An­gus Taylor, Elysse Mor­gan and Louise Clegg. Harry Stutch­bury and Craig Kelly.

The Saturday Paper - - Contents | The Week - Richard Ackland

What a plea­sure it is that HBO’s Suc­ces­sion is be­ing streamed by Fox Drama, even if you do have to creep past the Af­ter Dark Mon­sters from the Sky News la­goon to get there. This is a blis­ter­ing satire of a me­dia mogul fam­ily, so closely rem­i­nis­cent of the Molochs as to be en­tirely recog­nis­able. The an­cient, des­ic­cated me­dia tsar, Lo­gan Roy, played by Brian Cox, is sur­rounded by off­spring squab­bling over the trust and who will take the reins of his junk-laden em­pire.

The plot­ting and schem­ing es­ca­lates as Roy is carted off to hos­pi­tal with some sort of brain ex­plo­sion, in an episode called “Shit Show at the Fuck Fac­tory”.

One of the mem­o­rable lines early in the piece comes from a smart young en­tre­pre­neur who is re­sist­ing the takeover of his busi­ness by the Evil Em­pire. He says to son No. 1 and heir ap­par­ent Ken­dall Roy: “What have you got – track marks from shoot­ing junk?” In one breath he elides me­dia con­tent with a hal­lu­ci­na­tory his­tory.

The daugh­ter, Siobhan, is played by Aus­tralia’s Sarah Snook, while the other sons are ren­dered as hap­less dills, so much so that you can’t but feel em­pa­thy for the tragic Ken­dall.

The cyn­i­cism, ruth­less­ness, greed and petty jeal­ousies of Roy’s ran­cid court are all there. The cor­po­rate-speak about eye­balls, dis­rup­tion, lifeboats and shak­ing the trees sounds like a ra-ra speech Hugh Marks might give to stunned hacks at The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald or The Age.

You’ll come away thor­oughly re­pulsed.

Power plays

That was a bit of a train-crash in­ter­view that En­ergy Min­is­ter “Car­bon Gus” Taylor had with the ABC’s Elysse Mor­gan.

The gov­ern­ment is crit­i­cal of the prof­its made by power com­pa­nies and wants to bring down prices. How much profit should they be mak­ing and by how much should prices come down, Elysse asked the coal-wor­ship­ping, “fairdinkum-power” man.

He didn’t have a proper an­swer to those di­rect ques­tions, in­stead in­sist­ing he was in favour of com­pe­ti­tion – even though there’s plenty of com­pe­ti­tion al­ready and the gov­ern­ment’s own com­pany, Red En­ergy, is go­ing against the grain with eye-wa­ter­ing prof­its.

Round and round it went, with The Busi­ness host want­ing an­swers about what con­sti­tutes an “ex­ces­sive profit” and the min­is­ter duck­ing and weav­ing.

On Face­book, the min­is­ter’s wife, Louise Clegg, had some no-non­sense so­lu­tions. “Re­ces­sion, rolling black­outs, youth un­em­ploy­ment all nec­es­sary for peo­ple to re­alise left pop­u­lar­ism/cul­ture, un­re­strained spend­ing, out­law­ing of­fen­sive speech, etc. not the an­swer.”

Lights out for left­ies. The Fin Re­view picked it up and gave it a good tickle. Ms Clegg, en­joy­ing the mo­ment, won­dered what all the fuss was about: “En­ergy min­is­ter’s wife has crack at la­bor’s en­ergy pol­icy and backs ‘sen­si­ble cen­tre right’ gov­ern­ment on FB. Scan­dalous.”

Ms Clegg her­self shares plat­forms with other “sen­si­ble cen­tre right” celebri­ties such as One Na­tion’s Mark Latham, Alan “Chaff Bag” Jones and se­rial pla­gia­rist Tan­veer Ahmed. They were all to­gether at a Pos­sum Hol­low gath­er­ing in the New South

Wales South­ern High­lands where, for good mea­sure, Jones said “Wel­come to coun­try” was a “pre­ten­tious and in­dul­gent prac­tice” – pre­ten­sion and in­dul­gence be­ing spe­cial ar­eas of con­cern for The Par­rot.

Latham went on to ex­cite the crowd of an­cient white males with news that he would abol­ish SBS and the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion if he re­turned to pol­i­tics. This sen­si­ble cen­tre-right gymkhana gave birth to the idea that Latham’s Out­siders would be the ba­sis of a crowd-funded out­fit to ri­val the ac­tivists at GetUp!.

As is the case with the Morry “Sweep-Over” Newman’s Ad­vance Aus­tralia out­fit, its “grass­roots” ac­tivism is sig­nif­i­cantly sub­ter­ranean.

Mod­er­ate wind

By the way, Harry Stutch­bury, son of Fin Re­view uber-ed­i­tor Michael Stutch­bury, was one of the party “mod­er­ates” who rolled over to save the back­side of for­mer fur­ni­ture sales­man Craig Kelly, MP for Hughes.

Young Stutch was the bright spark who got the NSW Lib­eral Party coun­cil to pass a mo­tion that the ABC should be pri­va­tised. He waxed about it in an op-ed for Fair­fax, in­sist­ing the na­tional broad­caster “crowds out its pri­vate com­peti­tors and is an in­dul­gence we can no longer af­ford”.

It’s fas­ci­nat­ing that flat-earth poli­cies such as this are re­garded as

“mod­er­ate” within the “broad church” of the Nasty Party.

Dan Bushed

Af­ter read­ing for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Madeleine Al­bright’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Madam Sec­re­tary, one of our field agents has been in touch to re­port her story about Ge­orge H. W. Bush (RIP).

In Moscow, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge

Bush Sr asked Mikhail Gor­bachev how he chose Ed­uard She­vard­nadze as his No.2. Gor­bachev said he chose him be­cause he had cor­rectly an­swered the rid­dle: Who is the son of your fa­ther who is not your brother?

She­vard­nadze had said: “I am, of course.” So he was hired.

Back in Wash­ing­ton, Bush called in vice-pres­i­dent Dan Quayle and asked him the same ques­tion. Quayle said with­out hes­i­ta­tion that he would think about it.

Out­side the Oval Of­fice he asked Dick Cheney, who said, “I am, of course.”

Quayle went back to Bush and said, “Mr Pres­i­dent, ask me the rid­dle again.” Bush did so and Quayle replied, “It’s Dick Cheney.” Bush said, “No, you id­iot, it’s Ed­uard She­vard­nadze.”

Banked up

In the midst of all the Brexit woes, the Poms are look­ing en­vi­ously at the work of Kenny Hayne and the bank­ing, su­per­an­nu­a­tion and fi­nan­cial ser­vices royal com­mis­sion.

The Old Dart has also suf­fered from the bonus-fu­elled ex­cesses of the banks, with scan­dals in­clud­ing fraud cover-ups at Lloyds over its HBOS Read­ing unit and at RBS over global restruc­tur­ing. Banks on the con­ti­nent also have dis­tin­guished them­selves – Danske Bank laun­der­ing €200 bil­lion of dirty Rus­sian money, div­i­dend tax fraud at San­tander, and the Gi­ant Gold­man Squid suck­ing $US2.7 bil­lion out of Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.

Of course, banks such as NAB had op­er­a­tions in Bri­tain and in the process ex­ported its toxic cul­ture.

The Bri­tish Bank­ing Stan­dards Board has tried to lift the game, but progress has been slow and small. That was the cue for Pri­vate Eye’s “Slicker”, one of the sharpest com­men­ta­tors in the busi­ness, to ob­serve the clean-up op­er­a­tion un­der way Down Un­der.

It was noted that three years ago the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity, aka the Fun­da­men­tally Com­plicit Au­thor­ity, thought that the City of Lon­don reg­u­la­tors had failed to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate those re­spon­si­ble for the near col­lapse of

HBOS, aka the Bank of Scot­land, in 2008. A fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched and in Fe­bru­ary last year it was ex­tended to in­clude the HBOS Read­ing fraud scan­dal.

Years later, every­one is still wait­ing for the find­ings of these FCA in­ves­ti­ga­tions, while Slicker noted with some awe that it took Ken only 10 months to pro­duce the royal com­mis­sion’s scathing in­terim re­port.

Planet defence

It’s with some relief we re­port that the cel­e­brated hacks at The Catholic Boys Daily have dodged an 18C bul­let. Yes, le­gal af­fairs writer Chris Mer­ritt, thinker and opin­ion scrib­bler Janet “The Planet” Al­brecht­sen and award-win­ning in­ves­ti­ga­tor Head­less Thomas had been hauled into the Fed­eral Cir­cus Court with a com­plaint that they had of­fended, in­sulted, hu­mil­i­ated or in­tim­i­dated a Cam­bo­dian woman who had been email­ing them about their sup­port for amend­ments to the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act.

She called them “white abo­li­tion­ists [writ­ing for a] des­per­ate rag”. Al­brecht­sen, she said, was “rid­ing with deadly Mer­ritt and Thomas [in a] white racist posse”.

She posted this on the Daily’s Face­book page, along with other in­sights, and kept up a flow of mis­sives to the three hacks.

Even­tu­ally, they could stand it no longer. Head­less snapped, telling her to “fuck off”. Planet echoed Hed­ley’s sen­ti­ments and told the com­plainant “best take off now”, while Mer­ritt emailed and pub­lished a longish ex­pla­na­tion that he was of­fended to be re­ferred to as white as his fore­bears were Tamils from south­ern In­dia. Nonethe­less, he had tough­ened up and was not go­ing to re­fer her to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

The Cam­bo­dian woman thought their replies were of­fen­sive, de­risory and mock­ing, but the court did not agree, which is just as well: the mar­tyr­dom is­su­ing from Moloch’s Holt Street Lubyanka would be end­less and deaf­en­ing had the com­plaint held.

Trum­pette #99

It’s un­sur­pris­ing that the Pussy Grab­ber wants un­qual­i­fied peo­ple on the bench. Af­ter all, he had a long-term lawyer who was so bereft of skill, fi­nesse and fit­ness that his “own weak­ness and a blind loy­alty” led him “to choose a path of dark­ness over light”.

When it comes to the ju­di­ciary, the Grab­ber is equally louche about depth and qual­ity. For in­stance, the se­nate has just con­firmed, nar­rowly, Jonathan Kobes as a fed­eral ap­peals judge. He was pre­vi­ously an aide to a Repub­li­can se­na­tor from South Dakota, and the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion ques­tioned his un­der­stand­ing of “com­plex le­gal anal­y­sis and knowl­edge of the law”. The ABA rated him as “un­qual­i­fied” for the job.

On Twit­ter, Se­na­tor Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, the lead­ing Demo­crat on the ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee, laid out Kobes’s ré­sumé: “He’s never been a judge, has tried only SIX cases, and has ar­gued only ONE ap­peal – 15 years ago.”

Nonethe­less, Kobes is suf­fi­ciently con­ser­va­tive and that’s all that mat­ters to the Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who want to stack the fed­eral bench with “lawyers” from the lu­nar, God-both­er­ing edge of the spec­trum.

An­other of Trump’s nom­i­nees said in an on­line fo­rum that a com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity was equiv­a­lent to “ac­cept­ing lower stan­dards”.

Some of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s se­lec­tions were too aw­ful, even for the se­nate. Thomas Farr, Ryan W. Bounds and Brett Tal­ley were thought to be racially di­vi­sive. Farr de­fended a North Carolina voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion law and a ger­ry­man­der de­signed to sup­press black vot­ers “with sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion”.

Tal­ley de­fended an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan and “dab­bled” in ghost-hunt­ing. An­other nom­i­nee for the District Court had to be side­lined af­ter he de­scribed trans­gen­der chil­dren as part of “Satan’s plan”.

Trump likes judges who think the same as him, which takes us into choppy con­sti­tu­tional waters.

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