Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fairy floss v the dandelion ...

(Above: Tony Abbott asked the question, and the Chaser lads provided the answer, show site here so you can watch on catch-up)

Certainly not.

Watch fairy floss go into battle with dandelion, and see who can float the farthest in the wind by huffing and puffing?

One of the biggest failures of John Howard was to ensure a strong successor, arranged via a planned succession.

Instead he kneecapped the internal opposition in the party, and so landed the Liberals, and likely enough the country with the weakest leader since Ming the Merciless did the same back in the 1960s and handed the reins to Harold Holt. But sadly there's no sign of a Chinese submarine lurking in the waters off Manly just when we need it most ...

Abbott's signature policies - the paid parental leave, the dumbing down of broadband, the abandoning of any sensible market-driven attempt to tackle the implications of climate science - range from the risible to the pathetic, driven by the desire to be different rather than any apparent need to be sensible.

They've been cultivated in the void created by Labor leadership wrangles, and given a free pass by the Murdoch press.

So the pond settled for watching the Gruen Nation, and astonishingly discovered that it seems that Amanda Vanstone is now a certified ABC personality, which reveals way more about the ABC and its notion of televisual personalities than the pond ever needed to know.

Then the pond backed up with the Chaser lads doing their election special The Hamster Decides (the pond only calls them lads because it irritates the heck out of Gerard "Prattling Polonius" Henderson).

But that was equally dispiriting, featuring as it did politicians doing utterly gormless things - let's not even talk of the singing,  that made Joan Kirner seem like an angelic songbird.

The show culminated for the pond with big Mal participating in a skit wherein the Chaser lads sent his copper wire fetish up something shocking, and yet he cheerfully played the goose ...

No sense of shame, big Mal, none at all. At least Doug Cameron realised "oh shit" was the only valid response ...

The pond has followed politics for many a year, but can't remember a more wretched time in terms of bi-partisan follies and foolishness.

But the capper came this morning when it emerged that the only talking point arising from the debate was Tony Abbott telling Kevin Rudd to shut up.

Now on the most superficial level, it's probably the most pathetic, deliberately trolling, whispering to the red neck remark Abbott could deliver.

Everybody knows that the Ruddster is more verbose than Humpty Dumpty in Wonderland, but it was a completely meaningless cheap shot, since both men were in a debate, the whole point of which was to talk, and not to shut up.

For all that it was a knowing piece of trolling, it remained an entirely stupid remark and a stupid response to the needling of Rudd, and it confirms that any reign by Abbott is likely to be short on policy and long on gaffes and incendiary nonsense.

He really has risen, Peter Principle style, to a position he's manifestly ill-equipped to hold, since if dandelion can only tell fairy floss to shut up, that hardly counts as substantive ...

Yet what do we see in certain sections of the Murdochian press this morning?

Yes, the country's fucked and it's likely to be even more fucked before it's less fucked. It reminded the pond of the result of the previous debate:

Yes, the country's fucked and it's likely to be even more fucked before it's less fucked. It reminded the pond of chairman Rupert's most recent contribution to social harmony:

Tony Abbott's a conviction politician? Tony Abbott is a dumb, grasping politician, so thick he can announce that the nation is in the grip of a budget emergency, and then turn on a dime and shovel a generous dose of cash - on a 'reward the well-off more than the poor' basis - out the door in a fine flurry of middle class welfarism.

But it was chairman Rupert's previous outburst that tickled the pond.

You could devise any number of wrinkles:

Societies have to integrate. Blacks find it the hardest.
Societies have to integrate. Asians find it the hardest.
Societies have to integrate. Gays find it the hardest.

But the pond will settle for the obvious:

Societies can embrace a diversity of ideas and people and find riches in that diversity. Fascists and Murdochians find this simple notion the hardest ...

A pox on the Murdochians, but really for a truly wondrous sight - you'll believe pigs might fly after reading it - why not head off to Henry Ergas, lurking amongst the reptiles at the lizard Oz, scribbling Parent-leave piggy bank can fly (behind the paywall to give you a sense of freedom).

Yes, dour old desiccated coconut Henry Ergas, who routinely and regularly - such that you might wonder if he has any academic duties at all - announces that the country is in an economic crisis, that we need to reduce expenditure or catastrophe will ensue, most likely by two pm Friday.

Week in, week out, he blathers about the need for discipline (budget cilice anyone?), and the extravagances of Labor and so on and so endless forth, and knock the pond down with a feather, today he's all in favour of middle class welfarism.

Truly you couldn't find a better example of a blind man asserting he'd discovered the cause of the problem - the elephant of profligate government expenditure - only to discover the real cause of profligacy was the camel of choice:

The desirability of some form of compulsory scheme is therefore common ground between the parties. But Abbott's scheme is significantly more generous than Labor's, leading to criticisms that it is unaffordable and inequitable. Those criticisms are not well-founded. 
To begin with, affordability is a matter of priorities: there is no shortage of programs that provide far fewer gains to society, including those throwing billions of dollars at unilaterally reducing our carbon emissions.

Yes, yes, because bringing up children in a world bedevilled by climate change is really important for people earning up to 150k a year ...

As for equity? Well good old Henry has a splendid answer, which is to accuse anyone of harping on about the rich getting richer of a return to class warfare. Yes he does:

As for equity, Labor claims it is inherently unfair to provide taxpayer-funded parental leave on an income-replacement basis. Yet that is exactly what happens in the public service. And it is only those with a "class war" mindset who think it is fair or sends the right signal to offer income replacement at 100 per cent to single mothers who leave school at 18 but at only 30 per cent to the parent who trains as a nurse, an engineer or an accountant.

Oh you wicked single mothers, oh you noble virtuous educated middle class welfarists (funny, no mention of lawyers...)

Now the emperor knows where to buy his new clothes ...

The ultimate cheek? Ergas chivvies Penny Wong for backflipping, but truly could Wong ever manage this sort of Henry 'spend like there's no budget emergency at all' Ergas, sounding like a socialist enunciating the 101 socialism for dummies justification of middle class welfarism:

Abbott is strongly committed to paid parental leave on an income replacement basis. But he has plenty of time to finesse the details of the scheme design and funding. It easy to forget that the Higher Education Contribution Scheme, a piggy bank scheme now viewed as a significant success, took several iterations to get right. Like Rome, major innovations in social programs are not built in a day - but they are still worth doing.

Et tu Henry?

There seems to be only one sensible policy laden response ... will  Henry ever shut up about the national budget emergency and the NBN and climate science and irresponsible fiscal policies and irresponsible expenditure, now he's discovered the joys of welfarism?

Not likely ...

Oh yes, truly the country is well on the way to be fucked, and the pond's chief regret is that instead of leaving the country in August, we have to wait until September, and so must watch, or at least hide in plain sight, as strange monstrous Ergas creatures change their spots, and spread fear and loathing amongst the free market folk ...

But you know what? There's always an upside. An Abbott government littered with contradictions, aggro and gaffes would be a gift that keeps on giving, such that writing the pond as the country goes to the dogs would be a breeze.

In much the same way, the pond reckons that Henry Ergas scribbled his piece so he could be sent up shitless in the usual way by a brilliant Pope cartoon.

What we need is way more Popery and way less Ergas ... but sadly you can only really appreciate Pope after you've endured the folly of silly Henry ...

More Popery here, the best argument there ever was to support the Canberra Times.

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