Saturday, February 15, 2014

From secrets and lies to a theocratic Taliban ...

Today's reading is an old one, from The Merchant of Venice of all places:

LAUNCELOT: Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son: give me your blessing: truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son may, but at the length truth will out. (II,ii)

The pond knew the truth of 'the truth will out' a long time ago. Grow up in a country town and you learn about the rumour mill quickly. The moment a popular band leader was found - gasp - in a hotel room with another man, it was all over town in a flash. Yep, you also learned about bigotry and prejudice quickly.

Spend any time in Adelaide, and as soon as you walked down the street with a partner who wasn't your partner, someone would have the time and care to let your partner know about the partner within the half hour. And that was before the days of social media, which merely displace the telegram, and not the spirit, the nature, the urgency of pure gossip.

So it is that the pond isn't a bit surprised by this news:

Read Australian navy went into Indonesian waters 'too easily' and 'often' and there's nothing surprising, except perhaps the expectation of Australian bureaucrats and politicians would expect Indonesians to swallow gnats in support of their "inadvertent" lies.

But at least the pond now understands what "inadvertent" means"

On Friday, Indonesian navy spokesman Commodore Untung Suropati told Guardian Australia the 6 January incursion was a knowing and intentional breach by the Australian navy. 
 Suropati said Indonesian naval intelligence showed that the Australian vessels had come within seven miles (11km) of the shore on Rote island. Indonesia’s territorial waters extend to 12 nautical miles (22km). 
 “In the current era, navigation equipment to determine the position of a ship is very advanced. Therefore, it is not reasonable if it is said to be unintentional or not knowing,” Suropati added.

And there's more on the matters relating to injuries suffered by asylum seekers, because so long as the Australian government maintains furtiveness and secrecy as its modus operandi, the mushrooms will seek the light.

Not even having wall to wall hagiographers beavering away in the Murdoch press can keep the lid on the champignons ...

(And more Wilcox here)

What, you mean not even being able to work out where they are, giving new meaning to the phrase "all at sea"?

Meanwhile, Julie Bishop is busy cuddling up to a dictator, and crony Nick Minchin is off to a plum crony job.

It's tough work for the hagiographers, and by golly they're making hard work of it these days. Take this splash from the bouffant one ...

Uh huh. He has a "plan" for Shorten ... abuse him and the unions up hill and down dale and blame them for everything ...

But does he have a "plan" for the economy, economic management, jobs, life, pain and the whole damn thing?

Thus far Abbott and his government have lurched from crisis to crisis, frequently self-induced, with the latest effort by Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash mainly remarkable for the singularly stupid way it came about, and the naked intent that accompanied it. (and again you have to revert to The Guardian's Fiona Nash accused of misleading Senate again over food rating scheme, which thoughtfully also provided the text of a letter written by the South Australian minister on the subject here) .

If this had been an equally singular bit of incompetence and deviousness from a Labor hack, the reptiles at the lizard Oz would have been baying for blood.

Instead what does the foolish reader who's forked over a quid for the bouffant one's thoughts here (behind the paywall because you have to pay to witness quivering and cowering in action) cop for their pains?

Regurgitated three word slogans. Truly:

Abbott’s response is: “We have a plan for Australia. It means stopping the boats. It means fixing the budget. It means building the future. It means creating an Australia where everyone can expect a fair go and everyone is encouraged to have a go. That is the kind of Australia this government is creating.

Oh okay, there's a few longer slogans in the mix, just to demonstrate bears can handle intricate sentence constructions, but that's a plan? It's just another mealy-mouthed set of pieties ... and the bouffant one regurgitates it like a seagull spitting out a mouthful of mashed fish.

You can however catch the whiff of fear in the hagiographer's breath:

There is fear within the Coalition ranks that in its first five months the government has appeared to be too hard-hearted over the refusal to supply extra taxpayer funds to the SPC cannery, Holden and Toyota, and that it runs the risk of being seen to push Qantas, another icon, into more job losses and failure. There is the related fear that Hockey’s declarations about the necessity for the toughest budget in a decade will result in such deep cuts that the economy will stall.

Uh huh. So what's the plan? Well first up, it's to cave into a board, a CEO and a senior management that have demonstrably driven an airline down the gurgler, and reward them for their incompetence:

As part of a campaign to differentiate the principle of helping Qantas from not helping Holden or SPC, Hockey set out criteria for considering assistance that put Qantas in a unique position.

The unique position? It's all Bill Shorten's fault ...

Presumably Shorten also tampered with the Navy's navigation equipment, and slipped Nash a mickey finn  - ah ghosts of Raymond Chandler, the mickey finn here and wiki here.

Now Chandler knew how to write up someone with a really good plan:

I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.

But we digress because of the tedium, so let's have a final word from the bouffant one:

Abbott’s colleagues, while some are nervous, are still confident that his constant reminder not to be distracted by events in the short term but to keep the focus on the medium to long-term will provide a winner for the Coalition on economic management. 
Such discipline and focus has allowed Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to start talking about having “stopped the boats” - the issue that still carries a huge impact in the electorate - without getting headlines or television coverage.

No headlines?

He's boasting about it?

There are headlines of course - the pond started out by quoting one - it's just that you won't read them in Murdochian rags, dedicated to the art of lickspittle fawning and obsequious grovelling, having long ago given up the right and the ambition to be called fearless investigative probing journalists for the title of servile, hypocritical servants of humbug ...

Could anyone top the bouffant one's effort?

How silly of the pond to ask. You see, today is Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson day in the Oz, as it takes the worst from Fairfax and celebrates it on the rotating digital splash of doom:

WTF? He's still rabbiting on about B. A. Santamaria? Has he got Santamaria in his noggin like a bad case of fluid on the brain?

But even so, the pond is grateful because it's a chance to remember what Tony Abbott wrote about B. A. Santamaria, and which you can read in full here (elsewhere it's been eradicated from the intertubes as fearless leaders are wont to do to their home pages. You know, Orwell, pigs, that sort of thing, but at least we can rely on the NCC to celebrate Abbott celebrating Santamaria).

Some passages are truly thrilling:

"What is to be done?" was the one Marxist-Leninist interrogatory he (Santamaria) took rigorously to heart. The result, at least for those close to him, was a life of constant intellectual and political struggle against the conventional wisdom of the day that almost inevitably seemed to fall short of his bracing ideals. 
There are people from that conference, and all the others like it, in positions of intellectual leadership right around our country. It is a tribute to his influence and authority that, even now, it would be invidious to name them.
Some are notional political opponents between whom there's the bond of trust that comes from sharing an intellectual trench on a hostile battlefield. 
In the famous Melbourne University debate about the Spanish Civil War, he declared: "When the bullets of the atheists struck the statue of Christ outside the cathedral in Madrid, for some that was just steel striking brass. But for me, those bullets were piecing the heart of Christ the King."

Because, don't you know, supporting a vicious dictator supported by Hitler and the Nazis just feels really right. Here you go, here's your Godwin's Law moment:

But do go on:

 He could engender a thrill in the heart that was part patriotism, part Christian idealism and part "fighting the good fight". 
 I was lucky to know B.A. Santamaria for the last 22 years of his life, to have attended diligently to his writing and speaking over that time and to have been the beneficiary of the occasional private lunch and long phone call. I am honoured to have been asked to help launch these memoirs, as there are many whom he knew better and loved more. Perfectionist that he was, I'm fairly sure that I would have been a disappointment to him. 
Still, hardly a day passes without recalling his example and its challenge to do more, better.

Hardly a day passes ... presumably without remembering the thrill and the Christian honour of fighting the wicked atheists and supporting a vicious dictator ...

In his memoirs, Against the Tide, he observed: "In the midst of all these great historical events, we were nothing more than tiny minnows swimming in great and turbulent seas. But even the minnow must do what he can." 
Some tide. Some minnow.

Yep, he's even got his minnow in the Lodge.

All this was written and spoken by Abbott in 2007.

Now the pond understands the need to give away childish things, to stop speaking as a child and to speak as a woman (men find this very hard) but by 2007, the pond had given up on lamingtons, scones, ANZAC biscuits and many other fundamentals of modern political thought. And yet Abbott was still in thrall to his favourite mentor.

Oh dear. Right at this moment we seem to have entirely forgotten to quote Hendo, who can make paint peel with the blistering tedium of his words.

Does the pond care? Not really, because that would be an invitation for readers to support premium access to the lizard Oz, and what's the point of that? It only eggs them on ...

And besides these days anyone could write a Hendo column in their sleep, sleep being the best way to imitate the impact of a Hendo column.

Sectarian, anti-Catholic, what me a Santamaria acolyte, and so on and so forth ...

Let's just remember the real Abbott, calling Santamaria "a philosophical star by which you could always steer" and "the greatest living Australian" and read something a little more interesting:

...I thought that Santamaria had lost all political relevance decades earlier and was astonished that anyone would honour a man who inspired so much hatred. 
It became clear that Santamaria had been a crucial mentor for Abbott, ever since the early 1970s. As Michael Duffy remarks in his 2004 dual biography of Mark Latham and Tony Abbott, Santamaria’s effect on the latter was “immediate and profound”. A Catholic intellectual, Santamaria created an organisation known as ‘the Movement’. Using the idea of communist cadres, he had his followers infiltrate the unions to counteract their leftish ideology and to stop the spread of communism. He was president of the organisation from 1943 until 1957, when the Movement evolved into the National Civic Council. Even more insidious was his part in helping keep the Labor Party out of office throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was a major influence in the formation of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) – a breakaway group of the ALP. He hoped to siphon the Catholics from the ALP into the DLP, and attract the anti-communist vote. 
There are people, like Abbott, who believe that Santamaria’s crusade against communism was a success. His major weapon was to create a climate of fear; he was constantly hectoring people with the idea that communists in Australia were buying up arsenals and guns in preparation for the revolution. Another tactic was to prophesy the end of civilisation as we know it. He likened Australia to the fifth century when the Roman Empire collapsed, and he viewed the Vietnam War as a crusade. Yet despite his anti-communism, he disliked capitalism, especially in its guise of economic rationalism. Santamaria’s ideal epoch was the Middle Ages and, as such, he wanted to turn us into a nation of farmers and cottage industries, with women permanently barefoot and pregnant. He vigorously opposed abortion and birth control. He blamed the Bloomsbury Set (Virginia Woolf and the like) for contemporary sexual decadence and the undermining of family values. As he became increasingly sidelined politically, his view of the world shrank to a hermetic and clammy chamber of religious and political certainties. Near the end of his 60-year career, he had doubts about liberal democracy, and in his wish to return to traditional Catholic values there was a touch of the theocratic Taliban about him. (here)

A touch of the theocratic Taliban! Now there's a plan for the future ...

But hang on a second.

What's the chance Hendo thinks it's all the fault of the wicked sectarian atheists intent on bringing the minnow down?

...Now Paul Kelly, the national political commentator in The Australian newspaper, has opened up a rich vein of speculation. In regards to Abbott's parental leave scheme, funded by a tax on big business, Kelly reckons he sees a distinctive Catholic Liberal approach, or at least an Abbott-Catholic Liberal approach. 
In particular he recognises a Catholic social tradition as espoused by Santamaria, a tradition suspicious of the market and of big business. Kelly goes so far as to argue that this new policy 'shows Abbott's emotional preference for Santamaria over Howard'. 
 He argues that Abbott represents a departure from the Liberal mainstream. He makes him sound like the Independent Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine, another with deep roots on the Santamaria side of the Split and a commitment to Catholic social teaching. (here, amongst the Jesuits)

Eek. Even the reptiles are infected. Fumigate the joint.

So there it is. You start off with silence, secrecy and lies, pass by a Senator demolishing a web site for no good reason, listen to a pack of empty slogans, and the next thing you know end up in theocratic Taliban land ....

So, as the humbug Ellis might say, it goes ...

Now let's all get in the mood for a Pope cartoon with a singalong:

When the moon is in the Santamaria House
And Joyce aligns with Mars
Then Hendo and Abbott will guide the planets
And entitlement will steer the stars ...
This is the dawning of the Age of healthy Catholic family entitlements
Age of Catholic entitlements
Entitlemenst! Entitlemenst!
Harmony and understanding for breeding programs outstanding
Sympathy and trust and cash and Nick Minchin abounding ...
No more unions or maintenance down under
Golden Qantas dreams of government cash
Mystic Minchin crystal revelation ...

And so on. The pond is primed, take it away Mr. Pope, and as always, more Pope here. Ah yes, the very entitled Mr Minchin ...

Tough days for the hagiographers, tough days indeed ...


  1. As usual Dot you amused, informed and terrified.

    If BA were alive today he would be more than disappointed in TA. I suggest he would be railing against his policies. BA seemed to have utopian agrarian socialist ideas and would haved hated all the neo-liberal stuff spouted in the Canberra.Big Top.

    And really Dennis Shanahan should check his code of ethics. Journalists are not meant to smooth the way for anyone.

  2. Further to above I suspect Abbott was attracted to BA not because of shared ideals but because BA was a warrior for his ideals. Abbott has no ideals. He just likes to fight people.

    I believe he is trying to crush the unions not because of any deeply held neo liberal principles but because he wants to sink the ALP.

    It must be very handy for the zealots to have such a person 'leading' the charge.

    Abbott would be enjoying himself mightily at the moment. Lots of blood about.

  3. "I'm fairly sure that I would have been a disappointment to him. " Tony is casting his net far too narrowly. I'm fairly sure that very soon he will be a disappointment to an entire nation, he's already more than half way there.

    I am old enough to remember some of those Santamaria rants on his own little spot on TV (where did the NCC get its money?) and he really lived in a world of his own, rather like Abbott. He saw communists everywhere, but the unions of course were the source of most of them. What BA didn't seem to understand was that most members didn't vote for the communists because of their political philosophy, but because they got results. As Aleksandr the meerkat would say "Simple!" (wink).

    1. Russ, I also remember "Point of View" very well, with Bob's worried frown and staccato delivery (ever noticed how much Eric Abetz sounds like Santamaria?). Of course, the main reason I saw it was because it came on between "World Championship Wrestling" ("Festival Hall... BE THERE!") and Epic Theatre.

      Apparently the Bob's spot was funded by the Packers - In a similar vein to Bolt's show being funded by Gina - purely for its nuisance value

  4. How fundie evangelicals are taking over the US military.

    And this from a senior ex-CIA guy! (Philip Giraldi)

    "And then there is the strange tale of Pat Tillman, the National Football League player who volunteered for the Army after 9/11. Tillman, an Army ranger, was shot dead by his own comrades on a patrol in Afghanistan in April 2004, resulting in an elaborate military cover-up relating to his death. Tillman was apparently an outspoken non-believer and there is some evidence that he also had turned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Credible speculation by both the Tillman family and also by former General Wesley Clark suggests that he was murdered, three bullet holes in his forehead indicating that he might have been shot by an M-16 at close range. His fellow soldiers also uncharacteristically burned his clothing and his body armor after he died, and Tillman’s personal diary went missing. A criminal investigation was requested but turned down by Army brass. When the family complained, the leading investigating officer Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich commented that they were venting because the Tillmans were all non-believers, saying “…if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt.”"

  5. DP - I appreciated your comment recently about how to approach racism in great art. You can appreciate the film-making skill of a Riefenstahl or Eisenstein while still being vehemently opposed to their ideology.

    This can help explain (excuse) erotica in art as well. Why were western artists in the 19th so obsessed with nudes? But you cannot argue with the greatness of erotic nudes by Goya or Manet.

    Some films start with a racist world view, but lead you into a tale of redemption - like Ford's The Searchers, or even 55 Days in Peking, And some are just cracking good adventures in any age - eg, The Man Who Would be King.

    But racial stereotypes abound in all ages and in much art. My old Dad (who is a homophobe but loves music) learnt that Tchaikovsky was gay, but still listened to his music, which he loved. When I was a stroppy teenager I questioned him about this. His reply was along the lines of "great art can transcend our personal morality" - a comment for which I am eternally grateful.

    I thoroughly recommend Stephen Fry's series on Wagner (if you're into grand opera), which investigates this.

    1. By golly Anon you've got the pond on side with that list - Ford also attempted to redeem his earlier treatment of indigenous Americans with Cheyenne Autumn, not a great film like The Searchers, but interesting, and as for The Man Who Would be King, what a lovely exposition on the colonial spirit it is. And Tchaik how he suffered in a way that some gay artists still suffer today, and yes we've done the Fry on Wagner thanks, and a good reference you've made, and just how do we cope with the bigotry and prejudice woven into art?

      It's surely one of the great contradictions between art as message, and art which exercises a strange, skilled appeal. The pond's usual line is that if you can spot and discuss it, you can enjoy the art while rejecting the bigotry and the prejudice ... this also helps explain why a bigot like the Bolter can enjoy art, though why he insists in the real world on modelling himself on Scarpia only he can understand ...

      What was most irritating about Albrechtsen was her pounding away at Scorsese because he took up events that had actually happened, and whipped them up into a screen treat in much the same way as he'd done for gangsters.

      Of course US capitalism is run by gangsters. It's been that way since the robber barons of the nineteenth century, with their families long ago turned respectable. And these days gangsters run Russia. Only a lickspittle for the gangsters would pretend otherwise ... but these questions have little to do with whether you can stay the 180 minute course ... the pond could, but Albrechtsen put herself in the same category as Macca on a Sunday, cluck clucking and tut tutting about the show. Not a clue, not a single clue about anything ...

  6. "...national political commentator in The Australian newspaper, has opened up a rich vein..."

    oh how I wish a few of the commentariat would open a vein or two....and put us out of their misery


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