Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Piers Akerman, the end of utegate, a litany of complaints and we wuz robbed.

It's officially over. Well at least until the cops pronounce it's over.

Utegate, I mean. How so? Piers Akerman has given up on it. He was the last, the most enduring, the most true believing of the commentariat columnists.

Surely the fateful email was the weapon that would slay the beast. Surely at last the faithful could dance on the grave of Comrade Rudd, dug by himself with his perfidy and favors to mates. Right up to his last column Akkers still held out hope that the roosters would come home to roost. For that rooster Swan. And that cockerel Rudd.

But now it's gone, the dream shattered. All that's left is pique and spleen and unhappiness and general abuse, as recorded in Our pork pie PM revels in butchering the truth:

The Federal Police are investigating a fake email _ why not also investigate Kevin Rudd’s fake 2007 election policies?

There were the big promises and there were the little promises and all of them were dodgy. Remember that pledge to bring Iran’s rulers before the International Criminal Court at the Hague? That was a biggie. Out of left field but phoney.

From fake email to Iran? Okay it's a big leap, but never mind, when you're doing a core dump on a drive, you want to get it all down.

Let's count the ways the Ruddster and his team has failed. 

The failed Murray-Darling system salvation, and saving the Great Barrier Reef. This was patently false. Nothing the Rudd Government can possibly do will increase rainfall to or alter the Reef's fate. Indeed, and thank the lord climate change is just a myth, so there's no need for anyone to do anything about such matters. 

What else?

Migrating whales off the NSW Coast are a reminder of the fake promise to send the Royal Australian Navy to protect whales from the Japanese whaling fleet.

Ye cats and fishes? Does Akkers suddenly care about the whales? Meh, they're just good eating for poor Japanese folk Piers. Remember we have dominion over the world and can fuck it over as we like.

What else?

Well there's FuelWatch, and Piers suddenly gets upset about the fuel companies squeezing profits no matter what the government might tell them. Lordy, surely there's nothing wrong with big business and big companies making an honest buck? By screwing the mugs who read your column.

Then there's the failure of GroceryWatch, part of a phoney war railing against inflation while the global economy was melting down - too focussed on the phantom inflation Genie to notice what was helping in the real world. 

Eer, actually Piers people were complaining about the prices the cosy duopolistic supermarkets were charging, and the Labor government fell to pressure from the big two when they said enough of this nonsense about telling consumers what's going down. Transparency is for a pane of glass. 

What if they'd had the guts to favor consumers? Cue Akkers' column on degenerate Rudd taking out worthy retailers.

Now are you saying you're in favor of gouging consumers, or do you believe that the big two chains are just charging a fair price for an honest day's work shipping retail goods around the nation?

But wait there's more - there's blowing the legacy of future generations, and the cost of the national broadband network blowing out by squillions, and a host of other things which sound dangerously socialistic:

Then there were the promises to give a boost to the alternative energy industry _ and the slashing of the solar energy rebate scheme before it was due to end, the phasing out of the LPG conversion scheme, the promise of flood relief to the NSW North Coast, the dental scheme that delivers less than the old plan and the cuts to rebates for those needing life-changing cataract surgery.

But Akkers old chum, why should we care about this socialistic nonsense, this evil expectation of people that government should give them things? Why aren't they out earning a crust to pay for all these things, instead of hanging around pining for rebates on useless solar energy and hopeless alternative energy and sill LPG conversions? After all, climate change is a myth.

But wait, there's still more. There's the job losses and the flawed industrial relations changes and the flow of unlawful arrivals on the north west coast. Not to mention the imminent end of western civilization as we know it.

And finally there's the ending, a flourish which announces the end of utegate as an issue:

If the AFP want to get to the Mr Bigs of fakes and phonies, it should go straight to the top and get a warrant to search the Lodge.

So in the end we all shuffle along, another day closer to the grave. All that's left to wonder is whether Akkers has a program on his computer which produces a random shuffle of grievances against Chairman Rudd and his government, and spits them out in new and exciting orders, with a new top and tail to make them seem fresh on the day. Either that, or he must type out his columns in his sleep, or a trance state, going over the same old ground as if he were trapped in a running dream. Or a nightmare.

And the true believers love him, but why does he remind me of a broken down Manly or South Sydney supporter shrieking at the referee and at the end of the game, slouching home deflated, slumped and moaning that 'we wuz robbed.' Do they know how irritating it is, when rational people are trying to have a rational discussion about how Manly are a bunch of losers?

Akkers can't even be bothered reconciling the contradictions in his positions, because he should theoretically be pleased that the government has rolled over on climate change and to big business and given up on whaling and on alternative energy. After all, why waste time and money on a myth.

But there you have it. In the entirety of Akkers' list, the email has been abandoned as a jokey top and tail reference to dreams that never were, hopes that might have been but never could be.

So maybe his real second career should not be footy fan but comedy gag writer. I've never read such a fine cascading set of gags, rolling off the tongue and delivered with such a vigorous, rollocking bollocking tone. No sense, nor even a way of understanding how you might actually stick a knife in the ribs of Chairman Rudd, rather than flail about with a baseball bat.

Still, you can do comedy by slipping on a banana peel. I wonder if Larry David needs a helping hand on Curb Your Enthusiasm ...?

Hal G. P. Colebatch, the Equality Bill, graven images and idols, and the end of Britain as we know it

(Above: the UK Equality Bill logo)

Exciting news from Hal G. P. Colebatch. Atheism is on the march, and may yet achieve total victory. It's all there in UK bill an attack on faith.

Silly superstitions, idle pie in the sky nonsense from clerics, prejudice based on religious bigotry, and poofter bashing dressed up as theology, and cheap almost pornographic iconography will be banished from the land. Why, if it happened in Australia, women, even the Queen's representative, the Governor General, would be allowed into the Melbourne Club.

Well, we all know that graven images and idols of any kind must be banned, as the Bible requires:

4. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Like those crucifixes I find personally confronting and affronting.

Oh wait, this isn't the good news, that's the bad news. I read it all wrong. It's just the end of Britain and all that it stands for, a rot which has set in ever since color television and the Beatles replaced umbrellas and bowler hats, and Britain lost its empire:

I wrote here in April that Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state, but it seems I didn't know the half of it.

A sinister new equality bill is before a parliamentary committee. So far there has been surprisingly little about it in the British media, although the Catholic Church has called attention to the fact it would give the government unprecedented powers to police not only public but private religious and other activities.

Sinister=sinestra=southpaw=cackyhanded=left=NedFlanders' leftorium=Christian.

Damn, another mathematical formula designed to explain everything which explains nothing. But to get back to the pleasure of persecuting Christians:

The Thomas More Legal Centre's director Neil Addison recently said that under this bill, "nearly every form ofdiscrimination is banned, even for private associations and churches. Christian churches are to be banned from preferring Christians in their employment practices except in the employment of priests or religious teachers. They are not going to be able to insist that employees live in accordance with the ideals or principles of the church, and any employment ormembership decision they take can be investigated by an unelected quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission."

Damn, and I was looking forward to cleaning toilets for Opus Dei and wearing a cilice on the thigh as per their instruction regarding ideals and principles.

So it's just the Catholics carrying on about persecution. But the English have had a long and proud history of persecuting Catholics from the days of Henry VIII through Oliver Cromwell to the starving of the bog Irish during the potato famine. Surely this isn't the arrival of the first modern soft totalitarian state, but just more of the same?

You know, tearing down the icons and ripping up holy spaces desecrated by graven images. It might be okay for the high church to imitate the heretical papists, but everyone knows they're just Catholics in poorer, cheaper drag. But the low church could always sniff out the Satanic anti-christ dwelling in Rome:

This is only the first stage. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have warned that religious schools and care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes, holy pictures or other religious symbols or icons from their walls in case they offend atheist or non-Catholic cleaners. Under the terms of the bill, Catholic institutions could be guilty of harassment if they display images offensive to non-Catholics.

It is, it is a new crusade. The glory days of Cromwell are back at last. As the poet Andrew Marvell celebrated Cromwell's work:

Till then my muse shall hollo far behind
Angelic Cromwell who outwings the wind,
And in dark nights, and in cold days alone
Pursues the monster thorough every throne:
Which shrinking to her Roman den impure,
Gnashes her gory teeth; nor there secure.

But hang on, I'm still worried about that atheist toilet cleaner. Why are atheists cast as toilet cleaners in this comedy of manners? Is that all they're good for, the whining, carping militant non-believers?

Andrew Summersgill, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, says: "The practical consequences of this are that a Catholic care home, for example, may have crucifixes and holy pictures on the walls (that) reflect and support the beliefs of the residents. A cleaner may be an atheist or of very different religious beliefs. Nonetheless, if a cleaner found the crucifixes offensive, there would be no defence in law against a charge of harassment."

It also would be illegal under the bill to refuse employment to such non-believers. Catholic schools could likewise be forced to remove crucifixes or holy pictures if atheist or non-Catholic dinner ladies found them offensive. Beyond decorations, symbols and icons, this may open the way for state interference in invisible and perhaps more profound matters of doctrine.

By golly, it gets worse. Catholics would be forced to employ atheist toilet cleaners, or those of very different beliefs, and I bet the bowl wipers would do a bad job, just out of militant atheist spleen (and don't mention the spit the non believing dinner ladies would forcibly emit in their contempt for offensive images). 

But who are these non-Catholic dinner ladies and those of very different beliefs? Well whatever you do, don't mention Islam and neither will Colebatch. Or the slack British relying on the Islamics doing all the jobs no one else wants to do, in much the same way Republicans bemoan Hispanics and then employ them to do the cooking and the gardening. And above all, don't mention the gays and the way they're always yammering on about gay marriage.

The bill is largely the creation of the Labour Party's deputy leader and Equality Minister Harriet Harman, one of the party's most committed left-wing social engineering activists, who probably has as much clout in the government as anyone. Although the bill was supposed to ensure protection for religious groups, Harman neglected to mention this when she announced the proposals in the House of Commons last month. Recently she also refused to allow a debate on the rising numbers of religious believers complaining that they are discriminated against in the public sector. There has been a string of cases of people suspended or sacked for expressing their religious convictions, wearing religious symbols such as crucifixes or, in the case of one nurse, offering to pray for a patient.

Always with the suffering of the Christians, but whatever you do, don't mention the Islamics. 

As well as bringing down the Catholic church (but don't mention the Islamics) it seems the bill will also bring down the entire political system:

London priest Tim Finigan says: "For the government to promote this agenda in extreme form at a time when the political system is suffering unparalleled contempt and the far-right groups have their best opportunity for years is stupid beyond belief."

While the potential for government interference with private religious activities is serious enough, the bill may go much further: as it stands it will, for example, also allow the government to control the membership criteria of political parties and movements, as well as private clubs and societies.

And whatever you do, don't mention the BNP and the clear intent of the bill to make its apartheid membership criteria illegal. Won't it be fun to see the blacks flocking to join that particular party after its whites only policies get a look over. 

And don't worry that if a hotel claimed to be for the religious it could still refuse to let rooms to gay or lesbian couples. And don't worry that the Catholic church and other religious organizations are only too happy to dip their snouts in the trough for public funding for church schools, adoption agencies and whatever else they can wrangle cash for to prop up their failing religious empires. That's what happens when you sell your soul for a share of Caesar's taxes, instead of tithing your own.

And don't worry that Father Time Finigan seems to be worried about cross dressing:

Fr. Tim Finigan, a south-east London priest who writes on his blog the Hermeneutic of Continuity, said the demands of transsexual activists who support the bill could mean that if a Catholic school teacher decides to cross-dress, action against his or her behavior will be considered “harassment.”

“Remember - it's what you do, not what they do that creates the discrimination," he said. (Here).

Lordy, lordy cross dressing teachers in the classroom. We're surely a long way from the lesbian nuns in penguin suits who used to teach me.

Ah well, I can understand Colebatch's moral panic and despair. I mean a bill which manages to offend Catholics, other Christians of the non-Catholic persuasion and the BNP and homophobes and faith schools is surely problematic. And it seems the list of the mortally offended is growing.

And the bill won't stop the ongoing prejudices in an island community, developed and refined over a thousand years to a level perhaps only matched in Japan regarding social structures and class stratification, and now forced to confront the detritus of its delusions of imperial grandeur (ironically also an issue for Rome as it tried to shift from a migrants welcome policy to keeping the hordes out during its last centuries, before the hordes won).

But I'm consoled by the way it might just help fix the unemployment problem in the UK and provide hope and work for atheist cross dressing toilet cleaners anxious to help the Catholic church clean up its act ...

And from what I hear the Church of England would be close to shutting down it it had to manage without gay clergy. So Derek Nimmo lookalikes can still get on with the job.

Meantime, it's a splendid opportunity for a bit of harumphing ... proving if nothing else that the rampant prejudices the bill seeks to address are alive and well. But is it possible to reconstruct a world full of people who hate color television and the Beatles? In your dreams ...

(And by the way if you want to read the actual bill, you can find it here, and you can find a more sensible look at some of its implications here.)

(Below: Harriet Harman QC MP. Why am I reminded of Julie Bishop?)

Gerard Henderson, Malcolm Turnbull, team sports, and what if ...

(Above: Malcolm Turnbull plays spin the chair, badly).

The stars have shifted in the firmaments a little, galaxies have trembled, and the natural order of things has been disturbed.

You might think all is well with the world. As usual, Gerard Henderson has mentioned John Howard, former PM, in dispatches, which is to say his column New blood will revive Coalition.

But to the shock and consternation of the world, there's a whiff of cordite, a dash of criticism, a tad of remorse, a soupcon of unhappiness:

Nor is any present Liberal primarily responsible for the party's discontent. Rudd is a very able politician who leads a strong front bench. Moreover, Howard failed as prime minister to do what he said he would do - oversee an orderly transition of leadership in the way the Liberal Party founder, Robert Menzies, did in 1966.

If Howard had stepped down in early 2006 he would have been succeeded by Costello, when Labor was led by Kim Beazley. The ALP may or may not have replaced Beazley with Rudd. If Costello happened to win in 2007, there would be no problem now. If he lost, Costello could have stayed in Opposition until the emergence of a new leader - which might have been a more experienced Turnbull.

Lordy, lordy, lah di dah, it's a dash of alternate history, or 'what if' science fiction writing. As my mammy used to say, if only saying it made it so.

It's a bit like a NSW selector looking through the range of choices available to the Blues rugby league team, and wondering just how to turn things around after being thrashed around the park.

Henderson is of course on about the recent polls that buffeted the Liberals, and isn't above a little Turnbull bashing, as well as Howard rebuking, even if from an eccentric position:

Few doubt Turnbull's talent. Success in politics, however, turns more on political judgment, and this is usually acquired over time. The evidence suggests that Turnbull, who entered Parliament at the October 2004 election, believed that leading the Liberal Party in opposition would be relatively easy. That's why he fought so hard to win the top job.

Well actually if Turnbulll thought leading in opposition would be relatively easy, he is beyond delusional, and surely should never lead the nation. And it's a peculiar diminution of what drives Turnbull, who hasn't in the past demonstrated a zealous desire for a cushy job - so he can lounge on the cushions up the back of the class and have a good time. Or take a rest in the back pocket.

Bull at a gate, or restless puppy with too much energy and not enough eye tail co-ordination maybe, but hardly a man searching for a relatively easy gig.

But while undercutting Turnbull in such a quaint fashion, Henderson is at a loss when he looks around for a new team captain:

There are no quick solutions evident to the Liberal Party's present problems. Likewise, there is no evidence that a leadership change would make any difference to its predicament. Costello has announced his intention of quitting politics, Hockey is not ready for the job and Abbott would not have the numbers in the Liberal party room.

He doesn't get much joy when he looks through the rest of the team - there are only a few Liberals who possess the skills required for opposition. Henderson has to get down into the feeder clubs and preselection candidates, and even then the situation is bleak.

Without an influx of young MPs, there is little chance of reviving the party within a decade.

A decade! A couple of weeks ago it was all swagger, and death or glory as the team charged the guns of the Laborites.

By golly, there's a touch of the depressive in the Liberal cheer squad. A decade of Chairman Rudd, or if he falls on his sword for some reason, a decade of Rudd and Chairmistress Gillard?

Surely this is reverse psychology at work, because nobody could contemplate that without quivering and quailing. Why it's like imagining the cane toads will go on winning another six series!

Right now, Henderson sounds like an old stager who just wants the hitting to stop and the flowing blood to be staunched:

An experienced political team should be able to stop providing Labor with the rationale for an early election. It is in the Coalition's interest that the Rudd Government brings down a budget next May.

So the budget can stuff the economy and ruin Australia, so the Liberals can win? Well there's caring and sharing for you. Instead of bring it on, it's duck and weave and feint and dodge. Tragic.

Henderson wants the team to get back on to policy, but he doesn't tackle the issue of the useless hard men who surround Turnbull (come on down Nick Minchin and Eric Abetz), or the aspirational hard men who have all the charm to the electorate of  battered bruisers poking out the right jab (George Brandis, Andrew Robb, Tony Abbott), or the useless deadwood now cluttering the benches (Bronwyn Bishop, Wilson Tuckey, Philip Ruddock).

Where, you have to wonder, was the likes of Eric Abetz when sanity had to be offered up to Turnbull rather than a get rich quick strategy revolving around a fake email? In the Senate, dishing it up like he was the master chef ...

Yet Abetz has been around since 1994, while Henderson takes the easy way out by sniping at Jackie Kelly - long gone - and her leaflet folly, and using the work of Annabel Crabb to claim that the Liberals who entered Parliament in 1996 were non-political politicians who had little political experience and scant understanding of the Liberal Party.

Which doesn't explain when you come to contemplate the actual dates of those in the inner circle that he mentions - like  Malcolm Turnbull (2004),Tony Abbott (1994), George Brandis (2000), Andrew Robb (2004), Julie Bishop (1998), Nick Minchin (1993), Tony Smith (2001), and Christopher Pyne (1993). 

Oh wait, I get it, it's all Joe Hockey's fault (1996), as he comes on like a used car salesman, just wants to be loved, and did his best to take some of the heat of the utegate affair.

Well Henderson wants the Liberals to get back to policy matters, especially the economy and unemployment, but even that advice rather misses the point. The Labor party currently has an imperfect response to global warming in legislative train, and if the Liberals had bothered to get their act together, they could have looked statesmanlike in offering up alternative suggestions. But of course the climate sceptics don't want to know about it in any shape, and the schizophrenic response has fractured Turnbull's capacity to move and instead of catching Labor out with a better plan, it has produced an extraordinary negativity and ennui.

Ditto the grocery watch debacle, which saw Labor fall to the power of Woollies and the others in the retail cartel. It's like having a free kick five yards from goal, but of course the Liberals naturally side with Woollies and are uncomfortable with any talk of helping the consumer. So all they can do is gloat about the demise, which from the perspective of someone being ripped on a weekly basis by a cosy duopoly isn't that much comfort.

Turnbull's natural tendency - like many Liberals - is to be knee capping in pursuit of his own ambitions and in satiating his lust for power, but to actually be quite soft and fuzzy about matters of social policy (which he's shown in a variety of ways, from when he was a republican to when he was minister for the environment). After all, he's cashed up, now all he wants is love and respect and admiration for being a generous and caring monarch. 

The hard men in the Liberal party fear this natural tendency and want him to toughen up. But if the Liberals hare off in the direction of hardness and a kind of hard right attitude, as the Republicans have done in the United States, then they will keep generating schizophrenic responses, looking for the easy fix and the easy kill, and keep hobbling Turnbull from his natural game.

That's right, instead of blaming the 1996'ers, how about looking at the old hard men, still playing the game as John Howard played it, and as Peter Costello wouldn't have played it. What worked well for Howard won't work now, because it's working for Rudd, who ripped everything he could from Howard. 

Which suggests that when it comes to policy matters, the commentariat need to do a better SWOT job on their proposed policies, as well as on their current team. Time for a new game plan. Instead of waiting around for a decade for new blood, how about old dogs learning some new tricks?

One thing's for sure. If you make a gloomy prediction about being out of power for a decade, it won't work as reverse psychology, so much as a self-fulfilling wish.

If you don't believe you can do the job, then surely you won't get the chance.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Greg Melleuish, Miranda Ryan, Gen Y, baby boomers and a spiritual malaise haunting western civilization

Eek. I've just met a Gen Y person.

Not in the flesh of course. I don't like to  mingle with young persons. You never know what you might catch from them. A sense of humor, a taste for alcopops, an absence of discernment and good taste.

No, it was more a communion of minds, mine and Miranda Ryan as she shared with us What GFC? We're Gen Y and we're recession-proof.

Now after reading Greg Melleuish, I'd come to understand yet again that baby boomers are an abomination upon the earth, a plague of locusts, a bunch of weasly spin merchants, liars, cheats and fools who'd ruined the planet with their selfish, self-indulgent ways. Exhibit A: Chairman Rudd. (Talking about my generation of leaders).

I felt so bad about it I'd resolved to box the next baby boomer I met soundly around the ears and send them on their way sadder and wiser for their follies and foolishness. And if I ever meet that spin meister Comrade Rudd, I'll remember to call him a silly old bugger.

But when Mr. Melleuish had said he didn't know whether to look forward to the generations replacing the baby boomers with hope or trepidation, I didn't quite follow. After all, it's the business of the older generation to tell the younger generations that they're hopeless at everything, and vice versa.

I can remember my father telling me I'd never amount of anything, but as he hadn't either, I didn't mind that much. Mind you, he was right, but I still marvelled at the way the oldies could cluck their tongues at sex, and drugs and rock 'n roll.

Then I read Miranda and I realized Mr. Melleuish would have to face the future with shocked trepidation. The sheer insouciance, the nonchalant carefree indifference, the blatant sense of youthfulness in its prime. How I envy - strike that - how I hate the young.

As a member of ‘Generation Y’ I’ve come to grips with the various stereotypes and countless sledges that come our way.

Everyone loves to bag us. John Birmingham was even quoted to be “looking forward to seeing them get run over by the coming recession”.

So to any haters I have some bad news: the recession has had little negative impact on Generation Y at all.

In the immortal words of John Lennon, “Nothing’s gonna change my world”.

The utter cheekiness, the blithe indifference, verging on outright radical defiance. And then she shoves John Lennon down our throats and links to a Beatles song on YouTube! John Lennon! That's like me playing Perry Como or Bing Crosby to my father to make a point.

And then she goes on to count the ways the current recession has had no impact on the young.

We watch the news, we surf the web, and some of us even still read newspapers. So we know there is a recession and times are tough for economies, locally and globally.

But while we understand the seriousness of it all it hasn’t really affected us, financially or otherwise.

We don’t own property, so we haven’t got a mortgage. Interest rates are little more than a frequently discussed topic on the news to us. We don’t own shares so haven’t witnessed our stocks fall.

Superannuation is mostly irrelevant to our daily life. It’s something which we get frequent letters about in the mail.

On and on she rants, about how everything's hunky dory, and all's well, and hell's bells, and though she never quite gets to it, what she's chortling about is being young. Never mind Missie, see how you feel about old age, say in fifty years time. Hmm, that doesn't seem so punishing an observation, might even seem a long way off to a young thing. Especially as I'll be dead in the grave and won't be able to see the vengeance in the flesh.

But how to scold her. She seems so self-contained and happy:

All in all, unless we’ve actually lost our job and can’t find another one, the recession hasn’t hit our pockets.

On the contrary, it has even got its benefits for us. With foreign exchange rates up and flight prices down it’s the perfect time to pack up and head overseas.

For the thrifty Gen Y’s the recession has given op-shopping and “second-hand -it’s-vintage” clothing even more credibility. Many of us received K Rudd’s stimulus and like obedient schoolchildren we did as we were asked. I don’t think I’m the only one to think of Kevin every time I switch on my new plasma screen TV.

This may seem selfish and ignorant, but it’s not. We’re doing what we can for the economy. AKA buying stuff we don’t need. Or, as I like to think, we’re participating in “socially responsible shopping”.

Et tu Gen Y? But that's what those wastrel spin merchant baby boomers got up to, with their conspicuous consumption and idle spendthrift ways, sending Mr. Melleuish into a tizz, and quite likely bankrupting the country, and at least producing a deep spiritual malaise and the end of western civilization as we know it.

Now our addictions to new handbag smell and latest electronic gadgetry exist guilt-free. Not only do we get the latest style trends but we can sleep well at night knowing we’re contributing to the economic success of Australia. It’s all for you Australia. What more can you ask?

Please don’t hate us, we’re just a product of your hard work and success. Recession or not - we’ll never give up the good life.

Guilt free? Sob, the Catholic church finally has no place in the modern world.

Ha, as for the good life, we'll see about that dearie, as the seas rise (caused by the baby boomers), and China invades (caused by Chairman Rudd ostentatiously speaking Mandarin) and Indonesia seeks lebensraum (can't think how Chairman Rudd caused it, but he did and I'll remember soon), and then there was that reverse take over by New Zealand which saw all Gen Y's packed off to Tasmania to work in chip mill.

Oh dear, I'm beginning to sound like Greg Melleuish. Hating baby boomers and Gen Y'ers is such good fun, there should be more of it.

Wait, there is. If you hark back to Miranda's link, you can find Nigel Bowen in June 2008 doing The Generation Snap.

I guess now's not the time to remind Nigel a year's gone by, and a whole new calendar generation have been born in the last six months (the '09ers). Now he's soooh old.

Time flies when you're having fun, but it seems now that the situation is dire and definitive. The Gen Y'ers have inherited the indolent, wretched attitudes of the smug selfish baby boomers and see plasma TV's as their salvation, or worse, their constitutional right.

And it's the poor old X-ers who've missed out, according to John Birmingham:

"Those boomers will hang on till their dying breath. And then Y will sweep in at the funeral looking for the keys to the house and the car. When I raise these issues in my blog writing, the X-ers who comment all do so with deeply bitter black humour. We tend to think of ourselves standing mute in front of history's big black tsunami; there's a sense of pointlessness to organised political activity that stops us from getting too worked up. We're tired. We've been tired from the age of 17."

Bugger me dead. Tired? From doing nothing? From the ennui of pointlessness? Is there so much unhappiness in the world? Is every generation stuffed?

Mr. Melleuish should approach the future with trepidation, as befits a conservative.

Me? I'll give you my plasma TV, my car, the house, and all my personal effects (yes even my gun) when you take it from my cold, dead hands. Now don't be silly and have a little fun, and never mind Mr. Melleuish, that grim, ungainly, ghastly gaunt and ominous bird of yore, sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above the chamber door, croaking "Nevermore"!

Greg Melleuish, devious baby boomers, the joys of Victorianism, the evils of post modernist spin meisters and an astrological approach to history

(Above: if a World War Two baby will do this to a guitar, imagine what a baby boomer would do to it).

You can always rely on Greg Melleuish to provide eccentric reading, but his latest outing is both eccentric and pointless.

Actually wolves howling at the moon make more sense, but you might have fun reading Talking about my generation of leaders.

For a start, note the clever header, which references Pete Townshend's song My Generation. Now pay careful attention. Townshend, born in May 1945, was amongst the last of the WW11 babies, before the dreaded baby boomers started to pop out and ruin the world. You should also note that Roger Daltrey was born in March 1944, John Entwistle was born in October 1944, and Keith Moon was born in August 1946, a baby boomer. What does it all mean?

Nothing right? Well no, according to Melleuish it signifies everything. Because as an historian Melleuish is something of an astrologer. Birth dates have tremendous social, political and cultural implications - for a start, you can see now that Keith Moon was a baby boomer, which no doubt led to him doing so many drugs and women, and being a tremendously disruptive influence on the band. Him being a raucous drummer had nothing to do with it. He was a baby boomer.

I've jumped the shark, nuked the fridge right? Well no, I've just Melleuished a rock band, in the way he Melleuishes history:

There is a tendency in Australia to think in terms of generations when explaining the values and behaviour of a particular time. One can see this in the constant reference to the baby boomers, generations X and Y, even to the extent that a quiz show pits members of these various generations against each other.

It is not common for the political leadership of the country to be discussed in generational terms, even though the elevation of Kevin Rudd to the prime ministership was a major shift from one generation to the next.

This is despite the fact that Rudd is the first baby boomer prime minister of Australia, some 10 years after the elections of Tony Blair in Britain and Bill Clinton inAmerica.

Actually there's a tendency in my Woman's Day astrological charts not to discuss politicians or history at all, so I'll spare you the breakdown of the birth dates of the Australian PM's as charted by Melleuish, but be assured he relentlessly charts the birthdays of our fearless leaders.

Now you might say, that is all very interesting but does it have any real implications for understanding Australian politics?

It can be argued that the fact that Australia was led by men of the late 19thcentury for more than 40 years may well have helped to keep Australia in a fairly conservative, could we even say Victorian, mould.

Well we could say that, we could even argue that, if we were blithering idiots and believed in the 'great men determine history' mode of analysis, which hasn't got much of an outing since that silly Calvinist Thomas Carlyle carried on about hero worship.

The two Depression babies Hawke and Fraser grew to manhood in the years of hope following World War II, and both studied outside Australia.

This probably explains why, as academic James Curran has argued, they had a form of Australian nationalism that was tempered by a generous internationalism.

Well I suppose you could argue that Fraser losing his trousers in Memphis showed an interest in international events, and Bob Hawke was an internationalist for picking up a beer drinking record while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. It'd be a funny sort of argument, but Melleuish isn't done with funny arguments:

Both Keating and Howard were products of an Australia that changed from being traditionalist in the 1950s to a much more dynamic place by the late 60s.

They were both more intensely nationalist than were Hawke and Fraser, more inclined to focus on little Australia.

But as the last products of a fairly traditional educational system, they both possessed a no-nonsense set of principles. One knew for what both men stood. Whether one agreed or disagreed with them, the tag "man of principle" could be applied to Howard and Keating.

Lordy, lordy, so Keating blathering on about Asia and his love of French clocks and Mahler was just a cunning disguise for intense parochialism, while the man of steel, George Bush's favorite pet, the man who kept the US alliance flame alive, the man who took Australia into not just one war in another country, but two, was more inclined to focus on little Australia? I look forward to John Howard's riposte, should he be bothered.

But wait, here's the bonus set of baby boomer steak knives. You knew it was coming, so enjoy:

This brings us to the boomers, the products of the 60s and its education revolution. We now have a prime minister and an opposition leader who are both boomers. So what is the significance of the belated rise to prominence of this generation?

The one thing that was often associated with Blair was spin. The thing that appears to obsess Rudd is management of the media cycle and ensuring that news about the PM is always good news.

Could it be that the transition to baby boomer leadership means that we have moved from an era of principle to one of appearances?

Blair=baby boomer = spin = comrade Rudd = spin = baby boomer = appearance - principle = Fisher and Paykel washing machine and dryer. QED. Curse you, vain spin dry baby boomers.

Of course the one thing I never associated with Bob Hawke was spin - every bum should get a holiday if they think that's a sensible assessment of the man - while I've always thought of baby boomers, collectively and singularly as shallow, deceptive, misleading, guileful, and untrustworthy. Everything about the last fifty years has revolved around appearances rather than the solid earth. I mean take the flappers and gangsters in the twenties by way of contrast - were they dedicated to principle or what.

And I personally can think of no better example of a devious baby boomer than that mean, shifty Kevin Rudd, and nor it seems can Greg Melleuish:

Rudd has been many things in the few years since he entered the public spotlight. He has been a good Christian, a fiscal conservative, a good bloke and a social-democratic true believer. He has the capacity to shed his skin and acquire a new one as circumstances change.

What a snake, and not just your common friendly python, but a veritable death adder with his tricky ways. Beware this baby boomer he has a poisonous bite, and is inclined to offer apples to young impressionable women who mistake him for a good Christian and true believer. From paradise to hell in a flash.

This emphasis on image and appearance may suggest that Rudd is Australia's first postmodern Prime Minister. In a little over 40 years Australia has moved from a conservative Victorianism to a world in which nothing is as it seems.

That's right, Australia was a conservative Victorian country (even outside Victoria) right up to, um let's see, let's do the maths, 2009-40 = 1969. Give or take a year or Germaine Greer or two.

Now children look into the mirror. What do you see? Remember nothing is as it seems.

Eek, it's a boogeyman. Worse, it's comrade Rudd, and he's a post modernist, and he's led us into a post existential crisis. 

Sure Shakespeare might have written 'nothing is but what is not' way back when he was penning Macbeth, and sure existentialism was first developed as a formally named conceit by the French during the war years, but baby boomer Rudd is at the head of the charge to change us from conservative Victorians to Sartreans smoking Gaullois and looking at impenetrable abstract art. Or worse. Jean Baudrillard. Or Lyotard or Derrida. Or gasp Foucault. The fiend.

Thank the lord this nightmare can't last:

The reign of the baby boomers in Australia may only be short, perhaps as short as the time from Holt to Whitlam. But if their gift to the country is that of postmodern leadership, then their potential to damage the country may exceed what happened during those 10 years.

Oh look the sky is falling in. I guess post modernism is just the great depression and two world wars rolled into one. Never mind.

One does not know whether to look forward to the generation that replaces the baby boomers with hope or trepidation.

Just as one never knows whether to look forward with hope or trepidation to the next column by Greg Melleuish.

But here's a thought for Mr. Melleuish. Instead of blathering on in a post modernist way attempting to dress up personal prejudices and opinions with a many colored coat of borrowed thoughts and astrological niceties, why not say something like this next time:

Gee I hate baby boomers. Golly I think that slippery Rudd is a spin meister. Hey he's ruining the country. Isn't post modernism stupid? Gee I wish I'd grown up in Victorian England, or maybe during the time when that colossus Bob Menzies strode the earth. Hey I'm a conservative.

It's the Reader's Digest version, I agree, but as that august magazine swings ever more towards the conservative side, we should be thinking that short is sweet.

At the same time, I do wonder what Mr. Melleuish is teaching his students. I can imagine after a class that his students, learning from his rigorously analytical approach, would now have a pre post modernist, Victorian astrological handle on the meaning of life. 

Come on down Gen Z. How old are you? What's your star sign? Aquarius. Does that mean we're destined to be fuck buddies? 

Watch out young things, baby boomers are so devious and inclined to spin, they might try this pick up line on you. Don't fall for their spin. They're ruined the country, they're ruining the country, the country will be ruined because of them - strike out the one least applicable - and they might well ruin you too. And while you're at it, watch out for drummers. And remember:

No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.
Thomas Carlyle

(Below: Homer Simpson trapped in a world of baby boomers. Eek, he is a baby boomer. That's right, aged 36 in 1987. Do the math. See how tricky and devious they are).

Paul Sheehan, Malcolm Turnbull, Lord Cardigan and the charge of the light brigade of hapless gazelles

(Above: Goya, Saturn devouring his son).

A week's a long time in opinion poll writing, but I still have in my head Paul Sheehan's damning dismissal of the Federal opposition in The bruiser, the boof and the bore.

Taking as his major theme the dismissal of Christopher Pyne as a prissy, punctilious, irritating gadfly requiring the lighting of mosquito coils, Sheehan managed to wipe out the Liberal team in one fell swoop:

Pyne is part of a three-headed monster - the bruiser, the boof and the bore - that is never going to get traction against Kevin Rudd, no matter how many Labor mates they uncover who received very special treatment from the Prime Minister's chief surrogate, fall guy and Nambour High School mate, Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Because if the bruiser (Turnbull), the boof (shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey) and the bore (Pyne) represent the point of the sword of the Federal Opposition, it is a blunt instrument, a non-lethal weapon, the bluntest instrument the party has had in 13 years ...

He even contended that it was this deadly trio, not the Labor party, that were responsible for driving Peter Costello from the scene:

The weight of waiting, and the weight of history, was more than Costello could stomach. That and watching the bruiser, the boof and the bore leading the charge of the light brigade every day.

It was reminiscent of that painting by Goya which he painted on the wall of his house and entitled Saturn Devouring His Son, such was its savagery. 

If I'd been in the Labor party, I'd have made a copy and circulated it as widely as I could, to all and sundry, as Sheehan mocked the Liberal party leadership and pilloried them as a set of clowns only capable of charging to death and destruction - with Malcolm Turnbull presumably Lord Cardigan, the hapless dummy who led his cavalry into withering Russian fire during the Crimean war.

Reading it, you got the sense that Sheehan wanted Turnbull dead, or at least gone, and not by the next election, but right now (and don't forget to take Christopher Pyne with you as you exit the revolving door), with Sheehan doing as conspicuous impression of a vulture as would be seemly in a family newspaper.

Which is why, having shown he's pretty adept at the fine art of the cudgel, the steel capped boot, and the bludgeon, it's hard to explain the actual point of his column today, entitled A hyena pack hunts in Canberra.

Well I guess the header highlights a different kind of hunting to the hyena pack that hunts in the press, but surely only on the margins.

Sheehan spends the entire column trawling through the Serengeti hyena hunting antics of Kevin Rudd, Anthony Albandese, Lindsay Tanner, Tony Burke and Chris Bowen, all intent on leaving Malcolm Turnbull a shredded political carcass, as if somehow this week he's transformed from Lord Cardigan into a pitiable hapless gazelle.

Never mind that the hyenas were a week late in joining the Sheehan hunt.

By the time they had trawled through Turnbull's past, the Opposition Leader was portrayed, under the privilege of Parliament, as a treacherous, bullying, smearing, opportunistic, justice-poisoning, forest-stripping, tax-avoiding, profiteering, cat-abusing loser.

I had thought all this was being warehoused for the next election. But no, they want him dead now.

But they'd missed out that he was a bruiser and Lord Cardigan reincarnate. Some don't need the privilege of Parliament to portray a loser, or the walking dead.

Is this latest column a case of be careful what you wish for, or hate the enemy of your enemy, or simply another anthropological excursion into the rich wildlife gathered around the Canberra watering hole?

Who knows, but it reminds me how much the SMH failed to fill the hole left by Alan Ramsey, a curmudgeon who smote all sides with admirable consistency.

If early reports are true that - after this day's poll results - Turnbull is now turning to old boofheads like Tony Abbott to resume their head kicking boofhead ways, Sheehan will have to reconstruct his abuse of the Liberal dream team into something like the bruiser and the mad monk. Will he also take credit for driving Turnbull into the arms of the hard men as the way forward, his only salvation from the bruiser being bruised?

Or worse, Sheehan might have to take credit for suggesting Lord Cardigan be replaced as the head of the cavalry ... and then getting what he wanted.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mark Sanford, Paul Begala, Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove, John Dickerson and sex and politics American style

(Above: if a rabbit can marry Elmer Fudd, is it time to lighten up?)

Seeing as how it's a quiet winter sunday on loon pond - the wisest commentariat columnists seem to have headed north for the summer season - it's as good a time as any to brood about sex.

In particular, the way conservatives seem to have some weird kind of hang up about it, in a way that leads to all kinds of repression, and then to bizarre break outs that end badly or in tears.

Sweet Governor Mark Sanford and the way he's been shedding tears for Argentina is only one of the latest misadventures, which have caused a few hapless high profile Republicans and fundamentalist Christians to flounder on the rock of their apparently god given sexuality.

Which still hasn't produced much generosity of spirit in sexual matters, on say whether homosexuals can enjoy their own apparently god given sexuality (let's leave the debate over evolution and the naturalness of the natural world and genetics to another day - yes folks there are animals which enjoy homosexual sex other than the human kind).

It seems expected that liberals or progressives - or whatever other label can be dumped on whomever you don't like - are by nature licentious, slutty, sordid and otherwise generally inclined to tom cattery. That's generally one of the best reasons for them being likely to end up in hell.

Never mind that this peculiar fundamentalist mindset led to nailing Bill Clinton for the minor indiscretion of a blow job with an intern (anybody who cares explain how they regularly turn down free blowjobs out of a sense of righteousness will be re-directed to the Catholic church's vocational guidance program - if you're in Melbourne, go here, but remember you have to be unmarried).

The blow job should have been a matter between Bill and Hill, but it sent the conservatives into a foaming lick smacking frenzy, and the US then had to endure the Kenneth Starr trial by media, which despite Whitewater, Filegate and Travelgate, only managed to come up with a semen stained dress and fibs about how the dress got stained.

Lord knows what would have happened to JFK if they'd found out he'd been having a fuck with the girlfriend of Mafia boss Sam "Momo" Giancana, though it came in handy for J. Edgar Hoover, the man who claimed the Mafia didn't exist, because the information compromised any move Bobby Kennedy might have made to kick the cross dresser out of the top dog job in the FBI. Oh for the good old days of furtive fucks and back room deals.

Now of course, as part payback to the Clinton follies, the conservatives are getting their heads kicked in again, with hypocrisy the buzz word. Naturally this gets the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove terribly upset:

Rove: I guess what it comes down to is when you get to socially liberal ideas like abortion, and like gay marriage, the left will seize on any opportunity that they think they have in order to condemn those who are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. And it's just -- you know, there are people who are maybe moderate in their views on economics, or maybe nationalist on their views on international affairs, but when it comes down to social questions, they're liberal, and it's an instinct, and they cause a lot of people -- you know, like Paul Begala.

O'Reilly: I was just going to say that. Is that unbelievable?

Rove: Unbelievable. I don't recall -- you know, who exactly is accusing him of being a poor father or a poor Christian or not a patriot. But this sort of artificial victimhood -- and again, the purpose of it is, is to say to people --

O'Reilly: But wasn't Begala the guy, that it was just about sex, he and Carville were running around -- that's all they said for two years!

Well actually here's what Paul Begala said in Sanford's Dereliction of Duty Trumps His Hypocrisy, and you can sense the sweetness he felt in sticking in the knife:

The Sanford saga is about two things: dereliction of duty on the part of Mark Sanford and a culture of hypocrisy on the part of the GOP.

The fact that the governor stepped out on his wife is his business—and Mrs. Sanford’s. The fact that he stepped out on his job is the business of the people of South Carolina. There could have been a tornado, a hurricane, a prison riot, a terrorist attack—and if, God forbid, there had been, the state’s ability to respond would have been sorely compromised.

Legalities aside, it is shockingly irresponsible to just walk off the job—never mind that he was walking on the wild side. If you want to be incommunicado for days on end, become an insurance agent, not a governor. Dereliction of duty alone is enough to boot Sanford.

In fact it’s a better reason than the infidelity. Do we really have to go through this again? How FDR lifted us out of the Depression and whipped the Nazis while finding comfort with Lucy Mercer? How Nixon was a faithful husband but a corrupt president? Americans long ago sorted this out, wisely separating personal immorality from public duties.

But the Republicans have not. Since the birth of the Orwellian-named Moral Majority, the GOP has claimed it has cornered the market on morality. In truth, all it cornered the market on was hypocrisy. For decades Republicans have sanctimoniously lectured the rest of us—that they’re better husbands, better Christians, better fathers, better wives, better patriots. In so doing, they have been hoisted by their own petard, or, as Gov. Sanford might say, they have immolated themselves by their own sparking.

Well yes, actually the preachers of America - major backers of the Republican party - do endlessly lecture and hector the populace about the wicked, who somehow always seem to be Democrat, which always means socialist, or worse communist or worse still atheist.

And as a result, as the Republicans embraced this constituency, somewhere along the line, long after the good old days had disappeared, the sense of privacy and decency vanished from politics in America, aided by a press that has always been inclined to be yellow in the underbelly, but is now canary yellow right up to the top of the food chain. Sex suddenly became a great way to knee cap the opposition, as if the roaring twenties had never happened.

Which is why when you get somebody like Karl Rove carrying on about it, you can only marvel at the sheer cheek, the astonishing gall of the man:

Rove: What we saw last night was the coarseness and ugliness in American politics, carried forward by people who claim not to be political actors, but commentators and observers. And they gave the lie to their so-called neutrality or objectiveness last night.

Pot meet kettle, and let's agree we're both black.

Which makes the desperate attempts of someone like John Dickerson to carry on about the humanity of it all in Slate is a bit like Larry Hagman trying to stuff Barbara Eden back into the bottle.

In Heartless The Disturbing glee at Mark Sanford's downfall, he seems to have entirely forgotten that Sanford was one of the cheerleaders in the persecution of Bill Clinton. So naturally it's payback time, but Dickerson is smitten by the suffering:

The minute Sanford started speaking, the reviews poured in via e-mail and Twitter. He was rambling, confused. He didn't tear up enough when talking about his wife. He favored his mistress. He answered the questions too thoroughly. All these judgments seemed absurd. A man standing in front of a bank of cameras in the middle of a complete collapse is going to say a lot of things poorly.

The snap judgments failed to acknowledge a grain of the fundamental human carnage we were witnessing. You can laugh at Sanford, as you can laugh at a video of a wrecked Amy Winehouse falling all over her house. But at some point, even though they did it to themselves, you have to feel sorry for them as human beings. You can do that, I think, and not be a fan of adultery or drug use.

Well yes, and you might even be a fan of drug use (if you like a beer) or adultery (if you have an open marriage, not that anyone can speak of such things these days).

More to the point, there's something exceptional about the fall of a hard man. You watch the fate of a head kicking hard man in much the same way as you watch Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, playing an old fashioned London gangster happy to bump people off to maintain his evil empire, only to find himself being taken for a long ride at the end of the movie.

I look at Sanford the way I'd look at any train wreck, including the wrecks I've been in myself, because they're self induced, and involve hubris and delusions, ultimately not worthy of Greek tragedy so much as a Shakespearian comedy about inept, bumbling fools who've never taken the trouble to know themselves or the world. The more Dickerson tries to find some sort of excuse involving gravitas, the more all I can think is what goes around comes around:

Sanford's fumbling efforts to explain how he's tried to rescue himself with his faith offered some people an opportunity to make fun of his religion, as if a confused, lost, flawed person were the right spokesman for anything. People tend to think the most awful thing about a person is the most true thing. They also apparently think it's the most true thing about his or her associations. So an e-mail arrived asking, "[I]s there any Republican not sleeping around?" Maybe Sanford should have been a presidential candidate. He apparently represents an entire party and an entire religion.

Well actually no more than so-called liberals or homosexuals or progressives are reckoned to represent the decline and fall of western civilization as we know it. 

Cf Rove yet again trotting out the idea that somehow it was all the fault of people who were into socially liberal ideas and that somehow these people condemn people who into traditional marriage. Hey baby you can get married and stay married for sixty years, until death does part you, and it won't make me lie awake at night, but at the same time you might spare a thought for the fifty per cent or so of Americans who do get divorced. (And we won't go into the number of teenagers who get pregnant, since that would only lead to Bristol Palin, tears and even more righteous indignation).

Anyway, when I read Dickerson trying to soft soap Sanford, I wanted to box them both around the ears:

What Mark Sanford seemed to be trying to say is that he screwed up, in the biggest possible way, because he lost his bearings. He lost his self-control. He was indulgent. He forgot that there were other humans in the world. Yet in the constant flow of abuse, joke-making, and grand conclusions about his failings, it seemed everyone having a good time pointing at his self-indulgence was also engaging in a form of it.

Actually the self indulgent ones snickering in the darkness are just doing what Sanford did about Bill Clinton, and what others do when they carry on about the dangers of sex in others without recognizing the dangerous pulse of sex that beats in most of us (Catholic priests wedded to god always the exception of course).

It's sad that the genie of personal relationships in politics in the media is out of the bottle, and unlikely it'll ever be stuffed back in. But if you suddenly turn liberal progressive in sexual matters, as Sanford did, maybe the message is that the Republican party might benefit from a little progressive liberalism,  at least in matters of private sex. How does it go? Don't ask, don't tell.

If I were Rove - wash out your mind for thinking it - or a few of the others who tracked down Bill Clinton relentlessly, I'd repent the part they played in that particular version of the Salem witch trials. And I'd try to steer the Republican party back to the middle in matters of morality, so that some of the heat goes out of the issue.

Heck, they might even think a gay couple wanting to engage in the bizarre rituals of marriage and divorce won't bring down western civilization as we know it.

I know, I know. I'm dreaming. But truth to tell, just as Sanford getting the hots and trotting off to Argentina is an indiscretion too far for him, in the wider world it amounts to no bigger hill of beans than the fate of poor old Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle or the shooting of William Woodward Jr or JFK fucking a Mafia moll ... or any of a thousand other personal scandals and crimes of the century.

Hey, it's America. If only conservatives could learn to go with the flow, since as in the case of Sanford they end up going with the flow whether they like it or not ...

Here's a tip: take a look at Some Like it Hot, and learn to laugh about the vagaries of sex. It was Billy Wilder's gift to America, and America's gift to the world ...

(Below: and while you're at it, how about a bit of cross dressing in I Was a Male War Bride).

Piers Akerman, Malcolm Turnbull, coaching, cheerleading, and coulda been a contender

(Above: big Mal lining up on the left before the game while chairman Rudd remains resolutely on the right. Go figure).

By golly if you wanted an optimistic coach, you couldn't - shouldn't - look further than commentariat columnist Piers Akerman.

The fat owl of the remove is a positive Bunter of a chap when it comes to seeing the best of all possible worlds in his team. You can imagine him standing in the dressing rooms of the NSW rugby league team telling the troops that they're just a short time away from pulverizing their vicious opponents, those terrible Queensland toads.

There's any number of teams he could help out - pardon the parochialism, but Manly and South Sydney could do with his cheerful insights and positive tongue. 

Of course this might not always help a team in trouble. After all the toads thrashed their rivals, suggesting an overly optimistic pep talk at half time might actually be more what you expect from a naive, deluded cheerleader.

But the thought of Piers Akerman in a cheerleader costume is too much to bear. The mind begins to shatter, the soul begins to quake. Let's not think of him as a physical cheerleader, so much as a metaphysical one.

Still, you'd want him in your corner, tending the water, applying ice to reduce swelling, stopping the bleeding with art and science, fixing those cuts with a flourish. (I know, the cornerman also throws in the towel, but if you're that kind of quitter, loser, then you don't need an Akkerman, you need a greenie leftie loser in your corner).

Which is why, while the rest of the world has moved on with barely disguised irritation or disgust, Akkers is still trawling over the affair de la ute, and finding within it great signs and portents of hope for opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

In Turnbull will survive utegate, he finds Chairman Rudd down for the count, the body blows mounting, the knees of Malcolm intact and not knobbly at all:

Those who claim utegate or mategate has cut off Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull at the knees are indulging their fantasies.

The last weeks of the winter session have been more damaging to the Rudd Labor Government than the Coalition, no matter how you slice it. Friday’s announcement of the death of Labor’s GroceryWatch, the latest in the line of broken election promises, underscores that point.

Not that Turnbull hasn’t taken a few whacks. But would the electorate really look at an Opposition leader who isn’t prepared to have a go?

A few whacks? That's right Mal, it's only a bloody nose, go out and hit 'em again.

But let's not go into all the details of the affair de la ute again, the most tedious saga in the history of football, with so much fumbling and dropping of the ball, you'd think they'd all be better off playing soccer. 

It's enough to say that at half time, in Akkers' eyes, big Mal has made plenty of touchdowns, so much so that the deluded Laborites are using their own, in a feeble attempt to debauch and defame him:

Former Labor leaders Kim Beazley and Simon Crean, to a lesser extent, demonstrated that nice guys finish last. The small-target strategy isn’t a winner.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd revels in his popularity ratings, but another former Labor leader, Mark Latham, enjoyed his moments in the sun, too, and now he is vilified within the ALP, at least by the class clown, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese.

He opened a new vein in surrealism when he branded Turnbull as the new Latham, showing all the depths of loyalty the electorate has come to expect from the ALP.

But if Latham’s name is now an epithet to be hurled across the House, will we see Albanese start tagging his many enemies as Whitlamists, Chifleyites and Curtinistas?

That's right Mal, no point in being a small target. Make sure you draw a big cross on your forehead so that the boofheads can kick you silly. Soon enough they'll start mistaking you for Gough Whitlam.

What else? Well Swan is dead set scared, and Joel Fitzgibbon's been dumped, so they no longer have a decent fullback, and anyway their left jab is the kind of punch you'd expect from pansies, and did we mention just how useless the greens are?

What have the greens got to do with utegate, you might ask, proving you have absolutely no understanding of football or boxing strategy. In short, if they're in the ring, or a nearby ring, or the court next to the main court, kick the shit out of them.

You see, some think that the snide Eric Abetz has actually led Malcolm Turnbull down a gully where he might have been dry gulched, and even winged in the shoulder by some varmint shooting hot lead.

So little you understand, you fools:

The same person also noted that while the media was riveted by Liberal Senator Eric Abetz’s questioning of the gloriously named Godwin Grech, not enough attention was paid to Abetz’s attack on Greens leader Bob Brown over the number of anonymous donations Brown had accepted to pay his legal costs and channel to Green causes.

“The Greens’ own website calls for transparency about donations and claims that it will make public all donors’ identities at the end of each three-month period, as well as the cumulative total of donations over the past 12 months, where those cumulative totals amount to $1500 or more,” he said.

“Yet Brown accepted anonymous donations of $5000 and $10,000 to amass more than $739,000 and didn’t give any accounting for nine months or more.”

So there! Eric's a winner, just like big Mal. Those whacky zany Tasmanians really know how to kick a goal, even when it's an own goal or a rushed behind.

Sure the evil toads might have won a couple of matches, and sure we can't actually think of enough upside about l'affair de la ute to fill up a column, but look at what was done to the Greens. Now there's a knockdown victory. 

Any second thoughts after the match coach as to how we might play the next game?

Everyone’s wise after the event, and if Parliament looks more icky after Labor’s attempt to muzzle Grech and Turnbull’s attempt to implicate Rudd as well as Swan in the attempts by Treasury to curry favour for Grant, that’s the price of robust scrutiny.

Uh huh. Robust scrutiny. And it's parliament and chairman Rudd and that evil rooster Swan that are carrying the bruises. Big Mal's come off the field without a scratch. And I can say that after giving him a robust scrutiny.

Well that's a heck of a lot better than dumb, inept, mishandled scrutiny, dropping the ball at just the moment big Mal could have crossed the line and scored a touchdown.

Perhaps Akkers, as a coach who puts Wayne Bennett in the shade, is there anything that could have been done differently?

If there is one lesson that can be drawn from utegate, it is this: never put the leader out first on a high-risk proposition, always send someone further down the food-chain to test the risk and take the fall if necessary.

A high risk proposition? I thought it was win-win all the way, and what's this talk about taking the fall? What fall was that? Not the biblical one, where big Mal gets kicked out of the garden of eden?

Next you'll be going into a speech about how Big Mal coulda been a contender. But I get the strategy - should the lord provide another ute, we'll send in a head kicking, coat hanger delivering, wrestling in the tackle thug, because big Mal at heart is such a lovable, sweet softie. Someone from Melbourne Storm? After all they're a Victorian team and represent evil incarnate.

But sad to say, I reckon the toads will thrash NSW in the next game, making it a clean sweep, and I'm not so sure that the coaching team is up to the task of preventing it.

Just as I'm not sure sure that reading Akkers would do anything for Malcolm Turnbull, except produce a swelled head and delusions of grandeur, and perhaps he already has too many of those.

Sigh, there's nothing for it. We'll have to get Akkers into a fitting room to see if we can find a cheerleader costume that will fit. It might not be a pretty sight, but I'm sure that it'll lift the spirits of the lads as they run out onto the field after half time.

If nothing else, the prospect of being hugged by a cheerleading Akkers should keep them out on the field and playing as if their lives depended on it. 

Run hard big Mal, Akkers is right behind you.

(Below: maintaining a tone of cheerful optimism in this column, how Akkers might look after a fit out in the cheerleaders' dressing rooms).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miranda Devine, a plague of niceness and kicking the neighbour's cat

I'm finding it hard to cope. This morning I kicked the cat - okay, I don't have a cat, but the neighbour's cat made the mistake of coming on to my turf - and I barked at the dogs over the road (barking at the moon is scheduled for tonight), and I continued my war against the Indian mynah birds (but please don't take this as hostility to India or Indians or curry).

I just felt so grumpy, so tetchy, so mean, so ... well there's only one word for it ... sooh un-nice. Is that a word? Well who cares because it describes how I feel, and if you don't like it, why not take a flying f**k like the mynah birds. 

I guess I'm really not that un-nice. That use of asteriks was pretty sensitive, wasn't it? Maybe I'm actually starting to feel nice. Maybe I'm becoming fucking nice. But what could have brought it on?

Why I read Miranda the Devine, and niceness is all the go. I'm not sure what she's been drinking (I thought they banned kool aid after Jonestown), or whether she's been sneaking out to sing along with the clap happy Christians out at Hillsong, or whether it's the ongoing effects of watching MasterChef, but these days she's intoxicated by niceness.

A New Niceness sweeps the country, she exults, which means we now have to refract everything through an ideology of niceness, rather than neo liberal nastiness.

Niceness is MasterChef, Random Acts of Kindness and Packed to the Rafters. Nastiness is Gordon Ramsay. And The Chaser. Nastiness is Malcolm Turnbull, while even if he's lately looked like he's swallowed a chain saw, Joe Hockey is niceness. 

Therese Rein shrieks niceness, while even Julia Gillard is nice. Feeling faint yet?

The PM is usually nice, though not to flight attendants, and not in the past week, where he showed an inner snarl. Anthony Albanese is definitely not nice, while Wayne Swan is too malicious to be nice. Though he could be nice with a bit of effort, because he cares about nice people with nasty mortgages.

The public want to be nice, but they're narky, even nasty, over the total waste of time that utegate constitutes.

Miranda the Devine is really nice these days, and she regrets any nastiness she inflicted on dumb doozy greenies and stupid people who disagree with her. They're still dumb stupid f**kwits, but she wants to be nice about it.

So who's the best at niceness?

Parliamentarians would be wise to follow the next political trend just launched by the US President, Barack Obama - a low-key Prince of Nice - not to follow the 24-hour news cycle. It is a revolutionary concept, and only Obama, with his authority and iconic status, could dare try.

Interrogated by reporters this week about why he waited several days to condemn the violence in Iran he replied: "I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not, OK?"

Obama is nice? Knock me down with a feather and bash my brains out with a baseball bat. Miranda the Devine is calling Obama a low-key Prince of Nice and urging other politicians to adopt his low key strategy in relation to the media?

Wow! What a liberating idea for a political leader, not to be enslaved by an endless circus of TV and radio appearances, punctuated by jabbering doorstops ...

... No more having to hammer the same line of meaningless spin perfected by the clever dicks you have hired to protect you from saying what you really mean. No more playing semantic games with TV interviewers trying in vain to cut a chink in the armour of spin.

How liberating to have time free, instead, to actually think about the important business of running a country, rather than delegating it to unelected public servants. Why didn't someone think of that before?

You know once upon a time when one of my friends started acting nice and smiling and staring off into the distance, I suspected them of having an affair. With Miranda the Devine, can the same effect be produced by staring at MasterChef while in a deep trance? You are changing Miranda, you are becoming nice ... everything is nice ... people are nice ... even greenies are nice ... mad but nice ... like the nice of an iced vo vo.

Where's that bloody cat. I'm going to kick it to kingdom come, and then I'll get out the air rifle and then we'll see how those bloody mynah birds like the taste of a compressed air slug coming their way.

Oops, sorry, forgot. Air rifles are nasty and Niceness is the new black. Would you like a cup of tea dear and a good lie down? And a vo vo? Or a lamington? How about some bird seed for the mynahs?

Isn't it nice that Obama is so nice, and shortly thanks to Miranda the Devine Mr Rudd might become nice again, and I have high hopes that even Malcolm Turnbull might become nice if he only listens to the nice advice of that nice columnist Michael Costa with his helpful hints on how to behave like a nice politician.

Now nice people, nice nation, listen up in a nice way. Here's your nice poem for a nice weekend, thanks to the ever so kind Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth, who was a relative of William Wordsworth but never inherited his poetry gene (oh sorry, that's so not nice).

If all the good people were clever,
And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
We thought that it possibly could.

But somehow 'tis seldom or never
The two hit it off as they should,
The good are so harsh to the clever,
The clever, so rude to the good!

So friends, let it be our endeavour
To make each by each understood;
For few can be good, like the clever,
Or clever, so well as the good.

Now have a nice day and take care and come on back soon y'all, ya hear. Ring the doorbell twice, it's likely I'll be out the back kicking the neighbour's cat. 

And can someone find a nasty pill and feed it to Miranda the Devine, so we can have the old nastiness back and get our nasty fix of a weekend? Too much niceness and I could be ill for the entire week ...