Fraught the draft

Sad to see alt-right exhibitionist and bore Milo Yiannopoulos pulling out of his $US10 million breach of contract litigation against Simon & Schuster.

This was a case where neither side was covered in glory. The publishing house thought it would make a killing with the tarnished Greek’s tome Dangerous, until they discovered it was dangerously unreadable.

One thing the case did throw up were the notes on the draft from editor Mitchell Ivers, including morsels such as: “Throughout the book, your best points seem to be lost in a sea of self-aggrandisement and scattershot thinking.”

Rigour is not one of Yiannopoulos’s strong points, with Ivers noting: “unsupportable charge … cite examples … unclear, unfunny, delete”.

The killer provocation that lesbians should be thrown out of universities was met with, “DELETE UGH”.

The official reason for canning the book was because the author was seen to advocate sex between “younger boys” and older men.

Yiannopoulos was also forced out of the Breitbart fake news website; banned from Twitter; dumped by his lawyer; had his speaking engagements cancelled, except for the Down Under tour of vapid inconsequentialities; and has seen his $US10 million court case vanish in a puff of smoke.

A transcript of the book litigation in New York showed his masterful misunderstanding of the issues, insisting he should have access to Simon & Schuster’s financial records that were marked “for attorneys’ eyes only” and had nothing to do with the claim that the book was turned down “for political reasons”.

The judge had to contend with rambling submissions, such as: “What has been happening in the case so far is some issues have been entered, public record documents that are very embarrassing to me and leaking those to journalist [sic]. And at the same time marked documents for attorneys [sic] eyes only.”

Shallow, boastful and incoherent, it is no wonder he became the pin-up child of The Parrot and a kissing acquaintance of Mark Latham.

Five go in the paper

There was our beloved Trumble, rictus smile affixed, reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five’s Five on a Treasure Island to a bunch of kiddies at the Oatley West Public School in Sydney.

In fact, the Melbourne Hun thought so highly of this moment that they published a photo of it in the paper, with the book the right way up.

Did PM Trumble realise that he was part of a giant Moloch marketing wheeze, where Hun readers were about to receive a free copy of Enid’s books?

There were subsequent promotions in the paper with a young nerd in glasses reading Five on a Treasure Island. This was advertised as a “full size book” with the possibility of collecting 15 “free” Blyton gems, between February 4 and 18.

Nothing like using the PM to boost a Moloch readership promotion. No doubt Trumble will be meeting the old lizard during his North American safari, where proper consideration of this cross-pollination can be sorted.

As it happens, the old line of Blyton classics has been superseded by some edgy updates, with titles such as Five Give Up the Booze, Five Get on the Property Ladder and Five Go Gluten Free.

Let’s hope there are still lashings of ginger beer.

True history for the Kelly gang

“This reeks of the last days of Rome,” thundered The Catholic Boys Daily’s Father Paul Kelly in classic understatement about the “civil war” that has engulfed the Coalition.

The last days of Rome analogy is an easy one to fling around but, as Father Kelly should know, himself a bit of an old Roman, and also the holder of a DipEd, it is quite a nuanced situation.

There were more than a few factors contributing to Rome’s “last days”, including an overexpansion of the empire; a stretched treasury trying to fund civil wars; an influx of refugees; declining tax collection; fewer people wanting to participate in the military, especially those from wealthy families; divisions between Christians and pagans; and the rise of challenging powers such as the Sassanians and the Huns.

Some of these problems are still hanging around today.

The better idea is that there were no quantifiable “last days” for the empire. Instead, what happened is that the eastern part split off and lasted another 1000 years until the fall of Constantinople, while the western empire fractured and on numerous occasions Rome itself was overrun by invaders.

Down to business

Wouldn’t it be marvellous to be a daddy-long-legs on the wall of one of those strategy sessions at the Business Council of Australia?

“Let’s do the ideological hatred campaign,” prompts Prunella from issues management.

“That’s brill,” purrs Cosmo from policy. “We’ll send chief executive Jennifer Westacott out to announce that there’s such ‘ideological hatred’ of business that we need tax cuts to save wages, jobs and the entire nation.”

“That sounds pretty logical,” says Barry from the boiler room.

The next day Jennifer was on the front page of the paper wanting to sit down with Pauline Hanson and get those jolly tax rates down to 25 per cent or $35.6 billion of forgone government revenue. A mere sneeze.

“I think you should say that you respect Pauline Hanson’s ideas,” piped Pippa from knowledge management. “Then you can have a shower afterwards.”

“I think I’ll announce that America is open for business and we’re closed,” said Jen.

“Say whatever comes into your head,” advised Barry.

We’re now braced for a campaign from the cabin boys of industry to counter business bashing with a fresh burst of corporate tax cuts. Never mind that the Reserve Bank thinks it’s a stinker of an idea while the budget is still in deficit. Further, the bank’s gurus believe tax cuts funded entirely by debt could lead to financial instability.

The boys at Goldman Sachs are warning about inflation brought on by loose budget policy – “lighter fluid on the fire”, one of the bank’s senior people told me over cigars in a private room at the Spearmint Rhino lounge.

Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund popped in and said she was concerned that Trump’s $US1.5 trillion tax cut could prompt other countries to think it’s a good idea and thereby fuel a “race to the bottom”.

Talking about races to the bottom, one of the unfortunate byproducts of this “debate” is that we have to endure the enraged grimaces of treasurer and failed travel agent Scott Morrison as he thrashes about with ever more spun-out arguments about the brilliance of distributing Commonwealth revenues to Coalition supporters and letting everyone else pay for it.

Life of the Artie

The mention last week in this space of Artie Fadden has brought on a spate of tales from devoted readers. Fadden was the leader of the Country Party, deputy PM and federal treasurer in the Menzies era, and as such a direct forebear of the beloved Barnaby Joyce.

This is a long-forgotten era when Ben Chifley and Phyllis Donnelly showed how privacy and civility could co-exist.

In 1941 Arthur was for 40 days and 40 nights prime minister of Australia. Like Barnaby, he was also an accountant.

Last week we reported him at night galloping through Kings Hall in Old Parliament House completely naked, hot in pursuit of some distressed damsels.

A field agent writes to report that his mother, as a youngster and while in the family car driving in Brisbane, heard her father say excitedly, “Look, there’s Artie Fadden coming out of that brothel.”

In those days most of the pollies, including Fadden, stayed at the Hotel Canberra. It was the custom for men to leave their shoes outside their door overnight for a polish by the bellboy.

At the time Billy McMahon was notoriously unmarried so Arthur, being a bit of a wag, left a pair of women’s high-heels outside the tiny dandy’s door.

The talk at breakfast next morning was one of excited amazement, the scandal gripping Canberra for weeks.

Trumpette #57

It’s young Americans who are taking the battle about gun control up to their politicians.

A 16-year-old student, Sarah Chadwick, who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, cut through the noise with a tweet to Barking Dog’s account in language he understands:

“I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But gun control will prevent it from happening again.”

Like he always does, Trumpy put his finger on the issue: it’s about mental health, not guns. And, anyway, more guns will fix it.

Clearly, there’s a need to pray harder.


Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 24, 2018 as "Gadfly: Fraught the draft". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.

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