Thursday, March 31, 2011

David Ponborthy, Andrew Dolt, and teaching Godwin's Law a bloody good free speech lesson ...

(Above: more of Fiona Katauskas at New Matilda here).

Here at the pond we've studiously avoided commenting on the infamous trial now proceeding before the Federal Court involving the notorious columnist Andrew Bolt, but the coverage - mainly provided by Crikey and Fairfax - has been a joy to read.

Being an advocate of free speech, the pond believes the dolt should be allowed to be doltish in his own lunch time, and anyone else short of a sandwich in search of a picnic can have the pleasure in joining him for a déjeuner sur l'herbe sans crémé de la intelligence.

Still it's lovely to see him writhe on the spit, as many have done as a result of his verbal assaults. I particularly enjoy the notion that a reference to a gay white man with a law degree, just the sort of Aboriginal that deserves a special handout is as innocent as our reference to a straight white man with a degree in sarcasm and impudence, just the sort of commentariat columnist that deserves a special position as a minion of Murdoch.

Does straight and white have anything to do with anything?

Not really, but we all know the way that it works. Indeed some of the pond's best friends are gay, transsexual, multi-gendered, in to cross dressing, or bdsm or otherwise willing to stretch the concept of gender and sexuality, and once we've established that they are variously god mothers or god fathers to all and sundry and close bosom'd friends to the maturing pond, we can feel free to send them up shitless for the useless ruffians they are, most particularly because of the way they stretch the concepts of gender and sexuality.

Yep, we'll go on celebrating the way some of our best friends are homosexual or black while explaining why their rights should be denied.

Speaking of rights, it's worth reading Richard Ackland's Nothing black and white about Bolt's case and right to free speech, and in particular his closing irony:

The difficulty is we do not have a right to free speech, beyond the vagaries of the common law. If we had a charter of rights, Justice Mordecai Bromberg would be required in this case to balance Bolt's right of free speech with the rights of the applicants not to be racially picked upon and we'd have a better idea of where the line lies. But of course, Bolt campaigned furiously against a charter of rights.

Yes, and they say that the inventor of the guillotine ended up testing its efficacy, but as the spoilsport wiki explains, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, who gave his name to the device, died of natural causes. And he didn't actually invent the device. That honour belongs to Antoine Louis, and but for the perversity of history, we might now be talking of a louisette.

No doubt in fifty years time some humble wiki compiler will be given the task of compiling all the errors, misinformation and disinformation in Andrew Bolt's blog, and at last the full to overflowing intertubes will run out of space altogether.

Hey ho, and we are of course in no way commenting on or undermining the matters currently before the court, and on we go to vital matters of state, and who better to explain them than David Penberthy, who at one time scribbled this immortal line:

... Byrne’s been busy advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht in the Inner West ... (Greens who see red over oranges).

Kristallnacht? Night of Broken Glass? Nazi Germany and Austria November 9-10th 1938? Is this the Marrickville I know, right here, right now?

Yep indoody.

Of course the polite response would be to accuse Penberthy of a breach of Godwin's Law.

The impolite reponse would be to accuse him of being an inexcusable wanker. But then I have to confess that the pond was part of the mob that went around the streets of Marrickville smashing up shop windows, rioting, destroying stores and businesses, burning down synagogues, killing any stray Jews who crossed the mob's path, or hustling them off to concentration camps. In ever a so polite modern rendering ...

Naturally Penberthy can't help himself, and he's at it again in the punch-drunk Punch with The Greens: when all else fails cry conspiracy.

Of course a better header would have been The Greens: when all else fails cry kristallnacht.

Generally, I'd rather eat broken glass than read Penberthy, but now we come to the indignation of Penberthy about those indignant about Penberthy dragging kristallnacht into the political discourse.

Yep, if you want mealy mouthed clap trap, Penberthy is your man:

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago describing this planned identification of businesses with links to the Jewish state as “a polite modern rendering of Kristalnacht.” Some Greens were deeply offended by this. Their indignation at protecting the memory of the Holocaust can be easily dismissed as confected.

Of course it can. As everybody knows, Greens are kissing cousins to Hitler, much as they might confect notions that they're not. Or perhaps they're satanists, or perhaps watermelon Communists. After all we all know the Nazis were into the occult and signed a pact with Uncle Joe Stalin. The Greens don't give a fuck about the Holocaust, unlike Penberthy and Tony "arbeit macht frei" Abbott, and treat it as a kind of confectionary ...

Hang on, hang on, from Marrickville to Nazi occultists to confectionary?

Yes, you can see where this is heading, deep into the wilder recesses of abuse:

If they regard this period of history as something we should learn from, surely they would baulk at the idea of creating a black list of businesses with links to the Jewish state. Jewish Labor MP Michael Danby was perfectly happy to place this proposal in its proper historical context, saying Marrickville Council could just start painting the Star of David on offending businesses. If every council in the world adopted this policy, the Israeli state would be destroyed economically. It would cease to exist.

Now there's a vision. The councils of the world destroying Israel.

Why it should be a doddle then for the councils of the world to unite and destroy Colonel Gaddafi. Problem solved Obama, just call me and Penberthy when it's sorted (silly man, thinking weaponry and armies when all he had to do was issue a clarion call to the councils of the world).

The Greens clearly believe they were damaged by sinister coverage of the policy. They weren’t. They were damaged because the policy is sinister.

So that's how to be unapologetically unapologetic. It turns out, after all, that taking an attitude to Israel is a polite modern form of kristallnacht. Which no doubt explains why the only Nazi signs I saw during the campaign in the streets of the Marrickville electorate were plastered all over signs for the Greens ...

And just to keep the drum beating in as offensive a way as he possibly can, Penberthy reports on the way Balmain candidate Jamie Parker's car

... had been vandalised and that he had received death threats and letters calling him a Nazi and a Jew-hater.

Is Penberthy shocked? A tad disturbed? Well hardly, how could he be, since raising the kristallnacht spectre is a rough equivalent to calling Parker a Nazi and a Jew-hater, and to make sure you get the point, Penberthy rubs it in a little harder:

Parker’s choice of language in this interview has now been picked up by people in the Jewish community, some of them with links to ALP, as further evidence that the Greens have got a few issues they need to resolve here. “These Jews” now believe Parker went close to claiming the Greens had been a victim of some kind of Jewish conspiracy. As Pauline Hanson might say, Jamie, please explain.

The interview with Parker referenced by Penberthy is by Antony Loewenstein in New Matilida, under the header Are The Greens Ready For Hard Ball?

Its author "Antony Lowenstein" is described by Penberthy as an independent journalist ... a strident critic of the Jewish state and the author of My Israel Question.

Yes, and he also happens to be an atheist Jewish-Australian political activist, but sssh, don't mention the Jewish connection. There are some Jews who just don't fit in.

Well Loewenstein is big enough to look after himself, and he can be found at his blog here, and I do thank Penberthy for helping me understand why few people in the Murdoch stable thought nothing much about Julia Gillard being labelled Bob Brown's bitch.

Not when you can see that term, raise it and double the bet by dragging in the Nazis ...

In fact, if you read Cut and Paste in The Australian - Bitchgate: more hypocrisy over the unsavoury placards at Tony Abott's people's revolt - the bitch word on a placard in a rally can be conflated with Paul Keating using the word "bitch" in private.

That's right, private language is the same as public discourse and a placard. (Fuck me dead, let's hope no one hears the terms of endearment I reserve for my partner in a heated moment, the wretched tosser and dickhead).

But then you have to be a fully blown delusional goose to take Jonathan Green's gentle description of Cut and Paste as an "an amazing decontextualised pastiche" as "high praise!"

Is there any way you can cut through the cynical delusional bitchy 'whore of babylon' workings of this section of the lizard Oz? I suppose you could just observe that it lowers the tone of the rag, but that would be to assume that the rag had a tone to lower ...

Oh dear, a reader points out that the word 'bitchy' has strayed into the pond.

Quick Tony, go and position yourself in front of it, and elevate the tone of the debate.

Oh and another reader looming over my shoulder has somehow taken a fence when it comes to the mention of Tony 'arbeit macht frei' Abbott ... somehow thinking that this infamous phrase emblazoned above Nazi concentration camp entrances is an appropriate comparison for Abbott's current assault on the unemployed and disability pensioners (naturally celebrated in the usual unctuous, forelock tugging, Uriah Heep way by the anonymous lizard Oz editorialist in Endorsing tough-love reforms).

But of course it has nothing to do with it. You might think this is a sinister attitude to Mr. Abbott's long familiar routine of dole bludger bashing, but truth to tell, it's the policies that are sinister.

Or so a half-baked, half-assed Penberthy might assert.

But the thing that really brings out the pedant in me is the way Penberthy misspells Loewenstein's name not just once, but twice as "Lowenstein". Has Penberthy got some kind of attitude to atheist Jewish Australians? Is this his cheapest shot? To misspell a name?

As Pauline Hanson might say, Penberthy, please explain. Or can we just call you Ponborthy?

Still reading Ponborthy gave me a clue as to a way forward. Stray readers of the pond will know that every second minute we urge readers to boycott News Corp and all its products, in the vain hope of bringing it down, and thereby sending off the likes of Penberthy and Andrew Bolt to experience life on the dole under Tony "arbeit macht frei" Abbott ... (Oh okay, there's another buck in the Godwin's Law swear jar).

How could we fail to see that all we need is the councils of the world to unite?

If every council in the world adopted this policy, News Corp would be destroyed economically. It would cease to exist.

Now pardon me while I toddle off to write a letter.

Dear Marrickville council,

it has come to my attention that you are engaged in a campaign to induce Israel to treat Palestinians within and without its borders a little better, when in reality you should be engaged in a campaign to destroy News Corp ...

Done and dusted! Within a year, the councils of the world will make News Corp just a memory of a bad dream ...

(Below: while we're on the subject of conspiracy theories, and it's Friday, my favourite routine in the last week ? Appended to Miranda the Devine's column Who's the extremist now? and no doubt inspired by her rhetoric, came this explanation of the source of the signs at the rally:

The Bob Browns Bitch one was done by a person with artistic capabilitity and access to art materials, because whoever produced it used 4 paint colours, solid base of canvas not paper, and professional lettering made to appear amateur ...

Whether this was done through Labor’s sources, as people have been suggesting, or through personal resources, neither of these placards was an amateur job. My husband is a professional artist, and from knowing work you only have to look and see about people’s work ....

Yes, the sign and others at the rally were a professional Labor party conspiracy! You could only read it in a Murdoch rag, much like you could only read the inflated estimates of crowd size in their coverage.

Still now we know the dangerous radical Labor party conspirators attending the rally. Arrest the lot of them! Here are the ringleaders:

Oops, sorry, wrong angle. Here are the real professional Labor party conspirators! Notice their age and garb! Sinister! If you recognise any of them, dob them in to Ponborthy at once.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A hardly normal look at Michael Costa, Dennis Shanahan, dole bludging, and Tony Abbott in congress with a duck ...

(Above: when seeking speaking engagements, Dennis Shanahan favours a perky yellow number, not too canary, not too Van Gogh sunflowers, but in the best Goldilocks way, just right).

Well that should settle the futurists.

Amazon goes online in 1995 (wiki) and eBay begins its march towards garage sale domination in 1995. (wiki)

Bravely going where millions have already trudged for years, Hardly Normal announces it will shortly launch an online store "within weeks", creating a "sizeable internet presence".

Having, we learn, extensively upgraded the Harvey Norman website in late 2009, adding many needed functions for online sales - except the ability for consumers to purchase directly.

Oh brave new bold Australia, oh Australia hurrah. In further news, The Australian finally announces its long awaited paywall offering many exciting new online features and functionalities ... except the ability for consumers to purchase directly online.

We keed, we keed.

And now - as they used to say in the good old days when comedy was meant to be surreal - for something completely different.

Naturally it involves The Australian. Where else could you find Michael Costa bravely accepting My part in the ALP's downfall in NSW, admitting he wanted to privatise electricity, and then coming out with his variant on George Washington chopping down the cherry tree:

Notwithstanding this, I am happy to provide my head to those seeking scapegoats. You can rightly blame me: I not only accept responsibility, I make no apology. If I had my time over I would pursue exactly the same policy.

Uh huh. Righteous is as righteous does. And this he comes out with this, the first in a list of a number of other turkeys, like the Metro and other disasters:

Clearly, somebody else needs to take responsibility for what occurred in the two years after I left. And these matters include:

► The numerous scandals involving ministers and backbenchers that made the NSW government a item of national derision.

Who was that chappie who sang the song Short Memory? How did the lyrics go?

If you read the history books you'll see the same things happen again and again
Repeat repeat short memory they've all got it
When are we going to play it again ...

Oh heck, let's play it again, let's head back to 2002 and How taxpayers pay minister's weekender mortgage.

Yep, those were the days, when Costa became a country member of parliament, thereby gaining access to a Sydney allowance, a country member's logistical allowance, airfares, and sundry other benefits, while spending most of his time in an apartment in Pyrmont. His excuse?

"I claim all of my allowances," he declared. "As a former trade unionist I would advise anyone to do the same. I'm proud of my decision to move and live in the country. I think more of my upper house colleagues should do the same, and experience the issues that confront regional and rural NSW."

Uh huh. Those are the issues regional and rural NSW confront on the odd holiday weekend.

Well poor old John Brogden got a lot wrong in his short leadership of the Liberal party, but he got it right about this kind of pious humbuggery, hypocrisy and cant:

The Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, last night questioned the legitimacy of Mr Costa's claims.

"Michael Costa stumbles from crisis to crisis," Mr Brogden said. "He is a millstone around the Government's neck, and Bob Carr should sack him. These revelations go further to the betrayal of public trust by Michael Costa.

"These allowances are meant for legitimate country members who come to the city for parliamentary and other business - not the reverse.

"It's clear that Michael Costa is about as country as a Leichhardt cappuccino."

Actually it's to be hoped that the good citizens of Cessnock can score a decent cappuccino - I know they can be found in Tamworth. But what a pity they had to put up with Michael Costa exploiting a weekender in their town. See the original article to do the math ...

And now, as they say, for something different, but as usual it involves The Australian, and bold wearer of brave ties, Dennis Shanahan, as he celebrates Old Tony re-emerges to get real on policy.

Amazingly this bit of limp noodle hagiography is passed off as number one in the rotating bits of commentariat think pieces the lizard Oz offers this Thursday. I keed you not:

Well now that the hook's been spread out like a patient etherised upon a table, let us go through certain half-deserted streets, the muttering retreats of restless hacks offering up tedious arguments of insidious intent, to lead you to an overwhelming question. Oh, do not ask 'what is it?', just read Shanahan and expire, or perhaps come and go, talking of Michelangelo. And Tony Abbott.

Amongst the stunning and exciting ideas emerging from the new Tony, who isn't really new, so much as the old Tony scrubbed off and re-furbished, we have this dynamic solution to the problems confronting the Australian economy:

Given Abbott's ideas - even the example of denying people on the dole their payments if they are in areas where ripe fruit falls for want of pickers - are refinements of his former "tough love" approaches, they represent not so much an emergence of a "'new Tony" as a re-emergence of the "old Tony".

Yep, it's bashing the dole bludgers as a brand new policy strategy.

Astonishing. Especially astonishing that no one's ever thought of that strategy before. Except for Channel Seven, as fondly recalled by Media Watch in Boasting Bludger or Gullible Prey?

And of course you have to go back even further, to the Nine Network and to the Paxton family bashing, to remember John Safran and Ray Martin having a dust up on the nature strip, and Crikey adding the moment to many others to award Martin a Wankley Award Hall of Fame prize for journalistic wankery. The golden era of dole bludger bashing.

And after all those memories, you might forget that old Tony is indeed just old Tony, as the punch drunk Puncher Leo Shanahan reminded us a year ago in Bludger politics: the Paxtons don't live here anymore.

Back then, the Abbott proposal was to stop dole payments to able bodied people under 30, a simplistic knee jerk exercise designed to get people heading to the remote areas of WA to sort out the labour shortage in the mining boom.

Poor old Leo didn't get it - he even wondered if every dole bludger had the necessary skills to work heavy machinery in a mine - and he offered up this as a closer:

Going down this path for the Liberals is the political equivalent of Channel 9 bringing back Hey Hey It’s Saturday, and that is already confusing me because it’s on a Wednesday.

Or perhaps it's the political equivalent of bringing back Ray Martin.

Never mind, it leads Dennis "the tie" Shanahan to a remarkable and rousing finale:

Abbott is not only shifting to a more positive approach but also spruiking the experience of his front bench and not demurring from the Howard years.

Depending on how serious is the resurrection of the Old Tony to take on the Real and Fake Julias, we may even see Coalition policies on long-term climate solutions and workplace reforms.

How terribly exciting.

At last an ETS to tackle the problem of climate change! And perhaps a return to Work Choices. Oh brave new Tony, oh Australia hurrah.

What's remarkable about Shanahan's piece of puffery is its brevity.

So many new policies from new Tony, but dole bludger bashing as the only visible highlight ...

Still we wait with bated breath coalition policies on long-term climate solutions, foolishly believing that the coalition already had these solutions to hand ...

How wrong we were.

Shouldn't take long to reveal the new solutions. How long to deal with a load of crap?

Meanwhile, roll on the dole bludger bashing. You can make a start here on this exciting new policy in Take dole away in boom areas, Abbott says.

And bring back Hey Hey It's Saturday. This time, for fun, run it on a Friday, and keep on confusing Leo.

And call its host the new old old new new old Daryl Somers. How's that working for you Daryl?

Somers said in an update on his Hey Hey Facebook page: "Sadly, there's nothing to report about the on-air prospects of Hey Hey at this time but I can't thank you enough for your efforts and genuine enthusiasm to keep the show on air. I can tell you that you're not alone as we have been trying our best to make it happen too! (here).

Not to worry. Once Hey Hey returns from the grave, we can offer Tony Abbott a brand new chance to pluck a Paxton. And a duck. And while he's at it, perhaps Abbott can pluck that goose Shanahan ...

(Below: the new political master demonstrates the old trick of how to have congress with a stuffed duck).

Julie Bishop, and the prawn's gambit strikes again ...

By way of passing time and in anticipation of a nodding off into a deep relaxing sleep, I was reading Julie Bishop's The Hapless Liberal Prawn's Gambit, and Unanswered Questions on Libya, when I came to this:

The Prime Minister should now state whether she supports direct action to affect regime change within Libya, and if so, what form that action should take.

On one level it's a breathtaking bit of pious stupidity, since nowhere in her piece does Bishop state whether she supports direct action to affect regime change within Libya, and if so what form that action should take. Even on a fair dibs analysis, that's cheating at marbles, and gutless to boot.

But what really got me going was the use of the word "affect".

Now "affect" can mean to have an influence on or effect a change in: Inflation affects the buying power of the dollar (here), but surely a more appropriate word would have been "effect":

1. Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.
2. The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result; influence: The drug had an immediate effect on the pain. The government's action had no effect on the trade imbalance. (here)

The difference being the desire not to just have an influence, but to achieve an outcome or a result. So it becomes:

The Prime Minister should now state whether she supports direct action to effect regime change within Libya, and if so, what form that action should take.

And then I began to brood about the way the deputy leader of the Opposition in Her Majesty's Parliament has no grasp of literacy or the English language, and I immediately realised why the rest of her column was full of straw dogs, bales of hay, and blather, including quoting John McCain, which raises the question of senility and its impact on elderly politicians, but not much else.

Bishop is trying, in ever so genteel a way, to pin the Libyan action on the Ruddster and the Gillard government, as if they were at the head of the pack galumphing off to war:

The benchmarks for what the Prime Minister would regard as ultimate success for the intervention should also be articulated.

The Gillard government cannot now distance itself from the military engagement that it urged other nations to undertake.

Yes, the Europeans and the United States headed off to implement the no fly zone at the urgings of former chairman Rudd and current chairperson Gillard ... and it's now up to the Gillard government to define the terms and measurements to be used to judge the ultimate success of the intervention.

I began to wonder where Bishop might have been, when the Liberal party began the urgent business of defining the criteria with which to judge the ultimate success for the intervention later known as the illegal war in Iraq, and how clearly these criteria were Articulated. Implemented. And Achieved.

Or perhaps I could just contemplate the pigs passing through the air in the pale moonlight ...

And it was at that point that I realised why the use of the "affect" had such an affect, or perhaps even an effect, on me.

Because confronted by silliness of an extraordinary parochial kind, there's nothing left but pedantry.

Still in her amiably artless way, Bishop provides a distraction from the ructions in the NSW Labor party ...

All the same, it's a tad disturbing to contemplate someone as the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs who makes Alexander Downer look like a rocket scientist in stockings ...

(Below: oh the memories, the memories).

NSW Labor, and no need for the conservative commentariat, not when you have the rats in the ranks ...

(Above: NSW Labor working on a new public transport policy).

It's hard to know where to look on the pond, and avoid the sight of the rats in the ranks deserting the cheese to take tasty bites at each other.

Amongst the early entrants was the wretched Bob Carr pretending the failure of vision in relation to public transport had nothing to do with him, as he calls for the obligatory bowl of water and washes his hands in Party rout a work of genius.

If you read Carr, you'd think Sydney was a veritable Rome during his time at the helm, and the streets paved with gold - it certainly had its share of panem et circenses - and everything fine and dandy, but I prefer the vision outlined in Andrew West's The three biggest myths of the NSW election result:

3. The Carr years were Camelot for Labor

... If there was one issue that was emblematic of the failure of Labor's 16 years in office it was public transport - and for that the blame rests squarely with Bob Carr.

Carr made an electoral career out of grand public transport visions, then either deferring, delaying or dropping the vision, or delivering half-baked, pale bits and pieces of useless nothingness, which is how Kristina Keneally could head into the election with a Carr-inspired Fairness to Families routine that Carr first announced way back when, twenty years ago, and then failed to deliver on (Keneally defends Carr policy 'rehash').

And there was Gra Gra "Swiss bank account" "whatever it takes" Richardson scribbling NSW Labor has lost its base, and the plot. Perhaps the Labor party also lost its Swiss bank account.

That was countered by Shaun Carney explaining that the NSW election was The death of politics, Richo-style. Ah yes, the Richo style. Go pontificate for Rupert ...

It reached some kind of pot v kettle existential absurdity with Michael Costa claiming ALP hopeful John Robertson lacks political nous, says Michael Costa. The question there is whether Costa would recognise political nous if it bit him on the shins, or even kicked him in the groin.

No, you have to turn to others for the 'stick the boot in John Robertson' exercise, and who better than a vengeful Morris Iemma, Let John Robertson 'burn out' as NSW Labor leader, says Morris Iemma, or a man with genuine political nous, Paul Keating, who took to the ABC to propose that there was no room for either John Robertson at the top, or 'sicko populism' (No room for 'sicko populism' as Keating unloads on Labor).

Meanwhile there was the extraordinary sight of Eddie Obeid arguing that the factions were as innocent as Snow White confronted by a bunch of mean old wolves or witches or whatever (and if you want a giggle and have the energy you can read it all in Don't point the finger of blame at factions), which naturally led to Frank Sartor suggesting that Eddie piss off quick, and to make sure he closed the door on his way out, in An open letter to Eddie Obeid.

Along the way, and inter alia Frank finds time to mention the Barangaroo development:

You and Bitar constantly harassed Iemma about the Barangaroo development behind my back. Well you got what you wanted. Keneally became planning minister, she approved much higher density for the site and now you have a controversial development built, in part, over the harbour. Brilliant public policy, Eddie. Well done, mate!

Oops. Now Paul Keating will have to give Frank a damn good savaging, because Keating was always a lover of the hotel which he called an "exclamation mark" - !! - while others called it the "worst of Dubai' look at me' architecture". (Grand slam for Barangaroo's grand plan: harbour makeover looks like 'worst of Dubai').

Now it only remains for NSW Labor to put wrecker Robertson in charge of the wreckage, and the noise will settle down on the pond, as the rats retreat back into the walls, and go about their back-stabbing business in private.

Meanwhile, Barry O'Farrell can start with the slashing and the burning, having already in obligatory fashion discovered a 'black hole' in the budget, which perforce means everything is now in a state of confusion, and anything that was said before the discovery of said 'black hole' must now be reviewed with regard to the devastating effect said 'black holes' can have on innocent galaxies ...

The ultimate point being?

Well what's the point of having a Labor party bashing conservative commentariat when the lads and lasses of the Labor party do it so well themselves.

Rarely do we see such a gnashing of teeth and a wailing and a piteous sighing in the valley of tears from even the most resolute of Murdoch hacks, not up against these Labor visionaries surging towards the light on the hill.

Why it barely leaves time to note that in his usual way Daniel Pipes manages to see all that's happening in the middle east through a reversed telescope, in Blind to the Islamist threat in the Middle East.

Yes, according to Pipes, there are Islamists everywhere, and quite possibly in your underpants as this is written, and make sure you look under the bed and behind the toilet door, because there's every chance there's an Islamist there, along with the cookie monster, and who knows what happens when the Islamist snatches the cookie ...

There's nothing like preferring the company of dictators and monarchists who can keep the Islamists and the cookie monster under firm control, as opposed to wild-eyed starry radical idealist visionaries blathering about democracy, and regurgitating American talking points about the need for freedom and the right to vote in the middle east - a need so urgent the Iraq war was launched with Pipes' approval, but naturally like spoiled children handed a cookie, under-appreciated by the Iraqis:

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the Iraq war?

A: The ingratitude of the Iraqis for the extraordinary favor we gave them -- to release them from the bondage of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. They have rapidly interpreted it as something they did and that we were incidental to it. They've more or less written us out of the picture. (here)

Yes, and the damned country remained Islamic, when a sufficient display of gratitude would surely have been to turn southern Baptist Christian overnight and start speaking in tongues about the evils of secularists ...

Meanwhile over in Saudi Arabia, hearty ally of all that's good and right in western values, and genuine home to rabid Islamists, the absolutist monarchy continues to make the news with its excellent treatment of women, as outlined in Saudi Arabia 'not ready for women voters'.

Saudi women are banned from driving and cannot travel without authorisation from their husband or a related male guardian.
They have also to cover from head to toe in public.

And add to that, the predictable news that the ban on women having a vote in tawdry municipal polls has been continued. Now there's an Islamist monarchist dictatorial ally with values well worth supporting ...

Still it does provide the germ of an idea for how to deal with NSW Labor party politicians while the period of grieving and mourning continues for the next six months.

Cover them from head to toe in public.

Then we can concentrate on the fun of Barry O'Farrell dealing with a broken public transport system, and with what one wit dubbed the 'fuckwit factor':

"It's basically MPs who were never supposed to get in, and who become dangerous on the back bench. Some people are already trying to marshal them into support blocs to increase their influence." (here)

Bazza is going to have his hands full if he can't feed the restless rats a new kind of cheese.

Of course if, against the odds, Pauline Hanson does manage to score a seat in the upper house, then any recalcitrant Liberal MP will look like small cheese when it comes to sizing up the fuckwit factor.

And at that point, NSW voters will have earned the right to eternal damnation, bad public transport, hideous policies ...

... and the pond will only go out in public covered head to toe, for the sheer shame of it all ...

Pauline Hanson as an MP again, and the Greens and the Labor party with a hand in it. (Parties point finger at one another over Hanson votes).

If it happens - it seems unlikely at the moment, but if it does - oh the horror, the horror ...

(Below: oh no, and it seemed such a good joke in '97, found here).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gerard Henderson, and a little forgetfulness and pixie dust will fix what ails ya ...

(Above: Tony Abbott explaining how the carbon tax swung the NSW election).

Shock, horror, fear and loathing.

The dastardly wretched inner city elites and cardigan wearing ABC listeners failed to vote into office the Greens candidates standing in two New South Wales inner city latte sipping chardonnay swilling elitist electorates.

Of course it was Gerard Henderson that warned of the danger:

... the Greens' climate change agenda popular among the party's radical middle-class base of inner-city professionals, academics, public servants and superannuants. (here)

According to Henderson, this dangerous clique of elitists gave the Greens a "real chance" of winning the seats.

But that was way back when. Now the record shows the Greens are on their way to losing when the results are officially declared.

This seems to allow only two possibilities. The dangerous elitists listened to Gerard Henderson's sage advice, proving that they are in fact lickspittle followers of conservative commentariat commentators, or they managed to vote without benefit of Henderson's sage advice, proving that Henderson is down at the bottom of the class with Bob Ellis when it comes to rabbiting on about the workings of inner city elites ...

Not to worry. This week our prattling Polonius continues on his usual wretched way, blathering on Credit where it's due - they just didn't see him coming, about the inner city and its constituency in ways full of Henderson's usual preposterous stereotypes:

Yesterday on ABC News Breakfast, the Melbourne academic Waleed Aly told the Melbourne journalist Michael Rowland that a carbon tax had nothing to do with the extent of Labor's defeat in NSW. Don't believe it. Academics and journalists spend a lot of time speaking to each other and to well-educated and relatively well-off professionals in permanent or at least secure employment.

Ah, those well off professionals. And what's worse they're well educated. Shame, boo, hisssss, shun them. What we need is mindless ignorance and a sheep-like unemployed pitch fork carrying rabble ... so they can turn up to Liberal party rallies.

And aaahh, the carbon tax. No doubt that explains why the polls in 2010 were so strong for the Labor party, and it's only the carbon tax that turned things around. At random I travelled back in the google tardis to this report, NSW Labor slumps to new low in polls from June 30, 2010:

NSW Labor under the leadership of Premier Kristina Keneally is polling worse than when former Premier Nathan Rees was pushed from the job in December last year.

The Newspoll results found that if an election were held today, NSW Labor would receive only 25 percent of the total vote and be almost entirely wiped out in NSW. The latest survey is based on 1,280 interviews among voters conducted over the last month, with a maximum margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Yes, yes, it must be the carbon tax of 2010 that did the damage.

But wait, hang on a moment, surely the carbon tax came a little later? Could it be that academics and journalists spend a lot of time remembering the news that they reported or read, and that the likes of Henderson spend a lot of time disremembering anything that smacks of inconvenient reality. Much like Bob Ellis ...

The Coalition made its biggest inroads on Saturday in outer suburban and regional areas, among the less educated and the less well off and where employment (for those who are in the workforce) is not all that secure. The fact is that men and women who run their own businesses, and who have dependent children, are less likely to embrace a carbon tax than inner-city sixty-something professors. Sure, Labor was almost destined to lose in NSW after 16 years of office. However, the extent of the defeat is not explained according to normal criteria. This election was different.

Ah yes, those inner-city sixty-something professors who infest the inner west like cockroaches, and who singlehandedly have voted the Greens into power in Balmain and Marrickville. Except somehow they didn't.

Could it be because the number of sixty years and over people in Marrickville amount to 16.88% of population (here) while the sixty years and over brigade in Penrith amount to 17.31% (here). Even more remarkable, if you lump together the top two occupations in Penrith - clerical and administrative workers - they amount to 35% - while in Marrickville professionals and clerical and administrative workers combined manage a respectable 43%.

How many university professors of sixty something age live in the inner west is a matter between Henderson and the bee roaming in perpetual motion in his bonnet.

It's the richness and baldness and breathtaking exaggeration of Henderson that puts him firmly in the Ellis camp of overblown exaggeration and distorting rhetoric.

"This election was different'?!

This election was called a year ago by the polls, and kept being called on a poll by poll basis month by month, with the result always a foregone conclusion.

Only lap poodles firmly in Tony Abbott's lap could manage to conflate the effect of a carbon tax with the foregone result of a year's standing.

Now it's understandable why Abbott would make the link. What's to lose when you're a climate change denialist who isn't a climate change denialist, and who managed to somehow associate himself with the likes of Pauline Hanson and a few extremists bussed in for a pathetically small rally.

As if somehow middle mainstream Australia is prone to demonstrating and demonstrations, when in my Anglo-Celtic tradition, no one dreamed of hitting the streets in a protest rally. We were too busy learning how to stand politely in queues ...

So Abbott needed a little pixie dust, and he'll grab any kind of magic spell and mantra in the hope of causing federal fear and doubt.

But why does Henderson think as a commentator that he too can put on the emperor's new clothes and no one will notice or remember the long standing poll results?

In the lead-up to the federal election last year, Labor underestimated Abbott. In the lead-up to the NSW election this year, Labor failed to appreciate that O'Farrell - and not the likes of Byrne and Parker - was the threat to its heartland. Labor's error at both federal and state levels has been to focus too much on inner-city concerns at the expense of the voters living in the suburbs and regions.

Which is of course blather of the most superficial kind. It's actually Henderson that has a bee in his bonnet about the alleged inner city concerns, without having a clue what they might actually be.

You see, if you live in the Newtown area, the kind of inner-city concern that bubbled up in relation to the state government was the long time it took to do a makeover of Newtown railway station (slowly beginning to happen, sorry Stanmore and Macdonaldtown, keep waiting patiently in line), and provide handicapped access.

Or how about getting agitated at the way trains kept skipping minor stations, or bemoaning the way buses suddenly became 'pre-buy' only, for the convenience of the buses and not occasional users, or what about the incessant need to campaign against the RTA and the government to prevent yet another freeway being ploughed through suburban streets ... thereby connecting outer city motorhead loons to inner-city concerns about being swamped by traffic ... or arguing for years in favour of light rail, only to be told it was unaffordable, only to be offered an extension as the bloodbath loomed ... or wondering how any government could urinate hundreds of millions of dollars against the wall on a metro scheme that will never be built ...

And so on and so forth. In the old days these would have been called bread and butter issues, and the reality is that in the usual way, the Labor party ignored its inner city constituencies and their state-based, state-funded concerns (go stand in emergency in Royal Prince Albert in Carillon avenue, and see how you feel about the health system; watch as public schools go underfunded and scientology schools pick up a hall, and see how you feel about the education system). Instead they frolicked off chasing the voters in the swinging outer city electorates.

There's a condescension and an arrogance and a complete incapacity to understand life in the city which makes any read of Henderson profoundly bemusing and amusing. Take this non-sequitur which is his closing par:

If you are of modest means and having trouble paying the power bill, it stands to reason that climate change is not the greatest moral challenge of our time.

Yep, it seems those ageing inner city professors simply have no problem paying their power bill, and that anyone living in the inner city must surely be of exaggerated and astonishing means.

I must remind the pensioner next door that she is a person of immoderate means, before I head around the corner to tell the pensioners there that their immodest lifestyle and conspicuous consumption of electricity and their willingness to toss electricity bills into the air like confetti is ruining the tone of the neighbourhood ...

Hey ho, that's the way it goes. And as usual, climate change is presented as a simple-minded either/or matter involving electricity bills or university professors.

It's amazing that Henderson fancies himself as superior in thinking to said ageing university professors while indulging in such elegant reductionist logic.

Well here's the thing. Let Henderson, and by extension Tony Abbott, keep following the carbon tax mantra down the rabbit hole, and let Abbott hold a dozen more tea party rallies, and see where it gets him.

Let Abbott keep dog whistling and denying, and taking the credit for the NSW election result, and attributing a hefty whack of it to the carbon tax, and see where it gets him. And let little sir echo keep doing the same in his columns.

The notion that the electorate is unintelligent is one of the greater follies of any politician, just like the notion that voters only care for their hip pocket, and have no greater understanding or motivation when it comes to voting. It is a profound form of cynicism, and Abbott is, in his own way, a profoundly cynical and shrill politician at the moment.

What does it get you? Well amazingly for the Courier Mail, it gets you this kind of commentary by Paul Syvret in Abbott takes the wrong approach to Right way of thinking.

Trawling through the attendees at the carbon tax tea party, Syret notes in passing the presence of the Australian League of Rights, the Citizens Electoral Council, the tattered remnants of One Nation, Pauline Hanson, and empty minded, motor mouthed shock jocks, a potpourri of the most base and ugely elements of Australian society:

... for the purposes of attacking (is he capable of anything else?) Labor's carbon scheme, these are the new best friends Abbott chose to associate himself with last week.

If, as one of the placards claimed, Julia Gillard is "Bob Brown's bitch", then by the same logic of association does this make Abbott the concubine of the likes of the League of Rights and the rest of these fringe-dwellers?

Or maybe he just thinks everything except his divine right to the prime ministerial office is "crap", regardless of principle, fact or common decency.

Henderson's argument that the carbon tax played a significant role in the NSW election is just part of the same addle-headed, fringe-dwelling nonsense.

And still Abbott goes on sticking his foot in it, as does his concubine Gerard Henderson (I'm assured such terms are now a moderate and elevated in tone part of the political discourse, only opposed by princesses), as you can read in Abbott won't take back climate comments.

So is there any upside for Henderson in carrying on like a right wing Bob Ellis?

Hardly. Right at this moment I can see an angry mob of sixty something professors congregating in the streets of Newtown with placards, and preparing to storm the Sydney Institute in agitated, over-excited protest at Henderson's defamatory column ...

By golly, there must be six or seven of them ... I understand one had to go to hospital for a hip replacement ...

Oh it's just another day reading the self seeking, self serving commentariat. Time to get out into the real world ...

(Below: an important scientific observation of professors).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Paul Sheehan, and join Captain Grumpy by saying no to everything ... except Clover Moore ...

(Above: the Sydney electorate wherein inner city elitist Paul "Captain Grumpy" Sheehan lives).

Even lost in Melbourne, with the angry sound of hornets despoiling the soundscape - you could probably hear the sound of buzzing F1 motors on the moon - it was possible to experience mounting dread at the thought of returning to Sydney, treading amongst the Labor blood still running red in the gutters and reading Captain Grumpy on Monday.

But there you go, it turns out Paul "Grumpy" Sheehan contributes One small word, one giant leap for NSW, a column so delightfully schizophrenic, bizarre and strange, that all was light and joy and peace in the world once again.

Sheehan is of course one of those inner city elites, given to much poncery and pretension, posing and putdowns of the sneering inner elite kind, with a love of fine bread and fine French wine. Well at least if you read this memoir here:

It is difficult to convey the mania of the pret-a-porter season in Paris. I left Paris with my pants smeared with blood and wine and a telephone number written in lipstick. It was wonderful ...

Phew, blood? Don't ask.

And it turns out that Captain Grumpy also loves Clover Moore, but in a most peculiar way:

I voted for Clover Moore. I marked Clover ''1'' on my ballot paper even though in many ways my local member stands for the micro-managing, grimly earnest, nanny-state, tax-guzzling policies that I regard as the road to economic decline and social suffocation.

Phew, weird, schizophrenic, and passing strange, to vote for a candidate whose policies you purport to despise. And the alternative?

And yet still I voted for Clover Moore. Nobody's perfect. The Liberal alternative, Adrian Bartels, was a third-generation member of a prominent Liberal Party family, with a lightweight resume´. Too insular.

Too insular? Is that code for something else? (Gay Liberals want your vote).

Who knows, but it's wondrous bizarro, as Sheehan berates Clover Moore's legacy at some length:

As lord mayor of Sydney she has built the sort of monument to yourself you don't want. You could call it her monumental blunder: the $70 million network of bike lanes that run for kilometres through the cramped inner-city road system while remaining empty of cyclists in most places at most times. A classic victory of ideology over commonsense.

And yet in Melbourne, there was a classic victory of common sense over ideology on view, as the many effective bicycle lanes deployed over the city were being used by an abundance of cyclists, and the streets took on a gentler European tone - apart from the incessant buzzing of the angry insects down at Albert Park.

Perhaps it's partly because the trams reduce traffic to a stately speed, but partly it's surely a sense of style ...

Sure there's also some strangenesses, like the delightful Catch 22 that offers bicycles to rent at street stations at an extortionate rate, then reminds the potential leasee that bicycle helmets are legally required when on the road, and then offers no actual helmets for hire along with the bike. So if you're a visitor, to ride a bike you have to become a law breaker or a helmet buyer ...

But the Melbourne bicycle lovers show how obtuse Sheehan and Miranda the Devine can get when it comes to bicycles, when even that lycra-clad lout Tony Abbott (the Devine's lovely term for bicyclists) understands the joy of producing endorphins by pedal power ...

Junkies unite in the quest for the cyclist's high ...

Never mind. The question at hand is whether you'd vote for this kind of wretched politician:

Moore also banned Tim Tams from council events, apparently because of concerns over child labour in the Ivory Coast where some of the world's cocoa production is sourced, and further concerns about obesity and sustainability. Nanny-state - tick. Micro-management - tick. Grimly earnest - tick.

Evidently Moore needs to exercise power because it is 31 years since her first run for office, to South Sydney Council, and she has been running, and winning, ever since. Saturday's victory was her seventh consecutive election to the NSW Legislative Assembly. Not enough, apparently. She also wanted to be lord mayor and has held both jobs for the past seven years. The time is approaching when she will have held on to too much power for too long.

Of course you would. Of you're Paul Sheehan.

Tick tick tick.

It's the Sheehan schizophrenic way. And of course it leads to a rousingly contradictory finale:

In NSW voters have said they want more value for their tax dollars, not more taxes. The electorate saw little use for independents in this process. Only two survived. One is Moore. If we ever finally meet, perhaps over a cup of herbal tea, we could discuss the new imperative of the discipline of ''no'', and the need to limit the nanny-state vanities. As a gesture of goodwill and self-reliance I would provide organically sourced, child-labour-proofed, hand-crafted, Australian-owned, feminist-made biscuits (aka Phillippa's chocolate chip cookies).

And yet the goose voted for the woman. Has there ever been a more public display of self-loathing and silly grumpy rhetoric, where you have your cup of herbal tea, and your lovingly crafted organic biscuits, and get to slurp the tea, and eat the biscuits at the same time?

Why not vote for the CDP candidate instead, if you so heartily approve of child labour sourced, machine manufactured, foreign owned, masculinist, patriarchal-made biscuits?

Naturally along the way, Sheehan takes a swipe at the now lost and damned NSW Labor party machine, and public service workers and unions, who are ruining western civilisation as we know it:

In Europe, where the cost of the public sector and the scale of the welfare state have been more extreme, many governments stupidly staved off the reckoning by piling up debt. As this unreality comes to earth public sector unions and their allies have reacted with mass strikes, mass demonstrations and street violence. All were evident in London at the weekend.

Of course it is possible to read intelligent journalism about what went down and is going down in Europe, but for that you have to leave the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Right now for my toilet reading, I have Michael Lewis's piece for Vanity Fair When Irish Eyes Are Crying to hand, and if after reading it, you can explain to me how the public sector was responsible for the behaviour of Irish banks, which has plunged that country into what seems like almost permanent penury, why then you're a better economist than me or Gunga Din. And most certainly the obsessively myopic Sheehan ...

Their real-estate boom had the flavor of a family lie: it was sustainable so long as it went unquestioned, and it went unquestioned so long as it appeared sustainable.

That's Lewis, not Sheehan, but then Lewis delivers insights with a sharp sense of style, while Sheehan just delivers the usual nonsense by rote. Here's how his rhetoric goes:

The great question that O'Farrell will have to answer is this: does he have the courage to say ''no''?

No to more middle-class welfare. No to big government. No to tax churn. No to the nanny state. No to more red tape. No to more complexity. No to incessant government intrusions in our daily lives. No to the police state imposed on drivers. No to tax-funded lectures on TV. No to Liberal lobbyists. No to social engineers. No to more lawyers and litigation. No to consultants.

By Sheehan's definition of saying "no" to everything, John Howard was a failure, and so was Chairman Rudd, but what can you say to someone who wants to say "no to more complexity"?

If Sheehan wants simplicity in life, then let him hie himself to a nunnery. Or join with Pauline Hanson by opening the window and shouting "no" to everything quite loudly and firmly ..

But there is one engaging point to the piece.

It's surely possible to 'say no to Paul Sheehan', the goose who voted for Clover Moore, and so for all the policies that he despises.

No wonder New South Wales is an abject mess of chaos and confusion.

If this is the best it can produce by way of columnists, then perhaps it's time to do a Horace McCoy:

Policeman: Why did you do it, kid?
Robert: She asked me to.
Policeman: [smirking] Obliging bastard. Is that the only reason you got, kid?
Robert: They shoot horses, don't they?

Or perhaps the pond should move back to Melbourne and cycle the by ways in blissful endorphin peace ... except for those damned hornets buzzing away ...

(Below: the covers of Horace McCoy's novel, in a 1948 paperback Penguin Signet edition. Better reading than Paul Sheehan, albeit also depressing, unless you find a mercy killing arising from marathon dancing in the depression a fun kind of read).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Loon pond heads south for the weekend to escape the bloodbath ...

(Above: Melbourne, such a welcoming town).

Astute observers of the political scene, with an ear to the ground to pick up the sound of passing elephants, will know that there is an election on in New South Wales this weekend.

Accordingly loon pond is decamping to Melbourne, and so posting will be sporadic.

Oh likely as not it'll be non-existent, as we succumb to the sweet charms of the southern elysian fields - or is it arcadia, an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness?

Yes, we'll be mingling with people wearing black, and swanning about, and frolicking through the galleries of the city most akin to Athens in its sensual Zorba-like lust for life and dance ...

It is of course the most liveable city in Australia (please no correspondence from Adelaide will be considered). Who could compare the wretched Sydney harbour and its cheap, gimmicky dime store buildings up against the brown charm of the muddy Yarra.

And if we're not strolling through the city, hey we might be chasing Rod Mullinar through a Yarra vineyard, or perhaps contemplating a hot lesbian tryst, or at at least a mud bath and sauna in Hepburn Springs or Daylesford, if only so we can get up the nose of Morag Zwartz (Government's moral compass gone awry in tawdry, offensive ad campaign).

Please be assured the one event we won't be attending is the Grand Prix, though I dare say the visit will be added into the usual nonsensical multipliers and addled broken statistics used to justify Bernie Ecclestone rorting the Victorian taxpayer. Even in The Age, allegedly a paper of record,you can find the usual parochial justifications explaining why panem et circenses are a jolly good thing and cheap at half the price (F1 opponents fail to see the positives).

Maybe I can take a leaf out of Bernie's book. Hey Melbourne, what you need is a monorail. After all, Springfield and Sydney have got one ...

Strangely, I never attended a grand prix in Adelaide, despite many chances and freebie offers, and somehow the deal was sealed when I discovered Tim Blair was a motor head and a petrol freak. If he belongs to that club, then forget my application for membership ...

Apart from charms of Melbourne, there are other upsides. For a start, I can avoid the final death throes of assorted Labor heavies. Like Mark Lennon writhing in The Punch with Earn your mandate Barry, or there'll be no man date.

It's hard to know what's more excruciating. The pun about man date and mandates, or the notion that a party that looks likely to galumph to a rout won't have a mandate ...

All this talk of O'Farrell needing to come clean, when a thousand years of Sard OxyPlus couldn't remove the dirty grimy stains from the current Labor mob ...

Oh and it'll also mean avoiding the deeper thoughts of Tony Abbott, also on view in The Punch in The NT intervention worked. Now let's go further.

The intervention worked? Let's go further?

What planet does the man live on? Is it called 'planet wishful thinking'?

I don't know about Darwin, or some other NT localities, but the intervention in Alice Springs has been a spectacular failure, and the town is now worse than it was before the intervention.

Lordy even Mal Brough, the man who invented the thing, labelled it a comprehensive failure, but naturally attaches all blame to the federal Labor government, and to bureaucrats - instead of blaming the half-baked, paternalistic, bureaucratic, cumbersome beast that he quickly devised as an election gimmick (NT intervention stagnant, just another failed plan: Mal Brough).

Abbott's capacity for goobledegook and double speak on the intervention seems inexhaustible:

One of the problems with the intervention was its “top down” nature. It was announced without prior consultation with Aboriginal people many of whom applauded its goals and supported its measures but regretted its imposition without reference to them.

Uh huh. So maybe the intervention didn't work.

A good way to avoid this would be for the Prime Minister and myself, to invite the leading indigenous people of Alice Springs, Katharine and Tennant Creek to a summit at which changes such as those I have put forward could be discussed and decided.

Translation: let's get the blacks together so that they can discuss my ideas and then agree with me.

It's called the bottoms up solution.

Coda to the translation: we fucked up the last time, and we're hot to trot on another fuck up this time. And we can blame it on the federal Labor government.

Naturally Abbott is keen on more cops, so that the town can really get a cops v blacks war going in earnest, along with sundry other patriarchal, pious proposals which involve management and control of the black population by government.

It always strikes me as strange how conservatives blather on about the bad old days of the welfare state and its impact on the indigenous population, and the need for aboriginal people to stand on their own feet, and the need for them to cultivate independence and the importance of individual dignity, and the ability of indigenous people to control their destiny ... and so on and so forth, in the standard rhetorical way ...

... and blow me down, there's Abbott parroting on about another an intervention that'll make the bad old days of sugar and tea and flour and tobacco rations from the station owner and the missions seem like a perfect role model ...

Here's a couple of his dot point paternalist proposals:
  • An insistence on compulsory work programmes for people on unemployment benefits, with enforcement of no work, no pay rules.
  • A new alcohol management plan because controlling demand will eventually be as important as controlling supply as well as frequent police patrols of town camps.
  • Reconsideration of welfare quarantine rules to ensure that families on benefits are spending enough on the necessities of life.
And so on and so forth. Punishment, insistence, control, reconsidering, regulation, rule, the law, oppression.

My immediate response? I feel like a drink or two ...

The gauleiter at work, and all this of course involving cops and even more bureaucrats monitoring, ordering, controlling and organising the pesky blacks ...

And in this country you still can read embittered whities arguing that the blacks make out like bandits, and how whites would be better off being black.

Can second prize for the best spouter of this tripe be a trip to an Alice Springs town camp for a week?

Here's an idea.

Instead of just announcing a set of pre-emptive policies of his own devising, why didn't Abbott just head off to the NT and listen to what black people had to say, and in consultation with them, agree on a set of initiatives and policies?

Instead of handing his ideas down from on high, in the usual top down way, by announcing them in The Punch ... so that the blacks in the NT boondocks can brush up on The Punch thanks to the high speed broadband connections they have courtesy of the NBN ...

Oh wait, there's something wrong with that picture.

Time to stop before the foam and the dribble dry on the lips and alarm Melburnians ...

Enjoy your weekend - First Dog on using words and making signs is a way to lift the spirits, here, but oh anon, shouldn't First Dog have explained that "My Mom is Cold" is a satirical reference to silly Americans, and mum's the word in the antipodes ... And now, as Henry Gibson might say, a poem or two:

Here fifty winters since, by Yarra's stream,
A scattered hamlet found its modest place:
What mind would venture then in wildest dream
Its wondrous growth and eminence to trace?
What seer predict a stripling in the race
Would swift, as Atlanta, win the prize
Of progress, 'neath the World's astonished eyes?

. . . the streets with straight seams
like stockings, the skirts of your suburbs
predictable and entrancing,
and cool, cool, your business premises those magnificent pillars
I would have embraced you in broad daylight if it weren't for the typists and stockbrokers ... (more on the poets here)

Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott, and the freedom to speak like mug punters in the domain ...

(Above: Tony Abbott speaking under the sign, and to the proposition, that Juliar is Bob Brown's bitch.)

It's hard to imagine anyone lending gravitas and dignity to the current federal government, but somehow day after day Tony Abbott manages to do it.

Consorting with Pauline Hanson and a mob of bussed-in, shock jock arranged and organised, remarkably aged demonstrators, replete with vulgar signs worthy of the pond, is just the latest in a long string of rabble rousing, fear mongering performances. What on earth, deep down, does the Bob Menzies yearning Gerard Henderson make of such feats?

But it's not just Abbott, or more predictably Barners barn storming in front of a crowd of true believers.

Take Julie Bishop. Please anyone. She contributed a delightfully silly piece yesterday entitled What the government doesn't want you to say on climate change, which meandered towards this splendid, triumphant conclusion:

There is much more at stake in this carbon tax debate than whether science can or should ever be settled, and that includes the principle of free speech.

It's such a profoundly disingenuous, if not completely stupid remark, that it's astonishing Bishop calls her column The Bishop's Gambit. How about the prawn's folly?

The principle of free speech, the last I looked, wasn't under attack in relation to climate change science. Nobody shuts up the relentless ravings of the shock jocks, led by the likes of Alan Jones and Chris Smith.

Nobody hinders the relentless linking by Tim Blair to obscurantist ratbags, and nobody stops Andrew Bolt from celebrating climate denialism on what seems like a daily basis (not to mention linking to the irradiated thoughts of Ann Coulter). You can get a hearty dose of free speech denialism anytime you care to visit Dolt Pond.

But not content with this diversionary tactic, Bishop gets even more sanctimonious:

Next time Julia Gillard spits out the words “climate change denier” she would do well to remember the famous quote by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who summarised Voltaire’s beliefs on freedom of thought and expression as, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Uh huh. So let's defend to the death the right of Tony Abbott to speak on climate change:

Now, I say to you in all honesty there are a lot of diverse opinions about climate change and I don’t think this is about climate change. Climate change happens, mankind does make a contribution. It’s important to have an intelligent response, not a stupid one ... (Address to the No Carbon Tax Rally)

Hang on Mr. Abbott, that's not what we had in mind. An intelligent response to actually happening climate change? Pull the other one ...

You see the science isn't settled, or so says your deputy leader, as she spends the rest of her column quoting scientific sceptics, doubters and deniers

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist told me recently that “science is never settled” and that scientific assumptions and conclusions must always be challenged.

This eminent Noble Laureate pointed that had he accepted the so-called “settled science”, he would not have undertaken his important research, which challenged orthodox scientific propositions and led to new discoveries, which resulted in a Nobel Prize.

Indeed. No doubt Mr. Bolt and Mr. Blair are eyeing off the tuxedos they'll wear while collecting the Nobel prize for challenging orthodox scientific propositions.

Fortunately Bishop doesn't name the Noble Laureate involved, since naming and shaming him would be inappropriate, because while politicians might say the science is settled, you won't catch many scientists doing the same.

Most of their pronouncements will be hedged with provisional, cautionary statements, noting uncertainties and areas requiring further research, in much the same way that the theory of evolution isn't in a position to be considered complete.

It just happens to be a better theory and descriptor of what's happened on the planet than alternate theories, such as the theory of intelligent design nee creationism, and the bizarre notion that god created the earth in seven days, hid the dinosaur bones from the compilers of the bible, allowed the dinosaurs room on Noah's Ark, and allowed humans and dinosaurs to frolic together ... just after the world began some six thousand years, in the year 4004 BC ...

So it goes with climate science and risk management.

Sad to say, the coalition has got itself into a state of abject populist confusion, such that when Tony Abbott says climate change happens and mankind does make a contribution, it's impossible to believe him - not when his deputy leader lines up a bunch of sceptics in a row and quotes them approvingly, all in the name of free speech and Voltaire ...

The absent lord better return to help the planet when the population hits the nine billion mark, because there's bugger all signs of an intelligent response to climate change science in the coalition, and plenty of signs of stupidity ...

Meanwhile, is there a genuine conservative - in the old fashioned sense of the word - in the house, ready to argue the importance of handing the world on to the children in better shape than when the older generation received it?

Cue poor old Lord Deben, a former Tory MP for thirty five years, who strolled through town whispering climate change pieties, and no one paid any attention, not in the way that the media fawned and simpered over the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley ...

It just goes to show that there are scientific peerages and then there are peers you can ignore.

There doesn't seem to be any sign of Deben, nee John Gummer's transit of the antipodes in the Fairfax press, though he does collar a story in The Australian, in Climate change action is the Right thing, and an opinion piece by him headed Climate change doubters are endangering our common future.

Gummer once worked for Thatcher, converted to Roman Catholicism late in life and is as conventional a conservative politician as you might find, including claiming parliamentary expenses for mole-catching and jackdaw nest removal.

"The Right has tended to believe you have to hand on to the next generation a better situation than you received.

"It's a sense of stewardship, that you don't foul up the earth for your children.

"That kind of prudential management, assessing the balance of risk, is something conservatives should be good at."

He's so far removed from Julie Bishop blathering on about free speech, and unsettled science and Voltaire that it almost makes you weep, and yearn for Bob Menzies ... or John Howard, who if re-elected, would have already delivered an ETS ...

But it's not just Bishop blathering on about free speech.

I also want to say thank you to Chris Smith and 2GB. You know, it’s easy to be critical of our media and I’ve got to say sometimes I am critical of our media but the great thing about a free media in a free democracy is that it gives the ordinary people of our country a voice. Thank you Chris. Thank you Chris for the voice you have given to the people of this country.

Yep, there's Tony Abbott simpering and fawning over a shock jock, the very same shock jock pinged on Media Watch for mounting a relentlessly silly anti-science crusade.

Smith loves the unsettled science gambit, and has a pet stable of unsettled scientists whom he consults with monotonous regularity. As well as being a rabid denier, Smith is something of a humorist:

She said she knew who she’d rather have on her side, not Alan Jones, not Piers Akerman, not Andrew Bolt, but the CSIRO, The Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology, NASA, the National Atmospheric Administration, and every reputable climate change scientist in the world. Did you hear that?

Well when you put it that way, who else to back other than those tremendously scientific highly credentialed scientists, Jones, Akker Dakker and the dolt?

But it gets even more peculiar for Abbott. Here's how he opened his stump oration:

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to say congratulations to all of you for coming out today and letting the Government of Australia know that the people of Australia can never be taken for granted. As I look out on this crowd of fine Australians I want to say that I do not see scientific heretics. I do not see environmental vandals. I see people who want honest government.

Which clearly means that as well as being a lover of shock jocks, he's as blind as a bat, as this collage of signs on display suggests:

Yep, clearly carbon dioxide is a harmless trace gas you fraudulent criminals is what passes for unsettled anti-heretical science these days. Pass me another can of coca cola Dr Dennis Jensen, I feel the need for another whiff of some of that fine CO2.

And then there were other signs and portents, as noted by Michelle Grattan in Abbott fell into obvious trap.

Now that sort of sign is perfectly in keeping with the farther reaches of the squawking that we constantly hear on loon pond. Where would loon pond be without loonish signs held aloft by elderly dingbats?

But is that the best company for a leader of the opposition who aspires to be John Howard who aspired to be Bob Menzies to keep?

Actually it gets weirder:

Yep, climate denialist Pauline Hanson turned up to dance with the star speaker, Tony Abbott.

Ah memories. It seems the hatchet has been buried, and all forgiven for the role Abbott played in the demise of One Nation, a role he dissembled about whenever he could, and if you want to walk down that memory lane, start with Abbott misleading the ABC in Hanson's fall the result of long campaign, and Tony Abbott's dirty Hanson trick - and he lied about it, of course.

I guess Hanson's now had her revenge with Gillard's jibe about Abbott preferring the company of certain kinds of red heads.

Wisely jolly Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull stayed well out of sight of the rally, and Abbott himself must at least wonder at the wisdom of associating himself with a crowd and signs that described Julia Gillard as a bitch, a witch, a dictator and a liar. Australian politics has never inclined to the Tea Party style, not even in the darkest days of the depression, and this crowd was way too small and skewed to signal a genuine people's revolt, but big enough to provide all sorts of awkward associations.

Still, it goes to show that Julie Bishop is a complete doofus, and there's no need to quote Voltaire at us or somehow muddle up freedom of speech with science, like some kind of Fool's Mate, which funnily enough can in some variations involve the bishop pieces ...

Tony Abbott showed he had the freedom to speak, and the dangers of speaking freely, like a mug on a fruit box in the Domain ...

(Below: yes, it was a lot more civilised in the domain, whether in the hippie days or the days of the suit).