Saturday, March 17, 2012

Speaking of caterpillars, mushrooms, Malcolm Turnbull, Bob Carr and Tony Abbott ...

(Above: the pond's never run an image of a melted clock? Surely today's the day).

The pond is always heading down the rabbit hole and is eternally grateful to the likes of André Breton and Luis Buñuel Portolés and that master surrealist Lewis Carroll himself for being able to enjoy the ride.

But even then, you have to wonder what part of the mushroom Malcolm "big Mal" had been sharing with the caterpillar when he launched an attack on Wayne Swan for caving in to vested interests (Turnbull accuses Swan of cave-in to vested interests).

Now it's perfectly reasonable to have a jaundiced view of Swan, who these days often sounds less like a perky rooster than a battered, weathered chook who might require a couple of days in the boiler to turn into a fine broth, but what was big Mal thinking?

The language itself was completely quaint and legalistic. The pond hadn't thought of vested interests for at least a day, or at least the last time that Tony Abbott and the Liberal party had said 'yes' to some kind of vested interest ...

Now big Mal was on to the correct notion of vested interests, because the dictionary tells us it might involve variously:

1. Law A right or title, as to present or future possession of an estate, that can be conveyed to another.
2. A fixed right granted to an employee under a pension plan.
3. A special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to one's own personal advantage.
4. vested interests Those groups that seek to maintain or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit. (here)

But what was big Mal thinking when he argued this way?

What Wayne Swan has done is when the miners arced up about the mining tax he buckled and surrendered billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars of revenue in order to cut a deal behind closed doors to bug out of the fight that he didn't have the courage to continue with.

Yes, yes, that's exactly the charge laid at Swan's door by the perfidious Greens, and others of a social justice, they're minerals that belong to all Australians persuasion.

But what of Tony Abbott buckling to vested interests and surrendering billions of dollars to the miners by resolving to not tax them at all?

That's not logical incoherence, that's either a black hole or a time warp.

Now Turnbull did an extended rant about Swan for the Australian Financial Review in Not classy, Wayne, which was remarkably Freudian, especially for anyone interested in psychological projection defence mechanisms, and in the grand sight of big Mal rounding out a piece by quoting W. B. Yeats' fine poem The Second Coming.

But when big Mal turned up to explain in an ABC interview what he'd meant, the result was chaos.

The resulting interview was a short ramble through big Mal nostalgia as he recounted how he'd always stood up to vested interests, and never mind the logical inconsistencies, given the incoherent way that the opposition, Tony Abbott and big Mal have folded to the vested interests of clubs and poker machines and dozens of other sectional vested interesters enjoying the support of Dr. No.

It got down to this:

You can't criticise the Opposition for, you know, not supporting the Government because we didn't agree with their approach in the first place.

Indeed. Because big Mal along with Dr. No has been off routinely tugging the forelock to vested interests.

It's mind-numbingly silly for a wealthy multi-millionaire serving in a party dedicated to not applying a mining super tax to start blathering about vested interests. Unless in some strange convoluted way, big Mal has gone Green or Marxist or Marcusian and this is the most cryptic, coded way he's yet devised to criticise Tony Abbott for being a craven supporter of vested interests. You know, like the way they used to deliver self-criticism in Maoist China ...

The pond was swept up by nostalgic memories of bearded loons on campus quoting Herbert Marcuse:

“Pacification of existence” means the development of man's struggle with man and with nature, under conditions where the competing needs, desires, and aspirations are no longer organized by vested interests in domination and scarcity - an organization which perpetuates the destructive forms of this Struggle. (thank you Herbert, here, and thank you big Mal for reminding us of Herbert after a long period of peaceful forgetting)

Vested interests 101!

And then there was the bizarre news that Nick Minchin had come back from the political grave to pronounce on Peter Costello in a letter to The Australian (which naturally we'll quote from another source):

Mr Minchin said the chairman should not be a political figure and that the board was naive to think the government ''could, would or even should'' appoint Mr Costello.
''The fund must be, and be seen to be, independent, professional, completely above politics and entirely apolitical,'' Mr Minchin wrote in a letter to The Australian.
''Appointing a former politician - even one of the stature of Costello - as chairman, would therefore be most unwise, something Costello himself would understand better than anyone.''

And not just the board. You can throw Tony Abbott, and the entire editorial staff of The Australian under the same bus of vested interests.

Who could ever imagine a day when the pond would be quoting Nick Minchin approvingly?

But Nick did get one thing wrong. The notion that Costello himself would understand better than anyone that Costello and his interests are not the most important thing in the world ...

Caterpillar, some more of that mushroom, it's exceedingly tasty.

Ah well for the lizard Oz, it was just a one day wonder - this day's headlines are all about the fall out from the Queensland flood - so it's off into the darkness for petulant, eternally second Petey boy, unaccustomed to the political fix not falling his way.

Today the real fun is to be had reading the eternally delusional Bob Carr, who in less than a week in office has managed to alienate Papua New Guinea while promising to save the world:

Senator Carr - who was sworn in this week as the Minister for Foreign Affairs - said recent events in Afghanistan were worrying signs of the growing divide between Islam and the West and the world must avoid the nightmare of a ''clash of civilisations''. (West must halt Islam rift - Carr).

Yep, just when you thought it was time for the world to move on from Samuel P. Huntington's simplistic early nineties "Clash of Civilizations" vision of the world (wiki here), there's Carr giving it fresh legs.

The pond was overblown with joy, because each new day is likely to confirm its prediction that motor-mouth Carr isn't going to be the messiah or the salvation of the goverment, but just another foreign policy naughty boy.

It takes a kind of exceptional stupidity to conflate a rogue soldier's murderous mayhem with all that's gone wrong with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but somehow Carr manages it:

The former NSW premier said recent events in Afghanistan, especially the massacre of 16 civilians by a US soldier and the burning of Korans by others, pointed to a growing rift between Islam and the West.
''The tragedy would be if this tugged the world towards the dystopic nightmare of a clash of civilisations,'' he said.

Shallow and superficial and rhetorically slick - dare we say it one more time? - just like his approach to Sydney's infrastructure.

Thank the absent lord Carr didn't have the ear of the press when Lt William Calley and his troops murdered some five hundred Vietnamese women, children, infant and the elderly at My Lai in 1968 at My Lai, and so any Carr blather about the dystopic nightmare of a clash of civilisations went unrecorded.

The growing rift of course isn't about a clash of civilisations, as opposed to the singularly inept behaviour of the alliance in Afghanistan at every level in a war that has gone on way too long for very little in the way of results. Amazingly the Russians are the only ones that aren't surprised.

Instead of blather, Carr could offer to withdraw Australia's troops tomorrow, and so avert that dread clash of civilisation, but what's the bet all the punters will get is more blather and United States three bags full ...

About the only thing that will save Carr is Tony Abbott's unique capacity for putting his own foot in it, most recently managing to get Indonesia offside with his 'turn back the boats' policy, and lumping the entirety of responsibility on Indonesia:

''Let's not forget that these are Indonesian flagged, Indonesian crewed, Indonesian home ported vessels that are coming from Indonesia. Of course they can go back to Indonesia.'' (Abbott rejects Indonesian criticism of boat policy).

You have to wonder just how long into any Abbott reign will it be before there's the first repeat of the Siev X affair, and Abbott can stand tall and proud as the killer of civilians on the high seas.

What's that you say? The caterpillar has run out of mushroom, the inn is closing, and anyway I've overstayed closing time, and this rant is already way too surreal and overlong?

But, but, but, I've barely had time to mention the evocation of that fine comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in the header for Laurie Oakes' Abbott listens to Costello only when it suits him:

Costello: Who's playing first?
Abbott: That's right.
Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?
Abbott: Every dollar of it.
Costello: All I'm trying to find out is the fellow's name on first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy that gets...
Abbott: That's it.
Costello: Who gets the money...
Abbott: He does, every dollar of it ... (
and the rest of the routine in transcript here or you can YouTube one of many variants here)

And so on. Talk about vested interests ...

Oh okay, it isn't W. B. Yeats but we've flogged our love of Yeats to death over the years ...

Look at it this way.

Who gets the money, and Abbott is on first sending the boats home or to the bottom of the ocean ...

(Below: can never get enough of Tenniel, and nor it seems can Bob Carr, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott).

1 comment:

  1. I guess one of the perks in being a minister of foreign affairs is that you do get a good chance of having many foreign affairs. Even a mistress in every port just.


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