Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ya gotta laugh ... especially if Scott Stephens, Christine Milne, Dennis Jensen, Janet Albrechtsen and Kevin Andrews are providing the comedy material ...

You have to laugh.

Okay, okay, you don't actually have to laugh, but in Tamworth, it was an existentially rich saying, one that encapsulated the comic absurdity of the world. (Of course the menfolk would then burrow their noses in the froth of a schooner and be ga ga within the hour. You have to laugh).

Anyway, the pond's been laughing.  There's the ABC - and by extension Media Watch - getting excited about that tweeting twitterer Scott Stephens unloading on Julia Gillard and then, twittering twit that he is, apologising for any gender implications in his condescending portrait of Gillard as a condescending primary school teacher (you can see that storm in a teacup here).

Jonathan Holmes looked very grave and sounded very gravelly as he went into anguish over the ABC's strict editorial policies:

Twitter users are mostly highly opinionated, and blandness doesn’t get you followers. 
But many ABC staffers may now decide that it’s safer to stay off Twitter altogether – and that, in my view, would be a pity.

Problem solved Mr. Holmes.

What you do - the very next night - if you're Scott Stephens - is turn up on Radio National, with Waleed Ali as the host, and you discuss politics up hill and down dale, dumping on anyone you feel like, not even with a thin "religious and ethic"s veil to disguise the personal opinions of the very same Scott Stephens, with Ali joining in the tub-thumping as if he's a born again Elmer Gantry. It was a veritable verbal twitter storm ...

Don't believe the pond? Have a listen here at Political ideology lost to so called 'Personality Politics', as radio is lost to personality pundits.

Now the pond knows why it happens, journalists talking to journalists, in-house opinion-makers blathering to in-house opinion-makers about the issues of the day.

It's a lot easier and a lot cheaper to get an in-house player to turn up and shoot from the lip and the hip than get an outsider to turn up. It's the Mark Scott school of clap-happy economics.

What on earth does Jonathan Holmes make of it? Second thoughts, he probably doesn't care, because blandness on the radio doesn't get you listeners, and most people on the ABC seem to be highly opinionated.

Oh dear, how did the spirit of Gerard Henderson get into the mix?

Well while we're channeling him - oh guru, is it a Catholic or an Anglican hell in the afterlife - how about the rich irony of Christine Milne announcing that she wasn't going to add to the instability of the federal government, which the Labor party was producing every day because they were a total disaster and a disgrace and in the pocket of big mining and the absolute ruination of the environment, right at this very minute, and they were simply irresponsible and impossible to work with, and she was tearing up the agreement and walking away because, well because they'd torn up the agreement and walked away ... and ...

By the end of it, the one thought that kept coming to mind, and it's terribly unfair to focus on the reedy whining sound of a voice, but Christine Milne is no Bob Brown, avuncular and gruff and caring, and it's no wonder the Greens are suddenly terrified about losing their balance of power in the Senate, let alone their lower house Melbourne seat.

Will this little outburst of petulant spite help their situation?

Well there's a logical conundrum at the height of it, what we might call the Jonathan Holmes' impenetrable imponderability.

If the government's so bad, so inept, so awful, so deep in the pockets of deep mining, such a disaster for the country and the environment, why don't the Greens walk away, right this minute, and force an election, right here, right now?

Well because the latest riff is simply, nakedly, patently, insufferable a form of grand-standing and political hypocrisy, and it's just spit on a griddle, a way to feed the media for a couple of days, and remind the world that the Greens aren't Labor, even if Labor has spent an unseemly amount of time kow-towing to them.

Immediately a figure came to mind. That pathetic tosser and betrayer of every English liberal's dreaming, Nick Clegg, surely the most pathetic, fawning, self-serving politician to stalk the earth ... until Christine Milne made her bid ...

Naturally there was an abundance of folks on hand in the media to point out the self-serving and hypocritical nature of the announcement, such that what Milne fancied as a Labor bashing fest quickly turned into a Greens bashing fest. (Cue Simon Benson in the Terror furiously scribbling Labor too slow to kick out the kooks).

Her outburst brought the premiership of Tony Abbott that little bit closer, which is great news for the pond, because well, what fun we'll have, as we slip into a new morass of mediocrity, and because well... ya gotta laugh ...

Poor old Wayne Swan even mentioned how finance ministers would be pleased to lose their right arm. Cue the ABC running the Monty Python black knight sketch.

Oh yes, they'll be laughing on the other side of their faces come September when the crusading Abbott slices off their funding arm.

But ya gotta laugh. It's the Tamworth way.

That's why you'll probably cop a huge giggle out of Dr Dennis  "let me drink some cola to prove climate change is a fraud" Jensen - raging about Obliterating billions in the afterburners of the JSF.

It's all the federal Labor government's fault of course, unless it's Defence. On and on he rants about the epic failure of the acquisition.

Do you see anything in the piece about how John Howard and his government sucked up to the US government big time and ordered a bunch of the aerial dogs? Do you find any of these immortal lines?

... John Howard also had a far less public meeting to attend. Just around the corner from the White House at the Willard Hotel, the Prime Minister sat down with representatives of the giant US military plane maker, Lockheed Martin. The meeting was top secret. John Howard was about to launch Australia on its biggest ever defence acquisition program - a $16 billion gamble. The Washington meeting rocked large sections of the Australian military. It was the first of many decisions which seemed to bypass the normally intensive investigations that governments put themselves through when making multi-billion dollar defence acquisitions. At the Willard Hotel, John Howard committed Australia to the development of the joint strike fighter, the JSF 35 to replace a plane which had been defending Australia for the past three decades, the F-111. 

Well you can find it in a transcript of a Four Corners program from October 2007 here, along with this quaint comment:

PROFESSOR HUGH WHITE, DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEFENCE 1995 - 2000: Our capacity to negotiate with the sellers on the terms of the deal, price, delivery, quality, all of that, were, you know, completely swept aside. And I think that was a serious tactical error in the way in which we managed the process, leaving aside the question as to whether we wouldn’t in the long run prefer to go for a different aircraft.

Tactical error? Is that defence speak for gigantic strategic cock-up?

And it's all the fault of that sweet bonny lad, little honest as the day is long Johnnie Howard?

You have to admire the stupendous gall of Jensen, who makes the Jensens of Sydney seem like amiable dodderers.

Memo to self: must drink more cola to make a point about tendering matters and disprove climate science.

Of course a few readers made note of what Jensen wouldn't or couldn't say. But when you're at the Madhatter's tea party, why do expect sense from the Mad Hatter?

Memo to self. Soon enough loons like Jensen might well be in power.

The biggest joke of all? Here's Jensen's self-serving bio for the Punchers:

(Dr. Jensen) continues to make major contributions in the areas of defence and science, especially with regards to the Joint Strike Fighter debate, climate change ...

There's more, but you catch the drift. Delusional and up himself, and all in one blow.

Never mind, ya just gotta laugh. Laugh and laugh until ya cacks yaself. Because what else is there to do?

But wait, there's more, because today is Dame Slap day in the lizard Oz.

Happily Abbott's critics are the ones out of touch is behind the paywall, and all you get for free is this pitiful opening blush of sentimentality

Often, the truly important things about people are rarely known. That is especially the case of those in the public eye. With daily dissections of public figures by apparently curious journalists, we imagine we surely have their measure. Usually we don't. But it takes an honest mind and a good heart to admit that.  

What follows is a flush of hagiography which amounts to little more than Tony Abbott being a spiffing, wonderful chappie, and anyone who dares to criticise him or his policies is mean-spirited and lazy.

Yep, criticism is lazy, while prostate worship of Abbott is intellectually nimble and quick, like a quick brown fox covering all the keys on the keyboard.

The way this is slipped through to the keeper? You see, Tony Abbott has discovered that a TG person is a person, and that is such an astonishing insight, that Albecthesen almost faints as she keens at the humanity of it all.

The entire column is wretchedly cloying and sticky - like getting caught in heavily chewed chewing gum - and somehow it all revolves around the way Abbott wrote a kindly review of a book about cricket and other matters by Cate McGregor, yet somehow the review was shockingly, shamefully ignored:

McGregor, well known in Canberra media circles, particularly among press gallery journalists, was interviewed on ABC radio and television. Yet the curiosity of our intrepid ABC journalists did not extend beyond the author's change of sexual identity. Journalists normally so keen to marry the political with the personal did not mention that the nation's alternative prime minister had published a compassionate and caring tribute to a friend in need.

Uh huh. The pond - standard disclaimer, the pond has a number of intimate TG friends - isn't quite sure why McGregor is in need of pity or compassion, because it implies the move wasn't really in keeping with personal sexual identity.

But what's more wondrous is the way Dame Slap thrashes the media yet again - the ABC naturally - while at the same doing a Uriah Heep routine on behalf of Abbott:

Late last year amid the cut and thrust of politics, when he was being wrongly assailed for misogyny, the alternative prime minister took time to pen a tribute in The Spectator to his friend's book and to his friend. There was no fanfare, no strategic overtures to favoured journalists to report Abbott's heartfelt review. Just a low-key and touching review headed "Tradition meets change".

So the review's meant to be low key, with no strategic overtures, out of the spotlight - well getting yourself published in The Spectator will guarantee that - and yet at the same time, the media and lazy intellectuals were supposed to be dancing in the street, and setting off fireworks because Abbott had written a treacly, soft, indulgent review of a friend's book. And somehow the fact that the friend is TG is supposed to make all the difference to the humanity of it all.

That's fucked in the head, the pond's most intimate TG friend said over a yoghurt this morning, but you've gotta laugh.

It's a complete conflation of everything, and nothing to do with lazy Abbott policies like damming the country and heading north. It shows how desperate things are getting. It's not enough to trot out the daughters and Margie and the chief of staff or any other woman in sight, or Christopher Pearson, now TG people have to be wheeled out and paraded about as testament to Abbott's deep humanity and infinite compassion and understanding ...

So is there anything on view, apart from laughter?

Well for a moment the pond's heart began to thump a little harder. You see Kevin "let's teach that bloody Haneef a lesson" Andrews punched on with this header:

It seemed like a tantalising dream - The less you see and hear of people like me, the better.

How true, how insightful, how caring - almost as compassionate as an invisible Tony Abbott review - but of course it wasn't a dream, it was the usual nightmare.

You see Andrews had to go into print with a photo attached to explain how people like him shouldn't go into print. And next week, he'll back in print to remind the world how people like him shouldn't be out and about all the time. The more he tells us this, the more we see and hear from him, and the world goes to hell in a handbasket.

The target of Andrews' rant about personality politics is Kevin Rudd, so it must have taken a herculean feat by Andrews to ignore the other personality politics practitioner in the attached picture, one jolly Joe Hockey.

When really the Punch team could have run this snap for illustrative purposes:

The trouble of course is that Andrews isn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer, and sometimes sounds like he's a sheep short of a barbecue, and he proves that with his resounding conclusion:

The late President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, once remarked that “It is not true that only the unfeeling cynic, the vain, the brash and the vulgar can succeed in politics.” “Such people, it is true, are drawn to politics, but in the end decorum and good taste will always count for more,” he said. 

Havel? The man, the absent lord bless him, who made a career out of mixing the theatre, literature and poetry with politics? A man for whom rebellion and defiance were much more important than decorum and good taste?

And Andrews, implicitly, as a man with decorum and good taste? Tell that to Haneef ...

I believe he was correct. In the end, competence and common sense are more useful tools for our political leaders than seeking celebrity status and endless commentary. Sometimes less is more.

Competence and common sense? Ya gotta laugh. Tell that to Haneef ...

But it explains why Tony Abbott has put aside the budgie smugglers and these days poses as a statesman and a visionary, and we're all supposed to put aside vestigial memories of years of nattering negativity and mindless stunts at tea party rallies. You know, sensitive ditching of witches ...

Buried in Andrews curious tirade about Rudd - as if no one in the Liberal party indulged in personality politics, with Dame Slap advising us today to worship our kindly compassionate caring leader - come unto him oh TG folk - is logical incoherence, mixed with verbal diarrhoea.

Which is, if you want one, the unifying theme for the day, and why you've got to laugh.

As surely as medievalists thought the sun revolved around the earth, Andrews will be back in The Punch sometime soon blathering on about cycling, and wondering why he was so kind to Lance Armstrong back in the day ... instead of following his own advice, which is that politicians should act like Cheshire cats and disappear up their smile, or if that's not to hand, their fundament ...

The logical end of Andrews' strange notion is that the Liberal party would be run by a bunch of faceless, anonymous, virtually invisible men. Oh wait, it is. Maybe he's on to something after all ...

Yep, you've gotta laugh, because otherwise we'd be fucked.

Wait a second, we are fucked, caught by the short and curlies, gotcha coming and going and every which way, and not even a chimp in sight to save us.

Thank the absent lord that despite the politicians there are worse countries in the world, and all the talk of confected disasters - short of a meteor shower or climate science - is just a snow job by people who want to keep or get their fingers on the wheels of power.

Oh well, you've gotta laugh ...


  1. You'll have your work cut out for you getting us to laugh if the mob at the Oz get their man up. Still if anyone can manage it'll be you

  2. The fickle digit of fate writes "while prostate worship of Abbott" to excite. Who, though?
    If that was a typo, DP, I've found your missing r.
    Just as well we are running a canine theme, it's still there now.

  3. “Will this little outburst of petulant spite help their situation?” Not really, DP, but my heart would have missed a beat if Milne wore spiked brass knuckles to match her aggressively self-assured opinion.

  4. Younger folk may not recall this, but the F-111 (despite eventually being fit for purpose) was originally ordered by the Menzies govt then, well over budget and extremely late, was paid for by the Whitlam govt. The only satisfaction I'd get from the election of an Abbott govt is that they'd be the ones paying for the (predictably) late and over-budget JSF35.

    What is it with the Right and defence procurement?

  5. Ah you got me Trev but we'll leave it there for the comedy value and to explain your comment. Meanwhile a dozen New Zealand subbies have been mercilessly sacked.

    As for the F-111 David, there are a few who will remember them, most likely those who had to clean out the fuel tanks. Every so often these days the pond drives past some of the second hand rust buckets the US flogged to various governments, and marvels how politicians take the world for fools. Howard, Nelson and Hill were up to their necks in their eager desire to please the US and bury Australia in the 35's, and now a twit like Jensen seeks to revise the history, as if none of it happened.

    There are some historians who still brood about the Brewster Buffalo!

  6. A friend of mine has inquired as to the source of the dog/cat/leash cartoon? I assured her you always acknowledge sources but can't see this one!

  7. I suspect it's a New Yorker cartoon Anon - the leering hound inducing paranoia is in the style of one of their excellent regular cartoonists, but sorry, it came in cropped form, without a link or a name, and I can't remember his name. All I can offer is a link to the Daily Cartoon

    and the cartoon bank

    The bank has a selection of animal cartoons and if you look at the works of Leo Cullum you can see he loves a leering hound, but there are others who do the same sort of riff


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