Sunday, August 10, 2014

In which the poodle Pyne, mad George, and the feeble Fairfaxians set the pace ...

So where have we reached?

Well yesterday the pond expressed mild astonishment at Peter van Onselen's proposal that Tony Abbott should emulate the poodle Pyne...

And sure enough a kindly reader promptly forwarded a meme which had been doing the rounds.

Now the pond could scarcely believe it.

Surely even Pyne couldn't manage to sound so breathtakingly offensive and stupid, all in one go. But wait, what's this, in his ABC interview on the 6th August 2014, here, presented in the guise of a van Onselen-approved skilled negotiator and compromiser:

SARAH FERGUSON: However, do you accept that there is a hit in the way that you've set up the loan repayments that hurts women and poorer people more than it does high income earners? Do you accept that's the consequence? 
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, absolutely not. And I don't accept it because what will happen at universities is that vice chancellors and their leadership teams will know that they should not charge and will not charge higher fees for courses which are typically going to be studied by people who'll be nurses and teachers and therefore not earn high incomes over a period of time. Now, women are well-represented amongst the teaching and nursing students. They will not be able to earn the high incomes that say dentists or lawyers will earn, and vice chancellors in framing their fees, their fee structure, will take that into account. Therefore the debts of teachers and nurses will be lower than the debts, for example, of lawyers and dentists.


Of course the meme went on to point out the bloody obvious:

But even if that figure had been 1%, it wouldn't have justified Pyne's condescending, paternalistic remark straight out of some 1950s picket fence dreaming ...

And there you have in a nutshell why Pyne can manage to be simultaneously a fuckwit and an epic danger to the education system in Australia, and incidentally to women ... and why van Onselen should wash out his pathetic keyboard with soap (oh yes, the pond has done that, it helps if you want a new keyboard).

And speaking of unintended, unforeseen consequences - who could have guessed that the election of the Abbott government promised the ruin of everything - the pond over breakfast came across Mark Danner's piece, How Robert Gates Got Away With It, currently sadly only within the paywall.

To cut to the chase, Danner reports an interview with Carter's national security adviser, and one time Gates' boss, Zbigniew Brezeinski asking if he had any regrets for providing covert aid to the Mujahideen, and negotiating Saudi and Pakistani support to help them:

Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war." Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
The chain of consequences did not stop there, of course, as Brzezinski well knew. To the question of whether he regretted "having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists," Brzezinski responded with another question: "What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"

Which leads to many, many ironies, not least as Danner notes, the United States now involved in the support of an Iranian-backed regime in Iraq, and bombing away to help redeem the ruins and the wreckage of a state that it created, and the cold war re-born and dreams of a Soviet empire lurching forth into the world, driven by the dictator Vlad 'the impaler' Putin.

And yet there were the reptiles headlining their front page yesterday with the most simplistic and childish analysis imaginable:

The headline should have read We'll be forming fucked up alliances with Islamic fundamentalists for years to come, just like we've been on friendly terms with Saudi Arabia, heart of Islamic fundamentalism, where in Pyne-approved fashion women still aren't allowed to drive a car or get into legal matters or do a little root canal surgery ...

And eek, there at the top of the page, beaming out like Moonface in the Faraway tree.

Look, it's obvious:

And all this before breakfast on a Sunday, with the sullen clouds still settling in the sky.

But wait, the comedy continues.

While the proudly independent Fairfaxians try to forget Mike Carlton ever existed, and Muslim groups agitate for his return - he couldn't, he wouldn't, would he? - the reptiles at the lizard Oz seized on the story - well you won't find the Fairfaxians putting it on the front page - and quoted the Fairfaxians thusly in Muslim groups threaten SMH boycott over loss of Mike Carlton (may be paywall affected):

In response to a request for comment on the letter, a Fairfax spokesman told AAP: “We understand and respect that there are strong views being expressed by many parties. 
“But the Herald will not be swayed from its longstanding and ongoing commitment to providing fair, independent and balanced news and reporting.” 

Pathetic. A response right out of 101 media management for public relations dummies.

They still think they're independent? As opposed to just another variety of craven forelock tuggers? They think the publishers of Paul "magic water" Sheehan can get away with saying they're fair and balanced?

Yes, there's the rub:

On Wednesday Fairfax news and business publisher Sean Aylmer said the problem was the way Carlton treated readers after they contacted him with issues about both the column and accompanying cartoon. Carlton resigned when Aylmer told him he would be suspended for several weeks. 
In the letter sent to Fairfax today, the Muslim community groups also condemned the cartoon that accompanied Carlton’s column. 
“It was indeed a racist cartoon that implicated the Jewish people in the actions of the Israeli state by using Jewish symbolism and stereotype,” the letter said. 
“However, the apology from Fairfax makes it clear that Fairfax has been put under pressure by the Israeli lobby.” 

Yes indeed. Has the cartoonist been sacked or merely counselled? Has the sub-editor who let it go through been sacked or merely counselled? Have all the upper management and editorial types who've helped drive Fairfax into the ground these past few years been sacked? Or do they imagine themselves above counselling, so long as there's a groundling available for public sacrifice?

The letter also accuses the paper of double standards and compares Carlton to another Fairfax columnist, Paul Sheehan, whom the group accuses of “habitual and countless offensive remarks about Muslims and Islam”. 
“Despite the Muslim community being outraged and writing countless correspondences to Fairfax management about their concerns, no such scrutiny was applied to Mr Sheehan,” the letter said.

Indeed. The pond can't imagine what secrets Sheehan holds about Fairfax and why he's shown such latitude, but each Monday and Thursday he lines up to outrage and shock sensibilities.

He's the the in-house Fairfax approved shock jock for climate denialism and every other form of ratbaggery, and yet he's immune, like he's wearing a cloak of invisibility, and yet the rag blathers on about how it's fair and balanced and independent.

Meanwhile, as a kindly reader noted, the Fairfaxians are no longer the only game on a Saturday.

The pond still has no idea how a tree killer hopes to survive, let alone flourish in the digital age, but there's fun to be had reading it. The pitch alone is enough to tear the pond away from the kool aid:

And there, as the kindly reader noted, was the fun to be had reading The madness of King George:

Now the pond has always loved the movie, and gets it down every so often, and just in that comparison, the pond was entranced.

Why it was obvious. Why hadn't the pond realised it?

But just as much fun is that Justinian, Richard Ackland, carrying on like a gadfly.

It's not meant to be deep, it's just a jolly jape amongst chums, and it could have been, this very day, a part of the Fairfax furniture.

Instead you have to head off to the Saturday Paper - or help kill a tree, no more difficult than killing a sheep for a Tamworth lamb chop lover - to read Bolt cutters leave no Marx, wherein Ackland ponders the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune afflicting the Bolter.

Ackland revives the matter of an academic who dared to publish a snap of himself standing next to Karl Marx's grave - a crime the pond has also committed, but without the publishing:

Soon Bolt was on the case, with an item bemoaning the fact that here was a man who “paid homage to Marx” and who taught journalism at Deakin, “which presumably wants its graduates equipped to work for big media organisations such as News Corp”. 
What a glittering prize that would be. 

Nailed it.

When Hirst had enough of the trolls he used a popular four-letter word to tell them where to go. Bolt was livid and posted the comments, whereupon Deakin suspended Hirst without pay for misconduct, bringing the university into disrepute, etc. 
Interestingly, Hirst’s legal advice was that using the word “fuck” in no way brought the university into disrepute. Let’s hope Mike Carlton at The Sydney Morning Herald hires the same lawyers. 

Nailed it.

Now Deakin has had the temerity, in defiance of Bolt and other leading thinkers, to reinstate Hirst. 
The indignity didn’t stop there, for a week later Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with a heartbroken Soapy (Bigot) Brandis standing next to him, announced the end of the “Bolt amendments” to the Racial Discrimination Act. 
This is the same Abbott who called around to the home of the entertaining scribbler to say the nation needs him, as together they shed tears in their shandies about the outcome of the Federal Court decision in Eatock v Bolt. Now, we all have to keep our lips buttoned on those delicious bigoted thoughts that are bursting to get out in the free speech marketplace. 
Thursday’s Free Speech Symposium, arranged by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, was designed to relaunch the case for the abolition of section 18C. In the end, even Soapy didn’t show. Phuff, fizzle, splutter.

Nailed it.

Funnily enough, when the pond's partner enquired about what the pond was up to recently, and Fairfax was mentioned, the partner confessed that the Fairfax site was no longer on the "might occasionally visit list", having long ago fallen off the "must visit list", and like a migraine headache, it wasn't missed at all.

That's what happens when you alienate readers, or subject them to terminal interminably boring rants from the likes of Paul Sheehan, and let your few readable opinion writers roam elsewhere.

News is cheap, people who can write entertaining columns with some insight, and free of the kind of rabid ideological zealotry and ratbaggery to be found in Sheehan, Miranda the Devine, the Bolter, and the sundry hagriogaphers and forelock tuggers at the lizard Oz, rarer by the day ...

And as a bonus if you head off to Justinian twittering, here, you'll find the odd bonus, like this:

And this:

No doubt you could do the same sort of graph for Fairfax readership.


  1. Thanks for alluding to the problems of Fairfax, after opening with Van Onselen's moment of madness in backing Pyne as a role model.

    Essentially we have as MSM News Ltd, the ABC, Fairfax, plus a few millionaires trying to advance their interests via commercial radio and what's left of TV. Given the dominance and the sorry state of the Reptiles, it's not at all encouraging to someone wanting to be informed.

    In fact, in an argument with a Tory troll, I had to laugh at her accusation of me using Fairfax and the ABC as my sources of information. Fact is, I wouldn't rely on them in a fit after the coverage of the last four years.

    True that post-election both have made attempts to regain credibility by daring to mention possible Abbott government flaws. Sarah Ferguson has gone some way to restoring 730 credibility (now alas gone). But the ABC still allows IPA shills to hog their talks and online programs. They bring zero in the way of informed comment.

    Fairfax has fared little better, probably worse. The Age has still not recovered from that moment of insanity when demanding Gillard resign for no reason other than tanking opinion polls. Dumping both Ackland and Carlton is panic at best. Both had credibility in their fields - something Fairfax still needed to rebuild. Both Fairfax and the ABC have been far too defensive when under fire from the Reptiles.

    For goodness sake, just let them say their worst. We've seen how much credibility they have in the wider community by the way even the Abbott government ran away from the Bolt Amendments. In simple language, the wingnuts are a noisy but insignificant grouping in our community. Carlton was right. Let's get back to sanity.

    1. It got even worse today GD, if you happened to witness Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson on The Insiders trying to spin the last week event's and without benefit of an industrial strength washing machine or a decent soap powder. It was excruciating and embarrassing, and worse, the pain outweighed the comedy gold. When it came to Clarke and Daw doing a bit of comedy, Henderson revealed himself to be a dour, sour, humourless prune. What a sorry sad sack he is, and this is what the ABC offers on a Sunday morning for insight. You'd be better off sprinkling desiccated coconut on the corn flakes ...

    2. That'd be desiccated coconut on the All Bran, DP. Corn Flakes are actually edible.

    3. I long abandoned Insiders. I've worried about its concept -reporters speaking to other reporters - which is not so much reporting, as "Who do you think won the week?" or "Was that smart politics to pull that stunt at Question time?" Reporting seems always stuck on the theatre more than the substance. And Polonius's place should surely be up for scrutiny.

      In earlier times it was arguably worse. He was there to represent what passed for the Moderate Right and either Bolt or Ackers did the Lunatic Right. Why it was necessary to have both Right shades represented was never explained. And I'm not at all sure that Hendo is the Moderate Right anyway, or what benefit there is to allowing him to attempt to try to make a silk purse. There ought to be Moderate Rights around such as Judith Brett or John Hewson who could supply some nuance.

      Hendo adds nothing - just a "... but, but..." type of qualifier to a government stuffup. I used to enjoy Latham's Hendo Watch at Crikey. (Now Latho's a bloke that might liven it up.) But apart from cannon fodder for him and for you in your sendups, there is nothing new to contribute. For goodness sake, it's surely enough to endure DLP types in the ministry - Andrews, Abetz, Pyne, Abbott - without any more.

  2. "As more details emerge of Putin’s plans to ban food imports from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway, people took to social media to ponder their culinary horizons. The Moscow Times pick their highlights."


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