Friday, September 19, 2014

And so to the daily vendre des canard à moitié ...

Setting aside the current hysteria about Islamic fundies, the pond was astonished to discover, courtesy of Crikey, that Pravda by the harbour and Pravda by the Yarra had in fact and in reality transformed themselves into Pravda by the harbour and the river.

Now the pond could have found out simply by buying the tree killer edition, but that's an investigative journalist step too far ...

Simpler to click on:

Now Some propaganda with your morning paper? is behind the Crikey paywall.

Amongst the stories: "We want peace in Ukraine", written by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

At heart it seems it's a simple commercial arrangement, of the kind that exists between prostitutes and johns.

Now the pond doesn't mean to demean sex workers - any entrepreneurial way anyone wants to make a living is fine by the pond - but it was around this point in the story that the pond choked on its afternoon cordial:

Asked this morning whether he believed the inclusion of the supplement impacted the credibility of his paper, Goodsir said he didn’t. “And if I thought I did, I wouldn’t be allowing it to appear in the paper.” 
 “We’ve taken a very robust line in our news and opinion pages on the actions of the Russian government … We’re distributing a publication produced by Russian organisations about Russia, that in no way affects or influences the editorial independence of The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald. And I think our readers know that, and the publication is adequately labeled so that the reader is in no doubt as to the distinction of this advertising supplement."

This is roughly equivalent to said sex worker saying sure I did a trick, but I reserved the right elsewhere to say that the John was a lousy fuck with a small dick, for all that he roamed around bare-chested on horseback.

There were a number of indignant Crikey readers who spluttered and carried on about the story, amongst them conspiracy theorists in the matter of MH17 - it was Ukraine wot did it, and presumably Ukraine which organised the takeover of Crimea and the presence of Russian soldiers on its soil ...

Who'd have guessed that Crikey's readership was now full of paranoid conspiracy theorists?

 Paul was an early example out of the gate:

Are you suggesting we should not have access to the Russian version of events, only those that the “West” wants us to have? 
If so why are people criticizing Russia for having no press freedom, when that is what appears to be advocated in this article? Pretty pathetic effort if I am correct.

Which, if the pond might re-interpret, and keep that hooker metaphor going, is roughly equivalent to saying what's wrong with taking money for a fuck? Isn't that what freedom's all about?

Well pardon the pond if the pond flips it a little, but how would the conspiracy theorists feel if the Australian government took out a sixteen page supplement explaining its various policies, victories and triumphs.

Oh okay, there's no need for that, the Australian government has hookers who give it away for free:

But let's flip it another way.

How about a sixteen page supplement from the Indian government explaining and justifying coal, and explaining how the jury was still out on climate science?

Perhaps we could get a full page effort from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, full of tasty insights like this:

“Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old … They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less,” he said. 
“We should also ask is this climate change or have we changed. We have battled against nature. That is why we should live with nature rather than battle it,” he said. (here, with handy links, including one to John Oliver on India - like bran, John Oliver is an essential part of any daily diet).

It could be a joint supplement - Australia, China, Canada and denialist in chief Tony Abbott ...

The pond could go on with other examples - sixteen pages from the United States explaining the virtues of its imperium, sixteen pages from Saudi Arabia explaining the joys of rabid Wahhabist fundamentalism, sixteen pages from China denouncing agitators and provocateurs and remembering the good old days of Tiananmen Square when soldiers fought the good fight against destabilising, insolent, decadent students ...

Presumably in each case, in another section of the rag, the Fairfaxians could explain how all these thoughts were the limp dick efforts of pathetic fucks, while keeping hold of the loose change.

The point of course is that propaganda is propaganda and it demeans the Fairfaxians for taking the cash in the paw, and not worrying too much about the source of the cash.

This is not to demand that the Fairfaxians join the economic boycott rolled out regarding Ukraine, and toe the line of western governments, but cash for comment is always a bad look, especially when government propaganda is dressed up as a "commercial arrangement" and an "advertising supplement".

The Fairfaxians will look pretty silly when it comes to Putin turning up to the G20, having sold their integrity for a mess of pottage (or should that be potash?)

The bottom line for the Fairfax "arrangement" is that any government should be able to splash the cash to gain positive coverage with copy designed to imitate real journalism.

And look, the pond didn't have to break Godwin's Law and wonder how it would have been in the old days with Fairfax accepting copy from Goebbels explaining how it wanted peace with the Jews ...

Never mind, it's just that it's suspiciously like - to really run that hooker metaphor into the ground - that old joke about "haggling about the price" (plenty on that at Quote Investigator).

Well now we know what the Fairfaxians are - decent solid sex workers - and we're just argue about the price and the sort of content they'll allow to turn up in a "commercial arrangement" and "an advertising supplement" ...

So is it worth it? Will it be worth it when the Fairfaxians run the next supplement?

What it does establish is that it's desperate times for sex workers. They'll turn any old trick to stay in the game ... no matter how pathetic or sordid or grasping it might make them seem.

But the pond is reminded of the taint that surrounded Quadrant as it became more widely known that it was a creation of the CIA.

There was an irony in that too:

Even as they continued to shell out the money, the CIA paymasters remained unhappy with the Quadrant’s refusal to court left-liberal intellectuals. The whole point of the covert operation was subtlety; to win over the left-leaning intellectuals to the American position, not further alienate them. The fierce prosecution of the US position in Vietnam was disturbing to both Josselson and Hunt. Like many in the CIA, they were appalled by the US engagement in Vietnam and wished to keep the Congress for Cultural Freedom clear of this political minefield. A difference of opinion between the Paris office and the Krygier about Vietnam was a complication in getting the funding to establish a South East Asian Institute. The greater complication was an exposé in the New York Times in April 1966 which pinpointed a funding link between the CIA and the Congress for Cultural Freedom. 

After a series of exposes and repudiations of the CIA connection, in 1967 McAuley published a careful response in Quadrant admitting the funding from the CIA was ‘deplorable’, but no more than ‘a well-intentioned blunder’. His defence that he had been an unwitting recipient of CIA largesse has been restated by the new editor of Quadrant and by its previous editors. Yet how was McAuley so unaware when Clem Christesen knew the money came from the CIA as far back as 1956? How was it that the editor of Quadrant had shown so little curiosity as to the source of money being so liberally handed out? A quick perusal of McAuley’s editorials give the flavour of the invective he would employ should the editor of a left-wing magazine discover he had ‘unwittingly’ been receiving 40% of his income from the KGB.

Indeed, indeed, and there's much more by Cassandra Pybus on the matter, here under the header CIA as Culture Vultures. What a fun stroll down the memory lane of other "commercial arrangements" ...

Well now the Fairfaxians are taking Russian money, and it may as well have come from the KGB, since the state of affairs in Russia in terms of Putin's control of media is truly dire.

But then the pond happens to accept the pinko pervert cardigan wearing socialist ABC's reporting on these events, as recently outlined by Mary Gearin in Vladimir Putin accused of using Soviet-style propaganda strategy to control Russian media:

Rain TV's problems started in January with a debate broadcast on the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad. 
The question: should Leningrad have been surrendered to save millions of lives? 
The siege of Leningrad is a cornerstone of Soviet victory in World War II and in today's Russia there is no room for unpatriotic mistakes. Mikhail Zygar works for TV Rain in Russia Photo: TV Rain producer Mikhail Zygar says powerful figures want the station silenced. 
The broadcast caused outrage and the channel was condemned by politicians. Despite an apology from TV Rain, major cable and satellite TV operators began to pull the plug. 
The station's audience fell from 20 million to just 2 million, as broadcasters abandoned the channel. "The owners of all those companies, operators, told us privately that that's not their wish," Mr Zygar said. "They were asked to do it by phone call, by someone from the Kremlin." 
TV Rain was once a fresh, and popular, voice in the Russian media. But powerful figures wanted it silenced.

And so on.

Next week, Fairfax explains how Gallipoli should have been avoided and thousands of dinkum Aussie lives saved.

Meanwhile, the Fairfax sex workers go about their other business, and depending on your viewpoint, it's just honest toil, or truly desperate and pathetic ...

So does it matter if we have a media that's supine, ready to do a roll in the hay with any government with a bit of cash in its paw?

Well yes, because the next thing you know, you end up with the likes of Greg "bromance" Sheridan, ready to use the current fuss to press for a full scale war.

There's Greg Sheridan galloping wildly on a horse towards mission creep, beard blowing in the breeze, the pectoral muscles on the bronzed chest glowing in the Anzac sun ...

You can get around the paywall to read Stopping local extremists needs action in Syria as well as Iraq if you like, but the pond can assure you, it's not worth the effort, unless you like a dose of alarm and panic with your porritch:

Abbott made a mistake this week when distinguishing Syria from Iraq. Although the distinctions are abundant, Abbott nonetheless drew the contrast between Iraq, where the government has invited Australia in, and Syria “where we don’t even recognise the government”. In fact we do recognise the Syrian government. The Australian ambassador to Egypt is accredited in Syria, where we have non-resident diplomatic relations, but for obvious reasons has been physically unable to present his credentials. 

Nonetheless, Syria and Iraq are obviously very different situations. 
But the threat comes from ­Islamic State commanding territory, whether in Syria or Iraq, and promulgating its terrorist message internationally, establishing global networks of supporters, attracting foreign fighters, blooding them and training them and sending them home. 
All this it can do from a base of big territory in Syria as much as in Iraq. And if our mission is humanitarian, then the humanitarian situation in Syria is more compelling than the situation in Iraq.

A humanitarian mission? Bombing the shit out of people is a humanitarian mission? War is a humanitarian mission?

Organise the crusades as you wish, but at least call a war a war, and what Sheridan is proposing is taking the war into Syria ...

And so it goes ...

Does it get any worse? Well the pond was appalled to see that Cory Bernardi was campaigning to ensure that nuns never revert to their penguin gear on Australian streets.

Oops, sorry, the pond got that wrong. Different religion. But there's a reliably stupid man ...

Memo to Cardinal Pell's new man. This shroud of oppression and penguin flag of fundamentalism is not right in Aust,

Up against this can of worms and canards, this daily vendre des canard à moitié by governments and their lickspittle, forelock tugging servile servants in the media, it's hard to maintain a smile, but Pope as usual does his best (and more Pope here, one of the few reasons that the pond thinks Fairfax still has some use, apart from a place for the tree killer Russian supplement in the outdoor dunny we still have in the backyard, should anyone offer a copy to the pond for free, which is actually valuing the supplement at much more than its worth):

What's that you say?

The pond has ducked the major issues of the day. Not true, there are plenty of canards here, this just breaking:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mission creep, or is that a creepy mission, or is that a creepy bunch of creeps on a mission ...

(Above: and more Rowe here)

In the end, the cowardly pond didn't have the heart or the courage required to carry out the threat and watch a Warner/Roadshow download.

There's bravery and then there's stupidity, so instead the pond began the long trudge with Ken Burns through the Roosevelts (puff piece at NY Times, A Family's Rough Ride Through an American Era).

The style was a tad too familiar - tinkling music, Peter Coyote's beguiling voice - and the pond wasn't convinced by the narrative device of mingling three disparate stories of the beginnings of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, but at least it didn't have appalling re-enactments, in the ersatz style that passes for documentary film-making in Australia these days, flung together by wannabe drama directors with a tin ear and no budget.

Yep, there were real photographs of the real people in the real period, and for a moment the pond was in another era of absurd politicians - and lordy lordy the war mongering and neuroses of Theodore were on full view, along with the gaudy, vulgar gear ...

For a moment, the pond forgot about the bizarre world of down under politics, which sometimes makes Theodore seem like a modest and unassuming chap.

For example, what sort of stupidity would see talk of ministers and KPIs get out into the public domain, only for Tony Abbott to announce that they all deserved As or A+. (Tony Abbott gives top marks to ministers, saying all deserve As or A pluses).

That's so infinitely stupid and self-serving that even the flashy aggrandising Theodore would be rolling in his grave, and naturally it quickly brought out the wags:

You can sit the test here (forced video attached, natch) but it's as silly as Abbott, because sometimes all three answers are equally correct - for example, Abbott's communication skills involve the excellent use of three word slogans, as skilled as a sulphur crested cockatoo, but it's also true that the language is Orwellian and that silence would be preferable, yet you can only tick one box. How unfair is that?

If you want to do a cabinet re-shuffle - and surely the only way to enter a new year is for assorted stooges to be given new pratfalls and other bits of circus business - then just do it, don't announce a stern set of assessments, which involves nothing more than self-congratulatory elephant stamps. You get those by going on Phillip Adams' show and saying what he wants to hear, when he's not interrupting and speaking over you and reminiscing how he invented the Australian film industry...

Speaking of Theodore and his Cuban adventure and his willingness to put himself at risk because of a Freudian perception of his father's failure to fight on the Union side in the Civil War, what to make of the blundering PM trying to work out what the aim of the Iraq adventure might be?

The reptiles at the Oz trotted out Dr David Kilcullen to deliver sundry warnings:

“Anyone betting on a low casualty rate is extraordinarily optimistic,” he said. “You are going to have aircraft shot down, you may have people captured and killed, this (is a) Western fantasy that you can start a war and go in a war and it will be relatively casualty-free.” (here, inside the paywall with irritating popup because the reptiles are desperate)

Of course Kilcullen's approaching the battle with a warrior mentality, on the Theodore principle that casualties are ennobling and grand and an indication the imperialist adventure was meaningful, but he raises questions for which Abbott has no answer:

Dr Kilcullen said the question of how to deal with Islamic State in Syria must also be confronted. 
“If you roll ISIL back to the Syrian border, do you keep going on into Syria, effectively invading Syria?” he said. “Yet if you don’t you are just allowing ISIL to regroup beyond the border.”

Indeed, and it has to be said that Theodore's adventure in Cuba produced an unhappy result in the end, with a Communist dictatorship further down the track ...

It seems that the difficulties are dawning on the thickest of the thick, even that resolute knob polisher Greg "bromance" Sheridan:

The quivering jellyfish has suddenly got a case of the wobbles and the nervous nellies:

Only a bear with an infinitely small brain could scribble that sentence: "Nonetheless the deployment is well justified and has been well handled so far".

What? Flying off, to leave the blacks to go about their business in peace, and turning up to farewell the troops, has been well handled so far?

What an infinite goose, what a pea brain.

Now if you're an infinite masochist, you might, like the pond, evade the paywall, and read the rest of Sheridan's forelock-tugging, genuflecting pandering, and read Tony Abbott's justified intervention in Iraq could yet hurt him politically.

But only if you want to read a man as confused about the mission as Abbott himself. You see, the pea brain starts out by saying that Abbott will earn strong support, and then spends much of his piece explaining all the dangers Abbott's strategies face.

There's only one upside, and that's the most peculiar notion that Abbott is wedging Mr. Invisible.

The real danger isn't to Abbott, if you believe Sheridan, but to Bill Shorten, not for sounding like a yes man, but in case he decides to do a Mark Latham. But Mr. Invisible has kept his head down, and the rest is at Abbott's door.

It turns out Sheridan's Shorten move was a feint, a kind of Maginot Line flourish, because for the rest of the piece, Sheridan spent his time in a state of high anxiety about Syria:

The other way this can hurt Abbott politically is if it becomes a drawn-out operation that does not notably improve conditions for Iraqis and Syrians. 
Given the intractable nature of all Middle East conflicts, and the profound sectarian hatred between Sunnis and Shi’ites across the region, this is a real possibility. 
The greatest danger is not Iraq but Syria. Shorten, herding the restless members of his tribe uncomfortable equally with military action and with supporting Abbott, has so far, reasonably enough, limited his bipartisan consent to actions we may take in Iraq, not Syria. 
Abbott has refused to rule out any action in Syria but says his government is not contemplating it at the moment. 
The broad task in Iraq is going to be awesomely difficult. But Iraq is a mere stroll in the park compared with Syria. And worst of all, it’s hard to see how we succeed in Iraq without succeeding in Syria.

Suddenly the token gesture looks fraught with danger for the forelock tugger. A combat mission that's not a combat mission, boots on the ground that aren't boots on the ground. How can that be?

Sheridan trawls his way through Afghanistan (with the Taliban heading off to Pakistan for a rest), and Vietnam (with Cambodia as a refuge), before casting a jaundiced eye on Syria:

The main military force we feel we can support on the ground, the Free Syrian Army, is small and weak. The three big forces are the Syrian army, the Islamic State and the al-Qa’ida franchise al-Nusra Front. Almost anything we do to hurt the Islamic State will help the Syrian government or al-Nusra. Yet if we don’t change things in Syria we cannot prevail in Iraq long-term. 
 A few weeks ago I asked Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono how he felt about Australian actions in Iraq. At that point we had flown only relief missions to help prevent the slaughter of Yazidis. A wise statesman, SBY said he supported those actions. 
What about longer-term Western military efforts in Iraq, I asked him. That was much more difficult, he said, because it was so easy to portray such actions as being directed against Muslims generally. Normally in military affairs, once you act, it’s best to be very decisive. But the danger is not that we will do too little to fix Iraq and Syria, but too much, creating a crippling dependency. We need to do just enough to avert catastrophe and empower the local actors, who must ultimately sort out a compromise for themselves. 
That’s one tough assignment.

It seems it's an even tougher assignment for Sheridan to make coherent sense of the mission, for which there is no end date, nor any clear marker to indicate when the mission might end, so all Sheridan can do is end up wringing his hands and fluttering with anxiety about the fate of his bromance buddy.

Let's ignore for the moment Sheridan big noting himself with SBY, who is now a lame duck president serving out his time - Jokowi will be sworn in on 20th October and it will then be a new game, as noted by Hamish McDonald here.

Sherian mentioning SBY raises a question Sheridan resolutely refuses to ask, though it's hinted at.

Anyone with the remotest interest in Indonesia will know that it is predominantly Sunni, and worse for years Saudi Arabia promoted and funded its form of Wahhabist fundamentalism in the country - see Jane Perlez in The New York Times back in 2003 scribbling Saudis Quietly Promote Strict Islam in Indonesia:

The Saudi money has come in two forms, Indonesian and Western officials said: above-board funds for religious and educational purposes, and quietly disbursed funds for militant Islamic groups. The Saudi money has had a profound effect on extremist groups, allowing some to keep going and inspiring others to start recruiting, the officials said.

Yep, one of Australia's alleged allies has been helping fund death cultists in our northern neighbour, and Sheridan might coo about SBY, but if things get sticky in Iraq, especially in Sunni areas, things will likely get sticky for Australians closer to home.

Now the pond doesn't care too much about which splitter believes what - they're all barking mad fundies feuding over an invisible tooth fairy so far as the pond's concerned - but the truth is, you can't sort out religious fundamentalists by bombing them to hell. Just ask the loons who believe in transubstantiation ...

Meanwhile, Abbott has ventured into a half-baked, half-arsed crusade with Obama, with a very uncertain set of allies, and bugger all indication of how the Arab states will take part, or what role they might perform, which given Saudi Arabia's role in fomenting Sunni fundamentalism is not much of a surprise.

No wonder even the boot lickers have begun to wonder about the taste of the Kiwi polish.

What else?

Well the pond would like to place on record the increasingly bizarre scribbling of Paul Sheehan.

Just when you think it couldn't get weirder - could anything top those glorious magic water days? - it seems Sheehan has gone into a deep bromance with libertarianism in general and in particular with one Senator David Leyonhjelm.

In the piece, George Brandis' new anti-terror law allows ASIO to torture, Sheehan allows himself bouts of heresy:

As Senator David Leyonhjelm, of the Liberal Democratic Party, told me: "These provisions are shameful. As a nation we should be better than this. Australia is engaged in a fight against barbarism, but that does not justify becoming barbarians ourselves." 
Senator Brandis has proven as adept at selling the government's law-and-order messages as Treasurer Joe Hockey has been at crafting and selling a tough federal budget.

Sheehan then explains what a futtock Brandis has been, with a number of examples, before ending with a rousing libertarian call to rise up against Nanny Bandis and the trampling of fundamental rights.

Well the pond is a broad church, and the barking mad Swiss clock chimes the correct time twice a day and Sheehan seals the deal by showing a picture of a man so smug that to contemplate it for more than a nanosecond is cruel and unusual torture:

This is a man worthy of an A or an A+? When even the magic water man thinks he's a total futtock? Thank the long absent lord the pond isn't studying in a school run by headmaster Abbott in ancient Christian Brothers style ...

Oh wait ...

Finally, is there a more irritating man than Malcolm Turnbull?

There he was this morning on ABC radio, yammering about how community television should head off to the intertubes, a move which will see the death of community television, while blathering on about how the intertubes has been around for yonks, and never mind that he has done his very best to destroy the potential of effective streaming on his second best hand me down ramshackle construction, which will require upgrading even as it rolls out, that's if it's to be up to the job of streaming shitty Warner/Roadshow films, as opposed to doing interesting new kinds of interactivity ...

And meanwhile, the government is busy constructing plans for filters and punishment for ISPs, and helping out Burkey and Roadshow and the rest of the filthy rich Hollywood oligopolists, and fuck it, tonight is the night the pond will download a Warners/Roadshow movie and watch it.

What's that you say? There's another Ken Burns episode to hand? Oh well, better a dull history lesson than watching fucking Malcolm Turnbull turning a wrecking ball on the intertubes ... as if the pond hasn't already learned the key lesson from history, that those who remember the past are likely to make exactly the same bloody mess of the present ...

Take it away Mr Pope and more excellent Popery, frequently without transubstantiation, here:

Speaking of D and M, and farewell to all that and time well served, a faux Stratton's tweet has been doing the Facebook rounds. Lolz, and more faux Stratton tweets here.

Jacobs Creek? He should be so lucky ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Give those men a KPI ... or in lieu, a green carnation ...

Damn you, northern neighbours, not the moo cows.

Haven't you heard Asians are totally inept when it comes to moo cows? 

Naturally the chattering classes were wildly indignant:

Funny old cow. What a sensa huma ... and what a stunning first page EXCLUSIVE for the reptiles this very day.

Anything else going on with China? Anything happening?

Nope, nothing, nada

But stay, how's plan B for coal working out?

Plan B? No need for a plan B, it's coal, coal, coal for Australia. The coal reich will last a thousand years ... just like the last one:

Hang on, hang on, not more Godwin's Law breaches. Isn't there a better way to plan for a holiday than put cash in the swear jar?

Okay, how about this?

Oh dear, who'd have guessed it, who'd have planned for it, though the last time the pond was in Shanghai and returned, nostrils, throat and lungs feeling like a cement tip, it did seem like the command economy might have to command some changes to the level of pollution in the air. Especially as the middle class began to travel and smell the (relatively) sweet air available elsewhere, Morwell not being especially high on the travel itinerary ...

Well you won't find much in the reptiles' rags about the story - instead you have to head off to the Fairfaxians and Risky business: China dumps our dirty coal.

Oh you can find a short note in the lizard Oz, but it's merely recycling AAP and it's mercifully brief and thankfully not in any way alarmist, as you can see in China bans 'dirty' coal sales, imports.

That story was to hand last night for the reptiles, but instead they ran with the moo cow angle.

Well there's no reason to get excited:

Australia - whose economic growth has been fuelled in part by Chinese demand for energy and raw materials - may feel the brunt of the impact of Beijing's latest move.

Yes that feels right: In part ... may ...

Let's not get too excited here. You see the reptiles are at one with the Minerals Council of Australia:

Reports on draft new guidelines for China’s coal use and their impact on Australia’s coal industry are misleading and unnecessarily alarmist. (here)

Yes, because it's coal, coal, coal for Australia and the coal reich will last a thousand years ... or more ... so thank the long absent lord the reptiles carried on, blithe, serene, and resolutely calm and unalarmist ...

Unlike those wretched Fairfaxians at the AFR in China's green ban will hit hard on coal exports.

Say what? The wretched commies are going greenie?

Australian coal producers will be hit by a Chinese ban on low-quality coal, which is likely to force costs higher and could drive demand to Indonesia. 

Wood Mackenzie’s China consulting manager Rohan Kendall said none of the Australian thermal coal currently being exported to China would meet the new restrictions in China’s major cities. 
The National Development Reform Commission has banned the burning of coal with ash content of more than 40 per cent or sulphur content of more than 3 per cent. In big cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Tianjin, which are all struggling with chronic pollution, the restrictions are tougher – at 16 per cent ash and 1 per cent sulphur. 
It follows a recent move by the authorities in China to force power utilities to slow coal imports, with the aim of improving air quality. “Those restrictions affect 100 per cent of Australian thermal coal exports,” which have a high ash content, said Mr Kendall. 
However, he said “it won’t be difficult for producers to meet the cut-off”. They will just have to wash the coal, which could increase the cost of production. 
 “The risk for Australian producers is that Chinese importers turn more to Indonesia rather than higher-price, higher-quality Australian coal,” he said.

Oh never mind then, carry on, it's coal, coal, washed, decreased profits, rivals empowered coal for Australia ...

So how's the rest of the government's splendid energy policies going?

Well thank the long absent lord jolly Joe is on hand:

(and the rest, with links,  here)

It's just an aesthetic view? It's just a fucking aesthetic view?

Energy policies are going to be based on fucking aesthetics? Where does that leave Morwell? Or the Hunter Valley? (And a shout out to the pond's Morwell-loving extended family).

Well you have to admire Miles George's slap-down:

As I understand it, Mr Hockey, poor people don't drive cars so they wouldn't see that wind farm anyway.

But it finally dawned on the pond what jolly Joe's real interests are.

He's not a treasurer - everything he's done is a testament to that. He's more a Regency fop, or if not of that era, then a fin de siècle art nouveau Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde type, with a fondness for green carnations, and nothing wrong with that.


Pity they didn't dress in the cigar, but you know it's there, an aesthetically pleasing smoke that might fuck up your lungs, but hey, coal is also a sublimely aesthetic experience ... just ask the Chinese in Beijing stuck in a decent inversion or the citizens of Morwell ...

But watch out if jolly Joe asks you into the office to look at his collection of grotesque, decadent and erotic Japanese woodcuts.

What else, as the pond falls prey to mid-week hysteria ...

Well it seems Chris Kenny imagines he's turned into a fearless scooper, instead of carrying on as a blow-hard, hard line right wing feral ratbag chattering class commentator (and never mind any conflation and confusion of roles). Yes like every other reptile he's scored an EXCLUSIVE:

Now the pond couldn't be bothered reading, or linking to the story, but it did provoke an idle thought.

In the pond's KPI days, there was always a board to hand to give the CEO a decent review and a head kicking as required.

Who will do the same for Tony Abbott?

On the evidence to hand, he's the weakest link, blighting every area he touches, ducking and weaving and shifting the blame to others, and always trying to avoid the buck landing in his kitchen. Lately he's taken to heading OS or into the deep north, anywhere he can stage a photo op and pose as a statesman, without actually doing anything useful or sensible, except bunging on a war at a half a billion or so a year ...

Say what? What budget emergency was that? Well nothing to get in the way of a bit of war mongering and fear mongering ...

Will Abbott have a stern Abbott to Abbott conversation about his poor performance? Will he shake himself up? Or will he head off to the GG for an assessment? Could the Queen get involved?

It'll probably stay one of life's deeper mysteries, but the pond doesn't mind, because it's a sure sign that Abbott's government is now as barking mad as former Chairman Ruddster's was...

Does Abbott have the first clue as to time management, and the peculiar folly of the symbolism in which he's indulging, which will apparently see him fly out on Thursday to farewell personnel headed for combat operations and then fly back on Friday to honour the pledge to stay the week, except he's not staying the week, he's flying out and flying back? (well that's what it says in Tony Abbott leaves East Arnhem Land early ...)

Busy looking busy and not the first clue as to the point of being busy.

It's that sort of faux symbolism and managerial ineptness that symbolised the sublime folly of the Ruddster ...

There was just one forlorn comment at the time the pond visited the story:

This visit was never more than a shallow photo opportunity for Abbott. It's time to abandon the tent embassy, and I bet the Aboriginal people will hardly know he is gone.

How will the Queen deal with this when she comes to do the KPI?

Never mind. On another matter, it seems that Burkey has found safe haven amongst the reptiles and not to worry that Foxtel and its outrageous monopoly has done more to encourage piracy in this country than any other single force for evil:

Actually it's the owners and the distributors that have the ability and obligation to encourage proper use of their product, by offering the product in a time sensitive and economical way, instead of exercising monopolistic rights, jacking up prices and otherwise seeking to exploit the punters in the Australian market.

What has Hollywood done to embrace the internet supply of product, backed by decent pricing? How is it that Netflix can have an estimated 200,000 subscribers or more, though the service is subject to region blocking? (Hollywood Reporter, here)

How is it that you can head off to a website called Netflix Australia - You can easily get it right now (not used or approved by the pond).

How soon before the dinosaurs get it and do something sensible about the mess they're in, instead of blaming ISPs and consumers?

That's led the pond to make a solemn promise:

Never mind the sexism. As a first step, this very day the pond promises to download a Village show and to actually watch it.

This will involve considerable pain and courage and angst on the pond's part. What little the pond has seen of of Warners-Village product has convinced the pond that the bulk of it is fairy floss crap, as substantial and as useful as an overdose of sugar, salt, fat, oil and flour, which instead of doing no harm, actually warps minds and ruins lives and leaves rancid memories which need to be expunged, but alas the pond's mind isn't as easily fixed as rebuilding the hard drive...

Burkey, it has to be said, is an old man, and clearly doesn't understand the new world order, or VPNs, or all that stuff, and thinks that railing at ISPs will fix his business model, but he doesn't have a clue. And so the pond will have to devote at least a couple of hours of its life to the destruction of Hollywood/Melbourne greed and cruelty ...

And so, before Roadshow results in a mind wipe, back to one last KPI issue.

The pond recommends remembering this lizard Oz splash the first time that the ISIS fighters duck across the border into Syria for refuge, and the US decides that they either need to put boots on ground or take military action in Syria ...

So many stupid people saying stupid things.

And while we're at it, perhaps the Queen should add this question to the KPI assessment ...

(Below: and so to David Pope, and more Pope here, and yet another KPI issue).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Genuflecting and forelock-tugging at the splendid sight of the genuflecting forelock-tuggers ...

Every so often, the pond just has to pause and admire.

The diligence, the hard work, the tireless, relentless burnishing and polishing, done on a daily basis, and never mind the hagiographic excess. Astonishing, admirable ...

If Australians worked as hard as the knob polishing reptiles at the lizard Oz, what a great and prosperous country it would be.

What a wonderful role model Dennis 'the bouffant one' Shanahan provides. Each day out there, doing the hard yards, genuflecting, forelock tugging, with not a dissident thought to mind, Chris Mitchell's kool aid coursing through the veins like a fiery liquor ...

Invariably the pond is always reminded of that cart-horse Boxer, and his companion Clover:

These two had great difficulty in thinking anything out for themselves, but having once accepted the pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything that they were told, and passed it on to the other animals by simple arguments. They were unfailing in their attendance at the secret meetings in the barn, and led the singing of ‘Beasts of Murdoch’, with which the meetings always ended. (here and no need to slip a coin into the Orwell's Law swear jar).

There's no need to actually read Shanahan. Each piece rigorously conforms to the second law:

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, or is Tony Abbott, is a friend ...

So let's turn away from this remarkable human endeavour to contemplate another human marvel, because today is Caterist day:

Now the pond guesses what you might be thinking.

In a single blow, the Caterists have broken the shackles that blight freedom. At last the pond is able to berate ten pound Poms like the PM, because failing to demonise this wretched minority would allow terror to flourish.

Has the country ever been in a greater state of terror? QED, it's all the fault of that wicked minority of British invaders with their colonial mind set and their class system and their poncy ways and their funny  accents.

Please feel free to demonise away, and if you want to turn birther, and maintain the rage, feel free, here.

You see, foreign imports like the Caterists are as much of a threat to the environment, as much urban terrorists, as are the common rabbit, the starling, the Indian Mynah bird, the thistle and the cane toad (and that's just the beginning of an endless list of invaders threatening the natives).

And all this before the pond has read a jot or a whit of the Caterists explaining how it's good to be a bigot!

You see, the trouble is those bloody pesky liberals, who are always willing to live and let live.

You know, the sort that call out the pond for calling the Caterists supreme, sublime fuckwits.

Oh I say, steady on Ms Parker, they say, that's pretty uncalled for and untoward, even though there's clear and present evidence that the Caterists are short of a sausage for a barbie and definitely short of a lamb in the top paddock.

Can't we have a little civilised discourse, these cardigan wearers bleat, little understanding that when you're dealing with crazed, bigoted fundamentalists, there's no room for compromise or balance or an attempt at understanding.

...In fact, the quasi-intellectual arguments of groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir were created in Western universities. Academe, the commentariat and the media facilitated this ideological and strategic evolution. 
It was in the affluent societies in the West, rather than the slums of Gaza or Karachi, that adherents of the political religion found the freedom and resources to spread the notion of an “illiberal cybercaliphate”. 
“It was from London, with its global links, that it could promote its agenda internationally and, until recently, without fear of surveillance or prosecution, establishing branches in Sweden and The Netherlands as well as the UK,” write Jones and Smith. 
It is clear that liberal democracies made a catastrophic mistake by trying to appease these ideological cranks with the manners of multiculturalism. They were distracted from their purpose by the fear of marginalising, demonising or otherwise contravening the rights of minorities. 
The Islamists have been happy to play that little game, adopting the guise of the meek and dispossessed, caught at the wrong end of an imbalance of power. 
The civilised, educated, technological, advanced modern state, which we trusted for our protection, has proved no match for the suicide bomber.

Indeed, indeed. Pathetic snivelling academics - never mind that the Caterists are quoting a couple of academics - and wretched civilised, educated, technological advanced states are no match for suicide bombers, not even when armed with drones that can deal death to wedding parties from the skies ...

What can we do, oh what can we do?

Well first and foremost, we need to get rid of these wretches and replace them with tough-minded, bigoted barbarians, who will dish out death and destruction to the terrorists.

Put society on a war footing, declare martial law, nobble the intertubes, impose rigorous censorship standards, fight fire with fire ...

Which is why the pond humbly suggests that Nick Cater himself might be the perfect foot soldier.

We need brave analysts ready to don a suicide vest, march against terror and explode the device to prove that scribblers for the lizard Oz can be as irrational and as insane as your average religious fundamentalist ...

What else? Well pace the academics that the Caterists quoted in the column - while reviling academics - we have to report a serious breach of Godwin's Law:

Jones and Smith conclude that Islamism is best understood not as a form of religious extremism but as an ideology, or more precisely a “political religion”, closely akin to the illiberal totalitarian movements of the 20th century. Islamism has more in common with Nazism, a political religion if ever there were one, than it does with traditional religious faith.

So what was the religion that led to the war in Iraq in 2003?

Oh never mind, you can't argue with the Caterists,  because Caterists are genuine medievalists, and they get very upset if anyone starts talking about the evil of talking relentlessly about evil, or Satan, or perhaps even transubstantiation:

The self-loathing arguments of moral equivalence, which fail to draw a distinction between those who carry out atrocities and those who want to stop them, passes almost unnoticed. On Friday West Australian Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan tweeted: “The jihadi threat is real but many Australians also see Abbott as a terror as he takes a wrecking ball to our social infrastructure.” 
Whish-Wilson gets caught up in semantics. “We have been hearing a lot about ‘evil’, ‘unspeakable evil’, ‘unfathomable evil’ and ‘pure evil’, he said. “While it might be the case that in many people’s minds the atrocious and despicable acts we have seen on social media are evil, that evil did not just spring out of the ground.” 
 Indeed not. The crazy utopian ideology, powered by grievance and revenge, must have flourished somewhere, as the University of Queensland’s David Martin Jones and MLR Smith from King’s College London discuss in their recent book, Sacred Violence: Political Religion in a Secular Age. They have little time for the metaphysics of critical theory. Instead they study terrorism empirically.

But, but, but:  Academe, the commentariat and the media facilitated this ideological and strategic evolution. 

How is the cause in any way the answer?

As for atrocities like droning a wedding party, why that's merely collateral damage. Let's not have any false moral equivalence or self-loathing at the pond. If you happen to get yourself in drone's harm's way, don't come squealing to the pond ...

As for studying terrorism empirically, is empirical the new code word for hysterical fear and loathing and idle abuse?

Okay, if you like, you're welcome to evade the paywall, and kill off a few more brain cells by reading The 'political religion' born in the liberal West, because it's clear that Saudi Arabia had absolutely nothing to do with the spreading of Wahhabism fundamentalism ...

Instead you will find the Caterists revealing to an unknowing and uncaring world that the real criminals aren't the terrorists or the fundamentalists, but the cardigan wearers, the do-gooders, or, those favourite words of the fuckwit Caterists, the "bien pensants" ...

Hang on, what does bien-pensant mean? According to the dictionary it refers to right-minded people, those who hold orthodox views, conformists, you know, like good thinking conservatives. It's only in recent times that it's been flipped on its head and used to describe people who accept or espouse fashionable ideas without much critical thought ... like the fuckwitted Caterists ...

So the right to be a bigot includes the right to abuse words flippantly transported from the French into English to do odious duty? Yes, every day is fun day on the pond ...

That said, there's only one solution to dangerous academics creating radical Islam and then feeding the Caterists lines to be quoted by them like idle parrots ...

It's time for the Caterists to slip on that suicide vest and take out a few bien pensants, to teach them a lesson Rambo-style ...

Why not hang around the water cooler at the lizard Oz and set it off? The Caterists could scrub the world clean of a few idle scribblers and all those academics who feature as columnists in the rag, the lot of them as soft as a baby's bottom pampered with talcum powder ...

And now if you please, or if you don't, as if the pond cares what soft westerners think, it's time for a change of pace.

The pond was ever so pleased to see this piece in Crikey yesterday involving Hendo.

You can catch the original and the attached links here, along with news from Bill Leak and Bolter watching, but the pond just wanted the whole prattling Polonius Hendo thing to be immortalised:

It's always delicious when a pedant, accustomed to railing at the failures of others, and giving no mercy, is caught out in an error, and then offers the most feeble excuses imaginable, the kind that would be given no quarter if offered up by an enemy.

Well it's an inspiration for the pond. The next time a tipo turns up, remember it's (a) the fault of NZ subbies; (b) the pond was reading in haste and mis-read or tiped too quickly; (c) it's all the fault of Hendo for daring to fawn all over Cardinal Pell and the Catholic church; (d) it's all Hendo's fault for writing grovelling puff pieces which the pond occasionally quotes, not realising the tedium and ennui that ensues; and (e) the pond has just had a particularly busy week, and is in the middle of another busy week, and anticipates a future busy week, so shit happens; and (f) senility and age obliges the pond to reference ancient totems like John Laws and Rex Mossop as making "deliberate mistakes", as opposed to errors induced by Hendo-like senility ...

The golden tonsils? So, so ancient ...

The truth is, Hendo's getting weirder and weirder, and his newsletter exudes a most peculiar form of masochism, up there with the humble cilice, and the question now is how long the reptiles will fellow travel with him, before even they realise he isn't helping them kill trees or flog digital subscriptions, except amongst those in search of comedy gold ... and then you'd be better off reading about it in Crikey ...

Finally is there any news from the climate denialists?

Well yes, Tony Abbott phoned in this very morning to RN, sounding suspiciously throaty - could it be that camping isn't quite the same as life on Sydney's north shore? And then came the news that the climate denialists were joining together in a boycott:

(the full version with links here, no hot links above, screen cap only)

Yep, such excellent company. That's as fine a gaggle of climate terrorists and denialists as could be imagined.

What an exclusive club, and Tony Abbott once more is showing the way ... those ten pound Poms. Not content with fucking up Australia, they're determined to fuck up the world ...

Is there any positive news?

Well yes, that invisible man David Johnston - who seems invisible even when he's present in the room or on the air - is copping a hammering from the cartoonists. Couldn't happen to a nicer feller ...

(Below: more Rowe here)

(Below: and here for the rest of First Dog)

Nigeria? Whatever happened to those hundred girls? Forget it Dave, that's not the holy land, that's just Nigeria ... it might just as well be North Korea for all that it matters to the righteous ...

You cannot find here any politician that is not more silly than the rest ...

Now there's a remarkably stupid man.

The heart of our country? Where does that put the lungs? Somewhere around Alice Springs? Oh the pond's suddenly got a stitch and can't breathe ...

Presumably Tony Abbott thought that, because he'd gone camping in the bush for a week, and what with the intertubes not working in remote areas, no one had the first clue he was sucking up to the local mob who'd asked the question "who's the fairest in the land?".

It reminded the pond of its admirable discretion when attending the rather large gathering of daughters down the road the other day.

The one from Queensland, frankly and even in the best light, resembled a toad; the poor thing from Adelaide was ever so quiet and bashful, as plain as a wallflower and resentfully very aware and sensitive about the fact; but that sensitivity was nothing compared to the repressed anger of the Tasmanian daughter, who seemed to have a chip on her shoulder and refused all offers to pulp it into a Murdoch newspaper. As for the daughter who'd made the trek from WA, the resemblance to a feral shark was unnerving ...

But the pond went around discreetly reassuring them all. Yes dear you truly are the fairest of them all, without your beating heart the nation would collapse in tears and so on and so forth. By the end of it, the Adelaide gal was promising to meet the pond at the balls in the mall, so we could embark on a wild tram ride to Glenelg and eat an icecream while remembering Don Dunstan halting the waves.

Are the aunts still on the verandah? the pond unwisely asked, and such a look of hurt took hold that it reminded the pond of the only way forward, as revealed by that old koan, Everything is best:

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. "Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer. "Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best." At these words Banzan became enlightened. (more koans here).

Yes everywhere is the heart of the country, and you'd have to truly be a fuckwit of a politician to pander to cliques by saying otherwise. Everyone knows the old riff:

Oh dear ...

Seems you can look in the mirror and all you'll see is your own fatuous stupidity.

Is there anything else?

Well yes you'd have to be a truly fuckwitted politician to use god and religion as selling points for a crusade:

Against god and religion? But which god? The Islamic god, Pell's god, the angry Sydney Anglicans' god?

Does this mean the pond is at one with terrorists, seeing as we seem to be jointly involved in a war against god? Assuming at some time we might manage to find the scaredy cat god, who's always in hiding:

How stupid is this sort of "god, religion and Harry" rhetoric?

Well it's brought the really stupid out on display:

Oh that's right, the pond didn't mention that Victorian daughter. Funny tortured thing, always in a state of angst and wearing black and sulking and saying how Melbourne was the greatest, most liveable city in the world, and never mind the notorious RMIT green fungus infesting the city ...

What else? 

Well the pond could start on Bill Shorten, or Babs Stilton, or as he's known to his friend Tony Little Sir Echo, but First Dog has already been there:

(the rest of that cartoon, and many more cruel thrusts at Babs here, seeing as how Babs is so afraid of his shadow, he's forgotten that an opposition leader is occasionally expected to oppose).

Anything else on this morning of quiet hysteria catching up with old news?

Well it seems John Howard might have a touch of the wobbles:

Yes indeed, let's not forget that in twenty years time, we can still have an inquiry into the monstrous lies and deceptions that led to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Reckoning on Gillard time, Howard can only breathe a little more freely in 2023 (and if we include the AWB oil-for-wheat scandal, we can kick it out a few more years, with the cover-up as appalling as the original crimes).

It might be best if the old dodderer and deceiver shuffled off the mortal coil before then, and save everyone the embarrassment ...

Now for one last thing, and hooray it's Lord Downer speaking up for empire:

Yep, Lord Downer of Baghdad has broken his silence, and not to speak on matters concerning Baghdad, but on matters involving Scotland.

The pond's first reaction was astonishment - that the old dodderer and deceiver was still alive, and still apparently believing that anyone, especially the Scots, would pay attention to anything Lord Downer had to say, that anyone would care ... in short that anyone would give a flying fuck ...

But then the pond became interested in a cage contest, what with other internationally famous experts also expressing a view:

Consult Willie here

The pond suspects the Scots will make up their own minds, but in the meantime, which is the more fatuous intervention, between wee Willie and wee Alex. Well the pond thinks Alex represents the heart of Australia and Willie the heart of the United States, up there with citizen Murdoch, and so may the most incredible and fictional character win ...

Monday, September 15, 2014

What cost-benefit analysis?

So some six hundred or more heavily armed militants are heading off to Iraq, and who knows what will be the state of things when they return.

Will it be the ripping success of the 2003 adventure?

What restrained, insightful coverage can be expected from the local media? Urging restraint and caution, as you might expect of a modern secular democratic society, unaccustomed to talking about evil and death cults like we're in a medieval Catholic monastery:

Yes, and as you'd expect, there's Greg "bromance" Sheridan still deeply mired in his bromance:

Now there's a bear with very little brain. Once you get past the genuflecting, and the forelock tugging, and the knob polishing, you're left with a billabong as shallow as a baby's bath.

So what's the point of the mission? When will it be deemed accomplished? How will the outcomes be measured? Where's the - dare one ask - cost-benefit analysis?

Does the cost-benefit analysis get any crueller than the one offered by David Rowe this morning (and more Rowe here)?

There have been the odd mutterings. There's Laura Tingle, currently outside the AFR paywall, wringing hands and wondering, in Destiny with the unknown in another Iraq foray:

For now, the involvement remains one based on humanitarian considerations but the assumption has to be – despite all the insistence that Australia will not commit ground troops – that there could be a further escalation of our involvement and even more unknown consequences. 
The unknown nature of a further escalation is a still deeply troubling question, not just because of the risks to Australian personnel, but because of the risk we end up being forced to support the still-uncertain new regime in Iraq and/or an awful one in Syria. 
Polling suggests voters supported the first stage of the humanitarian mission. But the rapidly changing and complex nature of the conflict is likely to leave many voters concerned and uncertain about exactly what Australia has committed to and where, and who it is fighting. The interaction of the conflict in the Middle East with the debate about national security at home only further complicates the issue.

Uh huh. But this is loon pond. Is there a loon out there, someone, anyone, who will use the occasion to generate a truly loony headline?

There, that's better.

Now there's a reliable fuckwit, all the more so since War in Iraq, Syria won't inflame terrorist threat: Morrison, also recycles the story that sent the Murdoch press into a frothing, foaming frenzy, with verbal abuse of Australian diggers in the streets only one step away a public beheading at Circular Quay, sure to follow in the next week, or possibly the next month ...

It seems "heightened tensions" is a one way street in Morrison's myopic world ...

Alarmingly, what this means is that Morrison apparently doesn't have the first clue about why the government heightened the terror alert ...

And where's the fearless leader?

Tony Abbott's attention may be a little divided during his week in Arnhem Land ...

Yes, no doubt he'll be extra busy explaining how he needed to make cuts to indigenous funding to help finance yet another foray ...

Meanwhile, the reptiles are at their finest in this finest hour. Could anyone imagine seeing a march to war as a brawl amongst commentators?

Why do you ask? Of course the reptiles could:

Despite comments by the Greens and some Guardian commentators, it would be shortsighted for Australia to back away from participation in the coalition against Islamic State out of fear that our involvement will make us an even greater terrorist target. Australia, as a modern, secular democracy that values the rule of law and freedom, is already a target, along with other Western nations. So are Arab nations and Israel as well as Christian and Yazidi minorities in Iraq, Shia Muslims and others who do not share Islamic State’s gruesome outlook. After a slow start confronting the extremist menace, one of the most encouraging features of the coalition put together by the US is the inclusion of 10 Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. In conjunction with such a broad coalition, it is in Australia’s interests and morally right that we should play our part as a middle-ranking power in confronting Islamic State terror. The commitment announced yesterday is significant, and deserves to be matched proportionately by others. (Australia's strong response in confronting pure evil)

Uh huh. So if Australia is a modern secular democracy, why the fuck is all the talk of "pure evil", a concept which has all the under- and overtones of fundamentalist Catholic medievalism?

What the fuck's pure evil? Does it include staging a war based on a tissue of lies, mis- and dis-information about WMD?

And right at the moment, none of the local participants in the so-called 'coalition' have offered to put military boots on the ground.

As a result, the pond will have to commit the ultimate reptile crime, and turn to Paul McGeough's Fools rush in: Tony Abbott joins a war without definition.

First let's get Scott "Tongues" Morrison out of the way:

Because they are on the ground in the UAE doing logistics and maintenance or in Baghdad and Irbil as military advisers certainly would not absolve any of them from being a target if IS fighters contrived to get access to them. The deployment is an escalation from the other side of the world that likely will put the IS madmen on the lookout for Australian targets. 

Now let's tackle the reptiles at the Oz blathering about the grand alliance:

Even as Abbott made his announcement in Darwin, the US Secretary of State was trailing his coat-tails in Cairo, making little headway with pleas for assistance from a murderous military regime that will shoot its own people, but seemingly dares not volunteer to face the so-called Islamic State on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. 

Either collectively in Jeddah or in one-on-one meetings with Kerry as in Cairo, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Lebanon all have baulked at making explicit military commitments to confront a force that they all see as a direct threat to their thrones, bunkers and, in one or two cases, tissue-thin democracies. With the exception of Iraq, which has no option because it is under attack at home, none has publicly committed military support.


The grand coalition of the baulkers.

Now let's contemplate Abbott's decision:
Abbott must have had his hands over his ears last week as Obama spoke to the US nation and analysts around the globe distilled his words to mean a conflict that will last for years. 

Oddly, the Prime Minister warned Australians to prepare for a fight that might last "months rather than weeks, perhaps many, many months indeed…" Seems he's in as much of a hurry to get into this war, as he seemingly thinks he will get out of it. 
It's not clear why. This "we must do something right now" response is likely to create a bigger mess than already exists in the region. Consider: the death of 200,000 locals in Syria failed to rouse much of a reaction in the West; but the deaths of two Americans – and now a Briton – has raised a crescendo for international war when it might have made more sense to tackle regional politicking and feuding first. 

Now here's the final McGeough rub:

The Iraqi army, trained and equipped by Washington at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, is erratic and more likely to cut and run than to stand and fight. Next door in Syria, Obama is banking of the ranks of the Free Syrian Army – which for years he has complained could not be counted on, and which Washington now tries to convince us can be taken to Saudi Arabia, retrained and sent home to win the war. 
More than a decade trying to wave a magic wand over the security forces of Iraq and Afghanistan should have convinced the White House that relying on these newly trained forces qualifies for dismissal under the Obama dictum of "don't do stupid stuff!"

It reminded the pond of previous politicians providing endless statistics about how much money had been spent on making Iraq secure and safe.

Here's where it stood back in 2006:

Blown away in a puff of wind by a bunch of crazed fundamentalists, fundies generated by the very policies of the rabidly one-sided, ideological and theological government that was supposed to eradicate theological wars ... and right now continuing in Iraq as a government too new to reveal whether the old tensions, strains, hostilities and hatreds will continue ... not to mention the fundies cultivated in Syria, at a time when the west shied away from doing anything about Syria because it was all too hard.

So what's likely to be accomplished by this new adventure, which is, despite Sheridan, a form of tokenism as into the valley ride 600 with jets, but totally reliant on the capacity of others to make any significant difference ...

Here's a few likely outcomes, admittedly done at the same level as the cost-benefit analysis done by Abbott's government:

Increase in the domestic threat level in Australia
Increase in the international threat level for Australians
Definition of what will be a successful mission: opaque
Definition of when it might be finished: obscure
Moral for jihadists: head off to the middle east for a really good stoush. It's good enough for western governments, it's good enough for you ...

As usual, the pond turns to cartoonists for the final word - give the pond a cartoon up against the cartoon thought bubbles delivered by Greg Sheridan - and there's more political cartooning at Fairfax here: