Roaring mouse

6

Every so often an idea comes to one with a blinding flash of the kind that makes you want to say to Saul Tarsus “call that a blinding flash, THIS is a blinding flash”. And so it was today.

You see today our glorious leader announced that Australia is to buy JSF, purchase some 5000 of the new F35 fighter jets. Maybe it was 500. Or 58 rising to 100. Whatever, $12 billion worth for the first lost.

Immediately the nitpicking started, as you just knew it would. People pointing out that the plane was nowhere near ready, all sorts of problems, yada yada yada, you know what they are like.

And others asking “where is the money coming from?” (obviously forgetting that only the Liberal Party is allowed to ask the Labor Party that question when those Socialists want to spend money on hospitals, schools, disabled people, the elderly, those sort of namby pamby things they should know there is never enough money for). Anyway, they babbled about the budget crisis that the Liberals said Labor had caused and they were fixing, so how could we afford $12 billion on planes that weren’t built yet. How silly, Mr Abbott explained so nicely that previous governments had “put the money aside”. Sitting in a flying piggy bank I think he said, and I didn’t even know the Budget had one of those.

But still the naysayers kept up their silly chorus. Why couldn’t this money be spent to make the country a place worth living for instead of one that wanted to kill people? Oh, I get so cross with these people.

Anyway, I saw this photo of Tony Abbott, wearing suit and tie and big cheesy grin, thumb in air, sitting in cockpit of a pretend mock-up of one of these big toys, and suddenly it hit me. Remember the story of the Emperor’s new clothes? Well, why wouldn’t it work for defence? I will never see the actual planes, destined to arrive over the next 35 years or so, nor will most people in Australia. Nor will I ever see the credit card receipt for $12 billion. All I have seen is Abbott in a fake plane SAYING he is going to buy real ones. Everybody will just assume he has. As will our potential future enemies, whoever they are (since our PM has been wandering the globe assuring every country they were our new BFF).

SO – we don’t need to actually go ahead with the purchase. Do you see? We pretend we have invisible planes that can be seen only by the truly patriotic Australian, and we will all see them. As will our future Best Enemies Forever. I mean, who is going to dare invade a country that says it has 500 (pick any number you like under this strategy) of the best fighter jets in the world eh?

And better still, the plan would work for the whole defence area. Collins class submarines? Sure, dozens of them, patrolling our waters, running silently and deeply. Sea Sprite helicopters? How many do you think? Oh, and aren’t they amazingly quiet, and doesn’t that invisible paint work well? See what I mean? Need spend no actual money at all on this stuff (unless you wanted to get the equally invisible Green Army to build some tanks out of wood and canvas like the Americans did in England before D-Day to fool the Germans into thinking the Emperor of India was indeed clothed in tanks), would really be a little quiet mouse of a country, but one everyone was afraid of.

And the beauty is, Mr Abbott, two birds with one stone, magic pudding, you can spend the same money on health and education and old people etcetera. Good thing it was put aside eh?

What’s that Mr Abbott? You don’t want to spend it on those things?

Oh.

Play up play up

7

The last football match I went to, forty years ago, was Coventry Reserves playing Preston North End Reserves (starring an ancient Nobby Styles) in 1974. I say this to demonstrate my lack of interest in football as a spectator sport rather than for any historic interest (other than the aforesaid young Nobby) in that game itself.

Oh, I have watched on tv the odd cup and grand final since then, read an occasional analytical piece on, say, “the future of rugby league” – I always aim to be able to hold my end up for two minutes in a discussion on any subject, part of being civilised. But no more than 2 minutes on sport.
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Substitute

9

All those photos of psychopathic morons proudly showing the bleeding bodies of lions, giraffes, bears, wolves, elephants they have blasted with high-powered penis substitutes? Guess they think we will be envious of their prowess.

Makes good people not envious but sick to their stomachs seeing these vicious fools posed with their killing machines with foot triumphantly on top of the body of their victims. Makes them determined perhaps to try to stop this evil.
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Monkey magic

13

We all know the nature of monkey is irrepressible, right?

And the nature of the lion is to hunt, of the vulture to pick up the leftovers, of the hyena to scavenge the scraps.

Regular readers know that I don’t have “a deep burning hatred” for the neo-conservative scum (oops, sorry) now infesting the Australian corridors of power. No, not at all. Liberal and National Party politicians, and the right-wing think tank vermin (again, “oopsy”) that advise them, simply can’t help being what they are. When they demand the scrapping of the minimum wage, want additional payments to see the doctor, talk nonsense about natural CO2 and demand scrapping of a price on carbon, refuse legal advice to refugees, rewrite school curricula, dump spoil on Barrier Reef, remove limits on hate speech, sell public assets, remove financial and environmental regulations, invade other countries, clear-fell heritage forests, and so on, this just reflects their nature.
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The moving finger

12

The last three blog posts have been examples of my writing where the words just flow on to the screen (ha, nearly said “page”, old-fashioned, eh?).

Richard Sheridan said “You write with ease to show your breeding, but easy writing’s vile hard reading”. Well, I see what you mean RB, but on this blog the reverse is true I think. Posts that I struggle with, feel I have a duty to write, must contribute to some debate, keep Watermelon in the forefront of public conversation, I suspect are a struggle for you, dear reader, to read.
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Arrows of desire

8

Watching Australian politics since the election of the Abbott government has been like watching one of those comedy routines, Benny Hill perhaps, or The Goodies, where the film is run backwards and the comedians are seen jerkily and rapidly moving back into the landscape, finally disappearing backwards over a hill.

Tony Abbott and his clown troupe running the clock backwards has astonished not just Australian citizens who had thought they were living in the 21st century, but civilised people everywhere who had thought we were too.
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Pixels made flesh

39

“What do we want?”
“A slogan.”
“When do we want it?”
“Now.”

Went to the Canberra “March in March” protest today, so need to write about it. Everyone else has written about their own experiences among the 100,000 plus people who marched in cities and towns all over Australia in last three days, so I should too. 100,000 people, by the way, virtually ignored by the media (except to complain about one or two signs, out of thousands, with a rude word or two, in order to discredit the event), but whose actions, just 6 months into the term of a new government, are unprecedented.

The Canberra event was much like the other events everywhere. It all had a pleasantly amateurish feel – no professional protesters or rent-a-crowd here. Ordinary people with no second names (“I’m Jim” “I’m Lisa” and so on) standing in front of an “open mic”, most clearly for the first time, saying in a few stumbling, and in one case tearful, words, why they had made the effort to come. Young and old, radical-looking and very conservative, men and women (about equal numbers), straight and gay, Aboriginal and “indigenous” (as one Aboriginal speaker put it), local Canberra and “from Goulburn” “from Newcastle” “from overseas”, healthy and not-so-healthy.
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The contrary assumption

1

Saw a quote yesterday, and, as is so often the case in my near-dotage, didn’t write it down in case I decided to use it later, which of course I did just 24 hours later. So forgive me a little inexactitude in the interests of a Meloncholic Muse. It was from a right wing politician in Australia (or America, Argentina, Angola, Azerbaijan…) bemoaning the fact that the Left in Australia (Albania, Austria…) liked to sign international treaties.

It was related, I think, to the Tasmanian election, and the determination of the Liberals to turn thousands of hectares of World Heritage forest into wood chips and scorched ground. Or perhaps it was related to the UN Refugee Convention. Or Human Rights. Whatever, it was related to the nerve of any agreement having the temerity to presume to limit the activities of an incoming Liberal government hell-bent on destroying whatever stood in the way of its neoconservative religion as surely as the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas that stood in the way of their religion.
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Lights out

7

The last time an Australian Labor leader came up with a phrase that was both memorable and of positive benefit to the Party was Ben Chifley’s ‘Light on the Hill’. So good was it, in fact, that the media have deliberately tried to turn it into a joke phrase.

Oddly, the phrase is part of an otherwise forgettable piece of prose:

I try to think of the Labor movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people. We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labor movement would not be worth fighting for.

Indeed the memorable ‘light’ part bears no obvious relation to the rest of the worthy description, and that in turn, though it is worthy, is totally unclear. ‘Better standards of living’? ‘Greater happiness’? You see what he is trying to get at, but it is no ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’, is it?
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