Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pigs might fly, and if they do, they'll be landing at Mascot ...

One of the pond's favourite images in the masthead above comes from Philip Kaufman's 1978 re-make of the original, and in some ways more engaging 1956 version by Don Siegel of Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers.

Well calling it a masthead is a tad grand, pompous and pretentious when it's really no more than a collage of images at the head of a blog, but the point really is that Donald Sutherland (spoiler alert) turns out at the end of the show to be one of the pod people, shrieking and pointing as he dobs in poor old Veronica "Alien" Cartwright to other pod people.

What an inspirational notion, and speaking of pod people, is it time to point the finger at Paul Howes?

Is it true that the former rad Trot (this is a form of radical political discourse, not a hundred yard dash to an outside bush toilet) hauls in as much as twenty thousand dollars a year scribbling for the Sunday Terror and kindly Uncle Rupert? As a kind of bonus to his 140k as a union heavy?

The pond was going to link to a story in Crikey by Stephen Mayne making these allegations, but copped this instead:

Poor old Crikey, it's really been in the wars. Oh wait, here it is: Green-hating News Ltd confirms Howes on the payroll (sorry behind the paywall, and lordy do they need some help).

Does Howes see any contradiction or conflict of interest in lining up with the Greens bashing, conducted as routinely by News Ltd hacks as the eel bashings the pond used to go on, armed with an axe handle? (flee, little eels, the pond will thrash about making a noise, pointing and shouting like Donald Sutherland and all will be well).

Probably not, because when you're an eel basher, all you're after is the prize of the succulent flesh.

In the world of rabid ideological discourse, there's very little difference between being a union heavy and a heavy for the employers. Tweedles dum and dee.

That's why, when The Power Index did a little summary of the fate of the "faceless men" in 2011, along with charting the career of Howes, there was this gem about Karl Bitar:

"Karl has gone from shooting crap inside the Labor Party to shooting craps in the casino," ex-NSW Premier Morris Iemma quipped last month when this key conspirator took the Packer shilling and signed on with Crown Casino. "Karl doesn't understand public policy at all, but private interests he definitely does understand," added former NSW minister Frank Sartor, "So maybe he's found his true calling."

And Mark Arbib made the same jump to the very same casino:

Arbib joined his former backroom colleague Karl Bitar and the former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett, who took up the fight to dislodge the Echo chairman, John Story, gain control of the board and use the licence to build a $1 billion hotel and casino complex at Barangaroo. (O'Farrell raises the stakes in casino fight).

Anybody with a yearning to mention Napoleon and his fellow pigs in Animal Farm, here's your moment. It doesn't matter which trough, provided it's a decently sized trough.

Now if any stray reader will forgive the pond for a bit of repetition, what's the result when it comes to actual micro-management of planning and policy? Can we take the issue of a second airport for Sydney as an example?

If you're the Greens, you strike out with hapless Lee Rhiannon scribbling that the current airport should be sold off, and a new one built - somewhere, anywhere, details, details - outside the Sydney basin (Second Airport No Saviour).

If you're NSW Labor, you have to explain a decade in power sitting on your thumbs and twiddling them (a wondrous manoeuvre). If you're Federal Labor, you've done the honourable thing, commissioned a report, initiated a study, and now can sit back knowing nothing will happen for the rest of your time in power (except maybe to note snidely how Sydney couldn't cope with a big G20 summit, as discussed here).

If you're Barry O'Farrell, you can explain how you made an election promise to do nothing, and now you can fulfil your promise, while blathering on about a fast train to an expanded Canberra airport, knowing nothing will ever happen on your watch. If you're the Federal opposition, you can sound shocked by Barry O'Farrell, and you can mouth how a second airport is vital, knowing you have to do nothing, until you get into power, when you can consider and discard Labor's report and study, and commission another one or three, which should see out the first term in office nicely.

And if you're Paul Howes? Why you can scribble a suck piece for the Terror, New airport won't take of (sic), and conclude it thusly, right out of bright-eyed bushy tailed Bazza O'Farrell's play book:

...that's why, once again, I find myself inexplicably agreeing with Barry O'Farrell. While many on my side of politics have lambasted the Premier for his refusal to countenance building a second airport, I reckon he is spot on.
A second airport is never going to be built - it's politically impossible - therefore our leaders should work on projects that actually have a hope of being built. The time has come for the political posturing to end. All levels of government should sit down and work with the private sector to get on with it.
Let's just declare the second Sydney airport dead and hop on board the train to Canberra.

See? When it comes to policy settings, Howes is actually as delusional and as useless as Lee Rhiannon.

Okay, there's still a chance to get out that well-worn copy of Animal Farm, and read once more about the pigs and their planning ...

At least Lee Rhiannon wrote her piece for a struggling alternative media organisation, New Matilda. Howes routinely scribbles his anti-Green and pro-Bazza guff for kindly Uncle Rupert, and please, don't ask about any conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, the pond acknowledges that a second airport will never be built in the pond's lifetime, Canberra airport and a fast rail line will never happen, and the only way to sort the slow strangulation of the current Sydney airport is for peak oil to intervene and the airline industry to collapse (but what if the deviants organise biofuel to maintain the damn thing?)

And if you look to a difference between Howes, scribbling away for Uncle Rupert for an allegedly handsome stipend, and a state Liberal government going about the business of doing nothing, make sure you take a very sharp microscope ...

Oh okay, it's irresistible:

... it did not seem strange when next day the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm all carried whips in their trotters. It did not seem strange to learn that the pigs had bought themselves a wireless set, were arranging to install a telephone, and had taken out subscriptions to 'John Bull', 'Tit-Bits', and the 'Daily Mirror' and were writing columns for the Sunday Telegraph. It did not seem strange when Napoleon was seen strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth--no, not even when the pigs took Mr. Jones's clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, Napoleon himself appearing in a black coat, ratcatcher breeches, and leather leggings, while his favourite sow appeared in the watered silk dress which Mrs. Jones had been used to wearing on Sundays.

And so to the denouement, in which both Mr. Jones and Napoleon play the ace of spades in a card game:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which, especially when reading opinion pieces in the Sunday Terror. (you can catch the rest of Animal Farm here at Project Gutenberg, or of course you can just keep on reading Paul Howes in the Sunday Terror).

Meanwhile, speaking of Napoleon and Farmer Jones, there's a special tasty treat on view today in Kevin Andrews' display of man love - not that there's anything usually wrong with that -under the header Setting the tone of a Tony Abbott Government.

Andrews, displaying the dexterity and skill of a dedicated bicyclist, is deeply philosophical:

What would be the tone and character of an Abbott government? Much attention has been given to the direct, cut-through approach of the Leader of the Opposition in media interviews, parliamentary debates and in question time.

Say what? The relentless nabob of nattering negativity - tear it all down, throw it all away - is merely displaying a direct, cut-through approach? What a stupendous characterisation of Abbott's style.

Give that man a free pass to the Orwellian universe of 1984, and never mind Godwin's Law.

But little attention has been given to more significant matters. One is the manner in which he interacts with colleagues, and the other his instinctive values.

Say what? A conservative Catholic, glove in glove with Cardinal Pell, B. A. Santamaria, and 'climate change is crap' denialists? And that's just for starters. Is that the instinctive value to deny his sister the right to marriage, while simultaneously managing to dog whistle to the worst values of the electorate, and doing a Sweeney Todd on big Mal and other soft liberals?

It is of course a humble puff piece, designed to somehow offset the negative view of Abbott held by a substantial majority of the electorate. Does Andrews have the first clue that his dissembling and Uriah Heep knuckle-cracking unctuousness merely produces copious gales of laughter? Try this on for size:

Leadership is often a work in progress. Many leaders learn on the job, growing into their roles. According to the former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, there are a dozen or so critical principles of leadership that can be learnt. These include organisation, relentless preparation, reflection and decision-making, and under-promising and over-delivering.

So now Tony Abbott and Andrews are looking to a famous cross-dresser for inspiration?

Well it's true Abbott has under-promised, because he's promised nothing but Abbott.

But the sycophancy, the crawling, the simpering buttering up gets even worse:

Tony Abbott reflects many of these things. His disciplined preparation, his collegiate style, and his loyalty to his colleagues are all evident. There is also a broad sense of purpose, which Professor Heifetz says is the first and foremost quality of a successful leader – “the capacity to find the values that make risk-taking meaningful.”

Oh dear sweet absent lord, is there a bucket nearby?

On and on he rambles with painful apparent sincerity:

This sense of purpose has been reflected in a series of landmark speeches that Mr Abbott has delivered this year. The speeches outlined a stronger economy, stronger borders, better infrastructure, a cleaner environment, and stronger communities. Together, they provide not only an overview of the direction of a Coalition government, but also an indication of the values of the Leader of the Opposition.

At last the hallowed promised land, a return to the garden of eden, paradise on earth, and all thanks to Tony Abbott. Why heck, if the Liberals are in power, we'll all be better people!

The last address about stronger communities placed these initiatives in the context of working for the benefit of the Australian people: “More capable and more contented individuals living in stronger and more cohesive communities is the goal of the five policy plans that the Liberal National Coalition has announced this year. The purpose of good government is better people.”

Oh noes, the pond wrote it as a joke, Andrews writes the gibberish as if he's saying something meaningful. What's the chance that 'empowering' will also turn up?

Successful leadership springs from self-belief, from a desire to succeed, rather than a fear of failure. But it also involves empowering individuals, families and communities to achieve for themselves. It recognises the limits of government.

Empowering! Achieving! Suddenly the spreading of fear, uncertainty and doubt, the talking down of the economy, the talking down of climate science, the talking down of anything and everything - what have you got, let's talk it down - this FUD isn't about a fear of failure and a fear of boats and a fear of economic disaster, it's about empowerment?

So there you have it, and meanwhile Abbott is lucky to find a third of polled punters satisfied with his performance, a figure that has stayed relatively steady for a year (pdf here).

The reason? Well blather like that emitting from Kevin Andrews doesn't help. If you're standing behind a relentlessly negative leader, don't stand behind the punters and try to goose them and produce love bumps by talking up how Abbott will empower us and make us better people. That's just creepy ...

Andrews always struck the pond as one of the thicker Liberals doing the rounds. Not the sharpest axe in the tool shed, a sandwich short of a picnic, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, as we used to say in Tamworth, and embellish with other lines, like a few sheep short of a flock, a plate short of a tea set, and a few kangaroos loose in the back paddock.

Who can forget his epic mishandling of the Muhamed Haneef matter - but on the basis of this feeble man-love column alone, he should give up words and get back to bicycling. Cadel Evans needs all the help he can get.

Oh and from reading it, can we deduce that the Liberal party, as well as turning us into better people, will actually sort out the matter of Sydney international airport?

Look, up in the sky, there are the pigs from Animal Farm, flying home to roost at Mascot ...

(Below: Rudy Giuliani and leadership the pond can admire. Is Tony Abbott up to the job, and can he do it better than Alexander Downer?)

1 comment:

  1. "but what if the deviants organise biofuel to maintain the damn thing?" Not going to happen, see, for example Aviation and Oil Depletion, "There is currently no alternative to the use of kerosene in aircraft engines... The cost of switching to non kerosene fuels is extremely high. The aviation industry is likely to accept very high fuel costs before any wholesale switch to an alternative."


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