You know a government is in some serious trouble when a morning TV host tears the prime minister to shreds. And when the most likable member of the government appears to be Julie “Death Stare” Bishop, it has less good options than a drunk at closing time in Canberra.
A little over a year in office, and Tony Abbott's one big achievement is he has made Bill Shorten look electable.
That's not to underestimate how significant that is, given Shorten's generally non-descript performances, his parroting of Abbott on war and civil liberties, and the fact Shorten is the very personification of the sort of ex-trade union bureaucrat and factional hack the public have come to despise.
Hell, this is the bloke who brought Paul Howes into politics. Making him look a likely PM does take some doing.
Still, you'd think if there was one place a besieged leader could expect a bit of respite, it would be on that lightest of light entertainment formats — morning TV, where the norm is easy-going, soft-handled interviews.
And yet, on December 1, we saw the spectacle of Abbott being systematically destroyed by Channel Nine's Today show host Karl Stefanovic.
Of course, one immediate response from many, watching Abbott struggle to provide one coherent response to the barrage, was: “Why the hell didn't the media treat him like this before he came to office?”
But in some ways, this is what should concern Abbott most of all. Stefanovic didn't criticise Abbott on grounds of any specific policy — he didn't slam him for his savage anti-poor cuts, his government's never-ceasing cruelty to refugees or its environmental destruction.
Stefanovic went for Abbott's throat over the government's broken promises, failure to pass bills and blatant hypocrisy in blaming opposition tactics.
So it was less a political attack than one more sign that even forces that could be expected to support the government — or at least go soft — have had enough. And not because they are against what the government is trying to do, but because of its failure to do it.
Hell, even Murdoch press hacks like Andrew Bolt are now laying into Abbott, which is a bit like the Pope expressing disappointment in some of God's recent work.
But it is not just that the government is useless, although Abbott does look more and more like a drunk, stoned teenager confronted by a parent (“Are you sober?” “Ah ... you bet you are ... ah … you bet I am”).
The problem is much more fundamental — the Coalition's big contradiction is its policies are directly counter to the interests of most people, yet it depends on the votes of most people to stay in office.
Given this, there are two things the Coalition uses for cover — the fact that Labor are only marginally better; and a classic combination of “divide-and-rule” and diversion tactics, with racism and refugee-bashing the most obvious.
But for Abbott, this has worked far better in opposition than government. It is one thing to whip up racist hysteria and claim a “flood” of “boat people” threaten Australian living standards, but when you are trying to pass bills to force people to pay for a doctor visit, raising their taxes or forcing them to work till they're 70, such excuses wear thin.
Of course, the passing of Morrison's cruel and sinister refugee bill on December 4 shows that the government might be wounded, but it is far from dead. It still can, and is, causing immense damage.
And yes, I am sure most Green Left Weekly readers are fully aware that even if Abbott were to fall, he'd only be replaced by another right-wing, poor-hating, environment-destroying, refugee-bashing prick.
And, sadly, that is true whether Abbott gets replaced by his party or by Labor in an election.
But still, that doesn't mean watching Abbott stagger from debacle to debacle is not enormous fun, and for God's sake, it is the festive season after all. After the year this country's had, we all deserve a laugh.
You know, many people claim, in this age of inequality, corporate domination and brutal austerity, that the much-vaunted American Dream is dead.
But the “rags-to-riches” story of how a young police officer from Ferguson, Missouri became a millionaire shows you can still “make it” in the “land of opportunity” — if only you are willing to work hard, think big and shoot dead an unarmed Black teenager with his hands in the air begging you to stop firing.
In a move that speaks volumes about the self-proclaimed “Land of the Free”, not only did a grand jury rule that police officer Darren Wilson would not have to stand trial for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown, but also, as a result of killing the kid, Wilson became rich.
The media reports that the 28-year-old officer has received at least US$500,000 in donations from supporters and earned a reported further $500,000 for his exclusive 45-minute interview with ABC News about the incident.
Now, the ABC interview might sound like money for nothing, but Wilson had to spend a full three-quarters of an hour pretending an unarmed teenager presented some sort of serious threat to a fully armed police officer, such that he had no choice but to shoot at him up to a dozen times — and that really, really can't be easy.