Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Speaking of a roaming band of squire Toads, always willing to take it up to wretched working class weasels, ferrets and stoats ...

(Above: more Wilcox here)

It was remiss of the pond, as aspirational loon chronicler of record, not to note Amanda Vanstone's smackdown of fellow South Australian Liberal Cory Bernardi in Attention seeker has had his last chance.

It turns out that Bernardi has extreme views and isn't a team player, and so, in conclusion:

In the AFL, as in politics, being a team player is vital. Bernardi has had two chances. There won't be another. 

Uh huh. But along the way, while Vanstone takes time out to ravage Bernardi for old testament fundamentalism, a quaint attitude to gays, a lack of people skills, a desire to preach to the converted, and his feckless foray into abortion issues, we cop this:

...the one infallible rule of a team game is that unless you are a team player you are a burden. You will detract from the team. With that in mind, those Liberals who, in good faith, voted for Cory Bernardi to be No. 1 on the South Australian Senate ticket must be somewhat disappointed.

WTF, as they say on the intertubes?

Bernardi wasn't given the number two, or the number three slot in the South Australian Senate ticket. He was, for obvious reasons, given the number one slot because they like him down there. The "converted", that is:

Senator Bernardi appears to deliberately choose his language in order to get that attention. While I think it is stupid and juvenile to do so he is entitled to choose that path. He is, of course, preaching only to the converted. He is revving up his supporters. He is not converting anyone.

So why do the converted love him? How can he rev up his supporters?

Surely it's because Bernardi actually represents the extremism and fundamentalism that runs like a canker through the Liberal party and not just the South Australian branch.

When you look at Bernardi, he's really doing nothing that Tony "climate change is crap" Abbott didn't do or say or dogwhistle during his time in opposition. Abortion? Tony Abbott is on the same team. Gay rights? Tony Abbott is on the same team, though he's too canny to lead with a too obvious dog whistle like bestiality. Climate science? Why do you ask?

And so on. In reality the Vanstone smackdown is a classic disingenuous wet attempt to forget that almost all Bernardi's views at one time or another have been given a favourable airing in the Liberal party, and naturally, in the echo chamber called the Murdoch media.

As a result, the distinctions have to get extremely fine at some points in Vanstone's piece, as when celebrating Abbott giving Bernardi the chop:

Here's what Abbott said at the time: ''Discipline is critical. Team play is vital. And that's what Cory has had some problems with. And that's why I thought it was very important to act quickly and decisively as I have.'' 
Abbott went on to say that while the Coalition did not support gay marriage there was no place for remarks that were offensive to people in same-sex relationships.

In short, Cory, I completely agree with you, because after all there's something really weird about the notion of gay marriage - who knows what it might lead to and how the fabric of civilisation might crumble - but sssh, please learn the fine and rarefied art of dog whistling, or else we'll just have to keep you on the team as the SA Senate number one Liberal, hauling in a handy backbencher salary while reassuring the ratbags that there's plenty of room for raving ratbags in the Liberal party. Who knows, in time you might even get to be leader, like me.

Is Vanstone so thick that she couldn't see the marvellous contradiction in that line:

...while the Coalition did not support gay marriage there was no place for remarks that were offensive to people in same-sex relationships.

Yes, the offensive notion that there should be no gay marriage in Australia, never mind that it's rolled out elsewhere in the world without the fabric of civilisation collapsing, and the many offensive arguments trotted out against gay marriage, shouldn't be considered in the same league as remarks offensive to people in same-sex relationships.

You're different, you're weird, you're not one of us, marriage is only for straights, bugger off gays, and so on and so forth , but hey, just remember that's not being offensive ... Just seemly and godly ...

Live with Senator Bernardi, Ms Vanstone. He's just Tony Abbott in disguise, and he's not so far from you, no matter your current status as quisling soft core correspondent at the ABC ... his views were known long ago, and long before he was yet again trotted out as number one on the SA ticket, and his presence there speaks to a deep, disturbing fundamentalism that runs through the whole of the Liberal party like a canker at the core.

Meanwhile, the pond almost fainted when it seemed like the reptiles at the lizard Oz had discovered a semblance of balance, with this teaser for National curriculum a victim of crimes of omission (behind the Oz paywall to save you the time and the trouble):

Indeed. For a long time, the pond suspected the national curriculum was written by Trotsky, a much cleverer lick spittle revisionist and deviant:

“I know that there are, of course, sages who think they are very clever and even call themselves Socialists, who assert that power should not have been seized until the revolution had broken out in all countries. They do not suspect that by speaking in this way they are deserting the revolution and going over to the side of the bourgeoisie. To wait until the toiling classes bring about a revolution on an international scale means that everybody should stand stock-still in expectation. That is nonsense.” – Lenin, Speech delivered at a joint meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet, 14th May 1918, Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 9.

You see, ice pick in the back of the neck aside, Trotsky would know how to be subtly different, how to pretend to toe the line, but how to be successful at curriculum colonisation, n'est ce pas, monsieur Craven?

The real problems are subtly different. The first is the question of balance. Contrary to standard political theory, there usually are two sides to every history. When one totally excludes the other, you have a problem. 
The second is stability. It is one thing to say that every government can adjust the curriculum. It is another if we seesaw from Trotskyist to Tory geography in line with the political cycle. 
On the whole, the Left has been much more successful at curriculum colonisation than the Right. The reasons range from a stronger dedication to the formulation of sustaining political myth to the tendency for curriculum designers and many teachers to be a little more pink than powder blue. 
The current national curriculum was not written by Lenin, but it has its slants. Debating them, and even changing them, is neither objective heresy nor intellectual fascism.

Uh huh. Just another apologist for the poodle Pyne and his stooges, from a man who just happens to be vice chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, whose mission statement inter alia says:

...the University’s inspiration, located within 2,000 years of Catholic intellectual tradition, summons it to attend to all that is of concern to human beings. It brings a distinctive spiritual perspective to the common tasks of higher education... 
The University explicitly engages the social, ethical and religious dimensions of the questions it faces in teaching and research, and service. In its endeavours, it is guided by a fundamental concern for justice and equity, and for the dignity of all human beings. (here)

A distinctive spiritual perspective?

Now there's a handy guide to Kevin Donnelly endlessly rabbiting on about the Judeo-Christian tradition. Is there any other synchronicity? know we are in trouble in Australia when front pages shriek that the national schools curriculum is being politicised. Where are President Hollande and Shane Warne when you need them? It's not that I find the two curriculum reviewers - Ken Wiltshire and Kevin Donnelly, the latter a research fellow at my own university - unattractive. It's just hard to get titillated by two middle-aged men poring over text books. 

As noted by a middle-aged man who just happens to have a middle-aged man on his team.

Almost as hard as it is to muster shock that there is a political intersection between curriculum and cultural politics. Quick, someone tell Napoleon, and have a whisper in Chairman Mao's ear. 

Indeed. And while they're at it, why not whisper a word in the ear of Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St Pius X.

Now how about a little dose of relativism, of the teach the controversy kind?

These curriculum wars have been fizzing in Australia for at least 20 years. Each side understands that, while they cannot make John Curtin a Liberal or Kingsford-Smith a Labor premier, it is possible to give curriculum the odd political tweak. In one sense, this is not only understandable, but uncontroversial. Different political persuasions have quite deep philosophical views as to what real history or genuine culture mean, though they tend to agree on physics. 
Why is it so surprising they would want a national curriculum to reflect what they understand as simply being true?

Which is not true at all. What they understand is that some things and people are simply different and abhorrent, or problematic and to be spurned, and the Catholic church has over many centuries been adept at identifying the sinners and the heretics who need to be cast aside.

So on to the relativism and let the students decide:

What we really want is a curriculum that is neither right nor Right, but rich. A quality national curriculum should be able to synthesise real but divergent perspectives, each with their own element of truth. It should even allow students the freedom to choose between perspectives, not on the basis of direction, but information and thought. 

Uh huh. So let's not worry that Pyne and his stooges have clearly desired to impose direction in the past.

 And some things just are, in the sense that Monty Python opined that Mount Everest just is. Australia is a great democratic nation. That democracy does rest upon a Western concept of rule of law. Our sins are many, but our achievements have been mighty. 
Reality is a good start for any curriculum.

Which seems to be as good a throw to a reality check as you might find lurking in the lizard Oz.

Currently the mightily achieving Australia is at war with East Timor, adopting a bullying stance that has brought it unfavourable notices around the world - well played George Brandis, who it seems won't read anything - while in Nauru the fall out from Australia's policies has descended into a shabby, unkempt state of abuse and contempt for law (Abbott's political agenda backfires on Nauru).

While on the matter of Indonesian the questions keep coming, with an Indonesian general, who studied in Australia, making the elementary point that, given the RAN's alleged state of art technology, territorial breaches were most unlikely to be unintentional.

They knew what they were doing.

And then there are other questions raised here, in Australian Navy accused of beating, burning asylum seekers on boat.

It makes Craven's flourishes of 'balance' and 'objectivity' and richness of curriculum risible:

In relation to Asia, for example, students should ponder not only that Australia geographically is part of the East, but culturally is ineradicably derived from the West, with all the complexities this involves.

Uh huh. Guess that means the pond's course on Asian relations, and how Australia's policy on refugees came to be conducted by a gang of thugs who, having fear-mongered their way to power, now stop at nothing, and led by a fundamentalist Christian who likes to speak in tongues, might find it difficult to get on the curriculum. (And let's not get started on the other gang of thugs who intend to reduce any and all benefits to the poor, while shovelling government riches down the throat of the already rich).

But then mighty Australia has long been accustomed to bending history to its own glory, and no doubt we will shortly see yet another elevation of deserter and socialist Simpson (perhaps his donkey was a fellow traveller too) air brushed and painted as a national icon (please, no nipples or wobblies).

Yes the pond keeps banging on about Simpson, but only because it irritates the heck out of the pond.

As for a little self-reflection and self-examination?

Oh please ... just let the poodle and his stooges have his way.

After all, where's the harm, at least if you happen to be vice chancellor of a Catholic university with Kevin Donnelly on your team ... wanting a little more richness and balance, and aware that the deviant left are much better than the Catholics.

And if you believe that, has the pond got a wafer and a glass of wine ready to turn into human flesh and tasty human blood so you can indulge in your vampirism ...

And now, if you'll indulge the pond, we're awaiting a vigorous assault from Nick Cater and the other Caterists on Barry O'Farrell for his outrageous nanny state ways, when it's well known that drinking to excess is a matter of personal responsibility, and something that shouldn't involve nanny staters going about their business ...

Of course this might involve some conflict with stable mate the tabloid Daily Terror which has descended into a state of abject fawning:

Won't someone stand up for the AHA? Where's Nick Cater when he's needed?

(Below: Moir, doing a splendid riff on George Brandis as Toad of Toad Hall. More Moir here).

I'm such a clever Toad... (and well-read, and with a very big library ...)

..."We shall creep out quietly into the butler's pantry--" cried the Mole. 
"--with out pistols and swords and sticks--" shouted the Rat. 
"--and rush in upon them," said Badger. 
"--and whack 'em, and whack 'em, and whack 'em!" cried the Toad in ecstasy, running round and round the room, and jumping over the chairs. Those wretched East Timorese. I won't read a single thing, I swear, Scout's honour"

Toad, with no one to check his statements or to criticize in an unfriendly spirit, rather let himself go. Indeed, much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures; and why should they not be truly ours, as much as the somewhat inadequate things that really come off?

O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my!


  1. Australian exceptionalism is as irritating as American, British, French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and other exceptionalisms, and we're now showing the same sort of colonial mind set as the worst of them ...

  2. Dot you ask, "Is Vanstone so thick ..."?

    Yes she is. She is a well meaning woman but thick as a brick. I know this because I listen to her on Counterpoint.

    I used to check out the other 'counter-pointer' commentators when there was a transcript available at our ABC but I can't listen to the voices with all they reveal about the personality - or lack of in the case of Tim Wilson - of the person commenting.

    Although, I did manage to listen to Professor Frank Furedi this week. The bit I remember was him whinging about how 'the left' are so mean to the right, and quite insulting when they say, referring to the people of the right, "they just don't get it". Apparently that is not a good thing to say.

    Unfortunately Frank didn't offer any explanation as to whether the right does 'get it', but chooses not to behave as if they get it. I was confused as to how to acknowledge this worry that the people of the right have, and to reassure them that I mean no offence when I say that they just don't get it.

    Anyway Frank was 'not happy Jan', about Culture war things. I did get that but not much else came across as rational or as a considered response to the strange things that are happening this century.

    1. Listening to Frank Furedi for the duration entitles you to the ABC's "listener of honour" medal. And if they don't have such a medal in stock, they should strike one immediately.

  3. "Scout's honour? Surely you.meant "Scott's honour". What do you mean, he has none??

  4. Agree that the Prime Minister and Senator Bernardi are on the same page. Agree also how lacking in perception, Amanda Vanstone's scribblings were. What highlighted her lack of insight was her claim: “The real problem is not his [Bernardi's] views.”

    Claiming that Senator Bernardi's advocacy of the 'pure' family is not the problem is like saying Hitler's advocacy of the pure Aryan was not the problem. It was, because it promulgated intolerance of diversity. The PM fails to deal with Senator Bernardi, because the PM likes to see such views promulgated, as this adds to the general propaganda campaign and therefore paves the way for incremental changes in social policy or the undermining of progressive social attitudes.

    So we have warrior Abbott in unity with revolutionary Bernardi and propagandist Pyne, yet we are meant to believe that they have no agenda and that these are not the views of the Liberals.

    What is interesting about the national curriculum policy is that while Pyne, Donnelly, Wiltshire and Cater claim that the curriculum is too orientated to the political left and requires balance Chris Berg of the IPA had an article ( I did an Abbott and only read the opening paragraphs) that seemed to argue that the curriculum would never be ideologically balanced and so it would be better not to have a national curriculum and to devolve it all to the local level. What will PM Abbott do? Support his Education Minister and his Committee's recommendations or go with the IPA-Berg solution?

    1. Indeed VoterBentleigh. On gloomy days the pond thinks all this "local level" stuff is designed to take Australian education down to the level of southern buffoons arguing about the curriculum and making fools of themselves over creationism, book banning, the pleasures of tobacco, the dangers of climate science, and all the rest of the nonsense that emanates from states like Texas, which then helps determine what the rest of the country reads because it's such a crucial market for publishers ...


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