(Above: god's gift to cartoonists, the book case man, and lordy lordy, if She only existed, how the pond could praise Her wonderful sensa huma. As it is, it's left to the likes of Wilcox and Katuskas to be funny).
The pond had thought it had seen and heard everything when Tony Abbott came out with "terminological clarification" when it came to the matter of George Brandis and Occupied East Jerusalem.
Even Julie Bishop's desperate attempt to assert that East Jerusalem was East Jerusalem was East Jerusalem, as she let her inner Gertrude Stein run loose, couldn't top it.
But that terminological mystification was a sideshow when it came to Bishop's finicky, fussy, hair-splitting of the first water:
The head of the Palestinian delegation to Canberra, Izzat Abdulhadi, told Guardian Australia that Bishop had explained to the ambassadors at Thursday’s meeting that Brandis had been “talking about occupied with a capital O as a noun and part of East Jerusalem’s name, which the government did not support”. She said she was happy to say East Jerusalem was occupied with a small “o” as a description. (Ministers set to condemn decision to call East Jerusalem 'disputed')
Say what? It's "o" v. "O" - it's occupied, but not Occupied?
All this has arise because George "the book case man" Brandis decided to shoot off his mouth, and in the way of many mixed metaphors, promptly shot himself in the foot.
And then came news of further farce, when Brandis on the ABC's 7.30, refused to use either 'occupied' or 'disputed', as if somehow the words could be banished in Humpty Dumpty style.
All the pond can do is commend Brandis's appearance on 7.30 last night, here, wherein he initially attempted to deal with the whole sorry befuddled business of the federal government paying for Christian missionaries to go into the den of secular iniquity known as the heathen public school system, before inevitably Brandis was derailed by yet another turn towards Jerusalem by a media preoccupied with the notion of being occupied ...
There's such a welter of fine quotes as Brandis tried to play a straight bat, up there with Trevor Bailey or Bill Lawry - don't ask the pond what this means, apparently it stands for the way utter tedium can be transformed into a kind of ecstasy - and constantly hit himself on the pads...
First up Brandis, a solid team player - what wag whispered the name Kevin Pietersen in the pond's ear, stop it please we're typing - dumped Bishop right in it:
SARAH FERGUSON: Well you say that, but at the same time, the Foreign Minister today told those ambassadors that from now on, all the comments would be coming from her or the Prime Minister. Sounds like you're being censored.
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well, that's not correct. I represent the Foreign Minister in the Senate. I was asked some questions in Senate Estimates. To avoid confusion the morning after I answered those questions and in consultation with the Foreign Minister, I read into the record a statement authorised by her. It is perfectly obvious from that statement that there has been - there was never any policy change. Australia has always and continues to support the two-state solution and I've got nothing to add to what has been said - what I said in the Senate Estimates committee and what the Foreign Minister has said.
And then he turned mute. Some wayward cat got hold of his tongue. He didn't need Abbott or Bishop to censor him, the talkative bookcase man showed he could do it to himself:
SARAH FERGUSON: Alright. Well just for the sake of our viewers because they're not familiar with all of those interchanges, just for clarity, is the eastern part of Jerusalem occupied?
GEORGE BRANDIS: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Sarah, I'm not going to be a commentator on this area. SARAH FERGUSON: You're far from a commentator because you're the person who made the original remarks. It's a very straightforward question: ...
GEORGE BRANDIS: Sarah, ...
SARAH FERGUSON: ... do you regard East Jerusalem as occupied or disputed?
GEORGE BRANDIS: Sarah, I'm not going to indulge your desire for me to play word games. I have nothing to add to what I said in the Senate Estimates committee and I have nothing to add to what the Foreign Minister said today, both of which are entirely consistent with each other.
SARAH FERGUSON: You call them word games, but the ambassadors of those countries and also, I think, 57 countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Saudi Arabia tonight see this as being very far from a series of word games. You'd be well aware of that. So let's just go back to that original question in relation to disputed versus occupied. If you won't comment on East Jerusalem, answer the question then about the territories of the West Bank - are they on occupied or disputed territory?
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well, Sarah, I'm not the Foreign Minister and I'm not going to respond to questions which ought to be directed to the Foreign Minister.
SARAH FERGUSON: You're the person that started this by referring to those territories, both East Jerusalem and the West Bank as being disputed and not occupied and you'd be well aware that any discussion around the language of occupation in Israel is a matter for significant international attention. There has been significant international attention. I'm just trying to clear up your position.
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well the position has never been in doubt, and the position is as I expressed it, by reading into the record of the Senate Estimates committee the Thursday before last a statement that had been authorised by the Foreign Minister. That statement leaves no doubt at all about Australian policy.
SARAH FERGUSON: Except that it didn't actually deal with the question of occupied versus disputed, which is what this whole discussion, the whole flare-up and argument is about.
GEORGE BRANDIS: Sarah, I don't know how many times I have to say that I've got nothing to add to what I said to the Senate Estimates committee and what Ms Bishop has said in her statement this afternoon, both of which are completely consistent with one another, which is not surprising because there has never been a policy change.
What a hoot. So was it Brandis, or did Bishop sell him the dump?
Occasionally the pond has a paranoid turn of mind - it must come from reading Chris Mitchell's lizard Oz - and the pond began to think it was a tremendously clever conspiracy to generate sympathy for Julie Bishop as, Alice-like, she attempted to make sense of a very strange world, in which Brandis reads out a brand new policy which he promptly attributes to her, and then refuses to talk about, because only she should talk about, except that he talked about it in front of a Senate Estimates committee.
It's head spinning weird. Did we mention Humpty Dumpty?
'What a beautiful dispute you've got on!' Alice suddenly remarked. (They had had quite enough of the subject of age, she thought: and if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.)
'At least,' she corrected herself on second thoughts, 'a beautiful occupation I should have said—no, a dispute, I mean—I beg your pardon!' she added in dismay, for Humpty Dumpty looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn't chosen that subject.
'If I only knew,' she thought to herself, 'which was east and which was west!'
Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry, though he said nothing for a minute or two. When he DID speak again, it was in a deep growl.
'It is a—MOST—PROVOKING—thing,' he said at last, 'when a person doesn't know a dispute from an occupation!'
'I know it's very ignorant of me,' Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.
'It's a dispuoccutation, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It's a present from the Arab states. There now!' 'Is it really?' said Alice, quite pleased to find that she HAD chosen a good subject, after all.
'They gave it me,' Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully, as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, 'they gave it me—for an un-birthday present.' (and if you haven't heard of an unbirthday present, it's here at Project Gutenberg)
But at least Brandis had done the heavy lifting, and now Dennis Jensen has joined in, and the whole yowling cacophony of confused cats will continue on their merry way, and all of it completely unnecessary, a drawing of attention to an area that sat quietly on the shelf, followed by a retreat into catatonic muteness.
Fortunately, this has taken the heat off other stumble bums, like the poodle Pyne.
What's that you say?
Even the Murdoch tabloids are now openly mocking the poodle with their patented Photoshop treatment of the news?
The pond is of course shocked and deplores the tabloid misuse of Photoshop to look and sound like an issue of The Onion.
And look, it even made it in to the Oz, which prides itself as being a sombre, serious broadsheet (I know, I know, send in the clowns or at least the cartoonists or the Photoshoppers):
The reptiles added this flourish:
Classical Latin was spoken by the ancient Romans and extracts of the Latin language are used in legal circles and the Roman Catholic Church.
Modern Language Teachers’ Association of Queensland president Cynthia Dodd said she preferred her children first learn a living language. “It is so far from being a currently spoken language,” she said.
P and Cs Qld chief executive Kevan Goodworth said it would be “patently absurd” to teach Latin rather than a language like Mandarin.
Oh sheesh, the pond has done a Daily Quail. Quick, here's a link, and please, no Monty Python jokes.