Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Saturday sob and clubbing of the exclusive commentariat ...

(Above: Kudelka illustration for Arthur Sinodinos story Envious class warrior a relic of past, praising Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart for their amazing contributions to the community - behind the paywall to save you reading the tired old rhetoric, now that times and billionaires have changed).

Day two of comrade Clive Palmer's campaign to become PM, and the pond can sense it's moving like wildfire across the placid waters of the pond.

Clive has spent a lot of time with the huge audience at Radio National, which sometimes moves beyond * to reach ** or even ***, and forms a key part of his demographic.

While others waste their time on football, booze or Tom Waterhouse on a Friday night in Sydney, Clive cut right to the heart by talking to the latte sippers, trend-shapers and shape-shifters.

There he was, tirelessly answering the concerned questions of Julian Morrow, spending a lavish amount of time with him explaining his policies and pointing out there wasn't one decent human bean in the entire federal Australian parliament. Take that inhuman Tony Abbott (yes you too can listen by going here for Clive Palmer for PM?).

But that wasn't the only Clive story on RN. It turns out that Clive has been all over RN like a rash, as in A Conflict of Interest? 

It was front page stuff when Clive came to talk and walk amongst the ** latte sippers, and the " cardigan-wearers. The pond knows, the pond was there for this historic moment.

There's just one question.

Why were the stories besmirched with question marks. Clive Palmer for PM? That shouldn't be a question, that should be an emphatic statement, Clive Palmer for PM! 

And A Conflict of Interest? Damn straight, a conflict of interest!

Give 'em time Clive, these latte sippers are always a little slow, they'll come to understand and that key * demographic of trend setters and ** shape shifters and *** Irish setters will be yours for the taking ...

Naturally the pond rushed off to the lizard Oz to see if due attention was being paid to the challenge, and instead copped the new rush of blood to the head on what seems to be the set subject for the day.

Class please write on The folly of Julia Gillard and her education schemes, and make sure to mention big Bazza selling out the entire Liberal party by reaching for the loot, grabbing the lolly in a most unseemly way.

Peter van Onselen delivers a wonderful insight:

By golly that's a compelling splash. No wonder he's such a stellar columnist for the lizard Oz. But the pond always struggles with the basics ...

Still, if there's one member of the commentariat rabbiting on, the law of lizard Oz starlings states there must be another.

Sure enough, what should hove into view but another baying home schooling hound:

Yes, yes, keep them at home reading Oscar Wilde in the original Latin, the pond says.

Choices, choices, but wait, what's this?

It might be a little hard to see, but click on it and you'll see every story on the lizard Oz is an exclusive, in right red. An exclusive here, an exclusive there, an exclusive every bloody where.

You'll be exclusively pleased to read that Siobhan McKenna is rolling out a revolution at NBN (exclusively behind the paywall for which you need exclusive access)

You see, once the NBN was a totally useless waste of money and the average lizard Oz reader's time, but the new chairwoman is showing her mettle and bossing around Conroy and big Mal.

Could this be the ice breaker, could this be the redemption at hand? Could the NBN yet become a revolutionary roll out?

Or could the story be ust be another egg beater, a standard bit of puffery dressed up as an exclusive? Could there be exclusive fatigue? Is the pond reporting on so many exclusives an exclusive in itself?

Sadly no, only yesterday Crikey intern Kyla Loussikian was exclusively reporting that the lizard Oz had run 13 branded "exclusives" over its 10 national and business news pages, while the AFR managed five exclusives on the front page alone, with Loussikian exclusively inviting this exclusive band of editorial brothers to take an exclusive - or should that be inclusive - cold shower ...

The pond wondered whether the number of "exclusives" was geometrically or perhaps mathematically related to the lizard Oz's exclusive campaign to get suckers to sign up for its "exclusive content" with "exclusive access" via its exclusive digital pass, yours for a singularly exclusive price ... which sees the pond routinely excluded ...

What to do? The pond needed a safe pair of hands, and is there anyone at all safer than Angela Shanahan?

Yes, despite their lack of religiosity, Gen X and Gen Y have gone war-monger and that's good news. After all, what did the baby boomers do? Get thrashed in Vietnam, the losers and the drop kicks ...

It turns out that Angela Shanahan's family was at one time a traitor, deserving of a white feather:

My generation rebelled against that received interpretation. Particularly if we belonged to an immigrant group that didn't fit the assumed ethnic stereotype let alone if, like me, you had a name and a parent from the "wrong" side. 

Oh dear. The wrong side.

Or perhaps even worse, she might have been a hippie:

The children of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll generation spurned what they interpreted as the values of Anzac Day. The peacenik generation certainly thought, in our very superior way, that young men who volunteered to fight abroad - whether in the Dardanelles or Vietnam - were a bunch of losers. 

There you go, told you, a bunch of losers. Strange, for an alleged historian, that Shanahan should forget that many who fought in Vietnam were actually conscripted, National Servicemen, Nashos to you, but hey let's not talk details.

Wrapped in flower power, we were insouciant about the threat of communism. 

So insouciant that we now trot off to China and to Vietnam for our holidays ...

By the 1980s, Australia's military history had gone out of fashion - along with the idea of concrete knowledge of history. Interpretation was all. 

Oh you relativist swine. Just give us the facts, all we want is them concrete facts.
Damn you Henry Ford, damn you to hell:

Ford frequently claimed that "history is more of less bunk." it is "being rewritten every year from a new point of view," he argued, "so how can anybody claim to know the truth about history?" (Jane Smiley, Harpers)

Damn you Henry. What else you got to say?

"When I went to our American history books to learn how our forefathers harrowed the land, I discovered that the historians knew nothing about harrows. Yet our country has depended more on harrows than on guns or speeches. I thought that a history which excluded harrows, and all the rest of daily life, was bunk. And I think so yet."

Damned anti-semitic handsomely above the minimum wage paying relativist swine (more Ford quotes here). Do go on, Ms Shanahan, after that rude relativist interruption:

The man who was most out of fashion was Australia's pioneer military historian Charles Bean, who landed at Gallipoli and stayed with the Australians all through WWI. After the war, Bean recognised it had been a disaster for everyone; but for Australia it provided a story about who we were after Federation. It was when we formed an army and sent them that we said for the first time, "We are Australians."

Uh huh. Now as an opening joke, Shanahan had cracked wise about a young man who didn't know about there being two world wars, and as a long suffering teacher of history, how little the young knew about the subject.

Yet here she is praising a mediocre historian, and saying that only when we sent off an army did we say for the first time we are Australians ...

So much for the Australian constitution, scribbled on the 9th July 1900, announcing the Commonwealth of Australia in these grand words:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established ... (you can read the rest here if your sleeping pills are lost under the pillow).

Orstralia, you bloody beaut. Oh okay it was an act at Westminister, but what's the difference between that and the Poms clicking their fingers and saying "oh chaps, how about a jolly lark fighting the infidel Turk."

The rest of Shanahan's piece turns into puffery for the Australian War Memorial and Brendan Nelson, who has wonderful plans to privatise and corporatise it, though rest assured everything will be done in the best of taste and with the utmost discretion, and no tasteless signs saying "This war brought to you by VB and Tom Waterhouse".

But at the end of it, she and Nelson combine to bowl up a doozie:

And as for the commemorative function of the AWM: "One of the reasons for the Last Post ceremony is to tell an individual story every day. These need to be told to young people especially. They like it because it gives them a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose, and emphasises values that they find attractive within military history. Not with any affinity for wars - on the contrary - more the values that come out of it ." 
Nelson reflects on his own generational history: "I am a product of the last generation that was given the pre-packaged framework: God, king, country. In the 70s and 80s that very much broke down, but now young people want the values embodied in military history: courage, endurance and innocence."

Innocence? A value embodied in military history is innocence?

Like innocent lambs to the slaughter.

The long absent god help anyone taught history, military or otherwise, by the likes of Shanahan and Nelson.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons.  
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, 
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 
What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes. 
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

The pond once interviewed quite a number of world war one veterans about their experiences. They were reticent, they didn't like to talk, but they were old, and from them came the values, not of military history, but of military experience, suffering, a vale of tears, nightmares and a deep enduring loss of innocence ... with their fondest hope that others be saved from the horror they'd endured ...

You won't discern any of that in the glib superficiality of Shanahan ...

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs 
The convoys of dead sailors come; 
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under, 
But morning rolls them in the foam. 

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire 
Someone, it seems, has time for this, 
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows 
And tread the sand upon their nakedness; 

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood, 
Bears the last signature of men, 
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity, 
The words choke as they begin - 

'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil 
Wavers and fades, the purple drips, 
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions 
As blue as drowned men's lips, 

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall, 
Whether as enemies they fought, 
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together, 
Enlisted on the other front.

Oh here's a grand idea for Mr Nelson ...


  1. Another great critique of the shallowness of the Murdochracy. Because I have been there and seen the results of war and the neurosis that it causes so for those that write about teaching the history of war they may also give lessons on the damage inflicted upon the families and relatives not only to grieve the lose but the psychological damage that is caused for those that live with the aftermath and the depredation that follows so the Howards and Murdochs may want to glorify the past but I tell you I look back and think what might have been if I had my Father to mentor me through my early years and then to lose an older brother to psychosis as a result of serving in Korea a war that is not spoken of by these self serving right wing commentators.
    It was Howard and his ilk who would rewrite history to honour the empire that him and Menzies crawled to to get the rewards of medals from the crown the liars that they are and if there is a heaven and hell there is only one place for them to be deposited.

  2. If your readers would like to balance the views of the Shanahan matriarch on the AWM, they could do worse than journey to The Canberra Times (no paywall) and catch Jack Waterford's excellent "Nelson flying wrong flags".

  3. Though thankfully never having experienced war I grew up in the 50s when there was a plethora of broken men (and a few women) from the preceding 2 world wars. I remember the seemingly endless number of homes that experienced alcohol induced violence brought about by ex service men who had only one way of living with their pain - the bottle. So when it was suggested by men who, largely, had never gone to war that I and my generation should go and fight in Vietnam I said no. I didn't want to become one of those broken men nor did I find a life attached to a bottle attractive.

    It amazes me that we allow those who have never fought in wars to send our young to their wars. I think that if a politician wishes to send other people's young to a war so that the politician may feel safe, then the politician's children should be the first at the front. Only then can I be assured that the politician sincerely feels that the war is necessary as their children too will be facing the unimaginable hell that is war.

  4. Thanks Russ, a good link, great stuff, and if only I could master HTML (SMH version because it popped up first):

  5. There must be some human beans left at the Hobart Mercury because they presumably slipped this fine Anzac Day speech under the Murdochian radar. There's a curiously misogynist comment as well.


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