Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Chris Berg farce, doing the chaplain dance, Paul Sheehan in Woolies ecstasy, and a dash of XTC ...

... every animal, including the human being, is a criminal, and every move in life is a part of the vast process of crime…. The basic and primary moves in life amounted to nothing more than this business of taking, to take it and get away with it. A fish stole the eggs of another fish. A bird robbed another bird’s nest. Among the gorillas, the clever thief became the king of the tribe. Among men… the princes and kings and tycoons were the successful thieves, either big strong thieves or suave soft-spoken thieves who moved in from the rear. But thieves,…all thieves, and more power to them if they could get away with it. (David Goodis, found here, though much of the NYRB review is behind the paywall)

The pond was reminded of this insight from a burglar and career thief, courtesy of noir novelist David Goodis, while reading Chris Berg's valiant defence of Rupert Murdoch, and his denunciation of the Leveson inquiry ...

It's a truism - ever since they shipped convicts to Australia for stealing bread - that the rich can get away with looting, pillaging and ransacking, while the average punter who does a break enter and steal might get cop any number of penalties (here's a handy list of crimes and punishments in case you're thinking you're in need of a lawyer for a break and enter).

It seems that institutional corruption is all we can hope for, and any attempt to deal with it will automatically be marked down as a farce in the IPA Bergian world.

That Brooks's artless text message is now seen as a scandal illustrates how farcical the Leveson circus has become. (The farce that is the Leveson inquiry).

Never mind Leveson is jolly good entertainment, as well as a way of sorting through the festering underbelly of grime and corruption and outright criminality that can be found amongst people wearing elegant shoes and white collars, and that it's supposed to consider ways it might be better, and part of its duties involves consulting widely with politicians.

Never mind that the farce has been provided by Brooks and Cameron and Murdoch and all the lickspittle fellow travellers and power brokers who've turned up to give evidence (and along with the farce fair evidence of criminality and more than just of a 'break and enter' a mobile phone kind, what with the lies, and deception, and cover-ups and multiple untruths).

And never mind the tenuous absurdity and farcical feebleness of Berg's pronouncements:

...what was a serious inquiry has devolved into a strange sort of puritanism. Participants are being judged against ethical rules unheard of before Leveson convened. For a newspaper to back a political party is apparently a breach of these novel rules. And friendship between politician and proprietor is outrageous.

Ethical rules unheard of before Leveson convened ... Unheard of? Well maybe within the hallowed walls of the IPA, which has always had problems with ethical rules, and in particular the disclosure of its shadowy sponsors.

It verges on the hysterical that Berg should get hysterical about Brooks' 'artless text message', because it suggests he hasn't seen an hysterical Murdoch tabloid in full flight, breaking into mobile phones and running hysterical stories derived from criminal sources. As for the notion that Leveson has proposed a newspaper can't back a political party, date and time please.

As for the notion that friendship between politician and proprietor is outrageous ... oh just go read the fable of the frog and the scorpion again, and try to understand it.

The absent lord knows what Berg will make of the next phase of the Leveson inquiry when it gets down to considering proposals in relation to regulation of the media in Britain. In Berg's eyes, there's nothing wrong with any of what's gone down. It's just politicians in bed with the media, and the media in bed with politicians, and a jolly free for all, and good on Chairman Rupert for calling on the Iraq war in the expectation that oil would be US$20 a barrel ...

Politicians cultivate relationships with journalists. They have to, if they want to achieve their political and policy goals. That might seem distasteful. We all share a romantic ideal about the fourth estate being implacably at odds with the first estate. But let's not be too delicate. Democracy is about coalition-building. Journalists and editors are stakeholders. A politician that does not make friends in the media will not be a very successful politician.

By golly, David Goodis had it right about the amoral world of thieves, and politicians, and the media ... the fix is in, and nothing wrong with that.

Meanwhile, a brave soul has achieved a little turmoil in relation to the school chaplaincy issue, and good luck to him.

There's no need to bother with the media coverage if you prefer the horse's mouth, because you can head off to AustLII and read the decision there, under Ronald Williams Plaintiff and Commonwealth of Australia & Ors defendants. (and while you're there you might want to fondly remember Roadshow v iiNet, and a small defeat for the US industrial military intellectual property complex).

There is of course no meaningful protection for secularism in the constitution, as the High Court's narrow interpretation of the business of being an officer of the Commonwealth reminded the world, but at least the School Chaplaincy Programme took a temporary blow.

For a truly sickening spectacle, you have to look at the fallout amongst Labor politicians.

Yep suddenly there's the remarkable sight of Labor party heavies rushing to stand by one of John Howard's more cynical exercises in pandering and vote buying.

There's Nicola Roxon rushing to the barricades in Roxon stands behind school chaplaincy program, and there's Education Minister Peter Garrett bravely vowing to fight for what's true and just, and for John Howard's chaplaincy program (Garrett vows to continue chaplain program, may be paywall affected).

And standing proudly behind them is Julia Gillard, who promised to expand the scheme to a 1,000 extra schools and continue funding until 2014, to the applause of Campbell Newman and Liberals throughout the land ...

And the Labor party wonders why, given a choice between an erzatz party of sycophantic Howard followers or a party of genuine sycophantic Howard followers, people think they may as well vote for the genuine brand ... since as Tony Abbott pointed out, it was the coalition that implemented the program, continues to support it, and wants to see it continue.

Who knows, Garrett is so accustomed to selling out, he might yet join the Abbott team ... (and for a straighter consideration of the verdict, there's George Williams writing School chaplains ruling alters concept of federal funding).

And finally for the comedy item of the day, there's Paul Sheehan scribbling And the winner is ... creative advertising.

It turns out that Sheehan, who watched The Voice - I know, I know, but he libelled himself, it wasn't the pond that made him do it - also watched some ads for Woolworths, and became enraptured, and ecstatic, and preferred them to the program, and so decided to turn his column in to a bit of free promotion for the chain:

What has kept Woolworths from being an unpopular company is price. And competition. It does not gouge its customers. It keeps costs low. It is efficient. It makes healthy profits but not excessive profits. It employs, directly or indirectly, more than 100,000 Australians. It has enormous scale and reach, and extracts a punishing exchange from its suppliers.
Woolies, along with Coles, has such a commanding commercial position that it also has a powerful cultural position, and a powerful political position. Australians want cheap food and beverages, and generally get it. Australia has a supermarket oligopoly. The oligopoly companies want us to love them.

That's it? That's what you get from Fairfax's allegedly hard-hitting controversial chief columnist, the General Grumpy of the opinion-makers? Feeble copy a junior in Woolies' PR unit could have turned out?

How about copy like this?

Woolworths and Coles together are the largest owner of poker machines in Australia, with more than 15,000 machines.

Woolworths alone owns more poker machines than the top five Las Vegas casinos combined, taking in an estimated billion dollars a year - four hundred million dollars of which is estimated to come directly from problem gamblers.

The same trusted corporate giants who pride themselves on offering quality products to millions of Australians are simultaneously bankrolling a product that takes the food off far too many family dinner tables.

Owning such a large share of the industry puts these corporate giants in a powerful position to enact and inspire, real change. They can lead Canberra by example and minimise the harm posed by poker machines - starting with those at their own venues. (here)

And how did they get into their game? Why by buying into the pub market, and seeking to control the supply of retail liquor (Woolworths arm takes over pubs).

How about this for a pitch? Get your fresh food and get as pissed as a parrot at Woolies, and then you can piss your money against the wall, all thanks to the fresh food people ...

Will Sheehan work that up into a spot for The Voice?

Truly is there any reason for Paul Sheehan to exist?

And if you have to ask that question, how about the obvious sequel to it ... is there any reason for Fairfax to exist?

Come on down Gina, Paul's busy preparing the path for your arrival ...

(Below: speaking of short memories, amazingly a Midnight Oil turned up on this DOA album

Festival of atheists? Perhaps these poignant lyrics get more to the point:

I hear you say the truth must take a beating
The church and chaplains a camouflage for your deceiving
'Cause I know, yes, I know it's written on your soul
I know, we all make mistakes

This is not a case of blurred vision
It's a case of black holes, pocket holes, soul holes
and chaplain holes

Did I hear you say

My school chaplaincy program right or wrong
My school chaplaincy program, oh so strong
My school chaplaincy program, right or wrong

Take it away, XTC:

1 comment:

  1. I don't know why, but every time I see Peter Garrett I think of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers


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