Sunday, November 30, 2014

This will do for a Sunday reflection ...

With time pressing on the pond, this will have to do for a Sunday meditation, thanks to The New Yorker:

Or maybe, on second thoughts, this:

And how about a meditation on a harsh, blinkered, religious state run by zealots, along the lines of an apartheid state, with their very own ghettoes and gulags?

Iran? Of course, though only in the sense that the whole country is a religious gulag ...

Israel? Of course ...

Why not meditate on the land described by David Remnick in The New Yorker in The One-State Reality... (outside the paywall for the moment) ...

In which the pond wonders if the one trick pony is knocking on heaven's door ...

(Above: Liberals point the finger at Abbott? Not the pointy finger that stoppeth one of three?)

So you can imagine the pond's panic, fear and alarm.

It was all done and dusted by 10.35pm, speeches made, luminaries gone, a final toting of the board, and lights out.

Thanks to the ABC and Antony Green, the pond had dined to the point of bloated Python on political junkiedom. Not another chocolate mint, please ...

Brave Denis Napthine tottered into the darkness, and the pond could almost hear the sounds of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down playing in the background.

Now let's not conflate state and federal issues. As the clever Kevin Andrews explained, the Victorian result had absolutely nothing to do with the federal sphere. Sure Tony Abbott was so toxic, they kept him in the closet, while dragging a moth-eaten John Howard, the smell of naphthalene flakes lingering, to lend a helping hand

Sure Bill "zinger" Shorten hung around to bask in reflected glory, like a sometimes remembered phantom limb, and sure the campaign had conformed to the first rule of politics. When the men are on the nose, send in a woman, and so Julie Bishop valiantly stumped the stumps in a bid to staunch the bleeding.

Now like clever Kev, the pond is deeply conservative, so much so that the pond thinks everyone should have the chance and the right to get married, even the ones that know not what they do, so what joy to see the barking mad fundie Christians get a what for, and clever Kev rear up like a startled horse at the thought that barking mad fundie Christians had anything to do with him ... (so long Geoff Shaw, no doubt the upper house will now be the source of rich comedy).

But here's the thing that got the pond agitated.

Forget the toxic Tony riff.

What if the electorate has developed a taste for blood? What if a fickle electorate, running wild and free, suddenly realises governments can be sent to the knackery after just a short term? What if the spirit that led the cavalier Victorians to dump a one term government, was a virus that could spread like wildfire? What if it was no longer an oddity and an exception, with idle talk about it being the first time in well over half a century, and even then the only precedent the result of treacherous tykes doing the split? What if it was now the new reality?

What if one trick, three word slogan Tony became a one term Tony?

Oh l'horreur, quelle horreur ...

What if the pugnacious one's reaction was to bully and demean the Victorians for striking out on their own? What if his budgetary belligerence led to even more hostility?

Of course the pond knows the solution, and it's even more urgent now. There's little doubt the campaign to replace Abbott with that brave little hoofer, Julie Bishop, will gather tremendous momentum.

Remember the golden rule! When the men fuck up, send in a woman to sort things out and put some order in the kitchen.

Now a few will object. Sure, it's unlikely that the gormless Liberals, toads in slowly warming water, will have the instinct to leap from the pot in the way an average sensible toad could manage.

And of course there might be some alarm at the notion of a woman assassinating a sitting PM, and so becoming a PM by elected party ballot, rather than by popular vote.

Oh we all know the derision that once caused in the commentariat, but the pond sees it as a lovely, post-modern and ironic aesthetic symmetry.

Fear not the art of a good plot, fumbling Liberals. Besides, who can imagine Bill "zinger" Shorten standing under signs saying "Ditch the witch" and "Rupert Murdoch's bitch"?

Meanwhile, all the brave lobbying, all the valiant attempts of the Victorian branch of the Murdochian empire was for naught. The HUN reptiles had laboured in vain.

No doubt there will be many excuses, and explanations offered, but already others are echoing the HUNsters:

Forth, if all this was't bad enough, Tony Abbott added further lead to Napthine's saddle bags. Abbott almost certainly severely damaged the Liberal brand in Victoria. The perception of Abbott was one of incompetence, unfairness and dishonesty. Small wonder state Labor campaigned hard to remind voters at every opportunity that Napthine and Abbott are on the same team. (as it appeared in Fairfax here).

Forth, as in the Firth of Forth, and the mighty Forth bridge that crosses the Firth of Forth?

Oh you NZ subs, always seeking ways to give the pond joy and reassure the pond that its own typos are but the way things are in this post-modernist world ...

But back to brave Jules. Her presence was noted, and a certain absence also likewise (and more here):

The baby gambit! Commissioning a ship while the barnacles took down Denis?

What a brave lass, and never mind that some might want to call her barren! Come on down Bill the Heifer Man .... Good on you unproductive old bull David Farley ...

And where was Tony Abbott, so adept at caring for babies? Likely the punters would have feared for the child's life ...

Just remember the symmetry of the post-modern aesthetic irony ...

So how vicious will the in-fighting and the blood-letting get? Well if you read the Terror here, it could be getting ugly.

Any other words?

The Prime Minister’s decision to hike petrol taxes during the Victorian campaign enraged Liberal colleagues and the messy debate over whether or not the GP fee was dead dogged the campaign. 
As senior Liberals traded blows over the $7 GP co-­payment, Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien admitted last night Joe Hockey’s first Budget was a factor in the election outcome. 
The result was “a shocker’’, according to Liberals, and would send a chilling message to the government. 
But Mr Abbott’s supporters have hit back at Mr O’Brien, accusing him of being lazy and “bellowing’’ over the GP mess. 
One senior Liberal claimed Mr Hockey “went off his tits’’ about the Prime Minister’s ­office briefing journalists that the policy was to be dumped.  
In an extraordinary personal attack, one minister said Mr Hockey was a sook. Another senior Liberal said the federal Treasurer was “erratic’’ because he was either “full bottle or on holidays, and there’s nothing in ­between’’. 
Confirming the worst-kept secret in Victorian politics — that state Liberals are furious with the Abbott government over the GP tax and other measures — Mr O’Brien said the media focus was increasingly on federal issues: “There’s no doubt the impact of the federal budget blew us off the front page,’’ he told Sky News. 
Labor strategists have confirmed the Prime Minister emerged as a negative for the Liberals in focus groups — including among Liberal voters. 
A Newspoll-Sky exit poll of voters found 46 per cent cited the federal Budget as a significant issue in the state campaign. 
Labor leader Bill Shorten lampooned the Prime Minister for failing to campaign in the state, on the orders of the Napthine government. “I think everyone knows that wild horses couldn’t drag Tony Abbott to Victoria,’’ he said.

Wild horses? Is that a reference to that Rolling Stones' song?

I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you've decided to show me the same ...

Meanwhile, it's on for young and old, as the Fairfaxians take up the chant of "kill the beast, kill the beast".

Eek, it's a hapless premier in the grip of a bear hug:

With friends like that ...

And Kenny had a lot more to say here, including but not limited to:

....this has been the palimpsest election - one where pre-existing state factors have been all but scrubbed or paled to be over-written with sexier federal issues. Even the hotly contested issue of the East West Link has been mired in the federal sphere with much of the money coming from Canberra and Tony Abbott letting it be known that the billions committed would not be available for re-deployment on public transport if Labor were to win. 
For the hapless Napthine government, this federal focus could not have been more inconvenient. Why? Because it started behind and then weathered some of the least favourable background conditions at the hands of its hamfisted federal colleagues. Canberra's ill-timed restoration of federal fuel excise rises early on (via regulation because he cannot pass it in the Senate) and the woeful mismanagement of the GP co-payment issue in the last critical days of the campaign were major embuggerances to Denis Napthine's pitch - no question. 
In a state with the highest mainland jobless level, and where the federal government was already synonymous with insensitivity over Alcoa, and the automotive industry, the charisma-challenged Napthine option has struggled for an independent voice and been damned by association. And Napthine's risible incapacity to "educate" Tony Abbott, as Victorians might see it, has merely made things worse.

Embuggerance? So Mark Kenny's a fan of the 120 Days of Sodom?

Never mind, when it gets this dark for the embattled, tortured conservative, naturally the pond turns to the world's leading climate scientist to set things aright:

Oh he's such a supportive lad.

But why is there joy in reading this?

Well in saying so, and reading the runes this way, the Bolter is saying that the Victorian Liberals have been, are and will be fucked.

Yes to redeem the unpopular Abbott, who must change, the Bolter must call the Victorian Liberals stupid, timid and bland, and responsible for their own stupid loss.

This will put the Victorian Liberals in an excellent mood to fight for Tony Abbott in the upcoming federal election ...

No, there's only one solution, and the pond has proposed it.

It will be a slow burner - it will take another six months - but eventually even the Bolter will look up from his intense climate science studies to realise the obvious.

Who is that blurred out figure on the left? Oh never mind, yesterday's man, a loser and a drop kick ...

What, you think Peter "let loose the hounds, Smithers" Reith might be wrong, here, back in July?

Look, there he is again:

A faceless blur, of the kind that caused Eliot such consternation:

“Who is the third who walks always beside you? 
When I count, there are only you and I together 
But when I look ahead up the white road 
There is always another one walking beside you 
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded 
I do not know whether a man or a woman -
But who is that on the other side of you?”

Ah well, there will be blood, there must be blood. It will be a slow burner, but burn it will and suddenly old Bill's Macbeth will seem like a casebook study. First a desperate man consults the witches:

FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain? 
SECOND WITCH: When the Victorian hurly-burly’s done, 
When the Victorian battle’s lost and won. 
 THIRD WITCH: That will be ere the set of sun. 
FIRST WITCH: Where the place? 
SECOND WITCH: Upon the Canberra heath. 
THIRD WITCH: There to meet with one term Tony. 
FIRST WITCH: I come, Graymalkin Napthine! 
SECOND WITCH: Paddock Peter Ryan calls. 
ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair 
Hover through the fog and filthy Canberra air.

Sure enough the desperate man consults the witches, gets all sorts of devious advice, and misleading prophecies, and clutches at straws, as confused souls are wont to do, but then sweeping in from right of stage comes a startling figure, thickening the plot and helping it to rise with added gluten:

The raven himself is hoarse 
That croaks the fatal entrance of Abbott 
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits 
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, 
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full 
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood. 
Stop up the access and passage to remorse, 
That no compunctious visitings of nature 
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between 
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, 
And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers, 
Wherever in your sightless substances 
You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night, 
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, 
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, 
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark 
To cry “Hold, hold!”

Even before the result came out, the reptile coaches were out in force, including the bouffant one, offering advice and helpful hints:

Yes, it's all myth and optics, but it's also real and challenging.

And they wonder why the one trick pony, always up for a three word slogan, sounds a little confused when he goes on outings ...

And then today came news of another weak, back-tracking, vacillating decision by a government that's in full scale retreat, in a state of confusion and chaos, attacked on all sides, and lacking the red badge of courage:

Oh it's going to be a great 2015 for political junkies, with the Victorians serving up a delicious entree.

Let there be blood ...

Mama, take these guns away from here,
Mama, I can't shoot them anymore,
Cease fire
I feel a dark cloud coming over 
So poor, so dark It feels like 
I'm knockin on the heaven's door

Saturday, November 29, 2014

In which the pond joins jolly Joe and pines for the fjords ...

Now there's a state of excitement, but let's not conflate state and federal issues.

Let's acknowledge that Tony was just too busy to pay attention to matters south of the border, and let the vote fall as it may, and let all enjoy a lamington as the pond's Victorian relatives are wont to do, and so let's turn to the excellent news that the conservative commentariat, heartbeat of the pond, has become the story ...

Yes the Fairfaxians finally noticed that Conservative commentators Bolt, Jones and Albrechtsen turn on Abbott (forced video attached).

And then came the news about Abbott Government's worst week (forced video attached):

Senior Ministers have privately blamed Tony Abbott's own office for creating this week's $7 GP co-payment crisis which raised tensions between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and capped off what some concede was the government's worst week since being elected. 
The unprecedented criticism of the functioning of the government's highest office came after Mr Abbott walked away from the unpopular policy – outlined for the first time in the May budget – before re-embracing it just 12 hours later, without explanation.

Oh dear:

The confusion has further shaken confidence in the Prime Minister's capacity to control the political messaging around difficult economic policies. 
However others say the situation, dubbed the "barnacle debacle" because it flowed from the raised expectations from Mr Abbott's Tuesday party-room address, reflects a schism in the government between Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey – with the latter attempting to hold the line against pragmatism in order to secure necessary budget savings. 
The messy handling of the matter had government ministers and their staff bemused and unsure of the what Mr Abbott had meant in his "barnacle" reference.

The barnacle debacle! Will that be followed by the barnacle fenarkle? How about the farcical barnacle, or the anarchical barnacle or the barnacle oracle?

But enough of the Fairfaxians. As always, the pond's beat for the daily is made up by the many devoted, kool aid drinking reptiles beavering away for the lizard Oz. How fares the commentariat this fair election day?

How sayeth the portentous, pompous sooth?

Oh dear, missing its chance, but surely the forelock tugger and knob polisher, the bouffant one, will bring glad tidings?

Oh dear, the worst week, the problems many and varied, that sounds bleak. Surely someone can bring good news?

Oh dear, it's all so complicated and big, it's just too hard, and all Pooh wanted was some honey. 

But surely there's someone with a little more grit in the soul ready to gird the loins? Grace, are you there, Grace?

An insult? Oh bugger off Grace, we'll just call in Dame Groan for a fair-minded response:

Et tu Dame Groan? Daft, muddle-headed and unworkable? Why don't you tell us what you think?

Is there at least one kind word at the top of the fickle digital rotating finger of doom? How about that quisling and fellow traveller from the west?

Oh dear, a quagmire of its own making, and worse, the wittering, twittering prof. noticed what the pond had noticed:

Oh dear, everyone's a critic, and the reptiles have turned. It's a Peta hunt and a piñata-bashing fest of Abbott loathing.

It's a sure sign, the reptiles have swished their tails, flicked their forked tongues, and spoken ...

And if that wasn't enough, the anonymous editorialist at the lizard Oz was at it again in Stop the silly slogans, start fixing a damaged budget.

Since reading a reptile editorial is worse than watching paint dry, let's just take some highlights:

A chastened Tony Abbott ... leading a government that is hesitant, tongue-tied and confused ... its budget strategy in tatters ... simple slogans ... needs a fresh approach ... THERE MUST BE BLOOD ... overblown rhetoric ...distortion ... confusing for the electorate ... holding dear to his extravagant paid parental leave scheme ... eroded voter trust ...Mr Hockey has clearly little to say and the public has stopped listening to him ... Mr Abbott must leave the comfort zone of his beloved talking points ...

And so on. Okay the reptiles didn't capitalise their demand for blood, and they were in fact in full team coaching mode - go Team Australia, just follow the lizard path and all will be well - but the pond just loves any cry for blood, any reminder of that bowling pin pounding the preacher copped in There Will Be Blood ...

Well anyone can read any of the stories above, featuring the gnashing of teeth, the wailing and the moaning provided by the reptiles this kool-aid sipping Victorian election day.

Somehow it reminded the pond of that prescient Bill:

Domestic fury and fierce civil strife 
Shall cumber all the parts of Canberra. 
Blood and destruction shall be so in use, 
And dreadful objects so familiar, 
That mothers shall but smile when they behold 
Their infants quartered with the hands of war, 
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds, 
And Abbott’s spirit, ranging for revenge, 
With Peta by his side come hot from hell, 
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice 
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the reptiles of war, 
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth 
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

Ah Bill, Bill, in later, happier times, you could have been writing leaders for the lizard Oz ...

Meanwhile, on another planet, comes this news:

Yes, there's much more here, but it seems finally, inevitably somebody dropped a copy of the Lewis report on a Fairfax desk, and they even provided a link to a page here to prove it.

What's that you say, the Fairfax EXCLUSIVE was also an EXCLUSIVE at the Graudian here.

Never mind, that allows the pond to EXCLUSIVELY report that Fairfax and the Graudian have mutually INCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVES.

And the EXCLUSIVE story EXCLUSIVELY proves - if any proof was required - that Malcolm Turnbull is a scandalous and specious liar. Remember all that whining and moaning from the poodle Pyne about production in SA? One of the key recommendations is that the ABC outsource production and strip itself of the capital costs of maintaining a capacity for production.

And so on and on ... hypocrites and liars and luddites, with all sorts of fancy schemes to degut the ABC. Get out of digital radio (so much for the government's ostensible push to embrace digital radio), charge for catch up services and otherwise punish digital ... and so on ...

But where oh where did the government get its marching orders from?

Why the pond is exceptionally glad you asked that rhetorical question, because it gives the pond a chance to run the bilious, frothing and foaming reptile editorialist, full of hate speech and demanding that there be blood.

Yes, the reptiles are at it again.

How bizarre does it get?

Why they go Aussie boxer and proclaim their love. We loves youse, we loves youse all, they shriek, as they deliver smacks to the chops, and steel-capped boots to the temple.

Here it is in full:

Providing digital services constitutes a slide towards irrelevance?

Barking, sublimely, fucking mad ...

Now the pond grieves for the loss of FM classical music field recordings and their re-broadcast in digital, whereby they sound mighty fine.

But then what can you do? Play a little Peter Sculthorpe in the morning and some dickhead complains about Sculthorpe being gloomy. Next thing you know we're back to listening to Offenbach, Strauss and Lehár ...

But the way the reptiles write it up, you'd swear they wanted the ABC to transmit the field recordings to the pond's trusty AM receiver, with its trusty valves (it sounds so much warmer, don't you know, not like that chilly, cold digital muck).

Now the pond is of an age, but even the pond these days gets out the tablet and catches up on all sorts of things, because that's the way it is, and that's the way it will be in the future...

The reptiles have never got the full to overflowing intertubes, they've never got the new world of digital. They've feared and resented it, and like their master, they've clung to their tree killer ways, no doubt in the hope that newsprint will some day return to cult favour like vinyl and the eight track cassette. Will anyone ever explain to them that a few LPs on vinyl in cult stores doesn't constitute much of a new business model ...

The pond doesn't mind hipsters clinging to nostalgia, but the sight of angry old white men doing it is faintly ridiculous ...

That a newspaper should in this day and age, with their old business model having had the stuffing knocked out of it by the intertubes, should resort to the jeer of "just another groovy, urban digital player" explains just why the reptiles are so fucked in the head ...

Just another bunch of old fashioned, out of touch urban Surry Hills dickheads ...

No wonder the circulation for the lizard Oz is falling, no wonder the Murdochian newspaper empire is sliding into hysterical irrelevance, a bunch of commentariat losers shouting at the loser government they demanded be elected ...

After all that, the pond needs a cleansing cartoon, perhaps a little dry, with an aftertaste of fruit, like a good Clare reisling ... take that, you fuckwitted reptiles, what's wrong with a reisling or even a chardonnay ... 

Oh perhaps, since the pond is on the wagon, we should just sip and savour a David Pope cartoon, and more Pope here:

The worthy Pope acknowledges a debt to Python, and the pond has noticed an upsurge in Python and Gillard jokes in the past week. 

Inter alia, the inestimable Pope is referring to the Dead Parrot Sketch (here in written form to aid recitation):

Customer: Now that's what I call a dead parrot. 
Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned! 
Customer: STUNNED?!? 
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major. 
Customer: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk. 
Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords. 
Customer: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home? 

Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage! 
Customer: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there. (pause) 
Owner: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee! 
Customer: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised! 
Owner: No no! 'E's pining! 
Customer: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Why thanks to the new digital world, you can even buy a celebratory T-shirt:

Wear it with pride, luddite Murdochians ...

And now please pardon the pond if it passes on a word of advice to the hapless commentariat, and the wretched reptiles as they contemplate the digital train still bearing down on them, and they refuse to adapt or acknowledge the existence of the train, and they conspire with Malcolm Turnbull to ruin the NBN, and they think that the only way forward is to degut the ABC, so that they might flourish in their monopolistic ways ...

In your dreams ...

Friday, November 28, 2014

In which the pond enjoys a game of self-wrestling ...

What's surprised the pond in recent days is the gales of laughter and the comedy references that infest mainstream coverage of politics.

Like this little bit in The Graudian:

Yep, it was the immortal Monty Python self-wrestling sketch.

And then came this coverage in Fairfax:

Watching Joe Hockey is like watching grass grow? Scratch your noggin?

The trouble is, as soon as Abbott attempts serious rhetoric, everyone immediately takes it as a comedy outing. Barnacles?

(And more Rowe here).

This doesn't have anything to do with the way Bronwyn Bishop has reduced parliament to a circus of clowns. Bishop is beyond satire, beyond caricature, and with her faithful poodle flapping around, she has brought parliamentary proceedings to the level of a common farce of record-breaking proportions.

Of course it's cruel. It makes her look hard of hearing, a silly old petulant biddy, so nakedly biased that only a Tony Abbott could fail to see the damage she's doing.

Which brings us back to the real problem, in a more sombre way, Mark Kenny continues the sorry tale here (with forced video):

This week, Abbott took the first tentative steps towards recognition of a problem, announcing to his increasingly tetchy colleagues that he would remove a couple of "barnacles" from the ship of state before Christmas. It was a typically qualified and deliberately vague concession from a prime minister who has shown a surprising reluctance to shift gears lest he be seen as weak, beholden to his political foes, or just plain wrong. 
Abbott's insistence on holding the line is admirable in the right circumstances but it is fast becoming his defining weakness. His performance on Monday in question time was ill-judged; a fact written on the faces of his dejected backbench. Repeatedly confronted with his own words as volunteered clearly on television on the night before the election – no cuts to the ABC or SBS and so on – Abbott refused to acknowledge the bleeding obvious.

Just as he announced that he had full confidence in David Johnston. And yet:

Johnston's outburst outraged his colleagues, particularly in South Australia, where the federal government's sensitivity to the local economy has been absent. Resentment was already high over Abbott's blithe acceptance of the demise of Holden, and the closure of the ABC's television production unit. The canoe comment seemed to prove what many feared: that the one big hope on the jobs front, the future submarine contract, will not be going to the Adelaide-based ASC.

And then came the capper:

The week ended with more confusion. A decision to scrap the GP tax "barnacle" was communicated clearly enough on Wednesday but by Thursday, government ministers were dissembling as the government sought to nuance its retreat by remaining committed to the principle and perhaps even the policy; if it could be progressed through regulation rather than legislation. Such muddle-headed ambiguity works against a poll recovery and suggests Abbott is yet to fully get the point: voters hated the co-payment idea and resented that it was never mentioned before the election. As one wag quipped on Thursday, they can't even kill off a bad policy properly.

So somebody at the highest level leaks and briefs, and jolly Joe feels the need to do a little push back (not the pond's words, the pond is channeling Tingle on RN this very moment, and the real concern about the way the PM's office has been working).

So it loses both ways, to the voters and the bottom line?

Yep indoody ... not a clue what it's doing, an incredibly damaging issue ... and then the Tingle dropped out ...

But still, the pond caught the drift.

Now if you head off to saunter amongst the reptiles, there's the faithful kool aid drinkers thinking it's all a deviant media conspiracy of the usual kind:

If you get your news through the Fairfax press, Guardian Australia, the ABC or the leftist online services, you would believe the election of the Abbott government was a terrible mistake.

Yes, it's the world's third greatest climate scientist (please, how could you ignore the claims of the Bolter and Pell for 1 and 2), as Maurice Newman embarks on another ramble through paranoid valley.

And as usual, the poor thing doesn't realise how much he sounds like a character in a Monty Python sketch:

The mass-produced ignorance drummed up by “progressive” elites has encouraged a dangerous voter mindset. 

Yep, there's your ruling class mindset at work. The meejuh have whipped up the dumb fucks, and if we don't watch out, the drums will be sounding and the guillotine set to work.

Now never mind that you won't find much by way of elites in commercial television or the print media dominated by the Murdochians or in the monopoly know as Murdoch pay TV, which makes it bizarre and astonishing that said 'leets manage to exert such astonishing control and produce such a dangerous voter mindset.

To understand how that works, you need a hearty dose of Newman brand kool aid ...

Truth to tell, there's an astonishing amount of contempt and resentment at work in Newman, strange for a man who's had a silver spoon shoved in to his mouth at regular intervals, a chairmanship here, a business advisor gig there, and oodles of space in reptile la la denialist land.

But even the spoon doesn't stop the squawking:

...thanks to the “unfair budget” campaign, the 60 per cent of families who pay no net tax will strenuously resist any further attempt to extract concessions from them. Flushed with their recent success, why wouldn’t they?

Because being poor in Australia is so easy, and being Maurice Newman and Tony Abbott is so hard ... (and sssh, don't mention the GST).

And so to the final paranoid outburst:

By playing to welfare dependence, class envy and the notion that there is nothing ser­ious to worry about, the illusion has been created that there is a painless growth option. Forget the Labor legacy and our deteriorating terms of trade, negative real wage growth and their collective impact on national income and tax revenue. Better to blame Abbott. And conveniently overlook the fragile state of the world economy where China is slowing and Britain, Eur­ope (including Germany) and Japan are flirting with or in recession. When we should be taking united action to rein in our deteriorating financial situation and restoring our international competitiveness, we are distracted by shirt-fronts and bickering about ABC promises. Perhaps for the opposition this is good politics. For the rest of us it is gambling recklessly with our future. For the moment, like it or not, the Coalition is the only side with a comprehensive plan for fiscal repair. No credible alternatives are on the table. Opposition rhetoric masquerades as serious policy, receiving uncritical analysis. Ignorance is bliss. Meanwhile, each day this cynical game continues, we inch closer to that fateful political tipping point. 
Those who depend on the electorate’s ignorance should heed John F. Kennedy’s warning: “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

So that's the way you woo the voters. Wring your hands and run around doing a Chicken little impression. Blame the media for getting distracted by shirt-fronts and never mind who made the remark. Talk of bickering about a liar uttering a lie, and never mind that he berated Gillard relentlessly for lying ...

And remember to call the voters a pack of ignorant bastards fucking up democracy ...

Presumably that includes the AMA's Brian Owler asserting that the government's health policy would be disastrous for indigenous health ... (yes, we're still channeling RN).

Meanwhile, the pond got to reading this:

If ministers can’t explain a GP co-payment, how will the government attempt anything more ambitious? ...
The government seems to have lost its nerve this week, as ministers send conflicting signals about what were meant to be fundamental reforms. Ministers who should have fronted up to the changes they were going to make — like a new approach to the GP co-payment — have ducked for cover instead.

Duck and cover.

So pace Mooorice, is it all the fault of the deviant, devious Fairfax press, Guardian Australia, the ABC or the leftist online services?

Explain this then, because that's where the pond found the talk of duck and cover. In reptile la la land:

Et tu Crowe?

Wiping the dribble of kool-aid from the lips and somehow joining the ABC or Fairfax or the Graudian or perhaps now blogging for the reptiles at the lizard Oz?

And most cruel of all, a Gillard comparison?

Okay, for the rest of it, Crowe tries to explain how the government might get back on song and sell its message - the reptiles love to be coaches - but it's a measure of Moorice's delusion that he thinks it's all a fiendish leftist conspiracy to persuade ignorant, muddle-headed dumbos who won't take their prescribed Liberal party medicine ... (does that include the Bolter and his explanation of the many ways the Abbott government had run off the rails?)

Now roll on Saturday and Victoria and let the votes fall as they may, and let's see how abusing the voters as ignorant dumbos works as a strategy ...

But hey, the pond loves its eggs sunny side up, and of late all the comedy stylings have been tremendous fun.

And there's more to come, as the prescient David Pope notes today. What was that the pond transcribed above?

Abbott's insistence on holding the line is admirable in the right circumstances but it is fast becoming his defining weakness. 

Yes, there's still the PPL of chaos and confusion to come (and more Pope here):

And in the meanwhile, the pond is still enjoying the afterglow from the ABC fracas, thanks to FD, and more First Dog here.

Yes, the pond listens to the ABC (and more occasionally watches the ABC, but not Stephen Fry), and it doesn't mean swallowing the kool aid.

For that you need to head off to the gulag in Surry Hills and chow down with Mooorice.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

In which the pond goes on a journey to the end of the mind ...

(Above: David Rowe, as always in touch with the zeitgeist, and more Rowe here).

Of course if you run the pitch for Das Boot through the translation machine:

Eine Reise ans Ende des Verstandes turns into 'A journey to the end of the mind'.

We're surely on that journey, but the pond is always on the look out for a laugh, and this induced a good old fit of the cackles:

Now, I have to say to you that in politics the ultimate cop out is to propose nothing and oppose everything. 
Sooner or later this kind of tactic will be seen for what it is: not clever politics but economic vandalism. 
Putting short term political interest ahead of long term national interest, talking down our country to score political points.

Yes, he really did say that last night, as you can read here, and it reminded the pond that hubris in politics is always great fun.

Yes, he really did moan and complain about a "chorus of complaint". Even his whine about the whiners only manages to be a three word slogan.

Yet this was a man who became a master of nattering negativity, who opposed everything in opposition, and when he proposed something, it was always to tear it down. There was a reason he earned the nick-name of Dr. No ...

The result was an opposition leader so deep in vandalism that innocent bystanders had to look back to the days of Malcolm Fraser to discover bigger acts of political bastardy and negativity. The result for Fraser was that during his days in power he was confronted with a sullen resentment. Yes, the Whitlam government had gone off the rails, but yes, what Fraser did was cynical, unscrupulous and devious.

He who gets the throne this way suffers from Macbeth syndrome, and sure enough, Abbott is showing all the same signs of delusion as the Scottish king.

The pond has no idea how the folk at the Commerce and Industry Annual Dinner copped those lines without bursting into laugher. And sure enough, Abbott immediately went on to bag Wayne Swan and the previous Labor government....  as you'd expect of a nattering negative naysayer still with that the main arrow in the quiver ...

Wayne who, the pond felt like asking, it felt like so long ago ...

Just how long into a new government can you get away with bagging the previous one? The answer of course, is until the twelfth of never, but at the same time it seems the punters are expected to forget the behaviour of Abbott in opposition.

Meanwhile, the news trends bad.

There's the out-flanking that seems to be leading to the dropping of the seven dollar co-payment.

Then there's the impending blow out, a warning shot across the bow, more explosive than a Dicke Bertha, that the budget is stuffed. And a whining, moaning jolly Joe will have to officially confirm it in  mid-December, as noted in Tony Abbott budget to blow out by billions more than expected.

Note that headline - magically it's become Tony Abbott's budget. Jolly Joe who?

Then in the coming months, Abbott will be revealed yet again as a backward looking conservative of the old school, incapable of responding to changing attitudes, and all because a libertarian with a crazy attitude to smoking is promoting a personal bill, Tony Abbott not happy about gay marriage bill, says senator (forced video).

Tony's not happy. And teh gays should care?

So, since we're watching a war film, how is it going with the kool aid drinkers, always going over the top, always charging the enemy lines, impervious to pain, ready to die for Team Australia?

Oh dear, it seems there are mutinous rumblings:

Poor old Niki, lordy lordy, la di dah, did she get out on the wrong side of the bed, or what:

When his government was travelling through another bad patch recently, Tony Abbott told unhappy senior Liberal figures they had a choice: him or Malcolm Turnbull. 
Leave aside that Julie Bishop would now trounce Turnbull in any ballot (not that one is being contemplated), the sentiment the Prime Minister expressed was designed to frighten disappointed conservatives into staying true to him. But it also showed that leaders operate in a perpetual state of vigilance when it comes to their survival. 
It surfaced on Monday when Abbott addressed the annual dinner of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, arguably the most powerful and successful industry group representing the most respected professionals in the country. 
As a former health minister, Abbott has had a long association with the guild, yet one word in a complimentary introduction from its national president, George Tambassis, sliced like a razor. Tambassis did not mean to imply anything or make any kind of political point when he introduced the “current” Prime Minister. 
It did not go unnoticed, either by the Prime Minister or his colleagues, who later expressed surprise Abbott couldn’t let it pass. Abbott drew laughs when he acknowledged “yes, I am the current Prime Minister”, then expressed the hope his currency as Prime Minister would be as long and stable as that of the heads of the guild. 
That depends largely on the Prime Minister and how he conducts himself in the next little while. It is not as if he hasn’t been warned publicly by his friends, even more vehemently by them in private, that unless he changes, or unless changes are made, he risks becoming a one-term wonder.

Not a one term wonder!

But Savva was just warming up, with dire imprecations and warnings:

You only had to look at the faces of those behind him on Monday to realise how bad it is. One of them later described that question time, where Abbott refused to even accept ownership of his own words, as the worst of the government’s period in office. Others confessed their anguish in having to listen.


Now she did try to balance things by having a go at Gillard - ah such ancient pleasures - but then she returned to the business of stirring the newt and bat-laden pot:

One stupid line at the end of a long campaign shouldn’t be enough to hang someone — unless they behave even more stupidly later by refusing to make a simple admission: I stuffed up or I was wrong to say what I said, or circumstances forced me to make a difficult choice. 
Abbott undermined an eminently defensible case for cuts to the ABC, shredded his credibility and forced his colleagues into humiliating verbal jousts with journos to cover for him. They despair.

Despair! Black clad white-faced EMOs in the house:

South Australian Rowan Ramsey bravely sent Abbott a public message, ever so gently, that he had to stop it because he had put the government in a difficult position and hindered the prosecution of the case against the ABC. 
At one point in Tuesday’s Liberal Party meeting, it looked as if Abbott got it. While defending Barnaby Joyce from an attack by Bill Heffernan, Abbott said his Agriculture Minister probably gave a “dud answer” like others had given “dud answers”, including himself to SBS. 
Then NSW backbencher Craig Laundy, using a folksy analogy to drive it home, said he had promised his wife before the election they would go away for a holiday in January, but when the time came he realised he couldn’t do it, so he sat down and explained why. “She wasn’t happy but she understood,” Laundy said. Hint, hint. He went on to say that they were all behind him, they wanted to fight, but warned: “People don’t like verbal gymnastics.” Hint hint. 
Abbott’s reply showed he hadn’t got it at all. While he congratu­lated Laundy for his contribution, he added: “There’s been no verbal gymnastics.” MPs watched with a mixture of bemusement and relief when a couple of hours later he admitted the bleeding obvious in parliament: that he had said it and regretted saying it. 
They eagerly await the barnacle removal program. The paid parental leave scheme and the Medicare co-payment are getting makeovers. 
Insiders also know Abbott’s future wellbeing depends on people as well as policies being thrown overboard. Previously he was ­inclined to leave major changes until next September, preferring to deal with Scott Morrison and a homeland security portfolio as well as Arthur Sinodinos after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption reports in January. 
It would be absolute folly to simply tweak and bumble along with chronic underachievers for another nine months. Jaws dislocated when Kevin Andrews lectured cabinet colleagues recently to stop jockeying. That is one horse in need of a knackery. David Johnston, despite Abbott’s energetic defence of him yesterday, and Ian Macfarlane are also prime targets. It’s no longer a question of whether he dares act but if he can afford not to.

There ought to be blood, there should be blood. And Julie Bishop would take Malcolm Turnbull to the cleaners, not that we're talking about Julie Bishop knifing Tony Abbott in the back (though you read it first in the pond). That would be just too Chairman Rudd ...

Strange, that name brings us to another conspirator ...

Speaketh, oh sombre polisher of the knob, oh bouffant tugger of the forelock:

This is more than a gaffe or a slip of the tongue, which would not justify ministerial censure. Johnston’s long-term standing is mortally damaged. 
He has lost the confidence of his cabinet colleagues and his comments have been publicly disowned by the Prime Minister. Notwithstanding ASC’s past difficulties, Johnston has made a huge political mistake. 
The remark itself is bad enough: the Australian government may want to sell its share of the ASC and the responsible minister has trashed the brand; the minister who has to make a decision on Australia’s biggest procurement project appears to have a preconceived opinion; and other nations are confused about his thinking. What makes it worse for Abbott is that the lack of a public strategy on the submarines and warships, and the mixed messages of hope and despair for workers and Liberal colleagues in South Australia and Victoria, represent a wider malaise in Coalition management. Abbott is suffering from Ruddophobia, where he fears any change, and the regimentation discipline, so essential in opposition, is preventing him from acting quickly and flexibly to cut off damaging distractions.

Ruddophobia? Not the dreaded Ruddophobia?

David Johnston is holding on to his position as Defence Minister for three reasons: Tony Abbott is loyal, stubborn and manic about his government not appearing as unstable as its Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor predecessors. 
But the Prime Minister should act quickly, shift Johnston and cauterise not just the wound the Defence Minister has opened but wider self-inflicted wounds of political management. 

Of course the actual analysis is meaningless. Whatever you might say about the former chairman, he loved change, any and every form of change, and often at the expense of good sense, and without regard for managerial skills.

But still, to invoke the notion that Abbott is suffering from some kind of Ruddster infection, and howling for ministerial blood ... let there be blood ...

Of course in the good old days, this sort of treasonous talk would have seen the dissenters taken out the back and shot, and only a few hand wringers would watch Kubrick's Paths of Glory, shedding tears at the waste and the injustice ...

But wait, what about the solitary soldier, the obsessive navel gazer that wanders away from the front, talking to himself? Perhaps a case of Sassoonian shell-shock?

How bizarre does that get?

Well the pond offers just a few opening lines:

Barack Obama’s implicit attack on the Abbott government over climate change will do more long-term damage to the US-­Australia alliance than is commonly thought. There is no need to rehearse the gratuitous nature of the speech, Obama’s failure to tell his Australian hosts what he was going to say in advance — as the most elementary courtesy, much less alliance solidarity, would require — the bad manners of not acknowledging the Governor-General, and the determined effort to embarrass his hosts by referring so crudely to the Australian debate and using, and misusing, iconic elements in that debate. 
All of that is more or less accepted by all serious analysts in Australia and the US.

Poor possum. In the old days, someone would have put him down, as a kindness, wandering behind the lines, gibbering like that, thinking he's in company with all serious analysts in Australia and the US, as if all serious analysts think Tony Abbott is right on climate change ...

What Sheridan does show however is the sort of paranoid narcissism now running through the government, which leads Sheridan to conclude yet another bout of Obama bashing with these lines:

In reality, Australia will now behave as the grown-up in this ­relationship, continuing the strategic co-operation in the face of political provocation. But Obama has provided powerful new evidence for those who argue American presidents don’t take us seriously and can’t be relied on. 

Sheridan and Abbott as the grown ups dealing with the reef and climate change.

Now refuse to cackle at that if you will, but it made the ponds day.

At least one of the commenters kept things on a proper military footing:

Now come on Greg, after your perceived hero’s performance entertaining the G20 LEADERS with his personal management failures, who in their right mind would follow your hero anywhere that required proven relevant strategic and tactical high command performance?

Oh brave Barry, to venture amongst the kool aid drinkers ...

So what's to be done?

Well today the reptile editorialist let out a cry of pain, a howl against the universe that would have had Allen Ginsberg green with envy.

Warning: a strong stomach is required to handle the bile, the bitterness, the hatred, the fear and the loathing, which the pond presents ungarnished, because no amount of garlic could hide the reptile agenda:

And that's why every day in every way the pond is enjoying life.

Sure, the country might be fucked, the budget and strategies surrounding it might lie in ruins, the government is a ship of fools, but when you get the reptiles in their gulag or their bunker - think of it how you will - in Surry Hills, railing at Surry Hills, we really are at the last gasp of delusional Murdochian empire ...

How the army of angry old white men, clutching to print, hate the young, and the modern, and any hint that the new digital age is upon them, and like Mister Jones, they know that something's happening here, but they really don't know what it is ...

Finally, speaking of a ship of Surry Hills fools, by golly that David Pope is also in touch with the zeitgeist, and more Pope here ...

Now there's a secret weapon. No wonder the Americans are quivering in fear. Let the barnacle-free winged keel lead Team Australia to victory in the America's Cup in '83!

What's that you say? It's 2014? Not for the Murdochians or that marvellous winged keel ...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In which Dame Slap asks if anyone can hear the sound of a one-handed barnacle clapping in the forest?

(Above: the pond loves the loving detailing Rowe puts into his cartoons. To see the full version, head off to the rotating rotunda at the AFR here, where for the moment, today only, it's top of the page and features the PUP follies).

Thanks to a pond correspondent, the pond was made aware of just how low Malcolm Turnbull has managed to go, in terms of casual defamation and smears, in the ABC debate.

Now the pond has always held Turnbull in contempt, and, at that, long before the Godwin Grech utegate affair in 2009, always reserving a hollow, echoing cynical laugh of the patented Treasure of the Sierra Madre kind. Here you go:

It's the same sort of laugh the pond reserved for credulous Queenslanders who seemed to think that the buffoon and his team of PUPs represented a new way forward in politics.

Okay, that hearty laugh's out of the way, let's get back to the thoroughly contemptible Malcolm Turnbull and and his contemptible innuendo. The straight story is here:

"The ABC under Labor just got more money every year," he told Sky News. 
"I think there was, in effect, a political bargain between the Labor government and the ABC: We'll keep sending you more money and you just have peace at the industrial front at the ABC." 
Asked if he was suggesting such a bargain affected editorial content of the ABC, Mr Turnbull replied: "I'm not suggesting that. Others can infer that."

Of course, in saying that, he just suggested it, and he suggested others could infer it, because he'd just suggested it ...

It's exactly the style of the fabulously despicable cad Francis Urquhart, in House of Cards, whose line is now the most quoted of any political Machiavelli:

Now you might very well think that, but of course I couldn't possibly comment.

Of course Urguhart is a figure of fun, a psychopath, a deceiver and a consummate liar and fraud. Welcome to the club Mr Turnbull ...

The pond's correspondent drew attention to the outraged tweets of Melissa Clarke (for the originals and more bitter comments, go here):

Then came the official denial:

But it was academic, because the only person to emerge from that sordid, sorry little affair, that immensely revealing exchange, with their credibility tarnished was Malcolm Turnbull ... and by golly there is a little resemblance in the slyness:

But enough of playing catch up with the forelock tugging, lickspittle follies known as the big Mal show, it's time to look forward, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and what a wealth of choices there is this morning at reptile lodge.

Should the pond go with the assiduous knob polisher and forelock tugger, a past master of the bent knee tribute?

An optimistic message of hope and reassurance!

Or should the pond risk a case of stuporous catatonia and spend time with the team coach who seems to think a little work's needed to make the nation swallow its castor oil?

How about Dame Slap, sounding like a demented Elmer Gantry style preacher, demanding repentance and confession?

Of course, of course, there was only one wise choice. 

You see, for some reason, Dame Slap decided that today was the day to give Master Tony a jolly good spanking on the britches for failing at his many Chairman Rupert appointed and anointed tasks:

In short, Dame Slap knows the liar told a lie and so decided he should spend a little time wearing a dunce's cap and standing in the corner, because he's mucked up the job demanded by Chairman Rupert - de-gut the ABC, in a quick, painless way. 

Instead the befuddled, beheaded chook has been running around the garden spraying blood everywhere ...

On and on Dame Slap ranted about messages being mulched in delivery, and it soon became clear that Master Tony was her least favourite student. 

In short, she did a despairing Bolter, one of a number of commentariat members who've started shouting more at Abbott than at Bill "zinger" Shorten:

By the time Dame Slap got to the end of her complaints, the report card was full of red ink and exclamation marks and dire warnings that Master Abbott was failing badly, and might not see out the term:

So there you go. The Abbott government is on the nose, seriously on the nose. Jolly Joe has been a disaster. A cabinet reshuffle is needed and the sooner the better. The Abbott government is heading the way of the Napthine government ...

Things are serious. Dame Slap is flaying her children. Attention needs to be paid ...

At this point of course, the pond is inclined to deliver that deeply rich and ironic, the gold is blowing in the wind, Treasure of Sierra Madre laugh ...

You see, just this morning came news of a new outbreak, a new brush fire that required Master Tony's attention:

Yep, there's the absurd spectacle of the Minister for Defence saying one thing, and Abbott attempting to say the other, as you can read in Tony Abbott backs submarine maker his defence minister 'wouldn't trust to build a canoe':

The prime minister defended ASC, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, saying it played a vital role in supporting the navy. 
“Whilst ASC has had challenges meeting the government’s cost and schedule expectations of the Air Warfare Destroyer program, we are working closely with ASC on a reform strategy to improve shipyard performance and productivity,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. 
 “It is early days, but the government is confident that ASC and its partners will successfully turn the corner on this important build.”

So who is right? Master Tony, or his defence minister?

Of course there's an even deeper irony at work here. Guess who's on the ASC board?

(You can find out more, and perhaps think of joining the ASC Social Club, by heading off here).

Oh yes, a Master Abbott appointment.

One thing's certain. Of all the people you might want to appoint, in order to supervise the building of a canoe, surely Sophie Mirabella would be the most inept and incompetent choice of all ...

Poor old Dame Slap ... did she say something about Team Abbott kept kicking own goals, and mulching messages in delivery?

And so to the Xmas message:

Tony Abbott has asked nervous government MPs to maintain internal discipline in the face of the ABC funding controversy and bad polling, reassuring them he will knock "one or two barnacles off the ship" before Christmas. 
The Prime Minister's comments touched off speculation that he is shaping to abandon one or more of his unpopular budget measures concluding there is no chance of passing them through the Senate and that the government has lost enough skin trying to do so until now. 
But unity was already under strain on Tuesday with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitting the 4.9 per cent so-called "efficiency dividend" being extracted from the ABC funding envelope, constituted a cut, and another MP, Western Sydney Liberal Craig Laundy, calling on the Prime Minister to dispense with "verbal gymnastics" on the matter. (Christmas message: Tony Abbott prepares to knock the 'barnacles off the ship')

That's the Xmaa message from the Xmas Grinch? And it might be time for a re-shuffle?

There are a few barnacles on the ship?

If the pond could just go the full Buddha, the barnacles are the ship, the ship is the barnacles ... and the biggest barnacle of all is the barnacle in charge of the ship of barnacles, and re-shuffling and knocking off that barnacle will take another full year of the kinds of efforts seen this year ...

And in that endeavour the pond has absolute faith ...

Oh it's going to be a good one ... the barnacles will be everywhere ... as Abbott knows if he sends embittered failures to the back bench ... because they realise, as Dame Slap does, that the chief barnacle is the real problem, and Under Tony Abbott we are going nowhere with the nowhere man ...

(Below: Master Tony takes a suspicious look at the present Dame Slap left for him under the Xmas tree)