Peak euphemism? #Ozfail

We’ve been used to imagining the global supply of euphemisms as limitless, but if Dennis Shanahan keeps at it, the world will be running short by the time the Abbott government leaves office. In a single column (Google it) he manages to refer to “accusations of broken promises”, “the shift on the Gonski education promise”, “the repudiation of Labor’s Gonski education promises”, “The management of the Gonski “unity ticket” on education funding”, ” accusations of broken promises” (again), “The readjustment of expectations on Gonski” “the painful Gonski process” and “a cusp of credibility”. Given his leader’s penchant for three word slogans, perhaps a three-letter word starting with “L” might be what Shanahan is reaching for here.

79 thoughts on “Peak euphemism? #Ozfail

  1. Only possibly true for a properly informed electorate, Jim Rose. In this past massively vested interest media biased election, certainly false.

  2. And what is the best that the faceless CIA protect pies running the ALP can come up with?

    “We’d be the same as Abbott (or slightly worse, if necessary)!”

    Yay! Let’s all vote ALP

  3. By the way, today’s rally in Brisbane was particularly impressive.

    There were about 2,000 motorcycles there.

    There were about 5,000 people.

    It was bi/non/anti-partisan and was a (ha, ha) ‘roaring’ success.

    It was mostly organised by the DLP (who I have deep reservations about, politically) and really hit a ‘grass-roots’ chord with the public. Peter Simpson from the ETU gave a good speech – but he was careful to point out that both ALP & LNP supported these anti-association laws.

    Kudos to all the people who made it work while faux-lefties were sitting about whining about horrible Abbott and Newman and ignoring the fact that we would have neither of them if the ALP had not become infested with neo-cons.

    Not only was there no sign of an ‘ALP type’, but I got attacked later on Twitter by one who lectured me that these consorting laws were good and (I quote) “If you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to fear”.

    Enjoy your oblivion!

  4. Remember, always, that (acknowledged plagiarism of someone I can’t remember and am too lazy to Google) it’s mathematically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected them.

  5. Back in 1981, before I was old enough to vote, and so long ago that I no longer recall what the specific promises in question were, Patrick Cook, in one of his satirical pieces, attributed to the then Prime Minister the position that it was inappropriate to keep election promises if you were lying at the time.

    He also described the then Prime Minister as defending his government against accusations that it had no policies by saying that it wasn’t true, they were going to lie and cheat and break promises a lot and put the boot in wherever possible.

  6. @ChrisB

    it’s mathematically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected them.

    I’m not sure that’s the case. I suppose one would have to agree on what stupidity entailed and how the people electing them and the government were evaluated.

    In broad terms of course, people are responsible for their choices, including their voting, but of course, if intelligent people are presented with two coalitions, both of them aproximately equally stupid (whatever that means) their choices are limited to not voting, or choosing the least stupid of the two (assuming they can discern it). Those who fancy they have discerned a positive difference in favour of one and have chosen on that basis may well have helped elect a government more stupid than they are. I suppose one might vote tactically, deliberately choosing the more stupid of the two in the hope that its arrant stupidity would soon open uop debates in public space that, at some cost, would be less likely if the less stupid government achieved power.

    Some people (not I) think one is bound to vote even if one cannot see one of the alternatives as the lesser harm. These people aren’t stupid in my opinion but if one accepts their claim — typically from civic duty — then intellgent people may end up voting for utter fools.

    One might add that being stupid and being indolent or distracted or disengaged, though often co-extensive, are not necessarily so. If one pays too little attention to make good judgements, then one to the extent of the shortfall, may be regarded as objectively reckless, but as our system is configured to encourage passivity and disengagement one can see this as a minor intellectual deficit and quite different from those who, because they are standing for public office, are obliged to be paying attention. Some of the candidates — I’m looking at you Jaymes Diaz and that egregious woman from Lindsay — clearly weren’t paying attention and so their cognitive deficits were far more serious than those of the cash-register operator at my local supermarket or the chap who put up my colorbond fence.

    The system is configured to ensure that in government, stupidity is decisive, mediocrity a commonplace and insight an anomalous and annoying rarity. With these settings, and the design of the electortal system around continutiy, it’s virtually certain that the government will be more stupid than the population that elected it, depending on how one defines stupidity and its causes.

  7. Hockey. Rating agencies raising concerns. Will someone tell him, it is he, not Labor that is in government.

  8. It would appear that Mr Abbott has changed his mind for the nth time, and is going fund Gonski after all. (At least that is what the headlines say.).So Shanahan might have to multiply his euphemisms by minus one if he is to maintain his apologia. Or he could sit tight until Abbott changes his mind for the n+1’th time. Then he won’t have to do anything.

  9. From the ABC 15 mins ago – funding restores but not the Gonski funding program…

    “I suspect that New South Wales and Victoria will be happy to lose the Canberra command and control elements of those deals but certainly the financial arrangements for the next four years will be absolutely adhered to,” he said.

    The Coalition Government wants to “dismantle” the regulations and red tape associated with Labor’s deal, saying it does not want to “run public schools out of Canberra”.

    It will shelve Labor’s ideas of imposing management plans for states’ schools systems, setting up Canberra-based inspectors and gathering extra data in Canberra.

    Now makes the arguements harder for the public to understand.

  10. ho ho heeeee

    funniest from today.

    some one (i assume it is a human and not not a euphobot)

    in the “worst australian”(still spitting chips stoksie)

    opinion column called the fin a ——

    “left leaning newspaper”

    chortle.

    bet?
    ChrisB :Remember, always, that (acknowledged plagiarism of someone I can’t remember and am too lazy to Google) it’s mathematically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected them.

  11. Now that Abbott seems to be saying that Gonski is back on (well the funding but not “the command and control” elements ugh!) we must conclude that Abbott is now claiming to be delivering either

    a) the policy some people thought he promised

    OR

    b) the policy some people hoped he promised

    If it’s a) one wonders why it took him so long to conclude that this policy (rather than the one he thought he’d actually promised) to work out that this was preferable. How long did it take him to work out that these weren’t the same thing and that what he’d thought he promised was inferior?

    If it’s b) why has he been swayed by the the mere hopes of some people? Again, when did he realise that their hopes were so different? Did he get through both the election and even the period since September 7 with nobody tapping him on the shoulder and beginning a conversation on his ostensible commitment with “You do realise Tony …

    Did nobody point out to him that speaking of “unity tickets” handed definition of his promise to those who authored Gonski?

    It really is astonishing.

    At the very least, given that if we accept his explanation, he has some trouble communicating his ideas even to Liberal Premiers, let alone the public more widely, it seems that each of his claims will need to be parsed forensically, so as to ensure a true meeting of the minds has taken place, so that we can be absolutely certain he is saying what people think he is saying and he is understanding what people understand of his words.

    This is a new iteration of his problem communicating with Indonesia, in which he found (and still finds) himself unaware that he has offended them and painted their current leader into a political corner and is still speaking of the relationship as strong even as it is deteriorating.

    If we take him at his own word (oh dear, did I really say that?), he is a walking instance of his maxim that “sh|t happens”. He has acknowledged that he is inclined to get caught up in the excitement of campaigns and to say things that are not “gospel truth” or “carefully scripted statements” so his latest claims on Gonski now need to be carefully parsed just to be sure some other wrinkle or inexactitude has not slipped in.

  12. After so much of this behaviour, the prudent course is to treat the latest Abbottisms as merely something he felt like saying today. Tomorrow is another day. I suggest people save themselves some wasted effort by not bothering to take the government’s current word at face value. Who knows what they really want or don’t want to do, or will do or won’t do. Streuth!

  13. @Fran Barlow
    The maxim ‘sh^t happens’ is not, of course, original to Tony Abbott, but I think this may be an appropriate time to cite also the rejoinder ‘sh*t doesn’t just happen, it comes from ar^eholes’.

  14. Looks like I have been blocked from commenting on ‘ Australias leading Libertarian and centre right blog’ (The Cat) without warning or explanation (unless there is some other tech problem- I guess ).Im not sure if that is how they normally go about it . I have been commenting there regularly for more than 6 months –not once have I been rude to anyone ,despite a constant barrage of insults directed my way (you can imagine it). I think it happened now because of the bad situation the Coalition is suddenly in .Serious signs of dissent are spreading on that blog now -it started when the Coalition wanted to raise the debt ceiling.

    Maybe the turning point on the Gonski triple backflip was Abbotts Bolt Report interview on Sun morn where Bolt told him he was wrong to drop Gonski because of the political cost, and that he (Bolt) would have taken on more debt to avoid doing it. In opposition Abbotts team mastered the art of walking both sides of the street on many issues . This skill is less use when in govt. Every decision disappoints someone.

  15. @sunshine

    Looks like I have been blocked from commenting on ‘ Australias leading Libertarian and centre right blog’

    If so, you’re ahead on the deal. Sense recoils in horror from that place.

  16. finally .

    we get a look at through the policy window.

    “demand and unrol”

    “rort denial”

    “miraculously disappearing emergencies”

    “ditto boats”

    nah, i can’t be bothered going on with this,did you see the report on west oz ABC where the eagle nicked the camera?

    it’s going to be a long three years.

  17. and in the opinion column of todays (wahaha)

    “leftwing fin”

    a suggestion to sell to the banks that profitable “green industries thingo” that was set up because it dealt with businesses that the banks wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.

  18. Jim Rose :
    @Fran Barlow whomever they defeated must be worse.

    ….or promised more handouts to their exceptionally gullible voters, amirite?

    It is noteworthy to remember that the right wing is exceptionally contemptuous of democracy “blah blah wolves and sheep” , “voting themselves money abloobloo”, “mob rule”, etc, right up until they assume government.

  19. @J-D

    ‘sh*t doesn’t just happen, it comes from ar^eholes’.

    True that, and in Abbott’s case it’s especially nasty as his diet is poor.

  20. At the time PMKR (v1.0) uttered the phrase “detailed programmatic specificity” people laughed at the verbosity and pretentiousness. For my part, I thought the word “detail” would have served equally well and without offering grist for parody.

    At the moment however, I daresay we could use a bit of “detailed programmatic specificity” out of Canberra. Maybe Rudd was onto something.

    😉

    It seems to me that we need a new term to describe the excuses and evasions of the new(ish) regime — bafflegab — which as I now define it describes syntactically complex and contrived verbiage aimed at mystifying the provenance of a problem in circumstances when the utterer of the verbiage seeks to avoid responsibility.

    Footnote: I know the term, bafflegab already exists — describing semi-opaque jargon, but I’m repurposing it. I do like the coiner of the term’s definition (apparently Milton A Smith) though:

    multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.

    I wish I’d thought to write something like that!

  21. bafflegab?

    oh my.

    since i couldn’t find agnotology in my Oxford (drat,i really liked that word),

    bafflegab will do nicely.

    ta.

  22. In case someone missed this:

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/gonskis-gone-school-funding-review-struck-from-record-20131202-2yljm.html

    “Gonski has been expunged from the official record.

    Search for the name of the report on the Commonwealth Education Department website and you’ll get a reply asking whether you meant “lenskyi”.

    Search for it by its official title – Review of Funding for Schooling – and you’ll be told your search “returned no results”.

    But they are not there any more. Visits to http://www.schoolfunding.gov.au are redirected to the departmental website of minister Christopher Pyne, where there’s no mention of the word “Gonski” at all, let alone a copy of the report or its 7000 submissions.

    A departmental spokesman has confirmed that the report is missing. He told Fairfax Media all material on the website was removed when the machinery of government changes came into effect. The department was “in the process of updating its website after the machinery of government changes”.”

  23. Last post stuck in moderation because of two links, feel free to delete my last post Professor Quiggin.

    In case someone missed this:

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/gonskis-gone-school-funding-review-struck-from-record-20131202-2yljm.html

    “Gonski has been expunged from the official record.

    Search for the name of the report on the Commonwealth Education Department website and you’ll get a reply asking whether you meant “lenskyi”.

    Search for it by its official title – Review of Funding for Schooling – and you’ll be told your search “returned no results”.

    A departmental spokesman has confirmed that the report is missing. He told Fairfax Media all material on the website was removed when the machinery of government changes came into effect. The department was “in the process of updating its website after the machinery of government changes”.”

  24. since i couldn’t find agnotology in my Oxford (drat,i really liked that word),

    bafflegab will do nicely.

    Agnotology means something different. It’s a kind of “anti-knowledge” — a form of incipient epistemic nihilism which in practice adopts the usages we’ve seen amongst HIV, smoking, holocaust and anthropogenic climate change denialists — characterised by the systematic circulation of disinformation aimed at subversion of knowledge.

    I brought the term to this place, though I’m not its author — I saw it in Oreskes’s work. These days, I think agnosophism might be better, as one could probably use “agnotology” to describe someone — like Oreskes — who examines the phenomenon of movements arising around the desire to debauch evidence-based public discourse.

    But bafflegab is a nice term for the kind of dissembling seen in the pronouncements of this regime.

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