(Above: a couple of illustrations from the original Strand issue featuring H. G. Wells' The Country of the Blind, available at Project Gutenberg here in a variety of formats).
The pond rarely spends any time these days with Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman.
The political views on display are always too one-eyed, or perhaps just downright blind, and it always induce in the pond nostalgia for the H. G. Wells' story The Country of the Blind:
...Nunez advanced with the confident steps of a youth who enters upon life.
All the old stories of the lost valley and the Country of the Blind had come back to his mind, and through his thoughts ran this old proverb, as if it were a refrain:--
"In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King."
"In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King." (and you can score the rest of the story, along with other stories at Project Gutenberg here)
These days a discussion of the differently abled can be a minefield, but of course Wells was making a metaphorical point - some even think he might have laboured the point:
"Why did you not come when I called you?" said the blind man. "Must you be led like a child? Cannot you hear the path as you walk?"
Nunez laughed. "I can see it," he said. "There is no such word as see," said the blind man, after a pause. "Cease this folly and follow the sound of my feet."
Nunez followed, a little annoyed. "My time will come," he said. "You'll learn," the blind man answered. "There is much to learn in the world."
"Has no one told you, 'In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King?'"
"What is blind?" asked the blind man, carelessly, over his shoulder.
Yep, what we have here is a failure to communicate, and every time that Akker Dakker rolls out his stream of vilifying abuse at anyone to the left of Genghis Khan, the pond always feels its mind is being tapped by an invasive News Corp tendril, or someone has left a pod in the basement and it's taking on an odd , unnerving shape right before the pond's disbelieving eyes.
For months now, News Corp has been running a campaign against Clive Palmer, the one time Liberal and subsequent fallen angel, who now plays a role equivalent to that of Lucifer, though if you do a Greg Hunt on Fallen Angels, it seems it pays to be careful about the mythology.
The motivation is painfully obvious. Palmer has achieved enough power to make himself a real nuisance to the Abbott government when the new Senate is seated, and right at the moment anything that can be done to diminish that power in the Western Australian Senate re-run is all to the good.
So Akker Dakker's Confusion, chaos and buffoonery is just more demonology, more Palmer as Lucifer, and more Chicken Little conjuring up of a world falling apart ...
The usual conservative saw is that the infinite wisdom of the herd, the wisdom of the crowd, is that in a democracy, the punters somehow get it right. Not according to Akker Dakker:
Clive Palmer’s buffoonish presence in federal parliament is a continuing indictment of the voters in the Queensland seat of Fairfax. Whatever could they have been thinking last September when they elected the erratic twerker to represent them?
Yes, you dim-witted braying Queenslanders, you feral cane toads, you useless dummies, don't pretend you were thinking. Of course you might just as easily observe:
Campbell Newman’s buffoonish continuing presence as Premier in the Queensland state parliament is a continuing indictment of the voters in the Queensland . Whatever could they have been thinking in March 2012 when they elected that erratic bunch of twerkers to represent them and rule the state and act like a bunch of petty gauleiters?
Idle abuse rolls easily off the tongue, and what's the bet - as sure as Shane Warne hammily pretends to fear spiders - that Akker Dakker will mention dinosaurs?
Canberra has seen its share of eccentrics in the past 113 years but Palmer is a stand-out, much like the animated dinosaurs that infest his troubled golf resort.
Hah, did you bet on the second par? Remember you should always gamble responsibly, and if you must sit through an aircraft investigation on the Qantas flight 32 matter, make sure you turn off the ads.
The problem for Akker Dakker is that the question at hand is a tortured one for conservatives. You see silly Clive is playing the orphan card. Won't someone think of the orphans?
Well not Tony Abbott, and there's the rub.
Now here's the strange thing. The pond has some sympathy for the orphans, and for the poor fuckers who are sent off to war, by politicians frequently sitting in arm chairs, and then when the poor buggers discover war isn't a glory game, they come back to an indifferent public, who sometimes blame them, and who are content that they cop a few medals and get to march once a year, but allow inertia to rule when the warriors aren't properly recompensed for the mental, physical and familial damage they - or their surviving family - might endure.
Here's how Akker Dakker tries to resolve it, with a splendid flurry of carrot and stick:
Unreliable and inconsistent, Palmer now says he will hold the Abbott government’s efforts to repeal the economically-damaging, job destroying mining tax to ransom unless it reverses its plan to end a bonus welfare payment to the children of dead or injured war veterans, including orphans.
Not the orphans!
Before anyone from that community gets too lathered up, it is beyond question that the sacrifices made by those in our armed services must be recognised and not just on Anzac Day.
Phew, that's a relief. But hey, just because you've made a minor sacrifice - like death in the killing fields - let's not get too greedy. Wasn't that gong enough?
But the welfare payment in question, which has been paid only once, was without doubt a bonus (something paid in addition to what was usual or expected), it was labelled the income support bonus and it was tied to Labor’s notoriously underperforming mining tax.
This financial year, the mining tax which originally was forecast to produce $4 billion in revenue, will yield an estimated $232 million.
So summon up the courage and produce a better performing mining tax?
Oh no no no!
Anyone working on the family budget would realise the mining tax is a dud and as such can’t provide the cash promised by Labor to fund extravagant promises.
So summon up the courage and produce a better performing mining tax?
Oh no no no!
Please someone, forget the orphans, won't someone think of Gina!
As it is, those who received the bonus remain eligible or are already receiving the living allowance, austudy, exceptional circumstances payment, newstart allowance, parenting payment, sickness allowance, special benefit, transitional farm family payment and youth allowance.
Why the filthy bludgers. They're making out like bloody bandits, they're worse than surfies living the high life on a toke and a wave and the taxpayers' dimes.
Why they're doing just as well as the blacks, because everyone knows that fair-skinned people pretend to be black because being an Aborigine in Australia is the bee's knees in terms of advantage, and a rich lifestyle ...
But is Akker Dakker sounding like a meanie, like a grinch on the day before Xmas?
It may seem harsh, hard-hearted even, when the promised payments from the repellent mining tax were to go to such emotionally-charged causes as the children of injured veterans and orphans ...
Oh it may indeed. It may make Clive Palmer look like a hero because he thinks about the orphans, but there's always a billy goat butt a but, but, but, when it comes to emotionally charged causes ...
...but if Labor genuinely had the interests of these deserving families at heart, it would have based its funding promise on a realistic source, not its flawed mining tax.
But if the Abbott government genuinely had the interests of these deserving families at heart, it would find another way to fund the orphans based on a realistic source, not on the flawed mining tax they can't be bothered fixing ...
It turns out it's all too hard for a stout-hearted bear like Akker Dakker to contain in his brain. Honey is such a distraction.
But then the ideological zealot always has trouble reconciling 'all taxes are terrible' with 'let's stiff the war heroes and their orphans'.
What to do, what to do? Glad you asked, because in this case, the pond and Akker Dakker always recommend that you resort to wild-eyed abuse, a frothing and foaming and ranting, and never mind if it might strike someone as fear-based and irrational:
Palmer, who seems to live in a confused twilight zone where he and his party are being stalked by imagined conspirators, is at least consistently irrational.
Yep, it's the old prestidigitation trick. Never mind the war heroes and their orphans, let's have a distraction, let's sink the boot into the twerking Clive:
Wherever he lands, chaos and confusion reign.
Why, Clive has landed in Akker Dakker's brain, and no better example of chaos and confusion reigning can be found anywhere in the land, unless you happen to look at all the other chaotic, confused Murdochians who spend inordinate amounts of time scribbling about Clive and giving him attention and pandering to his ego - why, the pond once heard that Hedley Thomas fancied himself as an investigative journalist before he was given the job of checking the pigeon shit on Clive's dinosaurs and sorting through Clive's garbage bin ...
How silly can it get?
His strategy is one of bluster. Policies he dislikes, such as the government’s very focused Commission of Audit, are “bullshit”.
Hang on. In the aftermath of PUP’s Tasmanian poll debacle, past and present members of Palmer’s own party are accusing their leader of being responsible for “bullshit and razzamatazz” and say he undermined their party’s effort.
PUP candidate for the seat of Lyons, Chris Lester, a Derwent Valley councillor, walked away from the PUP campaign just before he was to be endorsed because he believed the campaign was “talking too much crap”.
Hang on, hang on.
He calls himself a PUP candidate but he was never endorsed as a PUP candidate?
Talk about talking crap. You can't call yourself a proper candidate if you were never endorsed. Unless the pond can call itself the Loon candidate for Newtown (well at least we've been endorsed by the Tooth Fairy party).
As usual, Akker Dakker just wanted to gild the lily, to egg his hand more than was necessary. His likely source was the Mercury story Ex-members say Clive Palmer fails his own party (forced video at end of link).
But there the story was presented more astutely:
Chris Lester, who says he was selected as a candidate in Lyons before pulling out just before the official endorsement, blasted Mr Palmer’s lack of organisational structure and his tendency to try to “just bulldoze it through”.
The Derwent Valley councillor said senior party figures had told him he was about to be endorsed but he walked away because he felt the campaign had begun to involve “talking too much crap”.
At least there's no logical inconsistency there. He ways he was and then he wasn't and then he walked away before he was, and why anyone should pay attention to such an unreliable and inconsistent source is a matter for others, especially Akker Dakker, who seems to worry about reliability and consistency.
It turns out that Lester has his own problems with reality:
“My personal view is that unless Clive steps down as the head of the party and they actually run it as a political party, it won’t go anywhere – I think it will fizzle out.”
PUP state candidate for Franklin, Michael Figg, said the Tasmanian campaign was hampered by “too much of Clive and not enough of the real people”.
Clive should step down? It's too much about Clive?
Didn't anyone tell them it's called the Palmer United Party?
That's not as in the cocoa-nut palm tree united party, but as in the Clive Palmer United Party ...
How much more bleeding obvious do you need?
Never mind, to cut to the chase, the whole point of the Akker Dakker piece comes in the last line, though whether anyone in Western Australia gives the slightest fig what an eastern states neocon says is another matter:
Those who voted for a PUP candidate last year should rethink their choice before giving this party further semblance of credibility.
But there's a world of pain coming for the Abbott government, no matter how it falls in WA, and there'll be much more, if they go about the business of persecuting war orphans rather than persecuting mining companies of the Clive and Gina Rinehart kind ...
The pond doesn't mind. Let chaos and confusion reign. It's been that way for the first six months of the Abbott government, and that's why a populist like Palmer has had his moment in the sun ...
In fact, Tony Abbott did his bit for Clive by spending three years establishing a monstrous negativity that allowed Clive to flower in the political garden.
In fact, if you wanted to blame anyone for Clive Palmer - apart from Clive Palmer himself - why not blame the Liberal party, Campbell Newman and the rest of the Queensland LNP, Mal Brough when he sought Clive out for counsel, and the federal Liberals who didn't mind Clive when he was inside the tent and an exemplary model of a mining magnate ...
Oh and the Murdochians who now daily try to put down the fallen avenging angel and thereby help his populism, in much the same way as they and John Howard did the same for Pauline Hanson and the ugly Australian ...
Oh yes, it's a funny story, with ironies abundance, and that's why whenever reading Akker Dakker, the pond is transported back to H. G. Wells' kingdom of the blind ...
(Below: speaking of dinosaurs and WA, the unerring David Pope lays a brilliant egg - is it a feral chicken from hell dinosaur egg? - and more Pope here)