(Above: it's that time of year again and the Newtown firies come to the party)
What to say?
Just days after the rort-laden Sochi games (the pond hesitates to soil the word Olympics, with its ancient times meaning long lost), the real Putin emerges, and the blind snow worshippers are revealed as having danced in the shadow of a vicious dictator organising a coup in the Crimea.
Anyone can marvel at the depressing way sport has served dictators from Hitler to Putin, and then depress themselves even further by reading Crimean coup is payback for Putin for Ukraine's revolution...
Meanwhile, to move from the awful to the ridiculous, a Fairfax poll today shows that Bazza O'Farrell has led his government down the rabbit hole of popularity polling, to a precarious 49-51 state which sees the Labor party suddenly in the lead - even though it's led by somebody no one's heard of and if someone has heard his name on the breeze, no one cares for ...
It's truly amazing scenes, in Corruption fallout hits O'Farrell, (forced video at end of link), but while corruption might be the main reason - what a state for rum rebellions - don't under-estimate the way greed and fracking and the desire to make billions by shipping gas to international markets is also having an impact. Lower domestic prices? The pond has an almost new harbour bridge available to you at a knockdown price ...
Never mind, it's party day, and what better way to party than to check up on the lizard Oz and see how the reptiles' business plan is going. You know, the one that will see them wave a balance sheet in Paul Barry's face and say 'see, we finally made a profit, nah, nah, by selling papers and stories to angry old white males'.
Come on down bouffant one:
Tony Abbott's moral high ground?
Oh hey, it's party time, and never you mind the high moral ground of Fiona Nash and murder on Manus Island, and ... oh go on, add your own high moral ground here ...
But wait there's more moral blather available ...
Moral vanity? Chris Kenny is lecturing the Labor party about moral vanity?
But wait, you almost forgot the steak knives:
And then there's the souffle that never rises:
Choices, choices, so many treats, so many choices.
Of course the pond glutton will evade the paywall and devour them all.
Who could resist Chris Kenny lecturing on moral vanity, and never mind the MAMIL that preened his way to power, and who could resist Greg Sheridan posing as a friend of the extreme right wing government that currently presides over the theocratic state of Israel?
Yes, it wants to be known as a Jewish state, just read Haaretz here, though you might encounter a paywall and need to google around it:
Yep, there are Jewish people with a different understanding of the world than the rabid Netanyahu, you just won't find them in the lizard Oz. But you will find them blocking their ears to things like the Amnesty report, forcing you to go to other places to read about it - Amnesty International accuses Israeli armed forces of possible war crimes.
But frankly the pond was most beguiled by that good old Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson's piece of impeccable logic, which, sad to say, almost immediately led the pond to begin thinking sinful thoughts.
Herr Hitler has been vindicated by his appointment to Chancellor by President Hindenburg
And so on. Oh they were probably only venial sins - consult the Catholic encyclopaedia here for a lengthy tortured consideration of all kinds of sins - thought crimes of a mild kind, remedied by a little cash in the swear jar ...
Naturally Hendo sees a triumph, a veritable swathe of palms on the road no matter where the Pellists ride their donkeys, and the last thing on his mind would be the uncharitable remarks of Mike Carlton this morning:
Even more remarkable, Carlton proposed that Bishop Anthony (that's Fisher to you) is the hot favourite to replace him.
As Carlton notes, Fisher had his moment in the sun back in 2008 when asked to comment on an ABC report on compensation for a family whose daughters were raped by Melbourne priest Kevin O'Donnell when they were in primary school:
"Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying [and] delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people and the hope for us doing these sorts of things better in the future, as we saw last night, rather than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds." (here)
Oh yes that Fisher of men will make a fine Pellist ... fancy brooding about child rape.
The pond couldn't resist the siren song of the Hendo.
How would he spin his story? Well if you can be bothered getting around the paywall to read Pell an easy target for anti-Catholic commentators, you'll score a classic opening:
Paul Collins, the author and former Catholic priest, is a “go to” contact whenever the ABC is seeking comment on the Catholic Church. The taxpayer-funded public broadcaster is replete with both former and disillusioned Catholics along with abundant atheists to whom a left-of-centre commentator like Collins has a certain appeal.
So it came as no surprise that ABC television and radio went to Collins for comment soon after Tess Livingstone broke the story in The Australian last Tuesday that Cardinal George Pell has been appointed by Pope Francis to the new Vatican position of Prefect for the Economy.
It's a classic, smoting and smiting Paul Collins and the ABC, and praising the reptiles for breaking the story, and then Hendo has to go and ruin it with a brain snap:
This makes Pell equal second in the Vatican hierarchy along with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State.
Which he compounds with a further brain snap:
Pell has been underestimated by his many critics, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. On Thursday, Kristina Keneally, the former Labor premier of NSW and a Catholic, wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald that there was “reason to breathe a sigh of relief” as the cardinal “now heads off to Rome”. She also criticised Pell’s conservatism and his “authority-based” attitude to doctrine.
Like Collins, Keneally overlooked Pell’s very real success in Melbourne and Sydney and the fact his conservatism reflects the church’s teaching.
Very real success?
...Pell has not actually achieved much in terms of his ambition to restore unity to the Church and restore the confidence of 'rattled' Catholics. His star has risen in an age when Australian Catholics ceased to be a tightly-knit community of largely Irish working-class migrants and their offspring dependent on Church resources such as schools to climb the social ladder; when weekly Mass attendance collapsed to around 12 per cent of the nominal faithful; when Church appeals to authority attract derision where they are not entirely ignored. These are not circumstances in which anyone, much less Pell, was likely to turn things around. (here)
And then another brain snap:
That’s why Pell is now second only to the successor of St Peter in the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.
Suddenly Pell has gone from shared second to second only?
But in the pond's limited understanding of the Vatican bureaucracy, Pell is a kind of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Parolin, the secretary of state, the rough equivalent of a Prime Minister. Or at least that's how they described the gig at Catholic Culture here:
Acting effectively as “prime minister” for the Roman Pontiff, the Secretary of State is the second-ranking official at the Vatican, with broad authority over the internal actions and diplomatic policies of the Holy See. Exercising profound influence over the life of the Church, the Secretaries of State of the last four decades have included Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot (1969-79), Cardinal Agostino Casaroli (1979-90), Cardinal Angelo Sodano (1991-2006), and Cardinal Bertone (2006-13). Cardinal Sodano, who is now 85, remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals.
So why over-egg the position?
Truth to tell, the powers of the now ten Cardinal-prelates are flexible, and in what is in reality a non-hereditary absolute monarchy, they're all high powered bureaucrats, inner city elitists with a taste for frocks of the kind guaranteed to send Hendo into a frenzy ... modern day Machiavellis, if you will ...
Funnily enough, you can find out more about Pell and his position by heading off to the ABC's report by Noel Debien, Cardinal George Pell inherits power and challenges in new post as head of Vatican finances, along with a link to the Vatican's job description, here.
What you cop from Hendo in the rest of his piece is the usual tiresome tedious business of listing sundry souls who've offended the Pellists and so Hendo, including but not limited to Paul Collins, Barney Zwartz, The Age, grovelling Fairfax Media, inevitably David Marr, all sorts at the ABC from Virginia Trioli on News Breakfast and Phil Clark, and inevitably Phillip Adams and a hostile Leigh Sales and Lateline's Emma Alberici, and Keneally, and then to this classic justification:
Pell’s position, unfashionable at the time to the likes of Sales and Alberici, has been vindicated by the evidence provided to the royal commission with respect to other Christian churches and religions, the Salvation Army and state government departments and institutions.
Yes m'lud there were others wot were doing it too, and just as bad, and somethink shockin' and horrid, m'lud, and gor blimey doesn't that make us come out smelling like roses in comparison... Why m'lud if you think of Stalin, there's something to be said for Herr Hitler ...
It turns out that, in the usual Hendo way, if you dare to say a word against the Pellists, why you're wicked and you should be given a good smacking, which is perhaps how the problems in the Catholic church started way back when ...
As always after a hearty swig of prattling Polonius, the pond likes a chaser, and since we've already quoted Guy Rundle on the tedious way that Henderson quotes sinners like an obsessive anal retentive, how about this for a closer?
“The key division in democratic societies is no longer between rich and poor…” Henderson writes. True: it’s between right-wing elites who turn up to inner-city Sydney Institute gabfests, and people who get ripped off by some of them — such as Rodney Adler, or NSW prisoner 181362, who was a major donor to the place for years. You won’t see many of HIH’s victims at Gerard’s sherry and Coon nights in Philip St. Really. (here, back in 2011)
Rodney Adler as a major donor to the inner-city elitists resident in the Philip Street bunker in the heart of Sydney? Oh say it ain't so ...
As for the rest of the reptiles, well you can chose your poison as you like, but the pond will leave Shanahan and Kenny blathering on about morality for another time. There's only so much can be stood in a single day, especially when it's a party day ...
But there's room for one final bit of unhappiness. The pond has family currently affected by the fire in Morwell, who've regularly reported on the misery of the place.
We haven't had the heart to link them to the story of the town of Centralia, Final Holdoutds Refuse To Flee from Pennysylvania Coal Fire That Has Burned Since 1962.
Up Tamworth way, once the centre of the known universe until they elected Barners, there's a Burning Mountain that has been smouldering away for some 6,000 years (or so the wiki says if you do a Greg Hunt here). Of course that's out of the way and just a nice stopover on the way to listen to country music ...
But every so often, what with fracking and coal and the luddite taste for fossil fuels at any cost and at any price to Morwell and its citizens and the ants busy turning places like the Hunter Valley into a moonscape, the pond does wonder what future generations will eat.
Let's hope they develop a taste for Solyent Green ...
(Below: which naturally brings us to a David Pope cartoon, and more Pope here. And if you don't get the RET joke, here, have a crack at that).