Saturday, November 22, 2014

Please, keep digging ...

(Above: always more Pope here).

What could have inspired David Pope to produce such a lovely image?

Ah, there it is:

It's possible to admire Bishop, albeit in a perverse way.

The pond has always been inclined to perversity, and so it seems admirable that Bishop should defend the indefensible, to whit, Campbell Newman, the Queensland government and the reef, Tony Abbott and the reef, and the spluttering, whittering Greg 'wiki the walri' Hunt and the reef ...

Of course it only took a nanosecond for a horde of journalists to drag out a horde of scientists saying she was a clown fish lurking in a reef skull - for example, Peter Hannam's Great Barrier Reef will be 'slaughtered': scientists dismiss Julie Bishop's claim reef not at risk (forced video at end of link).

In fact, right at the moment, the pond is struggling to keep up with the farcical headlines that keep surging into the world. Yesterday there came this one too:

As if the Abbott government could fail at emitting emissions!

What a preposterous headline ... why, emissions are their speciality, and sure enough when you read Australia one of only four nations forecast to miss 2020 emissions target, you quickly realise that it's an international conspiracy involving the UN's attempt to introduce covertly a world government, using climate science ...

At least you do if you live in paranoid Murdoch la la land ...

Sometimes the headlines paired off:

Oh no, could it get any more desperate? Why next thing you know the parrot will be proposing that Tony Abbott be dropped in a chaff bag and drowned at sea ...

Naturally the reptiles at the Oz scurried to the scene to attempt to repair the damage, and to point the finger at the Kenyan socialist who'd started all the fuss:

Look, there's prattling Polonius making a late bid for the pond's prize of a tin of desiccated coconut for the most boring member of the Oz commentariat. "No offence a good rule"? How can that work when a sandal-wearing luvvie hovers into view?

It's gotten so tough for some that they've begun to shriek 'enough already'.

Why there's Lenore Taylor making a spectacle of herself in Tony Abbott keeps digging himself in deeper, and it makes no sense.

Taylor wants Abbott to stop the digging, and where's the sense in that? What would every newspaper outside Murdoch la la land do for a story?

But the arguments with which Australia is now trying to berate America are truly ridiculous. And they are just drawing more domestic and international attention to our policy absences and inadequacies.

But you're just being a spoilsport Ms Taylor, ruining everyone's fun. If we've got the windmills, of course we must have loons that will tilt at them ... that's the natural order.

According to conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, it has to “change or die”. Some of his advice is probably good – to concentrate on the domestic agenda and to give up on some fights it cannot win. But Bolt also berates Abbott because “he’s given up the fights for free speech and workplace reform, and dares not openly challenge the [global] warming hysteria.” In other words, Bolt reckons the government should dig harder, be more ideological and intransigent. 
I disagree. I think it would be better, politically and in the interests of good policy and general sanity, for the government to stop digging for a while.

What? And then we won't be able to learn how Vegemite is sponsoring world terrorism?

Enough of this spoilsport attitude. It's Saturday and there are other fish to fry. Now usually the pond would sample a typical member of the ratbag Oz commentariat. Like Chris Kenny:

Yes, it's a typical dim-witted Kenny effort, along the lines of "why is this intertubes still a thing?"

It's luddite gibberish, but then that's Kenny's speciality, and he spent the first half explaining why the ABC shouldn't get into digital. What's wrong with valve radios?

Then came this pathetic serve of parochialism:

Yes, move to Adelaide and the cardigan-wearing socialists will meet real people ... South Australians, from Adelaide ...

Ah, it's the old BAPH states carry-on, the same sort of stupid bleating about eastern staters that's been doing the rounds since the pond first discovered the mysteries of Light Ent at the ABC ...

The pond would love to spend all day with Kenny explaining how stories about the aunts on the verandah and tales of cats and wisteria have limited appeal to a wider demographic that's more urbanised than ever, but a bigger, cataclysmic event overwhelmed that narrative.

You see the reptiles have reached a deep, existential crisis, a point of complete and utter despair, and it's on view in the lizard Oz editorial today.

All the cheerleading, all the forelock tugging, all the hopes and expectations, where has it got them?

Let's look at how it cranks into gear, here, and outside the paywall for your pleasure and potent political examination.

They're doomed, doomed, we tells ya:

Limply? Losing the battler? Risks becoming a "oncer"? 

A shambles? Deficiency that can't be masked or ignored?

What's interesting is that this is also a confession that the kool-aid drinkers have failed. All that massaging, all that heroic propaganda, has been deployed in the service of dud goods. It's a pitiful cry for help.

Just roll it around on the tongue, and you'll discover a pleasing complexity: talking points and three-word slogans can never suffice ...

Sheesh, now they've worked it out? Now?

Yes, it's the reptiles doing a Bolter, with high gravitas and great resentment. It's just one step short of a tap on the shoulder and a demand that Abbott vacate his seat for Julie Bishop.

On and on the editorialist rants about this maddening man's maddening government, which has lost its authoritative voice, and is beset instead by a communications malady:

Ah, a re-boot. Let's hope it works better than a Mac re-boot. But do go on (and on and on, if you will):

Mr Abbott is unable to capitalise on the past fortnight of global prestige and successful trade diplomacy. Readers can only imagine how Paul Keating would have conceptualised the Brisbane gathering and the economic might that accompanied it. The former prime minister would have been clever, shameless and over-the-top. He would never have succumbed to the low-rent fearmongering of radio barker Jones on the FTA or Chinese investment. Mr Keating would have had the wit to link the recent trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea — and the possibility of closer ties to emerging India — to a grand narrative about our future in the region, investment, rising living standards, jobs, aspiration and the need to keep opening our eyes, hearts and reform ambitions in the face of Asia’s economic transformation. 

Oh that's just too cruel, too unfair. Fancy comparing Abbott to Keating. What? Won't we get a musical? Can it get any worse?

It is true that the conservative side of politics does not trumpet its successes in the manner of the Left. Certainly, Mr Abbott was right to recognise that the electorate had lost patience with the extravagant verbiage of the Rudd-Gillard era. But there is a sweet spot between overblown rhetoric and the dot-point banalities pumped out by the PMO and the Coalition’s advisers. John Howard proved that he not only had convictions and a framework for action, he also knew how to speak directly to voters; he used the tools and media outlets that suited his purpose. Mr Howard was not universally loved, but he built a solid relationship with the Australian people because he argued his case from first principles. His words and his political persona were one and the same; no one thought he was taking his cues from a focus group or party official. The same thing was true for Bob Hawke, another authentic voice in our politics who was able to speak past his enemies and directly to voters. 

Oh no, not John Howard. Oh dear sweet absent lord, not Hawkie ...

While Mr Abbott is just as intelligent as his predecessors, he is languishing and looks flaky. He lacks the appeal of “comfortable and relaxed” Mr Howard or the everyman charisma of “Hawkie”, whose narrative of consensus united the nation. 

Looks flakey. Languishing ...

Okay, the pond can work out where this is heading. The pond has no interest in sport, but has seen certain sports movies, where the coach has a final chance to address the team, appeal to the captain. It's a two minute warning, it's a time out. The coach is impassioned. She grabs the captain by the shirt-front, and gives him a good shirt-fronting.

Harden the fuck up man. You've got two minutes to win this game. You'd better do a cabinet shuffle, roll the dice, regroup, pull yourself together.

In the old days, a smack across the chops might have been thrown in, just to bring focus. For fuck's sake are you a girly man? Get out there and lead:

The Prime Minister can prevail, but he needs to show courage and leadership. One suggestion for capitalising on the G20 goodwill comes from former treasurer Peter Costello. He argued that going for growth, in line with the Brisbane Action Plan, does not depend on Mr Obama, Mr Putin or faceless officials; it’s up to the leaders of countries, such as our own, to repair their budgets and deregulate industries. “A government serious about reform might use such statements to educate and persuade its own constituency,” Mr Costello argued. “But the business of economic reform is hard, specific and local.”

Sheesh, is that the best the coach has got? Silly old Petey boy? Let's ask the tough questions, let's check the hardness quotient:

Is Mr Abbott hard enough? Without a clear narrative, the task will be beyond him; his communications strategy is in disarray. The Coalition needs skilful media personnel and new roles for its best ministerial performers; it must communicate like a team that knows what it is doing. Short-term tactical wins may offer a mood hit in the executive wing, but they are not the key to sustained governing. Mr Abbott must regroup, trust himself and speak with purpose. Right now, his insipid default setting is losing the people.

Yep, it's just one step short of a tap on the shoulder and a demand that Abbott step down. Instead over Christmas, he must do a re-shuffle - find "new roles for its best ministerial performers".

It has dawned on the Murdochians that Abbott isn't just losing the people, he's lost the people, at least to the extent that matters in an election.

What's produced this existential crisis? Well the reptiles take the reading of the runes seriously, and the last Newspoll was something of a disaster.

The latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian at the weekend, reveals that the Prime Minister, after two weeks of being overseas or consumed by international affairs, has suffered a fall in satisfaction as his government’s primary vote dropped to a four-month low of 36 per cent. 
At 39 per cent, Labor’s primary support is higher than the government’s for the first time since July, when the Coalition was being punished by voters for a poorly ­received budget. Labor’s core vote has jumped by three points in the past fortnight and is six points higher than when it lost the election 14 months ago. 
The Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to its lowest level since July, has fallen by five points since mid-September and is nine points lower than at the election. (no link, it'll only lead to a begging letter from the paupers of the press)

All this while Bill "zinger" Shorten lands punches on shadows ...

And so everyone has now got advice for Team Abbott, from the Bolter and the Parrot through the Oz editorialist, to Gra Gra Richardson, who took his eye off Swiss bank accounts long enough yesterday to offer some thoughts:

This week’s Newspoll gives Labor a 10-point lead. No matter how many times you hear the phrase “the only poll that matters is the one on election day”, you can be certain the consistency of the Labor lead is worrying every Coalition member. 
Be they backbenchers or ministers, they all know that in the 14 months since the election, a Labor Party drowning in a well-deserved reputation for not being able to be trusted with the task of minding Australia’s bill has risen from the floor and is still able to land the odd punch. 
The real story of this, though, is not Labor’s comeback. Self-­inflicted wounds have been the government’s biggest problem. 
That Tony Abbott ran a truly disciplined and relentlessly effective campaign against a politically incompetent government led by two hopeless Labor leaders in Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd was true until the last few months before the election. During that time discipline went out the window. Any hint of fiscal rectitude was sacrificed on the altar of electoral success. 
Remember the endless — and one could say needless — promises. Health and education were the obvious ones. There would be no changes and no surprises. Even the dreaded ABC and SBS were to be quarantined from the savage cuts we expected to come. 
Therein lies the problem. Just where did the Prime Minister and Joe Hockey think they were going to come from? Once they had ruled out new taxes there was only one way to deliver on the deficit and debt reduction built as the centrepiece of their campaign. 
That meant the one thing they said they would never do was an absolute certainty. Abbott killed Gillard by reminding us every five minutes that she had told a great lie over carbon. “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” should be Gillard’s epitaph. Remember Abbott’s famous words — we will do what we say and say what we do.

And so on:

To have believed even for a second that an audit and a repetition of age-old and tired rhetoric would raise the budget brought down last May is a testament to political ignorance and the tyranny of distance — the million miles our PM and Treasurer seem to be from those battling in the suburbs, towns and farms. 
There had not been nearly enough hard political slog done in trying to prepare the electorate for what was to come. This was the classic ambush and the electorate felt robbed. The number of broken promises grew too many to count. People stopped counting but they stayed angry. 
According to Newspoll their fury is mounting, not dissipating. 
Just for once, I am not sure we needed Newspoll to know how the government is travelling. 

And Gra Ga was generous with his advice:

The government’s troubles don’t end there. Having talked up the deficit crisis it now appears almost certain it will have to face the people with a deficit considerably higher than the one it inherited from Labor. As iron ore and coal prices continue to decline, government revenues will inevitably decline with them. State and federal governments will be feeling the pinch. I can hear the bleating now about the fall in the terms of trade and how it was unexpected and how it wasn’t their fault. Think back to Rudd and Gillard fighting to keep us afloat when we were hit by the global financial crisis and remember how much quarter the then opposition gave them. 
For what it’s worth I have some advice for our PM. Spending $500 million on the G20 in Brisbane may have made you feel good but I’m not sure the punters out in the real world are all that crazy about it. Photo opportunities galore won’t serve you. There needs to be a major rethink about this government’s approach. One iron rule in politics is that you can’t fight on too many fronts. The last budget opened up fronts across the board and you are not politically strong enough to fight them all. Stop pussyfooting with that stupid PPL scheme. Don’t promise delay, just say it can wait until the budget is in better shape. Take a leaf from your political hero’s book. Take the co-payments to an election. If you approach Australians honestly and explain the extent of the health cost blowout, umbilically connected to the ageing of the population, you might get back some of your reputation for honesty. 
Finally, do Denis Napthine a favour. Stay away from Victoria until after Saturday week. It is interesting that Labor’s big lead in Newspoll rests on a massive advantage in Victoria.

There you go Ms Taylor, you see. You're telling Abbott and jolly Joe and others to stop digging, the Oz editorialist is telling them they're hopeless, and Gra Gra is telling them to get out of town until the heat blows over ...

But, and it's a very big butt, billy goat, what if it's a dud team, with a dud captain? How will the coaching help? What if they keep on copping a walloping?

If by a miracle, they did fix up their game, where would all the funny headlines go? Would Vegemite stop financing terrorism?

Ah well, never mind, all this after Abbott had a chance to shine on the world stage ...  and all this as Julie mounts such a noble defence of Tony, Campbell, the reef and Greg 'wiki the walri' Hunt.

How could it go so wrong. Let us turn to Cathy Wilcox, who is more fun than a poll (and more Wilcox here)

Now where did the parrot put that chaff bag ...


  1. I note that the Guardian Australia web site has been off-line for some hours now.

    Is it too early for conspiracy theories?

    Maybe it's just an IT fuck-up.

  2. Greg Sheriden, aka Monsieur Bromance, simply ‘adored’ Bishop in 2009. He must be pulling the wings off butterflies, now.

    “The opposition's response, through Bishop, was pathetic. It was internally contradictory, unprincipled, amoral beyond even the exigencies of parliamentary hypocrisy and profoundly stupid. Bishop was a dud shadow treasurer and is now a dud foreign affairs spokeswoman. But her response on China betokens a much broader crisis for the opposition. The Liberal Party is now not so much a political movement as a collection of unemployed former ministers in search of a public service to do their thinking for them. Bishop's press release of August 19, surely one of the dumbest press releases issued by a foreign affairs spokesperson,”

    1. A quote from Coriolanus comes to mind. Sorry for the atrt-farty reference.

      O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a
      very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o'
      Wednesday half an hour together: has such a
      confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded
      butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go
      again; and after it again; and over and over he
      comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his
      fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his
      teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked

      One on 's father's moods.

      Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

    2. Can Greg spot a threat to the bromance?

      And as for the Coriolanus, the pond is overwhelmed by the literary sophistication of its readers ... this being just the first out of the literary gate for the day. Love it.

  3. Dorothy,

    Talking of parrots as you were, Tony Abbott as a 'Norwegian Blue' come to mind...


  4. Now, look, DP, "no interest in sport"? How very dare you! Can't you see the way of salvation for the ABC? Let me back off a bit. How would Russia have responded if a foreign leader had made unkind hints about any aspect of Russia, while a guest on their soil? It would've caused a terse memo and the focussed venom of a horde of tame media jocks. There's the template, right there. What should the ABC be doing? Leading the populace into more consumption, that's what. Ask Peter Pentecostello if buying stuff isn't the avenue to a glorious future of untold wealth for all.
    The ABC, then, should major in programs on food, bigger & better houses, self-managed super, sports, vehicles, entertainment and clothes (aka "fashion"). As for QIx7 per week, well, leave it there as a space-filler until the necessary reforms have been done. ABC moguls needn't worry about their salaries, either, and look to how Moscow treats its compliant broadcasters & publishers.

  5. Bishop's started using a darker shade of mascara. Makes her look just that little bit more menacing.

    What's that you say? Don't judge her on her appearance because she's not a feminist?

  6. Hi Dorothy,

    "See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you're at your weakest and most in need of their help." Henry Hill

    Oh dear! Everybody seems to have well intentioned advice for Mr Abbott and his handler Credlin. How long before the Murdoch outfit starts to have a serious case of buyers remorse?

    With less than two years to the next election, the calculations are being done. If Abbott can't get even get a boost in his polling from a major photo op like the G20 what chance has he in winning at the next election? If Abbott is a dead man walking then isn't it better to replace him sooner rather than later? Can a new leader restore the electorates faith in a dysfunctional government?

    The commentariat, as usual, fail to see that it's the product (policies) that are on the nose with the average voter and moving to a new salesman or even a new saleswoman won't alter the fact that the LNP is in thrall to the big miners and News Corp.

    I suspect that Abbott and Credlin found their breakfast rather indigestible after reading this mornings editorial in The Australian.

    Interesting times


  7. I think the correct spelling of the word used to describe the G20 by the Oz is 'triffic'

  8. As always you can find appropriate quotes in ancient literature. Take Chaucer for example.. I believe he was the first to popularise 'kiss my arse'. which the Murdochians seem to be doing with Julie.

    From The Millers Tale. The translation is up to you. But is seems to involve kissing arses.


    This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees
    And seyde, "I am a lord at alle degrees;
    For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
    Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!"

    The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
    "Have do," quod she, "com of, and speed the faste,
    Lest that oure neighebores thee espie."
    This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.

    Derk was the nyght as pich, or as a cole,
    And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
    And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
    Ful savorly, er he were war of this.

    Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
    For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
    He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
    And seyde, "Fy! allas! what have I do?"

    "Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
    And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
    "A berd! a berd!" quod hende Nicholas,
    "By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel."

    1. Gives a whole new meaning to Vegemite sandwiches.

  9. Hi Dorothy,

    "See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you're at your weakest and most in need of their help." Henry Hill

    Oh dear! Everybody seems to have well intentioned advice for Mr Abbott and his handler Credlin. How long before the Murdoch outfit starts to have a serious case of buyers remorse?

    With less than two years to the next election, the calculations are being done. If Abbott can't get even get a boost in his polling from a major photo op like the G20 what chance has he in winning at the next election? If Abbott is a dead man walking then isn't it better to replace him sooner rather than later? Can a new leader restore the electorates faith in a dysfunctional government?

    The commentariat, as usual, fail to see that it's the product (policies) that are on the nose with the average voter and moving to a new salesman or even a new saleswoman won't alter the fact that the LNP is in thrall to the big miners and News Corp.

    I suspect that Abbott and Credlin found their breakfast rather indigestible after reading this mornings editorial in The Australian.

    Interesting times


    1. He's doomed, DW, doomed, the pond tells ya ... when the reptiles turn - it takes some doing, what with all the slithering - it's hard to turn them back. When Chris Mitchell hands out the special brand of kool aid, soon enough it'll start to show even in the most oburate and thick of the lizard Oz commentariat ...

      Reptile watching is about to turn into real fun

  10. "Faux fairness" - I knew there was a name for it!

  11. In today’s Oz there is a comment titled:

    “The Abbott government is doomed without narrative” , found here, no paywall. I wonder why!

    1526 words of tears.

    Oh, Oz, stop crying. Wipe away those tears. Move on. Everyone knows it’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Chin up, believe in yourself and walk away. And remember maybe one day you will find something for which you will be useful.

  12. Why's Bishop 'swanning around' the corridors of UN security council anyway?

  13. What a truly, reliably puzzling place Holt St must be.

    The editorial that Tony and Peta had to have rolls out today, it's a brute, it's a humdinger, it's the highest velocity missile launched at the Abbotonians yet. And what's it surrounded by? The usual 17.5 prattling op-eds from all the usual suspects (I give prattling Polonious a half point, as I assume he is no longer paid for repeating himself).

    And the 17.5 columns are all about how wonderfully winning and statesman-like our PM is - especially Shanahan who manages to drink enough Kool Aid to posit Abbott as creating a new conversation on climate change.


    Bless them each and everyone of them. I suspect Sharri Markson is worn out after a week of ground-breaking FRONT PAGE EXCLUSIVES that mean nothing to no-one but she. She'd be earning a bonus of anyone outside the miniscule circulation were reading her.

    If this climate change would get back into the bottle, we'd have a great weekend. Thanks Chris Mitchell for pasting the beginning of the end so clearly.

    1. As noted above, VC, reptile watch looks like it might be a world of pleasure in the new year. To turn so snarky, so sour, so soon before Xmas ...

      Abbott will come back after the holiday season with even more ways to alienate the electorate, and the reptiles will gnash their teeth (well lizards have teeth) and foam and froth at the mouth, and for the next year the liar - for that was what he called Gillard every day, and that is what he has become and now forever is - will see his every move dissected as a liar's gambit ... and the reptiles will wonder at their hero's feet of clay and worry and nag, and that will add to the spiral ...

      It's going to be a fun time. Sure Australia and the ABC and the NBN might be fucked in the process, but hey what's a little collateral damage ...

    2. Please, via collins, some discipline in the grammar department. That's 'anyone but her' not 'nobody but she'. Sharri would be on to that in a instant.

    3. Are you alluding to the possibility, DP, that the likes of Shezza and Shazza might disappear up their own fundaments? What a glory that would be to behold. And what a laugh!!

  14. Chris Kenny:

    "If Classic FM can be based in Adelaide, why couldn't Four Corners, Q&A or News24 run out of Perth or Brisbane."

    Didn't I say so just a couple of days ago, DP: "run Q&A out of Adelaide" I said.

    Just remember, you saw it first on Loon Pond, the very epitome of political punditism !

    1. Oh GB, oh dear, to boast of being in tune with Chris Kenny... :)

    2. O mea culpa, Ms DP, all I can do by way of apologia is to quote GlenH below: "... but that people understand them all too well!" In short, Chris Kenny is so simplistically transparent (aka "misunderstood", just like The Bolter), that even I can know what's going to go through his "mind" days before it does.

      Errrm ... or has that just made it worse ?

  15. Well done Dot.

    And thanks for laying the Oz ed at my slippered feet. And what a juicy bone it is.

    It has, however, missed the point. The ed writer seems to suggest that the government's difficulties derive from a failure of salesmanship. In my opinion, the problem is not the salesmanship but the product. The Ed writer seemly does not understand that many people voted for Abbott because he promised that business as usual would be more efficient. They did not expect that Team Australia would then try and force revolutionary change us.

    The Oz, too, failed to acknowledge the free ride they had given to Abbott and the hard time they had given the Gillard government in particular.

    Miss Pitty Pat

    1. Miss Pitty Pat, as with the " misunderstood" in general, the problem is not that people do not understand them, but that people understand them all too well!

    2. Miss PP, if you are a lizard, then the product is irrelevant. Everything is about the salesmanship. Given their own world revolves around selling what is essentially a turd, how would you expect them to see it any other way?


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