(Above: Rupert Murdoch blessing The Simpsons with his hair-laden presence. Now that's the way to a mogul's heart).
The pond always shamelessly goes in search of a laugh, and James Russell at the AFR tickled the funny bone with his telling of a story about Gina Rinehart in Homer Simpson and the Fairfax condundrum:
My favourite Gina Rinehart story is the one about Lachlan Murdoch and The Simpsons.It was in early 2011 and Australia’s richest person had only been a director of Ten Network Holdings for a month or so. After one board meeting she took it upon herself to explain to Murdoch that the long-running series was not suitable viewing for families. It soon became clear Rinehart did not know (or did not care) that The Simpsons is one of the most significant shows News Corp has ever produced. The cartoon also happens to be loved by Murdoch’s father, Rupert, who has played himself a couple of times, once delivering the memorable line: “I’m Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant, and this is my skybox”.
Whether or not Rinehart knows about the economic and cultural importance of The Simpsons to News Corp is not important. But the ridiculousness of her suggestion that Ten drop one of its most important programs is a reminder that the mining magnate can get a little blinkered when standing on her own particular skybox.
It's true that The Simpsons jumped the shark around the eighth season and nuked the fridge around the tenth, and is now a terminal bore, but perhaps this anecdote helps explain why Ten, prodded along by Rinehart, is in such terminal trouble, and why in her term as director, the share price has plummeted.
Who knew that it would be Rinehart's role to make Rupert Murdoch sound like a sensible billionaire tyrant with a sensa huma?
Meanwhile, her pet in total media tedium, Andrew "the Bolter" Bolt, continues to deliver ratings only a deluded director could love. Recent figures for the ratings race week 27 saw the the Bolter's report for dolts in its first run score 162k punters, for 54th place, while the encore the same day scored 125k gluttons for punishment to hit 94th position. (here).
Compare that to Fawlty Towers scoring 195k guests in the hotel you can never leave, while running for the umpteenth time, thereby giving multi-channel 7TWO a pulse, a sign of life.
Yet Rinehart clutches at damned statistics and damned distortions of reality, suggesting that while the Bolter might be doing it rough in the city, he's ever so popular in the country.
Sadly this thesis was shot down at Crikey, as you can read in Bolt is 'very popular' in the country? Statistics disagree.
It seems the Bolter gets his hide thrashed in the bush by Hot 30 Countdown, which delivers more for Southern Cross Ten by some 24k sets of eyeballs.
It seems the hicks from the sticks (go Dungowan Cowboys) find hot gyrations more appealing than the Bolter's convolutions and distortions ...
The next time a neo con starts to ramble about how Rinehart as company director would improve Fairfax's performance, ask them what shows they think rate. If they think it's David Brooks on PBS news, prepare them for an epic fail ... and if they think it's Andrew "the bolter" Bolt doing a rant, offer them shares in the Ten network.
Has Rinehart thought of replacing the Bolter with Homer or Basil? They're just as recalcitrant but they're a damn sight funnier ...
And now for something a little more serious, because Lord Downer of Baghdad has contributed some splendid advice to the Afghan people in Afghans should stay at home: Downer.
Well that's The Australian ripping off the ABC for a story, which is why it's outside the paywall, but if you want the real deal, the good oil, why not head off to Lateline for a classic example of born to rule smugness, as the pompous Lord pontificates Afghanistan 'very long way' from success.
Lord Downer really needs a good thrashing from Mike Carlton, who routinely did over the ponce with an acerbic pen, but never mind, here we go, as Lord Downer contemplates people fleeing the war zone that Afghanistan has been for a decade:
ALEXANDER DOWNER: ... I think that Afghans would be best advised to do everything they can to try to support their own country and the establishment of a decent, democratic and perhaps in the long term prosperous society there. And they need people in the Afghan National Army, they need people in the Afghan police. It's often hard to recruit them. So, yes, I think their first priority should be to their country.
Yep, that's the solution for persecuted women and children. Get them into the army, or perhaps the police force.
Lord Downer has of course shown how it's done with his splendid military service, as recorded in his wiki bio here. By golly he did his bit to keep the Vietnamese at home.
Naturally the proud valiant warrior has no time for those who think it wise to flee a war zone. If only Syrians would stay in Syria to endure a civil war ... and Iranians would stay in Iran to enjoy the pleasantries of a theocracy ... and if only Iraqis had hung around to enjoy the pleasantries of Abu Ghraib ...
As for those Jews who fled Germany rather than staying behind to make it their first priority the fixing of the country ... enough said.
Sock it to 'em Lord Downer:
Now on the other hand, some people flee. They have to flee, there are circumstances when they flee, they flee next door, don't they?, they flee into Pakistan. What happens is people smugglers go into the camps in Pakistan and they offer them deals. They offer people in those camps deals. And if you've got enough money - and most people don't have - but if you've got enough money, you can pay a people smuggler and they'll fly you to Indonesia and then they'll try and get you onto a boat and do their best to get you to Australia.
Shocking. Indulgent, selfish Afghans, fleeing for their lives, and waltzing right into the arms of people smugglers, and it's ruining everything that Lord Downer lived and worked for:
I mean, it's a trade, it's a business and I feel very strongly about this: it's a business that I helped to close down in the early 2000s.
Actually Lord Downer it's a business you helped start up in the early 2000s by running a line of nonsense about turning Afghanistan into a western democracy, lickety split, when all that resulted was an eternally dangerous war zone. But do go on:
It's a business that's been allowed to open up again. And I think it's dangerous, it's costing lives, it's destroying the integrity of our refugee program and it needs to be closed down. I don't want to see people smugglers making millions of dollars at the expense of the incompetence of Australia.
Yes, selfish Afghans, stay where you belong. Sure we promised to fix the place, and thus far have failed miserably, but don't let the incompetence of Australia cause you any worry.
Sure the largely western alliance organised by the United States has spent the past decade bombing the shit out of your country, not fixing anything, and continuing the abuse of women - an interesting statistic flung around this morning on ABC Radio National alleged that fifty per cent of Afghani women in prison are there because they left their men.
Sure invisible drones deal death from the sky, while on the ground corruption is rampant, the weak central government as devious and blatantly dirty as the warlords who run the show in the regions.
Sure the Americans who at home blather about the right to open carry weapons spend their time making it impossible for civilians to own weapons and defend themselves. Sure vast swathes of the countryside are given over to the production of drugs for consumption in the west ...
But dammit, it's all the fault of those bloody Afghanis, and what they need is some tough love. Sock it to 'em Lord Downer:
ALEXANDER DOWNER: I'm a bit tough about this though, to be honest, and I'd like to think I'm a caring and humane person, but I'm a bit tough about this. I mean, we are sending our young soldiers over to Afghanistan to help provide stability and security. The Afghans themselves, with the help of countries like ours, are trying to build security forces and at the same time there are a lot of people who apparently don't want to participate in any of that and are trying to come illegally to our country via a whole series of other countries on the way.
There's just no bloody gratitude. Here we are offering a place in the sun, under the drones, and what do the bloody Afghans do? Run away! Lord Downer knows, he's an expert:
I live near a military base and I can't help but think our young people are training to go there and their young people are coming here on boats. So, I mean, I must admit the irony of ...
Did you get that? Brave Lord Downer lives near a military base, and so is down wit all the dangers facing the young people training there.
So there you have it. Next time you want to experience the dangers of military life, do a Lord Downer. Go live near a military base.
Not a single word of apology, not a single offer of regret for the way that Australia, in consort with a bunch of fellow-travellers, has kept Afghanistan a war zone for the past decade. No assumption of responsibility for the cock-ups and the killing fields.
Instead some kind advice from Adelaide for Afghanis to join the army or the police force.
If there was a god, a kind, caring god, surely she'd send a few drones Alexander Downer's way.
So that when he tried to flee the city of churches, Victorians could tell him to fuck off to where he came from, and join the army ...
(Below: Lord Downer showing Afghanis how to put their best foot forward).