Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
Robert Weaver
Sydney, Australia
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The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
February 04, 2016

Such nettlesome facts count for little, though: the media tells the paint-by-numbers story of the establishment’s certain redemption in the polls because it’s the story that the media was built to tell. And Iowa is, in its twisted way, the perfect showcase for this tale because the Iowa caucus process is the most obdurately undemocratic balloting ritual this side of the Florida pageant of hanging chads and disfranchised African Americans. To tease any sort of abiding civic-republican moral from the seamy conduct of the caucuses requires some truly epic lurches into wish-fulfillment fantasy.


... That Iowa City caucus, like many in the eastern half of the state, went overwhelmingly to Sanders, but his commanding margin there didn’t translate into correspondingly fulsome gains in the delegate column. That’s because the caucus voters aren’t voting for candidates at all so much as for recondite formulas by which party bosses eventually allot delegates to a major party convention. ... This is all to say nothing of the outlandish ways in which caucus votes are weighted to favor past trends in a precinct’s voter participation — as if that had any bearing on anything — and the eventual nomination-rigging practice known as super-delegate apportionment.

On the Republican side, shenanigans likewise abounded. When Ben Carson announced he was leaving the state ahead of any final tabulation of returns, Cruz apparatchiks pounced to circulate the unfounded rumor that Carson had bagged his presidential run altogether. Suppressing turnout for your rivals, and opportunistically poaching their supporters in the caucus cattle call — it’s all just more of democracy’s rich pageant.

As thuggishness like this transpires, media onlookers typically wander off to play with shiny new things...
Chris Lehmann in The Baffler.

February 01, 2016

Game of Thrones — the French Baby Boys' Names Edition

Lucas has great stamina: he came to power in 2002, and still was top dog in 2011. But he is less successful at cashing in on his dominance. His reign is punctuated by two interregnums.

Two years into his shaky first tenure, threatened by Théo, it is Enzo who almost wipes Lucas off the map in 2004.

Slowly rebuilding in the southeast, Lucas enters into a strategic alliance with Nathan, who dominates the northeast, to defeat Enzo. Lucas returns to power in 2008, but notices too late that Nathan has ideas beyond the station allotted to him.

January 05, 2016

Mongolian for something.

November 30, 2015
Safe Haven

In 2008, Nebraska decriminalized child abandonment. The move was part of a "safe haven" law designed to address increased rates of infanticide in the state. Like other safe-haven laws, parents in Nebraska who felt unprepared to care for their babies could drop them off in a designated location without fear of arrest and prosecution. But legislators made a major logistical error: They failed to implement an age limitation for dropped-off children.

Within just weeks of the law passing, parents started dropping off their kids. But here's the rub: None of them were infants. A couple of months in, 36 children had been left in state hospitals and police stations. Twenty-two of the children were over 13 years old. A 51-year-old grandmother dropped off a 12-year-old boy. One father dropped off his entire family -- nine children from ages one to 17. Others drove from neighboring states to drop off their children once they heard that they could abandon them without repercussion.


On November 21, 2008, the last day that the safe haven law was in effect for children of all ages, a mother from Yolo County, California, drove over 1,200 miles to the Kimball County Hospital in Nebraska where she left her 14-year-old son.
Jessica Valenti in The Atlantic

November 17, 2015

I love the bait-and-switch of this angry opinion piece in The Age: lure in the crypto-bigots with what appears to be the start of a standard "I condemn your failure to condemn" rant at "lefties" and Muslims, nailed in place with a nostalgic flourish of that idiotic neologism "Islamo-fascist", and then, before they know it, hammer them with a strident recounting of the relevant history and geopolitics, the imperialist meddling, support for ethno-national colonialism, and actual succouring of said "Islamo-fascism" when acceptably cosy to Western interests, that got us into this appalling blood-midden in the first place.

It is dangerous for so-called "lefties" to shy away from calling it what it is. Islamo-Fascism... it is also time for the mainstream Muslim world to be much more visible and active in opposing these violent extremists within their communities...

...delusional triumphalism of Western capitalism ...US and its allies armed, trained and supported Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda ...Taliban today continues to be trained, financed and supported by forces within the Pakistan security and military establishment ...humiliation of Palestinian people ...Israel was also happy to secretly fund and encourage the terrorist organisation, Hamas ...invasion and destruction of Iraq ...the West's eagerness to destroy the largely secular Gaddafi regime ...West's support for violent opposition to the Assad regime ... financial, ideological/religious and military support from the West's key allies in the Middle East, the brutal Islamo-Fascist regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Gosh. It's just a pity he didn't find time to mention Erdogan.

November 03, 2015

Hey, remember how last year the government was allowed to block release of papers about the invasion of East Timor because it might upset our neighbours at a time of "significant tensions between the governments of Australia and Indonesia"? Well, apparently we're doing this now:

Note, as usual, the careful phrasing: "in support of the newly federated state of Malaysia" is as polite about timing as it is about avoiding mention of the British empire.

The associated poster about the Malayan Emergency refers to Australia fighting "alongside British forces against communist terrorists in Malaya." Remember the good old days, when just saying "communists" would have been sufficient?

November 02, 2015
For granted

Fairfax's resident crypto-bigot, noted hydrologist Paul Sheehan, emits his weekly mephitis:

For several years, the Canadian author Mark Steyn has been starkly pessimistic* about Europe. He recently travelled to Europe to see what the immigration influx looked like. He began in Sweden, the most generous country to immigrants in Europe, and had barely arrived when he had an encounter, described on his website on September 29:

"I was looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet of Scandinavian First Class. But, just as I took my seat and settled in, a gaggle of 'refugees' swarmed in, young bearded men and a smaller number of covered women, the lads shooing away those first-class ticket holders not as nimble in securing their seats...

"They seemed to take it for granted that asylum in Europe should come with complimentary first-class travel ... The conductor gave a shrug, the great universal shorthand for there's-nothing-I-can do."
Oh, I don't know, Mark; he could have kicked you in the nads, you narcissistic, entitled, hatemongering pillock.

It apparently didn't occur to Steyn that the scare quotes around refugees rather draws attention to the possibility that said allegedly pushy Mussulmen could have been Swedish citizens, or, you know, tourists.

* This would be a tactfully uninformative description of Steyn's ongoing concern that the effete Eurotrash are being outbred by the swarthy interlopers in their midst. Sheehan's talent for decorous omission is always impressive - almost as impressive as his expertise as an impresario for charlatans - although here he does not surpass his career best: "He [Jeremiah Wright] has preached that the US Government invented AIDS as a weapon to use against blacks, among other slanders." [My ital.] "Other slanders", you'll recall, included allegations that the US government was involved in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, had lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and had dropped nuclear weapons on a couple of cities in Japan at some point.

October 31, 2015
Oh, Internet...

... don't ever change.

October 22, 2015

Kenny should definitely sue for defamation. Let the courts ensure that on hearing his name every Australian remembers:

Chris Kenny does not force himself on rape victims.

And is not, for the record, a dogfucker.
See also, also.

October 14, 2015
Gunboat diplomacy

The two best jokes from the White House’s official FAQ on Investor-state dispute settlement:

Where did ISDS come from?

Before we had investment rules and ISDS international agreements, unlawful behavior by countries that targeted foreign investors tended either to go unaddressed or escalate into conflict between countries. In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts between countries.
How does the ISDS process ensure that arbitration is unbiased?

Governments play a central role in determining the composition of who handles arbitration. In the case of the United States, we have won 100 percent of cases against us, suggesting our confidence in the process is not misplaced.
H/t Jon Schwarz at The Intercept.

July 30, 2015

July 03, 2015

Here's everything you need to know about Ray Martin as we are informed of his leading an external enquiry into Q and A's unconscionable lapse of etiquette by letting someone, albeit someone who is something of a knobhead, state the blindingly obvious. From the leader's debate of the 1996 Federal election, an election, as Federal elections tend to be, fought, in theory, on national issues.

RAY MARTIN: All right. I want to give you both a chance to sum up, but a quick question, a news question. Were you shocked by the Federal Court's ruling about the behaviour of Rupert Murdoch's companies in Australia over football?

PAUL KEATING: These are corporate matters under the Trade Practices Act, Ray. I mean, you would have to know basically all....

RAY MARTIN: But the judge's use of words like deceit and dishonesty and duplicity and corrupting tactics. Is that coming to....

PAUL KEATING: Yes, but why ask us, Ray? I mean....

RAY MARTIN: Because Telstra is in partnership with Foxtel in terms of pay television. You're also going to give them Fox Studios.

PAUL KEATING: But what are you trying to say, now? I manage the Rugby League - is that it?

RAY MARTIN: No, you are in partnership with a company that has been severely criticised by a Federal judge.

PAUL KEATING: For a pay television business. But Super League is a creature of the News Corporation and News Limited and the ARL.

RAY MARTIN: So there's nothing on TV licences or about newspapers in Australia? There is no reflection on that?

PAUL KEATING: Look, this is essentially about corporations. It is a corporation tussle.

RAY MARTIN: Any alarm bells for you on this?

JOHN HOWARD: Can I just say something about it. As a lover of Rugby League, I hope that court decision is a catalyst to reunite the game. I think the division and the bitterness, the rancour, that has occurred and has cut in half a great game and I would like to see....

RAY MARTIN: Any alarm bells? We don't have your communications policy, but any alarm bells about a company, in newspapers and television in Australia, that gets that sort of critique?

JOHN HOWARD: Oh, well, I mean, they are entitled to further procedures of the law like anybody else and I don't think somebody in my position should be making ex cathedra judgments.
In case you need reminding: Murdoch had just received an unfavourable ruling from the Federal Court in the Super League war. His opponents handed a (temporary) win were the ARL, owned in part by Kerry Packer, also owner of Channel 9 and, thus, Ray Martin's boss. Was Martin's irrelevant grandstanding in a national forum over this PR coup for the man he worked for just something he instinctively decided to pursue, or did he obediently comply with a memo? In either case he performed like the company man he was.

(Just in passing, notice Howard's impressively craven attempt to say something that would please both feuding media magnates, while also posturing as a man of the people. One for the ages, I think.)

In early November 2014 I was most amused (almost as amused as I was at the time by the spectacle of US Navy Seals arguing about who had the right to be called a hero for gunning down an unarmed man) by SBS's description of Martin, while spruiking First Contact, as "an award-winning journalist". Martin was, at one time, a journalist; he, later, won a bunch of Silver and Gold Logies for being a popular TV personality. If he'd won the fucking Nobel Prize for Chemistry that still wouldn't make him an award-winning journalist. (It would make him a journalist and award-winning chemist.) Just saying.

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