Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Speaking of invisible substances and the gas emanating from Tony Abbott ...

Sometimes the pond just gets overwhelmed with all the noise, the hubbub, the brass bands of loons on the march.

Item 1: why does Tony Abbott keep on referring to carbon dioxide as an "invisible substance"?

Can someone please hand the honourable leader of the opposition a large chunk of dry ice, and ask him to recite over and over, a substance (let us accept the generalist definition a particular kind of matter with uniform properties) can in fact be a gas, a solid, or a liquid, and in some forms might be visible to the human eye, and yes, I promise if elected to office in a position of power and trust, to re-do my high school science ...

No the pond will not be responsible for any damage to Abbott's hands while he's in learning mode and the dry ice is held in his paws.

The larger point isn't a matter of pedantry. It shows the sort of science, and the sort of fringe characters Abbot hangs around with behind closed doors, picking up a little bit of denialist rhetoric here and there, but without the wherewithal to separate the scientific and rhetorical wheat from the chaff.

Not many bother to chivvy Abbott this sort of language - it's at one with his joke about Malcolm Turnbull inventing the intertubes, copper is good, and carbon dioxide being a colourless, odourless gas. And we haven't got on to noting that in fact "invisible substances" can have value and can have a market.

Ben Cubby has a go at it today,  trying to explain that while sounding dumb, it's actually Abbott playing dumb so he can pander to the basest lowest common denominator:

Best of all, "invisible substance" plugs into a medieval mistrust of scientists and their incomprehensible powers. The sentence links these modern-day alchemists together with the shadowy financiers who would run the so-called markets, trading invisibility while we pay for it. 
Or something. It suggests that Abbott is prepared to wear some public ridicule in exchange for speaking directly to that part of his supporter base that is unmoved by scientific evidence about global warming. Never mind that the Coalition is proposing to spend about $10 billion of the public's money fighting an "invisible substance". (A So-Called Market in Invisible Stuff: Tony Abbott's Carbon Talk, it'll cost you a Fairfax hit with a forced vieo)

Actually the pond does mind.

By lowering the debate in this way, Abbott reduces it to primary school level, and yet he's never pinged by the conservative media for doing it. But perhaps the worm is finally turning, as reported in Abbott hit by backlash (it'll cost you a Fairfax hit and a forced video).

Item 2: speaking of climate science, or in the case of Abbott, no science at all, why is Chris Uhlmann allowed to conduct interviews about climate science on the ABC, when demonstrably he doesn't have a clue about either the science or the opposition's plans to fight an "invisible substance" with a heap of public money.

Oh he tried hard enough, but he didn't even get to mention Abbott's phoney talk of invisible substances in his interview with Greg Hunt last night, which you can still catch here under the bizarrely favourable header Shadow Minister describes once-in-a-generation climate change policy.

Oh there was a flurry of "with the greatest respects" to evoke the notion that the pair were locked in a fierce debate, but Uhlmann was a roll-over puppy, as Hunt steamrollered his way through the interview virtually unchallenged. This sort of nonsense went through to the keeper:

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well with respect, Greg Hunt, your system isn't a market-based system, it's a government-based system. 
GREG HUNT: Well with great respect, you're wrong. And the reason why is this: that what we have is a reverse auction. We will purchase the lowest-cost emissions reduction. What the Government has is a tax ...

And so on and so forth, and never mind that the plan is for government to pick winners, and the talk of a reverse auction so much hokum, and by the end, all Uhlmann could do was keep on harping on about potential costs of the scheme by 2020, and never mind the current costs and utility of the proposal, or the usefulness of the 15,000 strong green army roaming around the country doing 'make-work' jobs worthy of street-sweeping employment schemes in Tokyo.

With the greatest respect, it reinforces the notion that opposition speakers will only appear on the ABC's 7.30 if they can be interviewed by a patsy, a soft touch, an under-briefed performer, a stolid on his feet punching bag, a rope-a-dope, a kind of Jess Willard, which is to say the tragic and inept and ponderous Chris Uhlmann (yes the pond's father was a boxing enthusiast, want to make something of it?)

Put it this way, if your life depended on swiftness of response, you wouldn't want Twinkle toes Uhlmann in your corner.

Item 3: while on the subject of 7.30 and the pathetic Uhlmann, another segment, presented by him and reported by Greg Hoy, managed to look at taxpayer-funded forest schemes, and made great play with talk of federal governments, but only once - once in the entire story - mentioned that it was the Howard government that set the rorts going, while proposing that the Labor government kept them running. You could find out more about Timbercorp simply by reverting to its short wiki here, and the collapse of the Great Southern Group at its wiki here. A report with a little bit more bite would have looked at how the Howard government set these MIS schemes in motion, but alas, 7.30, is routinely a slice of mild cheese scared to go hard on the politics, and instead content to blather on about the federal government, as if all governments were equal in this disaster, which involved much contrivance and much deregulation by the Howard government. There, the pond has said it again, and will say it again, the bloody Howard government  ...

That's it for the 7.30 show for the pond, and thank the long absent lord, it's also the end of Brendan O'Neill hosting Counterpoint for RN.

Item 4: the pond went out of its way to actually listen to O'Neill this week on his first run yesterday, and it was great stuff, and never mind that O'Neill didn't even know how to say Melbourne (after all, Melburnians don't know how to say Newcastle, in the northern style).

There was a rant involving Leveson which - let's keep it in-house and in the club - featured Mick Hume
of Spiked, promoting a book, (how did you guess this just happened to be the very same Spiked where O'Neill lurks, cross-promotion moi?), followed by a classic O'Neill rant about The pathologisation of dissent which sounded to the pond quite pathological, paranoid and irrational, and soon enough involved carrying on about gay marriage and homophobia and climate change, as if back in O'Neill's days of freedom, gays had never been given a backhand by shrinks or talk of invisible substances usually involved chatter about the Holy Ghost.

And as for the third item, Should hate speech be allowed?, it seemed to the pond that O'Neill was actually all in favour of hate speech of all kind ... perhaps understandable given his absolute visceral hatred and contempt for intellectual elites, including the ones who are allowed to get their hands on an ABC radio show and chatter on endlessly ...

Sadly that's it, and presumably O'Neill will go back to guesting as rocket scientist Amanda Vanstone returns to talk about her experiences, her feelings and her insights in the benign, preferably silent company of a companionable guest, but still the pond wonders if exporting the show to England was a good idea.

Was O'Neill the only conservative available in Australia, sorry, the world, to conduct the show? Was there no other? None at all? Nadir, zip, zero conservatives up to the task, with a local inflection and interested in local issues, one that might have done a job on our own press inquiry, rather than Leveson? Or go on a paranoid rant about how the intellectual elites were out to get them rather than leaving the job to O'Neill?

Apparently not. It seems we don't have a decent paranoid conservative with microphone technique available anywhere in the land for the ABC ...

Item 5: in lieu of actually watching the Bolter's TV show - there are some things that are above and beyond the call of any duty - the pond is pleased to report these figures for last Sunday:

Insiders: 204,000 / 98,000 / 32,000
The Bolt Report: 168,000 / 94,000

Yes it's astonishing that there are 168,000 with nothing better to do on a Sunday morning (you'd think they could find ways of filling in a half hour in bed) but at least the contagion is contained and Insiders continues to cream the Bolter (not that the pond can bear to watch Insiders either).

As for the Bolter himself, the pond is indebted to John Quiggin for resurrecting a piece written by the Bolter aboout the Iraq war back on 9th June 2003, which you can read in Bolt, ten years on.

In it, the Bolter proves to be utterly wrong, in relation to statistics and predictions, and it makes for remarkably woeful reading, and is an exemplary example of why demagogue writers are in fact dangerous. (And you might just follow your reading of the Bolter with Lincoln Archer's July 8th 2013 piece at the ABC, Iraq violence: why the death toll is rising which notes that sectarian violence is back to levels not seen since 2006/07).

Has the Bolter any shame, any regret for his ancient false scribbles, his fellow travelling with the war monger pack?

Of course not. He's as close to the scorpion in that frog and scorpion tale as any you can find in the Murdoch press ... I rant without due regard to truth or facts or insight not blinded by ideology because it's in my nature ...

Item 6: which brings us at last to Gerard Henderson scribbling today, but oh the poor dear, because he's scribbling this the very day after Dr No sounded like Captain "invisible substance" Stupid:

Ah well, they say timing is everything on the stage, and poor old Hendo, our very own prattling Polonius, struck out in a big way.

It's desperate stuff, but if you've got a few Fairfax hits left, lying around like loose change, or Xmas play money, you might care to spend them on Dr No? Why Abbott is Captain Positive, but only if you want to read the most tragic form of pure worshipful hagiography.

Clearly the heat and the Ruddster in the kitchen has flushed out Hendo, and he feels Tony needs a leg-up, and so he panders in a most supportive way, which makes the piece largely predictable and no doubt for many completely unreadable, and towards the end of this piece, he comes up with this:

On indigenous policy Abbott would be more properly labelled as ''Captain Positive''. Indeed it is in this area that the Prime Minister is negative, identifying a problem which does not exist. It was much the same in November 2009 when Rudd falsely claimed that Malcolm Turnbull was a climate change sceptic who was close to Lord Monckton. This was not the case as was evident within weeks when Turnbull lost the Liberal Party leadership to Abbott over his support for Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme. 
Right now there are all too many journalists prepared to run Labor's line that Abbott is exclusively negative. The truth is that sometimes even political celebrities throw the switch to negativity.

No doubt Hendo thought that he was applying a king hit to the Ruddster for denigrating big Mal, but sadly this is "invisible substance" day, and all it does is remind us that it was Tony "climate science is crap" Abbott who got close to Lord Monckton, as recorded in 'Mad Monk' meets Monckton (oh be fair, that'd be irresistible to a subbie).

Ah yes, in those days Abbott wasn't an intellectual snob, and he was ready to sit down with anyone and have a chat about invisible substances.

It wasn't just Abbott of course. There were a lot in the commentariat - the Bolter, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda the Devine and so on - who did the dance with Monckton until he went off into la la land with Pastor Danny ...

Abbott cannily avoided a photo op with Monckton, but so long as he keeps talking about invisible substances, he's channeling Monckton, and by golly does that give Hendo a tough job pushing the dry ice up the hill ...

(Below: one question that never got asked)

(Below: count the degrees of separation and see if you can still get to Kevin Bacon)


  1. Dorothy, I don't mind listening to Abbott’s regular gibberish, I just mind him talking faster than he thinks. And this also applies to Greg Hunt. Oh, and Gerard Henderson. And Joe Hockey, Pyne,Mirabella, Bishop 1 & 2, gee, how long is a piece of string?

  2. HI Dorothy thank you for exposing the deceit of the ABC in why they are using Uhlman as a patsy for soft interviews on conservative politicians.
    This employee of the ABC is so inept how the hell he got to be promoted under the peter principle is typical of the ABC another flop in who the ABC employ as commentators is a woman called Sally Whalhart who has a degree in some obscure occupation.
    The ABC need a clean out of management and get rid of the incompetents they use to judge who is competent to be employed by the ABC

  3. Hi Dorothy. Without wishing to be too presumptive,I think you may have to make space amongst your header photos for a photograph of "Captain Stupid".
    One vote for this dill is one too many.Giles Parkinson wrote a good,well linked,article in today's Gaurdian on the Abbott idiocy that is well worth the read.
    I think the longer the date till the election the more Abbott and the Liberal party will be seen as the Tea-Party wingnuts they(he) are.
    On a humorous and unrelated matter,may I suggest Pond dwellers Google "soundcloud NSA recruitment" for a good laugh.Cheers.

  4. Bolt on last night's Q&A panel -

    "...the Left (host Tony Jones, Labor’s Stephen Smith, the Greens’ Scott Ludlam, lesbian Aboriginal newsreader Narelda Jacobs) as usual outnumbered the conservatives..."

    Lesbian Aboriginal newsreader?!

    What a fuckwit.

  5. It turns out that Abbott's "invisible substance" line was borrowed, without attribution, from someone named Jeremy Warner. He is apparently a senior employee of a British manufacturer of birdcage-liner named the Daily Telegraph. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/16/tony-abbott-climate-change-denial

    Sometimes payback is literally a bitch. Here's Jess from Christchurch, who has quoted all of Abbott's public utterances over the past six months without attribution: https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7659078144/hE8ED0C60/

  6. thanks for those excellent links.

    And here, Anon and Johnl, was the pond being kind and giving Abbott the benefit of the doubt and thinking he just mis-spoke, and instead it seems his office gave it to him, having borrowed it from a fruitloop in the UK, and he rehearsed it and then he spoke it like a parrot without the first clue as to the stupidity of what he was parroting. It turns out that the alternative explanation, that he and his office, are deep in the world of denialism, using exactly the same rhetoric. Give the cocky a biscuit.

  7. Don't worry guys, Abbotts media team has a brainstorming session happening right now on insider jacks blog under 'Coalition plays the man at their peril'. Just have a look at the suggestions on how to help Tony to the top. Only the OZ!!

  8. Ha! Watching Abbott and Rudd beat each other about is like watching Manly play Brisbane – there’s pleasure to be had in seeing them injure each other, but nothing really riding on the outcome.

  9. @ Anonymous, Jul 16, 2013, 2:13:00 PM, re: "soundcloud NSA recruitment"

    Nice one.


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/shortcuts/2013/jul/05/national-security-agency-recruitment-drive -- The cif comment there by mjtrac poohbcarrot 6 July 2013 3:59pm, says heaps:

    "I googled "Madiha Tahir NSA." It's at the Guardian, and a lot of alternative web sites. Not one US newspaper or TV outlet showed up on the first page of search results, and Ms. Tahir put it on her blog on July 2nd. That's America's free press."

  10. "..the sort of fringe characters Abbot hangs around with behind closed doors, picking up a little bit of denialist rhetoric here and there" are charted bottom centre under "The Weather" here:


    Abbot and co and their ilk you'll find elsewhere delightfully charted, mapped, and bludgeoned on Mr Jago's blog:



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