Friday, October 10, 2014

And so to a repeat performance of "Democracy cannot be strengthened by being narrowed and restricted", featuring jolly Joe, the bantam budgie smuggler, sundry reptiles, and Bill Shorten in the guise of a wall ...

(Above: the immortal Pope. Vote for the popularity of knavish popery by clicking here)

The pond is seriously worried for jolly Joe Hockey.

The cock - in this metaphor the role of the cock will be performed by the bantam Tony Abbott, in the guise of a budgie smuggler  - has crowed at least three times in recent weeks, and the denial has been dismal and strong.

Oh say it ain't so Joe, not another blunder, not another cut from Tony that would make a Jane Austen heroine wilt as she surveys her dance card ...

Jolly Joe has even managed to make Bill Shorten sound like a politician, a considerable achievement for a man whose natural inclination is to play a wall:

In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Shorten by name, present a wall
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a single crannied thought, or chink
Opposed to lovers Tony and Bill...

But soft, yonder breaks the light of day, and all the talk is of doves.

Tony Abbott praises Labor on Iraq, distancing himself from Joe Hockey, shouts the Graudian with glee, and there, in the illustration is a soft-focus Bill:

Yes, the world needs an attendant lord or two, one that will do, in a soft focus way, to swell a progress, start a scene or two, advise the prince, no doubt an easy tool, deferential, glad to be of use, politic, cautious and meticulous, full of high sentence but a bit obtuse, at times indeed, almost ridiculous, almost at times the fool (apologies to T. S. Eliot, here)

See, there's the wall, soft focus as it should be, in its natural habitat:

But soft, the pond is feeling out of touch and out of date, what's needed is a modern metaphor for Jolly Joe, and what joy, it can be found in Joe Hockey kinda, sorta tried to use war to pressure Labor into passing the the budget:

Remember that one scene from an early episode of Family Guy where Peter Griffin claimed he convinced US Congress to go to war by telling everyone "Anyone who doesn't want to go to war is gay"? That's more or less what Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey did this morning. Or, at least, that's what he kinda tried to do.

Seth MacFarlane and a gay joke and unutterable crap like A Million Ways to Tell Really Crappy Jokes in the West?

See Jolly Joe, see where you've lead us? Into a Seth MacFarlane wilderness ...

But stay the pond covers the comedy night beat for the daily, and lo, look yonder at an astonishing bit of comedy, which is slowly, majestically rising above the horizon, because the reptiles have an EXCLUSIVE:

The long and the short of it seems to be that politics was dysfunctional during the days of the Ruddster and Gillard, but that was okay because it was just a prelude to the nattering negativity of the Messiah.

Now that the Messiah has arrived and turned out to be a naughty boy, it's shocking that some dysfunctional people disregard him and his program, and simply won't allow him to carry out his reptile-approved, reptile-certified, reptile-guaranteed program.

Well the story itself is behind the paywall, and who gives a fig that Griffith University, no doubt deploying taxpayer funds, has helped a private organisation conduct a poll given to the Murdochians so they can label it an EXCLUSIVE, and charge money for the pleasure, and a gold brick, and never mind the recent federal funding cuts and the need for a 2% efficiency dividend in 2014 and 1.25% in 2015. Oh go moan and cry a river Griffith University ...

No, it's noble of the academics to help out the Murdochians' business plan, in tatters as it is, so that the reptiles can scribble, in an editorial, in a righteous and sanctimonious tone, how Rebuilding trust in federal sphere is a huge challenge.

The joke of course is that it purports to be a serious analysis of the situation, and never mind how few people trust the Murdoch rags or their daily breaches of trust, and naturally it comes with yet another advertorial:

In his new historical blockbuster about the dysfunctional Labor years, Triumph and Demise, our editor-at-large Paul Kelly documents the policy misadventures and bitter politics pervading the governments led by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. But his underlying thesis is of a malfunctioning political system that puts our living standards under threat. “The business of politics is too decoupled from the interests of Australia and its citizens,” Kelly writes. “This decoupling constitutes the Australian crisis.” It is up to the present Prime Minister to break the reform deadlock or succumb as another casualty of this malaise.

Oh sheesh, a historical blockbuster ... is that like a Jane Austen bodice ripper, with Jolly Joe in the role of Mr Darcy?

Nope, sorry, it's yet more indulgent reptile viewing through the rear end of a telescope.

It's easy enough to see that back then were the glory days for the reptiles. They still wallow in the Labor mud, they moan and they keen, and they faithfully report on every commission and inquiry.

The only thing missing from the advertorial is a note blaming the ABC for everything, except those bits of everything that can be attributed to Fairfax.

So what have the reptiles got to offer?

Well it turns out there's nothing in the tank but sludge and high-minded verbiage, of the Paul Kelly kind:

Mr Abbott won office promising not to be like Labor. On election night he vowed to lead “a government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses”. The Coalition has stopped the boats, ditched noxious taxes and begun the task of fiscal repair, with mixed results and inconsistent messaging. Worryingly, the Abbott government’s first budget was poorly marketed and contained broken promises, raising costs on motorists and asking high-income earners to pay a debt levy. These measures will do more to harm the government’s credibility and blow out the trust deficit than they will help to fix the budget. Mr Abbott has given his critics ammunition. Of course, the Prime Minister has time to address the nation’s major problems and rededicate his team to reform. Steady government, openness, policy consistency and clarity will not only aid the Coalition’s re-election effort, it may help to restore the standing of the federal political class.

They're still hanging their coat on this dysfunctional bunch?

Openness? Consistency and clarity? Steady?

And this is where it gets really rich:

An emerging meme, sadly not limited to narky social media, is that Tony Abbott is cynically manipulating the terror threat to effect a recovery in his opinion-poll standing.

Uh huh. So the sight of Abbott cynically crawling to hate monger Alan Jones isn't cynical manipulation?

Is it astonishing that the reptiles could come out with that line - and with a straight face - the very day after Jolly Joe had cynically wrapped himself and his budget in the flag, in a style worthy of a David Pope cartoon?

Well no, because they don't have a clue ...

As always, you have to leave the reptiles alone if you want to get a better grasp of the world. Try this cartoon:

By golly Simon Letch has added a nice touch by giving the parrot a set of headphones.

That cartoon is attached to Mark Kenny, adding to the emerging meme with Stringent laws create new terrors:

Few would argue with Tony Abbott's proposition that the primary responsibility of government is to defend its people and keep them safe. But a clear and present danger arises if pursuing this rReesponsibility is done so singularly that it overrides other fundamental imperatives such as maintaining pluralism, protecting basic freedoms, and guaranteeing universal human rights. 
Signs of imbalance are mounting. Illiberalism is probably the natural corollary of war. On Wednesday morning for example, Abbott went as far as apologising to the conservative radio shock jock Alan Jones and his like-minded audience, for not having moved earlier to curb freedom of association and thought among those who oppose the US-led mission in Iraq/Syria.

Never mind the typos faithfully transcribed by the pond - we live in a glass house - Kenny makes the point the reptiles so cynically overlook in their attempt to defame narky social media:

"Alan, I understand your frustration and anger and I'm frustrated and angry myself," the prime minister said. People should not be allowed into the country to spruik their poisonous views, he said. "I am sorry we haven't red-carded these hate preachers before but it will happen and it will happen quickly." 
Abbott is no fool and knew full well that the power to restrict entry already exists. The government can, and has previously denied visas on character grounds or on suspicion of a visitor's intentions to cause harm or social division. Could he have another motive? Perhaps to build popular support for other new powers currently before the parliament? Powers which would not just ban Hizb ut-Tahrir and potentially other groups, but would make membership illegal and could see people jailed for simply saying objectionable things? 
There will also be severe custodial penalties for journalists revealing anything about a "special intelligence operation" as designated indefinitely, and a reversal of the onus of proof for people returning from certain prescribed countries or regions. 
Legal expert Professor George Williams says it's amazing how quickly the government has shifted from the free-speech bias it was pushing as justification for watering down the section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, to advocating extended jail terms for stating different views or for journalists simply doing their work.

So how did the reptiles end up in this corner of the cave, supporting an illiberal government doing illiberal things, and thinking a little idle abuse of social media will get them into the sunshine?

Who knows. There are a few signs they might be repenting, and not just Greg 'bromance' Sheridan suddenly brooding about government legislation targeting journalists, though long after that horse had bolted ...

Why there's Tim "send in the water cannon" Wilson giving himself a nice wrap in the Oz in Even in pursuit of valid goals, let's stop sacrificing principles and rights (sorry, no link, it would just lead to a begging letter from the paupers of the press):

What a dazzling photo.

Wilson also has words about 35P, too little, too late, and here's how you get to his piece - just click on the link in his twitter feed here, and you won't cop a begging letter from the reptiles.

As for the populist right, every so often they say something sensible:

One of surprisingly few true liberals in the parliament, David Leyonhjelm, is also worried about where all of this is leading. Like Hizb ut-Tahrir, Leyonhjelm thinks the war is wrong, although not for the same reason. He argues that the Australian public "has been scared into believing that this somehow relates to their safety at home". 
 "I don't think that's the case," the senator told Fairfax Media. Both sides of politics disagree with him. He says, incidentally, that the war will also take longer than intended:"It's going to be expensive and we will withdraw due to frustration, not due to military success." 

Indeed. It would be a bold and brave social media person who argued against that.

As for that other social media meme that troubled the reptiles? Cue Kenny again ...

... Underpinning much of the cynicism is the suspicion that if governments don't actually like wars, they tend to hate them less than the rest of us. There is an all-too-convenient link between the perception of a threat, and voter support for the incumbent. There's no denying it is there. 
When John Howard joined the coalition of the willing in announcing a troop deployment on March 18, 2003, his numbers improved immediately. Within one week Newspoll reportedly showed a five-point jump in the Liberal primary vote to 41 per cent and the Labor primary dropping by three, to 34 per cent. 
Howard's own numbers rebounded even more strongly, with his approval shooting up by eight points, to 56 per cent, and his disapproval dropping by the same amount to 35 per cent. Even more striking was a nine-point leap in his preferred prime minister rating, to lead Simon Crean 60 to 19 per cent. 
It is an old refrain but no less true today than at any other time: democracy cannot be strengthened by being narrowed and restricted.

Yes and in due course, after 2003 and the talk of deputy sheriffs, came a hard reality and then the fall, and in due course the reptiles will come to regret their 'all-in' approach to Abbott ... while Shorten will come to regret his 'all-in' approach to playing a wall ...

The pond is hopeless at poker - in the pond's mind it's associated with bloated cigar-chomping figures who look and sound like a treasurer - but one thing is true.

It's okay to bluff for awhile, but if you're going to go 'all-in' it helps to have a good hand, instead of indulging in nostalgia for the days you could give Labor a hammering, when the real problem doing the rounds right now, is that all you've got in your hand is a Treasurer who wraps himself and his budget in the cloth of war ... and a Prime Minister who keeps on spending on war and on lavish PPL schemes and on medical research facilities ...

I fear my Abbott’s promise is forgot!— 
And thou, O Wall, O sweet, O lovely Wall, 
That stand’st between Abbott’s ground and mine. 
Thou Wall, O Wall, O sweet and lovely Wall, 
Show me thy chink to blink through with mine eyne! 
WALL holds up fingers as chink 
Thanks, courteous Bill. Jove shield thee well for this! 
But what see I? No rule for all do I see.
Just jaw jaw jaw, and war war war, 
O wicked Wall through whom I see no bliss! 
Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!

(Below: and 'more yam what he is' Moir here)


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    It's nice to know that every Humanitarian Mission has a silver lining.

    Evidently the share price for the top 12 arms manufacturers are going gangbusters. Lockheed Martin's share price is at record levels and even Boeing (manufacturer of the Australian approved Super Hornet) is posting impressive returns.


  2. Also interesting is The Australian's take on the problems of the budget: no mention of the persecution of the unemployed, cuts to health and education payments to the states, increasing debt for university students. No, what's 'worrying' is the fact that asked high-income earners to pay a debt levy.

  3. Well G. Hunts' unfortunate name leads me to suggest we shouldn't have it in for him.

    But wait, Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!

    - Kenneth Williams, Carry On Cleo

    Yep, Carry On carries the crownies.

  4. Am I reading this right, or is Chris Kenny actually trying to argue that politicians don't "hate war less" then the general public because John Howard became MORE popular after he went to war? Or: go to war + become more popular = hate war ???

    Is Kenny alright? Has he hurt his head lately? Maybe his brain has finally made a bolt for it because it can't stand being associated with him any longer? Because that has got to be the worst attempt at reasoning I've seen in a long time...

    I mean, I know Kenny is an odious reptile, but surely if they want to convince anyone they've got to make sure their journalists understand the basic functions of logic?


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