Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Foggy days, foggy minds ...

(Above: at long last The Guardian revealed in Australia).

The grey fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 
The grey smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the morning,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 
And seeing that it was a soft May morn,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. (apologies to T. S. Eliot, the original here).

Foggy days, foggy minds, all's well on the pond.

But oh dear sweet absent lord, did The Guardian have to be so parochial, so Victorian ... so gloating about its huge surge in online traffic ... for the launch of its Australian edition ...

Oh wait ... the inner urban elite were looking for the British Guardian, carrying that hideous uk domain extension here.

Oh dear, under the old colonial thumb again.

And worse, what's that weird form of football at the top of the sports pages, sending Victorians into convulsions of fury ... what is this strange idle chatter of Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund? Did someone hire SBS to do the sporting coverage?

Never mind ,.. is that any worse than being fleeced by a hideous multinational media organisation owned by an American and his family?

Poor old Campbell Reid, he of the perpetual trophy, tried to propose that the down-under Guardian was just like an Australian Playboy.

Uh huh, but there is one significant difference, trophy fish man. The tits and arse are free, which is more than can be said for the commentariat T and A on News Ltd ...

Yep, never let it be forgotten that Chairman Rupert stopped being an Australian for a pot of gold. Now the pond might do the same, if only someone cared to part with a reasonable pot of gold ... but still it seems idle to get agitated about the British when a truly weird American tweeter is in charge of a substantial amount of the Australian print media.

By golly, has he been off with the pixies lately in a fine flurry of floozies:

Crazy talk. Deepak Chopra? I mean, come on, re-tweeting Deepak Chopra? That's off the planet, and yet there it is, along with David Cameron and Islamic bashing, and Ray Kelly worshipping? Mad as a march hare, or at least as a meat axe, and yet still with incredible influence ...

Never mind, the pond for the moment remains loyal. Nostalgic, looking backwards to a quickly fading past, because, you see, today is Gerard Henderson day, and that says all you need to know about the essential dullness and tedium of the Fairfax brand.

These days Hendo makes Polonius seem like a livewire activist, and wouldn't you know it, he's just like chairman Rupe, in a foam and froth-flecked frenzy of fear in Civil libertarians not to convincing after murder in London.
Now don't panic folks, all we need is a decent police state, and Mr. Henderson is just the person to arrange it.

Even if the communications data legislation is a snooper's charter, it will not lead to the death of anyone nor will it undermine social harmony in British society. Since some terrorists have effectively declared war on Britain, it stands to reason that the democratically elected government will resort to war-time security. 

Yes, we're at war with Islam, it's a crusade, and we must adopt a war-footing at once. Why who knows even hounds mauling a passing jogger might be Islamic hounds. Put die Hunde under electronic surveillance at once ...

And remember to lock them up and throw away the key ... because they're here, it's happening now ...

Both Walker and Whealy recommend narrowing the definition of terrorism and advocate the repeal of preventative detention without charge for a designated crime. Walker also advocated the cessation of control orders concerning individuals suspected of being likely to commit a terrorist act. 

How could they? Are they completely unaware that the sky is falling, dragged down by a couple of simple-minded nutters? What, oh, what to do ...

So I ran, I ran ... I ran as little Jimmy had run the other day. My only hope was to get away from the Sydney Institute, to get to the highway, to warn the others of what was happening. Wait! (Let him go! They'll never believe him). Help! Help! Wait! Stop! Stop and listen to me! Listen to me! Those people that are coming after me! They're not human! Listen to me! We're in danger! Get out of here! You're in danger! Please! Get out of here! Get moving! They're after all of us! All of us! Listen to me! There isn't a human being left in the Sydney Institute! Stop! Pull over! I need your help! Something terrible's happened! You fools! You're in danger! They're after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! They're here already. You're next ... you're next ...

Now normally at this point, the pond would leave our prattling Polonius trapped in the nightmare metaphor of pods from outer space as the red commie pinko pervert menace/strike that/islamic hordes of inhuman fury surround him, fading to the end title as Hendo collapses in a heap of paranoia ...

But what's interesting is that as the prattling Polonius froths and foams, he doesn't just target the usual suspects:

Opposition to the national security legislation - which is supported by Labor and the Coalition, but not the Greens - also has a bipartisan base, of sorts. The civil liberties left have described the existing legislation as, variously, ''ridiculous'' (Rob Stary), ''a knee-jerk reaction'' (Stephen Blanks) and ''a product of hysteria'' (Jessie Blackbourn and Nicola McGarrity). 

Oh the weak-kneed sops. But what's more interesting is that Hendo takes aim at the IPA as well:

Then there is the libertarian right, as embodied in the position adopted by some staff at the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs. For example, Christopher Berg wrote on the ABC's The Drum website on August 14, 2012, that the national security legislation passed by the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments ''has damaged our legal system''. 
The position of the civil liberties left and the libertarian right invariably looks less plausible after each terrorist attack. 

Yes, the war between the Sydney Institute and the IPA and in particular the Bergians is bubbling along quite nicely.

What do we want? A police state! When do we want it now! Hendo for J. Edgar Hoover's job, and make sure there are plenty of frocks in the wardrobe ...

Meanwhile, was it only coincidence that last night Media Watch discussed the difference between the way the current hysteria has helped promote propaganda rather than public interest, here, followed by a piece on the way the plethora of think and special interest and lobbying tanks refuse to disclose their sources of funding ... while parroting the tunes of likely bird seed providers ... (here).

So is there an upside to the current crop of squawking?

Well Paul 'generally grumpy' Sheehan by also rabbiting on about Islam yesterday, today flushed out Mohamed Abdall, politely pointing out his cherry-picking in Critical opinion of Islam ignores the fundamental truths ...

The piece makes some obvious points, even if the pond reserves the right to call all religions fundamentally silly, but perhaps the most fundamental point is the way that fundamentalists need each other ... whether to demonise others or to cloak themselves in the trappings of surveillance and a police state ...

Everybody's in this game, including Four Corners, which last night devoted a program to cyber warfare, with appropriately sinister doom-laden music, as if spying was a novelty, and as if "cyber" somehow transformed the idea of spying into a whole new digital domain ...

And sadly after each of these exercises, the position of Hendo and the ABC as exponents of democracy invariably look less plausible after each outburst of Chicken Little fear-mongering ...

Fear is the aim of terrorists - has been since the poor old Duke of Sarajevo got knocked off, and long before that - and do the likes of Hendo oblige with ladle-loads of fear ...

(Below: a couple of Tom Tomorrows to gladden the heart of Hendo and sock it to those faint-heated weak-kneed lily-livered clowns blathering on when what Australia needs is drones. Bring on the drones, there ought to be drones).


  1. I ask now has the world come to this that the ABC would see the need to put together a program that is so bleak and contained so little evidence that could substantiate the claims of Prof Des Ball.
    We are continually being told how China will take over the world but if we know anything of history China has been the country to be colonised by the marauding Europeans.
    The misinformation that is being spewed out of the ABC in recent times is the thing that will make this country sick.
    And as for Henderson well he his just an old right wing hack that has tried to enhance his profile using the ABC.

  2. Dorothy! What have you done? Gerard's article has been taken down, it seems. The heading and the comments are there, but no meat (well, no gristle...)

  3. Ah, it's back up again. Must have had to make some amendments for accuracy.

  4. That Chairman Rupe is a busy little beaver, isn't he? Commenting on politics in Britain, Oz and the U S of A. He seems a little agitated about David Cameron at the moment though - I wonder if that has anything to do with the Leveson inquiry, or the fact that Cameron decided to follow through on some of its recommendations. Cameron should think himself lucky he hasn't invested in a national broadband network!

  5. Mediawatch coincidence, Dorothy? Maybe, but "the way the plethora of think and special interest and lobbying tanks refuse to disclose their sources of funding" has also been, among others, a developing Monbiot theme of note, eg:

    In Think Tank: the story of the Adam Smith Institute, the institute’s founder, Madsen Pirie, provides an unintentional but invaluable guide to how power in this country really works(5). Soon after it was founded (in 1977), the institute approached “all the top companies”. About 20 of them responded by sending cheques... Every Saturday, in a wine bar called the Cork and Bottle, Margaret Thatcher’s researchers and leader writers and columnists from the Times and Telegraph met staff from the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Over lunch, they “planned strategy for the week ahead.” These meetings would “co-ordinate our activities to make us more effective collectively.” The journalists would then turn the institute’s proposals into leader columns while the researchers buttonholed shadow ministers...

    Today, sponsorship by millionaires and corporations explains why free market thinktanks outnumber and outspend the thinktanks arguing for public services and the distribution of wealth. Or so I guess. But their absence of accountability means that guesswork is all we’ve got...

    The harder you stare at them, the more they look like lobby groups working for big business without disclosing their interests. Yet throughout the media they are treated as independent sources of expertise. The BBC is particularly culpable... We know that to understand politics and the peddling of influence we must follow the money. So it’s remarkable that the question of who funds the thinktanks has so seldom been asked...

    What’s taking place in Congress right now is a kind of political coup. A handful of billionaires has shoved a spanner into the legislative process. Through the candidates they’ve bought and the movement that supports them, they are now breaking and reshaping the system to serve their interests. We knew this once, but now we’ve forgotten. What hope do we have of resisting a force we won’t even see...

    Most of these bodies call themselves “free market thinktanks”, but their trick, as (Astro)Turf Wars points out, is to conflate crony capitalism with free enterprise, and free enterprise with personal liberty.

    How will the Guardian stack up re Aussie tanks? Disclose all furphies? (This splash for an incredible coincidence sprung spring time on Assange? White lies: Aversion of the truth...)


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