Monday, June 18, 2012

From George Brandis to Gerard Henderson in a single day ...

(Above: the twitterati all atwitter, here).

In the feral and poisonous bearpit of federal Australian politics we know and love, the pond has come to expect examples of cretinism on a daily basis.

But could anyone exceed the exceptionally silly - yes it really has to be called uncaring and cretinous - contribution to the debate on Fairfax workers and the carbon tax than the proposal by Senator George Brandis ... which is that somehow the sackings, now and in the future, are all the fault of the tax?

Presumably the same tax is responsible for the world-wide adjustment in the newspaper game following the arrival of the intertubes. No doubt the carbon tax is responsible for the upheaval in the music industry, and the film and television industry, and in book publishing. And could, as the twitterati assert, have also played a role in the death of Rodney King ....

Maybe, or maybe not ...

Does Brandis have even the first clue how absolutely naff he must sound to anyone under 30? Assuming that anyone under 30 would give a flying fuck about what Brandis has to say? Certainly Gina Rinehart's not listening.

Amazingly but dutifully, last night PM asked whether Brandis was right - it wasn't the intertubes, it was the carbon tax wot done the Fairfax brand down - and the commentators asked to comment slithered and wobbled away from the naked absurdity, treating it as an Alice in Wonderland comedy routine beneath serious comment, or even contempt (you can catch the story here).

Mark Colvin: ...I don't know whether you heard George Brandis in the parliamentary report earlier saying that it was the carbon tax what did this.

David McKnight: Well it's extraordinary isn't it? I mean everything's the carbon tax.

By this morning, the eccentricity and the absurdity had slid off into never never land, though it does get celebrated here - George Brandis: the carbon price killed Fairfax - but really Brandis's wondrous effort should create a new party game.

The partygoer who can come up with the most remote and irrelevant impact of the carbon tax - perhaps Queensland winning the third state of origin game and Collingwood winning any game should be ruled out as unfair - will score a prize, a cup full of carbon ashes blessed by Brandis.

It should carry an inscription: In affectionate remembrance of intelligent parliamentary debate, which died in the Senate on 18th June 2012, deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, R.I.P. N.B. The body will be cremated, interred in an urn, and awarded to anyone who can sound sillier than Senator Brandis.

So far as federal parliamentary players are concerned, the pond's tip is that the prize will be won within the week, if not the day.

But look, how completely unfair and utterly wrong of Brandis to upstage Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson. Tuesday is his day for silliness.

Hendo has been the wars of late, what with Mark Latham continuing to give him a hard time at Crikey (the splendidly titled if gazumping Latham's Henderson Watch: howling at the loon, may be paywall affected), which was a sequel to Latham's Henderson Watch: False Prophet at a loss, may be paywall affected).

Amazingly, Hendo, baited, twisted and tortured, bit and wrote a letter to Crikey, thereby acknowledging and honouring the Robert Manne/Mark Latham teasing (here, under the header Henderson v Manne CDXII, paywall affected). Actually he wrote a couple, with the first under the header Latham v Henderson (paywall affected), which was incredibly lame and pitiable:

For the record, I note that — once again in Crikey — Mark Latham has attempted to imitate the writing style which I use for MWD. Since Latham is so good at inventing “facts”, perhaps he should attempt originality in his effort at satire.

The pompous prattling Prufock (or should that be Pooter?) decided to wear his trousers rolled:

As Crikey knows, I have declined an invitation to respond to Mark Latham’s many articles about me over the past year — since I did not want to appear in the same newsletter as him. I made an exception to this rule yesterday only after Latham’s particularly unprofessional and wilfully false imputation in Monday’s Crikey that I support criminal pedophilia in the Catholic Church.

Latham wrote in an earlier watch, liberal with the truth, paywall affected:

Fancy Gerard, a perennial barracker and defender of the Catholic Church (priests, altar boys and all that) confusing an Abbott and a Bishop. Look out for his expulsion from the DLP for this crime against Rome.

Oh dear, the desiccated dog with his tail caught in the whipper snipper.

Henderson is of course a valiant defender of the Catholic church, always ready to denounce evil doers like Catherine Deveny, and he routinely comes up with lines like this:

The fact is there there is no evidence that the Catholic Church allows known pedophiles to speak from its pulpits. (here)

The fact is of course is that there is excruciating evidence that the Catholic Church has allowed known pedophiles to speak from its pulpits and to go about their business within the bosom of the church, and a cursory reading into inquiries into the church in Ireland and the United States would provide more than enough evidence to a disinterested observer. Spend just a moment contemplating the cases of Father John J. Geoghan and Father Peter Hullerman ... (here).

As usual with ideologues, the taste for the broad, sweeping and indefensible claim ("no evidence") quickly founders on a nearby rock.

All the same, to think that Mark Latham took as his title "howling at the loon". It could even be taken as a tribute to what the pond does on a daily basis.

The pond almost feels like going out and ripping the bloody arm off a Sydney taxi driver. Maybe when next time in the 'Gong, eh Aunty Jack ...

But wait, look how time has flown, and the pond having such fun, so there's almost no time to note today's contribution from Gerard "prattling Prufrock" Henderson, His story, but certainly not history.

Ironically, it's Henderson taking some potshots at an easy target, Bob Katter and his epic book An Incredible Race of People.

Now it's not the pond's business to defend Katter from Henderson, who doesn't even bother to note Katter's epic misuse of the word "race" in his book's main title ... unless of course Bob was conjuring up an image of Australians as "egg and spoon" racers ...

But even with a lay down misere target, Henderson commits sins of omission, as when Katter elevates "Red" Ted Theodore to hero status, and so Henderson seeks to do "Red" Ted down:

Katter believes that if Theodore remained treasurer of a Labor government he would have introduced an F.D. Roosevelt-style New Deal in Australia marked by big spending funded by big borrowing. On the contrary, in 1931 Theodore supported the contractionary and economically responsible Premiers' Plan.

To reach this point, Henderson has to entirely overlook what Theodore got up to during the great depression, which has routinely seen "Red Ted" described as a Keynsian. It turns out if Australian history is to your taste, you'd be better off reading the wiki on Theodore than listening to Henderson, here

Theodore ... proposed ... an expansion of credit to farmers and small business, through the issue of "fiduciary notes" which could be redeemed after the Depression. His Fiduciary Notes Bill was denounced as financially unsound by orthodox economists and the banks. It was eventually defeated in the Senate, which was still controlled by the conservative opposition. Theodore has been described as a visionary proto-Keynesian for this proposal, although it cannot be known what effect his measures would have had on the Depression had the bill been passed.

And if you want more detail, head off to the ADB, here:

He (Theodore) offered ... his central reserve bank bill of April 1930, embracing the philosophy of price stabilization by monetary management which reformers like J. M. Keynes had been advocating in the 1920s when Theodore had read upon the subject.

To compound the problem, Henderson makes reference to a seriously flawed, ideologically biassed work by Amity Shlaes The Forgotten Man, a polemical assault on FDR and the New Deal, when he might just as easily have been contemplated the role of "the susso" (substenance) payments that became a feature of Australian life in the thirties ...

Taking pot-shots at Katter is like going fishing in a barrel, so it's hard to know why Henderson felt the need to distort Theodore's economic proposals, especially given "Red" Ted's suspect behaviour in relation to the Mungana Affair.

Henderson draws a smug lesson from his lecturing of Katter:

The lesson from An Incredible Race of People is to beware (hatted) protectionists selling economic snake-oil.

But you could draw another one:

The lesson from Gerard Henderson's review of An Incredible Egg and Teaspoon Race of People is to beware (unhatted) historians selling revisionist libertarian snake-oil views of the great depression in Australia.

Henderson's view through the telescope probably won't make Latham's next list of Henderson howlers, and it certainly won't win today's Brandis award for silliness, but it does remind everybody to be wary when any member of the commentariat writes a column headed His story, but certainly not history, since they'll almost certainly end up reading Henderson's story, but certainly not history ...

(Below: eek, and say no more).


  1. Great work, DP. As for the "anyone under 30", see them crammed into the bearpit of the 7.42, unable to unfold an iPad, let alone a tabloid or The Age, due to the crush of armpits.
    Yep, the next generation of voters, mostly mobile, multi-hued and with many linkages to foreign ports. It's no wonder Brandis & Roop want to corral Oz into the arms of the privileged cartel of decent, law-abiding folks. We must protect our borders! Oops, Roop, too late.
    However, if the future of the nation is in the Facebook Mums from the leafy suburbs, shuttling their precious between appointments & the better schools, Roop will be safe till he pops off. Even though they do not read a newspaper. They need only intermittent confirmation of their standing & status - a grab here, a slogan there, another episode in the lives of the rich & famous and copious Hail Marys.
    If time & space allowed, I'd mention the polio eradication campaign, the Khan Academy, Atul Gawande, Obama, Osama .... & Roop. For now, better believe the next Messiah is some little kid battling to survive shitty drinking water in PK, not some blanched turd floating in the scum on the Pond. (Hat-tip Jarvis Cocker)

  2. While reading this article on the train, my broadband wireless link dropped out between Blacktown and Penrith. Clearly Telstra are cutting back on network infrastructure so they can afford the incalculable burden of the carbon tax.

  3. Are you sure it's not George Brandis driving a tank AJ? The pond's heard he thinks mobile base stations causes dangerous radiation, and it's going to get a heckuva lot worse with the carbon tax ...

    1. Oh, dearie me, DP. Here's Mark Day looking into his crystal ball today, expecting the digitisation of arse-wipe will lead to "deconstruction of spin through expert analysis."
      Hey, what! When we have got used to the norm being promulgation of spin. Isn't that like Roop saying he'd never lean on a Prime Minister, so that when a PM appears to bend Roop's way, it couldn't have been due to Roop's special pleading?
      Someone tweeted, after the earth tremor, that it caused millions of $$$ worth of improvements to the Frankston CBD. That was probably Mark Day, proven arch cynic.


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