Sunday, September 07, 2014

Anything goes, including the stupidity of conservatives who fail to understand that anything goes ...

(Above: more cartoons from the same New Yorker edition here)

This being a meditative Sunday, it's time to catch up on some recent reading, and last week the most astonishing read was Connie Bruck's effort for The New Yorker, Friends of Israel (right at this moment outside the paywall but a lengthy read).

The pond is accustomed to being told there's no such thing as a Jewish lobby, often by lobbyists for the Jewish state or more particularly the right wing government of the Jewish state, but Bruck bells that cat, and provides extensive detail on the behaviour of AIPAC (note to Graudian readers, that's AIPAC) and its support of the right wing fundamentalist government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Any criticism of Netanyahu's government and its cynical ongoing land grabs and its absolute determination, not just to not ceded an inch but to steal a mile, and its absolute lack of interest in a peace process, is automatically construed as anti-Semitism, when in fact it is simply a belief that a government based on fundamentalism creates more problems than it solves.

If it keeps following its current heading, the government will have to maintain an even more constrained and punitive gulag for a captive population, an irony which doesn't escape the ostensible reason for establishing Israel, which was to provide a homeland free of gulags ...

Bruck's piece has provoked interest and criticism - as in 'New Yorker' limits its expose of of Israel lobby to AIPAC - and reliably the conservative media produced the usual defensive, defiant denialism, as in Eric H. Yoffie's piece for Time, The AIPAC Wars are Underway Again, in which Yoffie demonstrates perfectly the mindset examined by Bruck.

If you google Bruck's piece, you can find even more examples of the 'four legs good two legs bad' variety of response, but at least the pond now feels comfortable about mentioning the Jewish lobby, and its sometimes unhealthy influence on any movement towards resolving the situation of the Palestinians, caught between two forms of fundamentalism - Jewish and Islamic.

Speaking of fundamentalism, that's a perfectly good segue to Jason Whittaker scribbling about Alan Jones turning up like a bad penny in Opera Australia's version of a Cole Porter musical.

Anything goes at OA, even a bitter shock jock who can't act, scribbled Whittaker, and what a great take down it was:

In October 2008, amid internal rumblings in Opera Australia, Alan Jones invited then-CEO Adrian Collette on to his top-rated 2GB radio show and spent 30 minutes eviscerating him for artistic decisions and wasting taxpayer money. “You’ve abandoned some of the greatest artists,” he thundered. “We need to stop the rot and tyranny that’s invaded every corner of this company and wipe it clean,” he spat at one point. 
So what would Alan make of this: next year the company is presenting a Cole Porter musical with no operatic parts, and for one role has passed over numerous experienced performers to employ a multimillionaire bigoted radio shock jock who can’t sing or act.

Oh this is just so unfair. The pond understands for an absolute certainty, a dead cert bet, that Cole Porter wrote the role in a form which allowed a screeching parrot to bring out the subtleties of the character.

That Jones has no discernible performing chops — the bitter and twisted vaudeville of his breakfast radio show aside — is the least offensive aspect to the decision. Stunt casting has a storied history of putting bums on seats. 
But why this man? 
Why a zealot who divides communities, who berates and bullies anyone who dares to disagree, who twists powerful arms in private and rallies his disciples in public to achieve personal crusades? A man who famously inspired racial violence on the beaches, who regularly employs misogyny against leaders, who even exploited the death of a prime minister’s father? A vigorous critic of art he doesn’t like, of grants he thinks are undeserving, of performing institutions that abandon artistic rigour?

And so on, and who could argue with any of that, and by the end of Whittaker's most excellent rant, the pond was absolutely determined to boycott the show. The only trouble is, the pond wouldn't be caught dead in the audience and hadn't booked tickets, and so talk of a boycott, for the pond at least, is entirely academic.

So it's back to boycotting those other fundamentalists, the reptiles at Murdoch.

Which reluctantly brings the pond to today's business, in which the Sunday Terrorist Murdochians take a time out from Islamic bashing to produce surely one of the most curious front pages in recent times:

Once a tabloid, always a tabloid.

Does it get any better?

Of course it does, if you frequent the digital edition because it's free, and relatively harmless - apart from the unwitting revenue provided to the reptiles by the clicks - and the false impression that somehow anything published in the Terror is remotely relevant to the real world. Check out this wondrous tabloid juxaposition:

Talk about a poignant juxtaposition.

What's even more remarkable is that the Devine's exercise in hagiographic knob polishing first appeared in Spectator Australia.

It turns out that all the lickspittle Murdoch lackeys can now be found in the Spectator - if you click on the Australian site, here, as of today, you can find the piece by Devine, a piece by Akker Dakker, and the Bolter, and Nick Cater, and Rowan Dean, and so on and endlessly on.

So what does this mean? Well the last time the pond checked on the circulation figures for The Spectator's Australian version, it was doing 8,511 issues in the second half of 2013, a y/y drop of -17.8% (here).

There are probably more up to date figures, but it doesn't matter, the point is that the rag is a gnat travelling on the back of a flea, and it suggests the real value of herding the cats of News Corpse together and let them yowl at the moon.

If you like, you can click on the Devine piece at the Spectator with the spectacularly silly title It's the high achievers, stupid.

Yes stupid, somehow the Devine has deemed the Abbott government is full of high achievers.

There is of course nothing of substance to read in the Devine piece. It's just more of the usual hagiographical knob polishing, which establishes that the Spectator is just a vulgar tabloid in drag, and it's now just a lickspittle chattel of the Murdoch empire, publishing the dregs while purporting independence.

Meanwhile, the Devine's piece is full of unintentional comedy. You see, even she recognises the first year of the Abbott government has been a spectacular fuck up, and the only way to present it is to celebrate future triumphs:

...Abbott in his first year is slandered daily and trounced in opinion polls by his lacklustre opponent Bill Shorten. Unlike Rudd, he doesn’t seem to mind. He has a black belt in keeping his ego in check. The screaming protest banshees imagine they smell blood and that soon the aberrant reign of Abbott will be over. They delude themselves. Abbott grows ever more sure-footed as he and his team settle in for a long hard grind.

Yes, it helps to be delusional, hysterical and paranoid when scribbling for the Spectator/News alliance, but this is where it got funny:

So before we dig into the bucketful of complaints about the first year of the Abbott government, consider the quality of the people who sit on its benches. 
For starters, there are three Rhodes Scholars: Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Angus Taylor. Two more ministers have degrees from Oxford University: George Brandis, QC, and Josh Frydenberg, who has the added distinction of a Masters degree from Harvard University. 
Two other MPs also have Masters from Harvard, among the seven MBAs, two MPAs and four PhDs on the government benches. Two more have Masters of Philosophy from Cambridge. Fulbright scholar Greg Hunt has an MA from Yale to add to his BA and LLB from the University of Melbourne, with honours. Former WA treasurer and attorney-general Christian Porter, a one-time prosecutor who arrived in 2013’s record intake of MPs, has an impressive four degrees, including a Master of Science in Political Theory from the London School of Economics where he topped his class. And he’s a mere backbencher. 
Three government MPs are medical doctors, including Dr David Gillespie, a gastroenterologist who won independent Rob Oakeshott’s old seat of Lyne. He is also a farmer, one of 16 in government. There are at least 30 solicitors and barristers, and five former police officers, including Jason Wood, once a Detective Senior Sergeant in Victoria’s organised crime squad and counter-terrorism unit.

Hang on, hang on, we've got a bunch of out of touch academics, pen pushers and degree chasers in charge? What's the bet they like a decent red and maybe a chardonnay, and love a nice latte as a heart starter in the morning?

And if they're not academically inclined at the sophisticated Greg Hunt level - the pond finds all its facts in wikis too - then there's a bunch of rapscallion activist lawyers and legal eagles in charge?

You can see the profound irony and the fun here. How many days, how many weeks and years, have the reptiles routinely traduced out of touch, head in clouds academics, and activist lawyers and suddenly the Devine is having a fainting fit at a few degrees?

And what's more, this sort of degree worship, designed to sell copies and work for the mug punters who think buying the Spectator is a sign of conservative sophistication, is being peddled to the thugby league oafs who infest the western suburbs, and are construed to be the natural demographic of the Terror?

Now that's how to confuse and conflate your demographics ...

It gets even more fatuous when you think for a nanosecond of the stupidity of the Devine's logic. Academic degree equals the political smarts?

Galvanised by the political farce of Labor years, the Abbott government is full of people driven to revive the nation. They are serious people who will make the machinery of government work again. So before we bag a one-year-old administration full of new MPs, let’s give them a chance, as the Prime Minister says, to be their “best selves”.
Judging by their CVs, their best is as good as it gets.

That's seriously pathetic, pleading stuff, as desperate as it gets. Give them a fair go because they've got a degree or two amongst them?

It's pitiful, it's woeful, it's tragic, and if that logic is followed to a conclusion, then the Abbott government is truly fucked.

We should give them a go because they've got good CVs? How stupid is that? We should give them a go because they're adept and competent, and unfortunately we've all come across padded CVs and met half-arsed Rhodes Scholars who proved second rate in academia (yes yes, we've all read a certain man's academic record in Tony Abbott's Oxford transcript released):

Not a single A to be found. Why on that basis, and on the Devine's logic, the pond should be running the country.

Take Brandis and Hunt as further examples of the way academic training resolutely fails to work for those who are bears with very little brain.

"Everyone has a right to be a bigot" Brandis has been a disaster area for the entire year, and nothing in his behaviour shows he's learned anything; Hunt by way of contrast, has been a disaster for the environment and for climate science.

And big Mal has treacherously betrayed every bit of potential the NBN might have been able to offer, with the latest nail in his pathetic coffin David Braue's NBN fibre rollout was going to be cheaper, sooner, pilot results show.

Contrariwise, at least the pond now understands why the country and the budget is fucked. Yes Jolly Joe Hockey misses out on the Devine's roll call of super smart academic types ...

So there we have it this meditative Sunday. The Terror so confused by dingoes that it suddenly thinks its readership gives a flying fuck about academics and lawyers running the country, the Australian Spectator so confused it thinks it's the natural tabloid home for tabloid refugees from Murdoch, and doesn't that show in its circulation figures, and meanwhile the country endures the reality of B grade minds with too much testosterone wrecking the joint ...

Is it any wonder the pond occasionally recommends The New Yorker as an alternative?

And why boycotting Alan Jones might be fun.

After all, the whole point of Cole Porter's song is to establish just why the Alan Jones and Miranda the Devines of this world are fucked in the head ...

Below one set of lyrics for the song, and below that Cole Porter performing it, with different lyrics that show how he changed it to throw in personal references suited to the times, though the key thought remains the same ... anything goes.

By golly, could the pond do a variation on the Abbott government and Murdoch papers ... how about "anything snows"?

Times have changed, 
And we've often rewound the clock, 
Since the Puritans got a shock, 
When they landed on Plymouth Rock. 
If today, 
Any shock they should try to stem, 
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, 
Plymouth Rock would land on them. 
In olden days a glimpse of stocking 
Was looked on as something shocking, 
But now, God knows, 
Anything Goes. 
Good authors too who once knew better words, 
Now only use four letter words 
Writing prose, 
Anything Goes. 
The world has gone mad today 
And good's bad today, 
And black's white today, 
And day's night today, 
When most guys today 
That women prize today 
Are just silly gigolos 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes 
When grandmama whose age is eighty 
In night clubs is getting matey with gigolos, 
Anything Goes. 
When mothers pack and leave poor father 
Because they decide they'd rather be tennis pros, 
Anything Goes. 
If driving fast cars you like, 
If low bars you like, 
If old hymns you like, 
If bare limbs you like, 
If Mae West you like 
Or me undressed you like, 
Why, nobody will oppose! 
When every night, 
The set that's smart 
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios, 
Anything Goes. 
The world has gone mad today 
And good's bad today, 
And black's white today, 
And day's night today, 
When most guys today 
That women prize today 
Are just silly gigolos 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes 
If saying your prayers you like,  
If green pears you like 
If old chairs you like, 
If back stairs you like, 
If love affairs you like 
With young bears you like, 
Why nobody will oppose! 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes... Anything goes! 


  1. The Libs seem to have employed a gaggle of Page 3 girls to tweet support of the captain of Team Australia.
    Of course the tweeter may well be middle-aged men using luscious lovely avatars with long blonde hair and come hither eyes. Some of them are winking.
    Images of young women seem to be being used as a cheer squad for Tony. Intriguingly.
    Wonder Woman joined the girls today on AusPol.

  2. Gorton's RevengeSep 7, 2014, 11:18:00 AM

    Being seen with a pretty lady didn't work for Billy McMahon either, Anon.

  3. Many thanks for that feature on Cole Porter, in earlier days one of my favourite songwriters. You could argue that Cole did not develop much beyond his Yale days, when the witticisms of his verse and music seemed to flow effortlessly. But then he didn't need to, as the lyrics in Anything Goes show.

    I didn't follow the links to your story on The Parrot, who has been off-limits to me after Cronulla and the Gillard bile. But, successful or not, it might not be his only attempt at the footlights. I seem to remember someone commandeering him for an appearance as Daddy Warbucks in the stage musical Annie.

    To move to more pleasant things, dissing Devine makes a welcome respite from the usual suspects like Bolta, Ackers, Polonius or Cater, worthy as they are. She clearly has fallen off the perch when she rates this government as high achievers. Certainly in wrecking ability, we'd have to go to some Tea Party-controlled US States, or perhaps Zimbabwe to meet their peers. In judgements of that type, however, we'd normally refer to their public administration achievements. Dismal is the most polite.

    I've tried to be objective and still cannot find redeeming features. Chainsaw was fairly reasonable but seems to have lost his sanity in the stampede for CSG permits. Turnbull and Hunt, of whom more might have been expected, have sold out. Bishop gets a pass by some just because her gaffes are not as bad as the rest, but she's still made more enemies than friends abroad. The rest have not given any thought to policy and have dug holes for themselves by following the IPA agenda.

    Devine's got a lot of work ahead to make this lot credible.

    1. It was the same mob, GD, that put Jones into Annie, and it was reckoned a dud. But even if it had been the best Hamlet since Shakspear himself, and Jones playing a rat behind the arras, the pond would have boycotted the show.

      As for Devine, you only have to note that she has a degree to realise that a degree is no protection against infinite stupidity and ignorance, nor of course a willingness to bray about the mysteries of transubstantiation ...

  4. Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard... Some of the most prestigious universities in the world when you're shopping for a degree.

    It's probably just my reverse snobbery, but I put fawning over a degree from Harvard in the same category as exclaiming over the design skills of a woman on the basis that she's carrying a Gucci handbag.

  5. The smartest guys in the room are still looking for a floor in the agender, 'ey?


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