Monday, February 28, 2011

Gerard Henderson, and dangerous middle class radicalism strikes yet again ...

(Above: the wolf at the door. Back in the day when they knew the dangers of sectarianism up against decent radical middle class secularism).

Like everyone else, startled by the news that Myers had gone rogue, and become a tax evader (Myers joins e-commerce rush), I faithfully trooped off to myfind, and in particular, since that's my bent, the electrical section.

Amazingly, astonishingly, it featured two - that's two - or as we say in blunt English, 2 - electrical devices. Traumatised by the almost infinite level of choice, I checked out the price for the Acer Aspire Notebook 5472. It was a handsome A$789 plus shipping, a tad higher than the United States pricing of $448, but fiercely competitive with Dick Smith's $799, though I must say if I bothered to front a store with cash, I'd be expecting a 'credit card' discount, with a little added cash discount thrown in, just for the pleasure of the argument with the hapless counter staff ...

I wasn't the only one to notice the inherent stupidity of the site, so it was a great chortle and stress reliever all round, which is just as well, because today is Gerard Henderson day, which means we must shovel desiccated coconut down our mooshes - without benefit of chocolate sponge cake beneath - and murmur how tasty we find the dry, turgid, rarefied, water-free repetitive talking points ...

Repetitive is the key. In some of his pieces Henderson practises what feels like a kind of automatic writing, channeled in from the ether, and full of repetitions. How many times has he scribbled something like this?

The Greens' policies are directed at the interests of inner-city middle-class radicals. However, as Labor understands, the 2013 election will be decided in outer suburbs and regional centres.

Does he ever pause to consider the wondrous incongruity of juxtaposing middle-class and radical? He must, because he does it all the time, but what meaning does he hope to extract from this repetition?

Can the concept of middle class now be stretched to embrace tattooed, hippie-loving anarchist drop out, inner city furry freak brothers and sisters? Are these only the spawn of the middle class, or might the working class still contribute an authentic alternative drop of coffee and red wine?

Why is Henderson so tortured by the spectre of middle class radicals, angrily storming their barista to demand the perfect fix?

You know, I sometimes fantasise about Jack Kerouac turning up and meeting the prissy punctilious Henderson. What would Kerouac make of him? What would Henderson make of Kerouac? How would he respond if Kerouac gave him a man hug? It doesn't keep me awake at night, but it helps me get through a Henderson column ...

And so, glumly reading on through Get used to Gillard and Abbott until at least 2013 (and get used to Gerard Henderson delivering more of the same like a monomaniacal keyboard), there was this familiar refrain:

Appearing on Channel Ten's Meet the Press program, the Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, declared that "in the wake of the election" his party was "successful in striking a compact with Labor". The Greens invariably get soft interviews. So it was no surprise when left-of-centre-interviewer Paul Bongiorno let this comment go unchallenged.

Invariably? And the world's interviewers, whether cardigan wearing for the ABC or working for the commercial networks, invariably divided into correct thinking or soft left of centre when they don't conform to the blinkered Henderson vision?

Yep, no surprise there, though a hint of paranoia in the bunkered down, hunkered up view of the world.

And so on we go to the next talking point:

When Abbott became Opposition Leader in December 2009, Oakeshott told Port Macquarie News that Abbott's "natural starting point is of concern for Australian politics where no separation of church and state exists in principle".

This was Oakeshott prolix-speak for saying that Abbott cannot be trusted because he is a conservative Catholic. Once upon a time, such a comment would be described (correctly) as an example of sectarianism.

Or could it just be a whimsical memory of that famous moment back in 2004 when Abbott disremembered meeting Pell a mere ten days before? Now it's true that if meeting Pell there's a good chance of nodding off and forgetting the whole thing, but the more likley explanation is that it was a bald faced lie:

When interviewer Tony Jones asked if Mr Abbott had met Cardinal Pell, Mr Abbott replied: "Not that I can recall." Later he said: "Ah, actually, now that you do mention it, I did meet with Cardinal Pell. So what?"

Tony Jones: "Why couldn't you recall meeting him, I think, 10 days ago?"

Mr Abbott: "Look, whenever it was, so what? Why shouldn't I meet Cardinal Pell? Cardinal Pell is a fine man. He made a very good statement the other day about the Labor Party's policy, why shouldn't I meet with him?" (here).

Tsk, tsk, another soft question when surely the follow up should have been 'why such a bald faced liar?', and 'why do you deny discussing Commonwealth funding of Catholic schools with Pell?', coincidentally just before Pell had a go at Latham, and at a time when Mark Latham's education policy was lighting sectarian bonfires.

sectarianism: sectarian spirit or tendencies; excessive devotion to a particular sect, especially in religion.

Yes, that'll do very nicely to describe Abbott's behaviour in the matter. And lying about it. If only it were possible to believe the lie might deliver another six months in purgatory for him ...

As for the rest of the piece, it's yet another recounting of how the independents - the treacherous swine - have flung in their lot with Labor, and are not for moving, and so deserve everything they cop - but as a result, the Labor government will last until the next election, and it's going to be a grind as Dr No and Gillard go at it hammer and tongs ...

Talk of reading the tea leaves. Why it makes the original prattling Polonius sage in his advice.

I guess it also means you should only bet on the favourite in the Melbourne cup.

It's all tediously predictable, with the only relief to hand Henderson's foibles, be they berating dangerous disturbing middle class radicals, scorning wayward independents, or delivering rectitudinarian reprimands to softies ...

Such a narrow intolerant view of the world, that I immediately felt the need to head back to myfind to check out the price on the eMachine eME732Z Notebook, the only other electrical item to hand in a world where electrical items might usually run in the thousands.

And it is relatively keenly priced at $498 plus shipping. And then I suddenly realised that I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in acquiring an eMachine notebook ... and myfind had completely exhausted my interest.

Sic transit Myer's attempt to stir the possum ...

Such is the life of the everyday dangerously radical middle class consumer ...

(Below: if you enjoy this cartoon, myfind could be the online store you're looking for).

The anonymous editorialist at The Australian, with and without royalty and links ...

(Above: Neville Chamberlain holds up a piece of paper first exposing to the world substantial criticisms of the ABC's coverage of news events).

Usually we compose long, almost endless rants - there's something in the water of the pond and the foam-flecked hysteria of the commentariat that's to blame - but we'll keep this one short.

You see, there's the sullen anonymous editorialist at The Australian, beavering away as he explains that the ABC's failing to deliver on its promise as national broadcaster, in Time for some tough questions.

It seems the ABC's not asking the tough questions about the carbon tax, and never mind that the anonymous editorialist thought a carbon tax was the way to go, because what's needed is a kind of demented hysteria and whiplash questions worthy of a tea partier ...

The ABC must demonstrate its firm commitment to capitalist right wing principles by ravaging the Gillard government. Never mind that when the ABC asks tough questions of politicians, it invariably cops a slagging from the commentariat, it must put away the lettuce leaf and get out the whip and join the baying pack of hounds known as the minions of Murdoch.

The anonymous editorialist beseeches, nay demands tough questions:

Set construction, wardrobe selection and publicity campaigns aside, taxpayers expect that when momentous political events are unfolding, the ABC will use its leading political interviewers. Their overdue return will be welcomed by viewers, if not the politicians.

Yes, and by the Murdoch commentariat, because The Australian doesn't have its favourite whipping boy and/or girl to berate for failing to perform to The Australian's expectations ... because you see once the top guns return, they too will be revealed as having wielded a lettuce leaf when a shotgun was required ... and so the never ending virtuous circle can carry on to the end of time.

Meanwhile, there's more of the same in Mark Day's Not a good look for Aunty as top guns fail to fire.

It's an extended rant about the absence of the 7:30 Report, as if it's ever been anything other than a dull diminished show in recent years (complete with star fucker interviews), but then Day elevates himself into a special category by praising the stupidity of reporters for Today and Sunrise out and about and getting wet reporting on Cyclone Yasi ... As if gherkins in a storm is somehow virtuous, as opposed to storm chasing, Twister style. Oh look there's a flying cow ...

It's just more tiresomely predictable nonsense from the minions of Murdoch as they run down their bete noir, yet somehow always seem to have spent endless hours watching the ABC (in much the same way as you can catch Gerard Henderson rabbiting on endlessly about the ABC, but find nary a word from him about the hideousness of Alan Jones. What's the odds Henderson never listens to the shock jocks?)

Naturally Day has a go at News 24, but if it's such an inept beast, why do News Corp and Sky keep getting so agitated about it, compared to the supposedly splendid job that Sky's doing? Not that you'd find me crossing the road or forking out a shilling to watch Sky ....

So the festering white anting and back biting goes on ...

Meanwhile, I was pleased to stumble across Christopher Hitchen's campaign against the historical inaccuracies in The King's Speech, in the lizard Oz, in History campaigns against King's Speech.

Oops, it was there, and then it got yanked, disappeared, vanished. You can still find it here under the Oz banner, and it shows up in Google, but it's gone, gone, gone ... one of the minor mysteries of the universe.

Never mind, hey ho on we go ...

Hitchens gives the scriptwriter David Seidler a right bollocking.

The only trouble is, I first read this under the header The King's Speech Revisited, the movie's screenwriter goes too far in defending his version of history, in Slate some seven days ago.

And within that version of the story, you can find links that will take you to crucial bits of the back story, including the foam flecked interview in the Puffington Post that caused Hitchen's ire to increase (you can find it here under the header Culture Zohn Off the C(H)uff: David Seidler Protects and Defends the King's Speech).

And naturally Hitchens links to his own piece that helped start the kerfuffle, in Churchill Didn't Say That The King's Speech is riddled with gross falsifications of history. As well as a link to Isaac Chotiner's Royal Mess 'The King's Speech' is an ugly distortion of history.

Of course there's a reason that The Australian strips out the links. Readers might discover that there's much more interesting reading out there on the full to overflowing intertubes. And it lands in the antipodes instantly, without need to reference tired, lame, late reprints in The Australian seven days after the world has moved along ...

That's why they're right to be paranoid and derelict and seek a walled garden without links.

And which is why reading The Australian berating the ABC is so amusing. It's rather like a dinosaur having a go at another dinosaur for being a dinosaur ...

And the point is?

Well, if you want to be up to date with Hitchens, with links, read Slate or Vanity Fair.

If you want to be update with the world, read anything on line other than The Australian ...

But if you want to be up to date with the minions of Murdoch abusing the ABC for being slackarse and tardy, just like the Oz reprinting stale commentary, the Oz is your journal of record ... without links of course ...

And now they've gone and bloody yanked it. Not only late, but unutterably mysterious in their ways ...

(Below: the anonymous editorialist at The Australian sweeps out the ABC trash. Or is that George V deciding he's no longer German? Click to enlarge).

Paul Sheehan, and a goose is a goose, unless scientifically proven to be a wild eyed Captain Grumpy deployer of steaming rhetoric ...

(Above: Kings Cross in the good old days. More here).

Paul Sheehan scribbles so many stupid things in his piece A state's addiction to crime that it's hard to know where to begin.

For starters, a film critic he's not. Animal Kingdom is a "superbly crafted" Australian drama, which nonetheless has a "hole in its heart". And what hole might that be, pray tell?

The hole in the heart of Animal Kingdom is its script, where the drama is created by violence, not by depth or originality of the characters. It is same hole in the heart of Australian cinema generally, where the local production line of world-class actors, directors and cinematographers has never been matched by a comparable stream of world-class scripts.

Uh huh. Let's see how that works with a couple of American scripts.

The hole in the heart of Apocalypse Now is its script, where the drama is created by violence, not by depth or originality of the characters. Francis Ford Coppola mangles a bit of Conrad to produce his script, evoking the same hole in the heart of American cinema generally where there has never been a steam of world-class scripts ...

Or how about:

The hole in the heart of Goodfellas (or Taxi Driver etc etc etc) is its script, where the drama is created by violence, not by depth or originality of the characters.

Put it another way. Stupid is as stupid scribbles. Naturally Sheehan then makes an imaginative leap into the void:

This reflects the Australian film world, like the tax-subsidised Australian arts world in general, being a preachy monoculture that conforms to the safety of well-worn ruts. Animal Kingdom is no exception. The opening scene is a normal-looking suburban mother slumped on a couch. These are the first lines of dialogue:

Paramedic: ''What's she taken?''

Young man: ''Heroin.''

Uh huh. How about?

Goodfellas (or The Hangover or any American film which conforms to the time honoured standards and qualities of genre) reflects the American film world, like the capitalist 'appeal to the consumer' American arts world in general, resulting in a relentless monoculture that conforms to the safety of well-worn ruts.

Stupid is as stupid scribbles. When you write all embracing nonsense, all you get is all embracing gibberish ...

For the umpteenth time, an Australian film has trawled the criminal underclass for colour while portraying elements of the police as murderers with no honour code, unlike the crims they chase.

For the umpteenth time, a critic of the Australian film industry has trawled through simplistic verbiage to arrive at an ill-considered opinion of one of the few films in recent times to do nicely at the box office, as well as scoring kind reviews and the odd trinket to hang on the mantelpiece. What Sheehan thinks of Tomorrow, When the World Began's homage to Red Dawn thankfully remains an unknown unknown ...

Naturally, at this point Sheehan cranks up the rhetoric.

As it happens, I've been thinking a great deal about the way NSW has taken on some of the flavour of a police state.

Yes, somehow, a film shot in Victoria, and loosely inspired by real events involving Victorians (the Pettingill family, and the Walsh Street police shootings and other stories only too happy to jump on the bandwagon, The real animal kingdom) becomes a rhetorical metaphor for NSW turning into a police state.

This is roughly equivalent to me scribbling, on the basis of Sheehan's petty minded, mean spirited knocking of Animal Kingdom, something like As it happens, I've been thinking a great deal about the way Paul Sheehan has taken on some of the flavour of a far right fascist scribbler ...

Not to worry. It's just the set up for the usual moan and groan and gripe of a Captain Grumpy going about his Monday work, and the heart of it is this:

In NSW, we have the worst of both worlds, where the cops and the government are tough on hundreds of thousands of non-criminals going about their daily lives, while giving a free pass to real criminals.

Yes innocent motorists are persecuted while the junkies of Kings Cross roam free. But in turn this leads to another remarkable statement:

Look at Kings Cross. It used to be one of Australia's most sophisticated, cosmopolitan and pleasant precincts.

Roll that around on your tongue, and relish it. Dear lord knows which phantom Kings Cross Captain Grumpy has in his fevered imagination, but it can't be the one that I saw - while working as a very innocent, very young thing fresh from the country - in the Cross in the early seventies, in the days of Vietnam and R and R.

In those days, you could even see a crim nonchalantly hand over a brown paper bag in plain sight to a copper, and think nothing of it.

It was of course demonised by the Captain Grumpy conservatives of the day, but I remember it as a fine place, full of hippies, soldiers, and hookers and rampant organised crime, though you only got into trouble if you became involved in turf wars. For the most part, all the crims wanted to do was sell drugs or sex and tend their brothels and real estate developments. (A time evoked by Rennie Ellis's photos, as noted here).

I had an aunt who lived there, and she'd made a living in the SP game, and she could point you to the illegal casinos, where Kerry Packer loved to play, and the brothels, and even in passing had met Mr. Sin himself, Abe Saffron.

To call all this part of a sophisticated, cosmopolitan and pleasant precinct should see Sheehan hauled up to some court for abusing the English language. These are not words you can use about Abe Saffron and his dark grip on the Cross, nor perhaps did Juanita Nielsen think it was quite a pleasant village when she was done down. There was nothing particularly wrong with Les Girls, or the nightclubs, or the hookers, but the tackiness and the seaminess was part of the charm ...

And if you go further back, before my time, you'll find that Tilly Devine, the Queen of the 'Loo, set up her brothel shop in Woolloomooloo, while her arch rival Kate Leigh worked out of Surry Hills, and they both had a hand in the Cross. In those days, cocaine was the drug of choice, and cut-throat razors a handy slashing weapon ...

Truth is, Kings Cross has long had a sleazy side, helped first by serving seamen and the navy and cops and the military and boys from the bush after bright lights, and it's long been a home for alternative lifestyles, from trannies to junkies, a trend that began to crank up in the nineteen sixties ...

I remember once looking at a flat just off the main strip, but I just couldn't cop the mirror on the ceiling and the mirrors on the wall, and the bright neon orange and brown shag carpet, and I dare say, the gentleman callers who would have kept turning up with a hopeful knock on the door and yearning eyes and quite possibly a few quid in the hand ...

So what's the forgetful Sheehan make of the actual history of the Cross?

Now it is a bogan paradise, a cathedral to bad taste, a product of the power of the alcohol, heroin and poker machine industries that have enjoyed unprecedented power or tolerance for 16 years under the Labor patronage machine and pork factory.

Uh huh. From the paradise of Elysian fields to a cathedral of bad taste in a mere sixteen years. Put it another way ... a goose is a goose is a goose ...

Swept from memory is the famously corrupt Sir Robert "Robin" William Askin:

In the week of Askin’s funeral, under the heading `Askin: Friend to Organised Crime’, the National Times published the first of a series of articles by Hickie that accused Askin of wide-ranging corruption. Hickie was to expand on his claims in a book, The Prince and the Premier (1985). One of the most serious accusations, attributed to an `impeccable’ source, was that over the last seven years of Askin’s premiership, Perce Galea, head of an illegal gambling empire, had paid him $100,000 a year in bribes. Another was that Sydney bookmakers had given Askin $55,000 on the eve of his retirement as a reward for his not doubling their turnover tax, a payment Askin described unapologetically as `a gratuity from some members of the racing fraternity’. A third focused on the claim that businessmen had been buying knight-hoods from Askin for $20,000 to $60,000 each. (and plenty more on Askin here)

Now I don't mind if people want to argue over Askin's level of corruption - though even the Tax Office took a view on his undisclosed income, here - but it was during Askin's reign that Saffron and the Cross particularly flourished in their bent ways.

And it really is derelict of Sheehan to sweep the glorious history of Kings Cross under the carpet, all so he can slag off the current Labor government, and naturally the Kings Cross injecting room.

And when you come to this kind of rhetoric, what can you say?

The argument justifying the centre is that has cleaned up the drug trade and saved ''hundreds'' of lives. This is propaganda worthy of North Korea.

Yep, that's scribbling worthy of a conservative with fascist tendencies ...

There's plenty more abuse from Sheehan about the usefulness of the injecting room, along with a further reference to the non-North Korean view, which is in its own way fairly relevant to his own non-Adolf Hitler views ...

But it takes a quite peculiar mentality to be able to roam all over the place, from Animal Kingdom to Kings Cross to a police state to North Korea to speed traps to the injecting room and make a hash of all of them.

For all that life in Sydney has its moments, talk of police states and North Korea is simply absurd rhetoric of a demeaning, vicious and meaningless kind.

You have to wonder at the mental state of someone who can see all manner of evil in a single injecting room, up against what actually goes down across the state.

But that's the conservative commentariat way, blind, blinkered, and unhappy.

And forgetful ... and if Sheehan thinks getting rid of the injecting room will help in any way shape or form to solve the problems of junkies, or the community in dealing with junkies, he's off in la la land, with the bikies ...

Used to be a sophisticated, cosmopolitan and pleasant precinct?

What, in 1821?

What a complete and utter goose. Anything Sheehan has to say on anything must be marked as automatically suspect, and likely to be wrong, unless proved otherwise by stringent scientific testing ...

If there's a hole in the heart of Animal Kingdom, how big the hole in the head of Sheehan?

(Below: a couple more from the nineteen seventies of that sophisticated, cosmopolitan and pleasant precinct. Oh the nostalgia and the charm. More here).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baz Lurhmann, and the great gatters rip off, and please, never mind the effects of materialism, advertise here ...

(Above: a dinkum Aussie comic book version of The Great Gatsby. More here, and here).

There's surreal, there's dinkum Aussie comic versions of The Great Gatsby, and then there's the Australian film industry.

A little while ago, an Australian production company (Beyond) got done over by the Producer offset mob at Screen Australia, on the basis that the series it was making didn't meet the significant Australian test, and wasn't a new creative concept.

This finding was then supported by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal - you can find its full decision here as a pdf. The AAT similarly carried on in a righteous way about significant Australian content (SAC), and a new creative concept.

Well we're no spear carrier for Beyond, but you'd have to understand they might have been a little gobsmacked, by all and sundry preening and posturing about the imminent arrival of Baz Lurhmann's 3D version of The Great Gatsby for production in NSW, courtesy the Producer Offset. (Lurhamn's Gatsby to be filmed in Sydney).

Greater legal minds than mine will have to explain precisely how making a film of The Great Gatsby is an exciting new creative concept, presumably on the basis that the previous six outings were American-made dogs that failed to understand this classic American novel (there's a list of them here). Only a right-thinking Australian production will correct the situation ...

As for the Australian content status involved in making an adaptation of an American novel for the American market, involving Leonard de Caprio in the lead, and possibly Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan, no doubt the learned minds worked out that Lurhmann's creative Australian genius was a sufficient balance to all these international actors speaking in American accents, and cavorting on screen in a quintessentially American outing.

What's at stake here is a budget rumoured to be around the $120 million mark, which means if the Australian offset kicks in, Warner Brothers will be given a helping hand to the tune of some $40 million (the offset being worth 40% when spent on Australian items, as opposed to the 15% designed to attract runaway productions, currently useless given the A dollar's strength).

Naturally Kristina Keneally was delighted by this bit of pork barreling, and the state government has also kicked in an unstated amount, to grease the wheels, and make the pork barrel incredibly smooth and soothing.

You won't see any agitation in the Australian mainstream media, since another of the beneficiaries is Fox studios in Sydney, and in any case Fox has already made out like a bandit in the matter of Alex Proyas's exceptionally tedious science fiction film, Knowing, which had as much to do with SAC as the bible. (And yes I did want to stand up and shout at the screen at the final images of paradise).

Of course not everyone's excited. When I googled around, I stumbled on this little outburst:

Baz Luhrmann is the latest in a series of culture fuckers to come along and rape the classics having set his bloated bombastic sights on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel The Great Gatsby...

...If the world doesn’t explode next year, then surely it will when Gatsby 3D hits cinemas in 2013. (Baz Lurhmann Spins F. Scott Fitzgerald In Grave).

There, there Teddy, not to worry, what would you Irish know about anything ... because Baz is going to bring a unique Australian accent and understanding to the book. That's why it's significantly dinkum Aussie content ...

I actually had a chance to take a squiz at an early draft screenplay and it's a ripper. It begins with the dinkum tones of an Aussie narrator:

Back when I was an ankle biter, my dad gave me some advice that I've been rolling around in my brain like a chook in an outhouse ever since.

"Whenever you feel like grousing like a wombat," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't been given the kind of leg up you've scored."

And then the narrator provides a little back story:

My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this back of Bourke shithole for three generations. The dinkum cobber Carraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Sheik of Scrubby Creek, but the actual bugger who started the line was my grandad's brother who came here in fifty-one, went off to fight the bloody Dutch in the Boer war, bunked down with Breaker Morant, and when he came back - unlike poor Harry, damn you, damn you English swine - he started the wholesale hammer and tongs business that my dad carries on today.

There's a lot more, and if I could single out just one inspirational moment, it's surely going to be the gunfight - well you can't just do a classic without a few guns - which will be enhanced by Nicole Kidman singing some of Chad Morgan's stirring ballads, as a poignant contrast to the death and destruction that brings the third act to a close.

So we beat on, dinkum Aussie battlers fighting the bloody current, borne back ceaselessly to the bloody past. (and luckily you can find The Great Gatsby here at Project Gutenberg for free, which is a damn sight cheaper than what you'll have to pay to finance Lurhmann's American epic, and then to see it in goggle-eyed dinkumrama).

And now for something completely different, and since Akker Dakker, the fat owl of the remove and Miranda the Devine are rabbiting on about carbon in the Sunday Terror - their emissions alone have placed the entire planet in jeopardy - I thought the time was right to drop in on the local religious establishments, and see how things were going on a Sunday.

And wouldn't you now, they've done a survey of Catholic priests, and things are grim, as explained in Going Under - the priesthood in Australia - The Tablet. Priests are getting old, and there's signs of discontent, and I particularly appreciated this comment:

The institution in this country is in a real crisis. As I keep suggesting before long it is only going to be relevant to those who love Latin, Fiddleback chasubles and Gregorian chant — and the Japanese and Chinese tourists on their bus rides to the cathedrals in the capital cities. It was a madness of an insane degree for JPII to move Pell from Melbourne to Sydney. More than anything that undermined the morale of the entire Church across this nation, it has caused division amongst the bishops, and has still not been fixed.

So even some Catholics believe in the Pellist conspiracy!

There's a summary of the survey's findings here and it also copped a mention in the Herald here, wherein one priest compared the fervour of the World Youth Day to the Hitler Youth.

Oh dear.

So it only seemed fair to head over to the nepotic Jensens to see what's up with the Sydney Anglicans, and clearly the financial pounding they've copped in recent years has had some kind of impact. (Jesus saves, but shattered Anglicans regret not having that luxury).

You see, there's Phillip Jensen getting agitated about filthy, dirty materialism in Who Stole the Ashes?

But while we lost this series of tests, we did not really lose The Ashes this summer and we did not lose them in England a season ago. We lost them some years ago when our society embraced materialism as its chief cultural norm. The game is now an entertainment not a contest, with professional celebrities not representatives, fighting for their lucrative careers not their nation’s honour.

Well I guess losing 160 million smackeroos would clarify an attitude to materialism.

And so Jensen rails at advertising and materialism creeping into every phase of Australian life, especially cricket, and not to mention the Sydney Anglican board room.

Australia did not lose The Ashes to the English on the cricket pitch – we lost them in the boardroom. We lost them to some smart business people who stole them from us and renamed them “The Vodafone Ashes”.

Indeed. I was so moved that I thought Jensen might be a handy ally in the raging against the dinkum Lurhmann making out like a materialist bandit with taxpayers' money.

But then I noticed Studies for Lent being advertised for a keenly priced $9.95 - not ten bucks, but yours for under ten bucks, at $9.95 - et tu Anglicans? - and below that an even more plaintive advertisement in bright yellow begging people to "Advertise Here".

Well it gave me a grand old laugh, and I couldn't resist a screen grab, just to show you the rant about the evils of advertising and materialism up against the 'advertise here' sign, and so once again the Sydney Anglicans have saved the day, and ensured that this Sunday will pass in blissful good humour ...

And if you click on it, you're led to this page, here, which helpfully explains the joys, and benefits of advertising with Sydney Anglicans. Ah Magoo, you've done it again ...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Christopher Pearson, and always let stupidity get in the way of sound science ...

First the interesting news: the intermittently variable Malcolm Gladwell is on hand in The Order of Things to thoroughly diss the simple-minded way ratings and rankings avoid the complexities and ambiguities of the real world.

But you have to be able to move behind The New Yorker's paywall to read it.

On the other hand, for free, you can read Christopher Pearson's Never let the facts get in the way of a good plot, and arrive at this ultimate couple of pars:

No amount of government-funded propaganda and committees of experts headed by the likes of Tim Flannery can reinvent it as a major economic reform, let alone the greatest moral challenge of our time.

On the same day, the Institute of Public Affairs released the findings of a Galaxy poll it had commissioned. The poll was taken last week and replicated the results of another taken eight months ago. Only one-third of Australians think the world is warming due to human carbon dioxide emissions.

Uh huh. A poll.

That reminds me of some findings in the United States. A Pew poll in 2007 found that while 57% believe that the earth's climate was changing, only thirty six per cent believed that humans were responsible.

On the other hand, a Baylor University survey in 2008 found that half of all Americans believe they are protected by guardian angels, one fifth say they've heard god speak to them, one quarter say they've witnessed miraculous healings, sixteen per cent believed they'd received one, and eight per cent said they prayed in tongues. (the Baylor survey is here, and an earlier one here).

Meanwhile, in a survey designed more for fun than insight, some 24% of Americans agreed to the proposition that alien beings have come to earth and walk amongst us in our communities, disguised as us, while Australia scored a more than respectable 23% (only the disdainful Dutch, Swedes and Belgians managed an 8% score - here).

That follows another Ipsos survey which noted that 34% of Americans said they believed in UFOs and ghosts, while a poll done to celebrate Darwin's birthday found only four in ten in the United States believe evolution is a valid scientific theory (here for the Gallup poll).

By definition, Pearson, as a devout Catholic, is a believer in angels and other imaginary friends, and as we've known for a long time, he believes that so far as global warming goes, it's the volcanoes what done it. (Pearson claims that undersea volcanoes cause global warming - some links within the story no longer work).

So what's the point of Pearson celebrating the ignorance of Australians? Apart from basking in the reflection of his own ignorance? Well naturally, as professional lap poodle to Tony Abbott, it's to predict doom for Julia Gillard:

Let me finish on an unaccustomed oracular note. Julia Gillard's announcement on Thursday that she intends to press ahead with a carbon tax is a folly that will prove to be her undoing. No endorsement from Labor's so-called three wise men -- Bob Carr, Steve Bracks and John Faulkner -- can lend gravitas to the decision.

Unaccustomedly oracular? The prattling goose is oracular on a weekly basis ...

Meanwhile, Pearson spends the rest of his column bemoaning the Fairfax press, and opens with a blast at Glen Milne. Oh dear, sic transit gloria mundi Milnus, who was 'let go' by News Corp back in 2010 (Oh dear: Expensive Glenn Milne axed), and soon after started scribbling for the ABC's The Drum. (and if you want to feel better about yourself, you only have to read Milne dribbling here).

According to Pearson, scribbling for the devil has turned Milne into a latter day Banksy.

The task of journalism is to sift what sources say and establish the truth. Milne's approach strikes me as a lazy postmodern exercise that licenses treating any beguiling lie as an artefact in its own right and worthy of reporting. A little further down that path, the scope of journalism narrows to the inspection of one's own entrails.

Never mind that postmodernism has been defined by Fredrick Jameson as the dominant cultural logic of late capitalism. A sloppy use of the term postmodern is an important element in examining any entrails.

Because you see Pearson thinks the exposure of Scott Morrison's entrails, dragged around the national media recently, is all the fault of the Fairfax press.

No, no, it wasn't anything he said or did, it was all a fit up, by Lenore Taylor, Laura Tingle, Peter Hartcher, and Tony Walker.

What a pity that Pearson didn't read Dennis Atkins in a - gasp - News Corp rag, as he reminds us of the tricks deployed by Scott Morrison during his time NSW state Liberal director helping out against notorious Muslim Ed Husic (Scott Morrison not new to racial divide and conquer ploy).

And if it's all a Fairfax plot, what on earth is Samantha Maiden doing in the HUN - a News Corp rag - scribbling Power play hit Abbott's authority, and in passing noting:

... It was reported that Morrison had suggested that the Coalition needed to capitalise on growing unease about Muslim migration.

Liberal sources confirmed he was warned at the meeting that was a dangerous path, with Julie Bishop and Philip Ruddock among others pointing out that the Coalition had always supported a non-discriminatory immigration portfolio.

Morrison dismissed the "gossip", while other colleagues privately confirmed the substance of the reports.

Other colleagues privately confirmed the substance of the reports? Oh no, it's a News Corp plot to do down Scott Morrison.

But we're down wit Pearson. Never let the facts get in the way of a stout hearted defence of Tony Abbott and the crew sailing the good ship Doctor No.

Meanwhile, if Pearson had troubled to look a little further than his own nose or the Liberal party entrails, he might have noticed Cory Bernardi getting into a spot of bother by denouncing Islam as a "totalitarian, political and religious ideology." (Islam's the problems, not Muslims, says Senator Cory Bernardi - sic), and for proclaiming that he doesn't want to eat meat butchered in the name of an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality and is anathema to his own values. (Morrison: putting the alpenhorn into dog whistling).

Exactly. Which is why we no longer attend the local butchery on a Sunday to drink the blood and eat the flesh of a long dead man mired in a kind of first century fixation with brutal sadistic crucifixion of a Mel Gibson kind. (and more on transubstantiation here).

Naturally Pearson can't resist joining in:

Nor did he (Tony Walker of the infidel Australian Financial Review) concede that some Muslim migrants have no intention of being integrated into Australian society because they are contemptuous of some of its fundamental features, such as a commitment to democracy and the equality of the sexes.

At last! We've waited a long time, but finally a call from Pearson, secularist and feminist, for the Catholic church to open up its hierarchy and share power with women, and enact in a truly meaningful way the equality of the sexes. Next thing you know he might even turn into a Cathar ...

Sorry to tell you, but you've been dreaming again.

The good George Pell once wrote a tract explaining Why can't Catholic women be priests?, and once he got the gig, he stayed true to form:

DR GEORGE PELL: I firmly believe in the contribution and leadership of women in public life and in Church life.

But not as women priests or bishops.


Because Christ didn't organise it that way ...

SISTER MARY MOONEY, BRIGIDINE NUN: Women make up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the church population.

For women not to be included equally men is not a Christian stance. (here)

Yep, you know you're in the presence of pious hypocrisy when Pearson rabbits on about women and equality, and ignores the mote in his own Catholic eye.

Still his call for the banning of Catholicism, for refusing to integrate into Australian society because it is contemptuous of some of its fundamental features, such as the equality of the sexes, is a forward step ...

A pox on all the imaginary friends in the world, and if you're interested in climate change, instead of reading Pearson the news that Nature is launching a journal dedicated to the science in April 2011 might be of interest ...

(Below: not that we'd want to be a member of a club that would have us as a member).

(And finally a note to a reader. Sorry, don't do emails, and no I'm not Lindsay).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Miranda the Devine, and if that's being a member of the snobberati, count me in ...

(Above: not a member of the snobberati, just an alienated existentially aware human bean).

As if the chattering twittering commentariat class didn't have enough to contemplate, The Punch has now decided that it needs to do extensive coverage of the coverage of the earthquake in New Zealand.

First there was the crocodile tears in David Penberthy's The media takes no joy from tragedy - no joy, just slavering 365/12/24/7 coverage - and today there's Natalie Savino brooding about Disaster coverage: When is enough enough?

And by any post referential Roland Barthes' standard this now becomes coverage of the coverage of the coverage. Enough already.

Speaking of minions of Murdoch, it wouldn't be a decent day in purgatory without passing reference to the folly of the NBN, and this time it's Peter B. White's turn, baseball bat in hand to compare it to AUSSAT back in the nineteen eighties, in NBN a repeat of AUSSAT fiasco. Why and he doesn't even manage to mention the entire pay TV experiment that saw the country in the sway of a monopoly going by the name Foxtel ...

And of course the fear mongering Dr No is on hand to begin his campaign in the Murdoch press, with Gillard never met a tax she didn't like and hike, live blogging away at the Daily Terror at a time when unfortunately I will be gazing at my toenails in rapt silence ...

But what's this? Oh no, it can't be, say it ain't so. The anonymous editorialist has turned into an unthinking puppet parroting the Gillard line, in Labor's poll omission sparks MPs' emissions:

Given both sides of politics agree to a minimum 5 per cent reduction of emissions (from 2000 levels) by 2020, the debate is not about the outcome but how to achieve it. The government's compromise plan to fix a carbon price in July next year before moving to a trading scheme three to five years later makes sense.

Makes sense? Makes sense? Oh there'll be trouble at mill, and in Dolt and Bleagh land on this one as Dr. No goes about his emissions with relish ...

Naturally the fat owl of the remove is apoplectic, and the frothing and the foaming in Carbon tax the cost of duplicity is fearsome to behold ...

But contemplating the Friday wind down, we wanted to confront a serious issue that could cause heartburn the entire weekend, and thanks to the immortal Miranda the Devine, we've found it in Don parties on, despite the snobberati.

Lordy, how we hate the snobberati, fie, we spit on them and their dirty deeds. Vile, loathsome, dirty.

Luckily, we now know who isn't the snobberati, and who in consequence gave David Williamson's play such a warm Sydney welcome:

Buring (sic, so and thus) the curtain call, Gary McDonald, who plays Don, gestured at Williamson from the stage. The applause ratcheted up so much that Williamson got to his feet and waved at the cheering crowd.

Bob Hawke - one of a dozen politicians in the audience including Nick Minchin, Rob Oakeshott, Pru Goward, Sarah Hanson-Young, Bob Brown and Peter Garrett, even stood to applaud the maligned playwright.

I have to confess that a tear came to my eye at the thought of all this rapturous applause by a mob of common folk, politicians and greenies and dear old Bobbie, who mingles his precious bodily fluids with Blanche D'Alpuget, and not one member of the snobberati or elite amongst them. Just peasants, bumpkins, hayseeds, provincial rubes, rustic serfs, villeins the lot of them ...

But hark, all is not well in Denmark, and the mighty Devine is in a rage:

... disparaging Williamson has become a badge of belonging in the arts world, despite the fact his plays have kept Australian theatre solvent for more than 30 years. His work is slammed as too bourgeois, too “commercial”, too accessible to mainstream audiences.

One particularly bilious online critique described Williamson as an “ageing irrelevance” whose writing was “fat, lazy and stupid”. Williamson was so wounded he wrote hundreds of words in blog comments in reply, their graciousness a credit to him.

Oh dear, and he's kept the Australian theatre solvent for more than 30 years, and so gracious and witty and charming ... and remind me again, why are the three tiers of government shovelling all that subsidy down the throats of theatres across the lands?

Why there's good old George Brandis, our new favourite multiculturalist, boasting back in 2007 how his government was injecting $24.1 million in new funding to twenty core companies ... including but not limited to Bell Shakespeare, Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company ... on top of the base funding (here). Indeed, when someone last contemplated the figures at the Australia Council the three tiers of government kicked in a handy $6.3 billion - don't bother counting the loose change - for 'cultural activities' (and more details here).

Funnily enough, through a quirk and an anomaly of time, the Melbourne Theatre Company is still within the purview of the University of Melbourne, and so generally held not to be part of any academic elite or snobberati, the University of Melbourne having turned itself into a sordid money grubbing exercise in educational capitalism - though these days the council members like to refer to the MTC as a "semi-autonomous body"as they contemplate written reports from the MTC's board of management.

Phew, it's all a tremendous relief. Greenies and Garrett not a part of the snobberati, and tertiary elites also nothing to do with the snobberati. But what's this?

It is an indictment of our taxpayer subsidised theatre industry that Don Parties On, which, despite the critics, ended up a smash hit at the Melbourne Theatre Company, was rejected by the Sydney Theater Company, whose artistic directors are Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton.

Yes, it's a scandal. One heavily subsidised body rejecting a smash hit for another heavily subsidised body ...

Fortunately there was an angel in the wings, one Rachel Healy ...

“The critics and the arts community have a response to Williamson you would never see elsewhere,” she says. The children’s literature community doesn’t sneer at JK Rowling’s success at bringing a new generation of children to the love of reading. Williamson, likewise, brings “thousands of people out of their couches to [be] incredibly entertained. But it’s bizarre that being entertaining is something to be ashamed of [when] the prime motivator for people to go to the theater is entertainment.”

Indeed. Though I remain a tad disturbed at the way JK Rowling's success has alienated millions of honest, devoted Xians, going about their business worshipping their imaginary friend, only to be confronted by demons and witchcraft. That's not entertainment, that's the anti-Christ at work.

“I worked in subsidised theatre,” said Healy, former general manager of the avant garde Belvoir theatre. “I was part of that community of snobbery” . But not any more. At the Opera House she needed to find work that attracted a paying audience and soon learned: “It’s not just about you.”

And it's at this point I broke down in hoots and gales of laughter. Belvoir Theatre as avant garde? Oh come on, pull the other leg ...

Is this the same Rachel Healy who rabbited on about the Belvoir thus?

For Rachel Healy, the vision for the future of the Belvoir Street Theatre was uniquely intertwined with the theatre’s past. Belvoir Street theatre-goers are generally aware of the theatre’s history and its struggle to survive against the odds, and are also appreciative of its informal and accessible feel. Rachel reminds us of a time whether theatre going was about red plush carpets and wearing your ‘Sunday best’, and in contrast “the Belvoir Street Theatre created an environment that was informal, accessible and welcoming, and backed it up with shows that were new and sometimes challenging and frequently Australian and ticket prices which were as cheap as the company could make them”. (here)

A community of snobbery that's informal, accessible and welcoming?

Ah well, I guess it's good to feed the media chooks plenty of corn, and by golly does Miranda the Devine so love her corn ...

... of course, if you are an insecure philistine posing as a sophisticated arts appreciator you won’t trust art that is entertaining, beautifully constructed, and coherent, as Williamson’s plays are. Poseurs prefer to consume obscure niche art – no matter how bad – for one reason: because it marks them as superior to the masses.

No, no, no Miranda, we love wankers as much as the next mug punter, and that's why we love to read your columns. Gratuitous stupidity and a chip on the shoulder is always such fun ... it makes us feel superior to the minions of Murdoch in the media.

Now is this the right time to admit that I'm off to the heavily subsidised Opera House to take in a heavily subsidised performance, and nothing wrong with any of that ....

Meanwhile, having been sold the publicity pup, and generated the fake controversy which always comes around when a David Williamson play comes along, can we leave Miranda the Devine for this review?

There's a flurry of pre-publicity in which we hear, again, that Williamson is our best-selling playwright, a "national myth-maker" who takes the pulse of our times and touches the receptive hearts of the masses. We hear that "the critics" are unkind and out of touch with ordinary folk, and that the only reason people dislike his plays is because he's too popular. We hear that the theatre world is continually chanting that "you can't have naturalism on stage". Preferably, somewhere in the middle of this, someone mentions Barrie Kosky.

Same as it ever was. Williamson has been working this schtick since Stork, and nothing wrong with that ...

Then a good chunk of the theatre community gets dressed up to the nines and heads off to the premiere. The play occurs. Some people laugh. Some people leave at interval. A sizeable proportion of the audience applauds rapturously. Another sizeable proportion emerges in various states of crankiness and flees for a debriefing session over a stiff drink.

Ah the anti-snobberati dressed up to the snobbish nines ...

Well there's more here, and it's a fun read ... and we haven't once mentioned the Crikey v Williamson stoush, well not since the self serving Crikey put the self-serving Williamson behind its paywall. Two self servers playing the money making game though we fancy Williamson came out the better, at least so far as the tinkle of the till is concerned ...

You know I used to think force feeding geese to produce foie gras was cruel, but is it possible, if the Devine was fed a sufficient amount of corn, she might produce something other than tripe?

Worth thinking about, but excuse me I must go get dressed up to the nines for my heavily subsidised experience in a heavily subsidised theatre ... though I hasten to add it has a cheery welcoming informal iconic tax subsidised feel to it ...

(Below: and time now for a fit of snobbery, in any of its extremely useful forms, pace Nick Hornby and High Fidelity).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Greg Sheridan, and a thoroughly useless idiot strikes again ...

(Above: key representatives of the Workers' News break bread with Colonel Gaddafi).

Malcolm Turnbull starts the day off by proving he's an expert Maoist, with Let a hundred flowers bloom in the broadband field.

This is often misquoted as a thousand flowers blooming, when the correct term refers to the Hundred Flowers campaign or the Hundred Flowers Movement, inspired by Chairman Mao.

"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."

Turnbull seems to think it will work just as well with broadband. Can someone make sure the shadow minister keeps his paws off the sewerage, water supply and electricity? The last thing I need is a hundred flowers blooming in the workings of the toilet ...

Or perhaps it's just a mischievous Fairfax subbie at work.

Or perhaps Turnbull thinks the rehabilitation of Maoist thinking proceeds apace in the Liberal party.

Not to worry. We now cross live to Greg Sheridan for an update on Colonel Gaddafi in Dictator's useful idiots happy to take his money.

Sheridan lathers himself up into a frenzy over the Workers News, a bunch of Trotskyite splitters who'd split from the splitters, and who apparently have in the past found some charm in the thoughts and works of Gaddafi.

It seems that Gaddafi in his day was celebrated by leftists and progressives, and accordingly must be reviled by Sheridan as useful idiots, only too happy to deal with the colonel and take his cash in the paw.

There was a period in my life where I couldn't wait each week to visit the big news stand at Sydney's Town Hall to read the new edition of the Workers News. This was the journal of a Trotskyite grouplet, the Socialist Labour League. It was financed in part by Gaddafi's munificence, and I rejoiced at the exotic ideological material it offered. In among the routine denunciations of uranium mining and calls for greater trade union militancy would be a couple of pages extolling Gaddafi's fatuous and incoherent green book and the Libyan revolution.

And so Sheridan manages to spend the entire piece not once mentioning George W. Bush. And yet he speaks of useful idiots.

You have to think that, compared to the Workers' News, Bush was not only useful, in his day he was powerful ...

In a further sign of warming ties, U.S. President George W. Bush called Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi on Monday to voice satisfaction at a U.S.-Libya deal to compensate victims of terrorism, the White House said.

A senior official said there were no records of any previous U.S. president speaking to Gaddafi, who seized power in a 1969 military coup.

Now there's a useful idiot. And who complained?

Rights groups say Gaddafi's reign has been marked by human rights abuses and restrictions on freedom of expression. (here).

The usual rights groups. Probably a doltish bunch of tiresome liberals.

At the same time - this was in 2008 - Condolezza Rice, a thoroughly useful idiot, was planning to meet one of Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam.

Yep, it was a long trek back from the days when Ronald Reagan dubbed Gaddafi the "mad dog" of the Middle East, but thanks to the Bush and Blair administrations, the Colonel made it. This in 2006:

When I called on Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi in his Bedouin tent last year, he was at pains to explain how he and President Bush were on the same wavelength. In all his years as a bad boy in the eyes of the West, he said, Libya was simply doing what Bush did when he invaded Iraq. "Bush is saying that America is fighting for the triumph of freedom," Gaddafi said between sips of tea. "When we were supporting liberation movements in the world, we were arguing that it was for the victory of freedom. We both agree. We were fighting for the cause of freedom."

At the time, it may have sounded like the typical ramblings of the Libyan leader. But now, a year later, Gaddafi and Bush do apparently see eye to eye. On Monday, Gaddafi accomplished one of history's great diplomatic turnarounds when Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice announced that the U.S. was restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya and held up the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya as "a model" for others to follow. Rice attributed the ending of the U.S.'s long break in diplomatic relations to Gaddafi's historic decision in 2003 to dismantle weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism as well as Libya's "excellent cooperation in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001." (Why Gaddafi's Now a Good Guy)

Damn you Workers' News and your covert deep operations to bring Trotsky to America.

Of course there's not a word of any of this in Sheridan's rant, which concludes thusly:

The utter, absolute, intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Western activists and intellectuals who embraced these gangster dictators is matched today in the same fatuous calls for dialogue and understanding of Islamist extremism in its many guises. The gullibility of a certain sort of progressive is almost infinite.

Dearie me, so Sheridan thinks that George Bush and Condeleezza Rice are Western activists and intellectuals who displayed utter absolute intellectual and moral bankruptcy by embracing the Libyan dictator?

But, but, but what are we to make of Sheridan's A great president for these terrible times back in 2006:

Let me be the first to offer a bold, revisionist view. George W. Bush may well be judged, ultimately, a great president, especially in foreign policy, especially in the war on terror. This consensus won't form for 20 or perhaps 30 years.

Bush resembles Harry Truman. This is not an original observation on my part. Bush himself sometimes makes the comparison.

Bush himself makes the comparison?

Well it must be right then.

What a relief to know that Bush was a Democrat all along, he just kept it a tad hidden.

Well we've already had the anonymous editorialist at The Australian comparing Tony Blair to a mix of JFK and Winston Churchill, so it's good there are useful idiots ready to extol the virtues of George 'call me Harry' Bush.

Naturally Sheridan also doesn't mention Tony Blair's infatuation with Gaddafi, or more particularly with his control of Libyan oil, and the unseemly moola that goes with it. Google Blair and Gaddafi and there's a good chance you'll find them hugging ... all that's missing is the gotcha snap of the pair in bed.

No, no, no, it's those hugely influential deviants at the Workers News who cop Sheridan's righteous anger.

It's the same kind of bizarre logic that produces this kind of bon mot:

The same is true of all those who supported getting rid of Saddam. They have nothing to apologise for. If you opposed Hitler and he was replaced by the even more murderous Stalin, as happened for much of eastern Europe, you were still right to have opposed Hitler. The obligation then was to oppose Stalin. (Ousting Saddam was right).

Uh huh. So that's why in the second half of his piece, Sheridan forgets his war with the progressives and the socialists and makes an impassioned plea for an immediate Western military intervention in Libya ... since it seems that right at this minute, we have a Stalin on hand ready to bomb the civilian population into submission.

Ha, gotcha.

Sheridan actually spends the second half of his column meandering and maundering through memories of an interview he conducted with Saif Gaddafi. In the process, Sheridan compares Saif's dress sense to John Pilger's.

Oh dear, that Pilgering Sheridan copped on ABC television - on the way he has been a thoroughly useful idiot in relation to that dear departed, murderous dictator Suharto - must still sting a little.

Indonesia's Suharto was an authentic giant of Asia, a nation-builder, a dictator, a changer of history.

He was also, for Australia, the most important and beneficial Asian leader in the entire period after World War II.

If you can hold down the rising gorge at the rapture, you can cop more of it at Farewell to Jakarta's man of steel. There you can find the killings and the invasion of East Timor swept under the carpet along with this sort of risible assessment:

The worst, but by no means the only, human rights excess under Suharto occurred in East Timor, during and after its incorporation into Indonesia in 1975.

Suharto’s rule had many other flaws. He was a strong president but a weak father.

Yes, he conspired in the murder of millions, but really, his main problem was that he was a weak dad.

Meanwhile, I've reached the end of my tether scribbling about ratbag commentariat members who assume that secularist atheists (often lumped into the progressive camp) are somehow infatuated with Islamic extremism. Or Christian extremism. Or come to that, minions of Murdoch fanaticism.

It brings me to an unseemly conclusion. There are many useful idiots in the world, but really when you boil it down Greg Sheridan is a hopeless foreign affairs editor, and a thoroughly useless idiot ... because the gullibility of a certain sort of minion of Murdoch is almost infinite.

Finally, in late breaking news, it's been confirmed that the Workers' News covert operations in Europe have resulted in the capitulation of Europe's leaders, at least if the insights offered by Peter Popham in Libya is peering into a vacuum of Gaddafi's making is any guide:

It is shocking to think how recently, and how obsequiously, the Butcher of Tripoli was being feted in the capitals of Europe .... the Libyan vacuum into which we are now peering – trying to envisage what might come after Gaddafi – helps explain why, once he had agreed to drop his laughable efforts to construct a nuclear deterrent, Europe's leaders were prepared to trade what remained of their dignity for a slice of the Libyan pie.

Damn you, Trotskyites and Workers' News acolytes. Using their lust for oil to turn them into useful idiots.

Let Europe and the United States and Greg Sheridan run free of your baleful influence ...

(Below: a key Workers' News representative gives Colonel Gaddafi a man hug.

For pictures of other members of the dominant Workers' News faction consorting with Gaddafi, go here to see Gordon Brown shaking hands with him, ditto Barack Obama - well we knew he was a Kenyan socialist - and Nelson Mandela, Vladimir Putin, Spain's Zaspatero, and Jacques Chirac all hanging out the progressive Workers' News mat. Oh and let's not forget Silvio Berlusconi offering his cheek. Yes, he'll do it with seventeen year old girls, and he'll do it with Gaddafi when there's oil in the air).

Sheesh, so many Western activists and intellectuals showing utter, absolute intellectual and moral bankruptcy, so little time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tony Blair, and the anonymous editorialist at The Australian, years too late, discovers righteousness and a conscience ...

An appalling man?

Tony Blair has become an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator's son has sensationally claimed.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said the former prime minister has secured a consultancy role with a state fund that manages the country's £65billion of oil wealth.

In an exclusive interview, Saif described Mr Blair as a 'personal family friend' of the Libyan leader and said he had visited the country 'many, many times' since leaving Downing Street three years ago...

... Since becoming a part-time Middle East peace envoy on leaving office in 2007, Mr Blair has exploited his contacts to amass a personal fortune in excess of £20million.

He has a lucrative contract to advise JP Morgan, which pays him £2million a year. Part of his job for them is to develop banking opportunities in Libya. It is understood that British firms Mr Blair is linked to are also being given contracts to tap Libya's massive natural resources, and to help rebuild the country's outdated infrastructure.

The details are sketchy because he has built a labyrinthine business empire of interlocking partnerships designed, it seems, to conceal the sources and scale of his income. (and much more here).

If you google Blair and Gaddafi, they never seemed to be able to get enough of each other's company in recent years - Tony Blair met Colonel Gaddafi in Libya last month is just one sampler from 2010 of the passionate affair.

But then I suppose Bob Hawke did the dance with the Myanmar dictators back in 1995, searching for a way to make a buck out of human misery while dressing it up as a humanitarian venture.

Senator BOURNE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did the Australian government officially sanction the recent visit to Burma by former Prime Minister Mr Bob Hawke? Does the minister believe it was appropriate for Mr Hawke to lead a business delegation to Burma with the aim of encouraging greater foreign investment, given that country's appalling human rights record? Is the minister aware of the major military offensive currently being conducted by the Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council against the Karen and other minorities? Finally, given these disturbing new developments, will the government now consider methods of coordinating an international regime of economic and trade sanctions against the SLORC? (here).

You can read Gareth "the beard" Evans' attempt to gild the lily in his answer if you like by heading off to the Hansard record. But why bother. Some gild, some lily ...

Why all in all, it seems there's almost a chance of reaching common ground with the dingbat anonymous editorialist at The Australian, who suddenly, in a fit of remorse and conscience, seems to have discovered that Gaddafi was something of a bad chappie (The terrible lessons of Libya):

The loathing being heaped by Libyans on Muammar Gaddafi, the despicable tyrant who has dominated their lives for 42 years, has a sharp lesson for those international leaders who brought him in from the cold, incredibly embracing him as an ally in the battle against al-Qa'ida and signing huge contracts to buy his oil. As they watch graphic coverage of courageous Libyans being brutally massacred by forces loyal to the man Ronald Reagan labelled the Mad Dog of the Middle East, the likes of Tony Blair, who seven years ago did his controversial Deal in the Desert with Gaddafi, must wonder about the wisdom of what they did.

Yes, and let's not forget the likes of George Bush, in it up to his neck, and the French and the Italians and even hapless Nelson Mandela, and anyone else who had a sweet tooth with a taste for oil ...

But then - it being the jackass anonymous editorialist at The Australian - there comes the sting in the tail:

This is a moment of truth for those on the Left who were prepared to tolerate the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein rather than support the American intervention that brought democracy to Iraq. The moral corruption of this position is writ large in the extraordinary events now unfolding across the region.

Say what? Brought democracy to Iraq? Is that what democracy looks like? A decade bringing a country to its knees, and to a half baked electoral and regime which lacks legitimacy, and which has left the Kurds to their own devices. Maybe the United States should have consulted Arabs who seem to be managing regime change a little more quickly and with way less firepower ...

And anyway, speaking of regime change, was it the left or the CIA that helped Saddam Hussein into power?

The coup that brought the Ba'ath Party to power in 1963 was celebrated by the United States.

The CIA had a hand in it. They had funded the Ba'ath Party - of which Saddam Hussein was a young member - when it was in opposition.

US diplomat James Akins served in the Baghdad Embassy at the time.

"I knew all the Ba'ath Party leaders and I liked them," he told me.

"The CIA were definitely involved in that coup. We saw the rise of the Ba'athists as a way of replacing a pro-Soviet government with a pro-American one and you don't get that chance very often.

"Sure, some people were rounded up and shot but these were mostly communists so that didn't bother us".

This happy co-existence lasted right through the 1980s. (here, but be careful neo cons, it's the BBC).

Yes, and then the puppet got antsy and went into Kuwait, and things got tricky. But to dress up the slaughter of thousands of civilians as a noble humanitarian gesture, with a positive outcome, all mounted on the basis of relentless lies - fabrications, distortions, and deceptions heavily featured by the minions of Murdoch in the media, both as an excuse to start the war, and then to assess the outcomes - and portray opposition to the war as some kind of leftist conspiracy is typical of the nonsense spouted by the anonymous editorialist.

It got me to wondering if the editorial was some kind of rebuttal or response to Guy Rundle's piece Why the silence on Libya?

Now the nightmare scenario has occurred. The Libyan UN delegation has quit the government en masse and asked the international community to intervene and help ordinary Libyans. Goddamit — after all that talk about the West having a mission for international solidarity and the defence of universal values, somebody actually believed it.

Listen to the sound of the pro-war party rushing to demand that their governments respond to the Libyans’ call.


Go on, anonymous editorialist, since you think the Iraq war was a jolly good thing, run an editorial explaining how we must immediately intervene in Libya. Militarily. With maximum force.

Poor Rundle:

Can anyone not say that military humanitarianism is finally, utterly dead?

No, no, it all worked tremendously well in Iraq, positively spiffing. Just ask the anonymous editorialist, and his ravings about the conspiratorial left.

And as for Afghanistan?

Well the post being what it is in Australia, it's taken me awhile to catch up with Dexter Filkins' piece for The New Yorker, The Afghan Bank Heist, but handily for the moment it's outside the paywall:

A few random statistics to emerge in the read:

Losses that emerged after central bank takeover of Kabul bank: three hundred million dollars
Money lost at Kabul bank: nine hundred million dollars, guesstimate and counting
Afghanistan GDP: approximately twelve billion dollars.

Transparency International ranking for Afghanistan:
the world's 176th most corrupt country out of 178 countries.
Yes, it's ahead of Somalia and Myanmar. (Guess Bob Hawke didn't help sort it out).

There's more, much more, all depressing as get out, but we look forward to reading the anonymous editorialist at The Australian extolling the virtues of military humanitarianism in relation to that wretched country in a few years time:

This is a moment of truth for those on the Left who were prepared to tolerate the tyrannical regime of the Taliban rather than support the American intervention that brought democracy and blessed Hamid Karzai and his brothers to power in Afghanistan . The moral corruption of this position is writ large in the extraordinary events now unfolding across the region.

Don't hold your breath.

There's moral corruption, and then there's fatuous repetitive stupidity, which once saw Bush and Blair praised to the skies by minions of Murdoch, and now turned (well at least Blair is for turning) into whipping boys for the current middle east situation.

What a pity we couldn't flog the minions of Murdoch chanting their right wing mantras at the same time. What a fine and gratifying sight it would be.

Instead perhaps we should just read the thoughts of the anonymous editorialist back in 2007 (here):

Tony Blair's legacy
Part Churchill, part JFK, but wholly a man of his times

TONY Blair is an internationalist driven by a strong moral conviction who, more than anybody else, was able to articulate the reasons why the war on terror had to be fought and must be won. In his valedictory speech to his constituents on Thursday he demonstrated all the qualities that have made him such an effective statesman, chief among which is his irrepressible optimism. "Politics may be the art of the possible," he said, "but at least in life, give the impossible a go."

Part Churchill, part JFK? Well at least we know the anonymous editorialist is one hundred per cent wanker ...

Perhaps we're better left with ...