Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bringing Back Sectarianism

There seems to be a bit of nostalgia for the good old days of religious sectarianism, or at the very least anti-clericalism, among a small minority of the Victorian population. I'm talking, of course, about the senior clergy of the Catholic Church.

In a move vaguely reminiscent of the 1950s, the church is distributing pamphlets through churches and Catholic schools outlining 25 questions Catholics should ask candidates before they give them their vote. Two of the issues covered in the pamphlet are, naturally enough, abortion and voluntary euthanasia. Here's a snippet from Friday night's Stateline, where Archbishop Dennis Hart was interviewed by Josephine Cafagna:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Couldn't Give a Rat's ...

According to John Howard's memoir Lazarus Rising, Peter Costello is a lousy backstabber. That's lousy as in "lousy lover":
Mr Howard says Mr Costello ruined his chances of taking the top job by trying to push him into retirement through media pressure, a move which he says "completely misread both my temperament and my personality".
If Peter Costello did misread Howard's temperament and personality, he's not alone on that score. I can think of one former Prime Minister who consistently made the same mistake.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

False Correlations and Family Values

I paid my weekly visit to Quadrant Online today. Quadrant bills itself as "the leading general intellectual journal of ideas ... published in Australia" but, under the stewardship of current editor Keith Windschuttle, it remains the leading generally anti-intellectual journal of ideas published in Australia. Plus many of the ideas that Quadrant publishes are only ideas in the same way that astrology, cartomancy and dianetics are ideas.

One of Quadrant Online's frequent writers is Bill Muehlenberg, a staunch defender of family values; Bill's very keen that every child's right to a biological father be respected, though he's a bit vague on the details of how this will be achieved. Under the title "Our war against children" Bill's regurgitated a lot of the arguments he put forward in "The perils of fatherlessness" in February this year. He's also regurgitated a fair bit of his undigested evidence:

Mad Monk's Minions Mither* Military

The two major parties may be in furious agreement about the need for Australia to go the distance in Afghanistan but the Liberal Party is still at odds with the government over those military prosecutions. On Tuesday (October 19)  this week, Liberal members of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee (PDF) got stuck into Chief of the Defence Forces, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston in support of Tony Abbott's mission to speak out on behalf of the commandos who might not be getting a fair go without criticising the system (he hastens to add).

Mark Davis covered the story for the Fairfax papers but perhaps because he was in a hurry to file he missed some interesting exchanges between Houston and Senator Julian McGorran (page 23 of the PDF):

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Catholic Boys on a Tram

Travelling home on the tram today, I learnt a lot more than I care to know about the school life of one boy attending a Catholic school with a strongly traditionalist approach to education. A group of very spruce boys in neat school uniforms (mustn’t let the school down by slouching around the street looking scruffy and unkempt) got on just outside the CBD, talking very loudly.

The subject of their conversation was a boy named Nick, a fat fag who, apparently, is completely useless on the cricket field. And, to judge from their comments, he has a few problems with social skills - the sort of problems that a “fat fag” who probably wouldn’t play cricket if the school didn’t have a compulsory program would quickly develop in his desperation to get his team mates to like him.

Strangely Apt

This afternoon I noticed that the three note chime that precedes the pre-recorded train announcements at Flinders Street Station is just the same as the opening riff of Lalo Schiffrin’s theme music for “Mission Impossible”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mad Monk's Mealy Mouthed Apologia on Afghanistan

Tony Abbott has two big problems right now - he doesn't know when to shut up and he doesn't the gumption to speak up when he ought to either. Both problems are vividly illustrated by this short report from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Abbott & Afghanistan - Quick Links

The Australian  has made it official - it's OK to criticise Tony Abbott's remarks on the prosecution of three soldiers over the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, as long as you make it quite clear that it wasn't really Tony's fault - it was Alan Jones what sucked him into it.

And Peter Hartcher at The National Times reveals why it might have been better for Abbott's ego if he'd accepted Julia Gillard's invitation to join him on her visit:
Despite appearances, Abbott was not on the firing range to show off. Nor was he there to give anyone a lesson. It was Abbott who was being taught a lesson.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sod the Rule of Law - This Is War

Ken Parish, of Charles Darwin University and Club Troppo has written an impassioned post on Tony Abbott’s recent appearance on 2GB, where the Leader of her Majesty’s Increasingly Seditious Opposition decried the way soldiers in Afghanistan were “being stabbed in the back by their own government and … a lot of people think that’s what’s happening.”

Just to keep things clear - Tony Abbott wasn’t decrying the fact that a lot of people (25,963 the last time I checked out the on-line petition) think “that ‘s what’s happening.” What he’s decrying is the prosecution of Australian soldiers for killing six civilian non-combatants, five of whom were children. Despite the fact that this is happening under a system of military justice that was introduced by the Howard government, Tony Abbott has decided that if Alan Jones isn’t happy with it and Alan Jones’s audience isn’t happy with it then there’s political mileage in it. Political principle is nowhere within cooee of the position that Abbott has taken.