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Tony Abbott: philosopher-prince of the assertion-based community

The only significant phrase uttered by a politician this week was by Tony Abbott, when he asserted that the government’s education refund handouts were  different to the baby bonus because “they just are”. I hope I’m quoting Abbott accurately, because the transcript from that interview was, curiously, not released by Abbott’s office.

As I’ve noted before, Abbott has no interest in consistency, evidence or logic. Such things are the hobgoblins of little minds, and Abbott’s is vast enough to hold multiple positions, often every possible position, on important issues.

This week he has gone further, though, into a new form of epistemology. He has previously dabbled in this area with his famous caveat that things are only true if he has written them down, rather than asserted them off the cuff. But now our philosopher-prince has gone further: things are now true merely because he asserts them to be the case: “they just are.”

Abbott’s budget reply was, yes, entirely devoid of detail or policy, barring an uncosted, undated thought bubble about Asian literacy, but that was expected. Don’t linger on that. What was more interesting was Abbott’s long list of assertions about the government’s performance and that of the Coalition. Stephen Koukoulas has already done a demolition of the more egregiously false statements by Abbott, although he missed my favourite, Abbott’s claim that “the Coalition identified $50 billion in savings before the last election and will do at least as much again before the next one”.

The Coalition’s $50 billion claim ($47.6 billion, but never mind) was a fiction, riddled with double-counting and asset sales, one of the reasons they were tripped up by Treasury and Finance during negotiations with independents in 2010.

But silliest was the claim that “there is no plan for economic growth; nothing whatsoever to promote investment or employment”. Indeed, Abbott suggested, only the Coalition would deliver economic growth, jobs and investment.

This is patently wrong, wrong in a black-is-white way, in a “they just are” way that can only be maintained by someone who has no regard for the inconveniences of a reality in which the economy is growing with low inflation and interest rates, maintained on the day unemployment fell below 5%. But it chimed nicely with Clive Palmer yesterday insisting that if Australia, which is labouring under a “socialist and communist philosophy” (Clive of China is presumably unaware of the difference), were a company he would write if off.

Clive and Abbott have this in common, that both are in a position where they don’t need to care what they say — Palmer because he’s so wealthy, Abbott because his party is nearly 20 points clear in opinion polls against a Prime Minister to whom voters have stopped listening.

But Abbott’s bland declaration that things are true merely because he says they are is more reminiscent of the famous assertion by Karl Rove that the Bush Administration was “creating its own reality”, one that the poor folk of the “reality-based community” would simply be left to study afterwards. The parallels between the Liberals and the Republicans are sometimes overstated, but let us to defer to Brian Loughnane, who noted in 2006 “the close ties between President Bush and Howard were reflected in the similarly strong ties between the Australian Liberal and US Republican parties”.

Since then, the Republicans have embraced a full-scale war against science, not to mention wars on women, wars on gays and whatever is the conspiracy theory du jour about Barack Obama.

This sort of relativism, of course, used to be the preserve of the far Left, a comforting narrative in which even reason and logic themselves were simply tools of white patriarchal capitalist tyranny, one busy “genociding” every conceivable minority group (genocide having not merely had its meaning extended to include the mere giving of offence to someone of another culture, but turned into a verb, because grammar, too, is a weapon of oppression). Now it’s been embraced by the Right, along with the automatic victimhood that goes with it, one in which pointing out the lack of correspondence between an assertion and reality is an attack on free speech.

The result is a battle in which the assertion-based community will always have the upper hand, since the reality-based community is hobbled by trying to adhere to logic and evidence, whereas its opponents are free to say anything they wish, and reject any need to verify or explain themselves.

The media environment is entirely conducive to this growing split between the assertion-based community, of which Tony Abbott is now the leader, and the reality-based community. Most of News Ltd is firmly in the assertion-based community: look no further than the “here’s one we prepared earlier” theme of “class war” in this week’s budget coverage. Serious use of the term “class warfare” in a Western market economy is a convenient indicator of stupidity, but its assertion about a government under which the profit share of income has risen, despite a financial crisis, and about a budget in which government spending is falling significantly, is straight defiance of reality.

But that’s only part of the problem; perhaps the more damaging media role is played by outlets seeking “balance” by flatly reporting and thereby legitimising even the most absurd, reality-defying statements from politicians, without any effort to note how false they are. We’ve been here before, of course. The likes of overhyped New York media critic Jay Rosen attack this as “the view from nowhere” but I prefer Washington Post’s Greg Sargent’s take, that “balanced” reporting of outright falsehoods results in a media outlet’s readers being misled, and no media outlet should assist in misleading its readers.

As our politics becomes more and more a contest between assertion and reality, between “they just are” and logic and evidence, those sections of the mainstream media that have not joined News Ltd in the former camp need to consider what role they want to play in the new paradigm and the extent to which they’re prepared to mislead their readers in their coverage.

  • 1
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Well done Bernard!

  • 2
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Your a bloody good writer when you’re on song like today Bernard. You just are.

  • 3
    susan winstanley
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Good one Bernard. Something must be done.

  • 4
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Abbott is playing ‘small target’ politics. In contrast Gillard and Swan play a brand of wedge politics that is as destructive to the moral fibre of Australia as when John Howard pointed at a map and said Mabo threatens all freehold.
    Thats the reality!

  • 5
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    BK please forward your article to every other political journalist in the doubtful hope that they may just make Tony Abbott accountable.
    The constant media barrage of criticism of Julia Gillard has provided a diversion that has enabled the Coalition’s rhetoric to become the truth for the majority of voters.
    As we are aware Abbott’s say anything to discredit the Government and complete lack of alternative, costed policies has resonated deeply and only the most stringent scrutiny of the current Coalition policy and standard bearers like Hockey, Robb and Co will provide the electorate with a balanced view for the future of this country.

  • 6
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bravo Bernard! We long-standing members of the reality-based community salute you.

    Slightly tangentially, I liked Mia Freedman’s comment in The Age last weekend. Asked to comment for a story about anti-vaccination campaigners, she refused to engage, saying “There aren’t two sides to this story. On one hand there’s science. There is no other hand.”

  • 7
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Has the internet made us dumber? Or is it something they put in the water these days? I swear we’ve moved down the X-axis on the Bell Curve in the last decade, and Abbott’s vacuous thought bubble which contained no numbers, except for the imaginary $50 billion, was another rung in the ladder to Dumbocracy.

    If Australians vote that excuse for a leader into government, they deserve everything they will get.

  • 8
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    It’s a great relief to hear someone stating the obvious when all that the rest of the 4th estate, including the ABC much of the time, is doing is propagating a universe of obfuscation led by News Ltd, or Limited News. More’s the pity that these fine words will never escape the pages of Crikey and do anything to jolt the addled public discourse.

    The Labor Government is about as lost as any other centre-right party anywhere in the world, having forsaken its brief and lost its social centre of gravity, here in the dying days of the globalised neoliberal experiment. Moving so thoroughly into that orbit just as though it were the only possible way of conceiving ‘reality’ has cut its tongue out and replaced any chance of incisive speech with hypocrisy and regurgitated spin. The public Julia Gillard sounds slower than the speed limit in suburban streets these days and I don’t just mean the drone of her delivery. Her mode of discourse dumbs itself down to the pitiful level of someone addressing people of very limited intellectual capacity. It is indeed intolerable to listen to her when she is not on the floor of parliament, sounding like an interesting, intelligent, gutsy and capable human being. Though one lacking all possible skills and nous in sensing and connecting with the public nerve in any way at all.

    So that’s half the spin story. Here’s the rest of why we’re a nation bogged down in impossibly absurd politics without traction, wheels spinning in futility.

    There is a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest in which Cary Grant utterly disrupts and renders impossible a fine arts auction simply by ‘bidding’ whatever comes into his head, rather than a progressively higher figure than the bid before. He keeps a straight face while doing so. And no-one can do anything about this breach of customary protocol. If you decide to be a barbarian at the ritual called ‘an auction’, you can destroy it while everyone who is there with a serious purpose looks on helplessly.

    Anyone recognize the analogy with the corruption of political protocols in the last couple of years in Australia? Tony Abbott is not a politician of the policy-making school. How very last decade or last century is that very idea!. He is a knee-capper, toe-cutter, a man acting with utter confidence that the press will never hold him to account in any serious or thoughtful way for the gob-smacking absurdities and contradictions of his ever shifting ‘positions’, each one of them formed not to even faintly cohere but simply to throw one more spanner in the working ability of the government. Few could do this with more bald-faced chutzpah, I grant him (and Cary Grant) that; but all of his highly limited creativity lies in saying anything – anything! - that will throw the process of government sufficiently off the rails that it ties itself up in knots and fails to be able to convey to the public any one of its many achievements over the din he manages to create. with the monumental help of the Murdoch press echo-chamber that is detectable even in the framing of questions by Radio National journalists these days!

    The entire press of this Australia, with the very smallest and rarest exceptions such as this site, has had just one deeply uncivil note to sing for the last 12 months or more, which is let’s kick this government to death while it’s down and spit on its high offices, kill it, drown it, drown it out, do anything but take a serious look at the running joke called the Opposition.

  • 9
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    You know that scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ in the restaurant, the one every one imitates, I just did that at the office desk. I repeat I did not stick my fork in my salad at the end. And unlike Sally’s mine was real.

  • 10
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Obviously the prevalent view in the media is that Labor is doomed. Even if you don’t agree with such certainty this far our from an election, it is an understandable position for the media to take given the polls and general political environment.

    However, accepting such a view would appear to impose a duty upon the media to properly scrutinise the alternative. It is a duty the vast majority are not fulfilling

  • 11
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Poor Mr Rabbott - “Dill by Mouth” - and a drip feed.

  • 12
    David Allen
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Opinion polls, 12+ months from an election have no predictive power. Alas, however, it’s looking increasingly more like 12 weeks.

    Schadenfreude will be my refuge.

  • 13
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately” that “caveat” (about his own veracity) was a verbal, off the cuff, one too.

  • 14
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    One thing that all of us can do is to challenge the unproven assumptions when they are mindlessly repeated by those near (and sometimes dear) to us. It’s one thing for the politicians to think they can get away with it when talking to an acquiescent media, another completely when we have their followers trapped in a room with us.

    For example, my in-laws used to repeat the same old line about interest rates always being lower under the LNP. Well, the proof is now in and I can and should be challenging them for the proof.

  • 15
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Serious use of the term “class warfare” in a Western market economy is a convenient indicator of stupidity”

    True enough. Class warfare is a ridiculous and meaningless term but the pet shop galahs are already out there parroting away. Funny how giving money to the less well off gets called class warfare and yet tax cuts to the wealthy aren’t called class warfare. I suppose that is just another one of those simultaneous realities that the great TA can hold within his vast intellect.

    But BK, what are you doing, holding up TA’s pronouncements to actual scrutiny. That won’t do. His words meaning exactly what he wants them to mean when he wants them to mean something.

    Abbott, and let’s face it, a very large proportion of the oz community currently hold dual realities in their heads.

    All the facts say that we are better off than any other country at the moment, have a lower unemployment rate, low interest rates, rule of law, democracy, canals,

    But what did the Labor party ever do for us?…………………….”

  • 16
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    As our politics becomes more and more a contest between assertion and reality, between “they just are” and logic and evidence, those sections of the mainstream media that have not joined News Ltd in the former camp need to consider what role they want to play in the new paradigm and the extent to which they’re prepared to mislead their readers in their coverage.

    And this is the question each press gallery reporter should ask themselves. But they won’t, because it’s just all about the ‘vibe’ and they don’t want to be out on a limb while the herd moves off in one direction together.

    I’ve seen a number of articles coming out of the US about the rise of the Age of Anti-Enlightenment. With journalists content to repeat out-and-out falsehoods and not apply logic and reasoning, it’s apparent it’s happening here too.

  • 17
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I like “class warfare” - oozing from the pores between the progenitors and propagators of Workchoices.

  • 18
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Fiz, it’s the devolution of (modern day) gerbalism = the gnus, from the herd of “bewilderbeest”.

  • 19
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Tony Abbott’s politics are akin to the Kama Sutra of political philosophy. No matter what way it is performed, we are f*****d.

  • 20
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I agreed: Keane’s nailed it most accurately, and it is all the more depressing for that.

    Is Abbott mischievous or merely self delusional? Surely members of the Coalition understand that little of what he says has anything to do with reality. If they don’t, the Coalition will find it very difficult to correct itself when it is no longer supported by the polls as well as reality.

  • 21
    Mr Denmore
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Bernard’s got it right. We’ve entered a strange alternate reality in which politicians can just declare that black is white and get away with it. The blame lies entirely with a gutless/cowed/corrupted media which has given up its role of holding ALL sides to account and prefers just to lazily hoe its preferred narrative.

    By the way, for those who are interested, I’ve made very similar points to those of Mr Keane over at my blog The Failed Estate, although in the context of the ABC’s disturbing tendency to ape the News Ltd agenda.


  • 22
    Mark M
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately for Abbott, reality has a nasty habit of asserting itself

  • 23
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    SWINGINGVOTER” ??? when the Right demonises climate science to the point that it inflames its constituents to send threatening letters to scientists, I suggest it is Abbott and his sycophants who are the ones who are destructive “to the moral fibre” of this country. The right, and some of all the others ought to be ashamed of themselves. We are supposed to be living in the age of Science and reason,! Open your mind and read, don’t just listen to what drivel you hear repeated!

  • 24
    Mr Rabbit (aka Steve 777)
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I heard Mr Abbot bloviating on the radio about ‘Class Warfare’ as I was driving this afternoon. The incredible, mind-blowing hypocrisy of the man mades me want to throw up. This from a leader of a party that regards anyone who doesn’t identify with its ethos of middle class respectability as members of some despised elite. I mean really, the only elites that count in this country are those with lots of money and/or are very good at a high profile sport. Others who aren’t doing so well and need a hand are vilified as bludgers sucking money out of the pockets of ‘battlers’. This includes not only welfare recipients but those fleeing tyranny. Others working hard for the public sector are similarly despised.

    Class warfare would be to suggest that we should somehow attach or expropriate those who are doing well. It is not class warfare to suggest that someone on $150,000 a year can get by quite well without rebates or handouts, or that business, especially those making super profits, should pay more tax. And he says that Julia is somehow unfit to be PM - talk about pots, kettles and black. And that equally applies to his old boss, Mr Howard, the master of class warfare.

  • 25
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Was it Mark Twain who said words to the effect:
    “I can desist from reading newspapers and be uninformed
    or I can read them and be misinformed.” ?
    In this age of Information Technology it is almost impossible to create an aphorism that
    would cover the multitude of ways IT can ensure that an even greater number of people
    can be misinformed.
    If I can use the noble profession of journalism and it practioners in the broadest sense
    and taking the media’s coverage of Treasurer Swan’s Budget and Abbott’s Reply as an example
    (Crikey being an honourable exception) I would dare to imitate Mark Twain and say this.
    “I can desist from reading what journalists wrote about the Budget and be uninformed but serene
    or I can read what they wrote and be misinformed and very very angry.”
    I’m glad to see Bernard Keane can hardly contain his rage.
    Neither can I.

  • 26
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Tony Abbott, the only person in the world who makes George Bush look like Einstein.

  • 27
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Well done, Bernard Keane! A delight to read, both in content and style! As Paddy says on song!
    Is it too much to hope you will stay there, or at least reasonably in tune?

  • 28
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Well our media make scandals out of concoctions of titter and tattle and pretend they are real.

    Now they assert that
    FWA said Thomson rorted $500,000 from HSU when it says no such thing but the big number looks good.

  • 29
    Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Nice avatar Patriciawa…….
    A case of “…….. Buy and try Abbott’s “Government by Thought Bubble” …….”?

    Let’s face it, who needs policies, consistency, evidence or logic when the country’s biggest media lump acts like your private and personal PR management team, handling your publicity for you - spinning news in it’s viewspapers. Concentrating on the negatives of the other side (even manufacturing them) and ignoring yours ….. and vice versa come positives? Compounded by a lot of the rest of the media all too ready to parrot, unquestioningly, that “views agenda”, they’re setting – for various reasons from lack of resources, to editorial time limits, to pure laziness.
    Look at what they did here in Queensland - admittedly with not a little help from Labor, of course, writing some of their lines.

    “Tony “Bubbles” Abbott – Come on Down!”

  • 30
    A. N. Onymus
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    This is patently wrong, wrong in a black-is-white way, in a ‘they just are’ way that can only be maintained by someone who has no regard for the inconveniences of a reality …”

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

    Al Gore: An Inconvenient Truth
    Tony Abbott: All truth is inconvenient.

  • 31
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Another great read, Bernard.

    As you asserted, the challenge to the media would be: don’t report on ‘nothing’. Don’t report on those vacuous, prepared, stay on message statements made by our politicians, or for that matter anyone associated with the oxymoronically named ‘think tanks’ of the right. As you rightly point out, without any proper media analysis (or even just some basic investigation!):
    “The result is a battle in which the assertion-based community will always have the upper hand, since the reality-based community is hobbled by trying to adhere to logic and evidence, whereas its opponents are free to say anything they wish, and reject any need to verify or explain themselves.”

    And the unenlightened masses lap it up as fact.
    “the more damaging media role is played by outlets seeking “balance” by flatly reporting and thereby legitimising even the most absurd, reality-defying statements from politicians, without any effort to note how false they are.”

    If the next election is won by the noalition, it is an election that has been won and hard fought for by the media, sprouting the ‘nothing’s’ as unanalysed fact, creating a siege until a majority of readers are either too unintelligent or too uninterested and apathetic to care. Dark side wins again.

  • 32
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The MM has gone from “just say NO! to “just BECAUSE!”.

  • 33
    Peter Bayley
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    The problem is: Tony Abbott’s essentially lazy approach to politics - “I deserve to be PM but I don’t have to justify myself. You should elect me because the other side is so bad” works. In a democracy with universal sufferage, a significant number of people are going to be swayed by the “seeming” alone and not bother establishing the truth or otherwise of statements made.

    The maddening thing is Labor are naive enough not to challenge Tony’s “Pink Batts, School Halls etc” throwaway lines, and so lets them become a “truth” in many people’s minds. If Labor is to restore any credibility, it will need to vigorously challenge any claim from the opposition, to at least ensure their side is as vigorously defended. At the same time, it should be honest about the mistakes made and changes of heart it has had - pretending they didn’t happen just doesn’t work and attacks the very people who would otherwise defend Labor.

  • 34
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Bernard. Is it possible you could pass onto other journalists, this outstanding method of reporting a story the way it actually is, not the way the liberals want it to be taken.
    I have had such a gut-full of the Mad Monks “black is white” rhetoric. Everyone else lets him get away with it why?????

    Dumbocracy (perfect description).

  • 35
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    No wonder this fellow runs from media questions.

    Isn’t there ANYONE in the media prepared to corner him, ask him tough questions, and INSIST he answer truthfully, without spin, slogans and platitudes?

    It would make priceless viewing; so why are the media missing in action when it comes to this Opposition leader?

    Oh, yes, one program did put an unscripted question to him, once, and the results were, yes, priceless!


    …So, we’ve had the Chaser; now where are the ‘serious media’???

  • 36
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    By the way Bernard, I’d just about allowed my subscription laps.
    I was so mad last week when the Mad Monk went to WA told the liberal premier (yes you deserve more GST in should be based on a per capita basis), then not 24 hrs. later turns up & tells the liberal opposition here in Tassie that is should not be per capita because Tassie would loose out.

    Where was the hypocrisy outrage, the tell whomever whatever they want to hear story,… ANYTHING!

    You may have just won another subscription from me.

    So well written, I only wish.

  • 37
    Mal White
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink


    Most of News Ltd is firmly in the assertion-based community..”

    which you define as a community that is : “..free to say anything they wish, and reject any need to verify or explain themselves.”

    That is a pretty big call to make.

    As it is based around News Ltd’s support for “assertion-based” Tony Abbott it should be backed up by some solid examples from Australian media. Unfortunately none are given.
    Instead, Australia’s media gives almost universal and deserved criticism of Tony Abbott’s refusal to outline how he would balance an alternate budget.
    Sometimes Tony Abbott gets grudging respect for so called “clever politics” however I have yet to see or read any media giving him any support for his economic policies, (or at least those that are known.)
    If News Ltd is really part of “the assertion-based community”, then they must be messing with our heads.

  • 38
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Not only do I fully agree, but seriously BK, the way in which you have articulated the insanity that is the Liberal party was superb. Truly, the best article of yours that I have read.

  • 39
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Today Joe Kelly is asserting again that asylum seekers are arriving because the ALP is in government.

    The liberals helped write the law that gives them that right over 60 years ago, but hey the ALP is in government.

    Kelly doesn’t mention the end of the war in Sri Lanka that resulted in the brutal killing fields, the jailing of 300,000 Tamils, rapes and massacres that forced people to flee.

    No mention of increased Taliban since 2008.

    No mention of violence against christians in Iraq forcing most to flee.

    Nope, just the ALP is in government ergo asylum seekers arrive.

    I have just been reading the history of this spat in the HSU by the way.

    I suggest readers google Pauline Fegan, Jeff Jackson, Kathy Jackson and others going back years and have a look at how the claims against Thomson have been played against J Jackson a few years back.

    And Kathy’s new partner is an IR man hired by Abbott.

    Dirty games here folks?

  • 40
    daly carol
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just subscribed to Crikey and Bernard, yours is the first article I’ve read. I’ve already got my money’s worth because you are the first journalist to challenge the ‘herd’ of the rest of political ‘commentators’.
    I have ceased to buy newspapers, listen to radio other than Radio National programs like The Health Report and watch television. I cannot tolerate the assertion based garbage they report as if it were reality.
    The Gillard government is negotiating, legislating and governing. It has already passed over 300 Acts through the hung parliament which is a massive achievement of Julia’s. I am still waiting for any mainstream media outlet or journalist to notice this achievement.
    I remember the bullies in school who made up assertions and a different ‘reality’. Tony Abbott and the current Liberal/National Party COALITION remind me of them.
    The media scrum cannot wait for Abbott PM, Barnabby Joyce Deputy PM, Joe Hockey Treasurer, Andrew Robb Finance Minister and Julie Bishop Minister for Foreign Affairs. Imagine the reality of that government!
    I may have to leave the country!

  • 41
    Posted Saturday, 12 May 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Recalcitrant. Rick,
    My eyes are open and this is what they see:
    The world isn’t black and white nor left or right. Its complex. For example in your little world Turnbull is ‘right’, yet he put his political career on the line for an ETS. He didn’t threaten any climate scientists. That is what one would call an ‘inconvenient truth’ or at least a ‘recalcitrant.truth’.

  • 42
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    BK, and the next step in the analysis is?

    OK it took me decades to really understand this - when you detect your protagonist is not respecting facts, this is the critical evidence to note that good faith is now relegated to foreign country status, and the currency of the language is now POWER.

    This was the case when Howard and Abbott owned the Iraq War after and despite the confirmation there were no WMD. No pretense at rationale. It was about POWER not facts or truth or wisdom or lives.

    How does one converse in the language of power. Well for a start one stops obsessing about facts and the time and energy needed for verification. That’s throwing good faith down a pit of toxic bad faith.

    Second you analyse what your power is. You are bound to have power you didn’t recognise, acknoweledge, took for granted when actually it is unusual or rare, etc etc.

    Thirdly you analyse the protagonists weaknesses and lack of power.

    Fourthly, you strike, preferably without warning, and preferably according to Gandhi’s principles of non violence which I personally hold dear. Gandhi was not your passive type. He believed in passive confrontation, and he surely understood the language of power when he liberated 300M people from 300 years of colonial servitude.

    One weakness of Abbott is correctly identified as his slippery approach to facts. Necessary but insufficient. Next is his illegal activities as a student - why did he punch my mate Peter Woof? Next perhaps his bribe policy to Australian women to abrogate their freedom to choose? Iraq War on WMD has to be another. Would have save the Franklin River? Does he do surf patrols or has he corrupted his local surf club patrol schedule (always a nuisance for the busy professional)? Does he sleep around? And on it goes.

  • 43
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I meant “peaceful confrontation” not passive confrontation, in my comment submission just now.

  • 44
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I should also note Gandhi was not too keen on secrecy, and preferred openess to avoid violence because it avoided fear of the unknown always worse than the reality. A particularly courageous approach, not everyone is so brave, or forgiving.

  • 45
    colin skene
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I share the feelings of being double-crossed by a media that just won’t apply the same lens to Abbott’s statements as they do to Gillard’s. Why?? I am of the belief that the political broadcasters out there WANT an Abbott govt as they know their days will be filled with easy-to-wrtie articles of just how scattered, incompetent and dysfunctional his leadership and government will be. It will be another three years of simple commentary on stuff ups and blunders….just as the hapless Gillard team have thrown up for them, NOT because they have been policy weak, but because they just don’t have the capacity to sell their story. The media will bring us an Abbott prime ministership UNLESS we find a critical mass of journos who will hold him and his absurdities to account. It can start with Crikey.

  • 46
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Thanks Bernard! There are many questions that surround Abbott’s and his front bench that should be given the light of day. Their fundalmentist economic doctrines are deeply offensive to the Australian ethos and are deeply influenced by the USA Tea Party nonsensical agenda.
    Many of us have waited for some time to see a genuine and perceptive analysis of the directions Mr Abbott and co wish to take this nation. It is encumbent on our media to prepare the nation with factual analysis of the directions of social and economic policy opted for by Mr Abbott, Hockey and co.
    Much of what they prescribe is being found to be socially divisive and an economic failures in other parts of the world.
    It is only through our press we can make decisions with our eyes open. Thanks again Bernard!

  • 47
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Too much polywaffle and amateur epistemology for me. “Assertion based community” ??!!

    Surely “a straight defiance of reality” just means “a lie”.

    I thought that revealing the facts, exposing lies and holding public figures to account was what journalism was supposed to be about.

  • 48
    Funk Leberry
    Posted Sunday, 13 May 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Criticizing tony Abbott for inconsistency and leaving JuliaR unscathed is a load of old bollocks… But what would I know, I am only one of the million or so folk living outside of the real world… Keep up with the balanced reporting! Not!

  • 49
    Posted Monday, 14 May 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Funk Lebberry,,, & this is the crap you get from the LIEBERALS when ever you ask them the hard to answser questions.
    If anyone asks the Mad Monk something he doesn’t like he either will give you the 3 minute death stare like he gave one 7 reporter 2 yrs ago, or he will do the normal arrogant Mad Monk trick & ignore you, turn & walk away saying nothing like the arrogant prick he is.

  • 50
    Glenn Brandham
    Posted Monday, 14 May 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Well said, KHTAGH. He’s a moron.