(Above: David Pope, explaining why the sight of the Poodle Pyne flapping about proclaiming the death of democracy is as funny and as silly as a unicorn sighting, especially when what the Poodle meant to say was death to fairness to students. More Pope here)
FALSTAFF What wind blew you hither, Pistol?
PISTOL Not the ill wind which blows no man to good.
It should go without saying that these are the best of times for the pond.
Sure, darkness has fallen on the land, the pitiful moan piteous songs of pain, and everywhere there is cruelty and suffering ...
But hits are up and comments are polite, and they point the pond to such naked absurdities as Tim Wilson.
There was something poignant about this juxtapositioning of stories in The Graudian:
What a pity Wilson didn't just explain to jolly Joe Hockey that he'd been trolled by Fairfax, and he didn't need to resort to vulgar, demeaning defamation laws to regulate free speech - surely social norms would be enough for jolly Joe.
It turns out Wilson's piece, Twitter trolls have a right to offend - but we don't have to listen, is actually an extended plug for Wilson turning out to a Sydney Writers' Festival event, to which punters can gain access by plunking down either twenty or fourteen bucks, cash in the paw.
The pond is happy to follow Wilson's advice - Wilson has a right to be silly and stupid, and in its own way that's offensive enough, but buggered if the pond has to pay to listen.
It turns out that Wilson has trouble cobbling together a useful and intelligent sentence - witness his capper to the piece:
Irresponsible internet behaviour confirms the efficacy, importance and prevalence of social norms in guiding our behaviour without us thinking, and outside the law.
So much for moderation by moderators and trenchant notes - many of them in the comments section of Wilson's piece - saying This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted.
Censorship! Outrageous blows against freedom of speech!
In Wilson's bizarre world, vigilantes and hanging parties hunt out naughty people, tar 'n feather them, and drive them off the intertubes, for failing to conform to social norms ...
It's a nonsense of course, and it's misleading, since laws and regulations are routinely applied to free speech, and even humble bloggers that defame others, or host comments that defame others, do so at their peril.
As for Wilson misconstruing Stephen Fry - link here supplied by a kindly pond reader, but not provided by Wilson - and linking only to pieces by Chris Kenny and the Bolter, the oddity is why anyone would listen to him, rather than do what should always be done, which is ignore him.
Oh okay, that's just riffing on a bit of Wilson's silliness:
All that the internet has demonstrated is there were always people in the community who speak before they think, who are liberal with their outrage and don’t understand proportion.
Once upon a time you didn’t have to interact with them. Or we simply ignored them. The internet has just given them a platform without always being held to account. Their voice may appear louder. But they were always there.
Of course they have a right to speak. The oddity is why anyone listens to them, instead of doing what we’ve always done – ignored them. The Australian’s Chris Kenny calls it a “green-Left echo chamber”. The News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt refers to it as a “sewer”.
Uh huh. Actually Andrew Bolt is a blogger. He's a sewer of sows' ears in the sewer ... any time any one takes a walk through the comments on Bolt's blog, they're likely to feel they've just emerged from a sewer, coated in excremental hatred and bile.
And Chris Kenny blogs, though his tag "An unashamedly rationalist approach to national affairs" is likely to produce unashamed laughter.
It's an abuse of the concept of social media to reduce it to Twitter. So let's reduce it to Twitter:
...Either way, of all social media platforms, Twitter provides the most immediate and spontaneous satisfaction for people to vent.
Which is a nonsense. It takes a nanosecond to drop a remark about Islamics, Waleed Aly, Adam Goodes or any of the favourite piñatas the Bolter is currently bashing into the cesspit of Bolter comments ...
About the same nanosecond it takes to scribble a note to self that Tim Wilson is a really stupid man. Oh wait, that's sounding a bit Bolter
Sitting behind anonymous Twitter egg-profile portraits, there are some people who unrelentingly lash out and vomit abuse.
The subject doesn’t seem to matter. The budget. The NBN. Joe Bullock. Any speech by the Greens. Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers. In response there are either howls of outrage or uncritical, effusive praise – depending on your perspective.
And there the pond was, thinking we were talking about social media, and suddenly we're talking about the commentariat team that work for the Murdochian tabloids, and the most excellent reptiles who infest the lizard house at The Australian ...
Yes, the reptiles are back with the Photoshop:
It's as sure a sign as any that the reptiles realise Tony Abbott and his government are deep in a hole they've dug for themselves, and now they'll need all the cheap jokes, snideries and Photoshop the Murdochians can offer.
As for the Terror's readership, its core demographic, the ones most likely to suffer from and be deeply savaged bythe budget? Go figure why they'd pay for the rag ... shorten on sense perhaps ...
Back to the condescending, sneering Wilson:
Few of us have significant time to spend on social media.
Except of course if you happen to be a fat cat bureaucrat, with too much idle time on your hands, and a crazed notion that you're some kind of "Freedom Commissioner", like a hot shot sheriff ready to run the galoots plumb out of town and mebbe out of the entire west ...
But a small section seem to have it as their outlet. It’s the tool that gives them a voice.
The rest of us are happy just to read the thoughts of Chairman Rupert's team ...
Oops, that last bit wasn't a Wilson quote ...
So why should the pond pay the slightest attention to Wilson? Well he's being paid a shit load of taxpayers' money to be insufferably offensive, and each time he does so, he draws attention to the ideological nature of his appointment and his scribbling ...
But enough of Wilson, because it's a long time since the pond has dropped in on Dame Slap and it turns out she's consternated.
Bah humbug Connie, and if you tune into Budget critics show double standards (behind the paywall because getting a good slapping from Dame Slap shouldn't be free), you'll get a very good dose of bah humbug ...
Now the pond recently mentioned Annabel Crabb's funny takedown of the commentariat - Whatever happened to 'without fear or favour'? - and it was odds on that Dame Slap would take offence and the gate and whatever else was handy, and reply with a blunderbuss or at least a baseball bat.
Following the federal budget, there has been some real tosh in the media.
Last Wednesday, a grumpy grandma on Channel 10’s Wake Up program protested against budget changes to the age pension. She turned out to be a former campaigner for Kevin Rudd.
Say no more. Don't discuss or canvas her talking points. She's on the other team, probably plays for Western Suburbs, certainly isn't a Manly or a Mosman sort ...
Never mind, on to the real indignation:
Then came ridiculous coverage at news.com.au about the cost of a dress worn on budget night by Joe Hockey’s wife, a self-made, hardworking woman.
By Sunday, it was Annabel Crabb’s turn in Fairfax’s Sunday papers asserting that “firebrand conservative columnists” were hardest hit by the budget. Not only did they have to fork out for the deficit levy, wrote Crabb, they also had been stripped of two subjects — class-war taxes on the rich, and the reprehensibility of broken campaign promises — on which they had relied heavily for rhetorical ballast.
It’s time for sections of the media to lift their game. Crabb’s cute persona doesn’t get her off the hook for peddling such nonsense.
Because talking about Joe Hockey's wife's dress - she doesn't have an actual name, she's just a hard-working self-made anonymous woman in a dress - is just so unfair, but talking about Crabb's cute persona is just ... well, it's just so cute ...
Yet, like a piece of recycled garbage, this line about blinkered conservatives gets regurgitated.
Had Crabb paid more attention recently, she would have noticed most conservative columnists came out stridently against the deficit levy, not because some might have to pay it (Crabb, the ABC’s online political editor, will also pay it thanks to her annual taxpayer-funded salary of $217,246) but because breaking campaign promises is a political mistake for Tony Abbott.
Contrary to Crabb’s disingenuous analysis, News columnist and host of The Bolt Report Andrew Bolt has been a harsh and consistent critic of the deficit levy and increasing the fuel excise — as broken promises from a Prime Minister who campaigned against Julia Gillard’s broken promises.
And there you have it, as if the Daily Terror hadn't just this very day shown how the Murdoch press and its commentariat go about their grubby business ...
Let's cut to the obvious point.
Dame Slap obligingly tells us how much Crabb makes. Now would she do us all a favour, and tell us how much she and the Bolter earns? And the rest of the pack of serial abuser reptiles at the lizard Oz ...
Sorry, while you're listening to the sounds of crickets, let's go on:
Curiously, Crabb failed to mention Bolt’s April 30 blog where he wrote, “Abbott cannot afford to break a promise”, and his May 1 column, headed: “A broken promise could break Abbott”, and The Bolt Report on the Sunday before the budget when Bolt again criticised Abbott for breaking promises, and Bolt’s column the day after the budget that said Abbott was “dicing with political death to … break so many promises”.
Similarly, Crabb failed to acknowledge that conservative columnist Miranda Devine, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said such a debt tax would be a betrayal of voters’ trust. Crabb didn’t mention the equally critical comments by my colleague Chris Kenny in The Australian. As host of Sky’s Viewpoint on Sunday evening and in radio interviews for weeks, Kenny has been an intellectually consistent critic of Abbott’s broken tax promise. In Adelaide’s Sunday Mail before the budget, he wrote: “The Abbott government looks to be playing us for mugs.”
Crabb also ignored my comments on Viewpoint, on The Bolt Report and in The Australian where I have held the Abbott government to account for breaking promises after campaigning on the basis of rebuilding voters’ trust following the disaster of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.
Curiously Dame Slap failed to mention the many columns and pieces scribbled by the Bolter since which have been in praise of brave Tony.
Curiously the best one came today, here, sourced in the usual Bolter way from here, behind the paywall - the Bolter's a one man army of paywall leaks, and it didn't have to do with politics, but it revealed a huge amount about the man ...
“Years ago I was playing rugby for Sydney University,” Abbott began, describing a game against the then powerhouse that was Hornsby. “Late in the game, the prop opposite me went off and a Fijian international came from the second row of the Hornsby team into the front row for the last couple of scrums of the game. First of all he tried to eye-gouge me. Then he tried to get his hands inside my mouth and have a go at my gums…
“I thought, ‘This is outrageous. If it happens again, I’m going to have to do something.’ So it happened in the third scrum — and as you know, I’m a man of peace… .
“As the scrum broke up, I gave him my best possible punch.” Cue some surprised chuckling. “Now, I’m not going to go into what happened after that on the field. The interesting thing is what happened off the field. The legendary Jake Howard, who was awarding points in the Herald competition that day, said to me, ‘Tony, great punch. Great punch. For that, you are getting one point in the Best and Fairest competition.’ The point of the story is that sometimes you have to throw a punch to be best and fairest.”
Says it all really, but back to Janet Albrechtsen throwing haymakers on Abbott's behalf. It turns out it's a classic whinge, a monstrous moan, a song of songs:
Well there's a little girl pounding on a keyboard at the local reptile shop
Se's been typing down there, typing half the day
They never ever see her from the top of their left wing bias
She gets pushed around, knocked to the ground
She gets to her feet and she says
What about me, it isn't fair
I've had enough of always being fair
Can't you see I just wanna be fair
But you just refuse to be fair
You crazy unfair left wing loons...
While not all conservative commentators have been critical of Abbott’s first budget, plenty have been. Just as former prime minister John Howard copped plenty of scrutiny from conservatives for his overly generous middle-class welfare, for his expensive populism when he removed indexation on fuel excise in 2001, over the AWB scandal, the debacle surrounding Mohamed Haneef’s arrest and so on, Abbott can’t and won’t expect an easy ride from the Right.
The more disappointing story is the inability of so many conservative-haters in the media to apply the same level of intellectual curiosity regardless of which party is in power.
While Crabb has concocted a story that conservatives are giving Abbott a free pass on broken promises, in her 8700-word essay about Gillard in The Monthly in July 2011 Crabb includes only passing mention of Gillard’s broken carbon tax promise. Indeed, when the tax passed on October 12, 2011, Crabb lauded the broken promise as “a substantial achievement” on The Drum.
Other like-minded journalists also desperately looked for signs of Gillard’s comeback instead of focusing on why voters remained cranky. The ABC’s Fran Kelly famously cheered the carbon tax legislation: “Bring on the certainty, I say.”
Yet, on Insiders on Sunday, Kelly, Lenore Taylor and Laura Tingle were smoking with indignation about Abbott’s broken promises. Where was the indignation from Taylor and Tingle when Gillard broke her no-carbon tax promise? Taylor preferred to argue that Gillard never ruled out an emissions trading system. Tingle, who delighted in describing Abbott as a “negative, opportunistic and hollow man” and remonstrated against Abbott getting away with an asylum-seeker policy “that would never work”, never raged against the opportunism and hollowness of Gillard, who broke a promise solely to secure her prime ministership. Journalists Kerry-Anne Walsh and Jonathan Green also tried to help Gillard out of her carbon tax hole by asserting Gillard qualified her August 2010 promise with a commitment to put a price on carbon. As Gerard Henderson has said, neither produced evidence of this.
You have to hand it to the commentariat. They cling to the Ruddster and Gillard like Linus van Pelt clung to his blanket and Charlie Brown to his piano ...
And that last line is a real clue. Could Dame Slap be turning into a female prattling Polonius? Anal retentive, obsessed with the past, and always glossing the history with an eye to removing the motes?
But okay, we've trawled through the past. Can we mine any more of it as a form of deflection? Sure thing:
Maybe some sections of the media are just sleepy. Or maybe they are guilty of double standards when it comes to holding governments to account. Just as this newspaper held the Howard government to account for its stuff-ups, The Australian has led the way on exposing the AWU scandal, the deaths arising out of Labor’s home insulation scheme, rorts in the former Labor government’s school halls program, failures in the national rental affordability scheme, the silliness of government handing out set-top boxes, computers in the classroom, homelessness policies that came to naught, the NBN cost blowouts and missed targets and the tragic failure of Rudd and Gillard “applying metrics” to Aboriginal disadvantage with little change to outcomes. Gillard’s broken carbon tax promise simply rubbed salt into the wounds of worn-out voters.
Yes and never mind the war against the NBN, which has resulted in Australia getting a third rate service for long after the pond has gone to the grave wondering if there's only copper wiring in the coffin ...
And then there's climate denialism of the commentariat which led to the faux indignation about the carbon tax, a tax which at one point Tony Abbott himself had espoused.
Never mind that Albrechtsen was a Lord Monckton fellow traveller, and amazingly swallowed his story of climate science as a path to world government (yes, the pond was astonished, but then so was Tim Lambert, here).
The reality? Albrechtsen is a first class loon, and deep in denial about some of the fruitier examples of her loonacy. On a good day, barking mad, and not just north by north west.
While The Australian’s Hedley Thomas has examined the real facts around Clive Palmer’s outlandish claims and business dealings, the rest of the media has given this influential politician a free kick, presumably because he is a thorn in Abbott’s side. But by far the biggest failure has been from those in the media who, unlike this newspaper and The Australian Financial Review, have failed to scrutinise the structural disintegration of the federal budget under Labor with unfunded and unsustainable promises on Gonski, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and hospital funding beyond the forward estimates.
More old-fashioned journalistic curiosity from the left-wing media about facts will enhance debate, not just about broken promises but about whether the national interest of repairing Australia’s fiscal balance sheet rises above other political considerations.
Actually if you read Albrechtsen or the rest of the reptiles, you'll learn three fifths of fuck all about enhanced debate on any subject under the sun, whether it be climate science or politicians who break promises and who are natural born liars and cruel in their policies to boot.
Deep in their hearts they probably realise that Abbott has done a Gillard and there's no way back for him, just a slow, remorseless slide to defeat.
But there's no room for regret, and so what you will learn from Dame Slap is the Abbott philosophy which courses deep in him and the reptile commentariat. Leopards don't change their spots, and tigers always wear stripes ...
Never admit errors, never admit defeat, never retreat, never surrender, always assert you're right about everything, dismiss anyone who disagrees as a leftie or a greenie or a ratbag. And after you've delivered a rant about fairness, remember it must always end with a slant, a skew and a spin - you know, like blather about a budget emergency which requires urgent surgical repair work because the sky is falling in ...
In a nutshell:
The point of the story is that sometimes you have to throw a punch to be best and fairest.
Yes a kick in the balls, or a punch to the head settles everything ...
Ah well, as they say, it's an ill wind ... and don't you worry why dumb footballers infest Kings Cross and Canberra and get themselves into trouble ...
But enough of the second rate, overpaid (but the amount never disclosed) whiners, whingers, moaners and losers at work in paranoid castle. What have the best and the brightest minds in the Murdochian empire got for us today?
Dammit, will a cheap Murdoch joke about cane toads bump out a cogent cartoon from David Rowe mentioning something the well-paid Dame Slap didn't dare to mention? And as always more Rowe here.