It seems the best way to remember history is to forget it, and Gerard Henderson is an adept practitioner of the art.
In Howard's popularity key asset in Abbott's push for The Lodge, he elides over Bob Menzies' record in the run up to the second world war by asserting that everyone was an appeaser in those days, saving only eccentric Billy Hughes from the slur.
It seems that there's been an ongoing stoush in the Australian Jewish News about Bob Menzies, and somehow the stoush has been part of a debate about Palestine, though what appeasement has got to do do with the current Israeli government's land-grabbing, wall-dividing, apartheid-proposing, ghetto-running lurch to the far, far right is something of a mystery to the pond.
Anyhoo, in his usual way, Henderson throws up an his standard line:
World War II commenced after the signing of what is best termed the Hitler-Stalin Pact under which Germany and the Soviet Union divided Eastern Europe. The Communist Party of Australia, at the instruction of Moscow, supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact and there were communists active in both the ALP and the trade union movement with which it was aligned.
Needless to say, this inconvenient truth is not mentioned in Kelly's article.
Indeed. And it's an inconvenient truth that talk of the Pact shouldn't obscure the reality that the war began because of Hitler's activities elsewhere, and it's an even more inconvenient truth that it was the trade union movement that gave Bob Menzies a title - Pig Iron Bob - which continues to stick, long after the original reason has been forgotten.
You won't find that inconvenient nickname in Henderson's rant, or the inconvenient truth behind it - such an inconvenient truth - but Menzies himself stuck by his decision to force waterside workers to load scrap iron to ship to Japan, at a time when the Japanese were ravaging China in the vilest ways.
Here he is in the Hobart Mercury on 14th May 1949 (click to enlarge or follow the link):
Once you get started on this sort of thing, you can find all sorts of amusing headlines, because some in the conservative side saw unions as worse than Hitler (found here):
One cartoon says it all about Mr. Menzies and his track record up to 1943, and it helps explain why the Labor party was given carriage of the war:
But the pond's favourite memory of Ming the merciless is best summarised by these two images:
Needless to say, a lot of the conservative sheep are still milling around the Queen and the Union Jack.
But enough already. Henderson is merely distorting and dismembering history for his usual purpose, which is to praise the infallibility of conservatism (erasing any blemishes from the mirror, or asserting that everyone had warts in those days), and naturally to praise Tony Abbott as the inheritor of that infallibility, as the living, walking, infallible impersonation of that greatest politician of all time, the ultimate champ'een, John Howard ...
The reality of course is that politicians are human, and fraught with frailty and pander to what is perceived as the needs of the times, and Howard's stubborn refusal to arrange for his succession is what plunged the Liberal party into crisis, and into the second rate leadership it enjoys today.
It doesn't matter whether Abbott wins the next election, he's a second rate leader, with a top notch attitude to negativity, and he'll have to do a lot of growing if he's to do more than act like a reflector board for Hendo's puffing up of Howard's glow.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn about fear of Japanese expansion, and appeasement of Japan, why not head off here, where, alongside Curtin's appeasement, you'll get a mention of Bob's pig ironery ...
Never mind, what really appeals to the pond today is the ineffable Gary Johns' incoherent, verging on the delusional, rant in The Australian today.
It's a veritable cri de couer, under the header It's time to return to some core values (behind the paywall to save you from ranters).
It almost goes without saying that Johns' core values never existed, making it somewhat hard to return to them.
Yep, just when the pond thinks it's the natural home of loons, a home of core loonish values, along comes The Australian and whisks away the title and the honour.
After a long libertarian anti-federal and anti-government rant, Johns concludes his piece thusly
Canberra has become synonymous with handouts. The federal government has overreached. It cannot keep its hands off our lives and our livelihoods.
The federal government should make all funds transfers to the states transparent, all services outcomes measurable in comparable terms, but it should deliver none. It should act as record keeper and umpire, not as a player.
A competitive and reinvigorated federal compact can create a national unity for individual freedom and vigorous diversity.
This I pledge.
This he pledges?
What the fuck does that mean?
How does he think he has the ability to pledge anything, except an incoherent ramble about how the federal government should stop everything, before they go blind?
Perhaps he's pledging the portentous, with a dash of the pretentious? Moi, je promets de l'état ...
And this from a former federal minister, who in his day carried on like all the other ratbags, until it seems, he went blind.
To cherry pick just one example of how far gone Johns is gone, let's take this:
The commonwealth is built on competing jurisdictions. Australian governments have smothered the best of competitive federalism in a blanket of bribes. Australia needs a more vigorous federation. States should run schools and hospitals without federal interference. These are not the business of the federal government.
Actually religious institutions run a lot of schools and a fair few hospitals, and it was the aforementioned Bob Menzies who let that cat out of the bag back in 1963 (The genesis of state aid), and no one is ever going to stuff that genie back into the bottle.
It's not state aid, it's federal aid. And it's perfectly understandable that federal aid should require that schools around the country run by creationists should be required to teach actual science.
Johns seems to think it's the right of everybody to run free and to run wild:
Because the commonwealth does not administer schools and hospitals, it has no practical advice to give.
Uh huh. That old saw. And because the pond isn't a carpenter, it shouldn't offer any practical advice about being sure to make the table and chair legs level.
The commonwealth has accumulated powers that it may be reluctant to give up. But these powers have purchased interference, not solutions. Different ways of delivering education or health are not bad. Indeed, states constantly look to their fellow states for advice.
Which is a rhetorical nonsense. Different ways can be bad, and the notion that states will compete in some kind of free market elysium to deliver the very best in education and health is a nonsense. Darwin competing with Hobart to deliver the best of education and health? In your wildest dreams ...
The expectation that government could or would behave like another branch of the free market is a delusion (and Johns himself, during his time as a politician and a minister, by his activities and deeds, proved how delusional the later Johns would become).
So what's the real purpose of the Johns' piece?
Well surely it's therapy, the kind of rant that alleviates right wing stress and a world that stubbornly refuses to run the way Johns thinks it should run.
He has a solution for everything - bludging proles, an inventive high court, productivity, charities, Commonwealth-state relations, David Cameron, the EU and referendums, Canberra and handouts, and not one single practical or feasible idea capable of being implemented within the next decade.
This the pond pledges.
Oh well, if you're going to spend time with the crazed, where's the harm in joining them?
And now, because we can never get enough of Pig Iron "state aid" Bob, whom Hendo thinks was the greatest and whom Johns must surely think was a satanic anti-Christ, here's Bob's famous memo on pig irony.
Take that Gary Johns, and all praise Pig Iron for reminding the country that it's the federal government wot runs the place, and to hell with the Chinese when it comes to making a buck out of shipping scrap iron out of the country.
And if Pig Iron wants to run the religious to run the schools, why then surely you'll find John Howard paying for padres and school chaplains, and Hendo praising him to the skies ...
It's time for a return to core values?
You mean the ones before Pig Iron, or come to think of it, before Governor Macquarie ran the colony?
Core delusions, more like it.
(Below: click to enlarge, or go here for the original).