Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In which the pond gets consensual ...

(Above: Rowe devises an excellent system for Greg Hunt, and more Rowe here).

You can imagine the pond being a bit startled, and prancing around like a nervous nellie, to hear gravel-voiced Ian Macfarlane intone on the radio this morning that everything was under control, and Australia was on top of its emissions game, and don't you worry about that, and have you thought of feeding the chooks, and so on and so forth ...

The enduring memory of the gravel-voiced wonder was his appearance on Lateline back in 2007, when he had to explain the difference between being a climate sceptic and a climate sceptical, though it turned out that he had in fact been a climate sceptic and now, in Bjorn Lomborg style, was merely climate sceptical ...

Or something like that.

TONY JONES: We'll certainly come to that. 'I am a sceptic of the connection between emissions and climate change', you recall saying that?  
IAN MACFARLANE: I do recall saying that, yes. Let's not try and verbal me here, Tony.

In the usual way, there's a transcript for the Lateline show here, but it helps explain why the Federal Government could suddenly find a lazy four mill for Bjorn Lomborg, the sceptical sceptic.

The pond was delighted to see Prof Paul Johnson being exceptionally busy explaining how the new consensus centre might produce some kind of consensus - despite the lack of consensus about it being formed - because it'll have nothing to do with climate, it won't be headed by Lomborg and Lomborg might drop in casually for a couple of weeks a couple of times a year.

Johnson - who crazy brave lists his email address here - did a remarkable sort of tap dance in UWA vice-chancellor defends think tank linked to controversial environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg by explaining the many ways the think tank would have nothing to do with Lomborg.

It turns out that the good Prof didn't have much of a clue about where the idea came from, and what's more remarkable, the good Prof had decided, in consultation with others, that the one thing the good Prof saw as a major challenge would not be suitable turf for the new think tank:

"The big challenge for humanity is how do we find ways of reducing carbon emissions that are so sustainable and economically efficient that even poor people in India and in Afrca and other parts of South East Asia will use these alternatives rather than what is currently the cheapest source of power, which is fossil fuels." 

Uh huh, which is no doubt why the good Prof was pleased to ignore this big challenge for humanity, and look at the consensus on other matters:

Professor Johnson said there would be three main projects over the next four years: 

  • Focus on the smartest development goals for the United Nations post-2015 agenda, which will be adopted in New York in September. 
  • The Australian Prosperity Consensus, which will focus on determining which policies will keep the nation prosperous in a generation's time. 
  • Setting global priorities for development aid, and help DFAT and agencies produce the most good for every dollar that is spent.
You see, nothing to do with the climate or the big challenge for humanity! Now there's a triumphant use of a lazy four mill ...

Thank the long absent lord Lomborg didn't make his name being a climate science contrarian.

Of course the snarky leftists - Meet Bjorn Lomborg, Abbott's Four Million Dollar 'Climate Contrarian' - are wondering, at a time of Macfarlane-driven CSIRO cuts, how four million would be pissed against the wall on a man who'd barely show up, and who'd refrain from unleashing his genius on his favourite speciality, climate science, and the 'big challenge for humanity', but really it's just another of the wonders of a natural world ...

Naturally the poodle was also in the thick of the action:

Ah yes, but it's got nothing to do with climate has it, it's only got to do with actual pressing problems ...

Enough already, and as melancholy duty requires, it's time to turn to the reptiles, happily content that one of their own has scored a lazy four mill ...

And what a splendid reptilian display of colour there is on view, more multi-hued and glowing than your average gekko ...

Indeed, indeed ... all those useless agreements between federal and state bodies, what an embarrassing waste of time.

And look ,the bromancer is wildly excited, in a state approaching ecstasy:

Yes, what a triumph. Sending wretches back to what was only two minutes ago being denounced as an unholy, Satanic regime, but now it turns out, is a noble ally in middle eastern endeavours.

Why it's enough to make the pond a sceptical sceptic, but rather than indulge in such a rich treat, the pond perversely became entranced, yet again, by the Caterists:

Uh huh.

Now the pond has long noticed a trend in political discourse, and the supermarket wars are as good an metaphor for it as any.

Lovers of free markets like to blather on about plurality, diversity, disruption, and market forces maximising competition. But the reality is that soon enough you end up with an oppressive duopoly, where even to enter the marketplace to attempt a triopoly, or some other variant oligopoly becomes hugely difficult and needs deep pockets - Aldi say hello to Coles and Woollies ...

The urge, the desire, the need to reach some kind of monopolistic level of domination becomes the motif to the struggle.

Now when thinking of democracy, as its currently constituted, the pattern is pretty much the same. The two major parties like the notion of keeping the turf to themselves, you take a turn, now I'll take a turn, and so on and on for as long as the game lasts.

Oh sure, it's well and good to talk of diversity and plurality, but only in the context of their own structures. Keep it all inside the tent and all's well.

Now the natural extension of this attitude to power-sharing is fascist or communist in nature. The sort of blather on view online about democracy at our very own Museum of Australian Democracy is inimical to your average monopolist or duopolist:
  • Practically all adults have te right to run for elective offices in the government. 
  • Citizens have a right to express themselves without the danger of severe punishment on political matters broadly defined. 
  • Citizens have a right to seek out alternative sources of information. Moreover, alternative sources of information exist and are protected by law. 
  • Citizens also have the right to form relatively independent associations or organizations, including independent political parties and interest groups. 
  • Elected officials are able to exercise their powers without fear of being overridden. 
  • The polity is self-governing; and able to act independently of constraints imposed by others. 
  • People have the freedom to speak and publish dissenting views.
And so on, here.

This sort of nonsense is designed to outrage Caterists. They simply can't stand minorities, pluralities, diversities, alternative ways of looking at the world, dissent, or wild cats straying from the straight and narrow.

Here you go, cop a decent dose of bile:

Well this is good as far as it goes.

Squawking myna birds is an immediate reminder that we have foreign birds in the polity, but the pond was looking for more. You know, like a grotesque soap opera:

Yes, that'll do it. Roll that one around on the tongue:

The upshot of this grotesque political soap opera is the Senate is looking a lot like the Caucasus, the mountainous terrain between the Caspian and Black seas where the Chechens, Abkhazians, Ossetians, Dagestanis and three dozen other ethnic groups fight over strips of land, united only against compromise. 
Tony Abbott’s critics assume the civil war in the Senate, like the Ebola virus, is all his fault. If only he didn’t walk that way, if only he didn’t wink so much, if only he wasn’t so punchy, the Senate would obligingly fall into line. 
No prime minister, however, has faced a Senate as disorderly as this one. No prime minister has been obliged to negotiate with 18 crossbenchers spread across the spectrum from moderately quirky to stark, raving bonkers.

And there you have it. If ever you wanted an example of 'der Wille zur Macht', surely that would do it.

It's as if Albert Patrick Field never existed, it's as if Brian Harradine didn't score bounty for Tasmanians for years.

Instead it's the usual demonisation and talk of people being stark, raving bonkers. As if the poodle helping out his consensual mate was a model of sanity ...

The point of course is to produce a situation where all minorities are removed from the action, and the duopoly is kept safe, even to the point of blathering about rotten boroughs.

But it gets even weirder, as with the Caterists fawning all over Leyonhjelm, who might come in handy when it comes to a crunch vote:

When the intemperate culture that pervades the Senate distorts the judgment of a principled man such as Leyonhjelm, the case for reform is irrefutable.

That principled man got into power by being canny with preferences, just like the others, and many would think he was stark, raving bonkers, but perhaps no more so than Fred Nile's party having two seats in the NSW upper house ...

Next week? Well there'll be talk about dangerous elites, and how your average dinkum digger is the repository of wisdom, provided he or she isn't repositing her bum on a seat in the Senate. Then they become as dangerous as a myna bird ...

It's the business of the major parties, and the craven, lickspittle, supportive commentariat, to weed out diversity, and plurality, and reduce the body politic to two shades of grey, or perhaps a beige and a grey ...

Which then allows the feathering of nests, by mates, for mates, by like minds, for like minds, without anyone on hand to get too agitated, or too able to do much about the feathering ...

Then you can get to call the result the consensus centre, while George Orwell rolls in his grave, because it seems the only consensus that's a good consensus is the one where a man as disliked as Tony Abbott can blame it all on others  ...

(Below: more First Dog here).


  1. Great piece again, especially on Denialism Central. I fear my rising blood pressure in my advancing old age is only kept at bay by avoiding anything to do with Murdoch's propaganda and all its reptiles. Gary Johns seems to bear a famous rugby league name. Did he once have that background, or was his brain damaged elsewhere? A bit unfair when you consider Brick Lazarus is actually showing a bit of sense and responsibility.

    But Cater gets up my nostril badly. I can only stomach him and the various assorted twats like Bolt, Ackers, Devine, Slap and Blair in the highly diluted form that you present. The notion that Abbott has faced more obstruction from minor parties and independents than any other PM is as dumb and wrong as the Press Gallery line that Abbott was the best Opposition Leader ever.

    FFS, Curtin took us through the worst of the war years with a minority government before his landslide win in 1943. Whitlam faced a Senate dominated by DLP and coalition members determined to block everything he'd promised. He changed it with a double dissolution election and then got through just about all his major reforms.

    And if Cater missed all that history, which of a sort went right back to federation, he surely could not have missed the Gillard government battling along with minorities in BOTH houses and having to deal with diverse groups, destabilising stunts daily from Abbott and Rudd, and yet passing record quantities of reforming legislation.

    There is an argument that Curtin 1941-1943 and Gillard 2010-2013 led two of our best governments. If so it destroys the notion that minorities make government ungovernable. Nonsense such as Cater and the post-2010
    Press Gallery have spun overlooks that a critical factor in governing is negotiating.

    1. There's another bout of it today, GD, from Greg Craven, and it's going to keep going because Abbott and his team are such duds, there has to be someone else to blame.

  2. Why are Tony Pants On Fire and Bjorn Baby not where they are really needed.
    The opening vid says it all.

  3. Great post as always DP. It's a brave woman who ventures daily to the dungeon of the Caterist and his reptile friends.

  4. Maybe Abbott,Hunt and UWA could focus their economic lens here.
    Fuckwits just seem to get more expensive every year. At least according to the scientific lens, the Poles appear to be in synchronization.

  5. Julie Bishop presents David Pope’s “he drew first” cartoon to Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris

    and David Pope responds with a send up of the ‘momentous’ occasion


    1. Excellent. David Pope is the pencil extraordinaire.

  6. https://newmatilda.com/2015/04/21/green-not-good-how-abbott-sabotaged-clean-energy-sector

    By the way, Dorothy, surely the figure of $4million in commonwealth taxpayer likes for babbling denialistian propaganda is also deviant understated spin.

    The total funding required for this Johnson UWAnk Concensuss think tank is reported as being $12million with the other $8million coming from private supporters. Those private, no doubt secretive, supporters will presumably claim any financial support over $2 as tax deductable.

    The overall tax take shortfall arising from such deductions as claimed by such big fossilised energy polluters as Rio, Jabba, BHP, Santos, AGL, Origin, Fatty, and Glencore will be made up by the common taxpayers' millions whether they like it or not.

  7. There really is no alternative. "It's the business of the major parties," to serve power.

    TINA? http://driftingson.com/2011/10/25/the-most-beautiful-thing-on-wall-street/

    Btw, is Blib Snugglin up to opposing that corrupt and dysfunctional job network business yet?

    1. Great American Dream,ha! Great graphic of the whole gig. Thanks. I read an article recently on this perception issue (you could do the survey yourself at the start. I was pretty close to the actual inequality mark) and was thus staggered by the actual delusion/misconception of the average American punter. I think the very first comment on the video hit the nail on the head when he raised the issue of education. Thank god for the internet,even if it is engulfed in copper.

  8. Nick Cater is a very strange kind of bird.
    The Cater-bird seems to lack the sight or wits to differentiate an Acridotheres tristis(Indian Myna[currently being imported in large numbers to the Galilee basin]) from an Ailuroedus Crassirostris var chrypto-rufus(Green Catbird [red coverts]).
    The Cater-bird itself seems to be a mutation, tentative classification Sarcogyps calvus var Caterus(Pin-head Red-necked Vulture).
    Here is a picture.


    1. A great public service there Corvus boreus. The sinister uglyness is unique. I just wish Rupert would stop the breeding program.

  9. Brilliant! Clear! Revelatory! Touching in part on many loon topics of the moment (including the Lomborg UWAnk Tank) just about everyone in Australia should and could easily read and understand this excellent piece of a few weeks ago in The Monthly:

    Spreadsheets of power
    How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate

    By Richard Denniss

    A teaser, some about Lomborgonomics:

    Most economic modellers do not assume that all human lives are equal. Bjorn Lomborg, for example, one of the world’s most famous climate sceptics, uses modelling that assumes the lives of people in developing countries are worth a lot less than the lives of Australians or Americans. While the US Declaration of Independence may declare that all men are created equal, most economic models assume that all men (and women) are worth a figure based on the GDP per capita of their country.

    Late last year, Bjorn Lomborg asked to meet me, and I wondered whether talking to him would be good fun or a waste of time. It was neither: it was scary and illuminating. After 15 years as the smiling face of climate inactivists, Lomborg had raised his sights. His new mission was to ensure that governments also deliver inaction on global poverty alleviation, public health and gender inequality.

    When we met, Lomborg proceeded to explain how his team of economists at the Copenhagen Consensus Center had decided that a number of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals weren’t worth pursuing. His tool of choice for defending such a position? Economic modelling.


    In 2011, Denmark’s general election saw its centre-right government tossed out of power, to be replaced by a minority centre-left coalition led by the country’s first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

    Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center was one of the first casualties of the change of government. When it was announced that its more than $1 million in funding would be cut, Lomborg visited the new prime minister, urging her to reconsider the government’s decision. “I’d love to show you how the Copenhagen Consensus is a good idea,” he was reported as telling her.

    “I think that probably might be right, Bjorn,” she reportedly responded to the sceptical environmentalist. “But I will just get so much more mileage out of criticising you.”

    Costs and benefits can be calculated any number of ways, and the modeller’s assumptions are crucial to the end result. Lomborg had confidently assumed that the Danish taxpayer would continue to fund his work. His cost–benefit analyses had found that more effort should be put into free trade and less money spent on tackling poverty and climate change. But, as with all such efforts, garbage in, garbage out...


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