Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mission creep, or is that a creepy mission, or is that a creepy bunch of creeps on a mission ...

(Above: and more Rowe here)

In the end, the cowardly pond didn't have the heart or the courage required to carry out the threat and watch a Warner/Roadshow download.

There's bravery and then there's stupidity, so instead the pond began the long trudge with Ken Burns through the Roosevelts (puff piece at NY Times, A Family's Rough Ride Through an American Era).

The style was a tad too familiar - tinkling music, Peter Coyote's beguiling voice - and the pond wasn't convinced by the narrative device of mingling three disparate stories of the beginnings of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, but at least it didn't have appalling re-enactments, in the ersatz style that passes for documentary film-making in Australia these days, flung together by wannabe drama directors with a tin ear and no budget.

Yep, there were real photographs of the real people in the real period, and for a moment the pond was in another era of absurd politicians - and lordy lordy the war mongering and neuroses of Theodore were on full view, along with the gaudy, vulgar gear ...

For a moment, the pond forgot about the bizarre world of down under politics, which sometimes makes Theodore seem like a modest and unassuming chap.

For example, what sort of stupidity would see talk of ministers and KPIs get out into the public domain, only for Tony Abbott to announce that they all deserved As or A+. (Tony Abbott gives top marks to ministers, saying all deserve As or A pluses).

That's so infinitely stupid and self-serving that even the flashy aggrandising Theodore would be rolling in his grave, and naturally it quickly brought out the wags:

You can sit the test here (forced video attached, natch) but it's as silly as Abbott, because sometimes all three answers are equally correct - for example, Abbott's communication skills involve the excellent use of three word slogans, as skilled as a sulphur crested cockatoo, but it's also true that the language is Orwellian and that silence would be preferable, yet you can only tick one box. How unfair is that?

If you want to do a cabinet re-shuffle - and surely the only way to enter a new year is for assorted stooges to be given new pratfalls and other bits of circus business - then just do it, don't announce a stern set of assessments, which involves nothing more than self-congratulatory elephant stamps. You get those by going on Phillip Adams' show and saying what he wants to hear, when he's not interrupting and speaking over you and reminiscing how he invented the Australian film industry...

Speaking of Theodore and his Cuban adventure and his willingness to put himself at risk because of a Freudian perception of his father's failure to fight on the Union side in the Civil War, what to make of the blundering PM trying to work out what the aim of the Iraq adventure might be?

The reptiles at the Oz trotted out Dr David Kilcullen to deliver sundry warnings:

“Anyone betting on a low casualty rate is extraordinarily optimistic,” he said. “You are going to have aircraft shot down, you may have people captured and killed, this (is a) Western fantasy that you can start a war and go in a war and it will be relatively casualty-free.” (here, inside the paywall with irritating popup because the reptiles are desperate)

Of course Kilcullen's approaching the battle with a warrior mentality, on the Theodore principle that casualties are ennobling and grand and an indication the imperialist adventure was meaningful, but he raises questions for which Abbott has no answer:

Dr Kilcullen said the question of how to deal with Islamic State in Syria must also be confronted. 
“If you roll ISIL back to the Syrian border, do you keep going on into Syria, effectively invading Syria?” he said. “Yet if you don’t you are just allowing ISIL to regroup beyond the border.”

Indeed, and it has to be said that Theodore's adventure in Cuba produced an unhappy result in the end, with a Communist dictatorship further down the track ...

It seems that the difficulties are dawning on the thickest of the thick, even that resolute knob polisher Greg "bromance" Sheridan:

The quivering jellyfish has suddenly got a case of the wobbles and the nervous nellies:

Only a bear with an infinitely small brain could scribble that sentence: "Nonetheless the deployment is well justified and has been well handled so far".

What? Flying off, to leave the blacks to go about their business in peace, and turning up to farewell the troops, has been well handled so far?

What an infinite goose, what a pea brain.

Now if you're an infinite masochist, you might, like the pond, evade the paywall, and read the rest of Sheridan's forelock-tugging, genuflecting pandering, and read Tony Abbott's justified intervention in Iraq could yet hurt him politically.

But only if you want to read a man as confused about the mission as Abbott himself. You see, the pea brain starts out by saying that Abbott will earn strong support, and then spends much of his piece explaining all the dangers Abbott's strategies face.

There's only one upside, and that's the most peculiar notion that Abbott is wedging Mr. Invisible.

The real danger isn't to Abbott, if you believe Sheridan, but to Bill Shorten, not for sounding like a yes man, but in case he decides to do a Mark Latham. But Mr. Invisible has kept his head down, and the rest is at Abbott's door.

It turns out Sheridan's Shorten move was a feint, a kind of Maginot Line flourish, because for the rest of the piece, Sheridan spent his time in a state of high anxiety about Syria:

The other way this can hurt Abbott politically is if it becomes a drawn-out operation that does not notably improve conditions for Iraqis and Syrians. 
Given the intractable nature of all Middle East conflicts, and the profound sectarian hatred between Sunnis and Shi’ites across the region, this is a real possibility. 
The greatest danger is not Iraq but Syria. Shorten, herding the restless members of his tribe uncomfortable equally with military action and with supporting Abbott, has so far, reasonably enough, limited his bipartisan consent to actions we may take in Iraq, not Syria. 
Abbott has refused to rule out any action in Syria but says his government is not contemplating it at the moment. 
The broad task in Iraq is going to be awesomely difficult. But Iraq is a mere stroll in the park compared with Syria. And worst of all, it’s hard to see how we succeed in Iraq without succeeding in Syria.

Suddenly the token gesture looks fraught with danger for the forelock tugger. A combat mission that's not a combat mission, boots on the ground that aren't boots on the ground. How can that be?

Sheridan trawls his way through Afghanistan (with the Taliban heading off to Pakistan for a rest), and Vietnam (with Cambodia as a refuge), before casting a jaundiced eye on Syria:

The main military force we feel we can support on the ground, the Free Syrian Army, is small and weak. The three big forces are the Syrian army, the Islamic State and the al-Qa’ida franchise al-Nusra Front. Almost anything we do to hurt the Islamic State will help the Syrian government or al-Nusra. Yet if we don’t change things in Syria we cannot prevail in Iraq long-term. 
 A few weeks ago I asked Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono how he felt about Australian actions in Iraq. At that point we had flown only relief missions to help prevent the slaughter of Yazidis. A wise statesman, SBY said he supported those actions. 
What about longer-term Western military efforts in Iraq, I asked him. That was much more difficult, he said, because it was so easy to portray such actions as being directed against Muslims generally. Normally in military affairs, once you act, it’s best to be very decisive. But the danger is not that we will do too little to fix Iraq and Syria, but too much, creating a crippling dependency. We need to do just enough to avert catastrophe and empower the local actors, who must ultimately sort out a compromise for themselves. 
That’s one tough assignment.

It seems it's an even tougher assignment for Sheridan to make coherent sense of the mission, for which there is no end date, nor any clear marker to indicate when the mission might end, so all Sheridan can do is end up wringing his hands and fluttering with anxiety about the fate of his bromance buddy.

Let's ignore for the moment Sheridan big noting himself with SBY, who is now a lame duck president serving out his time - Jokowi will be sworn in on 20th October and it will then be a new game, as noted by Hamish McDonald here.

Sherian mentioning SBY raises a question Sheridan resolutely refuses to ask, though it's hinted at.

Anyone with the remotest interest in Indonesia will know that it is predominantly Sunni, and worse for years Saudi Arabia promoted and funded its form of Wahhabist fundamentalism in the country - see Jane Perlez in The New York Times back in 2003 scribbling Saudis Quietly Promote Strict Islam in Indonesia:

The Saudi money has come in two forms, Indonesian and Western officials said: above-board funds for religious and educational purposes, and quietly disbursed funds for militant Islamic groups. The Saudi money has had a profound effect on extremist groups, allowing some to keep going and inspiring others to start recruiting, the officials said.

Yep, one of Australia's alleged allies has been helping fund death cultists in our northern neighbour, and Sheridan might coo about SBY, but if things get sticky in Iraq, especially in Sunni areas, things will likely get sticky for Australians closer to home.

Now the pond doesn't care too much about which splitter believes what - they're all barking mad fundies feuding over an invisible tooth fairy so far as the pond's concerned - but the truth is, you can't sort out religious fundamentalists by bombing them to hell. Just ask the loons who believe in transubstantiation ...

Meanwhile, Abbott has ventured into a half-baked, half-arsed crusade with Obama, with a very uncertain set of allies, and bugger all indication of how the Arab states will take part, or what role they might perform, which given Saudi Arabia's role in fomenting Sunni fundamentalism is not much of a surprise.

No wonder even the boot lickers have begun to wonder about the taste of the Kiwi polish.

What else?

Well the pond would like to place on record the increasingly bizarre scribbling of Paul Sheehan.

Just when you think it couldn't get weirder - could anything top those glorious magic water days? - it seems Sheehan has gone into a deep bromance with libertarianism in general and in particular with one Senator David Leyonhjelm.

In the piece, George Brandis' new anti-terror law allows ASIO to torture, Sheehan allows himself bouts of heresy:

As Senator David Leyonhjelm, of the Liberal Democratic Party, told me: "These provisions are shameful. As a nation we should be better than this. Australia is engaged in a fight against barbarism, but that does not justify becoming barbarians ourselves." 
Senator Brandis has proven as adept at selling the government's law-and-order messages as Treasurer Joe Hockey has been at crafting and selling a tough federal budget.

Sheehan then explains what a futtock Brandis has been, with a number of examples, before ending with a rousing libertarian call to rise up against Nanny Bandis and the trampling of fundamental rights.

Well the pond is a broad church, and the barking mad Swiss clock chimes the correct time twice a day and Sheehan seals the deal by showing a picture of a man so smug that to contemplate it for more than a nanosecond is cruel and unusual torture:

This is a man worthy of an A or an A+? When even the magic water man thinks he's a total futtock? Thank the long absent lord the pond isn't studying in a school run by headmaster Abbott in ancient Christian Brothers style ...

Oh wait ...

Finally, is there a more irritating man than Malcolm Turnbull?

There he was this morning on ABC radio, yammering about how community television should head off to the intertubes, a move which will see the death of community television, while blathering on about how the intertubes has been around for yonks, and never mind that he has done his very best to destroy the potential of effective streaming on his second best hand me down ramshackle construction, which will require upgrading even as it rolls out, that's if it's to be up to the job of streaming shitty Warner/Roadshow films, as opposed to doing interesting new kinds of interactivity ...

And meanwhile, the government is busy constructing plans for filters and punishment for ISPs, and helping out Burkey and Roadshow and the rest of the filthy rich Hollywood oligopolists, and fuck it, tonight is the night the pond will download a Warners/Roadshow movie and watch it.

What's that you say? There's another Ken Burns episode to hand? Oh well, better a dull history lesson than watching fucking Malcolm Turnbull turning a wrecking ball on the intertubes ... as if the pond hasn't already learned the key lesson from history, that those who remember the past are likely to make exactly the same bloody mess of the present ...

Take it away Mr Pope and more excellent Popery, frequently without transubstantiation, here:

Speaking of D and M, and farewell to all that and time well served, a faux Stratton's tweet has been doing the Facebook rounds. Lolz, and more faux Stratton tweets here.

Jacobs Creek? He should be so lucky ...


  1. That would be 'Jacob's Creek', ay.

  2. I cannot digest Sheridan's groats
    I started to feel nauseous @ the second par when I read '.... there are a few purely political ways the operation could yet hurt Tony Abbott ' .....
    What? Sheridan's world is no narrow that he is examining this ghastly conflagration in terms of how it may damage Tony Abbott!
    And then this ...
    'But political hurt for the PM is not hard to imagine. Australian casualties could become a problem.'
    I tell you comrades I could not go on.

  3. Hi Dorothy,

    If Kilkullen and Sheridan are getting nervous about the chance of casualties taking the gloss of Commander Abbott's humanitarian bombing campaign (a bargain at half a billion dollars a year) then maybe they should be advocating "Goolie Chits" be issued to all personnel.

    They were quite popular back in the days of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia when the natives had the nasty habit of not returning downed pilots totally intact.

    You can ghunt it here;

    It was at this time that Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris of Dresden infamy) commanded a Vickers Vernon squadron. Harris developed the technique of delayed action bombs in bombing campaigns against the uppity Kurds and Iraqis who insisted on fighting British occupation. Aerial bombardment was considered very cost effective by British Military Top Brass.

    Harris himself was said to have remarked, "the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand."

    Let's see how well it works this time around.



  4. Newspeak - humanitarian mission: that would be a Rabbitt Abbott generously proclaiming instantly the finding of an initial $500M down payment for lieberal bombing of civilians in Iraq yet again, or Asbestos Bishop kindly warning pre-emptively of a denial of funds or assistance for any medi-vac of Australian health workers aiding in the heroic fight against ebola in Africa.

  5. On various scripted lieberal media stunts today: They live here err they enjoy the Australian way of ahh life um but err are determined to do Australians harm - Pommie Abbott.

    Too bloody right

  6. Raids against terrorists today. Foiled by phone intercepts.

    Sounds a bit too convenient to me, but time will tell.

    1. Nah, shaking the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and having Operation Appleby fall out, with not even a drop of juice spilled on the pavement, is testament to superlative policing of a very real threat within the constraints of manifestly inadequate counter-terrorism and associated surveillance laws.

  7. It's talk like a pirate day!

    Yaaarr! Where's your buccaneers? Under me buccin 'at!


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