Sunday, January 19, 2014

Everything changes in order to remain the same ...

(Above: John Doyle, grandfather of Arthur Conan, in 1831 portraying the Duke of Wellington in a bonnet as Dame Partington, who thought she could hold back the Atlantic Ocean with her housewife's mop).

It was while reading Alan Ryan's excellent review of Antonia Fraser's no doubt excellent Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832 (sadly within the New York Review of Books' paywall at time of writing) that the pond was reminded for the zillionth time that everything changes so it can remain the same.

Take that 1831 Doyle cartoon above. It could just as easily be said to show Tony Abbott or Greg Hunt holding back climate change via a direct action policy with about as much chance of success as a mop flourished against the Pacific ocean.

Or it might be a send-up of Scott Morrison, taking on the Indonesians with his trusty mop (just call the RAN a mop run by mop heads and who could argue?)

The pond merely reports and you decide.

You don't have to look far to ferret out analogies between the current and the ancient crop of Tories.

Back in King William IV's day,  the ancient Tories were confronted by a restless, baying mob, eager for a few humble signs of reform from the ruling elite (which naturally included versions of the Murdochs and their lickspittle lackeys - that'd be the disgusting elements of the press).

Instead what did the long suffering Poms cop, this before they even had an a bunch of international cricketers?

The Duke of Wellington, Queen Adelaide (as conservative a crow-eater as walked the earth) and her "royal tabbies":

Grey pressed on courteously, gently, steadily, undeterred by the hysterics of Tory peers and Tory bishops, twenty-one of whom had voted against reform. Encouraged by "the royal tabbies" to believe that the king would not create new peers to give Grey his legislation, the House of Lords again voted down the bill.

There were riots and a great to do, and if you accept Ryan's interpretation, the Great Reform Act in the end wasn't that great, but what catches the eye is the way sensible and appropriate reforms and indeed policies were held up by hysterical conservatives who were all "I'm all right Jack and everyone else can bugger off" while they retained their rotten boroughs and their corrupt ways (and it wasn't just political corruption, as anyone who was forced to suffer the Corn Laws in school will know).

Is there much difference between the Duke of Wellington, adept at warcraft yet singularly useless at politics and compromise, and Scott Morrison playing with his toy rubber duckie?

Yes, the pond ran it yesterday, and who knows, we might run it tomorrow or for the rest of the week or the year.

Because note how those words 'hysterics' and 'hysteria' link Doyle and Pope, as if 2014 was still really just 1831 ...

You can get more Pope here, and if you happen to be interested in Doyle and his times, there's an excellent collection of Doyle's work here.

Meanwhile, Cap'n Horatio Hornblower has another issue on his hands:

Australian naval personnel have been accused of behaving improperly towards asylum seekers, and Defence has confirmed it is investigating one of its members over allegedly inappropriate comments made on social media. 
A spokeswoman said the Royal Australian Navy was aware that a member had posted inappropriate material, and had begun an internal investigation. ''It would be inappropriate to make further comment about this matter until the assessment and any subsequent investigation is completed,'' she said. 
The man under investigation had commented on a friend's Facebook post about asylum seekers. The friend, who claims to be a member of the anti-Islam Australian Defence League, posted on Facebook about asylum seekers whose boat had sunk. The navy member in question wrote, ''I'm about to head out today to deal with these f---ers.'' (here)

Uh huh, we're worried about allegedly inappropriate comments made on social media while we have an iron curtain on actual activities at sea and in the gulags?

Let's face it, the coalition spent their years in the wilderness demonising refugees and promoting the work, and aiding and abetting the success, of the people smugglers.

The fish stinks first at the head, so they say, or at least it seems the Turks said, back in the eighteenth century (here), and so some deluded warrior, thinking he's in some kind of war, or perhaps on an X-ian crusade, will now find himself in trouble for actually saying what Morrison, Abbott and others have been dog whistling for years: trust us, we'll deal with these fuckers.

Or maybe it was trust us, we'll deal with these cocksuckers.

After sitting through Martin Scorsese's 180 minute, record breaking film The Wolf of Wall Street, all sorts of linguistic possibilities arise - yep studies show it uses 2.81 profanities a minute, for a total of 506, smashing the record held by Spike Lee (here, and naturally Vulture graphed every moment here)

After doing their very best to promote the work of people smugglers, Morrison and Abbott have now retreated into an eerie, artificial silence, and thereby created a void, but into that void will pour all sorts of observations, including the Facebook notes and the bizarre spectacle of the Australian media routinely referring to The Jakarta Post (presumably because no one in the mainstream knows how to read the various Indonesian language papers online):

Anger is growing in Indonesia after it was revealed Australian ships repeatedly breached their territorial waters. Australian navy and customs ships are suspected of having crossed Indonesia's 12-nautical-mile limit at least five times in the past month. 
In response, Indonesia on Friday said it would step up its own maritime patrols in a move that could heighten the risk of confrontation. 
The Jakarta Globe ran a front-page headline thundering ''A Deplorable Act'', and observed: ''In self-defence: Indonesia sends more naval vessels to its southern borders after Australian ships breach Indonesian waters.'' 
Asked whether she was tiring of apologising to Dr Natalegawa, Ms Bishop said: ''We are in regular communication. We are working together for the shared purpose of ensuring the people smuggling [model] is dismantled but also that the Australia-Indonesia relationship can strengthen. That's our shared purpose.''

Presumably Bishop is under the impression no one in Australia has actually heard what Dr Ntalegawa, a bolshie type when it comes to Oz, is actually saying.

Perhaps she's connected via big Mal's spiffing copper, carrier pigeons or 'tin cans joined with string' intertubes:

Oh dear it's a rambling Sunday, but never mind, since we're now all quoting The Jakarta Post these days, why not have a read of SBY resents Abbott in his new, controversial book.

Due to Abbott’s handling of the matter, Yudhoyono finally decided to suspend cooperation in the areas of military and defense, joint patrols on boat people, as well as intelligence and information sharing with Australia, resulting in ties between the two nations plunging to their lowest level. 

Oh we couldn't resist adding a little bold for emphasis. Just so we'd remember who it was wot done it.

Meanwhile, speaking of linguistic possibilities, the good news is that what the pond has long suspected has finally been confirmed ... which is to say the ponderous, inept, dullard attempt by Tony Abbott to slow up his speech, give it gravitas and sound Prime Ministerial, as you can read in full in Ewa Kretowicz's report Tony Abbott becomes a slow-talking PM:

His (Abbott's) media interviews dropped from 216 words per minute to 108 words per minute. 
''That's a huge difference,'' Dr Madill said. 
''Now in response to an interview question he's speaking at half the rate. ''I look at his rate of speech now and I think, 'He's got a lot of time to think about what he'll say next,' and repetition is a very good strategy to buy yourself time. If you can't think what you're going to say next, just repeat what you said before.'' 
But she warned that the Prime Minister's transformation had gone too far. ''There is always a balance between authority and spontaneity, but the hard part is you risk losing the sense of who you are, and that was what Julia Gillard suffered from. I think he's now on a par with her wooden presentation style, and Gillard didn't have nearly as many repetitions. He has to find a balance because I think he's starting to drift towards a presentation that is so controlled and so managed that he risks his listener switching off, he's becoming a puppet.''

On a par with Julia Gillard! Cruel irony or what?

A Mogadon man, so full of nitrazepam he could send anyone to sleep in minutes. It's a strategy of sorts, if you think a numbed nation doing a sleep walk is some kind of strategy ...

Won't someone show him the Scorsese film, and turn him on to Quaaludes? We need a dose of 714s if the wolf of Canberra is going to bung on a border war with Indonesia ...

The end result of all this Abbott-led mayhem?

Well cartoonists have never had better opportunities, never been confronted by so many rich possibilities, to the point where some might even be shrieking enough already.

But is any of it new, or is it just more proof that things change only so they can stay the same? (with due credit to di Lampedusa, who gave the saying an outing in his novel The Leopard in 1958, and Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who set it running in the nineteenth century.)

You see David Rowe's portrait of poodle Pyne ...

...  has an ancestry that can be tracked back to an 1832 cartoon by Doyle about the new Canadian legislature in Newfoundland, in which the pollies are drawn as Newfoundland dogs (click to enlarge) ...

Some days the pond would like to get off the super Tory highway to nowhere.

This Sunday is one of those days ...


  1. Dorothy, I can report from the eastern suburbs that big Mal is dead, transmogrified into Mr Fraudband, Destroyer of The Intertubes!

  2. Some days, Dorothy, I just feel sorry for you. I have been a fan of your satire for a long time now, but it must be difficult in these times, trying to make people like Abbott, Bishop J (even Bishop B), Morrison, Hunt and now even Turnbull look sillier than they are! No wonder Marty Natalegawa is trying to dodge Julie Bishop - he wouldn't be able to keep a straight face meeting her. As George Browning pointed out yesterday, not only has she totally screwed our relations with Indonesia, but now she has gone where even the Americans were reluctant to go in their support of Israel.

    And now Scott Morrison is going to pepper the coasts of Indonesia's southern islands with his damn life boats. Does anyone know how much one of those is worth, and how much we are offering to pay for their return? That's assuming that we don't tell SBY, "Well, we gave the Sri Lankans a couple of gunboats, but we're a bit short now, so you can have a dozen or so lifeboats".

    Keep up the good work Dorothy!

  3. It's very deeply concerning - all this un-navigation on the high seas.

    Even across a nearby pond, in the benighted NewZildy thing over there, there are similar un-navigation things occurring! Occurring, that is, exactly at the same time as the glorious sea-borne Sovereign Borders Task-Farce inadvertently lost its one set of Indonesian Automobile Association holiday route maps.

    Let's not mince facts here: it's plainly a Coordinated Pattern of Dark Global (Boffin) forces. Really.

    As to Nooms. I think it's wonderful that he belongs (apparently) to one our finest service organisations. Some members of the Mont Pelerin Society have a proud tradition of providing support for the unevolved e.g. poor military creatures in South America).


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