Happy Halloween from Feral Skeleton
I know I'm a bit late in hopping on the Halloween bus, but having the flu can make you run late for your bus (and anyway I fell in love with the graphic & decided I wanted to keep it). Nevertheless as this last week has seen Halloween come and go, and in the spirit of Multiculturalism, which in Australia sees all national festivals from around the world celebrated, as opposed to seeking to contribute to the fomenting of distaste of Halloween as a potent symbol of American Cultural Imperialism, I have decided to present something light-hearted, fun, and just a little bit spooky to you. Spooky, that is, when you realise how old but how apt are some of the political observations that I am going to put before you today.
What I'm referring to is the fact that I am going to bring to you a few of my favourite quotes from the OTHER socio-political guide book, that isn't Machiavelli's 'The Prince', or Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War', but is Ambrose Bierce's 'The Devil's Dictionary'.
This is in acknowledgement of the 100 year Anniversary of the release of 'The Devil's Dictionary', and in the spirit of Progressivism, which is all for being Early Adopters of the new – I mean, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu are so last year ( they've even been adopted by the Conservatives!) – I am going to acquaint you with a list of my favourite definitions from the book, with a few added comments, here and there, that have a more contemporary flavour, about our own little devil in Australian politics, Tony Abbott.
Enjoy! And have fun drawing a few conclusions of your own from the words of Ambrose Bierce.
ABASEMENT, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.
Hmm, now where have I seen that before? Oh, that's right, it was Tony's Abbott's obsequious posture when he was filmed in the presence of Gina Reinhardt at the Minerals Council Dinner in WA. Or Tony Abbott around Cardinal Pell. OrTony Abbott around the Clubs' heavyweights. You get the picture.
ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
Which is why the electorate appears to believe that Tony Abbott has ability.
ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Now that the Queen has departed our shores, might I offer a word of advice to Australian Republicans: Take heed of what Oliver Cromwell said, and, next time, lay out your case for an Australian Republic and an Australian Head of State, plus how they will be elected, BEFORE the Referendum is called, and then proceed to go about the country getting the electorate onside with your firm position.
ABSURDITY, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
Which just about sums up every position on any issue which Tony Abbott takes a position on. They differ with which way the wind is blowing on any particular day, but may be different the next day, if the wind direction has changed. Such is the style of politics we are getting used to seeing from 'The Political Weathervane'. The deeply principled founder of the Liberal Party, 'Ming' Menzies, would be rolling in his grave today at the deeply unprincipled antics of the latter-day leader of the Liberal Party.
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
Tony Abbott concentrated on Boxing at Oxford.
ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
I think he thought Oxford was the English Academy of Sport.
ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution. "My accountability, bear in mind,"
Said the Grand Vizier: "Yes, yes,"
Said the Shah: "I do — 'tis the only kind
Of ability you possess."
That which Julia Gillard bears in mind and which Tony Abbott doesn't know the meaning of.
ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.
Tony Abbott does a lot of this.
ACEPHALOUS, adj. In the surprising condition of the Crusader who absently pulled at his forelock some hours after a Saracen scimitar had, unconsciously to him, passed through his neck, as related by de Joinville.
This happens to our own Christian Crusader a lot.
ACHIEVEMENT, n. The death of endeavour and the birth of disgust.
Tony Abbott may be a Rhodes Scholar but his biggest achievement is as above.
ACTUALLY, adv. Perhaps; possibly.
A good one to keep in mind when listening to politicians. Especially these days.
ADMINISTRATION, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.
Julia Gillard knows this only too well.
ADMONITION, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Consigned by way of admonition,
His soul forever to perdition.
Tony Abbott admonishes the PM all too frequently.
ADVICE, n. The smallest current coin.
"The man was in such deep distress,"
Said Tom, "that I could do no less
Than give him good advice." Said Jim:
"If less could have been done for him
I know you well enough, my son,
To know that's what you would have done."
Is this where the saying, 'A wealth of good advice' comes from? Tony Abbott likes to give advice to all and sundry; that I do know.
This thing Allegiance, as I suppose,
Is a ring fitted in the subject's nose,
Whereby that organ is kept rightly pointed
To smell the sweetness of the Lord's anointed.
How Tony Abbott views the allegiance of his party to their leader.
AMBIDEXTROUS, adj. Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.
Otherwise a definition of Tony Abbott's 'walk both sides of the street' economic policies, wherein he advocates, with a straight face and on behalf of a Conservative Party, economic policies of Centralised Big Government, such as his 'Direct Action' scheme to reduce Greenhouse Gases, combined seamlessly with Libertarian Absence of Government Interference policies which increase the Economic Elites' ability to make more profit from their businesses and to make a profit from previously Public Services, such as Health and Education.
AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
'I predict' this in Tony Abbott's political future.
ANTIPATHY, n. The sentiment inspired by one's friend's friend.
Tony Abbott inspires more of this among his circle of friends every day it seems.
APHORISM, n. Predigested wisdom.
The flabby wine-skin of his brain
Yields to some pathologic strain,
And voids from its unstored abysm
The driblet of an aphorism.
—"The Mad Philosopher," 1697
This is what inspires the antipathy and the slow anti-Abbott burn which is occurring in the community.
APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offence.
The Tony Abbott modus operandi.
APOSTATE, n. A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.
APPLAUSE, n. The echo of a platitude.
Tony Abbott hears lots of applause for his words.
ARENA, n. In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record.
In Canberra it's not so imaginary, it's called the Press Gallery.
ARISTOCRACY, n. Government by the best men. (In this sense the word is obsolete; so is that kind of government.) Fellows that wear downy hats and clean shirts — guilty of education and suspected of bank accounts.
To which I would add: Fellows who wear bicycle helmets, and clean, white shirts ironed by women.
ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.
And which are usually the subject of Prime Minister Censure Motions by the Leader of the Opposition.
BACK, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.
That part of the anatomy every politician knows the location of.
BACKBITE, v.t. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.
The reason for there being so many corridors in Parliament House.
BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.
Tony Abbott's wife and daughters in other words.
BATTLE, n. A method of untying with the teeth of a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
QANTAS' IR policy.
BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate.
Tony Abbott would like you to think he has lots of friends. They people his photo ops every day. He befriends a new lot of friends every day, and then he is gone. I wonder what some of the befriended think of him after he has gone.
BEHAVIOR, n. Conduct, as determined, not by principle, but by breeding.
We see it every day, in every way, from the Leader of the Opposition, and the Prime Minister too. By their behaviour, so shall ye know them.
BLACKGUARD, n. A man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box of berries in a market — the fine ones on top — have been opened on the wrong side. An inverted gentleman.
A favourite word of Tony Abbott's, however, in this instance, aptly describing Tony Abbott.
BONDSMAN, n. A fool who, having property of his own, undertakes to become responsible for that entrusted to another to a third. Philippe of Orleans wishing to appoint one of his favorites, a dissolute nobleman, to a high office, asked him what security he would be able to give. "I need no bondsmen," he replied, "for I can give you my word of honor." "And pray what may be the value of that?" inquired the amused Regent. "Monsieur, it is worth its weight in gold."
Tony Abbott gives his 'word of honour' on a regular basis. He wants us to believe it is worth its weight in gold too.
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
For example, Australia and Indonesia.
CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbour. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
A Tony Abbott Christian by definition.
CIRCUS, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.
Or Federal Parliament.
COMMENDATION, n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles, but do not equal, our own.
Tony Abbott's lifeblood.
COMMONWEALTH, n. An administrative entity operated by an incalculable multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously efficient.
An Ode to Federal Parliament, Canberra:
This commonwealth's capitol's corridors view.
So thronged with a hungry and indolent crew
Of clerks, pages, porters and all attaches
Whom rascals appoint and the populace pays.
That a cat cannot slip through the thicket of shins.
Nor hear its own shriek for the noise of their chins.
On clerks and on pages, and porters, and all,
Misfortune attend and disaster befall!
May life be to them a succession of hurts;
May fleas by the bushel inhabit their shirts;
May aches and diseases encamp in their bones,
Their lungs full of tubercles, bladders of stones;
May microbes, bacilli, their tissues infest,
And tapeworms securely their bowels digest;
May corn-cobs be snared without hope in their hair,
And frequent impalement their pleasure impair.
Disturbed be their dreams by the awful discourse
Of audible sofas sepulchrally hoarse,
By chairs acrobatic and wavering floors —
The mattress that kicks and the pillow that snores!
Sons of cupidity, cradled in sin!
Your criminal ranks may the death angel thin,
Avenging the friend whom I couldn't work in.
CONFIDANT, CONFIDANTE, n. One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, confided by him to C.
Or the definition of a parliamentary Press Gallery.
CONGRATULATION, n. The civility of envy.
CONGRESS, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.
Equally becoming the leit-motif of the Tony Abbott-led Coalition. Funny how things haven't changed at all with respect to the Conservative parties, both here and in America.
CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
How Tony Abbott 'consults' his party. He really should rename it, 'The One Man Band Party'.
CONTROVERSY, n. A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.
A News Ltd. Speciality.
CONVERSATION, n. A fair to the display of the minor mental commodities, each exhibitor being too intent upon the arrangement of his own wares to observe those of his neighbour.
CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
CORSAIR, n. A politician of the seas.
Tony Abbott in 'Boatphone' mode.
COWARD, n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
Tony Abbott when Press Conferences get too hot to handle.
CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do me?
The Abbott family motto.
A savage beast which, when it sleeps,
Man girds at and despises,
But takes himself away by leaps
And bounds when it arises.
Tony Abbott leaving Press Conferences precipitously shows he doesn't like to court it.
DARING, n. One of the most conspicuous qualities of a man in security.
Tony Abbott showed a lot of it when in 'relaxed and comfortable' mode, leading the polls.
DEBAUCHEE, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it.
I would only add that I believe Tony Abbott has debauched the position of Leader of the Opposition.
DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet
Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet,
Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him,
Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him;
So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him,
Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him,
Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it
And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
—Barlow S. Vode
Still used a s a virtual whip by the Corporate Capitalists (is that an oxymoron?), and by the Opposition to scare small children and Widows.
DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.
A leaf was riven from a tree,
"I mean to fall to earth," said he.
The west wind, rising, made him veer.
"Eastward," said he, "I now shall steer.
The east wind rose with greater force.
Said he: "'Twere wise to change my course.
With equal power they contend.
He said: "My judgment I suspend
Down died the winds; the leaf, elate,
Cried: "I've decided to fall straight."
"First thoughts are best?" That's not the moral;
Just choose your own and we'll not quarrel.
Howe'er your choice may chance to fall,
You'll have no hand in it at all.
The thought processes that inform Tony Abbott's decisions from one day to the next must look a lot like this.
DEFAME, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.
So that's how to get away with walking both sides of the street?
DEFENCELESS, adj. Unable to attack.
Mr Abbott's fallback position.
DEGRADATION, n. One of the stages of moral and social progress from private station to political preferment.
DEINOTHERIUM, n. An extinct pachyderm that flourished when the Pterodactyl was in fashion. The latter was a native of Ireland, its name being pronounced Terry Dactyl or Peter O'Dactyl, as the man pronouncing it may chance to have heard it spoken or seen it printed.
Not entirely a position confined to the Irish, just ask any modern day Creationist, Like Tony Abbott.
DELIBERATION, n. The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
Or, Tony Abbott's breakfast prayer: 'Give us our daily bread, Peta and Brian.'
DELUSION, n. The father of a most respectable family, comprising Enthusiasm, Affection, Self-denial, Faith, Hope, Charity and many other goodly sons and daughters.
DESTINY, n. A tyrant's authority for crime and fool's excuse for failure.
DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.
DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.
Go the 99% ers!
DISSEMBLE, v.i. To put a clean shirt upon the character.
Have you noticed how clean and white are the shirts Tony Abbott wears?
DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep.
DOG, n. A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. This Divine Being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant. The Dog is a survival — an anachronism. He toils not, neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a door-mat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition.
I just wanted to include this one for all the doggy people out there.
DRAGOON, n. A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback.
Coalition Tactics 101.
DULLARD, n. A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life. The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power is their insensibility to blows; tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh with a platitude. The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence they were driven by stress of starvation, their dullness having blighted the crops. For some centuries they infested Philistia, and many of them are called Philistines to this day. In the turbulent times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, literature, science and theology.
DUTY, n. That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.
Doesn't Tony Abbott say that it's his duty to hold the government to account?
Well, that's enough for now - part of the alphabet and plenty to chew on. I'll pore over the other half of the alphabet for next week. I'm pretty sure it will provide just as much amusement and edification.
What do you think?