that, if he doesn't get his copy in on time, he'll have to catch the bus home with humble, patient folk lost in a wilderness of despair without a Sydney taxi driver.

Hell is, after all, other people, or perhaps oneself ...

What is hell? Hell is oneself.
Hell is alone, the other figures in it
Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
And nothing to escape to. One is always alone. (T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party).

Oh dear, this is getting out of control. Calling Dr. Jung:

Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. In this latter case, unfortunately, there is no scientific test that would prove the discrepancy between perception and reality. Although the possibility of gross deception is infinitely greater here than in our perception of the physical world, we still go on naively projecting our own psychology into our fellow human beings. In this way everyone creates for himself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection. Jung "General Aspects of Dream Psychology" (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P.507 (more Jung quotes here).

Enough already. Well if you see someone being solitary, project away, but whatever you do, don't disturb the moment by rushing up to them and asking them:

Are you sad? You look so sad and alone and forlorn, and I can't stand it anymore, can I get you a taxi somewhere, anywhere?

Sure you'll get them a Sydney taxidriver and he won't know the way, and he'll ask you if you know your preferred way to the city from the airport and if you say you're from Melbourne, he'll take you via his special Palm Beach short cut, and by golly then you'll feel sad ...

Oh stop it, there's blindness in the air. I can feel my psychiatrist friend breathing down my neck, along with memories of my hippie Jungian days ...

Time for a little solid commentariat fare before the weekend, and who better to supply that kind of swill than Dennis Glover, peddling the News Corp line in Time to publish or be damned.

Glover is exceptionally happy to swim in a bifocal, bifurcated world of left and right, and extraordinarily happy to explain why News Corp can go on being a raging right wing dream factory keen to spin the world in favour of billionaires.

We shouldn't expect this hump-backed beast to change its spots, and so what's the solution?

What's the answer? Labor could tack back to the Right, but it would potentially lose even more of its base to the Greens. This is a short-term solution only. If Labor's capacity to advocate for social-democratic change is to be revived, it must do something about the make-up of the media sea in which it swims. Not by excessive regulation or manipulation -- something that has no place in a free society -- but by competing more strongly in the marketplace.

Uh huh. Competing in the marketplace with an organisation that controls some seventy per cent of the print media in the antipodes.

How to do this? Perhaps by presenting ideas and policies for fair and balanced reporting?

You mean like explaining to The Australian the truth about recent events in relation to the NBN, and the sheer stupidity and ignorance of its stirring in relation to the hacking incident?

And being newspaper professionals, they'll recognise the stupidity of their reporting, and provide a correction, better still, a flurry of corrections, perhaps even an apology?

Absolutely not, because you see Glover is busy channeling Chris Wallace in the infamous smackdown by Jon Stewart of the failed fact-checking crybaby insane attitude to news displayed at Fox News (Jon Stewart Rips Chris Wallace, Fox News 'Crybabies' For Not Responding To Fact Checks).

You see, rather than expecting fairness, balance, truth (and even justice and reporters faster than a speeding bullet, able to jump tall buildings) and an absence of spin in coverage of the day's events, Glover wants more unfairness, imbalance, distorted truths and even more spin, only this time from a leftist perspective.

Where are the Left-inclined entrepreneurs willing to start new publications, radio stations and television channels? Where are the potential radio hosts and columnists to be nourished? What audience is Labor not reaching?

Back in the good old days, the Labor party heeded this kind of nonsense, and way back in 1925 Emil Voigt persuaded the Labor Council to establish Sydney's 2KY (history here).

Naturally the punters weren't interested in political messages, 'public debates and matters of educational value', and so in the course of time, 2KY became a broadcaster of thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing (with its wiki here).

Perhaps that's because what punters of a non-horsey kind want is a straight-forward exposition of the news, without a singular, simple-minded left or right wing spin, and a consideration and discussion of all kinds of viewpoints.

Dream on in the world of Glover:

The next generation of Labor leadership aspirants should turn their minds to this. The one with the strategic vision necessary to redress this and other problems Labor faces would be a worthy heir of the Labor leadership.

Uh huh. So News Corp can go on being the dream factory of right wing delusions and monstrous distortions, painfully abusing anyone and everyone (including Fairfax and the cardigan wearers at the ABC), and Glover's solution is for entrepreneurs to establish a dream factory of left wing delusions?

I swear, you could only read this kind of monstrous nonsense in a News Corp rag. In much the same way as you could only get this kind of coverage in The Australian (screen cap, no hot links):

Meanwhile, if you want to understand a little more about why:

(a) Tony Abbott doesn't have a clue about the NBN, though you probably already knew that; and
(b) why the News Corp mob maliciously seized on the hacking incident to rage against the NBN one more time, though you've probably had enough of that; and
(c) why various security companies came out of the woodwork to suggest the sky was falling in, unless the government used their own favoured network security systems, you could do worse than start with Stilgherrian's Media's internet cluelessness is unacceptable and they will die.

It's behind the Crikey paywall, but of late Crikey has been carving out a handsome niche explaining the distortions and untruths running rife through the News Corp press.

Not because they present a left perspective, or necessarily have it in for those of a right wing kind, but because they occasionally, with limited resources, look at the truth of various matters in the news, and examine the relentless spin and distortions to be found in The Australian, allegedly a broadsheet of the considered kind, a reputation now tattered and torn and pissed into the wind.

At the moment, News Corp has disappeared up the fundament of its own bias, with truth the first casualty, and salivating right wing spin the par for the course.

So let's turn Glover back on that problem:

The next generation of News Corp leadership aspirants should turn their minds to this. The one with the strategic vision necessary to redress this and other problems News Corp faces would be a worthy heir of the current wretched News Corp leadership.

There, that feels better, even if the old saw, physician, heal thyself, covered it a long time ago.

And now in the ongoing desire to help out Paul Sheehan, a poem, as Henry Gibson used to say:

To make a prairie

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few. (Emily Dickinson, here)

(Below: and we've always wanted to run Jung and a mandala, in memory of the hippie days, found here).

Oh okay, one more Savage Chicken.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Miranda Devine Brendan O'Neill and a vast international conspiracy led by the chattering classes ...

(Above: use Dr. Google and you'll find a million hits for international conspiracy cartoon. This is just one of them).

" ...They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world called Catholicism. And I know it led to the worst personal damage the world has ever experienced.”

Global moral Catholic do gooders “want to change us”, he said.

“They want to change our behaviour, our way of life, our values and preferences. They want to restrict our freedom because they believe they know what is good for us.

“They are not interested in what we're interested in. They misuse religion and morality in their goal to restrict our freedom. What is in danger is freedom, not sinfulness.”

Well who could argue with that? Entirely fair and reasonable ...

What's that you say, some damn Murdoch minion subbie got it all wrong, and the quote by Vaclav Klaus should read thusly?

They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world called communism. And I know it led to the worst environmental damage the world has ever experienced.”

Global warming alarmists “want to change us”, he said.

“They want to change our behaviour, our way of life, our values and preferences. They want to restrict our freedom because they believe they know what is good for us.

“They are not interested in climate. They misuse the climate in their goal to restrict our freedom. What is in danger is freedom, not the climate.”

Ah well, how strange one person's fear mongering about international conspiracies sounds just like another's.

It's easy. All you have to do is insert into the above whichever vast international conspiracy you dislike at the moment, including but not limited to lefties, socialists, communists, right wing fruitcakes, capitalism and Gina Rinehart.

All the same, it's quaint, even startling to see the Catholics, led by fearless Cardinal Pell, all aquiver at the international global conspiracy involving the Greens, when we all know that the Catholic Church is involved in a vast international conspiracy (thanks Dan Brown), and it's even more amusing when you see Miranda the Devine jumping up and down about it in Greens turning up the heat on freedoms.

After all, we all know that the likes of Miranda the Devine, Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, the anonymous editorialist at The Australian, and Joe Hildebrand are involved in a vast international conspiracy known as News Corp, determined to sneer at us, the humans, and take away our freedoms.

Oh wait, Joe's not involved in that conspiracy, he's involved in the vast international conspiracy to snatch away our sense of humour.

Whatever, surely it's the shoddiest, laziest kind of argument to resort to - that 'fear of the other' routine that has justified endless wars and human misery - and especially in a matter like climate science, which can be discussed in more rational ways (though come to think of it, in the United States you can still get in to arguments over Darwin and creationist logic at the drop of a hat, and by golly, the hats are dropping everywhere in that country as crazy rules the day).

Now if the Devine had been blathering on about Greenpeace thinking it a jolly good idea to destroy a scientific experiment, she might have had a case (Greenpeace destroy genetically modified wheat experiment).

Greenpeace showed its at one with ludditism, and is this the logical consequence of all the blather perpetrated by the likes of the Devine about scientists being involved in a giant international conspiracy? Who knows, but we recommend it to you as a conspiracy theory.

Or she might have had a point if she'd been blathering about the way the gaggle of conservatives ruling this country still can't unite to allow an R rating for video games - this time the New South Wales Attorney-General decided to abstain from the proposal for god knows what godforsaken reason, when it was always South Australia that was the fly in the ointment (Governments agree on R18+ games rating).

The greatest irony of course in the matter of the Devine scribbling about taking away rights is that at any other time or day in the week, the Devine is always banging some moral drum, censorially scribbling about the way bicyclists take away the freedoms of motorists (never mind that lycra-clad lout Tony Abbott), or how the intertubes must be censored, stapled and mutilated, because no one's thinking about the children ...

There's always a nasal shrillness to the Devine's scribbles, what with her snide snarkey reference to tree huggers and bearded public servants (why she has a set on elderly women, who knows) and recipients of public largesse, all designed to provoke, or to dog whistle to lick spittle fellow travellers, but it turns out this hysteria, this bitterness, is all the fault of others.

Jumping all over the place, like a jumping jack full of too much gunpowder, she even manages to drag in the live cattle trade, and the impact of a television show:

That is a very sobering thought. It is what stops people shopping, and it is what makes the debate bitter.

The more government turns a deaf ear to the people, the louder the people shout.

And then, what is the reaction of an undemocratic government but to find ways to muzzle dissent?

I swear to the absent lord, the Devine is the reason I stopped shopping for News Corp products. Can you count the concepts she mangles with her shouting, including the notion that a democratically elected is undemocratic. You get more sense from a tea pot or a tea bag ...

Meanwhile, if you want an even more perfect example of cliched, muddled, stereotyped thinking, you need look no further than Brendan O'Neill in Bush bashers manufacture Norway's 9/11 and play the politics of fear.

Most of the sensible commentary I've seen on the Norwegian slaughter has made the comparison to the Oklahoma bombing in the United States, which saw Timothy McVeigh kill 168 people and injure many more - and not 9/11.

There are many ideological similarities between McVeigh and Breivik, as well the use of a fertiliser bomb, though Breivik upped the stakes in terms of cold-blooded, one on one, murder.

Where does O'Neill go with all this? Well the header's a good starting point, Instead of Breivik manufacturing a mass slaughter, somehow it's the Bush bashers that have done it ...

Yep, hey nonny no and off we go, into the standard O'Neill turf of bashing those of a left-leaning persuasion, liberal fear-mongers, the well-educated, erudite sections of society in Europe and Australia (oh how terrible it is to be educated, let alone erudite enough to use erudite words like erudite), and of course the chattering classes (and never mind that O'Neill is a prime example of a chatterer who never knows when to shut the fuck up, enough already, we see you chattering away day in, day out), and worst of all, the praising of broadsheet papers, while hapless working class tabloids are denigrated by the hoity toity.

This liberal aping of the Bush approach to terror is very revealing. It suggests that much of the chattering-class critique of the Right's politics of fear was not driven by political principle, but rather by alternative prejudices, by a belief that the Right was demonising and censuring the wrong people.

It shouldn't have declared war on a foreign civilisation, but rather on the inhabitants of our own civilisations, those ill-educated, badly bred, non-broadsheet reading masses, who apparently are just one blog posting away from committing mass murder.

Actually, this constant carry on by O'Neill about the chattering classes was very revealing to me, because I suddenly understood that if I met him in the public bar at Joe Maguires pub in Tamworth, likely enough, rather than entering into a rational argument, I'd feel inclined to give him a punch in the snout.

I guess it's the lumpenproletariat roots, or the Greer masculinist in me.

In the end that's where aberrant perversity gets you. Just one blog posting away from a punch up.

If you can find one scintilla of sense in O'Neill's piece, feel free to explain it to me. As opposed to his enduring contrarianism, and desire to muddy the waters with easy targets - known on these pages as Marlon Bradno The Wild One 'what are you rebelling against, what have you got' syndrome.

Slipshod, shoddy, knee jerk arguments involving terms like 'chattering classes' and 'international conspiracies' are just so much white noise, designed to blot out useful or meaningful sounds.

In O'Neill's case, it's a desperate attempt to wriggle away from the reality that Breivik fancied himself a Christian right wing extremist, and somehow lump the chattering classes with the methodology of the George Bush years in matters such as Iraq. In the Devine's case, it's to use conspiracies against humanity as shorthand for a state of mind in relation to hordes of greenies who should be hung high from lampposts.

In both cases, such simple-minded perversity, such a relentless desire to provoke, helps explain that famous quote by Herman Goering: When I hear the words chattering classes and conspiracy, that's when I reach for my Glock.

Oh okay, That's When I Reach for My Revolver comes from a play and is actually a song, but hey this is loon pond, and disinformation and routine stupidity is all part of a day's frolic

(Below: Leunig on why you should attend a chattering class today. Click to enlarge).

Janet Albrechtsen, and why bother with a scientist when you can call on Lady Thatcher ...

(Above: a well known foreign-born communist agitator intent on an international socialist conspiracy).

There's nothing like the sight of Peter "Short Memory" Garrett ducking and weaving and defending the school chaplain program, and thereby the very best efforts of John Howard, in the face of criticism by the Commonwealth ombudsman, to be reminded that the Tweedledum and Tweedledee theory of politics is alive and well (School chaplains program faces fresh criticism).

Throw in the Malaysian solution, and John Murphy breaking from the back bench and the policy wilderness to urge a referendum on gay marriage (Labor backbencher wants gay marriage referendum), and you have a solid trifecta.

Doug Cameron is quoted as saying he respects Mr. Murphy's opinion but doesn't agree with it, but the pond finds it hard to lather up much by way of respect, at least when Murphy offers this kind of rhetoric:

"The families that I talk to, they want a mother and a father," he said.

"They don't want two fathers and they don't want two mothers.

Actually the pond doesn't want dodo Labor politicians.

Every day, and in every way, New York seems like a better place to live.

But the pond's beat is the commentariat, and who could ignore Janet Albrechtsen's heroic defence of Margaret Thatcher against the ravages of Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull in Julia and Malcolm, would you please stop verballing Mrs Thatcher.

It seems those peas in a pod, those horrendous harridans, big Mal and Julia, have entirely misrepresented Margaret Thatcher on climate change, and in particular failed to pay heed to the views she expressed in her memoirs.

It seems Ms Thatcher's giving the slightest, remotest credence to climate science was all a political ploy:

Thatcher's early views about global warming were intrinsically linked to her rational pursuit of nuclear power to prevent the coalminers unions holding the nation to ransom.

And as soon as she'd achieved these cynical short-term manipulations and abuses, she had a change of heart:

And, as she acknowledges in her memoirs, when the facts about global warming became less certain, so did her own views. But you may not have heard that from Gillard or Turnbull either.

Uh huh. Actually there's something moving, ironic, or perhaps profoundly tragic at the sight of Janet Albrechtsen wallowing in nostalgia and resorting to Thatcher's memoirs (The Downing Street Years 1993 and The Path to Power 1995) as a way of conducting the climate science wars by proxy down the ages.

Albrechtsen proves she's not much of a Thatcherite, by confusing Statecraft, published in 2002, as the "second volume of her memoirs", when but a few moments consulting Dr. Google would have reminded her that it was more a final cri de coeur fundie neo con tract, before the darkness settled and it was announced that Thatcher would be making no more public speeches because of 'ill health' (and you can cop a review of that work by that prime goose Chris Patten here under the header The lady's not discerning).

Never mind the sloppiness.

The result is interminable (wearisomely protracted) blather, as in "an interminable sermon", or as the dictionary offers by way of alternatives, being or seeming to be without an end, endless, tiresomely long, tedious (here).

Thatcher serves as a convenient coat peg, with Albrechtsen using Statecraft to mount a rear guard action for fear, uncertainty and doubt in the matter of climate science, without ever getting down to any troublesome or worrisome specifics.

It's all part of The Australian's war on science, but the challenge for the likes of Deltoid would be to find any actual science, since Albrechtsen prefers generalities to lather up the soap suds. You know, like 'embracing public debate', or being sceptical, or warning of 'global warming alarmists', or wondering where the science went and why it isn't available to leaders, and warning against socialism, and talking of vast international conspiracies:

She said global warming provided a "marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism". Have Gillard or Turnbull mentioned that?

Um actually perhaps big Mal or Julia were being a little discreet, rather than invoking Thatcher-ite paranoid fantasies about world-wide conspiracies of a socialist kind.

After all that begins to sound a little too eerily like a crazed Norwegian gunman:

In a section of his manifesto entitled “Green is the new Red — Stop Enviro-Communism!”, Breivik writes:

“The neo-communist agenda uses politicised science to propagate the global warming scam in order to implement their true agenda; global Marxism.

“You might know them as environmentalists, enviro-communists, eco-Marxists, neo-Communists or eco-fanatics. They all claim they want to save the world from global warming but their true agenda is to contribute to create a world government lead by the UN or in other ways increase the transfer of resources (redistribute resources) from the developed Western world to the third world.

“They are using our trust and faith in science to spread lies and hysteria that will allow Marxists to implement socialist — solutions to a problem that never actually existed.” (The Breivik manifesto and the Monckton connection).

Lord Monckton has also peddled this kind of world conspiracy tosh, and of course believing in it or sprouting it or hinting at it doesn't turn you into a crazed Norwegian gunman. But as noted on these pages before, Albrechtsen herself has peddled this kind of international socialist conspiracy tosh, faithfully recycling the views of Monckton, and even if the black helicopters were absent, the paranoia seems heartfelt.

It also happens to fit exactly into the pattern that sees science and scientists reviled as part of a conspiracy to undermine the truths dearly held by conservatives, a heroic tradition which began long before Galileo copped it from the church, and Darwin copped it from the church, and Einstein copped it from the McCarthyites, and will no doubt continue into the future, since none are so blind as those who want to treat science as a sounding board for politics or theology ...

But the big question is why Albrechtsen has now been forced to revert to Lady Thatcher, and in the process abjured one time favourite Christopher Monckton?

Sad to say the Viscount's antipodean tour has futtered and sputtered and is spent, and all we know now is that Debrett's suggest that in conversation a Viscount should be referred to as a Lord. But heck, we always throw in the written form too, since a lord is a lord is a lord and as sweet smelling as any rose ...

Worst of all, not a peep nor a mention from Albrechtsen celebrating the Viscount's enlightenment tour. She seems content instead to wander down glory road, and wallow in the past, and celebrate how that eminent scientist Lady Thatcher laid waste the essence of global science back in 2002.

You have to wonder if Albrechtsen is going a tad soft, wreathed in a nostalgic glow and yearning (James, make sure the fill light has a yellow filter) for the good old days when rascals like Al Gore could be given a few stout-hearted blows and the job was done.

These days you have to head over to Menzies House, happy sponsors of the Monckton Follies Tour Down Under, for truly feral madness, and we can find no better case of pot and kettle and pot claiming white is black than in this little outburst in All Climate Sceptics are like Breivik: The Progressive Left.

Yep, there are the usual references, to Charlie Manson believing in climate science, and to people who think there might be something to climate science being painted as having Mao, Che and Stalin as their idols.

Oh there's a fine flurry of group think and smear chatter and then this:

Politicians like Julia Gillard who won’t even extend the courtesy to meet the President of the Czech Republic who happens to think the climate science is bunk. They have politicised the science and they wonder why there is now so much blowback from the general public who can smell a scam a mile away.

Truly, this is a profoundly post-ironic piece of ironism which makes post-modernism seem like the work of Lear's fool.

Only at Menzies House could you find such splendid ironism in its full, completely inane form. To be able to juxtapose "climate science is bunk" with "they have politicised the science" is so artful it must serve as a warning to Janet Albrechtsen that she needs to step up to the plate, or the young pups will do her down.

It's not enough now to talk of global socialist conspiracies. You must also mention that thousands of scientists involved in the vast international conspiracy to install the United Nations supreme government, as warned of by that prescient socialist George Orwell, have as their heroes Mao, Che and Stalin ...

Or something like that.

It surely makes big Mal's calm, considered plea for actual attention to the actual science seem like the deluded ravings of someone incapable of considering the new world of abuse:

... this war on science and on scientists which is being conducted is much worse than the case of person who ignores his doctor’s advice and follows the advice of his friend down the pub, drawing on the life experience of the fortunate Uncle Ernie.

Because the consequences of getting our response to climate change wrong will not likely be felt too severely by us, or at least not most of us, but will be felt painfully and cruelly by the generations ahead of us. And the people in the world who will suffer the most cruelly will be the poorest and the people who have contributed the least to the problem. There is an enormous injustice here. When people try and suggest to you that climate change is not a moral issue, they are wrong. It is an intensely moral issue raising grave moral issues.

Those of us who do not believe the CSIRO is part of an international Green conspiracy to undermine Western civilisation or do not believe that leading scientists like Will Steffen are subversives should not be afraid to speak out, and loudly, on behalf of our scientists and our science. We must not allow ourselves to be deluded on this issue. (you can find the rest of big Mal's eminently moderate and therefore despicable speech here).

Well you won't find much attention to actual scientists or science at Janet Albrechtsen - not when she can disinter the views of the eminent scientist Margaret Thatcher as convincing proof - of what we can't be quite sure - and you'll find even less of it at Menzies House, where when in doubt you reach for Charlie Manson, Stalin, Che, Mao, and for all we know, big Mal himself as convincing evidence the black helicopters are coming ...

So what have we learned today, apart from how to call a Viscount a Lord?

Yep, it's the scientists who've politicised the debate ...

Need we remind you in the immortal words of John E. Rankin of the mighty state of Mississippi that Einstein was a "foreign-born agitator" who sought "to further the spread of Communism throughout the world" (Albert Einstein's political views).

Yep, as a result, E=MC² has been revealed as a monstrous socialist conspiracy.

There, you can go about your business, thanking the absent lord for Janet Albrechtsen, Margart Thatcher, The Australian and its war on science, Lord Monckton and Menzies House ...

Feel better, somehow less ideological, more scientific?

(Below: a cartoon).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gerard Henderson, and the servile, unctuous dissembling commentariat do their thing for Chairman Rupert ...

(Above: Rupert Murdoch in the good old days).

Only Tuesday, and yet it's been a tough hard week for the commentariat doing the hard yards down in the coal mine, working away at the seams of black gold, as only people at one with the lumpenproletariat can understand or imagine.

There was the awkward and tricky business of stripping the crazed lone gunman of any ideological or theological affiliations, or better still, conflating left, right and Islamic terrorism (as Guy Rundle observed in Into the abyss of the Norway massacre, by pointing out the splendid efforts of Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and others, and there's Peter Hartcher this morning reminding us that there were no right-wing terrorist attacks in Europe last year, but 45 left-wing and anarchist and 160 separatist attacks, and by golly, they did a power of damage up against the feeble effort of the lone crazed gunman. And yes, the header for his piece actually reads Norwegian massacre is wrong, not far right).

Then there was the always unfinished business of the carbon tax, and peddling the Tony Abbott line on climate change (whichever way the weather vane is pointing today), a task taken up yesterday by Paul Sheehan in Labor all tied up in red and green tape, wherein Julia Gillard's robotic sing-song voice is given a pasting but Abbott's Chicken Little routines are given a tick.

Sure enough Labor's brand of big government is sliding into structural trouble, whereas Abbott's inability to hold a thought for longer than a millisecond before embarking on a completely contradictory thought is overlooked ...

It's sometimes called fair and balanced opinion-making.

And then there's the never-ending business of redeeming Chairman Rupert, and firmly establishing that potential criminal charges arising from the NOTW scandal are mere fripperies, and the real damage is being done by the chattering elites, far removed from the lumpenproletariat desire for a good tabloid read (sob, yes, for years I read the Daily Mirror after my father brought it home from the pub, but where's that banner now Mr. Murdoch?)

Frank Furedi took up the baton at Counterpoint to express outrage at outrage mongering, because as the summary so succinctly puts it The problem he says isn't so much with the News Of The World but with shallow views being loudly expressed by the quality media.

You can waste valuable moments of your life by heading off here, to Rupert, Rupert! Can we all take a cold shower please to listen, and to discover just how unctuous and servile Paul Comrie-Thomson can be as an interviewer in a commentariat love-in, and never mind bribing the police or infringing on people's privacy, you middle class geese with your squawking vindictive shallow ways ...

But wait, don't pass go just yet, you've still to collect your commentariat steak knives, because it's prattling Polonius Gerard Henderson day, and his topic is?

Yep, it's Murdoch critics bury the lead in premature obituaries, and as always it's the evil ABC radio, and in particular Henderson's bete noir, 702 morning show presenter Deborah Cameron, who aroused his ire by showing an unseemly interest in Chairman Rupe and his wife.

The defensive ploy led with by Henderson is straight out of the Murdoch playbook:

Well, the entire story was certainly newsy. But was it really bigger than the fact that some 10 million Somalis are facing death by famine, or that the disastrous Greek economy could undermine the euro currency, or that the United States might default on its debt obligations? Not in the view of many non-journalists, I suspect.

Certainly not for the Murdoch Times cartoonist, who led with this cartoon, and which was quickly circulated around the ether in its rough screen cap form:

Wow, did that cop a blast, from Mfonobong Nsehe (On Offensive Cartoons, Rupert Murdoch, And Starving Somali Children) and dozens of others in the chattering classes (Cartoon in Murdoch's Paper Calls Hacking Inquiry a Distraction From African Famine).

Still it's good to see that Henderson is all class, like a Times' cartoonist.

Of course the defence relies on the notion that the average non-journalist punter can't hold two or three thoughts in the head at the one time (Murdoch empire criminality, US debt crisis, Greek economy, lone crazed gunman without any ideological or religious baggage, Somali crisis), or if multi-tasking must be attempted, then surely the ideal topic to drop is Murdoch empire criminality, because that only involves journalists talking about journalists (as opposed to say, journalists bribing cops, or interfering with messages on a dead girl's phone).

Well the rest of Henderson's column is full of it, which is to say full of irritation at Geoffrey Robertson QC, and full of attempts to downplay the issues involved, and giving - without any evidence - the rest of the empire, and other tabloids outside the empire, a clean bill of health.

It's such a timeless piece of forelock tugging and servile supine Rupert Murdoch grovelling that it makes Comrie-Thomson sound like Ed Murrow on steroids.

Of particular appeal is the notion that newspapers are quite harmless, and that the Murdoch press always follows rather than sets public opinion.

This is roughly equivalent to the notion that a consistent diet of television commercials will have no impact on consumption habits. Who'll be the first to tell that to the advertisers and the advertising industry?

But it's all part of Henderson giving the empire a clean bill of health.

First he praises the works of Caesar - though if I was Caesar I'd tend to get worried about the ides of March:

The legitimate criticism of the operations of News of the World should not detract from the positive contribution made by Murdoch and News Corporation to journalism in Australia, Britain, the US and within Asia.

He is one of the few surviving proprietors who believes in newspapers.

Which is handy I suppose since none of the commentariat, or the Liberal opposition seem to believe in the NBN, or the power of the intertubes.

But then, as always happens at some point with Henderson, he overplays his hand, and in his bid to be ideologically correct, and cover all the bases, ends up sounding simply silly:

Certainly Fox News in the US runs a political agenda. Yet Fox is primarily successful because it is entertaining. The same can be said of BSkyB in Britain, which does not advocate causes. In any event, diverse views can be found within Fox. The Fox News Watch program contains both right-of-centre and left-of-centre commentators.

A diversity of views in Fox?

Even Fox in its rare sane moments doesn't pretend it's fair and balanced. Who can forget that fine moment when Jon Stewart dissected Chris Wallace's Fox News Logic:

"I think we're the counterweight," said the Fox anchor, "I think that they have a liberal agenda and we tell the other side of the story." After flashing Fox's "Fair & Balanced" logo at his audience, Stewart traced Wallace's logic: "News only comes in two sides. And if the conservative side isn't being told, what's being told must be liberal." (here)

A little window dressing might get Fox out of jail with Henderson, but it sure as hell doesn't mean that it presents a diversity of views.

Once he's given the Murdoch empire the all-clear, Henderson then reverts to the bashing of his favourite piñata:

In Australia, however, the ABC's Media Watch program has had a succession of left-of-centre presenters for more than a quarter of a century and continues to broadcast only the perspective of a single presenter.

Strangely the Gerard Henderson column has been presented for years from the perspective of a single presenter.

And what did the single presenter at Media Watch say last night about Chairman Rupert?

As media analyst and former editor of The Age, Michael Gawenda, put it last week:
...there's every chance that when Murdoch goes, his newspapers, or at least many of them, will go with him. — ABC, The Drum Online, 22nd July, 2011
Read the full article
And if they're put up for sale, who'll buy them? That's actually quite a scary thought. News Ltd's enemies should be careful what they wish for. (The politics of privacy)

Oh noes, someone else in charge of Chairman Rupert's papers?

Scary thought Mr. Holmes. Why we might get Genghis Khan. Oh wait a second, we already have someone who makes Genghis Khan sound like a liberal, inner urban, chattering, middle class elitist.

And so back to Henderson for a final flourish of floozies:

Sure, Murdoch is unfashionable in certain quarters and some resent him because he successfully confronted the print unions in the '80s. However, his contribution to journalism has been a positive one. On the present evidence, the reaction to the News of the World scandal is over the top.

Actually, truth to tell, because of his ideological perspective, anything that Henderson scribbles is as wayward and distorting as ... an ABC presenter ... and surely his contribution to journalism is on the evidence a negative one, and on the present evidence his attempt to downplay the reaction to the NOTW scandal turns him into a disingenuous, dissembling fellow traveller of the most mortifying kind (unless conservatives now believe that consorting with and apologising for law-breakers is the new world order).

Still, for the first time in weeks, Henderson didn't mention the chattering wayward middle classes or the urban inner elites.

For that defence, you'll need to listen to the blather of Frank Furedi, rabbiting on about the evils of tabloids (The Sun) while defending tabloids, and blaming it all on the hapless condescending ways of toffy nosed broadsheet types.

If you go there, may the absent lord have mercy on your long suffering soul - and if that's missing, your long suffering ears ...

(Below: time for a little Jon Stewart relief, after a dose of desiccated Henderson coconut).