Friday, November 30, 2012

First kill someone, anyone, and let there be blood ... or at least a decent mud fight ...

(Above: the pond accepts no liability for what happens to your breakfast, lunch or dinner while contemplating this image).

So here's the thing, and it's a commonplace observation already made by a number of people.

If the Federal Opposition is in possession of evidence that proposes Julia Gillard is guilty of a criminal offence, why haven't they presented it to the police, in order that an investigation might begin immediately, with charges to be made in due course?

She'd be out on her ear in a minute.

Failing that, why didn't the Opposition launch a no-confidence motion yesterday, offering up reasons why a criminal PM shouldn't be in charge of the country, instead of offering up the bizarre spectacle of Tony Abbott caught out of his depth, with his parliamentary pants down, forced to produce a more mellow,  ambiguous, disingenuous and reduced meandering rhetoric on the subject, with the charges against Gillard diminished or retracted?

It was a pitiful, lamentable, pathetic spectacle, in so far as listening on radio might be construed a spectacle.

There's no doubt some of the mud will stick to Gillard, but it comes at a cost, and that cost is the mud sticking to the Opposition, and most notably to Julie Bishop, who apparently will talk to any anonymous john in the cause of turning a trick, and to Abbott himself, who - flushed out from behind Bishop's splendid skirt - looked like a duck in the headlights.

The pond, of course, knows everything about throwing mud. Its gourmet mud pies, cooked hard in the noon-day Tamworth sun, were much admired and sampled by friends and relatives, and the left-overs could always be used in a mud fight.

Sad to say, it was also a reliable way to a scolding and a scraping of mud off clothes, but at least it inoculated the pond against germs and the viral hysteria being spread by Abbott.

Naturally the Murdoch press is all agog, having been the chief supplier and carter of mud for the current fight, and today you can read all kinds of accounts of how the mud will stick, even if unfairly applied.

Over at the Fairfax press, it was a different story, perhaps helped along by Julia Gillard's letter to Greg Heywood (available here), explaining just how Fairfax and Mark Baker had got it wrong in their quest to join their baying hound News Corp brethren.

Suddenly today there were a flurry of floozy stories examining some of the damage done to Abbott.

Is this cardigan-wearer remorse?

Of course you can't expect any remorse amongst the Murdochians. Only blood will sate their lust.

Speaking of blood, it was left to Tony Wright at Fairfax to shriek 'Bruiser' Abbott is waltzed out of the fight on a TKO, while embarking on an extended description of Gillard v. Abbott as a cage match, and mourning the absence of blood. Strangely, in his quest for evocative cliches, Wright failed to mention a rumble in the jungle.

Yes, Australian politics is now conducted on the level not of boxing, but of the UFC, and the absence of blood is an issue, when there should be blood, there will be blood, to keep the punters and the media gored and mired to the hilt, as the gladiators go about their business.

Strangely, Abbott's quest even over-shadowed his book launch, which is perhaps just as well given the title and jutting jaw pose on the book's cover. No doubt Freudians will some day have a field day about Abbott's unholy lust for power, and the extent to which he will go to secure it.

The title of the book evokes, if we may borrow a term, a "will to power" which is vaguely disturbing, and all in the name of a "strong" Australia. Why not a good world citizen Australia, a caring Australia, an engaged Australia, an aesthetic and an artistic Australia, a climate science aware Australia, or perhaps even a gentler polity Australia?

Ah you'd forgotten that climate science was crap, as explained by Cardinal Pell, Abbott's chief scientific advisor (and occasional spiritual mentor), and by Andrew 'the Bolter' Bolt, Murdoch scientist in residence, who pleasingly had his show voted into the top twenty worst television shows of the year.

As for an answer to questions about a strong Australia, as opposed to say an intelligent and aware and meaningful and useful and caring and sharing Australia, the answer is sadly bleeding obvious, with testosterone-laden sturm und drang the preferred option, a kind of weltanschaung for the herrenvolk which evokes memories of ein volk, ein Austreich and ein fuhrer. How soon before the volk demand additional lebensraum for their strong-willed, walled fortress ways?

Oh okay, it's been awhile since the pond threw in a few bucks to the Godwin's Law swear jar. Consider it done.

But if Abbott imagines he can shift from Mr. Contemptible Mud Flinger to Dr. Positive, then surely he must have played rugby union in the forwards where brute force and a strong Australian is preferable to one who can think. (Like why am I sniffing other men's bums? Is there something gay about this? Oh okay, there's some more bucks for the politically incorrect sporting metaphor jar. But only if Tony Wright pays double).

The pond has been following Australian politics for a long time - if you count the study of history right back to the invasion days and specious arguments like terra nullius - and you actually have to go way back then to get such a naked lust and grab for power.

And for what? Well 2013 is the year of promised policies, but all we know so far is that Australia will be strong.

On the evidence to date, as played out in the public arena, the values of the Federal Opposition are not the values of the pond, since one can take only so much relentless negativity before shorting out - except of course for the sheer joy of playing in mud, and smearing it everywhere on everyone, on shorts and dresses, and rolling in it like pig in trough.

Meanwhile, there has been one genuine casualty in the whole sordid affair, and it's Julie Bishop, who revealed a lax way with words and with memory, and instead of applying the blow torch to Gillard carelessly applied it to herself.

Let's not brood about Bishop's role in "litigate until asbestos kills the lot of them" corporate shenanigans - first kill all the lawyers, the pond says, in solidity with Shakespeare - but instead just contemplate her back-tracking on accusations Gillard played a role in siphoning funds, or organising stolen cars, and her telephone tag with an apparently anonymous stranger.

It moved Bernard Keane in Bishop and her fierce battle with the English language (behind the paywall) to a whole new level of metaphor, as he contemplated Bishop's singular inability to use the English language to say what she means, or perhaps even to mean what she says:

This follows Bishop yesterday describing her meeting last Friday with the Jolly Bagman as a “chance meeting”. A “chance meeting” would suggest she bumped into Blewitt while out for a morning stroll, or at a function, but in this instance “chance meeting” extends to Bishop agreeing to go and meet Blewitt at the request of Michael Smith, Dante to Blewitt’s Virgil in this dodgy amateur production of Inferno. Or perhaps another cultural touchstone, Princess Bride, is more appropriate here: I don’t think “chance meeting” means what Bishop thinks it means.

Yes, that's what Australia needs! Forget the use of the UFC, or boxing or rugger buggers as metaphors, it's a stronger use of literary and cultural metaphors that's needed ...

Hang on, hang on, Princess Bride is a cultural touchstone? If that's a touchstone, the pond is at one with Shakespeare ... first kill all the journalists.

Will we find out anything about strong cultural metaphors by reading Abbott's latest book, which truth to tell couldn't attract the pond even when it hits the two dollar remainder stand?

There's surely someone with a strong stomach out there who can advise the pond that once again we've been dreaming ...

Oh New York, lost treasure of civilisation. Why did you forsake the pond?

(Below: is this image unfair? Of course it is, but at last the pond understands there is no fairness in Australian politics, or a gentler polity. At least there's no blood, and if you want more, just google Julie Bishop death stare).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Romping in the mud with the turkeys covered in custard ...

(Above: it's turkey time. And leave room for the custard).

To mangle Andy Warhol, shopping is more American than thinking, and so the pond now thinks of itself as a honorary American citizen, as bold and as brave as Andy himself.

Yes, the pond has stared into the heart of darkness - Black Friday and Cyber Monday - and Macy's grand parade - which featured the real Santa Claus, not some tawdry fake dressed up in gimcrack clothes in the name of commercialism.

"Look children", voices erupted around us, "it's the real Santa Claus", and so the lies begin and will continue forever. (Remember, Jesus and Tony Abbott saves).

Unless you go shopping, and so the pond went shopping, and saw a country allegedly in decline stuff itself full to its bloated obese gills at Thanksgiving. 45 million turkeys met their fate, or so the news ticker on the Babylonian empire across the road in the Macy's parade told us (that's News Corp folks), while there were a mere 42.2 million on food stamps.

Shameless bludgers who refused to take jobs, except there were no jobs, or if there were jobs, they were to act as sales drones in retail where the passive aggressive dumb insolence is guaranteed to turn shoppers to online acts of revenge.

Yep, at Wal-Mart you can work for US$8.81 an hour and get to live in abject poverty - below the nominal poverty line - and if you want to read more about the bizarre contradictions and dire contempt for workers to be found in shopping heaven, you can trot off to Who's Really to Blame for the Wal-Mart Strikes? The American Consumer.

Oh it's a fine world where there's no way to regulate the ways of the market, and people routinely get screwed.

But once you're into the swing of it, and the Australian dollar being strong, there's no place for conscience or care. It's time to get down and dirty, so the pond mortgaged the house for a couple of tickets to the Lincoln Centre and the revival of Aida, and what a satisfying performance it was (you can read a review of Liudmyla Monastyska and the gang here - no elephants, but a twitchy horse caught the eye).

What else to do with people that mix sex and politics and military matters than to entomb them alive?

Speaking of entombing clowns, the pond has returned to discover the media circus in full cry, with a full scale revival of that fine old opera, Ditch the Bitch (also known as Kill the Witch).

Apparently Dr. No now sees himself as Mr. Positive, and has left the dirty hatchet work to Julie Bishop, hiding behind her skirt while she trawls through the gutter. To mangle Oscar Wilde, while some lie in the gutter and see the stars, some are content to play in the mud and the muck and consort with fraudsters and deviants and perverts, and have most peculiar games of telephone tag with them.

Of course in the old days in Tamworth, a man who hid behind a woman's skirts would have been denounced as having a yellow streak a mile wide, or perhaps even more contemptibly, be called a cowardly, cowardly custard (though what was cowardly about custard never seemed quite clear).

Anyhoo, the pond is always in favour of men hiding behind women's skirts, but it's astonishing to catch up on a manufactured drama - until glimpses in sordid hotel rooms of Fox News reminded the pond that this sort of fabricated drama is in the DNA of the Babylonian beast, with each day given over to a fresh betrayal of the country by Democrats, climate scientists, atheists and heathens.

It seems Gillard's desire to tug the forelock to the US in the matter of Israel and Palestine - and help Israel maintain its very own walled-off ghetto - passed almost unnoticed when held up against the riveting, compelling spectacle of interviews with sleaze bags she'd fucked or associated with twenty years ago (yes, it's a particular crime to fuck the wrong man. Entomb her!)

Contempt? Yes, it's almost impossible to imagine the contempt the pond harbours for Mr. Positive, until you come across a clown like Steve Gibbons leading with gutless douchebag and narcissistic fool and bimbo, while attempting to maintain the high moral ground in relation to temperate parliamentary language (Labor MP Steve Gibbons calls Julie Bishop a bimbo then says sorry).

And apparently there have been endless titillations in the matter of Eddie Obeid in relation to corruption in New South Wales. But it's slipped off the pages.

And Geoff Dixon is at war with Alan Joyce, and perhaps is wondering why the pond flew on a 747 with an unserviceable auxiliary generator?

So many pleasures, so little time.

Steve, Steve, Tony Abbott might well be a gutless douchebag hiding behind a woman's skirt, but leave that to others, and don't sound like a twittering twit. But yes, you've won a place on the pond:

Speaking of hiding behind a woman's skirt, it turns out that this is also a trend for Cardinals in the Catholic church. After being accused of showing a sociopathic lack of empathy, Cardinal Pell has been shuffled to the sideline, and the Church has turned to its most senior woman in Australia to speak on the matter (Time for Bishops to step back).

A woman! And she had the cheek to call Pell defensive and suggest he was a bad look and part of the church's culture of silence.

All that came to the pond's mind was custard ...

Truth to tell, it all came as a profound culture shock. The pond hasn't thought of Dr. No being Mr. Positive Custard or the circus or the rest of the clowns for a couple of weeks - remember, Austria barely exists in the hive mind of the American media - and suddenly there was the whole enchilada, the whole barrel of hogwash on parade.

The pond still hasn't plucked up the courage to visit The Australian - the last it remembers of this offshoot of the Babylonian beast was flinging aside a free copy - oh how the airport is papered wall to wall with free bird cage liner - before stepping onto the plane. Give it time, give it time ...

But at least there today is the familiar sight of the rabid Generally Grumpy Paul Sheehan getting agitated about regulation.

Apparently Gina Rinehart is upset about regulation, and so naturally is her little pet squirrel (oh those squirrels are just so cute).

Anyhoo, you can read the usual nonsense in Labor patronises women and burdens business,

Apparently Sheehan, a life long journalist, has an intuitive empathy for business, an empathy that's denied unionists and such like, and then produces an exemplary piece of nonsense, wherein he moans how Australia has slipped over five years in a table recording the ease of doing business from eighth to fifteenth, and yet in 2013 is likely to bounce back to tenth! Conclusion?

The distinguishing characteristic of the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments has been a mania for control, with a spectacular increase in compliance obligations that wrap enterprises in red tape, green tape and black tape.

Uh huh. But it seems the mania for control has produced a completely perverse result. Go figure. Entomb her!

The bad news is there are now more than 8000 pages of federal legislation, with new impositions being added all the time, creating a social and economic burden with no relief in sight.

Put it another way.

The bad news is there are now more than 8000 pages of Paul Sheehan rambling on about women and regulation up on the intertubes, with new impositions on readers being added all the time, creating a social and economic and literary burden with no relief in sight. 

If only Sheehan could be sent to work in Wal-Mart for a couple of weeks to experience a decent minimum wage and the real meaning of absence of regulation, which is to give everybody and anybody  who passes in front of business a right royal screwing, shafting or fucking over (insert non-sexist, non-sexual language here if writing for Crikey).

At least the one thing that pond learned is that hubris has its own reward.

When or if Tony Abbott, Mr. Positive, becomes the leader of this country, he will have done so via the black arts and the gutter and the mud, and like Macbeth he will have to deal with the poisoned chalice and the venomous fear and loathing, and big Mal will be on the prowl at the first slip. And with any luck Mr. Positive will also experience entombment, preferably alive.

Ah well, it would be nice to say it's good to be back, but truth to tell, shopping is way better than thinking, and Fox News has such a clear understanding of the world, and Chairman Rupert is such a fine leader of a pack of feral crusading ratbags and Tony Abbott is such a wondrous Mr. Positive ...

Quick, quick, pass another glass of that HFCS (that's high-fructose corn syrup to you), and fill that kool-aid to the brim. And don't forget the cowardly custard ... it looks yummy ...

(Below: but along with the corn syrup, lordy how the Americans have looted the art world. The Met had an Andy Warhol homage exhibition celebrating the work of the fraudster - there are selected highlights here -  and while it had an insulting Koons on display, it had a couple by Hans Haacke which reminded the pond of the good old days when Haacke got up the nose of Charles Saatchi with a splendid portrait of Margaret Thatcher in the style of a Victorian (Charles and Maurice Saatchi are featured on the plates in the top right hand corner. There's an interview with Haacke here).

And here's a bonus Haacke:

Friday, November 16, 2012

The pond heads off to the best circus in the known world, perhaps even the universe ...

(And yet they voted an illegal African into the top job again? Is this country mad or what? Or is it just full of cranks, dropkicks, weirdos and losers who believe in UFOs and angels?)

The pond is off to the United States.

The pond has many friends there, and they're in need of care and comfort.


You may be astonished to learn that the pond is in intimate regular contact with President Obama, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Jeremy Bird (he was the National Field Director, don't ya know, and Jeremy, the pond would have loved to make it to the Marysville party, thanks for the invite), Jim Messina (he was the campaign manager, don't ya know), Sandra Fluke, Jen O'Malley, and so on and so forth.

Oh and a whole ragbag of fundamentalist Christians and Republicans who somehow hijacked the pond's email account. And now, somehow, unaccountably, they routinely turn up in a spam-laden messages offering exactly the same friendship messages.

This is not some sort of superficial intimacy. Each email always starts with the greeting "Friend" along with some exhortatory declaration of an emergency or urgency or outlines immediate steps that need to be taken, not limited to but including cash and voting, or explaining how the United States is imminently doomed.

Sometimes it's a little unnerving, because being greeted this way sounds a bit like Labor party aparatchiks calling you "comrade", hoping you don't notice the knife they're hiding behind their back.

And Joe Biden as a friend? The man who did a little trickery and fakery on his way to the top?

Never mind, who could argue with this one degree of separation? The pond never gets emails from China's leadership, and frankly Vladimir Putin is off the mailing list ...

But strangely, this last week or two, emails have dropped off  in frequency, urgency and intimacy, as if something momentous had happened elsewhere, and there was too much to do to allow regular contact with old friends. Who could imagine what that might be?

Not a single note from Democrat or Republican friends at all these past few days, and frankly it's a worry.

Ah well, if you have any problems in the United States, just remember the pond has powerful friends, even if they can be a little flighty and inattentive.

For starters, who else could tell you the title of the documentary Sean Hannity called the most powerful documentary he's ever seen in his life? (The Hope and the Change, hat tip to David N. Bossle, sorry the pond didn't buy a copy Dave).

But it doesn't end there. Day after day the pond is inundated with gormless robo spam sent out by gormless SEOs who want to be buddies. Friends. Comrades. Sometimes there's deep praise:

Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favourite justification seemed to be on the web the simplest factor to understand of. I say to you, I definitely get irked at the same time as people think about worries that they just do not recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as well as defined out the entire thing with no need side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks.

Or good old common sense:

When I travel I normally eat club sandwiches or I bring my own food. When you go into a new town, it's very hard to find a good place to eat. Flights to Santiago Chile cheap.

Or just straightforward helpfulness:

Qefote puyufilad rudafeg igeyes ure afapikaw eder lulecul kuhaca zudi etegasep, xa ... Where I Buy Prosolution Pills..

And always with a handy website attached. For benefit of the friend that's given them such deep insights and understanding.

As you can see, sometimes the message gets a little cryptic, like that one about George Pell in the Hamster Wheel:

But remember google translation is your friend, just like all those other friends out there on the vast, full to overflowing intertubes.

It's all become so intense that the pond has decided to take this trip to the United States, to catch up on these old friends, help out devastated Republicans, give them hope and a sense they can change, move into the future, onward, forward, and naturally also take time out to have a meal and maybe do a bit of ballin with that atheist Islamic Kenyan socialist leader whom the pond counts as a dear friend, dearer than the pond's partner who sends bugger all by way of email, and never with the caring, sharing love of the young Renegade.

And maybe stop that damn pesky robo spam.

And you believe any of this, when did you join the Sydney Anglicans and start believing the story of Adam and Eve was a sound basis for relationships?

Regular business will resume at the pond in due course.

The commentariat and the Pellists and the angry Anglicans will run wild, but then they always do. There's no stopping them, just fun watching them run off various cliffs, then get back on the wheel and do it all over again.

But there's a limit, especially when the pond heads off to the biggest circus in the world. And in the land of the free, the wacky, the zany and the weird, the good news is that Austria is almost never mentioned by anyone ...

Once more the pond deals with the decline and fall of western civilisation ...

It's a tad belated, but it's farewell to the Hamster Wheel lads - the pond insists you can be a lad at ninety - and their capacity to irritate the commentariat, especially Gerard Henderson. They even gave him a ten second twitter joke, in honour of his relentless moaning and groaning.

What an enviable skill the lads possess, and the last show wasn't half bad (though really you'd expect at least half a clue since the very late night screenings of CNNN on a Seven multi-channel reminds the world the lads have now been lads for a very long time).

In the usual way, some sketches worked and some didn't but the show had energy, and a truly inspired hatchet job on the racist attitudes embedded in A Current Affair's report on Chinese shops taking over a mall, part of a gigantic Chinese conspiracy.

Sadly even wondering about how Tracy Grimshaw sleeps at night defending this sort of tosh, isn't enough to make the pond watch this wretched commercial telly offal. Nor is there any point wondering why she looks so worn and haggard. It couldn't be guilt - she's completely shameless - but doesn't she at least have a Dorian Gray portrait in the green room?

The stupidities of the media in this country deserves this sort of send-up on a weekly basis, but instead we now enter the festive twilight zone where folly can flourish unpunished, which is why it's to be hoped that the lads return next year as compensation. This is a format which keeps on giving thanks to the eternally giving media.

Naturally Cardinal Pell got a flogging, though that was balanced by a timely flogging of ABC Breakfast and Julia Gillard.

But enough of trawling for Google image hits, because talk of Pell brings us Waleed Aly strutting his stuff at Fairfax with It's essential we think outside the confessional box, getting terribly anxious about religious freedom, and terribly agitated about rampant liberal secularism and terribly worried that any politician might tamper with the sanctity of the Catholic confessional box, and never mind that Irish legislators have already got into that pigeon box and set the pigeons flapping.

Now the sanctity of the confessional is an old routine - Hitchcock made a meal out of it in I Confess, in which a twitchy priest, Montgomery Clift, can't get himself out of a charge of murder because of what he heard from the real murderer in the confessional.

This sort of popular culture outing elevated the confessional routine into the mystical mumbo jumbo beloved by the Catholic hierarchy, but not once does Waleed Aly contemplate the real purpose of the confessional, which is to induce into the laity a profound sense of guilt and sinfulness and guilt and the moral authority of the church and guilt and the power of the church to give the guilty a ride into the pie in the sky bye and bye.

Talk to any Catholic and discover if they haven't at some time or another been made to turn up to confess during school days, and not feeling particularly guilty about anything, lied and made up a few minor things to shut up the agitated promptings of the priest, and then felt relieved that a few Hail Marys would take away the fictional sins, as well as the real sin - lying and making up sins.

Forgive me Father, I said a bad word.

That's how the church fucks with your mind, and the closest thing to an insight we get from Waleed Aly comes right at the end of his piece, when he says we don't understand. 

True, it would have been better if he'd written I don't have a clue what I'm writing about or what it means, but as a goose I'll defend to the death the right of the Catholics to be geese. That would have got closer to the mark.

Sensible protestants got rid of this nonsense generations ago. It's fun to read the Catholic Encyclopaedia on that dangerous radical, dissident, ascetic, heretic, evil scumbag Martin Luther and come across this shocking account:

On Christmas Day (1521) Carlstadt, "in civilian dress, without any vestment", ascended the pulpit, preached the "evangelical liberty" of taking Communion under two kinds, held up Confession and absolution to derision, and railed against fasting as an unscriptural imposition. He next proceeded to the altar and said Mass in German, omitting all that referred to its sacrificial character, left out the elevation of the Host, and in conclusion extended a general invitation to all to approach and receive the Lord's Supper, by individually taking the Host in their hands and drinking from the chalice.

Shocking, shameful. Guilty!

Listening to ABC Drive occasionally it occasionally occurred to the pond that Aly has a medieval mindset, and it's pleasing to have it confirmed. Maintain that pre-1521 medievalism, Aly, and the pond will celebrate your exemplary understandings ...

Meanwhile, it seems everyone has joined the Royal Commission bandwagon, and naturally Dennis 'the tie' Shanahan gives credit where credit is due. It's Tony Abbott wot done it:

The speed of the change of direction could be explained by the speed of the political momentum. Tony Abbott, as Opposition Leader, had put out a statement offering support for Gillard should she suggest a royal commission. (here, behind the paywall for your protection).

Which set Gillard running. And indeed the process does suggest Abbott would fling any institution under the bus if the process served his quest for power and his ability to pose as a protector of children no matter where the abuse might be found. A conservative Catholic opposed to abortion? Where on earth did you get that idea? Unlike, as Shanahan goes on to note, the beastly socialists protecting the unions ...

Did anyone mention politicising paedophilia?

Meanwhile, a day is as good as a year in the befuddled world of Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman.

As a reader kindly pointed out, Akker Dakker was in a rage and in complete and utter turmoil at the news of the Royal Commission, which was clearly an outrageous attempt to smear Tony Abbott as a practising Catholic (and never mind that Abbott had helped set the RC in motion by offering support), as you can read in Child abuse a tool of political abuse.

But as of yesterday, Akker Dakker had settled down in This issue is far too serious to get wrong, and now wanted to outline the real villains needing to form the basis of any inquiry - Milton Orkopoulos, Labor politician, jailed; Bob Collins, Labor senator, dead; former Tasmanian Labor MP Terry Martin, suspended sentence; and former ABC cardigan wearer Andy Muirhead, 10 month sentence, and naturally the new Heiner inquiry - involving Labor politicians - also gets a mention (Rudd, Goss could face inquiry).

Yep, unless the Royal Commission investigates Labor politicians and the cardigan wearers at the ABC, it will be nothing but a political stunt.

Or some such thing. Did anyone mention politicising paedophilia?

Meanwhile, The Australian offers up Bettina Arndt, deep in yearning for the nineteen fifties, and providing an abundance of thought bubbles happily summarised in the apocalyptic header Free sex and feminist marriage can make young men feckless. (behind the paywall in the lizard Oz, news of the apocalypse never comes free).

Words fail the pond - they always do when Arndt bobs up with yet another tirade about how women have, are or will emasculate men and ruin everything, and it seems that these days sex is so freely available to young men that it simply removes any need to have a career or make money, which explains why so many young men can be seen in homeless shelters.

They need to toughen up and prepare for marriage and responsibility and it goes without saying that marriage is a sexual straitjacket, a death sentence, a lifetime of sexual starvation. It's hard to imagine anything grimmer than a man shackled in marriage, with unrequited lust and endless suffering and unbalanced sexual appetites and so much joylessness, it sets the pond to howling at the moon ...

It turns out that Arndt is just recycling some opinions of Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, and in a cursory look at Baumeister, it turns out he was actually raised by wolves and this led to an unhappy childhood (here).

As a result, it seems everything is ruined, and you can read Baumeister outlining the ruin and damnation of men direct at the source, without the harping Arndt, in Is There Anything Good About Men? fresh from 2007.

Yep, it turns out he's been peddling these astonishing thought-provoking new ideas for years ...

At which point it seems only appropriate to turn full circle, back to the Hamster Wheel lads, and be reminded of the dangers lurking for young men, and why Australia lies in complete and utter ruin.

And if you believe any of that, why you might just be ripe for signing up for a splendid course on the decline of western civilisation, with your mentors and co-hosts Akker Dakker and Bettina Arndt. And perhaps we could throw in the spiritual guidance of Cardinal Pell as a bonus, and Waleed Aly as the resident religious philosopher ...

No complaints now, this is a genuine offer, and you get a bonus set of steak knives and forks, and the forks will come in handy for prodding and poking as you writhe in your mental hell ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speaking of men of culture, as you do ...

(Above: click to enlarge, still the best reason to subscribe to Crikey, more First Dog here and the guide a demonic Tony Abbott would use is down below).

It doesn't take much to set the pond brooding, and the recent ruckus about Tony Abbott and urban Aborigines and men of culture got the pond going.

It seems that the on-going foot in mouth disease that afflicts Abbott will never go away, not even if you tried plunge, shower or cage dipping (every farmer's handy choice here).

The man entirely lacks culture, or perhaps is infested with St. John's blight, and it's no surprise that Ken Wyatt felt the need to have a word or two (Ken Wyatt and Tony Abbott in Aboriginal authenticity rift).

It suggests that Abbott has been listening to the wrong cultural advisors, and followed along with the notion that you can only be authentically black if you live somewhere beyond the black stump, out woop woop way.

The pond is acutely aware of this riff because of its privileged and elevated position. By happenstance, the pond comes from out Tamworth way, which of course means Australian cranked up to eleven, the authentic ridgy didge real Australian you don't find growing elsewhere.

Beware fakes and imitations. Let's face it, Queenslanders aren't Australian, they're Queenslanders, and possibly even now mating with cane toads to become a race apart. And Tasmanians aren't Australian, they're aspirational Antarcticans.

And we could go through caricatures of every other state and inner urban elite, but let's just settle for the fact that you need to come from Tamworth to be authentic, and it's a dinkum fact that an urban white like Tony Abbott - a north shore white at that - doesn't have the first clue about being an Australian.

Unless of course you think this sort of idle prattle is meaningless judgemental sheep and bunny shit that says a lot about the man doing the judging and three fifths of a flying wombat about the object being judged (yes, yes, you would have said bullshit or horseshit and shown how desperately unTamworthian and unAustralian you are).

Now Abbott's had to go about the dreary business of explaining he didn't say what he said, or if he did say what he said, it wasn't what he meant, or even if he did mean it, it was mis-quoted and misconstrued.

In the pond's personal experience, there's nothing more guaranteed to rile Aboriginal people in big cities (or towns) than to suggest that somehow they're the lesser for it, and that you can only be truly black if you've yet to sight a white fella.

The ratbags at Stormfront, the white pride fascist front of Hitler lovers - Holocaust, what Holocaust? - took this latest mis-spoke as a sign that deep down Abbott was on the right black-bashing track. With friends like these, Abbott needs to take a look over his shoulder.

No doubt you've already added your thoughts to the twitter meme Things More Popular Than Abbott, but sorry, you can't use a colonoscopy, wearing socks with sandals, the carbon tax, Ten breakfast, the Catholic church, Genghis Khan and the Mongol horde, the Spanish inquisition, or urban Aborigines. It's already hit the mainstream media at the AFR, Twitter trouble for Abbott, Gillard -  and there's an equal opportunity site for Julia Gillard too.

But it's the Abbott who's done this stumble, and it led Bernard Keane to brood too:

... when Abbott is being Abbott, as he was yesterday, and saying ridiculous things that suggested Ken Wyatt somehow isn’t the real deal when it comes to Aboriginal politicians — core and non-core Aboriginal MPs, perhaps? — he starts to seem only one major gaffe away from becoming a figure of ridicule whom even News Ltd will start undermining. (here, inside the paywall)

What's even more amazing, he didn't do it to a greenie or to a unionist or a commie redheaded pervert atheist socialist, but to one of his own.

Sheesh ... he's like a dunny door flapping in a gale, or if you will, he's banging on like a dunny door in a cyclone (there, get some of that Tamworth class into you, you'll feel like a real Australian in no time at all).

As with fundamentalist Republicans in the mis-steps and the mis-quotes and the words - words that have meaning and are to be treasured for the concepts and the meanings they convey - you'll find the man and it isn't a pretty picture.

Speaking of which, is there any more bizarre, weird or anomalous sight than generally grumpy Paul "magic water and frothing stallions" Sheehan attempting to give schoolies an insight into life and a moral compass in Point schoolies to moral compass.

Right from the get go he sounds like a git. In his usual way it's a column borrowed and confected from another, a Michael Parker, who's published a book Ethics 101. And in the lazy Sheehan way, Sheehan gets a column from it by quoting from it extensively:

''If you are speaking more than your children, you are speaking too much. A conversation is not an opportunity for a lecture.''

Naturally Sheehan goes on to speak too much, way more than his readers, and instead of a conversation, delivers his usual lecture, which concludes that religious instruction and ethics were placed in opposition because the NSW Labor government, in one of its few sensible choices, allowed the teaching of ethics as an alternative to religious indoctrination and missionary work in public schools.

Anyhoo, it turns out that the entire piece is just a plug for Parker's book, and for a talk Parker and Sheehan will give at a gallery.

And there's your first ethics lesson for the day teens. Be shameless, and never turn down a free plug. And if it turns out to be magic water, take a really deep sip.

What else? Well in the same vein you could celebrate Sol Trujillo along with Elizbeth Knight in History may judge Trujillo more kindly, at least if you're the sort of history that celebrates looting and pillaging the Australian taxpayer.

Or perhaps you could disappear up your own exclusive crusading fundament, as The Australian is currently doing:
Screen cap, no links, you can find your own way to the trough.

Just remember that the rag is being run by a man who pursued Manning Clark for a covert Order of Lenin, a story which quickly fell apart under the weight of its own idiocy. 

Manning Clark was a strange man with a Dostoyevskian view of history, but up against Chris Mitchell and his minions, he appeared lucid and coherent and sane.

No such luck for Gillard, for the hacks will keep supping at this trough right up to the next election, and every denial or disremembering or doubt is front page grist for the crusading mill, and fruit for fresh charges and further allegations, which might then be doubted. And so on and on and on.

There's a country to be run and policy to be reported on? Did you hear how Manning Clark was a Soviet agent of influence?

Is there no respite?

Well today is Barnaby Joyce day, as only lucky Canberrans know, and here he is charting the prospects for the current Royal Commission:

At its worst the inquiry will turn into a partisan witch-hunt or, as equally noxious, an amorphous politically correct snow job. (here)

Oh he sees a best too, but doesn't it show he's a cunning Tamworth lad, always ready to make sure the downside is covered and prepare the turf for the blame game to follow. He got it from Hanrahan. We'll all be rooned, whether by fire or flood, don't ya know.

A genuine Australian politician.

Lastly an honourable mention to Chris Berg, a sublime modern French post-modernist relativist, who sees truth nowhere. Relax, he's from the Institute of Public Affairs, and he's here to guide you through the fog of unknowing in The art of telling the truth.

As the IPA is expert in the art of telling lies for its clients, he knows whereof he speaks ... and so the pond looks forward to the sequel The art of telling the lies ....

Because there are no knowable facts, just arguments and caveats and pure French mise-en-scène on which only specialists are able to rule. Call the IPA for a ruling today ...

And remember if you need a specialist expert to unpack a complicated issue, make sure you hire an unpacker from out west way. That's where you'll find people of culture ...

And how can you tell? Well happily the Bolter has made available his chart to First Dog. So handy in these difficult times ...

(Below: oh yes, oh yes, First Dog)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's all the fault of the ABC and Fairfax and the BBC, or if you will, humourless tossers like Gerard Henderson, Miranda the Devine and Janet Albrechtsen ...

(Above: Steve Bell setting a demented Anglican tone for proceedings which happen to be Catholic. Click to enlarge).

Long before the dust has settled, the calls for bowls of water have begun, and the conservative commentariat have begun bathing the feet of Cardinal Pell and the Catholic church.

No doubt the washing of hands is also an important part of the ancient humble ritual.

It is, of course, all the fault of the media, or more particularly, the ABC. Yep, you've guessed it, just when you thought prattling Polonius had disappeared, Gerard Henderson turns up today to offer the classic defence on Pell, in Eyes are averted to indigenous abuse:

Pell was interviewed by Geoff Thompson for the Four Corners ''Unholy Silence'' program which aired in July. The Cardinal made it emphatically clear that, as Archbishop of Sydney, he is only responsible for his own diocese and reports to the Vatican. Four Corners not only failed to run Pell's comment. More seriously, it edited the extended interview (which is on the ABC's website) and deleted the Cardinal's comment about the extent of his authority. This reeks of censorship but the decision has been supported by ABC managing director Mark Scott. 

Yep, when the going gets tough, it's the ABC and Mark Scott wot done it, along with Henderson's continuing obsession to blame them for everything that's wrong in the known universe.

But the problem with Pell and the extent of his authority is that he can't resist shooting off his mouth on any subject, from climate science to child abuse to same sex-marriage, and sounding just like the managing director of the Australian Catholic church. If he showed fewer signs of megalomania, he'd surely attract less media attention.

Limiting and diversifying authority within the church - a many-headed Hydra syndrome - has had its immense benefits in denying responsibility and liability. Take a look at how Cardinal Pell and the Archdiocese of Sydney were given a free pass in Ellis v Pell, here in summarised form.

Instead of attacking the media, might it not might be better to take a look at the structure of the church and the way it seeks to deflect responsibility and thwart those who've suffered at the hands of its agents? No, of course not:

The failure to understand the structure of the Catholic Church has led to confusion.

Actually it's been any number of attempts to sue the Church and its agents which has led to confusion, but let's get back to blaming the media:

In recent days there has been criticism of Pell on such programs as Lateline, Mornings with Linda Mottram, Radio National Breakfast and Paul Murray Live where suggestions have been made that he should resign or be sacked because of mishandling of sexual assaults in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. The journalists involved should be aware that Pell has nothing to do with, and is not responsible for, the Catholic Church in the Hunter region or anywhere else outside the Sydney archdiocese. He is the most senior Catholic in Australia but he is not managing director of the Australian Catholic Church. 

Which is very handy for him and the church when they call for that ritual bowl of water. You see nobody is responsible for anything, they all report to a mysterious foreign state, and suddenly in any other circumstance you'd be hearing Janet Albrechtsen muttering about black helicopters and a UN conspiracy.

This is all very good so far as it goes, but we need some juicy red herrings to distract from the issues at hand. How about Jimmy Saville? There's a good chance to kick the BBC, which is responsible for everything wrong in the universe except when it's the ABC, and vice versa. And then there's Peter Roebuck:

... when Roebuck died last year he was lauded by journalists - particularly at Fairfax and the ABC. Even yesterday, sections of the media remembered the first anniversary of Roebuck's death but conveniently forgot that he was an offender.

Sections of the media? Would that be Gideon Haigh in The Australian (paywall blocked to spare your Hendersonian sensitivities) mentioning how Roebuck was mentor to a South African batsman, Ed Cowan, who lifted his eyes to heaven while scoring a hundred?

The Murdoch press? Funny how Henderson dare not speak the name ...

Yet if you want an account of Peter Roebuck's tortured life, his obsession with caning other men, especially young ones, his convictions for assault, and the events leading up to his death, you might well find yourself resorting to Adam Shand's Sex, beatings, blackmail: the riddle over Roebuck ... in the Fairfax press.

You might not emerge understanding Roebuck any better, but at least you'll understand that there's more to life than Henderson's superficial, truly stupid phobias about the ABC and Fairfax.

Not to worry, now we need the ultimate ace, the joker in the pack.

How about a Helen Lovejoy cry, won't someone think of the indigenous children?

The good news is that the proposed royal commission will cover all instances of child abuse and not just crimes committed by Catholic clergy. Tragically, it is not likely to stop attacks on young Aboriginal boys and girls.

Indeed. But perhaps it might explore the issue, just as it might explore the issue of abuse in secular and religious institutions, including the Catholic church, and while it might not stop all attacks, it might hone an awareness that there are risks involved for offenders. The inquiry into black deaths in custody didn't stop gruesome deaths in custody, but at least there's more awareness, an awareness of the Catholic church and pedophilia that now seems to be penetrating the bulwarks of even conservative Catholic members of the commentariat.

Will it stop the likes of Henderson  defending Pell and the Catholic church and the Melbourne Response by dragging every stray cat they can find out of the bag? Not likely.

You see, poor hapless Cardinal Pell is a media target because he's a conservative and speaks out.

So here's a suggestion from the pond. Get him to shut up about climate science and all the blather he offers up in the Sunday Terror on a weekly basis, let him take a discreet backward step and lower his profile, and stop attracting the attention of the media.

What's that you say? He's the chief spokesperson for the Catholic church in Australia, and frequently carries on like he's the institution's managing director? Never mind ...

But we know we're on a roll, because over at the Daily Terror, Miranda the Devine is in fine form, defending Pell, and extolling him to the sky, in Today's abuse victims must be kept in focus.

Her way of undermining proceedings before they get underway is to defend the wondrous Pell while establishing FUD:

This police officer is worried that another inquiry into abuse that occurred decades ago will give a cover to paedophiles operating today because it “will distract the authorities, create hysteria, and nobble juries’ objectivity”. 
 Let us hope that’s wrong.

No, let's hope that FUD works its magic.

Waiter, another bowl of water please. There needs to be a ritual washing of the hands.

Which just leaves time to celebrate the publication of Janet Albrechtsen's plea for people to lighten up in Lemon-lipped new puritans could lighten up a little (behind the paywall because you have no sense of humour).

She starts off with a joke:

Did you hear the joke about the earnest politician who proposed banning all jokes whether told publicly or privately about matters deemed untouchable by a committee of self-appointed moral guardians? Of course, you didn't.

Turns out we didn't hear it because it's not a joke. It's not fucking funny. So Albrechtsen starts off her column making a plea for comedy and humour by sounding like a lemon-lipped new puritan who can't even start her column with a fucking half-way decent joke.

Albrechtsen is indignant that a few agitators got upset about Jeffrey Phillips SC making a joke about the Benedictines being the traditional guardians of St. John's. No doubt she's also agitated about people who find talk of chaff bags and dead dads a little blue, but here's the thing that confirms Albrechtsen is just a lemon-lipped puritan who needs to lighten up a little:

Alas, rational, cool-headed analysis is anathema to the New Puritans. And just as the 17th century Puritans were not always consistent in their "dour prudery", our New Puritans are also inconsistent when it comes to taking offence. 
 For example, in the same edition of The Sun-Herald it was entirely acceptable for the resident comic, Peter FitzSimons, to mock Mitt Romney for his Mormon beliefs. Equally, it's called entertainment when the ABC's Chaser boys poke fun at the Archbishop of Sydney and the Catholic Church as they did recently on The Hamster Wheel.

Can't you just see the pursing of the lips?

Making a joke about Mormons and the Catholic church isn't very funny, not funny at all, especially when it's done by boys. Eek, she called the lads boys, quick call the Gerard Henderson thought police, doesn't she realise they have an average age of 37?

It is of course just a chance to slag off Gillard and her government, as if they should turn themselves into a combo of Adam Saunders, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Albrechtsen cites Bill Leak:

The Australian's brilliant artist is referring, of course, to the humourless girl-power government of Julia Gillard. While lack of humour infects both sides of politics, the Labor girls in particular need to loosen their pigtails.

Loosen their pigtails? Is that the best boom tish she's got? Not even up there with handbag hit squad?

Oops, sorry, oh that's a thigh slapper that is, that's a killer, look at them, rolling about in the aisles with the Jaffas.

So will the doctor follow her own prescription?

Where is the sharp wit and genuine civility of former politicians such as Fred Daly, who said he had never made an enemy he could not be friends with? In Canberra today, there are far too few Fred Dalys and far too many Tanya Pliberseks. Beyond Canberra too, many are enforcing the New Puritanism in preposterous circumstances. And ironically, those who speak most about the need for more modern-day civility are the same people discouraging the best solution. We could all laugh a little more. Especially at ourselves.

Not really. Clearly she finds jokes about religion tiresome.

And Albrechtsen has never shown an ability to laugh at herself. Her performances on Q&A have generally inclined to the stilted and the waspish, when not being positively puckered-up lemonish, and her columns are generally vituperative, which has why the pond has come to love her as this age's very own Dame Slap, lurking fearsomely at the top of the Faraway Tree.

Her columns are the very last place to go for a laugh - try Stewart or Colbert or the Hamster Wheel lads (yes they're lads, it's Albrechtsen official) - except when she's being unconsciously funny, waxing and waning between righteous indignation and silly asides about pigtails.

It's not quite the same as a good joke about the UN taking over the world and forming a world government in the guise of climate science, but give her time and a few hours with Lord Monckton, and she'll be back in top form, lightening the world with her special inadvertent comedy stylings ...

(Below: poor Bill Leak, dropped the plot he has. Maybe he should start getting a few clues from Steve Bell, more here).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Persecution complexes all round ...

(Above: Guy Body in the New Zealand Herald in 2009. Who would have guessed they felt that way in New Zealand?)


That's the only bogan word that will serve the pond at the news that the Ten network has decided to end its breakfast program and dispense with the services of Paul Henry.

Never watched it and now deprived of the choice of not watching it. This was being in it for the long haul?

Oh sure mUmBRELLA provided the six messiest moments from the show, here, but they were too raw and too indigestible. Has anybody got highlights of the highlights?

So what are the Hamster Wheel lads going to do now that the source of their very best jokes has departed the scene?

In other news, it seems that the ABC's man in charge, Mark Scott, will be in London this weekend. Now there's some handy timing. Devotees of Australian drama will recall that back in October the ABC drama The Slap was nominated for an Emmy, and it was one of the onerous burdens of being the man in charge that saw Scott head off to New York to collect the gong. But this time he's in London.

Happily this timing is almost certain to have nothing to do with the BBC's current woes ... but remember where you read it, just in case.

And if that's not enough, the punters of New South Wales are currently being treated to a parade of charlatans, rogues, scoundrels, ne'er do wells, cheats, frauds, liars and miscreants, all of whom seem to have in common a deep desire to service the workers of the state via the NSW Labor party. (ICAC told of Obeid's $100m deal, forced video at end of link).

But the most shocking and terrifying thing of all?

There's no column from that pompous prattling Prufrock Gerard Henderson in the Fairfax rag this morning! The tides have stopped flowing, the moon in the pond's life has gone.

Now there might be an explanation in the printed edition - Mr. Henderson is unwell, Mr. Henderson preferred to howl at the moon than file his copy, and so on and so forth - but it means that instead Fairfax readers have the choice of reading big Mal on the economic giants being run out of Washington and Beijing, and former Chairman Rudd turning up for yet another soapbox display, also on China.


It seems Henderson watchers will have to be content with the last edition of the Media Watch Dog, issue no 162, 9th November 2012.

A quick read will convince anyone objective bystander that the prattling Prufrock has been driven barking mad by his persecutors, by the Hamster Wheel lads (how he hates them called lads, how right it is - even if actually wrong - to call them lads), and by Mark Latham, Stephen Koukoulas,  the ABC, and Media Watch and Four Corners and the whole damn cabal who refuse to bow down to the mighty wisdom of Prufrock.

It's a little corner of the intertubes where Hendo lets down his hair, but really he's fighting so many wars on so many fronts, is it a wonder that he makes slips, errors and seems to have developed a massive persecution complex?

People at Fairfax read his dull torpid meanderings and think they've come into contact with desiccated coconut, but in the Media Watch Dog world, Hendo loves to hand out awards like Narcissistic Fool of the Week.

That's right, it's a kind of schizophrenia. During the day Hendo pretends to be a dullard Dr. Jekyll, but at night he turns into a rampaging Mr. Hyde, smoting mightily all around him with his fine Edwardian cane.

The whole thing reaches an epic of indignation when Henderson carries on about how long Four Corners might have spent interviewing Greg Sheridan. It's truly weird, and there's a plethora of "with the greatest of respect of course" ironic insertions which are quite Dickensian.

Henderson seems to think it's his duty to take up the burden of protesting to the ABC about the treatment by the ABC of Cardinal Pell and Greg Sheridan, as if they were incapable of doing it themselves.

It's like watching a mind unravel in slow motion, and it's good Hendo took time off from today's column. He needs a long, long holiday, and some professional help with the persecution complex ...

The pond says this with the greatest respect, of course. Of course (oops, the disease is catching).

Will Hendo head into a flying rage after reading David Penberthy's piece boxing on at The Punch, If it's arrogance you want, go to Pell.

Does Penbo work at the ABC? No?  Well there you go, pass on in peace Penbo.

And just below Penbo, the pond couldn't but help noticing that Kevin Andrews, member of the Catholic Pontifical Council for the Laity, (or so his wiki is saying here), is once again sounding alarums about the decline in population, and the need for more breeding, and get fucking people, there's work to be done, but of course only fucking for a purpose and never for indulgent pleasure. (One for mum, one  for dad & one for our ageing population).

The last time the pond checked in to the world population clock, it was at the 7.051 billion mark, and would hit 7.100 billion by January. With a bit of luck the world might only reach between 8 and 10.5 billion, the currently anticipated mean being 9.2 billion, by 2050.

Yet in a world already under stress, all Andrews has to offer is this kind of blather, typical of a Catholic church fearful that its Ponzi scheme for new recruits might be suffering a setback:

As the population ages, there are fewer workers and the numbers of dependent aged grows, there is a drain on resources. Japan is already experiencing the impact, and China will in the coming two decades, as it enters long-term depopulation. 
Australia ignores these trends at its peril.

Uh huh. And what will the world be like with 9.2 billion people, all aspiring to middle class American lifestyles?

Andrews ignores this question at his peril, but as the piece really is just a mindless excuse to defend the Baby Bonus, and a chance to bash Labor, don't expect anything by way of insight.

The thought of Kevin Andrews with his hands back on the levers of government - he truly is a bear with very little brain - is almost as frightening as imagining the NSW Labor party trying to run the state.

Oh dear, there it goes again, the Hendo persecution complex.

And so to the best line of the week:

In one of the true ironies of modern political campaigning, a relentlessly negative and obsessive campaign is being run to portray an opponent as relentlessly negative and obsessive.

Yes, and never mind that said opponent was relentlessly negative and obsessive, and praised for it, at least until recent times when it began to fall on barren soil (that breeding problem again). So you could do a hasty re-write:

In one of the true ironies of modern political campaigning, a relentlessly negative and obsessive campaign is being run to portray an opponent as relentlessly negative and obsessive, when all the opponent did was mount a relentlessly negative and obsessive campaign about that witch, Bob Brown's bitch, the carbon tax, the NBN, yadda yadda and so on ...

Have you guessed where we are yet? Here's another clue:

Yet Abbott's character hasn't changed - he's no more sexist or old-fashioned than he was in December 2009 and he has not unveiled any controversial policies of late. Indeed, he's hardly unveiled any policy at all.

Yep, it's that ponce Dennis Shanahan trying to find good news for Tony Abbott after the latest Newspoll found him at an all-time low, in Labor's negativity pays off in the short run (behind the paywall so you don't have to worry or care).

Of course the header could equally have been Tony Abbott's negativity paid off in the short run, but is now hard to sustain in the long run, but what the pond finds truly admirable is Shanahan's defence of Abbott as a sexist, old-fashioned dinosaur who hasn't changed at all since December 2009, and hasn't the wit or the nouse to produce any policies of late, not  even additions to his extensive suite of controversial ones. Which is to oppose everything in sight.

What are you against Tony? What have you got?

Not to worry, with abusive friends like that, who needs enemies.

Could it be that Shanahan is trying an inside run, to take the title of "best persecution complex" from Gerard Henderson?

Watch out Hendo, everybody's out to get you ...

And so to a Tuesday reading, since Hendo isn't there to be read:

'But, what's the matter--are you ill?' said Nicholas, suddenly breaking off, as his companion, after throwing himself into a variety of uncouth attitudes, thrust his hands under the stool, and cracked his finger-joints as if he were snapping all the bones in his hands. 
Newman Noggs made no reply, but went on shrugging his shoulders and cracking his finger-joints; smiling horribly all the time, and looking steadfastly at nothing, out of the tops of his eyes, in a most ghastly manner. 
At first, Nicholas thought the mysterious man was in a fit, but, on further consideration, decided that he was in liquor, under which circumstances he deemed it prudent to make off at once. He looked back when he had got the street-door open. Newman Noggs was still indulging in the same extraordinary gestures, and the cracking of his fingers sounded louder that ever. (Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, chapter four)

(Below: somehow this felt right for Hendo).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Leadership? Does that involve frothing stallions?

(Above: the pond sets the tone for today's Paul Sheehan piece).

Shamelessness, a capacity for immediate forgetfulness, indifference to contradictions, nay a Walt Whitman-esque capacity to embrace contradiction, the hide of an elephant, the baleful glare of a rhino, and a willingness to throw stones at glass windows while lurking inside a vast modernist emporium constructed out of glass ...

These are all part of the essential armour of the hide-bound commentariat, and what better example of it than Paul Sheehan.

After scribbling a piece like Why Seven needs this beauty with the beasts, the pond would have gone into hiding for weeks, perhaps months. The slobbering and the salivating over Francesca Cumani was amazing, as was Sheehan's desire to replicate her horse-riding experience:

I can only imagine the force of being on a frothing stallion with its ears back. 

The pond can only imagine the rich fantasy life of generally grumpy Sheehan, but here's where it gets rich, for today, Sheehan has taken it upon himself to write, at third hand, about the Paula Broadwell David Petraeus affair, in the mysteriously headed Mutual love of leadership cost Petraeus ultimate prize. (forced video at end of link to make you suffer)

To get things going, Sheehan starts this way:

After Paula Broadwell co-wrote a biography of the most feted American general of the past 50 years, David Petraeus, a telling sentence appeared in her author's profile: ''She spent much of the past year in Afghanistan as an embedded author''. 

Boom tish, or tish boom, if you will, from the man who wrote about frothing stallion with ears back less than a week ago. And Sheehan persists with the boom tish routine, as if he's just come from a frat party at St. John's:

She also wrote about her ''passion for leadership''. 

It's about as funny as being slapped about the face with a wet fish, and way less stimulating than having hot blood surge as the beast beneath gallops towards the fence, always ready to service the needs of its rider.

Or some such thing, because Sheehan, who routinely mistakes a hammer for a feather keeps going:

In the biography's prologue she wrote: ''I took full advantage of his open-door policy …'' 

What else is there, after this opener? It turns out bugger all. There's a quick survey of the affair, with poor hapless Petraeus contrite, the wicked witch Broadwell completely at fault, and a tour of Dwight Eisenhower's affair during the war years.

And then Sheehan concludes by drawing a completely unsubstantiated implication that Broadwell's affair with Petraeus might also make her opposition to the Pentagon's "combat exclusion policy" a collateral casualty.

There are many reasons that the Pentagon's current combat exclusion policy might survive, but Broadwell fucking Petraeus (or vice versa if you will), isn't one of them, unless you happen to think in the same dumb way as Sheehan. The pond thinks of it as frothing stallion syndrome.

There are dozens of investigative pieces about Broadwell and Pretraeus pouring out of the US press at the moment (here's the New York Times backgrounding Broadwell for example), all a click of a mouse away, and it only takes those "pauses" at the head of the Sheehan piece to realise you'd be better off reading all of them, or none of them, and you'd still be better informed than reading the frothing stallions man.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Pell has turned to the sectarian ruse and to his own version of the glass house to fend off the calls for a Royal Commission, but it seems even the fawning Murdoch press is on the turn. Pell is deeply into denial, according to the lizard Oz's report on his Sunday mass turnout, in Pell shuns commission, saying apology was enough (behind the paywall to save you pain):

"We have to answer up for what we've done but any suggestion that we are the only culprit or only community producing culprits is entirely misleading," the Archbishop of Sydney told the congregation.

The pond knows of absolutely no one who has contended that the Catholic church is the only culprit or the only community producing culprits, but the pond is aware of plenty who propose that institutions with the care of children, such as the Catholic church, have a special burden and responsibility.

But that doesn't suit the straw man argument, or the need to limit the ongoing damage:

He said it was "inappropriate" to discuss the matter further during mass, but told The Australian outside the cathedral of his doubts about whom the royal commission would serve. "For whom? For who? If people say there are thousands of cases like that, they (victims) got that (justice) when we gave them due procedure and apologised," he said.

Due procedure and an apology? That's it? If Pell had half a clue, the church under his leadership would be pro-active, out and about, being shown to do things, to cleanse matters that have been dragging on for decades. Instead it's the old "haul up the drawbridge, fill the moat with verbiage, and defend the castle walls" routine, and that stance is getting the church deeper into the swamp.

If the head of the BBC can fall on his sword for not knowing what a program was up to, it's about time Pell contemplated falling on his for defending the indefensible, and maintaining the rage against a Royal Commission ...

Meanwhile, the Xmas comedy season is coming early, as usual, and what to do about a second Sydney airport is the "boom tish" routine of the day.

It seems Canberra might not be the ideal location, due to problems with the very fast bus and the even faster tricycle connections under study, and so Mike Baird and the Daily Terror have come out in support of a fourth and a fifth runaway in Botany Bay. You can find Baird's insights under NSW Treasurer Mike Baird backs more runways, no new airport for Sydney.

Showing absolutely no brains, the Terror even penned an editorial under the header A Sydney Airport expansion is a no-brainer, which is true if you have no brains left after a brain explosion. The best line in the piece?

... where cost and common sense are concerned a Sydney Airport expansion is a no-brainer. At just over $5 billion it is about half the cost of building a new airport, largely because much of the transport and associated infrastructure is already in place.

Which tells you only one thing. Chairman Rupert has cracked down so hard on newspaper expenses that even editors aren't allowed to catch taxis to the airport, and no one can afford the cost of parking there, and so no one has ever tried to travel to or from the domestic or international branches of the airport during peak hour.

What's slipped under the radar is that yet another plan for Sydney airport's revitalisation has been stymied (this time by Virgin, on the basis that any airline located at the international airport would suffer  serious competitive transport disadvantages in relation to domestic travellers).

You can read about the headline news, as old as September, in Sydney Airport scraps plans for alliance-based mega-terminals.

Sydney aiport spun a rich vein of fantasy out of this until reality intervened, and it was back to the drawing board.

The same can be said for Baird's bout of delusional pie in the sky building, designed to provide a sop to the grand alliance-based mega-terminal idea.

If it had been perverse ploy to bring Badgery's Creek back on to the table, it might have some merit, but at best it's a stop gap, interim proposal for a grander vision.

So it's NSW politics, so what's new?

Ironically the proposal includes the notion of shutting down or reducing the role of the third runway, the flight path for which runs directly over the pond, but truth to tell, aircraft noise is always balanced by handy access to the airport, and sending up inner west dwellers as greenies is just another Murdoch Xmas routine.

The real problem would come when the seams burst and the curfew is scrapped, a direction the likes Max Wilton-Moore would love to take (he already wants an increase in the landing cap).

Sydney airport is never going to go away. But Sydney needs a second airport because an even bigger problem is the productivity constraints, and the sheer waste of endlessly circling planes, and endlessly circling traffic on the ground, as recently outlined by Lenore Taylor in Airport debacle stuck in eternal holding pattern.

Badgery's Creek is the obvious solution but no one will grasp the nettle, and so left field proposals will keep coming ... and all we've learned today is that Mike Baird is yet another NSW politician who doesn't have a clue. But then he's the Treasurer for a government which carelessly mislaid the odd billion in its budget, so why are you surprised?

O'Farrell was delusional when he had the Canberra spasm, and yet there's no sign he's willing to step out of his delusional world.

He's as helpless and as hapless as George Pell when he's asked by the optimistic to show some leadership ... and that's enough jibber jabber about leadership for the day ...

(Below: so now there's only one other question to resolve. Did Mike Baird really stand in front of this grand new plan, or is it a Daily Terror photoshopped fit-up? Either way, it'll make for fine comedy down the track, say in a year, when we check in on progress on the solution to Sydney's airport woes).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A bad week for the Pellists ... and the Sydney Anglicans gird their loins for a DADA fight with the new Archbishop of Canterbury ...

(Above: a lolcat or a companion for witches requiring a DADA Defence Against the Dark Arts? The pond merely reports and you decide).

Even by the Pellists' usual bad standards, it's been a bad week for the Pellists.

The Fairfax media, in best tabloid style, have got hold of the St. John's Sydney University college saga by the scruff of its fresher neck, and there's no way they're letting go.

Yesterday the rag was reporting that the fuzz had been called in against the junk (College scandal: police move in), and there were Cracks in the sandstone, and Bazza and Pell were fighting the fire as best they could.

Naturally this being Sun-Herald tabloid day, the paper stayed at the trough with St. John's patron in racial outrage, and a little side-bar Students' social whirl costly, explaining how $18,500 of student money had been spent on cleaning and repair after booze-fuelled events, with the kitty for carousing ending in deficit! And it was exclusive!

Take that Murdoch. Not so exclusive now hey ...

Now it might seem like this is just a jolly hockey sticks story of entitled Sydney lads and their upper-crust, toffy, foolish, insensitive parents, but after all, it's the college that sired - or perhaps spawned - the likes of Tony Abbott and jolly Joe Hockey, and as everyone knows this sort of fragging and fagging and abuse and power-mongering and school bullying (nee traditional family and educational way of life) was all the go way back when.

Do the current misfits reveal anything we can learn about past misfits?

Who knows, but last week Cardinal Pell was scribbling furiously for the Sunday Terror, warning about bad Catholics, and penned these wise words:

What is in the cat comes out in the kitten ...

Indeed, and you'd have to think that what was instilled in the kitten has to come out in the cat. And that pesky church cat has produced more than a few kittens too.

Pell also tried the old trick of shooting the messenger:

... the anti-religious pressures today, especially in the media and entertainment, are formidably strong.

As opposed to the anti-religious practices in the Catholic church? Yep:

In other words, if the parents have little idea about faith and moral principles, then their children will be carried further away by the culture. 

Get your moral principles here, going cheap at colleges and sundry inquiries.

That's moral principles quite different to the ones afflicting genteel souls who recoil from the sight of privileged tossers bullying others, as if giving Billy Bunter a hard time was still all the go.

No wonder Pell was appalled by this tale:

Recently a brother priest recounted a conversation he had with a couple who came along for a Catholic marriage. "Where are you religiously", he asked. "What about your relationship with God?" It is terrific, was the answer. They explained that they never prayed or went to Mass and claimed emphatically that they were not worried by any guilt about sins or wrong doing.

No guilt, no wringing of hands, no suffering, no gloom? Just marriage and enjoying a shared life?

Shocking, flabbergasting, profoundly confused and confusing. Those jokers should learn from Pell, who abased himself exclusively to the readership of The Australian yesterday:

There you go, that's how it's done. Guilt, abasement, deep shame, sinfulness. Confess, and maybe you can go and do a little more sinning, at least if the price and a church peddling indulgences is nearby (For Catholics, a Door to Absolution Is Reopened).

But the tales of vomit and torment and rampant sexuality and defiance and rebellion and Q.C.s at ten paces was only the beginning.

Then there was the whistle-blowing copper who was as mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore, and dumped a bucket on the devious ways of the church in relation to pedophilia and its victims, and that sent the NSW government off to arrange an inquiry, trying desperately to limit its impact - never hold an inquiry if you don't know the answer Premier - but which will now allow the affair to keep running and running in N.S.W. (Calls to widen clergy inquiry across state). Comrades Bill Shorten and jolly Joe also sounded nervous about an actual Royal Commission that might turn up all sorts of misdeeds.

You can see why Bazza and Pell are nervous. The old trick of plausible deniability - the notion that Pell only tends to Sydney, others tend their own parishes, and the rest of the rabble report direct to Rome - no longer works, perhaps because Pell has never been short of a word or two when it comes to topics as diverse as climate science and the policies of government. You can't sound like a leader than retreat to the trenches when the going gets tough.

Yesterday Barney Zwartz in The Age - how he loves stories about Catholics - brought the news of the Victorian inquiry up to date in Imported priests pose risk, church abuse inquiry told, and it was a ripper, featuring the thoughts of Dr. Wayne Chamley:

The Australian Catholic Church has not released the number of clerics imported mostly from India, Nigeria and the Philippines to ease the catastrophic decline in parish priests, but a study last year estimated they made up 20 per cent of Australia's total of 1500. 

20%! And the media is agog and inflamed by boat people!

But do go on Dr. Chamley, tell us what you really think:

■ Church lawyers tried to ''king hit'' victims as hard as possible to demoralise them in negotiations for compensation. ''They wring their hands and speak in humble voices, but in the cut and thrust of mediation it's boots and all.''
■ The church's internal system for investigating abuse was a charade that had no legal standing. He said the Melbourne Response's independent commissioner, Peter O'Callaghan, described himself as operating like a royal commission. ''What act of Parliament set that up?'' Dr Chamley said. 
■ Letting the church investigate itself was like ''leaving Dracula in charge of the blood bank''. 

But wait, there's more!

Dr Chamley condemned the submissions to the inquiry by the Salvation Army and Catholic Church. The former, at eight pages, was ''an insult'' to the Parliament and people of Victoria, given the hundreds of child victims of abuse by its officers, and its response to victims was often ''secretive, unco-operative, mean-spirited and legalistic''. 
The Catholic submission was notable for what it left out, including two Australian Senate inquiries that showed ''children who ended up in the 'care' of the Catholic Church were subjected to widespread sexual abuse, procurement for sexual purposes by other adults, severe and unwarranted physical abuse, criminal assault, prolonged solitary confinement, exploitation and unpaid child labour, slavery, starvation, administration of drugs and provision of alcohol'' during most of the past century. 
Dr Chamley compared the life of a paedophile priest who was not exposed despite church payouts with that of his victims. 
The priest would be housed, given medical care, a stipend, and the respect of his family and parishioners, who did not know of his predation. 
Of the victims, 91 per cent had mental health problems. ''They live in public housing, wait in queues at emergency departments in public hospitals for days. Their diets are shocking … and they fear as they get older - and they are now in their 60s - some will develop Alzheimer's and dementia.'' 

Talk about cats and kittens, and a Church rotten to the core.

Well at least the homosexual priest in the pond's family always loathed Pell, and what he'd done in Melbourne, and heaved a sigh of relief when he was sent to Sydney - but hang on, isn't that what they did with other troublesome priests, shipping them about until they could find a refuge?

Never mind, it made the pond turn to the Sydney Anglicans with a similar sigh of relief, if only to read Michael Jenkins explain that it was completely impossible to change - what with original sin and Adam and Eve and all that - unless you talked to and dedicated your life to an imaginary friend.

Now there's change you can believe in ...

Is it possible to change? he asks, seeing this as some kind of Defence against the dark arts.

Well She seems to have done a bloody poor job with the Catholics and the Sydney Anglicans, and getting them to change their wicked, wicked ways, and it's been at the hard slog already these past two thousand years or more (perhaps starting as long ago as 4004 BC if you accept Ussher's chronology for the very real Adam and Eve, and the way she ruined everything, still the Sydney Anglicans' basic guide to the way men and women should relate to each other).

The Anglicans have been squabbling amongst themselves like a pack of disagreeable children or pimple-laden adolescents these past few years, and the surly response of the Jensenists to the appointment of Justin Welby is just a continuation of the homophobia the Sydney Anglicans share with assorted African churches (Gay marriage to define archbishop's appointment):

''We welcome the appointment of Bishop Welby to the ministry of Archbishop of Canterbury. It remains an important role though obviously the events of the last decade have diminished its significance in the worldwide Anglican Communion. 
 ''Bishop Welby has our prayerful support. We look forward to him speaking with clarity from the word of God about the gospel and its impact on the issues confronting the Church in England and the West."

Prayerful support? Speak with clarity? You have to admire the passive aggressive Sydney Anglican way.

That's code for fall into line with Sydney Anglicans or you can bugger off and we'll stick with the bugger-hating Africans, and the West can go suck.

What a bunch of angry splitters and recidivists they are ...

Still it's good to see Sydney Anglicans embracing Harry Potter's core, crucial Hogwarts class D.A.D.A. (a.k.a. Defence against the dark arts - you can wander off into Potter la la land here) and never mind that Potter and witchcraft and wizardry is as sinful as Halloween.

Yes it's Jensen's DADA against Potter's DADA and may the best DADAist win, though since they both have imaginary friends, deciding a winner might be tricky.

The pond is more concerned about the Dadaists, but that's another story ...