Today's the day when Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen stalks the corridors of The Australian, and what do you know?
She's penned a column which promotes itself on the front digital page with this audacious splash:
Greens are dangerous ideologues driven not by reason or intellectual debate, but by zealotry.
Which is an enormous kind of cheek, when you think about it, because it would be just as easy to start off any piece with:
Janet Albrechtsen, who took seriously the ideas of Lord Monckton in relation to climate science being used as a covert way by the United Nations to establish a world government, is a dangerous ideologue driven not by reason or intellectual debate, but by batty zealotry and in the case of Monckton pure nuttery.
Physician, as they used to say, heal thyself first before pronouncing on others.
But not to worry, if deep perversity is your game, then here she is, rabbiting away in Greens are losing voters as their agenda is exposed (behind the paywall so you only pay for the zealotry you like).
As surely as there's a summer and a bushfire season and blowflies, there will be News Corp hacks and members of the commentariat donning some sunblock, arming themselves with a handy bit of 4 be 2 and wading into the Greens. It's like national snake-bashing day.
And of course at that moment, the pond immediately starts taking bets as to how long before any particular piece will deploy the word "Orwellian", like any zealot ripe for a watermelon cliche ...
Sure enough, Dame Slap quickly gets down to telling voters how to vote, and it doesn't take long for Orwell's name to be used in vain:
The last time this newspaper suggested that voters hold the Greens to account, then Greens leader Bob Brown launched a hysterical campaign against the "hate media".
Akin to Orwellian Doublespeak, this was Greenspeak for any media that dared to analyse and criticise Green policies. Brown's dismay is unsurprising.
For a long time, the Greens succeeded in skating under the media radar, presenting themselves as just a bunch of happy tree-huggers.
The rich vein of comedy on view in this bit of Orwellian doublespeak by a zealot?
Well how would you characterise an announcement by the rag that it wanted to destroy the Greens, and in an editorial no less:
Greens leader Bob Brown has accused The Australian of trying to wreck the alliance between the Greens and Labor. We wear Senator Brown's criticism with pride. We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box. (here)
Now you might propose that it's possible to destroy a political party in a loving, embracing way, but even attempting Orwellian doublespeak, it's hard to see this sort of attitude as mere analysis and criticism.
Destruction is more a Romper Stomper kind of thing (cue foot-stomping brass and percussive music by John Clifford White).
It's hard to sell complete and utter destruction as being much the same as a Maoist course in self-criticism and self-improvement.
Now it's perfectly okay for the lizard Oz and Dame Slap to yammer on about how evil the Greens are - it's in their nature, as the capitalist scorpion said to the believing frog - but surely simple intellectual pride should make them understand that talk of complete destruction - and then dissembling about it - is the mark of zealotry and Orwellian double-speak, and so this kind of abuse of the English language should be scrubbed from the argument.
It takes a fundamentalist to know a fundamentalist, and by golly the folk at the lizard Oz are rabid. In fact the editorial is so notorious that the auto-complete on Google immediately takes you to a host of references, with Crikey holding top place, with The Australian announces that it wants to "destroy" the Greens, which makes this obvious point:
Everything you read about The Greens in that paper can now be almost completely discounted by that fact. You can only conclude that if there’s a smear, they’ll run it. If there’s a positive story, they won’t. If there’s a way of presenting the Greens’ policies in the most damaging, least accurate light, that’s how they’ll be presented. The Greens will not be given fair opportunity to respond to critics’ claims about them (including the asinine ones made in that editorial). It will be relentless, one-sided, hostile propaganda.
And so it's come to pass, and not just amongst the Oz's hacks, but amongst News Corp rags throughout the land.
Now the pond has its disagreements with the Greens and views Christine Milne in a less favourable light than Bob Brown, and her response to the recent stock market hoax has been unfortunate, but it seems to Dame Slap that she's almost Satanic:
As the new Greens leader, Milne also presents well. The daughter of farmers and carefully decked out in conservative attire, she has promised to take the Greens more "mainstream." But Milne's presentation and her words could not be further from the truth. This is the standard Greens trick. Use soft-speak to hide a radical agenda.
A radical agenda! Why that's probably to use climate science as a covert way to establish a world government.
What's amusing of course is the way that Dame Slap presents the Greens in the way that my mother used to scare me with tales of the monster under the bed.
It's the old Jekyll and Hyde routine, and just when you're expecting a doctor, along comes an ogre with a stick and beats you soundly until your head bursts like a watermelon.
What's even more bizarre is that Albrechtsen spends most of her column berating the anti-coal activist for his hoax, and somehow then manages to turn on a dime, and come up with this:
Just over two years ago, former Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore explained that after the collapse of communism and the Berlin Wall, the peace movement moved into the environmental movement, "bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalisation than science or ecology."
Actually whatever you think of Moylan's trick - its impact on anyone other than cowboys, gamblers and day traders has been much exaggerated, but that said the trick has backfired in the wider world - it's motivation is clearly driven by coal and environmental concerns, using a little Ken Kesey prank to make the point. And the fact that it fooled a bunch of journalists and cowboys says much about the state of journalism and capitalist cowboys.
But Dame Slap won't have any of that. The sign of a complete zealot is the righteousness of the tone, the Orwellian fear and loathing, and Dame Slap delivers in spades:
Moore was warning us about people such as Moylan and Milne. Both deserve our contempt. And both deserve to be sanctioned by decent-minded folk who understand why, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell one way and not the other.
Deserve our contempt?
The pond might think them misguided, or plain wrong, but contempt?
That's the language of a zealot, and a hate-mongering zealot at that. Which is why the pond will continue to reserve its contempt for the Orwellian double-speak at The Australian.
When you say destruction, please understand that destroy means destruction:
As killing as the canker to the rose (John Milton)
Bones breaking like hearts (Bin Ramke)
Breaking a person's spirit like a biscuit (Beaumont and Fletcher)
Cracked like the ice in a frozen daiquiri (Anon)
Crushed like rotten apples (Shakespeare, and so on, more here)
It has to be said however that Dame Slap is just one of the many bizarre sights in the lizard Oz today, and perhaps an even more bizarre sight is Roger Franklin evoking a still from the movie Stork to make a point about bushfires:
It is a sad thing when a near-forgotten Australian movie says more about bushfires than a week's worth of news reports, but Stork, if you can find a copy, will do just that.
(I've reproduced a still from the movie at www.quadrant. org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/01/the-fires-the-greens-make-us-have).
The things to notice are the background landscapes, all shot in and around Eltham, Nillumbik and adjoining areas, where almost four decades later Black Saturday claimed about two-thirds of the 173 Victorians who perished that day.
Adducing a single still from a movie as some kind of evidence! A drama, a fiction as compelling evidence for the anti-Green prosecution!
Here's a complete goose, a man who doesn't have a clue!
Movie-making by its very nature is selective - the director (jolly old Susan York loving Tim Burstall) might well have decided that very day to avoid the heavily covered background landscapes to ensure that the shot of the motorbike was lit without too many shadows, and so selected the one spot where this was possible.
Who knows? Who can say? Did he only have reflector boards for the shot because the gaffer locked up the lights?
Selecting a selected shot in this selective way and leading it as some kind of evidence or proof, is so selectively silly as to boggle the mind.
Now if Franklin had managed to produce a shot of that very self-same road, years later crowded with trees and overgrown, a tinder box waiting to explode ... but he didn't. He used another shot from the area, just like any film director wanting to put his best image forward.
Let's not even get on to the question of the destructive force of grass fires, or the ability of fires to move around in manicured landscapes.
What a complete and utter goose.
Yep, it's just another in the Miranda Devine series of burn everything and down concrete over it (use tar when you've run out of cement), and never mind that a lot of people move to the bush, or live in the bush, because it contains ... bush ...
It is however another classic example of how The Australian runs with the likes of Quadrant, with the ultimate aim being to destroy the Greens, and along the way turn Australia into a manicured English country garden.
How soon, then, would you bet that in Franklin's piece, the hacks at Fairfax are demonised and religion is evoked in the conversation?
Here you go:
The Age, where the collective grey matter is religiously green, has just appointed a "carbon economy writer". If and when that CO2 economy moves beyond the production of dry ice, he will be ready and waiting. In the meantime, rather than one more catastropharian preaching doom, what we really need is someone to haul Stork out of the vault and absorb its long-ignored evidence of 40 years of hazard creation.
Note: the pond long ago stopped paying out on these bets because of the impossibly short odds.
But if you want conclusive proof that the rag specialises in irrational zealotry, look no further.
Which just leaves the pond time to note that the infestation of The Punch by politicians willing to write drivel for free - to fill up a digital publication which surely must now be deemed a comprehensive failure, maintained out of stubborn-ness and pride - has now resumed in the New Year, with the latest candidate for comedy Kevin "marriage is terribly important, but only the marriages I prefer, and btw here's how to treat Mohamed Haneef" Andrews, scribbling furiously in Australian welfare reform needs a Newstart.
Andrews whips himself up in a lather and gets righteously indignant about the cuts to single mums and the insensitivity of Jennie Mackin (oops, typo time for Kev) and the words that went missing in the transcript, and yet when it comes to the crunch, what does he himself come up with?
Mr Swan’s decision and Ms Macklin’s comments reignited a campaign to increase Newstart by $50 per week for all recipients. This would cost billions of dollars a year.
His very own impression of Scrooge with a pet redback in his purse.
In the old days, profligate John Howard (yes, that's been confirmed Hey, big spender: Howard the king of the loose purse strings) would have thought nothing of buying votes if he thought the votes were there to be bought using a decent bit of middle class welfare.
But for all Kevin Andrews' crocodile tears, you won't find any attempt to propose that the poorest, and single mums, get a little more help. Instead you get a giant sized bowl of non-nutritious blather and gruel:
As the head of Mission Australia, Toby Hall, has said, there is a need for a new national discussion about welfare, including measures to get people into work, along the lines of the Howard government inquiry headed by his predecessor, Patrick McClure.
Uh huh. There's a need for a national discussion, but please no mention of any increase. Why that would cost billions. So what else have we got?
Instead of careful consideration of welfare reform, including any unintended consequences, Labor has bungled both the policy and the implementation of it.
No wonder Australians are pining for good, competent government.
And no wonder Australians know they won't find good, competent government in second time go arounds and hacks like Kevin Andrews.
The coalition had it within its power to nail Labor fair and square with its Newstart bungles, but deep down they know that in power, likely as not, they'd be doing exactly the same. Punishing the poor and rewarding the rich.
No wonder the lumpen proles aren't pining for a new government. It'll just be more whacks for the proles as they line up for their lumpen ...
What a pity the bike-obsessed Andrews didn't become a Lance Armstrong instead of a politician who might well be put in charge of families ...
(Below: more Nicholson here)