The pond was inspired by James Massola's Why is Tony Abbott making so many media appearances while Malcolm Turnbull is away? (with forced video) to indulge in some post-modernist, post-ironic graphic novel stylings:
"There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping". That's the pledge Tony Abbott made the day after he lost the prime ministership. And now, Liberal MPs are starting to ask if the former prime minister is on the verge of breaking that promise.
In the five days since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flew overseas, Abbott has blitzed the conservative press, penning two opinion pieces for The Australian newspaper, a diary for the Australian Spectator, conducting an interview with the Sunday Telegraph and TV and radio interviews with commentators Andrew Bolt, Steve Price and Alan Jones.
Abbott is lineball with Turnbull, who has taken questions at four press conferences in Indonesia, Germany and Turkey, spoken to the ABC's Insiders program, and issued two media statements about the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Well they were always a little thick, and so slow to ask ...
Liberal MPs offer three possible reasons for the re-emergence of Abbott.
The first explanation is that he is out there protecting his legacy as a "national security" prime minister and is still angry at being dumped, and so is causing trouble.
The second theory is that the former PM is protecting his legacy – but also trailing his coat for a return to the frontbench at some point in the future, much like Kevin Rudd returned to Julia Gillard's frontbench and indeed, like Turnbull returned to Abbott's frontbench after a period in the political wilderness back in 2010.
The third theory is that while he is out there commenting on current events, Abbott is trailing his coat to the Liberal Party's conservative wing and maybe, just maybe (the dramatic turnaround in polls be damned), the former PM thinks he can return to the leadership one day.
The reality is this. The former prime minister has given himself until Christmas to decide what he will do next with his life. Until Abbott makes up his mind up, some Liberals will be nervous about his intentions, and others will take their cues from him on whether to let Turnbull and co. get on with the job or start a full-on Rudd-like guerilla campaign, minus the former Labor leader's public popularity. On that day in September, Abbott also promised to "make this change as easy as I can" and that he had "never leaked or backgrounded against anyone and I certainly won't start now". His conduct in the past few days shows he does not have to background or leak to unsettle the Liberal government he so recently led. The question facing Tony Abbott is whether he ultimately wants Malcolm Turnbull to succeed or not. Australia is waiting to hear the answer.
Actually Mr Massola, with the greatest respect, the question facing us all is, which is the frog and which the scorpion, and is there a bat flying by in the sky?
You see, we're already in a full-on Rudd-like guerilla campaign, only it isn't being conducted by furtive leaks, it's being conducted in shameless, brazen, strutting, promenading sight, aided and abetted by chosen members of the commentariat and the reptiles of Oz.
Abbott has only conformed in one way to Rudd-like behaviour, and that's to wait for the fearless new leader to head off overseas, so that he can conduct himself like an antic military leader in a banana republic ...
There being no genuine opposition in the land - who thinks of Bill Shorten these days? - it has befallen Abbott to take on the job, and present himself as the saviour waiting in the wings - a patient caring frog, a willing "boots on the ground" scorpion and a passing flying bat ... and thus the Trinitarian in the man is consummated ...
But why did the pond end up in graphic novel land?
Well the reptiles are obsessed this day, haplessly, helplessly so, with an elevated 'warning of drivel' alert ...
Well enough of that already. How a rag could run a demand to discuss terrorism intelligently with a cheek by jowl demand to repeat the follies of the past will have to remain a mystery to the pond ...
Instead, a bright lights, big city, toads of toadland story drew the pond north like a moth to the flame of the rough Brough:
The reptiles even had a copy of the search warrant on file, together with further details, including an actual confession live on national television:
And so, since we're now speaking of the poodle, it's time for the agile pond to do a mobile pivot and mention a recent financial page in The New Yorker by James Surowieki.
Currently it's online outside the paywall here, but please allow the pond to run a few excerpts of the more titillating kind:
Today, the for-profit-education bubble is deflating. Regulators have been cracking down on the industry’s misdeeds—most notably, lying about job-placement rates. In May, Corinthian Colleges, once the second-largest for-profit chain in the country, went bankrupt. Enrollment at the University of Phoenix has fallen by more than half since 2010; a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense said that it wouldn’t fund troops who enrolled there. Other institutions have experienced similar declines. The fundamental problem is that these schools made promises they couldn’t keep.
For-profit colleges are far more expensive than community colleges, their closest peers, but, according to a 2013 study by three Harvard professors, their graduates have lower earnings and are actually more likely to end up unemployed. To make matters worse, these students are usually in a lot of debt. Ninety-six per cent of them take out loans, and they owe an average of more than forty thousand dollars. According to a study by the economists Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis, students at for-profit schools are roughly three times as likely to default as students at traditional colleges. And the ones who don’t default often use deferments to stay afloat: according to the Department of Education, seventy-one per cent of the alumni of American National University hadn’t repaid a dime, even after being out of school for five years.
Dependence on student loans was not incidental to the for-profit boom—it was the business model. The schools may have been meeting a genuine market need, but, in most cases, their profits came not from building a better mousetrap but from gaming the taxpayer-funded financial-aid system. Since the schools weren’t lending money themselves, they didn’t have to worry about whether it would be paid back. So they had every incentive to encourage students to take out as much financial aid as possible, often by giving them a distorted picture of what they could expect in the future. Corinthians, for instance, was found to have lied about job-placement rates nearly a thousand times. And a 2010 undercover government investigation of fifteen for-profit colleges found that all fifteen “made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements.” One told an applicant that barbers could earn up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. Schools also jacked up prices to take advantage of the system. A 2012 study found that increases in tuition closely tracked increases in financial aid.
And so on and so forth. So much for the profit-driven education model beloved by the poodle. Came this punchline ...
...if we really want more people to go to college we should put more money into community colleges and public universities, which have been starved of funding in recent years.
... and the pond was yearning for the rough Brough scandal to break wide.
If they can't be brought down for their policy misdeeds, let them be brought down for their insouciant grubbiness ...
And what should turn up on Twitter this very day - how it irritates the reptiles so - but this Moir cartoon ...