Passing bull 191 – The people and the crowd

 

 

When people come together to vote for parliament or to serve on a jury – rather similar exercises – we feel good about each other.  But if we see them come together as a lynch mob, we are revolted.  We are revolted because people following the herd instinct are behaving more like animals than human beings.  Most of us are very worried about the crowds behind the gillets jaunes in France.  People have there taken to the streets not just to protest against government but to try to bend the government to do its will.  That is a plain denial of parliamentary democracy.  That kind of government can only work if the overwhelming majority of people accept the decision of a majority.  But ever since 1789, the French have claimed the right to take to the streets to stop government taking a course they do not like.  The result is that France has not been able to push through unpopular reforms in the same way that Germany and England did.  And the result of this triumph of the people is that the people are a lot worse off.  That in turn leads to the gillets jaunes and to the President’s not being able to implement the reforms for which he was elected.  And so the cycle goes on – until one morning the French get up and see a scowling Madame LePen brandishing a stock whip on her new tricoleur dais.  She will have achieved the final vindication of the crowd – the acquisition of real power by real force.

The Bagehot column in The Economist this week is headed ‘The roar of the crowd.’  It begins: ‘The great achievement of parliamentary democracy is to take politics off the streets.’  Well, the English achieved that – but not the French.  The article goes on to refer to street protests being invoked to express ‘the will of the people.’  That bullshit phrase is or should be as alien to the English as it is to us.  It is dangerous nonsense advanced by people over the water like Rousseau – one of most poisonous men who ever lived – Robespierre, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler.

The article also refers to social media –the worst misnomer ever – as ‘virtual crowds online.’  It quotes an 1895 book The Crowd; A Study of the Popular Mind as saying of crowds that they show ‘impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of sentiments’ and says that the crowd debases the ordinary person – ‘isolated he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian.’  That is because he has handed over the keys to his own humanity.  All this is just as spot-on for social media as it is to those whom Farage whipped up against Muslims, or those for whom Trump did the same, or those who marched last night in favour of Brexit and did so to a ghastly drum-beat that made them look so much like the English fascists from the 1930’s.

For our system to work, people have to show at least some restraint and toleration.  At least two forces are in my view at work in Australia working against us and in favour of the herd instinct of the crowd.  One is social media.  The other is the Murdoch press.  The first is obvious.  As to the second, a New Zealand observer said there were two reasons for the immoderate restraint and toleration of their government to a crisis of hate – the leadership and empathy of the leader of their government, and the absence of the Murdoch press.  In Australia, Sky News after dark regularly parades Pauline Hanson while Bolt and others defends her and while in The Australian columnists attack Muslims as jihadis in something like a frenzy.  And it was just a matter of time before they spitefully turned on the New Zealand Prime Minister and the ‘Muslimist Aljazeera’ – and of course those middle class pinkos at Fairfax and the ABC.

The people behind social media and the Murdoch press are wont to preach about freedom of speech.  The sad truth is that they go to the gutter for the same reason – for profit.

Two more points.  The current disaster in England started when they went and tested ‘the will of the people’ and got an equivocal answer – yes, leave, but on what terms? – with a majority too slim to permit a simple solution to a difficult problem to be found and implemented.  Now we have the awful and degrading spectacle of parliament behaving worse than the crowd.  And people who got where they are on a vote from the people are with a straight face saying that it would be wrong to ask the people again now that everyone knows what lies were told and who has been the worst behaved.  Indeed, their Prime Minister says a second vote would be a ‘betrayal of democracy.’  Some say an election would be better – when both major parties are hopelessly splintered and there is no reason at all to think that a reconfigured group of those responsible for the present mess might do better.

The real betrayal of democracy has taken place in America.  Trump appealed to the crowd to reject the ‘elites’ – people who know what they are doing.  Neither he nor almost everyone in his government has any idea about governing.  But his betrayal is more elemental.  A President is elected, as Lincoln said ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’  Trump could not care less about the people.  He is only interested in that ghastly minority that is called his ‘base.’  And since he thinks his base wants him to abandon affordable health care, he will try to kill it.  And to hell with the people.

It’s not just that the policies of people like Farage, Hanson and Trump are revolting – it’s the people they get to work with them that are also revolting.

It looks like the hour of the crowd is with us again and it may never have looked worse.

Bloopers

But Trump bends history to his will.  May simply bends under the will of others.

The Weekend Australian, 30-31 March, 2019.  Mr G Sheridan

It is an interesting view of the strong man.  Amazingly, the editorial was even sillier.

Passing Bull 204 – We are losing our minds

 

Reliance on computers and the  mistrust of subordinates mean that we are losing our minds.

Mention the word Centrelink to people and most give you a look of mixed terror and contempt.  I am applying for a Commonwealth Health Card through My Gov.  It took me three visits to Bendigo and three to Castlemaine to complete the application. (And I understood as much of that as I understand of my tax returns.  So much for fifteen visits to Cambridge, Harvard or Oxford.)  I spent about twenty hours on a process that should take twenty minutes.  After a couple of months, I got a computer generated reply which ignored everything that I had said in a letter, made a request for further information, which request I have asked them to explain to me, and said my application might lapse if I did not respond in fourteen days.  If you screw up your courage to ring them, you get warned about being cross with them.  I first encountered this civilian terror at H M Customs on the Gare du Nord.  Feisty Brits turning up late with a skin full.

For reasons I forget, the two Master Cards I have from the Bendigo Bank have very different limits.  (I also have an O/D which is secured.  There is no home loan.  The security is worth more than ten times any permissible debt.)  I attended at the Branch to say that I wanted the same limit on each card, but so as to reduce the limit overall and so reduce the risk to the bank – by about half.  It took me a while to explain this.  To my horror, I was told that if I wanted to do that, I would have to back to the beginning and fill in a very long form about all my finances and then attend by appointment to discuss it with a bank officer – and, presumably, be cross-examined.  I was told this politely but in a manner that suggested that this would be the end of the matter.  All this because I wanted to reduce my possible debt to this bank.  When the word ‘ridiculous’ fell from my lips, my interlocutor looked bemused, if not hurt.  I am a shareholder in the bank, and this kind of madness worries me – it makes them look like the big four, from whom I deliberately walked away.  I have sent a note to Head Office asking if they are serious, and after some days I am still waiting for an answer.  I regard this as a sackable offence.

Two days later, I was exposed to worse madness.  I was appointed a mediator in a court ordered mediation.  An unrepresented litigant defaulted on paying his share of the fee.  I got my clerk to write to the court asking it to nominate a government official to whom I could apply for an indemnity.  The answer was that it was not appropriate to nominate someone else because this officer of the court though there was no basis for such an application.  If you saw it on Monty Python, you would just laugh.  But it isn’t funny.  There is a legal question of whether a person carrying out a function pursuant to a court order is entitled to indemnity on the ordinary principles of agency.  But there is also a policy question of whether a government that relies on the cooperation and support of a profession should be seen to treat a member of that profession in a way that ordinary people would say is lousy.  As far as I know, no legal advice has been sought on the first question, and no consideration has been given to the second.  What do they want me to do – sue the State of Victoria for a declaration?  (It’s OK – I’m not that mad; just browned off.)

Then I had to notify Telstra of a change in my credit card.  I was desperate to avoid a phone call – for reasons you will understand.  But the computer kept stopping me doing it on-line.  It refused to accept my date of birth!  It’s been the same bloody way for seventy-three years, Mate.  (It was the day on which Luther took his stand – ‘I can do no other’ – and nailed his theses to the door.  He was protesting!)  So I went to ‘Contact us.’  Have you noticed how corporations then make it as difficult as possible for you to get anywhere near the bastards?  You have to fill in forms and answer questions and do really sensible things like give your driver’s licence.  Then I was blocked again.  How?  Surely you have guessed.  ‘Contact us’ also refused to accept my date of birth!  Hullo Asia, coming ready or not.  For sheer bastardry and difficulty, and mistrust of people generally, especially their own staff, Telstra is up there with Centrelink.  That’s why I sold all my shares in that company – getting out of Centrelink is not so straightforward.

The idiot who said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger did not have to deal with these bunnies.  And as I understand it, those two Boeings drove into the earth killing hundreds of people because the pilot could not override the computer.

We are losing our minds – and our souls.

Bloopers

Retiring as late as 64 would make the French die younger, said the radical left party France Unbowed.  French lawyers said the reform was a death sentence for their profession.

The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019.

No wonder French roads are clogged with campervans.  Why would anyone want to retire at 64 – or at all?

**

KPMG is another prominent supporter of a constitutionally entrenched voice, as are other major accounting firms, the Law Council of Australia and several ASX-listed companies.  Those trying to railroad their staff, and the rest of the country, into supporting an ill-defined voice to parliament are the new workplace bullies…..Some have been put on notice that offering support for a fundamental change to Australia’s founding document without any meaningful details is tantamount to condoning constitutional sabotage.  (Emphasis added.)

Janet Albrechtsen, The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019

Does all this shrillness ever get anywhere?  Does anyone ever read any of this stuff – before or after publication?

Here and there – Fidelity – and Emma

How England broke faith with its  greatest admiral, Lord Nelson: in two parts.

Part I

1

The English have erected only two statues outside their parliament.  They are of Oliver Cromwell and Winston Churchill.  In their prime, these men loomed larger over their people than did any European monarch or Eastern potentate.  We have not seen anything remotely like either in our time.  Each was the ultimate servant and master of that gift of England to the world called parliament.  Each was a fierce and successful defender of that parliament, the first against a devious, grasping monarch; the second against a vicious foreign dictator.  On each count their nation and we are grateful to them and we celebrate their memory.  Each remains subject to bitter recrimination, but putting to one side the war crimes that Cromwell perpetrated in Ireland in the name of God, that hostility smacks of jealousy, meanness and mediocrity.

The City of London has two great monuments to national heroes: the Wellington Arch and Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square.  Each of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington was one of the greatest commanders of armed forces that the world has ever seen.  Each had come up the hard way and learned his craft from the bottom up.  Each showed a kind of courage that could scare the rest of us or at least look reckless.  Each had the gift of command – each had the insight to see the issue and the character to pursue his answer to it.  What we miss most in public life now is the courage of decision.  You cannot teach this; nor can you measure it.  The best that you can do is mutter the word ‘genius’ in something like awe and shrug your shoulders – like you do with Shakespeare, Mozart, or Newton.  And as a result, and most importantly, each was a winner.  And mutter though Tolstoy may, each of Nelson and Wellington turned the whole course of history by the force of his character.

And they have something else in common.  Each was reputed to be unfaithful to his wife.  Fidelity is the first call of the fighting man.  Another word for fidelity is loyalty – what counts is constancy.  We must see at least some part of it between all of us if we want to get on together.  And it has to be a two-way street – as the authors of the medieval Sachsenspiegel knew and as the current President of the United States will eventually discover.  When Churchill spoke to the nation about ‘the miracle of deliverance’ at Dunkirk, he went into overdrive on the role of the RAF.  He spoke of their valour, perseverance, perfect discipline, faultless service, resource, skill, and ‘unconquerable fidelity.’  In this and other speeches, Churchill was calling on all the reserves of a singular nation that had been built up by people like Cromwell, Nelson and Wellington.

Our previous readiness to put a curtain around the marital infidelity of a commander in chief has been shattered by the appalling misconduct of commanders like Kennedy, Clinton and Trump.  We now also see a change brought about by a growing conviction that one half of the human race may be as good as the other and an accompanying sense of guilt over our past behaviour.  Yet somehow the cloud of infidelity that lours over the house of Lord Nelson seems so much darker to some than the cloud over his Grace, the Duke of Wellington.  Why is this so?

As it happens, in looking into this aspect of our frailty, we may come across another and perhaps worse cloud that lours over all our houses.

2

Before looking at Wellington and Nelson, may we briefly consider the claims of Napoleon?  Andrew Roberts wrote a book in which he sought to justify the title Napoleon the Great.  Was the little Corsican up there with Nelson or Wellington?  Not on your bloody Nelly, Mate.

Nelson and Wellington won; Napoleon lost.  He lost because he invaded both Spain and Russia.  (Hitler committed only the second of those errors, but he had the example of Napoleon before him.)  Napoleon committed those errors because, like Hitler, he lived for war.  War for both of them was like a Ponzi scheme for crooks.  It perpetuated itself because it had to.  Napoleon’s most balanced biographer, Georges Lefebvre, said that Napoleon gave France and the world la guerre éternelle because ‘he was a man whose temperament, even more than his genius, was unable to adapt to peace and moderation.’

Napoleon left France in ruins and he left Europe to bury five million dead.  He ignored the warning of Robespierre that no one likes armed missionaries*, and he sought to impose hopelessly inept members of his family on places they could not possibly fill, in a way that has only been matched since by Donald Trump.  He was profligate with even French casualties, but above all, and undeniably and unanswerably, he walked out on his own army not once but twice – something that Nelson or Wellington could have done as easily as travelling from London to New York – by foot.

3

The liaison between Nelson and Lady Hamilton was public, and later admitted, but people throughout celebrated it with the kind of verve that we now associate with the paparazzi doing a number on the royal family thirds or fourths or a serial Hollywood divorcée.  This is a big part of the difference.  By and large, Wellington was more discrete.  There was from the beginning something about the Nelson case that brought out the worst of the voyeur in all of us, and that ghastly mean, green streak that gives us a guilty form of comfort in seeing someone who is so much better than us cut down to size.  (If you wanted to look for the world champions in this callous levelling, you could do worse than start here in Australia.)

Both Nelson and Wellington served overseas to endure long separations from their wives at a time when the stresses of their position were the most wearing – and when they were being white-anted at home.  Elizabeth Longford quotes an officer who served with Wellington in India as saying that Wellington ‘had at that time a very susceptible heart, particularly towards, I am sorry to say, married ladies.’  That was before he was married, but not before the marriages of the objects of his attention.  Adultery can of course occur at either end of an affair.  I daresay that His Grace would have had some trouble coming to grips with #MeToo, but even at that distance from the year of Our Lord 2019, even the most the most complete patrician could have seen complications from an officer sleeping with the wife of a man of lesser rank.

My namesake, Guy Gibson, was one of the great heroes of World War II, and he will remain so for me, but Old Jack, my neighbour at Blackwood, who flew forty seven missions in Mosquitoes, said that he and his mates took a very dim view of Gibson dating girls from lesser ranks.  You don’t need training in moral philosophy to sniff the abuse of power.

But there is not much doubt among historians that at least after Spain, Wellington was putting it about in France.  Andrew Roberts says of Wellington and Napoleon.

Attractive to women and voraciously sexual, neither man enjoyed a happy marriage.  They did share two mistresses however, or, more precisely, Wellington picked up two of the emperor’s cast-offs.

How do you know someone had a voracious sexual appetite if you haven’t been to bed with them?  Is there a failure to distinguish between the power of sex appeal and the sex appeal of power?

Well, there is no doubt that Wellington got up people’s noses by his infatuation with at least one of those cast-offs.  He gazed upon Guiseppina Grassini, the onetime La Chanteuse de l’Empereur, with ‘ecstasy’, and Kitty, his wife, was appalled to see this notorious woman on the arm of his Grace.  As Elizabeth Longford remarked, ‘What she did not see, her friends told her about.’  When asked if he had received all that feminine adulation, His Grace replied: ‘Oh, yes!  Plenty of that! Plenty of that!’  It was conduct like that which had turned some off Nelson.

It does look like Wellington consorted with what we would call high end call girls.  The result was a contribution to our language.  One very lubricious tart gave him prominence in her memoires.  Wellington was invited to pay their owner to suppress them in order to protect his name.  His response: ‘Publish and de damned.’  (The asking price was £200 – the New York attorney, Mr Cohen, may have tried that response, but his client was an established coward.)  Her story was said to be flawed because she said Wellington wore his badges of honour to her assignations – but one French count said that he did the same to reduce the risk of getting a girl with the clap.

Another tart who was well qualified to assess the Duke and the Emperor in bed said; ‘Mais M le duc était de beaucoup le plus fort.’ Well, His Grace would have been gratified, but he did not learn that stuff at Eton (although well-bred young Englishmen were then commonly shouted a trip or two to a knock shop by their fathers to break their duck and send them on their way).

We can imagine the Englishman’s competitive streak being activated.  Breguet watches are hugely expensive.  The brand name got a kick along because it was known that Napoleon had one.  Breguet still trades on that history (and a mention by Stendhal).  Obviously His Grace was not to be outdone.  He bought himself a Breguet – for the stellar price of three hundred guineas (about $A30,000?).

So, Wellington’s dalliances with the demi monde were predictable if sordid, hurtful to the long suffering Kitty, but hardly an affair of or a threat to the State.  His Grace would later find politics more difficult – it was easier to give an order than to herd opinionated cats.  And crass snobbery and brutal honesty is not a good political mix, even in a High Tory Duke.  Someone said he had a ‘social contempt for his intellectual equals, and an intellectual contempt for his social equals.’  And the dalliances went on.

4

How did it stand with Nelson?

Before looking at Nelson, may I go back to Guy Gibson, VC, to make two obvious points?  First, the fact that man is a hero doesn’t mean he’s not a man.  Secondly, people get called on to do things in war time that they don’t do in peacetime.

In December 1942, Gibson had become close to an extrovert rugby international, Group Captain Walker, who had a reputation for ‘Hun hate’ to match his own.  Some incendiaries had fallen out of a parked Lancaster and were burning under a 4000 pound ‘cookie’.  With matchless courage, Walker was seeking to rake the fire when the cookie went off.

The thump was heard twenty miles away at the RAF hospital.  Two nurses, including Corporal Margaret North, were despatched.  Walker was in an appalling condition.  Maggie and another got him back to the Crash and Burns Unit.  The next day, North told Walker, in the presence of his wife and Gibson, ‘You and I held hands last night.’  Gibson thought that this was hilarious.  He got to know North and took her out.  (There is a photo of Margaret North in 1941 looking just like my mum at that time, but in uniform.)  According to the wonderful biography of Gibson by Richard Morris, Maggie was ‘wary, being conscious of her non-commissioned rank and the presumption against fraternising with officers.’  (I may have forgotten having read this when Old Jack commented on the point.)

They saw some films together.  Gibson liked musicals.  (We know that from the film.)  He called at the hospital one night looking like death.  He had just lost a mate, and he was reflecting on mortality – surely his end was just a matter of time.  Maggie’s superior told her that she had better go out to see him.  Gibson was in his car chewing obsessively on an unlit pipe, and shaking uncontrollably.  At length he pleaded ‘Please hold me.’  She did, and after about half an hour, the tremors subsided, and he regained control.  He never spoke of it again.

The nurses were used to dealing with pilots who got love-lorn.  Gibson then started showing those symptoms.  Maggie North had suitors, one of whom had proposed.  These things happened faster in war time.  When Maggie told Gibson, he simply said ‘Don’t do it.’  She in turn broke down in tears when she spoke of her dilemma with her friends.  Gibson rang her on her wedding day to beg her not to go ahead.  She then finally gave the sensible response of an English woman of her time.  ‘Guy, you are spoken for.’  You see, Gibson was not just of senior commissioned rank – he was also married.  And even in the most devastating war known to man, a woman had to draw the bloody line somewhere.  Margaret North did, and she got married a few hours later.

Next to no one reading these lines will have had any experience of the life forces confronted by Guy Gibson and Maggie North – or by the elements confronting Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton.  If we were to ask what happened between those two, we might get two responses.  What bloody business is it of yours?  How the hell would you know?

5

Happily, we can trace a course for Nelson and Lady Hamilton through letters and a well witnessed confrontation.

Nelson was the son of a Norfolk clergyman.  He joined the navy as an ordinary seaman at the age of twelve.  He became a midshipman and progressed through the ranks.  The brutality of the British navy then defies our understanding.  It made the hell of English boarding schools look almost sane, and it would lead to the nation-threatening mutinies that Melville wrote about in Billy Budd. 

Nelson was a natural sailor who had the gift of leadership, and the nerve to pursue the insights of his cunning in both tactics and strategy.  He was one of that tiny band who leads through his own example and who will never ask a man to do what he had not done himself.  No sailor at war could ever have asked to serve under a better officer and leader of men.

Nelson also routinely engaged in what we call hand-to-hand combat.  The law of prize then rewarded naval officers financially for taking enemy ships.  Nelson personally led boarding parties.  It was enough to drive his wife Fanny to distraction.  After one engagement that saw rewards, honours and promotion, and reports of Nelson’s being wounded, Lady Nelson, as she was then entitled to call herself, wrote:

What can I attempt to say to you about Boarding?  You have been most wonderfully protected; you have done desperate actions enough.  Now may I – indeed I do – beg that you never Board again!  LEAVE IT for CAPTAINS.

Her Ladyship raised the stakes in her next letter.

With the protection of a Supreme Being, you have acquired a character or name which, all hands agree, cannot be greater; therefore rest satisfied.

That was decent sensible advice from a decent and sensible wife, but something in Nelson’s make-up led him almost to flaunt himself before God.  He knew he could not be immortal, but something inside drove him to see how far he could push hubris before nemesis intervened to level the score.  He was frequently wounded.  He lost an eye and an arm when surgery was a barbaric lottery.  He would also confess to miserable, repeated and incurable sea sickness.

During the battle of the Nile, Nelson was again shot in the head.  He was blinded.  As he fell, he said ‘I am killed.  Remember me to my wife.’  In her beautiful biography, Carola Oman said:

This was the end he had long foreseen, and it was indeed as good as he could ever have hoped, for he had fallen when a victory, to be greeted as ‘the most signal that has graced the British Navy since the days of the Spanish Armada’, was already assured.  He proceeded to carry everything in the high style dear to him and Shakespeare.

What a happy phrase!  The wound was far from fatal, but every word there prefigures Trafalgar, not least ‘the high style dear to him and Shakespeare.’  For very good reasons, there was more than a touch of showman about both Nelson and Wellington.  (George Patton would later understand that his men wanted their leader to put on a show.  It comes with the job.)

[To be continued.]

MY TOP SHELF – Chapter 28

 

[These are serialised extracts of all the fifty books referred to in a book published in 2015 called ‘The Top Shelf, or What Used to be Called a Liberal Education’.  The extracts are as originally published, and they come in the same order.]

28

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

T B Macaulay (1980)

Folio Society, 1980; edited by Peter Rowland; introduction by J P Kenyon; red cloth embossed in gold; with stone slip case.

Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind, if anything which gives so much pleasure  ought to be called unsoundness … Truth indeed is essential to poetry; but it is the truth of madness.  The reasonings are just but the premises are false.

This is how an English gentleman, and man of letters, a member of parliament, described the founding of his national church:

A King, whose character may be best described by saying that he was despotism itself personified, unprincipled ministers, a rapacious aristocracy, a servile Parliament, such were the instruments by which England was delivered from the yoke of Rome.  The work that had been begun by Henry, the murderer of his wives, was continued by Somerset, the murderer of his brother, and was completed by Elizabeth, the murderer of her guest.  Sprung from brutal passion, nurtured by selfish policy, the Reformation in England displayed little of what had, in other countries, distinguished it, unflinching and unsparing devotion, boldness of speech, and singleness of eye.

Here is an assessment of the key players.

We do not mean to represent Cranmer as a monster of wickedness.  He was not unwantonly cruel or treacherous.  He was merely a supple, timid, interested courtier, in times of frequent and violent change.  Henry, Cranmer, Somerset and Elizabeth were the great authors of the English Reformation.  Three of them had a direct interest in the extension of the royal prerogative.  The fourth was the ready tool of any who could frighten him.

But Macaulay likes the result obtained in the English church.

From this compromise, the Church of England sprang.  In many respects indeed, it has been well for her that, in an age of exuberant zeal, her principal founders were mere politicians.  To this circumstance, she owes her moderate articles, her decent ceremonies, her noble and pathetic liturgy.  Her worship is not disfigured by mummery.  Yet she has preserved, in a far greater degree than any of her Protestant sisters, that art of striking the senses and filling the imagination in which the Catholic Church so eminently excels. 

This book is a collection of essays as is a similar book published by Folio on England in the Eighteenth century.  You can therefore have Macaulay on the whole history of England, as his masterpiece, The History of England from the Accession of James II, starts at the beginning.  Thucydides, Gibbon, Carlyle and Namier were conscious stylists.  Maitland was not.  Macaulay certainly was.  ‘There will however be some passages which will not require constant references to authorities; and such passages I may be able to compose and polish in my chaise or at an inn.’

The principal work is a celebration of the Glorious Revolution, and is seen as the Bible of the Whig view of history.  Since the word ‘Whig’ had a different meaning in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and has none now, that term is at best slippery.  But it would be churlish to write off the truth that underlies the triumphalism.

The highest eulogy which can be pronounced on the revolution of 1688 is this, that it was our last revolution … And if it be asked what has made us to differ from others, the answer is that we never lost what others are wildly and blindly seeking to regain.  It is because we had a preserving revolution in the seventeenth century that we have not had a destroying revolution in the nineteenth. 

That is dead right, and was shown in 1789, 1848 and 1917, and will be shown in every nation in the Middle East and North Africa.

Macaulay of course had his dislikes.  Here he is on Strafford.

He was the first of the Rats, the first of those statesmen whose patriotism has been only the coquetry of political prostitution, and whose profligacy has taught Governments to adopt the old maxim of the slave-market, that it is cheaper to buy than to breed, to import defenders from an Opposition than to rear them in a ministry.  He was the first Englishman to whom a peerage was a sacrament of infamy, a baptism into the union of corruption.  As he was the earliest of the hateful list, so was he also by far the greatest; eloquent, sagacious, adventurous, intrepid, ready of invention, immutable of purpose, in every talent which exalts or destroys pre‑eminent, the lost Archangel, the Satan of the apostasy.

You might think that is over the top, but I have heard similar passion, if not venom, displayed about the apostasy of Paul Johnson by a descendant of a people of haters, and those views would have been widely shared by English people when they determined that Strafford was ‘so dangerous as to require the last and surest custody, that of the grave.’  The means used were, both Macaulay and Churchill had to concede, revolutionary.  ‘Stone-dead hath no fellow.’

Penn was traduced but the Establishment was not immune.  Churchill’s ancestor regularly got a backhander.  ‘Churchill, in a letter written with a certain elevation of language, which was the sure mark that he was going to commit a baseness ..’; ‘…endowed with a certain cool intrepidity which never failed him in either fighting or lying …’; ‘Churchill … made his appearance with that bland serenity which neither peril nor infamy could disturb’; ‘it was written with that decorum which he never failed to preserve in the midst of guilt and dishonour.’

This is England at the height of its imperial power with its first empire.

The situation which Pitt occupied at the close of the reign of George III was the most enviable ever occupied by any public man in English history.  He had conciliated the King; he domineered over the House of Commons; he was adored by the people; he was admired by all Europe.  He was the first Englishman of his time; and he made England the first country in the world.  The Great Commoner, the name by which he was often designated, might look down with scorn on coronets and garters.  The nation was drunk with joy and pride.  The Parliament was as quiet as it had been under Pelham.  The old party distinctions were almost effaced; nor was their place yet supplied by distinctions of a still more important kind.

Then they lost America.  How?

We are inclined to think, on the whole, that the worst administration which has governed England since the Revolution was that of George Grenville.  His public acts may be classed under two heads outrages on the liberty of the people, and outrages on the dignity of the Crown.  As he wished to see the Parliament despotic over the nation, so he wished also to see it despotic over the Court.  In his view, the Prime Minister, possessed of the confidence of the House of Commons, ought to be Mayor of the Palace.  The King was a mere Childeric or Chiperic, who might well think himself lucky in being permitted to enjoy such luxurious apartments as St James’s, and so fine a park at Windsor……The Stamp Act was indefensible, not because it was beyond the constitutional competence of Parliament, but because it was unjust and impolitic, sterile of revenue and fertile of discontents.

Macaulay will be read while the English language lasts.  His description of England in 1685, the last minute conversion of Charles II, the depredations of Jeffreys, and the trial of the seven bishops are integral to the English story.  His account of the massacre at Glencoe is high theatre, a kind of genocide that the Scots inflicted on themselves.  ‘The extirpation planned by the Master of Stair was of a different kind.  His design was to butcher the whole race of thieves, the whole damnable race.’  He began by referring to ‘the Glen of Weeping….the most dreary and melancholy of all the Scottish passes, the very valley of the Shadow of Death’.  This was said to be typically over the top.  I have been to Glencoe three times and you need no sense of history to feel that this stark outcrop is pregnant with doom.  And his explanation of the awfulness of it all is just right.  The passage ends with his saying that we could not imagine that ‘Robespierre would have murdered for hire one of the thousands whom he murdered from philanthropy’.  The following should be printed and shown in every house of government:

We daily see men do for their party, for their sect, for their country, for their favourite schemes of political and social reform, what they would not do to enrich or avenge themselves….virtue itself may contribute to the fall of him who imagines that it is within his power, by violating some general rule of morality, to confer an important benefit on a church, on a commonwealth, on mankind.

Passing Bull 203 – The strange and quick collapse of conservatives

 

The conservative parties in the U S and the U K – Republicans and Tories – have collapsed, morally and intellectually, in about three years – since the U K voted to leave Europe and the U S elected Donald Trump.  The U K is about to consummate its collapse by appointing – that is the word – Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

The Spectator is a venerable weekly paper that has been solidly conservative and represented the Tory line.  It is now in sharp descent and on its way down to the level of its Australian version, which is as inane as it is vulgar.  The Weekend Australian printed an opinion piece from The Spectator that included the following.

For those capable of looking beyond Brexit, the potential of a Trump-Boris alliance is arguably Britain’s biggest hope.

Boris isn’t by nature a pushover, which is one of the reasons he and Trump will get along.  And he seems to understand the President’s mentality: play nice, and Donald returns the favour.

The two men have a chemistry that goes beyond their unusual hairstyles.  Both grasp that a profound shift is taking place in politics, one that has propelled people like them to power.

They also sense, in the way that macho beasts often do, a certain destiny in each other.  Trump is possibly the last great Anglophile president; recall his delight as he visited Buckingham Palace last month.  Trump likes Britain, Brexit and Boris; it’s that simple.

Boris, for his part, was born in New York and gave up his American passport only for tax reasons – something Trump can understand.  He’s a Churchill enthusiast, therefore an Atlanticist in outlook.  He’s always preferred America’s stress on national unity to the fragmented federalism of the EU.

Trump and Boris will see each other being attacked by the same kinds of people for the same reasons: offending political correctness, not paying attention to detail, lacking the gravitas high office demands.  Yet both men draw crowds and inspire loyalty.  Trump and Boris are seen by their supporters as leaders who can shake up a failed system.

Apart from the reference to the ‘profound shift’ in politics, it is very hard to detect one proposition that is not just pure moonshine, but nauseating moonshine.  But even if you agreed with everything said, it is impossible to dream of any meaning of the word ‘conservative’ that is consistent with it.  Trump and Johnson don’t want to conserve the status quo – they want to wreck it.  It is sufficient to mention three things.  First, The Spectator urges appeasement (‘play nice’) of this ‘macho beast’ – ask Mrs May about that policy (yes, the ‘foolish’ Mrs May).  Secondly, The Spectator sees an English reliance on Europe being replaced by a reliance on the U S; people of this ilk like the word ‘vassal’; being in service to Donald Trump is not a pretty or safe sight.  Thirdly, The Spectator says both men ‘draw crowds and inspire loyalty.’  Has anyone offered a better description of a ‘populist’, the exact reverse of a ‘conservative’?

To whom can rational conservatives turn?  Or has the word now lost all meaning?

Bloopers

Instead of changing the channel or reading a different newspaper, Richard Di Natale was caught during the last election saying that he wanted sections of Sky and News Corp shut down…..The sacking of Israel Folau is bigger than a legal biff about a contract and a code of conduct.  Folau was sacked for sinning against the new moral code.  It is a totemic clash of religions, between old ones such as Christianity (but it could be Islam next) and the new religion promulgated by a new secular class that wants to stop a man from posting different moral judgments drawn from a centuries-old code of conduct called the Bible.

Janet Albrechtsen, The Weekend Australian, 13-14 July, 2019

Well now, where to start?  A politician was ‘caught’ saying he wanted parts of the press shut down.  Goodness, gracious, me!  People who work for Mr Murdoch want the ABC shut down and they regularly attack it.  And with this government, they are having success.  The government is strangling the ABC.

As part of the Murdoch campaign, Albrechtsen attacks the ABC in the same piece.  ‘If the ABC is the media arm that spreads the new religion, Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle has become its self-appointed priestess.’  This is prize-winning bullshit.  As these journalists do, she says the ABC is tax-payer funded.  News Corp is also funded by public money.  The ABC does not I think trade – in the legal sense – but the two corporations have something in common.  They have stakeholders and if they set out to annoy or offend those stakeholders, there will be consequences.  How would the Murdoch press react if the ABC refused to sack an announcer (or if News Corp refused to sack a journalist) for saying that because of their faith they believe that: Sharia law should be adopted throughout Australia; Burmese Buddhists should hound Muslims out of the country; or Australians should be encouraged to make deductible donations to the Church of Scientology – so that it too could become taxpayer-funded?  And what if the employer said it was powerless to act because the offender was merely exercising their freedom of religion?

And why not just change the channel – or read a different newspaper? Just think of the load that would take off the shoulders of Mr Henderson if he was not doomed to maintain his watch on the Antichrist.

Then there is Mr Folau again.  May I say that when I ran a statutory tribunal, we decided cases within six weeks of the reference and usually after a hearing concluded in one morning?  I see no reason why the Folau case could not be disposed of in that time and at a cost of less than $2OK.  Only God knows where the $3M figure comes from.

But we are told that’s not what this case is about.  The writer rewrites history in a fact free zone.  This, we are told, is ‘a totemic clash of religions’.  To get there, she makes one religion up.  This is astounding bullshit.  Fortunately, and the paper should be congratulated, two other pieces, this time on the Op Ed page, makes plain at least some of the bullshit.

Peter Van Onselen says:

It’s the once all-powerful religious types claiming victimhood against one of the groupings in society they long victimised, the gay and lesbian community….Poor Israel Folau had his freedom of religion curtailed apparently because his employer has an expectation that its employees adhere to a code of conduct.  The extent to which he isn’t oppressed could hardly have been better demonstrated than via the fast and lucrative flow of donations that came his way when the Australian Christian Lobby decided to get involved.

The intervention of the ACL will do as much for religion in this country as the sight of its Prime Minister offering government comfort to 20,000 cheering Hillsong members at a floodlit night-time parade.  The ACL is apparently against a charter human rights.  I don’t know if freedom of religion is a human right or a divine right.  The Folau campaign is publicly funded, but are donations to it tax deductible?

Katrina Grace Kelly (quel nom!) says:

Ironically, and just as an aside, it has been terrifically amusing of late to observe those usually demanding legal change to make it easier to dismiss workers vociferously demanding legal change that will make it harder to dismiss workers – by virtue of their support for a high-profile footballer, recently sacked.  (Emphasis added.)

It does rather look like people are invoking freedom of religion to destroy freedom of contract.  Put differently, it is novel that people claiming to be ‘conservatives’ – that word again – want a statutory tribunal to be able to relieve a person of the burden of a contact from which he has derived great profit but which he now finds in part unsuited to his needs.  Roscoe Pound is good on this.

Equity in America shows the same influence [protecting private rights].  The Puritan has always been a consistent and thorough-going opponent of equity.  It runs counter to all his ideas. For one thing, it helps fools who have made bad bargains, whereas he believes that fools should be allowed and required to act freely and then be held for the consequences of their folly.  For another thing, it acts directly upon the person.  It coerces the individual free will.

That is very Boston – and very IPA.  We can imagine a statutory intervention into freedom of contract attracting all kinds of epithets – including the dreaded ‘S’ word.

And it is a little hard to take seriously a claim of victimhood by a church in a nation whose head of state must be a communicant member of that church.

But why let mere facts stop a good dream?  It’s that simple.

Here and there – Disraeli – Portrait of a Conservative

 

On 26 February 1868, the leader of the Tories in the House of Commons called on Her Majesty Queen Victoria at Osborne on the Isle of Wight.  The queen ‘came into her closet with a very radiant face and saying ‘You must kiss hands.’’  This her caller did, heartily, falling on one knee.  Well, that was and is the traditional way in which the English sovereign acknowledges the choice of her parliament for the office of Prime Minister.  In a letter preceding the kissing of hands, the queen had said in that third person mode: ‘It must be a proud moment for him to feel that his own talent and successful labours in the service of his country have earned him the high and influential position on which he is now placed.’  It certainly was a proud moment.

The grandfather of this PM had migrated to England sixty years before he was born.  Benjamin Disraeli, the grandson of an Italian Jew, was the leader of the Tory Party, the Prime Minister of England, and he would become the closest confidant and adviser to the most powerful monarch in the entire world, and whom he, Disraeli, would anoint as the Empress of India.  It is a truly remarkable story.

It had not always been so smooth.  Disraeli had been a frightful dandy, and he had an acid tongue.  The queen had called him ‘detestable, unprincipled, reckless & not respectable.’  Her husband had dismissed him as ‘having not one single element of the gentleman in his composition.’  Well, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness may have had held strong views, but they were free to change their mind.  And Disraeli could ‘work’ the queen.  He said that with her, you had to ‘lay it on with a trowel’ – and he did so, ever so shamelessly; and he was always careful to heap honour and praise on the late Prince.  Her Majesty loved it, and she loathed poor Mr Gladstone.  She felt like he addressed her like he was addressing a public meeting.

And besides, having a PM with a background in finance might be useful.  In 1875, the bankruptcy of the Sultan of Turkey left the Khedive of Egypt wanting to sell his shares in the Suez Canal.  The French were in the market.  Disraeli was determined to get this stake in the Canal.  He could not get the money from Parliament as it was in recess.  He sent his private secretary to ask Baron Rothschild for a loan of 4,000,000 pounds.  Baron Rothschild asked two questions:  ‘When?’, and after eating a grape and spitting out a grape skin, ‘What is your security?’  (The crown jewels?)  The money was available next day to the British government at 2 ½ %, and a one-off fee of 100,000 pounds.  Disraeli wrote: ‘It is just settled: you have it Madam.’  The Queen was ‘in ecstasies’ but was keen to hear how her Prime Minister had got the ‘great sum.’  ‘What particularly delighted the Faery was the thought of Bismarck’s fury, for only shortly before, he had insolently declared that England had ceased to be a political force.’

Not long after this, the French nation would be convulsed by controversy over the fate of a Jewish officer named Dreyfus, and it is more than a little difficult to imagine the third generation of a migrant Jewish family becoming Prime Minister of any country in Europe at that time.

What I have said so far about Disraeli comes from something I wrote years ago. Since that was supposed to be a constitutional history of England, you can guess how keen I was to get those anecdotes out there.  That is the kind of stuff I live for.

One leading  biography was written by André Maurois. That name can evoke the same kind of snobbery that the name Puccini does.  Maurois was a writer rather than a historian.  And he excelled in biography.  He followed in the steps of Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey (which is looked at here) – although he did say that Strachey was ‘a shade nastier than is really fair’: which sounds like a very English thing to say.  Maurois said:

The search for historical truth is the work of a scholar; the search for the expression of a personality is rather the work of the artist; can the two things be done together?

Putting the question that way focuses on the writer.  What about us – the readers?  We know what we want.  For someone like Pitt the Younger or perhaps Gladstone, we might stick with the prosaic.  But for titans like Disraeli, Lloyd George or Churchill, we want Romance – with the Full Monty.  And Maurois delivers in his inimitable style.  The word ‘readable’ could have been invented for him – even when read in translation.

What was the dandy like?  ‘A coat of black velvet, poppy-coloured trousers broidered with gold, a scarlet waistcoat, sparkling rings worn on top of white kid gloves.’  What drove Disraeli in the Commons?  Perhaps it was the standing, cheering ovations, or the opportunity to say: ‘I am not one who will be insulted, even by a Yahoo.’  Why did he marry Mary Anne?  For money – and it may have been the most loving marriage ever felt.  How did he feel on becoming PM?

The adventurer, his genius tolerated by some, his authority contested by others, referred to as ‘Dizzy’ with a familiarity sometimes affectionate, sometimes scornful, had now become an object of respect….No people are more sensitive than the English to the beauty wherewith time can adorn an object; they love old statesmen, worn and polished in the struggle, as they love old leather and old wood.

You can see that there is great merit in reading an urbane Frenchman portray an English comet – a man described by Lord Sumption in the Reith Lectures as possibly the only authentic genius to reach the top in English politics.  (And there was merit in having a Scot, Thomas Carlyle, write a long tone poem about the French Revolution.)  Disraeli was a titan who walked among giants.  Now we get pygmies following charlatans.  The agony of our fall is made explicit by this gorgeous book.

Passing Bull 202 – Bull on recognition

Stand by for an outpouring of bullshit about recognition of the First Nations.  It will come from people like Andrew Bolt and Craig Laundy.  These people, who falsely claim to be Conservatives, thrive on division.  Bolt makes a handsome living from it.  On what basis will Mr Laundy oppose any constitutional change?  ‘I think that idea is divisive.’  It is a fair bet that the opposition will come from those who said, and possibly believed, that the vilification of Adam Goodes had nothing to do with the fact that he is an Aboriginal.

Bloopers

And they all live in Byron Bay? Yes. According to a Vanity Fair article, they are ‘a cross-tagging, cross-promoting, mutually amplifying, audience-sharing group of friends living, loving, working and posting aspirational lifestyle content in a highly Instagrammable paradise’.

I hate them. You are not alone, but it is working for them. The Instagram mums of Byron are brands, exploiting themselves and their families to push either their own products or those of select sponsors.

The Guardian, 5 July, 2019.

I don’t believe in an afterlife – like Einstein, I think once is enough – but if there is, I pray that there are no mobile phones.

**

There is a misdiagnosis that credibility for a voice comes from a constitutional anchor, when its credibility would come from connection to community and country.

Tim Wilson, MP, in The Age, 11 July 2019.

Brother Tim is a talking head and the undisputed King of Bullshit in this country, but you can expect an avalanche of bullshit on this subject.

 

Passing Bull 201 – Bull about activists

 

‘Activist’ is a term of abuse for some.  I am not sure why.  If an activist is someone who actively seeks to change public attitudes, is there anything necessarily wrong with that?  Prime candidates would be Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King.  And, for that matter, Martin Luther and that son of a Jewish carpenter who started it all.

Are we wrong to look up to these people?  What makes them heroic but makes other activists nasty?  The answer is I think that you accuse someone of being an ‘activist’ when you don’t want the change in public attitudes that they wish to bring about.  Like a reduced reliance on coal.

This intellectual lesion – for that is what it is – is linked to another.  Some people say – and for the most part they keep a straight face – that corporates or business people generally should not engage in public debate about political, social or moral attitudes.  Again, I am not sure why.

This response is odd for two reasons.  First it mainly comes from people who sprout about freedom of speech at the drop of a hat – but here they want to restrict that freedom in others.

The second reason that this response is odd is that it is bullshit. Business is conducted in a community and if the business people get offside with their community, that may well be bad for business.  That is why a body in the entertainment industry like the AFL has to take and be seen to take an active interest in diversity issues like gay rights, aboriginal recognition, and equal pay for women.

That is why Rugby Australia had to adopt the position it did with Folau.  If people in that kind of business are seen to act against gays or indigenous people or women, the commercial consequences could be dire.

The same goes for BHP and aborigines.  Mining companies have to work with aborigines and be seen to maintain a good relationship with them.  Alcoa said as much in a successful libel action against the ABC for saying they did not care about aborigines.

None of that is hard to understand.  The Financial Times today had an interview with the house counsel of BHP.

BHP was among the companies named in an investigation begun by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines in 2015, into whether fossil fuel groups have violated human rights by causing climate change. The company formally severed ties with the World Coal Association last year, after Australian green groups urged it to quit industry lobby groups whose policies did not match the miner’s support for the Paris climate agreement. Ms Cox says climate change is high on her team’s agenda because the company knows its long-term sustainability depends on support from investors, regulators and the broader society. ‘We need the support of our communities in order to be successful’, she says.

That is basic business common sense.  It is why Woolworths are getting out of gaming and why the AFL is advised to do the same.

Why, then, the criticism?  The answer is the same.  The critics reject the message.  An ‘activist’ is likely to be a ‘progressive’.  It worries these people not a bit that one term is as senseless as the other.  And the irony is that this activism is a response to a gross failure of leadership by governments of the kind the critics machinate for.

Still we are living at a time when people are giving millions to a millionaire who is suing for more millions a body he pledged his loyalty to and then ratted on – and they claim to be doing so in God’s name for a man content to damn one in every ten people on earth to be blasted in fire for eternity because they are different to him.

There is one born every minute.

But if, which I doubt, there is a God, there is every chance that He is very down and dirty on these galahs because they are trashing His product here on Earth.

Passing Bull 200 –Bloopers

 

For number 200, may I celebrate with three Bloopers?  They are all crackers, but the third is already a short-priced favourite for Blooper of the year.  It is spell-binding.

But Johnson’s camp was adamant the row was nothing more than a typical contretemps.

‘The couple intend to live together in No. 10 if he is elected Tory leader and to marry after his divorce is finalised’, a source said.

The Age, 25 June 2015.

Well, at least the police will not have so far to go for the next typical contretemps.

**

We are embarking on something new in the country, which is not new outside of the country, which is utilising all of this practice, utilising these examples, utilising this expertise as one of many inputs to better inform us so we can then write reports and provide the feedback.

James Shipton of ASIC in AFR, 29-30 June 2019.

It is little wonder that the same article reported someone as saying ‘The problem is we have a regulator that is deeply steeped in timidity’That problem is not reduced by having hirsute he-men chasing the press and huffing and puffing and threatening to blow down whole houses.  As for the English language, this looks like an attempt at assassination.

**

Almost all Christians believe in the reality of judgment and hell, as well as forgiveness, redemption and heaven.  But even though I think Folau made a couple of mistakes, he is manifestly a good person.  He was trying to help people not hurt them.  And the disproportion of his punishment to his offence is absolutely insane.  The idea that he should lose his ability to earn a living for the rest of his life for expressing his beliefs is truly shocking.

Greg Sheridan, The Weekend Australian, 29-30 June, 2019.

Of all the bullshit about Folau, this wins the prize.  There are nearly as many errors as words.  If you believe that Izzie was not trying to hurt people but to help them, you should seek urgent medical advice.  Did Hitler try that line on with Mein Kampf?  Did he say that he was trying to help the Jews by giving them a fair warning?

And where does a journalist get the right to pronounce on the ‘goodness’ of anyone?  I would not allow Izzie into my house – not because I think that he is a dangerous religious fanatic with no moral judgment, and I do think that, but because I think that he has let down his team-mates and his country for reasons that can only be described as selfish.  He put himself above his team, and no decent team would want to have anything to do with him.

Just two more things.  Every time someone who professes that faith parrots stuff like this, you will be able to count the empty pews in church next Sunday.

And the editorial in the AFR was nearly as bad.

God help us all.

Passing Bull 199 –Hypocrisy on high

 

I congratulate the Hawthorn players on their decision to honour Goodes.

I am revolted but not surprised that most social media response has been ‘negative’.  We have a real problem about this in this country.  And what kind of ‘supporter’ refuses to back their players on some political ground – not least a ground espoused by Andrew Bolt?

It is clear that the AFL and its clubs must sever all ties with anyone connected with gaming.  The time has I think  now passed when trading corporations can seek to be morally neutral.  It is hard for the AFL to lecture people about gambling when it is, slut-like, living off the earnings of gambling.

I think Footscray and Collingwood are taking real action on gaming – if so, I congratulate them, too.

I gather that the Goodes film is wrenching.  Certainly, the reactions of some people who think that they are intelligent was appalling at the time – and it shows just how deep this problem runs in this country.  It is just what people like Bolt and Hanson (and Trump) run on.

And in case you missed it, Sam Kerr is getting a different kind of abuse from people similarly embittered.

Bloopers

Peter Dutton claims asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru are refusing resettlement offers in the United States because of the medevac legislation claiming 250 applications for medical transfer were currently being reviewed by ‘activist’ doctors.

The Guardian, 24 June, 2019

An ‘activist’ is presumably someone actively seeking a result.  Not many of those in parliament.

 

 

Passing Bull 198 – Following the leader

 

The herd instinct is on full display in the letters of today’s Weekend Australian.  There are nine letters about John Setka.  All appear to be sympathetic.  I doubt whether many readers of that paper have met a worker, much less a union official, much less a warrior with the heft of Setka.  No one mentioned that Setka has said that he will plead guilty to a criminal offence.  We get the usual stuff about ‘political correctness’ and ‘virtue signalling.’  Setka says he was elected my members.  I can’t recall hearing a bank director on the way out saying he had been elected by shareholders.

This sensitivity about our being free to speak our minds takes a bit of hit on the front sports page.  The headline is ‘Bitter’ retort sours Matildas win.’  Their captain, after a gutsy win, said of their critics ‘Suck on that one.’  Good on her.  But the Oz finds two past Matildas to criticise her.  It is one thing to form an adverse view (although it is beyond me how a Matilda expects our captain to be ‘humble’).  It is another thing to go public and fuel controversy when those representing us are trying to make a comeback in a foreign country.  If that is their notion of loyalty, it is little wonder the Matildas have issues.

But is not the point more simple?  We have better things to talk about.

Bloopers

No one wants to be lectured on humanity by politicians, let alone backers of porous borders whose compassion resulted in more than 1000 deaths at sea.

The Australian, 10 June, 2019.  Jennifer Oriel.

As ever, there is the horrifying thought that she might believe it.