Thursday, May 31, 2012

From the Three Stooges to Eric Abetz palely snickering to Ruddock emerging from his crypt ...

(Above: the pond in search of a new metaphor. Droogs? See Rocco Fazzari's proposal here).

After the high comedy of Tony Abbott running around the floor of parliament like a headless chook, the pond immediately thought of the Three Stooges.

Almost immediately thereafter that rooster Wayne Swan took to calling Tony Abbott one of the Three Stooges, which forces the pond to offer a disclaimer. The pond isn't written by rooster Swan, nor any of his staffers, relatives, friends or fellow travellers (would these acolytes note that these days Swan is more a boiler fowl than a rooster?)

Okay, so we share a taste for obvious, somewhat banal metaphors, but that's as far as it goes.

The pond blames that golden goose Tony Abbott for making the pond sound like Swan, or Swan sound like the pond ...

While we're on the subject of disclaimers, the pond insists that it maintains a proper, fully dedicated fear and loathing of Bob Carr. Those outside the great state of New South Wales have simply no idea of the years of ear abuse suffered by hapless citizens as the dulcet Carr tones droned on about how much better it was to have an Olympics stadium than trains that ran on time ...

And now he's been inflicted on the world. Sorry world.

Which makes it even more poignant and mysterious that the pond actually felt sorry for Carr. What could have brought it on?

Well it was another headless chook, by name Eric Abetz, carrying on like an A grade twit about Carr owning the sole shares in a dormant company lodged on the shelf with his accountant and going by the name RJCarr Pty Ltd:

BOB CARR: The company is dormant.

ERIC ABETZ: Why does it then have a principle place of business? Why is it still registered? Are you just holding it dormant so that you've got something to go back into after your stint as Foreign Minister is over?

Talk about clutching at straws. As if a dormant shelf company which might return to life down the track posed a grave conflict of interest ...

BOB CARR: My advice is that that company is dormant, it is with my accountant, it does no work, it receives no income because I'm doing no commercial work - none at all.

And then it got surreal:

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Foreign Minister's tone became more incredulous as Eric Abetz persisted.
ERIC ABETZ: But you are still a registered shareholder are you not?
BOB CARR: But this is a bit of paperwork. This is simply a bit of paperwork. I do no commercial work.
Madam Chair, this is absurd. There is no trading, there is no business activity.
ERIC ABETZ: Whereabouts in paragraph 2.9 is it a requirement that you only divest yourself of private interests if they are actively engaged?
BOB CARR: I'm happy to have a look at it Senator.
ERIC ABETZ: (laughs) Yeah and come back to us on notice, that'd be good.
BOB CARR: Don't laugh in that sinister fashion.
ERIC ABETZ: Thanks a lot chair.
BOB CARR: Don't laugh in that sinister fashion. I think I've answered comprehensively the question.

Yep, it's the first time in decades the pond has ever felt a twinge of sympathy for Carr, forced to listen to Abetz cackle like a sociopath in a dime mystery novel ... or perhaps like a bantam after it had produced an exceedingly small egg.

Who could blame Carr for objecting to the sinister laugh? The immediate desire was to banish Abetz to the basement of Notre Dame to do battle with Lon Chaney ...

Chalk this first up to Eric Abetz. Sympathy for Bob Carr while listening to a Major Mitchell give him a going over with a feather plucked from a wing ...

This probably explains why in an unguarded moment, the pond then turned to 7.30, in the mistaken impression that Leigh Sales would be front and centre.

Instead Chris Uhlmann was at it again, and amazingly he did an Abetz, generating sympathy in the pond for the pompous bloviating Geoffrey Robertson in Assange legal adviser reacts to extradition verdict.

In his usual way Uhlmann bowled up some simplistic questions, and then the interview went pear-shaped:

And his prospects of - I don't know whether you can hear me. I'll keep talking. I've got something going off in my ear.

And it wasn't just Uhlmann's insipid questions going off in his ear.

Naturally when Robertson got on to the real issue in relation to Assange - the United States, its grand jury, the CIA, and the gormless Australian government, Uhlmann shut down Robertson, using the excuse of audio problems. Yes at the moment it could have got interesting, at the moment the pathetic role the Australian government has played to date could have been discussed, it was game over.

Truth to tell, given the complete uselessness of his questions, Uhlmann could just have allowed Robertson to rabbit on for another five minutes ...

That was followed by Uhlmann doing an interview with Mal Brough (Former Minister reflects on Aboriginal affairs).

Shouldn't Brough be off giving more legal advice to James Ashby?

Instead the unctuous interventionist (unctuous in the sense of having an oily or soapy feel, like certain minerals, as well as unctuous in the greasy and oily sense, as well as in the sense of excessive piousness or moralistic fervour) was given yet another platform to conduct a little bit more public rehabilitation and pre-election self-promotion, in the guise of concern for Aboriginal people, with Uhlmann tut tutting about Toomelah and bowling up a tidy set of Dorothy Dixers.

Why not watch Ivan Sen's film Toomelah instead?

That's instead of listening to yet another bout of white paternalism from Brough. Lord help the Aboriginal people if he gets back into power and is given the portfolio again, on the principle that one cock-up should be rewarded with the right to conduct another cock-up ...

There was also a piece about Abbott doing the bolt (Abbott bolt highlights perceptions of ugly politics), this time introduced by Uhlmann and reported by Heather Ewart, in which they did a bit of grave-robbing by dragging Philip Ruddock out of whatever crypt he lurks in during the day, to stoutly defend Tony Abbott. Naturally Ruddoch refused to say anything about negative behaviour:

You know the sort of defence ... Paul Keating once gave me a tongue lashing, so now we can act like guttersnipes of the lowest class and stand next to signs calling Gillard a witch. Class act.

What's worse the insufferable Ruddoch was still wearing his Amnesty badge, because he has absolutely no self-understanding or sense of shame. (And as a result back in the day the pond left Amnesty, never to return).

Remember back in 2000 when AM ran the story Ruddock stripped of Amnesty International Badge:

KATHY KINGSTON: I wrote to the minister in October and I asked that he not wear his badge when he was acting publicly as a minister, to ensure that he clearly delineated between his role as a minister and his role as an Amnesty member so that we could avoid any areas of possible conflict that may appear to give Amnesty International's implicit support.

Well in response to Abbott blathering on about a kinder, gentler polity, badge-wearing Ruddock offered up Harry Truman and if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

Shouldn't that have been if you want to look like a headless chook, race to get out the doors of the parliament?

Can we now understand that Ruddock, wearing his badge while acting publicly as a politician, is using his role as an Amnesty member to imply Amnesty International's implicit support for bloodletting and political brutality and nattering negativity and witch-bashing, as is the current fashion in Canberra?

Happily, the last 7.30 story was about the London Olympics, allowing the pond to switch off and retreat to a movie - there'll be no talk of the Olympics here - knowing that when the Liberals get into power, they'll go through the ABC like a pack of Epsom salts, and that will be Mark Scott's clap happy legacy. And for the first time, the pond realised it didn't matter one whit or jot, since what's left of the ABC is not much to fight about ...

So what else? Well as Fairfax journalists trudge off to a futile strike, the completely irrelevant Paul Sheehan turns up to deliver his Thursday meditation The public has a loud voice and a habit of spotting the fake.

After a bit of the bleeding obvious about Facebook, Sheehan reveals that - as an ageing grump and philistine - he's fallen for The Voice and Keith Urban.

It's hard to know whether to call it tragic or pathetic, but at the very end the man who only on Monday had written Brit trick is an insult to the system, comes out with this:

Finally, the latest results of the ultimate vote of confidence by the public - who should be Prime Minister - make for interesting reading. Julia Gillard and her opposition nemesis, Tony Abbott, have had ample time to put their case. The polls show neither has been able to win the people.
It's easy to see why for Gillard. Her natural wit and warmth fell away when she became Prime Minister. She stopped being real. She stooped low to conquer. Yet Abbott has been unable to mint this into personal popularity. His coalition has a commanding lead in the polls but the public still finds his credibility wanting.
Something is missing at the top, and on such matters the collective wisdom of the public is infallible.

It's easy to see why for Gillard, but not why for Tony Abbott?

Even as he's bashing on the doors of parliament to be let out like a recalcitrant school kid? And Ruddock is sent to the ABC to defend his childish ways by invoking Paul Keating, last in power in 1996?

Talk about a one-eyed clown, full of vituperative bile about the British disease one moment, and the next talking about Gillard stooping low to conquer, and yet still unable to mention the many negative failings of Abbott, these days bashing on the doors of parliament so he can get out to play with the guttersnipes ....

Something is missing in the commentariat at Fairfax, and the public has the habit of spotting a fake, and on such matters the collective wisdom of the public is infallible.

The collective infallible wisdom? Well surely Sheehan is a gnat and a one-eyed gadfly, yabbering on about the British disease, maligning a whole country in his attempt to malign Gillard, incapable of balance or perspective.

It would be tempting to blame The Voice but even the pond can't go that low ...

(Below: Philip Ruddock maintaining the Amnesty shame last night).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is there any way out of here said the joker to the thief?

(Above: someone had to do it, and Kerrie Leishman managed the job for Fairfax here - forced video at end of link).

Is it only the pond that thinks Tony Abbott has reduced parliament to a new level of childishness and immaturity?

The lizard Oz commentariat spend all their time scribbling about the lack of maturity in the government and the need for maturity. Like this:

(Screen cap: the pond's too immature to link to a demand for money with gold bar stamp).

But you never read in the Oz a line about the immaturity of grown adults racing for the doors, banging on the doors to flee the chamber, or prancing about in prissy-footed style so that they could land in the advisors' box and avoid the count.

It's incredibly childish, worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan, the New Guinea parliament, or the Three Stooges.

Yet it's dressed up as a principled stand or a matter of principle, when it's nothing more than banana republic stuff. (Abbott sprints for door to avoid Thomson's tainted vote).

The notion that Christopher Pyne is principled - when he can't even remember who he sends emails to - is risible beyond laughable.

At the same time Michelle Grattan seems vaguely perplexed in The mystery that is Abbott's unpopularity as to why Abbott might be unpopular:

In the Nielsen poll, Mr Abbott's personal popularity peaked more than two years ago and the longer-term trend has been down.

Well Michelle there's a simple reason. Relentless negativity and Stooge stunts, pokes in eyes, pans hitting skulls, and custard pies in face ...

Meanwhile, you have geese like Shaun Carney off running down the government, and squawking about Paul Howes, whom he introduces as a kind of ratbag in Is there any price PM won't pay to hang on? Apparently not (forced video at end of link):

Howes, a 30-year-old wunderkind of the union movement, did his political apprenticeship as a teenage Trotskyist.

Yes, we know all about that, including an enormous capacity to disremember what he got up to, as we were reminded by Howes' historical revision on life as a 'young teenage Trot'

The rabid defender of Aussie jobs confirmed the photo this morning, but told Crikey he had “no memory of that …when you’re a young teenage Trot you do end up going to a lot of protests”.

Truly, if you ever swallowed the Trot kool-aid as a teenager, you get a taste for it for life, though the brand and the flavour might vary.

Yet Carney in the same breath gives him full measure:

On Sunday, Howes was still in a sulk, describing the government as ''stupid''.

So we should pay attention to a sulker, a man capable of enhanced discourse on the level of "stoopid is as stoopid talks"? If you're Carney you do:

This is alarming stuff for Gillard. The AWU grouping is the bedrock of her support base within the caucus.

This is alarming stuff? Get rid of the misplaced vowel, and we're back with the Carnies ...

Shouldn't the AWU be alarmed at having a disremembering wildly ambitious wunderkind teenage Trot, still childishly rabid and sulking after all these years, at the head of the union?

There seems to be an epic bout of foot-stamping and childish behaviour running through politics at the moment.

Here's what Abbott could have done - he could have paired Thomson and sent him off to therapy. Perhaps there might have been some fruitful discussion about ethical behaviour and the addictive power of telling porkies and fibs. But of course he refused to offer an independent a pair.

Now the independent has voted independently, as he can.

Crossbenchers traditionally vote against attempts to shut down debate.
Mr Thomson later asserted his status as an independent, saying he was "no longer bound" by the Labor Party and would consider all legislation on its merits.
"I've always said that when I became an independent I would look at all issues on their merits, but support the government on supply and confidence motions," Mr Thomson said.
"I am looking out for what's best for the people of the (NSW) Central Coast." (here, paywall limited)

Couldn't the Liberals see it coming? Why were they reduced to an inept running rabble?

Abbott could have acknowledged that as a newly independent member Thomson still has the right to cast a vote however he pleases (until the grinding wheels turn to bear down on him), and meanwhile the Opposition and the Government could get on with actual parliamentary business, including the consideration of affairs of state, and policies and significant matters ...

Instead we get clowning around, with Abbott helping reduce the parliament to a three-ringed circus in his obsessive, relentless, negative quest for power.

Abbott is well on the way to becoming the most loathed politician since Malcolm Fraser took the reins, more than a match for Gillard. There's every chance he'll also match Fraser in producing one of the most disreputable and disliked careers as a PM since the days of Stanley Melbourne Bruce.

The pond makes a habit of disliking all politicians of all stripes on principle, but this kind of clowning around is likely to see the rest of the voting public keep Abbott right down there in the cellars in terms of popularity in the polling.

Will everyone rush for the door the next time that Mary Jo Fisher votes in the Senate, and never mind that Abbott found it in his heart to support her and a plea bargain deal?

In support of his application for costs, Mr Abbott said Senator Fisher's was no ordinary shoplifting case as she faced being stripped of her Senate seat if convicted on either charge.

“It could have ended all that she had worked for in her life,” he said. (here, paywall limited)

That's as opposed to the untold suffering she inflicted on the world, and the pleading and begging for her to stop when she did the hokey pokey? (YouTube along here).

So Abbott can find it in his heart to discover sympathy for Fisher, yet flees the chamber in horror at the thought of Thomson casting a vote?

That's taking clowning around and nattering negativity to new lows ...

Wilkie called it an unedifying spectacle, but then he's always been inclined to be generous.

But you ask, what role then for Christopher Pyne in the pond's attempt to revive the Columbia Pictures franchise, given that the main roles are already taken?

Surely he can play the custard pie, and what a good, ripe, rich job he'd make of the role ...

(Below: another casting suggestion for the new act, found here).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The answer lies in the soil, or perhaps in the cloud ...

(Above: the answer lies in the cloud).

The Leveson inquiry continues apace with unconvicted war criminal and Murdoch panderer Tony Blair leaving the dock, so Michael Gove, Murdoch panderer could take the stand to describe Rupert Murdoch as a great man and conflate freedom of speech with the freedom of ratbag proprietors and their professional hit men to range all over the plain conducting crusades, persecutions and vendettas how they will. (Michael Gove: Rupert Murdoch is an 'impressive and significant figure')

Is there any difference between craven New Labour or craven Conservatives yearning to be insiders with the rich and powerful?

Is it freedom of speech for Chris Mitchell at The Australian to indulge in personal warfare against those he dislikes, or who dare to criticise him or the foppish rag he tends as a myrmidon Murdochian?

Enough already, time for some parochial interests, and the train wreck that is the NSW Government - well it would be a train wreck if they could keep the tracks working over the weekend, or managed to build a few lines on which to stage the wreck.

A little IT birdy reminded the pond that the grand plan of Barry "Bazza" O'Farrell's government to build a c0uple of mega data centres - one in Silverwater and the other in Unanderra in the 'Gong - has resulted in the tender being awarded to Metronode (a process that attracted some attention in NSW data centre plan faces farce phase).

The concept has been dressed up with some jibber jabber about state government departments having their very own "private cloud", which is an onanistic abuse of language and the concept of the cloud.

The Liberals inherited the idea from the state Labor government, and it just goes to show how Liberals are as much into collectivisation and centralisation - how governments of all hues love and cling to the Stalinist tradition.

Bazza's team have now finalised plans to drop hundreds of millions on the two data centres, to which government departments will be compelled to describe.

As you'd expect, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have their paws in the pudding - they've been raking it in as the 'go to' consultants for anyone on Bazza's team wanting to look wired - but an IT expert - who wafted past the pond in a gob-smacked way - marvelled at the irony of a government currently busy telling principals to run their schools in their own way to enhance competition and efficiency ... while at the same time building its very own grand set of centralised IT gulags.

This will be a long unfolding saga and of interest to no one except geeks and fat cat bureaucrats wanting to piss money against the wall, but if you want to, you can read the Hon. Greg Pearce's ICT vision here. (He's the Minister for the Illawarra, don't you know, so the 'Gong will be ever so pleased). And if you want a prime example of Deloitte "finger in the pie" "shared services" speak you'll find it here in pdf format.

It reminds the pond of the time working for a medium-scale enterprise with a very large database requirement. The possum in charge decided that she would produce a computer system which was Universal and Accounted for Everything and Even Updated the Stationary Cupboard on a Daily Basis. She spent years speccing it, and when it blew up in her face, and did none of what she'd been promised, she retired in disarray and the various departments went back to their own database systems ...

So life balances itself.

Speaking of New South Wales infrastructure, as if it isn't bad enough to listen to Barry "bright-eyed Bazza" O'Farrell propose Canberra as a second airport for Sydney, the pond has now had the chance to catch up on the sage advice offered by Lee Rhiannon and Paul Fitzgerald in Second Airport No Saviour.

After bashing Wilton as a site - easy enough since it has its fair share of problems - the Rhiannon Fitzgerald combine offer this advice:

Only one possible solution remains for Sydney Airport: to close it and build a replacement airport. It would need to be outside the Sydney Basin airshed and have high speed rail connections. The site should be determined through comprehensive scientific study and broad consultation. Its cost could be partly met by transforming the current airport site into a mixed residential and employment precinct.

Joe Hill would be pleased. Now the Greens have joined the Salvation Army in promising a load of pie in the sky when you fly, because damned if it will happen before the pond dies.

Is there anything more irritating or dumb when people write fatuities without the first bit of fact-checking? Like this:

Other cities have successfully relocated inner city airports away from densely populated areas — Oslo, Hong Kong, Athens, Bangkok. Sydney could do it too.

Oslo's 45 km from the city centre, Hong Kong a mere 39 km, Athens a discreet 33 km and Bangkok a tidy 30 km. They couldn't even mention Narita which is 97 km from Tokyo.

You won't find the size of the Sydney basin in their link to the Sydney airshed, but you can find a definition of it here:

The Sydney Basin is part of a major foreland basin, the Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin, extending from the southern coast of New South Wales to central Queensland. The Sydney Basin is about 350 km long and the width averages about 100 km. The onshore area of the basin is about 44,000 km2, a further 5,000 km2 extending offshore to the continental shelf.

Meanwhile, there's a problem to the west with the Blue Mountains, and problems to the north beyond a certain point for any airport of a decent size.

Rhiannon and Fitzgerald seem to think that inner west dwellers haven't worked out that if a second airport is developed, Kingsford Smith will remain. Of course it will remain, and to be honest, living directly under the third runway - damn you Bob Hawke, damn you Paul Keating, damn you to hell, we were here first - isn't so bad, and it's nice to have an airport close. Sure the blackened roof is a bit of a worry, but more troubling is the current inefficiency of Sydney airport operations, both on the ground and in the sky.

Rhiannon and Fitzgerald's solution? Buy out the airport, presumably with a handy nest egg arising from developers bidding for the land, construct a very fast train linking to a new airport off somewhere in the never never, and while we're at it, build a VFT to Melbourne to solve the air traffic problem.

Wouldn't it have been simpler to note that peak oil and climate change will surely sort it all out? And we all should stay at home, except for Greens conducting urgent business ...

There were only five comments at time of writing, because the approach proposed has all the appeal and insight of the NSW government ICT vision.

A couple were suitably ironic and satirical, but one was even more delusional, proposing the building of a small town with new airport attached somewhere between Canberra and Sydney. Calling Goulburn ... or perhaps Collector ... your moment has come ...

While it's much appreciated that Rhiannon has taken time out from ghost-writing op-eds bagging her own party (Rhiannon caught out bagging Greens in ghost-written op-ed), and this time allows her co-author a credit, could someone, anyone out there please ensure that she never has anything to do with infrastructure planning in the state of New South Wales?

Truly if big bumbling Bazza and risible Rhiannon and Albo the argumentative are the best hope for solving air traffic problems in Sydney, then the problems are not solvable. We're doomed, doomed, the pond tells ya. For the love of the long absent lord, pass a sav blanc, a latte and a set of noise-cancelling earphones because that's the only pie you're gunna get in this over-crowded sky ...

Any sensible inner westie is reconciled to Sydney airport, and with international flights and cheapie domestic flights sent bush, Avalon style, it might just operate with sufficient efficiency to avoid the curfew being lifted.

If the curfew ever gets lifted, the pond will personally load Rhiannon and Fitzgerald, muddiers of the water, dissemblers and inept infrastructure planners on the first VFT to Melbourne somewhere around 2050 ...

Long after the first round of riots saw the inner west go up in flames in 2020 ... and they can take their developer contributions, and a copy of the Riot Act with them ...

The final irony?

Inner-Sydney residents have been lied to for decades about so-called solutions to Sydney Airport.

Well there's no suggestion Rhiannon and Fitzgerald are lying, which means they must be dumb enough to think they have an actual, feasible, realistic, just waiting to be implemented tomorrow solution to hand.

Or perhaps Rhiannon should join big Bazza's party and mount that push for Canberra airport ...

How did that Joe Hill song go?

You will eat Neil Perry sandwich crap on Qantas, bye and bye,
When you've learned how to catch a VFT when you fly
Cycle to the airport down Canberra way, 'twill do you good,
And you'll get to your destination in the sweet bye and bye.

Oh well, the good news and the upside is that none of it matters.

Thanks to good old Barney Zwartz (The end of days is coming, but Christmas is not - warning forced video at other end of link), the pond has just caught up with the news that according to one survey almost one in ten (9%) Australians believed in the Mayan calendar-related prophecy that the world will end on December 21st. It turns out that Indonesians have better sense (4%) but the Chinese and Turks are even more stupid (20%). Now if you happened to be living in Syria at least you might have some excuse ...

It seems 14% of Australians think the world will end in their lifetime, which is true enough, because once you're dead, the world surely ends for you.

A Dr. Gelfer of Monash University presented himself as a moderate in these matters:

He said much of the debate was polarised between committed believers and those who demanded a Richard Dawkins-style debunking. He would present a middle view about why people held such beliefs.

Sigh. Once again the name of Richard Dawkins taken in vain. How can you have a middle view about loons, and in particular the 2012 phenomenon? A loon's a loon, and they deserve a place on the pond. What's the point of having a middle view about Harold Camping, and his extortionate cult leader ways? Or any of the other cults?

But it does put NSW ICT visions and Sydney airport in perspective.

Now the pond suggests you ask around at work, and ask at least twenty people if they believe in end times come December. If you find two, flee to the hills at once ... you might well have stumbled on readers of The Age and Barney Zwartz ...

11%!? Surely there are a lot of wags who read The Age. But the result does naturally lead to:

Monday, May 28, 2012

And now thanks to Gerard Henderson, a walk amongst modernists and philistines like Robert Gordon Menzies ...

(Above: the tweet said expand, and so the pond did).

Back in LA today!
Another mess.
Parks being closed
As counties run out of money.
School system disaster
50 per cent drop out
No revenue to fix
No taxes to hand
Republicans hate taxes
Fox News too
Met traveller from antique land
Said: Two vast and trunkless legs stone
Stand in desert. Near them, on sand,
Half sunk, shattered visage lies, frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer cold command,
Tell that sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped lifeless things,
Hand that mocked them, heart that fed:
On pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Murdoch, king of Fox News
Champion of Republicans
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing else remains.
Except twittering tweets ...

Not bad for a tweeting Rupert, though perhaps over the 140 mark, and almost worthy of Shelley.

Does Chairman Rupert have any understanding how his media empire has helped reduce civility and community and concepts of social good and comity, as in public parks and public schools paid for by taxes?

Apparently he doesn't have the first clue, and that gets the pond off to a rip-roaring start this Tuesday, refreshed and ready to deal with that other exponent of classic literature, Gerard "just call me Polonius" Henderson.

Henderson's opening gambit in Lame duck Labor likely to waddle on to term is to reference David Copperfield and Mr. Micawber, and who could argue with that.

But someone seems to have spiked his breakfast cereal, because he seems gloomy and dispirited, proposing that the dysfunctional Labor government will run to term.

He even acknowledges that the decision to allow overseas workers to be employed on remote running projects is good policy, which leads the pond to an aside.

You could see how hapless and persecuted Julia Gillard has become with her dispirited performance in parliament, tormented by such lightweight gadflies as Julie Bishop. All she had to do was turn on her and ask her "do you support this federal Labor government policy? Just answer yes or no", and repeat it over and over, like a negative mantra in some satanic Buddhist temple, but she didn't, because she's lost the fire and the plot.

Along with the rest of the caucus, which today apparently is going to censor the government for this policy, and move to amend it. Can anyone explain to the caucus that they are the government? Schizophrenia rampant.

But back to Henderson, and as always we get a history lesson, and as always, the juicy bits are left out.

Henderson, being a worshipper at the foot of Robert Gordon "Ming the Merciless" Menzies thinks Menzies did "quite well" in his first UAP government, which was supported by two independent MPs.

Not a word about Earle Page:

On Lyons's death in April 1939, the U.A.P. elected Menzies to party leadership. Sir Earle Page announced that in consequence the Country Party would no longer work in coalition with the U.A.P., and launched on Menzies an attack described by the Sydney Morning Herald as 'a violation of the decencies of debate without parallel in the annals of Federal Parliament'. Page asserted that, with war threatening, Menzies was incapable of leading the nation, because he had been disloyal to Lyons and because he had failed to serve in World War I. (the ADB here)

Now that's how to play politics in the grand style of the old days, harping on the way Menzies preferred law and student politics at the University of Melbourne to a possibly much shorter life in the trenches (and who can argue with that). It should also be noted that Menzies was inclined to appeasement, and was delusionally optimistic about the prospect of Europe - and the world - avoiding war.

Henderson spends his time worrying about how the two independents changed their allegiance to bring Menzies down, but it's worth remembering that Menzies had managed to alienate a sizeable part of the UAP:

Though the reasons for this animus are not altogether clear, Page was probably stung by the waspish comments Menzies had made about him behind his back. It is, however, extremely doubtful that—despite the failure of the promises made to him—Menzies was disloyal to Lyons, and that his behaviour was a factor in the latter's collapse. Dame Enid Lyons, whose hostility to Menzies simmered over many years, made the allegation covertly and, in the end, explicitly. Page shared her grief at Lyons's death, and believed the unproven story that Menzies was partly responsible for it. (ibid)

Poor prattling Polonius broods about the way that Oakeshoot, Wilkie and Windsor aren't likely to switch their allegiance to Abbott and the Coalition, and for comfort food, retreats to the wilder calamities of the Whitlam government, which really has very little to do with minority government, but which allows Polonius to deliver up a handsome cliche, that is to say that history rarely repeats itself ... unlike Henderson, who is inordinately fond of repeating himself.

Which provides the pond with an excuse for another distraction involving Menzies:

More personal was Menzies' embroilment in the artistic controversies of the mid-1930s when, in developing the notion that Australia needed an academy of art, he fell foul of modernist painters and their supporters, one of whom was H. V. Evatt. Contemporary critics saw Menzies' dislike of modernism as yet another expression of his conservatism, which was undoubtedly true. The claim that he was also an artistic philistine is more debatable. (ibid)

Thanks ADB. Let's debate that for a moment that's required, and here's your answer.

Menzies was an artistic philistine, as shown by his inability to adjust to modernism, now perceived as a somewhat traditional, even conservative part of antipodean art history.

Let's pause to remember the 1943 Archibald prize and the fuss surrounding Dobell's portrait:

The tensions implicit in this controversy between conservatism and modernity were exemplified in the opposed views of Bert and the conservative Prime Minister Robert Menzies: Menzies felt that modem art was 'ill-drawn' and 'unintelligible to the unilluminated mind', finding 'nothing but absurdity in much so-called "modem art'". (here)

As Victor Mature himself might say, what a woeful philistinian.

Anhyoo, back to the dispirited Henderson, and his jaundiced unhappy conclusion:

Some Coalition backers are hoping the independent Speaker Peter Slipper (ex-Liberal Party) and/or the scandal-prone independent Craig Thomson (ex-Labor) might resign and create a byelection which the Liberal Party could win. Such an eventuality is unlikely.

Oh the gloomy job of pouring cold water on the optimists:

It would be foolish to make predictions. But it is possible Labor will survive until the 2013 election, despite the dysfunction that surrounds it.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Micawber's wish fulfilment works and something turns up to save Labor.

Speaking of Micawber and wish fulfilment, could we provide an alternative variation, with the faux news that Tony Abbott's popularity fell to 37% and Gillard, despite all her woes, managed 40%, at a time when the Labor government remains firmly on the nose:

It remains to be seen whether Mr Micawber's wish fulfilment works and something turns up to convince the electorate to warm to the negative, carping, testosterone-driven angry aggressive and relentlessly negative Tony Abbott.

Sadly reading Henderson is a bit like porridge with raisins. He always leaves out the best bits ...

(Below: and here's the 1943 William Dobell painting of Joshua Smith which the philistine Menzies found so hard to handle. The original painting's now sadly lost and more on the controversy here).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paul Sheehan, and the art of being exceptionally insulting about insults ...

(Above: a recent artist's impression of Paul Sheehan).

Naturally the pond is at one with the 'wiferism' scandal that's currently enveloping Mitt Romney like a London fog.

As a devotee of birtherism, it seems only fair to have scandal upon scandal undermining western civilisation as we know it. And who said Mormonism would stay off the table when it came to comedy writing, as Bill Maher shows here?

But at least comedians can claim a certain kind of satirical freedom, and mingling 'birtherism' with 'wiferism' passes a satirical test.

What, however, can you do with an allegedly serious member of the commentariat, who it turns out is given to satirical comedy routines ... except that they are singularly unfunny and hugely biassed?

Come on down General Grumpy, Paul Sheehan, and hit us with a blast of ethnic stereotypes and idle insulting abuse in Brit trick is an insult to the system.

His theme for the day begins with the tweets of John McTernan, which you can find for your entertainment here.

McTernan is pugnacious, and inclined to be forthright, and while his wiki says he was born in London, there's more than a hint of the rampant Scot about him (not least as a columnist for The Scotsman and as Tony Blair's man in Scotland). Recent tweets have featured Scotland, NATO, and the soccer disease that must be expunged from the antipodes, with a tendency to humour, as in the tweet What a strange mixture of abuse and prissiness, and in his retweeting of Craig Emerson's tweet Lib heavyweights are onto subject of my hairstyle. For them that's highbrow. Bless their little cotton socks.

Now we have to start with the basics. With a name like McTernan, the man might well pass for a Celt, and as we know, Celts and their lazy ways send Sheehan into a frenzy, and into high dudgeon. (oh the temptation to write high dungeon).

The Celts have ruined Britain, according to Sheehan, in much the same way as the lazy Greeks have ruined Greece and Europe, though to be fair the British generally have ruined Britain, in Sheehan's jaundiced eyes ... so naturally McTernan, being British, is guilty of a vast number of crimes against humanity, as well as good and kindly speech in the antipodes.

The Liberal party, which is such a collection of saintly souls you'd swear they could be butlers in the Vatican, are gob-smacked at the crudity and coarseness of his haggis ways.

For a start, McTernan's indulged in a taste for insult. Sheehan, of course, and Liberals generally, never indulge in insult. Any talk of that would be beneath him and them, which is why he's outraged at McTernan's twittering sprays:

McTernan's scorn was directed at several people, all nonentities.

Nonentities? Yep, people of absolutely no importance or significance, pip-squeaks, small fry, squirts, jackanapes, whippersnappers, lightweights, and nobodies. Absolutely invisible bits of nothinginess.

'I see nobody on the road,' said Alice.

'I only wish I had such eyes,' the King remarked in a fretful tone. 'To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!'

You see, calling somebody a nobody isn't an insult. You can see Nobody on the road if you have sharp eyes like Alice.

Having established his very own uninsulting tone, Sheehan spends the rest of his column insulting everyone he can, directing his scorn at all and sundry. Gillard cops a blast for importing the British disease and British spin-doctoring, it's all just too unedifying for words, and the unctuous and danger-prone Peter Slipper cops a blast, and the aboriginal tent embassy riot cops a blast, and Anthony Albanese cops a blast, and Wayne Swan cops a blast for his attack on mining billionaires ...

It's like an extended baleful set of the most rampant, rage-filled McTernan tweets you could find and assemble in one column, and it builds to a mini-climax:

April saw a ramping up of the rhetoric of class warfare, a divisive tactic at the best of times, which appeared orchestrated from the Prime Minister's office.

Class warfare! Yes, Sheehan, being a generally grumpy, and always lazy columnist who loves to recycle the thoughts of others, has swallowed the News Ltd kool-aid, and is ready to indulge in idle rhetoric about the rhetoric of class warfare, and the tragic fate of the wealth creators. That'd be the wealth creators recently given a free kick to import skilled workers ...

Then the most appalling cut of all, one that must cut deep for anyone living in the eastern suburbs:

In keeping with this message, Gillard let fly with her sneer that Abbott should ''get off Sydney's north shore and go and talk to some real families and get himself in the real world''. Naked class politics.

Yes, Ju-liar - let's keep the discourse elevated before we put you in a chaff bag and take you out to sea to drown you - as anyone knows the north shore is full of poor people. If you want to tackle naked class politics in Sydney, it's the eastern suburbs where the ponces and the gits reside. (Now where does Paul Sheehan reside?)

But wait there's more. It's onwards and downwards, with insults directed at Craig Thomson for his breathtaking willingness to insult poor, hapless, harmless, deeply innocent Tony Abbott. Talk about grotesque irony.

And snarky narky Albanese also performed a breathtaking form of grotesque irony for his invocation of the Crimes Act.

In 20 years of covering politics, I've never seen anything like the conduct of Albanese and Thomson in the Parliament this year. They have made the gutter their permanent address.

That'd be the same address where Ju-liar, Bob Brown's bitch, lives. You know, that barren atheist hussy who won't need any nanny support but who needs to be kicked to death (oh you know the drill, remember the top ten bits of Gillard abuse at Hoopla).

And then, as you'd expect from a man expert in insults and vile bile, it's back to the British problem:

Similar tactics were used by another desperate Labour government, the government of Gordon Brown, now seen as a disaster for Britain. It departed in 2010 leaving behind a debilitating legacy of debt and deficit and an electoral map starkly divided by class.

Yes, Britan had never been divided by class until that lazy Celt Gordon Brown stormed on to the scene. And hasn't Britain done splendidly since that classless David Cameron stormed on to the scene. (Branson: Coalition failing on growth).

Which brings us back to Gillard's imported director of communications, McTernan, a ministerial adviser in the Brown government. Before that, he was an adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Yes, it's Sheehan as abuser of ethnic types in full flight, with talk of the British disease. Now you see where a few robust tweets can get you.

It is possible McTernan's arrival in the job seven months ago coincided with a period of toxic bumbling by the Prime Minister and her staff. At the other end of the spectrum of possibilities, there could be malign intent within Gillard's office to ramp up the class war and the personal insults, tactics which bear the mark of an imported British disease.

And there you have it. Talk of malignity by a man who only knows malignity, talk of class war by someone ready to indulge in ramping up the rhetoric of class warfare as a way of abusing an entire government, and talk of personal insults from a man ready to abuse an entire country of people by talking of an imported British disease.

An imported British disease? And the New Zelunders carry on about fire blight?

Is it possible to imagine any form of abuse that's more profoundly obnoxious and ignorant and ethnicist?

By a man classed as a key member of the Fairfax commentariat?

By a man who seems to exemplify what we might call a domestic Australian disease, once known as Hansonism?

And done without a shred of humour, or an awareness of the breath-taking irony of such splenetic hubris, or an attempt to balance the scales by mentioning some of the worst excesses of the likes of Tony Abbott and Sophie Mirabella, which might at least offer a kind of satirical Bill Maher redemption.

The man is such a righteous prune. Why if the pond was into twitter, what a burst of twittering would follow:

''You're happy to call me a revolting thug but so self-righteous when I call you a buffoon. Diddums.'' ''Ah, so now we're clear, you're just a graceless buffoon.'' ''What a surprise. Abuse from a moron.''

''Wow. Omniscient as well as obnoxious. Some combination.''

And so on. Because the insulting Paul Sheehan just calls for a round of insults. The shout is on the pond ...

(Below: could Sheehan be a gorgon in drag? Louvre c. 600-500BC attack black figure, Dinos shape)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to spread FUD in IPA Bergian style ...

(Above: the worst drawn comic book in the 21st century? Northrop Grumman delivers the goods, with more here).

The comedy stylings of Tony Abbott continue, and lordy lordy it looks like he's zoomed past the Three Stooges in his bid to poke a finger in the eye of common sense:

...Mr Abbott yesterday declared that he would not break election promises, but ''if I change my mind and an election commitment needs to be reworked, I will seek a new mandate''. (here)

So every time he changes his mind, he's going to call on a new election and seek a new mandate? Oh pull the pond's leg and pull it hard.

Or is he just going to ring up News Ltd and see what they think, and if they give it a front page go-ahead, why there's the brand spanking new mandate?

Well that's the joke of the day out of the way, and the pond is looking forward to an Abbott-led government, and the first change of mind. Could he be taken to court for failing to fulfil this naked promise, or would it just be better to call him a liar now, and wait for it to be confirmed? Good politics as well as good planning demands more flexibility than this blinkered - and eventually hypocritical - approach.

He's just pretended he's not Julia Gillard. Until he becomes Julia Gillard ... how will he cope with the cross-dressing involved?

So what else is happening? Well the pond has at last worked out Chris Berg's game plan, and it's a considerable feat for a research fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs (so right wing, the pond's informed, that its fellows refuse to travel on planes with a left wing).

Berg's game changer? To attack the left from the left, and sound more leftist than your average greenie, and sound like such an outraged leftist pacifist opponent of the US industrial military complex that the FUD will last for months ... while sneaking in thought bubbles like Republicans good, climate change silly.

First it's important to remove any inconvenient truths or awkward examples arising from the current crop of Republican candidates:

It's been fun for the left in Australia to fixate on the Republican candidates for the American presidency. It's been fun to joke about their policy quirks and eccentricities. Fun to pronounce that nothing is scarier than the prospect of a Santorum or Romney administration.
Yes, the Republican race has been a convenient distraction.

This is an important disabling first move. When you think for a moment too long about the likes of Santorum's outrageous proposals in relation to social and foreign relation issues, driven by conservative Catholic fundamentalism, the mood would be broken, the spell torn apart.

Speak on, Ancient Mariner of leftist truths:

Because it would not do to dwell on an uncomfortable, undeniable reality - Barack Obama, the left's man in the White House, who was supposed to restore America's standing in the world and end George Bush's assault on civil liberties, has been much worse than his Republican predecessor.

Worse than George Bush!? Oh no, say it ain't so:

Obama has undermined more individual rights and hoarded more presidential power than Bush ever did. It's not that he has simply failed to roll back Bush's anti-terror excesses. (Although that is true, as well.) It's that Obama has trumped them. More than 10 years after the September 11 attacks, the White House is still amassing extra security powers. On December 31 last year, Obama signed the National Defence Authorisation Act.

Note the clever juxtaposition. These days Bush can be reviled by Berg for his anti-terror excesses, because truly, put up against the satanic extreme right wing - one might almost say fascist excesses - of Obama, he seems like an angelic liberal moderate.

But how, you ask, could American right wingers get it so wrong, and think that Obama is in fact a deviant left wing socialist commie pinko gay marriage loving pervert from Kenya?

How is it that only Chris Berg can see him in the right light, which is as a right winger more right wing and deviant than Bush?

It takes a special skill. You see there's the capacity to arrest and indefinitely detain anybody within Australian borders, and without any judicial authorisation. Oh sorry, did I type in Australia? Of course I meant American, how silly to think that Australia would practise indefinite detention.

And then there's the right to assassinate Americans and others abroad. Uh huh. Naturally the pond is looking forward to a vigorous campaign by the IPA to indict Obama for authorising the assassination, the illegal slaughter of Osama bin Laden.

Did we mention that Obama is worse than Bush?

There's more. George Bush's once controversial covert surveillance program has dramatically expanded under Obama. The President's emergency powers have been boosted. An executive order Obama signed in March (number 13603) grants more to the President in an emergency than any order yet: allowing the government to take over all food, transport, water, energy and health resources, and reintroduce conscription if the President wants to.
Executive orders are used to bypass the usual checks and balances in Congress and the courts. As the Cato Institute's Jim Powell pointed out last month, there is nothing in order 13603 about protecting constitutional rights.

The Cato institute? See the cleverness of the move.

Suddenly the confused left-winger, befuddled by FUD, is hypnotised by the righteous way that Jim Powell is striving to save the United States from totalitarian fascism, as expounded and practised by Obama, and which he outlined at extensive, one might almost say tediously hysterical fear-mongering length in Forbes:

To be sure, much of this language has appeared in national security executive orders that previous presidents have issued periodically since the beginning of the Cold War. (here)

Say what Jim? We've seen all this before?

No, no, that's not what we and Chris Berg meant. Tell us the real implications:

.... more than previous national security executive orders, Obama’s 13603 seems to describe a potentially totalitarian regime obsessed with control over everything. Obama’s executive order makes no effort to justify the destruction of liberty, no effort to explain how amassing totalitarian control would enable government to deal effectively with cyber sabotage, suicide bombings, chemical warfare, nuclear missiles or other possible threats. It’s quite likely there would be greater difficulty responding to threats, since totalitarian regimes suffer from economic chaos, colossal waste, massive corruption and bureaucratic infighting that are inevitable consequences of extreme centralization. Such problems plagued fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China and other regimes. Totalitarian control would probably trigger resistance movements and underground networks like those that developed in Western Europe during the Nazi occupation. Totalitarian control could provoke more political turmoil than there was in the Vietnam War era of the 1960s. There would probably be a serious brain drain as talented people with critical skills escaped to freedom wherever that might be. Canada? (ibid)

There. That's more like it. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Soviet Union, Mao, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam era hippies, Obama, quick flee to Canada ...

Oh no, not New Zealand, say not New Zealand ... (and by the way Jim, that's a humble hundred dollars for the pond's Godwin's Law swear jar).

But you see how Berg has smuggled in the most extreme right wing loonacy in his cause (ever ready as Jim Powell is to strike down Theodore Roosevelt's misguided attitude to corn syrup and Coca-Cola).

Now how about bringing in a gay hispanic in the form of Anthony D Romero?

No wonder the director of the American Civil Liberties Union says he is "disgusted" by the Obama administration's record.

Oh okay, enough with the American Civil Liberties Union. Truth to tell, if you look at their positions in depth, they really take a hard stand against any number of Republican pet memes. And they had some really harsh things to say about George Bush.

It's time for Berg himself to take up the cause:

Sure, Obama has withdrawn troops from Iraq. Mission accomplished, as they say. But on the other hand he has also personally pioneered an entirely new, more enduring form of global warfare.
Drone attacks will remain long after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have faded into historical memory.

Indeed. And it's only since drones have begun to appear over American skies - as outlined by Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker in Here's Looking at You Should we worry about the rise of the drone? (sorry, behind the paywall) that Americans have begun to sit up and take notice.

And it's at this point that Berg begins to sound like Fidel Castro:

Because drone war is permanent war. It is limited by nothing more than the whims of the President. It is the first war run entirely by the CIA. It is conducted on the territory of countries to which America is not formally hostile. And it took until February this year for the administration to even admit the drone war existed.

That's as opposed to the wars run by the CIA in Vietnam, Chile, and sundry other countries.

George Bush's wars of liberation, right or wrong, had their precedents.

Indeed. The pond understands that the Bush administration got the idea for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo by watching the television series 24.

Barack Obama's never-ending global bombing campaign by remote control is his innovation.

Except of course when it was innovated (sorry) by the Germans in world war 11, and the deployment of UAVs in Vietnam, and the use of UAVs by Israel in the 1982 war in Lebanon, helped along by the United States, and by George Bush's administration, and so on and on in a lengthy series of developments long before Obama ate dog in Indonesia (more in Drone Wars: Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.)

It's true that Obama has upped the ante, but George Bush provided the precedent, with the use of Hellfire-equipped Predators in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. And would future Republican presidents refuse to follow in the footsteps of George Bush?

It's a fair bet that no administration will ever shut down the drone program.

So now we get Berg the pacifist, and a pox on all the war-mongers.

A competent intelligence agency can always find new threats to be bombed into the Stone Age. So if we simply apply the criteria the left used to condemn Bush as one of the worst presidents in history, there is no ambiguity. Obama is far worse again. Not that you would know about it.
Partisanship has a habit of excusing anything, with 77 per cent of those who describe themselves as left-wing Democrats wholeheartedly approving of Obama's drone program.

Would that be the same partisanship that leads Berg to overlook the way drone strikes under Bush? The same partisanship that mounts an argument against leftist liberal Obama that proposes he's actually a right wing Republican in drag?

So what about the precedent?

In July 2008, Bush increased the number of drone strikes, totaling 34 attacks in 2008. Most of the key CIA personnel from the Bush Administration’s drone program remain, but the Obama Administration has far outpaced its predecessor in the frequency of drone strikes.

So Berg is criticising Obama for inheriting Bush's CIA and for being more Republican than Republicans, more Bush than Bush - why he even assassinated Osama - and dammit that's just not fair.

It's so wrong:

Imagine if a Republican did the same thing. There would be anti-drone marches in Washington and candlelight vigils in Paris and Berlin. Now the left are more interested in complaining that Republicans are sceptical about climate change.

Oh that's a very nice left-field touch. From Obama, Bush, Republicans and drones to climate change scepticism and denialism. Why it turns out climate change is just a left wing bit of political nonsense up there with hypocrisy about drones.

They ignore, excuse - even, according to the polls, defend - their President's abominable record on war and individual rights. Because he isn't a Republican.

Where to start? Well actually if you take these things seriously, you might not excuse Obama's record on individual rights, and equally you might wonder what Republicans like Santorum would do differently. Except double down.

And you might criticise the way Obama's chosen to conduct the various wars he's inherited - that's right, inherited - since a drone strike might kill dozens of civilians, along with the nominated target. But you might also remember these are Republican wars, and the Republicans even now are hot to trot with Iran.

If Obama manages to get himself into a firefight with Iran, Berg might then have a rough equivalent to the gigantic follies of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and that pack of woeful enchiladas.

The irony is that law agencies around America are clamouring to take up the rapidly maturing drone technology in a domestic setting. But that's not so much a function of the Obama administration as American obsession with the latest in technology ...

What we are offered by Berg is a vast array of furphies which suggest that Obama is worse than any Republican doing the rounds, because he happens to adopt some Republican strategies, options and positions.

It's as absurd, as silly, as nonsensical, as Tony Abbott saying he'll seek a new mandate if he changes his mind on a policy issue (lordy, what if he really did accept climate science?)

In the meantime, the debate about the easy 'casualty-free' option of drones in war, and their implications in a domestic setting deserve more substantial debate.

The law that set in motion the use of drones over American skies was passed in the United States Senate by 75 to 20, with a mere five Republican senators voting against it (here).

You can find more here at The New York Times in Predator Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), but the ethical debate involved will require more than the cheap shots and blinkered "Obama bad, Republicans good" rhetoric at the heart of Berg's obfuscating, conflating bit of polemic.

If only it were possible to truly believe that Berg, the IPA, and the Republicans were defenders of individual liberty, took a strong Ron Paul line on foreign adventures, and were resolutely determined not to inflict their fading empire on the rest of the world.

Fancy some kool-aid? Or perhaps some capitalism at work:

For drone makers, the change in the law comes at a particularly good time. With the winding-down of the war in Afghanistan, where drones have been used to gather intelligence and fire missiles, these manufacturers have been awaiting lucrative new opportunities at home. The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade, according to industry figures. Drones can cost millions of dollars for the most sophisticated varieties to as little as $300 for one that can be piloted from an iPhone.

So are Republicans leading the fight against drones in a domestic setting? Let alone in foreign wars involving body counts ...

Here's your IPA Bergian flavoured kool-aid. Take another sip ...

(Below: click to enlarge and share the joy of droning).

And so to the pond's Sunday meditation ...

Who'd have thought that the Sydney Anglicans were fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that seems the message in Archie Poulos's Do it now!

To act quickly often means that we can take preventative action rather than remedial damage control. The old proverb “he who hesitates I lost” comes to mind.

That old line by Alexander Pope about 'angels' and 'tread' also came to mind, after he berated shameless bards, mad abandon'd criticks, bookful blockheads with loads of learned lumber, and a tongue that edified their own ears:

No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr'd,
Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church-yard:
Nay, fly to Altars; there they'll talk you dead;
For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. (and more about treading angels here)

Archie's having none of it:

There are lots of reasons given for moving slowly. The old proverb “look before you leap” comes to mind ... But I worry that these reasons act as excuses for inaction and the inaction hinders the person, others in relationship with that person and the whole ministry.

I want to advocate trusting your observations and playing your hunches.

At last an explanation of how the Sydney Anglicans dropped a bundle of moola - some say as much as 160 mil. - on the stock market. They were playing their hunches, and to the devil goes the hindmost.

Perhaps the news that the principal of Moore College is retiring and in twelve months there will be an election of the Archbishop due, with a changing of the guard for the Sydney Diocese, is causing deep introspection and concern. What if a moderate, or a liberal tried to wrest away control from the more angry Anglicans?

May the Lord deliver us from people pleasers, unprincipled pragmatists, and those who think unity is achieved by compromising the truths of God's word. (here)

Quick, appoint a fundamentalist. Just do it, do it now.

But that's about it at the website. Michael Jensen continues to suffer writer's block - it was back on the fourth of the fourth that he berated brawling Sydney for its brutality - and the pond continues to wait impatiently for number five of Sydney's seven epic sins.

There's not much in the way of turnover of other stories, though it is pleasing to see that one of the Anglican websites won an award for its cool teen vibe. After a competition to see who could provide the best five word acceptance speech required by the rules, the result turned out to be 'Jesus nailed it for us'.

Oh dear. From Alexander Pope to the Urban Dictionary in search of the true meaning of "nailed". Let's print one of the cleaner definitions:

To have sex with, especially spontaneously and/or with great passion/force.
I nailed her out of the blue last night.

Jesus fucked it for us? Is that the cool vibe of the average angry Sydney Anglican teen?

Whatever you do, don't look up 'nailed' on Google images with your filter off ...

Meanwhile, changing the subject and segueing to Cardinal Pell - presumably still on his international European junket - the Cardinal hasn't advanced beyond Assisi this week in terms of hard copy, and so didn't file a piece for last week's Sunday Terror.

The thought of forking out money to find out whether he makes it into today's Sunday Terror is simply too Sydney Anglican, too much playing the hunch, too 'rushing in where angels fear to tread' and wasting valuable coffee money.

So the pond has had to look elsewhere for its cult fix, and where better than the cult of scientology, and the publicity already whirling around Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, due out in October. While ostensibly there's no connection to the cult, the storyline sounds suspiciously like the early life and times of L. Ron Hubbard, visionary volcano and inter-planetary cultist.

It seems that Tom Cruise has already copped a screening (here) - or so it's alleged, and Cannes copped a trailer, which also turned up on YouTube here, but the question remains, will Anderson run up against the cult and friend Cruise, and recently in the wars John Travolta, and do a Paul Haggis on the cult, or will he somehow find a middle path?

The similarities to Hubbard include the time frame, post-World War II and Dodd’s taking a trip on a boat during which he arrives at a new philosophy and creates a faith-based movement.
Phoenix plays a troubled drifter seeking a path who becomes Dodd’s right-hand man.
Both the director and movie distributor, the Weinstein Company, are debating how to approach the similarities with Scientology - whether to acknowledge them openly or keep the matter at arm’s length.
The reaction of the group’s most prominent members will likely be a part of that decision.

Yes, but will Anderson show it as a cult, and give it the same vigorous treatment he gave Christianity, bashing it around the head with a bowling pin as he did in such fine style in There Will Be Blood?

Does he really care what a short man over-compensating, like Tom Cruise, thinks? Does he really take the opinion of the recently in the wars John Travolta seriously?

Is Hollywood these days run by the Scientologists? (So much for all that talk about the Jews).

Of course the film wouldn't have been made at all if Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison hadn't given his daughter Megan Ellison some play money, and she just went out and bought herself a $42 million dollar film, as you do when you've got a little cash to splash.

And now the question is whether Anderson will stick it to the cult.

In the usual way there has already been much speculation - an early draft of the script was leaked and immediately subjected to exhaustive, and exhausting analysis (here) - and it can still be found out there in the cloud in pdf form, but the pond isn't in to teasers or spoilers, and will wait until October.

Come to think of it, the pond isn't in to free plugs for Harvey Weinstein, who picked up world rights last year.

And deep down, the pond is fearful. Anderson is a favourite film-maker, but from all the idle chatter, it seems he might have fudged the job, given The Master a fine old showcase, and turned the question back on the audience. On the other hand, nobody does dark and sick like Anderson, and where better to find all that stuff than in a cult?

Ah well, while we hang out yearning for a bowling pin, here's a couple of cartoons for the sake of balance:

Another day sucking on humbugs ...

(Above: it's Martin Rowson day at the pond, more here).

So there was Doug Cameron on the radio this very morning explaining how he was gob-smacked, bemused and outraged by the Enterprise Migration Agreement involving Gina Rinehart ... in his broad, lovingly retained Scots accent.

Happily it seems that there's been no need in recent years for the importation of skilled unionists and parliamentarians who can kick the Chinese worker can that's been kicked by the Labor party since the nineteenth century. Chinese workers, you see, cockroaches that they are, will work in the most appalling conditions.

All that was needed was for Paul Sheehan to chime in and explain how lazy Celts had ruined Britain. (Yes, yes, Sheehan's not just agitated by lazy Greeks, he's got a thing about the lazy Celts).

So how did The Australian provide a twist to the fuss in its own inimitable, sordid way?

(It's just a screen cap, no links, in much the same way as the pond doesn't usually link to sewage farms).

Yep, it's the classic 'when did you stop beating your wife' routine whereby anything can be turned to maintaining the class warfare rage. If you do something that undermines the class war you're waging, why you can't conduct a class war with class. But if you conduct a class war with class, why then you're conducting an unclassy class war.

This is the sort of routine you might expect of a sociopath roaming the streets muttering under his or her breath about class warfare ...

But wait, there's even more high comedy, and we don't even have to get past The Australian's rotating splash:
(It's a screen cap, no link, just as the pond expects you to find your own lolly shop supplier of humbugs and fairy floss).

An angry mob? You mean the Murdochian rioters armed with pitch flares and forks and baseball bats roaming the print media ...

Yes here's one of them:
(It's a screen cap, no link, if you want to get your treasures from the garbage dump, find your own way there).

The obvious retort to Pearson is of course to note that it requires no imagination at all to recall what a piece of work Pearson was when he was running the Adelaide Review like a petty gauleiter. Oh okay, there's ten cents for the Godwin's Law swear jar, but the pond pleads exceptional provocation.

This is the sort of defamatory gunk that litters the page of the Oz on a daily basis:

I imagine she must have been a real piece of work in the playground at Unley High and in student politics at the University of Adelaide, burnishing by turns, as circumstances demanded, her working-class and her feminist credentials but prepared to allow boys and men to do much of the heavy lifting as long as she was allowed to take most of the credit.

In short, simply vile and contemptible, managing to conflate a hatred of women and a hatred of Gillard with a hatred of feminists.

The rest of the piece can be summarised in equally short form: Tony Abbott wondrous, John Howard good, Gillard wretched.

It elevates smarmy toadiness to a new high, but the killer is that bit of bile about the Unley High playground. Ah well, there's not much point going over old ground ... oh heck why not:

During his university days, he [Pearson] also voted for the ALP at state elections, marched in the anti-Vietnam moratoriums, and registered as a conscientious objector – all common political activities for students in the 1970s (here).

Of course in those days it was important to have feminists hang around so they could prepare the coffee or the tea that would send the men out on the important business of protesting, leaving the women to prepare an evening meal after the day's onerous political business was done by the men.

Though perhaps not in the case of Pearson. Still, what a relief he avoided 'Nam, fine and honourable and useful war that it was ... what a piece of work, eh.

It's always strange how the extreme left and the extreme right are interchangeable.

Now you might tut tut and cluck cluck and wonder how talking about the way Pearson was a rabid leftist in his student days - check up on his love of Asian communist dictatorships - has got anything to do with what Pearson has become, and we'll readily agree, as soon as you can explain how Pearson slurring Gillard's school days has got anything to do with anything, except Pearson's capacity for fear and loathing ...

Is there any sign of genuine balance at The Australian?
(It's a cap, no link, find your own delusional moderate and feed them on fizzy sticks).

Actually George we might have provided a link if only your splash had read:

Tony Abbott is taking the least honourable path to power, aided and abetted by the least honourable journalism from myrmidon Murdochians the country has seen in decades.

Or some such thing.

You see George you're on the same revolving splash as Pearson, and that means the jig is up.

Is there any upside?

Well yes, if you read the latest hi jinks at the Leveson inquiry. How long before Hunt falls, and how long before News Corp hives off its rags to concentrate on the money-making business of television? And how long before those ripples reach the antipodes?

What a piece of hacking and slashing and burning work is News Limited down under ... and yet there are still people happy to get their limited news from them ...

(Below: Martin Rowson on Hunt's appearance at the Leveson inquiry, here).