Saturday, November 26, 2011

And now a reminder to eat, sleep, think, imbibe, devour and enjoy a loon a day ... it'll help keep the doctor away ...

And another thing.

Here's how to run a test on your favourite columnist.

Take anyone who's written about the slippery Slipper sliding into the Speaker's chair, and if they run true to form, they'll mention that it's a cunning political ploy, and that it might backfire, and they'll mention Slipper's past form with expenses and taxi rides and other strange behaviour.

All fair enough, since Slipper is a prime example of a man who gives the deep north a bad name. After all, he was keen to get Joh Bjelke-Petersen into Canberra, and no fairer example of the vision of the man can be found.

Of course it's the fashion these days to deplore Bjelke-Petersen, who was in fact a conservative celebrated by conservatives around the land for his refusal to buckle to dissidents (remember the Springboks tour?), and his keen eye for the value of brown paper bags. Oh Brisbane, what a heartbreak village you were ...

Back when Slipper made the move to deputy speaker, it was one of the keener ironies to see the Spectator, in its local bizarre form, deplore the enthusiasm for Joh:

Readers should recall that, sitting in what is now a safe seat on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, Mr Slipper began his political career as a Nationals MP before embracing the bizarre, quixotic and ultimately discredited campaign to put Joh Bjelke-Petersen into the Lodge. (here)

Uh huh, what a pity these thinking conservatives weren't around at the time to do down Joh in Queensland. (We use the word 'thinking' loosely).

Just remember Robert nee Robin Askin was a conservative politician too, and conservatives under his regime made out like bandits, or at least like the gentry who could see an edge in the Rum rebellion. Oh Sydney what a heart break town you are.

And who can forget Sir Henry 'hang 'em high, hang 'em hard' Bolte, now immortalised by a kinda funny bridge, the conservative's conservative. Oh Victoria what a heartbreak state you are.

But back to the columnists.

If they have only one eye - Piers Akerman in the Daily Terror is the perfect example of vision through the right eye alone - they'll be scandalised at the Labor party's breach of all the noble rules of parliament and what an astonishing precedent the appointment sets. And not just Akker Dakker, but the Bolter and any other number of minions of Murdoch, who do their best to make cheerleading look respectable.

And in the process they'll fail to mention that Tony Abbott was also busy going about the business of setting an astonishing precedent.

What is surprising, however, is that Mr Abbott should pretend that what has happened is illegitimate. In Parliament on Thursday, the opposition accused the government of overturning Westminster tradition by not appointing a speaker from within its ranks. This is laughably false. Speakers of the House of Commons are not necessarily expected to be members of the party in power, and there are precedents in Australian state parliaments for the appointment of presiding officers from outside the government. (here)

And there are precedents involving Abbott, since if he'd been willing to compromise, he could have installed Rob Oakeshott after the election, if he'd accepted the notion that Oakeshott still be able to initiate motions and legislation on behalf of his constituents

Hang on, hang on, don't let little things like that stand in the way:

Around midday on Thursday, Abbott rang Oakeshott and offered to back him on the original terms. While Oakeshott says he politely declined, the approach took some of the edge off Abbott's claim yesterday that he would never do what Gillard did in this instance. (Bitter aftertaste ruins Abbott's toast to future)

Some of the edge?

The golden rule for columnists? If you're going to do over Gillard for hypocrisy, make sure you give Dr. No an equally good roasting. And if you're going to do over Slipper, remember most of his misdeeds occurred while he was a signed up member of the Liberal party, and they didn't do a thing about it, except to look the other way while he was a number in the tally.

And if you can't, you're just another cheerleader.

Well a recent pond correspondent pleaded that those who write with a view to all sides of an issue be given favourable mentions.

This of course flies in the face of everything the pond stands for.

Sure we could go on regurgitating the thoughts of others.

Laura Tingle has a considered column at the AFR, Now the Slipper's on the other foot, and now Tingle has slipped outside the AFR's fatally flawed paywall.

And today Michelle Grattan contributes a piece which considers the ups and downs and the ins and outs and the risks and rewards in Slippery slope for both parties. We used to call it a SWOT matrix, back before the matrix became Keanu Reeves.

Dear absent lord, how we used to hate the marketing team, and Powerpoint.

Sure there are some people within the Murdoch world who are sensible folk, perhaps Jack the Outsider (when he's not inside), or George Megalogenis, or Laurie Oakes scribbling for the Terror ...

But where's the fun in that?

What joy in a balanced, reasonable piece that seeks to explore all sides of an issue, as opposed to the sight of a loon in full cry, slavering and foaming and frothing in full-beaked, snapping fury?

The pond only covers the night beat for the Daily, the dark, dank world of members of the commentariat, who'd sooner smote an angel than be even-handed or admit they're wrong, or who refuse to accept scientific evidence, even when it hits them dab smack in the face like a haddock in a Monty Python fish dance.

While occasionally we dally with Gra Gra Richardson, or Michael Costa, or any of the other present or former members of the New South Wales Labor right, the true joy is provided by the minions of Murdoch, even if the paywall has curtailed the fun.

And so to an apology to said correspondent and other readers who occasionally feel inclined to send an email.

The pond doesn't do email, because this would reveal the IP address, and this is an anonymous blog, not least because its subject is the loon in full flight. (And if you don't know how to find an IP address in an email, why just look in the original full version, or look here for advice. And if you don't know how to track an IP address? Consider yourself blessed).

So it goes, and correspondence is gratefully received, but regretfully we must remain a one note Charlie, a one-trick pony tooting the one tune, a loon lost amongst loons ...

Did we say the paywall has curtailed things? Wrong, wrong, wrong

There are many other ways to have fun, ways we haven't even begun to explore. Why not start with Alexander Downer's diary?

The alarm wakes me, my wife and the dog at 4 a.m.

Too much information Lord Downer of Baghdad. As is this most asinine set of peculiar observations by the Lord:

American carriers are different from ours. I’m trying not to be judgemental but the cabin crew are quite, well, old. On average they are somewhere between my age and my mother’s age. Which is good, in a way. It means there are jobs in America for senior citizens. But it also means the union-dominated American operators are resistant to change. American carriers make very little money, if any, and are saddled with work practices which don’t reflect the modern world. Like Ansett. And Qantas.

What a prat. Like members of the Adelaide Club, no doubt. And just like Andrew Bolt, the Lord is a lover of opera:

Nabucco is on at the Met. Its Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves always brings tears to my eyes. The Jews were hated at the time of Nebuchadnezzar and many still hate them today. After thousands of years of persecution, they deserve a homeland which is secure and safe. But in today’s monde diplomatique, many don’t care about that. Attacking Israel is the fashion.

Beyond satire. Not even Private Eye could do as rich an impersonation of Lord Downer as Alexander Downer manages.

And speaking of doddering oldies in search of relevance, be assured, there's so much more at the Australian branch of the Spectator ...

So we've said it before and we'll say it again. While still relevant, the surrealists and Monty Python aren't as fresh as they used to be, so eat, sleep, drink and munch on loons around you right here, right now, so that you can have a fresh, balanced diet of loon-ness ...

Remember, too much can harm, and too little can lead to a loss of wonder at the absurdity of the world...


  1. "Speakers of the House of Commons are not necessarily expected to be members of the party in power, and there are precedents in Australian state parliaments for the appointment of presiding officers from outside the government."

    There are precedents at federal level also - starting with the very first H0R Speaker in 1901 ie., Sir Frederick Holder of the Free Trade Party as Speaker during a Protectionist Party minority government.
    He was elected unopposed and died in office in 1909, according to House of Representatives Practice( Fifth Edition).

  2. Thanks clarencegirl, and for your blog too.

    I see that Holder has his own wiki:

    He started as a Free Trade Man, then re-contested as an indie.

    It reminded me that the constitution - section 35 - is mute on the Abbott silliness:

    Election of Speaker
    The House of Representatives shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a member to be the Speaker of the House, and as often as the office of Speaker becomes vacant the House shall again choose a member to be the Speaker.

    The Speaker shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a member. He may be removed from office by a vote of the House, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor‑General.

    So it's whoever in the place who gets the numbers, as Abbott knew when he started his fishing expedition with Oakeshott.

    Slipper's appointment is just politics, and so are Abbott's shrieks of protest, and talk of infamy, but when they're so obviously false, they become increasingly tiresome ... as does the chanting of the commentariat, who should know better.


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