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Send a peace-keeping team where it’s needed most, ScoMo

Em şîv in hûn jî paşîv in,” or, if we are dinner you are supper,  Armenians warn Kurds before Turkish massacres – a recurrent motif in Kurdish oral history.

 

As Donald Trump abruptly withdraws US air support and a trip-wire of US troops from North-East Syria, in the vast Kurdish-controlled triangle, locals call Rojava or “The West”, Sunday, he clears the way for Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to begin Operation Peace Spring, a long-planned, long-threatened military offensive to purge the Kurds. Erdoğan’s blitzkrieg starts Wednesday 9 October.

Turkey is pressing on with its alternative buffer zone concept, trashing the neutral corridor plan the US and Turkey say they’ve been working on for a year – at least. Erdoğan’s plan is to invade Syria and fill the illegally occupied territory along Turkey’s southern border with 2 million Syrian refugees – or “up to half the 3.6 million people”, the UN registers as currently taking refuge in Turkey. The EU can pick up the tab. Ankara’s pitch is far-fetched, impracticable and threatens to re-ignite ISIS but Trump buys it.

ISIS is more acceptable to an anti-Ataturk Erdoğan than Rojava, a Kurdish radically decentralised and democratic social revolution which embraced gender equality and inspired activists worldwide. Rojava’s the antithesis of the more common Middle Eastern patriarchal despotism. It’s easy to see why its radical egalitarian political and social structure is ideologically repugnant to the conservative autocrat Erdoğan.

On top of ancient hatreds are grafted newer layers of distrust. And on top of these are military realities. Former legionnaire and YPG (Peoples’ Protection Unit) volunteer, Jamie Williams successfully volunteered to fight with the Kurds against Daesh in 2017,  he writes in The Saturday Paper. He soon realised that the Kurds were as much at risk from Turkey as from Daesh or ISIS as it prefers to be known.

Kurdish force YPG has its women-only counterpart the YPJ. Our government has provided air support to the group – yet it is linked with PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, whom Erdoğan regards as terrorists, responsible for acts of terror in Turkey. To many commentators they are one and the same group.

Propaganda from Turkey is all about fighting terrorists, spin which our own PM repeats even as civilians are indiscriminately killed in the first few days of the Turkish onslaught. Trump sets off a powder keg.

“All hell breaks loose” says The Washington Post after a Sunday phone call between the two populist presidents. Talk turns to trade and help with defence in the exhausted superlatives Trump favours. Only late in the call, does the topic turn to Erdoğan’s impending invasion and grander aims.

Trump offers a “really good package”, of F35 jets, lemons at $100m a pop, from Lockheed’s $1.5 trillion defence boondoggle, the most expensive in the world, even though Turkey will still buy a missile defence system from Russia, and keep a multi-billion dollar plan to dodge US sanctions on Iran. A presidential visit is thrown into the deal. Trump tells Erdoğan not to invade, he insists. Turkey’s actions attest otherwise.

A White House statement issued after the phone call certainly appears to confirm the withdrawal.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The US Armed Forces . . . having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Turkish officials maintain Trump privately gave Erdoğan the go-ahead. Trump ups his bluster.

Congressional Republicans erupt in protest. Trump denies all report of any such undertaking. Hapless administration officials are scrambled to explain, ineffectually, that Trump’s yes means no; the US does not consent to Turkey’s plans to invade Syria nor collude in Erdoğan’s fantasy of an Ottoman Empire 2.0.

A bipartisan group forms to devise sanctions; put Turkey’s war machine genie back in its bottle. As if.

By Monday, having provoked outrage from even the typically recumbent if not supine Republicans in the House and the Senate, Trump threatens to “obliterate” his NATO ally’s economy, if Erdoğan doesn’t stop invading Syria; rhetoric he quickly tones down.  Turkey is now warned not to do “anything outside what we think is humane” – or the country will “suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy.”

What we think is humane? Pressed for time to interpret Trump’s double-speak, Ankara could do worse than glance at Amnesty International’s summary of the Trump administration’s human rights abuses in its immigration policy alone. Amnesty says the Trump administration’s policy and practices have caused,

“..catastrophic irreparable harm to thousands of people, have spurned and manifestly violated both US and international law, and appeared to be aimed at the full dismantling of the US asylum system.”

Meanwhile, a new wave of 2000 US troops is deployed in Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announces, topping up a thousand recently deployed there to pot-shot the odd drone, all part of the US bogus war on Iran which Trump & Co are trying to gin up, purely to help his 2020 re-election prospects. The troops will be on hand to “assure and enhance” Saudi Arabia’s defence and no doubt help its women learn to drive.

It’s a low blow to Canberra’s attempts to paint Trump’s capitulation to Erdoğan as consistent with The Donald’s avowed isolationism; his public wish to “get out of these ridiculous endless wars”. Someone needs to tell ScoMo and Co not to confuse Trump’s performance shtick with any deeper conviction.

ScoMo tells Nine Newspapers and others that there’s nothing to see here. The most erratic president in US history is just acting consistently. It’s all going to plan. A po-faced ScoMo claims Trump outlined his aim to withdraw troops from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq a year ago and is now acting on that message.

“I think it would be wrong to not draw an element of consistency between those statements almost a year ago and the action the United States has been taking since, including most recently,” ScoMo bloviates.

“As is the nature of alliances and friendships, you work through these issues together and you understand them together and you speak frankly to one another and you do that in the spirit of that relationship.”

Bunkum. Part of the outrage amongst even his own party, is Trump’s total lack of consultation. Left out of the loop, say Politico and others, were foreign allies, Congress even some in his own administration.

Trump is working nothing through together, ScoMo. Nor is there any element of consistency. Trump’s administration has, in fact, increased US involvement in what he calls their “ridiculous endless wars”.

US Air Forces central command reports late last month, it launched the most airstrikes in Afghanistan over a single month in roughly a decade. American troops have ramped up airstrikes in Libya targeting ISIS fighters there. And the US continues its shadow war in Somalia to repel terrorists there. The new wave in Saudi Arabia means a total net increase of 17000 US troops in the region since May.

Stung by accusations of incompetence, Saturday, Trump appears on Fox’s Justice with Janine to utter his most pathetic self-justification yet, “He (Erdoğan) was going to go in anyway. They’ve been fighting the Kurds for 200 years. He was going in anyway,” Trump professes US impotence to host Jeanine Pirro.

In doing so, Trump unwittingly confirms that he’s given in to Erdoğan’s demands. It is unlikely to boost his party’s trust or Trump’s self-appointed role as super-patriot and nationalist. His wimpy surrender to Turkey’s territorial ambitions makes America great again? Like his protégé, Scott Morrison, when the chips are down he doesn’t give a toss about principle or consistency or even plausible deniability.

As with any of our current crop of political monsters, the winner-take-all strong men thrown up by neoliberalism’s decline, sky-rocketing inequality and the rise and rise of hyper-nationalism, it’s all about political survival – at any price.

Trump needs a diversion from his impeachment narrative and Rudy Giuliani’s erratic stunts are not helping. He puts on his isolationist mask when it suits. Only Murdoch hacks and ScoMo take it seriously.

Isolationist Trump is stymied because continuous war is vital to the United States military industrial complex if not the economy, a neoliberal supreme being second only to the free market in the cult’s articles of faith. Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul – even more of an embarrassing Trump fanboy than our own PM, rushes to defend his president’s isolationism but, as with toady ScoMo, his credibility is low.

As Republicans and Democrats alike bag Trump for enabling Turkish attacks on U.S. Kurdish allies which could enable ISIS prisoners of war to escape and reform, Paul declares that most Americans would actually agree with President Trump that this is not a war that has our national interest at stake.”

Even if national interest can mean whatever you choose it to mean, it’s difficult to agree with Paul that America’s national interest will emerge unscathed as its reputation as an ally is trashed – and as the Kurdish body count mounts – so far, Turkish authorities claim to have killed 277 terrorists.

Kurdish sources claim that most of those killed or maimed by bombs and air strikes are civilians.

Does Trump give “a green light” or “a trigger” to Turkey’s military ambitions? Experts differ. Trump, himself, is increasingly incoherent and – like his disciple, Scott Morrison -consistently fast and loose and with the truth. What is certain is that the US betrays its military allies, the Kurds who have lost eleven thousand men and women fighting America’s Syrian military intervention in the last five years at least.

What is also clear is that Trump crafts a week of utter confusion over US Middle-East policy in a desperate bid to stem the growing movement to impeach him for enlisting Ukraine’s sad clown, former comic turned President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help him smear Joe Biden and the whole Mueller inquiry.

Zelensky is now rapidly running up a trust deficit in polls reported this week. His dealings with Trump; his proposals to end the Kremlin-backed war in Ukraine’s East – don’t help. Ukrainians see him less as a running gag on Ukraine’s hopelessly corrupt political system and more like a puppet of a local billionaire.

“Never get into a well with an American rope,” goes a saying, The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn reports, is spreading across the Middle East. Will Trump’s treachery also be an object lesson to Canberra?

It’s unlikely given the obsequious fawning of ScoMo’s recent Washington junket, to say nothing of Titanium Man’s subsequent mimicry of Trump on how China is a developed nation and expect no favours over Kyoto targets such as Australia enjoys. But ScoMo knows that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this week sees him morph even further into a Trump even without fake tan or combover.

On song with Donald, ScoMo also rails against “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracies” which UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, reminds our PM, Australia helped set up. The scrutiny Morrison’s government rejects is based on international standards it helped create.

We’re also backing out of the UN Climate fund, Morrison decrees, following Trump’s inspiring example. Money saved can go to the Pacific, (it would, anyway, under the fund), especially our fruit-picking Fijians who will love their rugby until Fiji’s playing fields are underwater courtesy of our heroic contribution to global warming as we squib our commitment to our Paris Agreement target with carry-over credits.

Heroic? When we take into account our exports’ carbon dioxide emission potential, Australia ranks as the world’s third largest fossil fuel exporter, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia reports The Australia Institute. Wherever our exported fossil fuels may be burnt, they emit more carbon dioxide than the exported emissions of all but two of the world’s biggest oil- and gas-producing nations.

Helping galloping Trumpism sweep the nation in their own self-righteous, dismissive way on Sunday’s ABC Insiders are Murdoch’s Michael Stuchbury and mining lobby tool, The Sydney Institute’s, merry Gerry Henderson who talk up ScoMo’s climate leadership and still find time to defend Peter Dutton for just stating the obvious about how China does not share our “Australian values”.

Gerry scotches all notion of ScoMo criticising his mentor and BFF Donald Trump.

“There is no reason why the Australian government should criticise the American President” says Henderson, airily, ignoring years of utter chaos, corruption and racist violence since January 2017.

Certainly no criticism of Trump appears in ScoMo&Co’s fabulous Dr Doolittle routine, the Payne-Morrison Foreign Policy Pushmi-pullyu duo who sing from the same ponderous song-sheet, in eerie fidelity.

“The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey’s unilateral military operation into North-Eastern Syria. It will cause additional civilian suffering, lead to greater population displacement, and further inhibit humanitarian access. While Turkey has legitimate domestic security concerns, unilateral cross-border military action will not solve these concerns.”

Take that, Erdogan and your domestic security concerns. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have put it better.

Or as Orwell warns, “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details…. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Weasel words and the vexed question of his aiding and abetting mad elected-King Donald aside, ScoMo and Co are “deeply troubled” only by having to fake moral outrage at Turkey’s turpitude. It’s a tough gig.

Causing “additional human suffering” bothers a PM who plans to revoke Medevac legislation in November? Hardly. “Humanitarian access” worries the gate-keeper of our asylum-seeker gulags both on and off-shore where mandatory, indefinite, detention is denounced by the UN as be a form of torture?

Greater population displacement worries the architect of the Cambodian Solution? A government which opens Christmas Island for one family is averse to additional civilian suffering? A key aim of our mandatory detention of asylum seekers is to punish those on Manus and Nauru or those locked up on the mainland and deprived of any social welfare payments -as a deterrent to other aspiring boat people.

Shunning the UN and similar international bodies is a retreat from co-operative globalism into barbarism. It is also, as the UN makes clear, a denial of our own humanity, a futile attempt to evade our own conscience; our sense of accountability and social responsibility.

Trump’s sudden withdrawal is a triple betrayal. The Kurds are now at risk not only from Turkey but from ISIS fighters they have captured, five of whom already liberate themselves after Turkish shelling from nearby. Kurdish fighters also face hostility from Assad’s regime – and will lose their homes to strangers.

Many of Syria’s Kurdish people live in cities and towns such as Qamishli, Kobani and Tal Abyad just south of the Syrian-Turkish frontier. By Sunday, hundreds of thousands are fleeing south, terrified by the prospect of a Turkish occupation, backed by bands of Syrian Arab paramilitaries with links to al-Qaeda type groups. CNN reports that the bombardment could displace 300,000 people. Some say more.

Operation Peace Spring is Ankara’s Orwellian title for Turkey, and its Syrian proxies’ air strikes, heavy artillery, rocket fire and land assault; a campaign to illegally annex a “peace corridor” of Northern Syria thirty kilometres deep and some say 480 kilometres along Turkey’s entire Southern border with Syria.

Some sources suggest a more modest but no less illegal 120 kilometres of lebensraum is Turkey’s aim. But how can anyone be sure? In a Rafferty’s Rules-based world of disorder only might is right.

Is this what we’ve become?

Ankara has plans to relocate two million Syrian Arab refugees from other parts of Syria it currently has within its borders immediate aim is to seize Rojava; embark upon further Kurdish ethnic cleansing. As it happens, President Erdoğan announces, he’s just discovered that the land doesn’t belong to the Kurds.

It’s not his first invasion. On 20 January 2018, Turkey attacked the Kurdish city of Afrin in Operation Olive Branch, an offensive which displaced 300,000 Kurds who lost family homes to strangers resettled from eastern Ghouta, an urban suburb of Damascus. Human Rights Watch reports that armed Syrian paramilitary groups were permitted to detain and “forcibly disappear civilians.

Nothing to fear from a “mafia, murderer and serial killer” Turkish state mobilising its armed forces to massacre more Kurds? Hurriedly, publicly walking back any commitment he has made privately to Erdoğan, Trump says he’ll keep the Turks in check; “obliterate” their economy if they try any funny stuff.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” the USA’s Tweeter-in-Chief warns Ankara via Twitter.

His Stable Genius has it all under control.

Erdogan gets a hand, meanwhile. Prior to withdrawal, CNN reports, the US persuades Kurds to dismantle fortifications and to move troops away from the border whilst helpfully giving Turkey airspace access and intelligence on the area to improve its aim – or in military newspeak, formulate its target lists”.

Our own Trumpista, Scott Morrison has only recently returned from a brief but sell-out US tour where he did a star turn as Trump’s muppet. It’s a stunt, as Bernard Keane puts it, in which all of Australia’s foreign policy is outsourced to The White House. Now ScoMo must come up with something. He fails.

He rushes to urge “restraint of all those who are involved” – lest Kurds throw themselves rashly under Turkish tanks, or rush to put themselves or their families in line of fire of bullets or mortar attacks.

It’s all in a good cause. More grandiose plans and delusions aside, Erdogan and Trump are both down in the polls. Trump happily abandons US allies, Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF) and Kurdish civilians to Turkish genocide. It’s certainly diverting attention from moves to impeach him for seeking Ukraine’s help, for his own political advantage; to dig dirt on Joe Biden’s son. He has to be prepared. What if Joe Biden should win the Democratic nomination and not Elizabeth Warren?

Trump’s dumping of former US allies ought to be a wake-up call to those who fetishise the ANZUS alliance- merely an agreement to consult in times of crisis, despite the reverence our MPs bestow upon it.

The world sees clearly both the limits of US authority and how Trump treats US allies, an object lesson unlikely to be missed by Asian nations. Yet the warning is unlikely to be heeded by ScoMo and Co. Morrison’s government and its Murdoch mouthpiece is now so much part of the Trump cult that not only does our PM’s speeches on foreign policy now mimic the US President’s pre-occupations; lecturing China on trade and climate, he reneges on Australia’s commitment to the UN Green Climate Fund.

“I’m not writing a $500 million cheque to the UN, I won’t be doing that. There’s no way I’m going to do that to Australian taxpayers,” ScoMo tells reporters, an antipodean Zelig aping Trump’s 2017 decision.

In other words, ScoMo, you’ll sell us short. Don’t copy Trump. The UN Green Climate Fund -decades in the making – was inspired by the urgent need to support developing nations in responding to the challenge of climate change. It helps developing nations curb their emissions and adapt. It provides for our children and grandchildren – and their children and grandchildren.

Above all, aping your mentor Trump in attacking the UN and other international bodies designed to promote global citizenship and co-operation, you are betraying all Australians and especially those who helped create internationalism; a set of rules and responsibilities, which might help us to act according to our higher instincts. These include resolving conflict, offering refuge, respecting human rights and applying  the rule of law so that we might all benefit from a civilised international society.

The least Australia can do, for starters, is to censure Trump for colluding in Erdoğan’s invasion of Syria; giving the green light to his genocidal plans towards the Kurds. Other nations are already applying sanctions on Turkey. It is imperative we also take a stand against Erdoğan’s invasion before it is too late.

Prevailing on your BFF Donald Trump to resume control of the skies over North-East Syria would be a start while an international peace-keeping team could follow. You can send a team to the Golan Heights on Israel’s border. Surely you can also send a team where it’s needed most.

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CPAC’s travelling show can pack up and go home. And stay there.

“I’ve been to the border,” Fox TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro says. US citizens living there talk of “rape trees” upon which the clothes of rape victims are hung she says. They talk of children having their hearts cut out with machetes. The US, as Donald Trump regularly tweets, is under siege; its way of life threatened by an invasion of rapists from south of the border. Trump’s re-election campaign team repeats the siege message 2199 times in paid Facebook ads since January.

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC ‘s travelling show, a rabble of far right US fear-mongers, liars and conspiracy crackpots convinced by Trump’s canard that George Soros or The Democrats fund the migrant caravan. It’s a popular idea which provokes distrust and permits inhumanity.

Peter Dutton expresses similar ideas regarding our refugees on Manus and Nauru. He claims they are “economic refugees” who own “Armani jeans and handbags”.

Add the odd stray Brexiteer and sundry alt-right camp followers. Blend in two, confused members of the Morrison government, Craig Kelly and Amanda Stoker, bestowing a type of legitimacy -and presto -we have a three-day bag-fest of racist hatred, intolerance and ignorance vital to any healthy democracy. Or so our Federal government insists.

CPAC’s enriched US politics. It helped launch Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, two useful idiots who could attract, repel or just distract the masses while lowering taxes and elevating naked greed; allowing finance, business, mining and gambling get everything they want. It’s a recipe for success that the Morrison government is following religiously.

The gory border story is a fiction told by Trump buddy Judge Jeanine. It’s all part of the enriching offerings to a conference which our Coalition government has sagely declared not to be white hate speech at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.

CPAC’s the voice of sweet reason itself, a symposium vital to any free speech-embracing democracy to add to its community conversation about why we should hate Mexican rapists, child-murderers and fear refugee-invasion. In local content, Craig Kelly MP says the CSIRO should go to jail for its science and calls for us to embrace nuclear power plants.

How good is the power of the nuclear energy industry?

Pirro’s in Sydney to help spread hate and fear at CPAC, a forum for the lunatic right, which began in 1974, with a speech from Ronald Reagan who entered national politics ten years earlier after a televised address promoting Barry Goldwater. Reagan’s talk did not help Goldwater win the election. Oddly, voters saw Barry as a dangerous, right-wing extremist.

True, Goldwater did want to nuke Hanoi. But this strategy was also advocated in 1965 by the US military’s Joint Chiefs during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Daniel Ellsberg reports, a plan, he believes, which was aimed at provoking a nuclear war with China. The Joint Chiefs envisaged a big show which would need 500,000 to a million troops.

Even more oddly, Johnson said no. He chose to do some socially useful projects. His Great Society and War on Poverty.

All was not lost, however. California’s business elite saw in Reagan a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was duly recruited as Republican Party candidate for Governor of California. He won easily by promising tax cuts. His victory was helped by a smear campaign against his opponent, Pat Brown. Trump’s rise to power has many parallels.

Star of her own Fox reality TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro is more than an incendiary hate-speaker, she’s a total pyromaniac. Her role as a tireless Trump cheer-leader has helped her to rebuild her TV career after a setback in the 1990s when her ex-husband Al Pirro, a Trump power-broker, went to jail for conspiracy and tax evasion.

Trump’s a HUGE fan. Not only does their friendship go back decades, the pair enjoy what The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison calls “transactional loyalty”, a concept well understood by Morrison and Liberal Party leadership strategists.

“She’s as sexy as hell,” Trump tells New York Magazine; Pirro’s show is a relentless defence of everything Trump, but this week, she’s in Sydney spreading a type of lie that inflames prejudice and helps incite violence. Invasion is a fixation in the online manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21 year old who is accused of killing 22 people in a Texas Wal-Mart.

Headline speakers, such as Pirro, peddle xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, hatred and work themselves into a lather with their lurid anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic murder and rape fantasies in a ballroom set up with brown vinyl chairs at Sydney’s Rydge’s World Square Hotel, Friday to Sunday. But it’s not all rabid hate-speaking. Organisers thoughtfully include some local comic talent. Clown duo, Mark Latham and Ross Cameron, for example, do the warm-up.

Boosted as the largest gathering of conservatives in Australia, in fact it’s tiny; roughly one tenth of the size of all registered Tasmanian Organ Donors or 0.17% of the Melbourne Cricket Club’s waiting list.

But size doesn’t matter. Organisers have deep pockets; grand plans. CPAC’s powerful backers tell The Guardian’s Michael McGowan, they are committed to making the event a “multi-year, forever-type project” aimed at “galvanising” the right wing of Australian politics. Why not? Luigi Galvani even made dead frogs’ legs twitch by applying an electric current.

CPAC’s a show that ScoMo & Co sagely decide we all need to see. In fact, there are more than a few members of the government mad keen to attend – but don’t for a moment think MPs’ attendance is any endorsement, cautions failed Dutton coup numbers man, Matthias Cormann. No? Nor does it add any legitimacy to see George Christensen in the crowd, Jim Molan, former deputy PM National Party hack and mining shill John Anderson with Tony Abbott on stage.

Liberal Party MP when he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Craig Kelly’s a crack-up with his routine about how Tony Abbott won the Coalition’s election for it by attracting all the “crazies” to Warringah. “Took the bullets” for the others, he says, in what has to be least well-judged metaphor of the week. But wait. There’s more. Kelly says CSIRO ought to be in jail.

He accuses the science agency of a “bogus report” on energy costs because its 2018 report finds solar and wind generation technologies are the cheapest power stations to “build new”. CSIRO, of course, is correct. So, too is The Climate Council which reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conclusion,

“Due to the continued fall in the cost of wind and solar, as well as the higher international price for black coal, it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind or solar plant in Australia than to continue operating old coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.”

“If an ASX-listed company said that in an annual report, they would likely end up in jail because of how misleading it is,” Kelly claims modelling, himself, the sort of wilful disinformation he tries to rail against.

Meanwhile, Federal Energy Minister, the Watergate and Grass-gate survivor, Angus Gravy-train, Taylor is forming “a new taskforce” to pressure AGL to keep coal-fired Liddell power station open. It’s all part of ScoMo & Co’s big-stick approach.

Taylor says his taskforce, to be set up in partnership with the NSW Government, will consider “all options” – Liberal code for putting on blinkers; propping up coal. He does not rule out using taxpayer money to extend the life of the plant. AGL responds by pointing out that doing so would cost “a lot of money” and any such move “does not stack up.”

The IMF reports that the Australian tax-payer is already subsidising fossil-fuel industries to the tune of $29 billion a year.

In the CPAC spirit of personalised ridicule, Kelly has a presentation trophy to award to Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally.

“This is the CPAC Freedom Award, which goes to the individual who has done the most to promote the CPAC conference,” Kelly tells about 200 attendees. Thigh-slapping hilarity erupts on one side only.  Keneally sees it as part of a Two-minute Hate and straight from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future 1984.

“It’s uncanny how much CPAC is exactly what it claims to oppose,” Keneally tweets. “They are … spending all day yelling about their ‘enemies’. This is exactly how people under totalitarian regimes behave.” And key National Party figures.

Farmers’ friend and champion of the man on the land, John Anderson was chairman of coal seam gas frontrunner Eastern Star Gas, bought out by Santos in 2011. He’s one of a herd of former Nationals MP who model transactional loyalty, locally, despite some fuddy-duddy farmers seeing the defection from agriculture to mining as a betrayal.

Former Nationals MP, and pro-coal energy minister, Garry West ,chairs, for undisclosed sums, the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona Coal project, adjacent to Shenhua Watermark’s mine. It’s all part of the mining industry community consultation hoax. Former Nat, Larry Anthony, a former Shenhua Watermark lobbyist, was an advocate for a coal mine which was recently in the news for rigging the storage volume of underground aquifers.

“The values used were implausibly high based on our research,” Ian Acworth, UNSW Emeritus Professor, says in May.

Asking the questions, always more engaging than a talk, Ando interviews his old pal Abbo – who makes a double debut as ex-MP, and ex-PM. Australia is now a nation that offers “death on demand” warns the former minister for women, a master of the hollow three word slogan.

In NSW, an abortion law reform bill which has yet to pass the upper house, had been sprung on voters. “No due consultation”, protests the former PM who sprang a postal vote on marriage equality on the entire nation rather than face a divided party room. Victoria’s recent, assisted dying law proves we’ve lost our moral anchor points. Christianity used to anchor our morality, asserts Abbott, whose former spiritual mentor and adviser was Cardinal George Pell.

Death on demand? Lost moral anchor? “It’s pretty rich”, writes Junkee’s Joseph Earp, “coming from a man who helped speed along an environmental apocalypse that will cost the lives of animals and humans alike.”

“Faith is a gift,” Abbott offers generously. “Some people have it, some people don’t.” Go bite an onion.

Recording or photographing Abbott’s riff is forbidden. He insists. Some of the small audience applaud. The left, he says, opaquely, is wallowing in identity. Wallowing. “Spiritually we’ve rarely been worse off than we are now,” he adds for good measure, perhaps, a typically public-spirited projection of his own long, dark, night of the soul.

Equally benighted but in Australia’s post-modern under-paid, casual, part-time workplace where wage theft is rife, Queensland senator, Amanda Stoker drones on about how industrial relations means labour hire and localised enterprise-bargaining, a vision of the future, surely, now that the government has its Ensuring Integrity bill through the lower house. The cross-bench will be sure to fall in line, especially if demon union thug John Setka’s name is mentioned.

But don’t get the wrong idea. So the government is cosying up to the lunar right in public? Don’t mean a thing. OK? But it does lend a dangerous legitimacy to the lunar right, as Jason Wright thoughtfully observes in The Guardian.

Raheem Kassam, a former Breitbart London editor who calls the Muslim holy book, the Quran, “fundamentally evil”, and Islam a fascistic and totalitarian ideology,” is a “career bigot” says Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Kristina Keneally. Last month, Keneally unsuccessfully asked that he be denied entry to the country.

Friday, in a speech largely devoted to attacking Kenneally and accusing her of putting his life in danger, Kassam says,

“She should be ashamed of herself … There’s nothing Christian about silencing your opposition,” he says, preferring an ad hominem attack on Senator Keneally and her Catholic beliefs, to any reasoned rebuttal. Kassam illustrates the fallacy of the Morrison government’s claim that CPAC even vaguely involves or promotes rational debate. Kenneally is closer to the mark when she describes the gathering as a “talk-fest of hate”. And anger.

Warming the chair for Sky’s David Speers, ABC Insiders’ Patricia Karvelas asks an evasive Simon Birmingham if “we are we seeing a more aggressive position taken by conservatives after the election of your government?”

Birmingham evades Karvelas’ question. He might well quibble with her misuse of the term. CPAC is conservative in name only.

Morrison’s government is cosying up in public to win votes from the radical right attending CPAC and those who share its prejudices, its racism and xenophobia. It is also being disingenuous about its motives and the effect of its attendance.

“Their attendance at this conference does not imply agreement or endorsement with the views of any of the other speakers attending in any way,” a dangerously deluded Cormann would have us believe. He fails to explain how or why not.

“The government will always stand against divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred or which seeks to vilify people.”

“However the way to defeat bad ideas, bad arguments and unacceptable views is through debate, especially with those we disagree with. It is not by limiting our conversations only to those who at all times share all of our views.”

Cormann forgets Scott Morrison’s 2011 suggestion that the Coalition exploit anti-Muslim sentiment. Or when in 2015 Abbott allowed George Christensen to attend an anti-Muslim rally. Or Tony Abbott in 2015 insinuating Muslim leaders do not condemn terrorism: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.” Or when Abbott chose Syrian refugees on the basis of religion.

We could add many more examples. There’s Handy Andy Hastie’s “Islam must change.” But this just brings him into line with the budgie-smuggler who declared that Islam has a massive problem and who called for a “reformation”.

Penny Wong points out the difference between hate speech and “bad ideas.” The nonsense that any of the speakers attending is willing to enter into rational debate or is as farcical as expecting the Morrison government to heed the science on climate change or to expect Peter Dutton to retract his scare campaign on the dangers of refugees using Medevac legislation to flood our shores.  Or issue an apology for his Melbourne African gang fear-mongering.

Having Cormann lecture us on bad ideas is hilarious coming from a man who tried to make Peter Dutton PM. As for rational debate, this is the Finance Minister who claims that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy. Sorry Matthias, you Belgian sausage, all evidence is to the contrary – especially in Trump’s Dis-United States of America.

But it’s a top show. Sponsored mainly by US organisations and gun, oil and cigarette industries, CPAC has deep ties to the Koch brothers. Our IPA, LibertyWorks and Advance Australia are also right behind the far right.

Augmenting top acts from Trump’s America is not only “Mr Brexit” nifty Nigel Farage, former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, introduced to the CPAC audience as “quite possibly” Britain’s next PM. Seriously?

“A snake”, hisses Nigel Farage attacking a straw man; a mythical Malcolm Turnbull who starts out all right but who engineers a serpentine leftist coup. The crowd cheers, thrilled by Nige’s Olympian detachment, halcyon objectivity and utter historical falsehood. Farage’s farrago of lies offers a ludicrous parody of the hapless captive of the right.

“Your Liberal party, your conservative movement was hijacked by the other side, taken over by Malcolm Turnbull, who pretended to be a conservative but actually turned out to be a snake.”

Wrong in fact and egregiously wrong in function, CPAC and its backers can stay at home in the USA in future. We don’t need to invite far right ideologues or neo-fascists or hate-speakers to Australia. We have enough of our own at home, already.

Nor do we need to kid ourselves that CPAC speakers are interested in debate. All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.

There is a world of difference between freedom of speech and being granted a licence to spread hate-speech. And the last thing our politicians need is to court the far-right or let themselves be used to legitimise your fear-mongering and your lies.

Forget the idea of a “multi-year, forever, project”. Once is way more than enough.

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“There Will Be No Comment Whatsoever, But Let Me Just Say This…”

Image from smh.com.au

Image from smh.com.au

 

“If people coming here by boat are “illegal” and need to be locked up indefinitely, then when our navy entered Indonesia waters, were they also “illegal” and at risk of being arrested and locked up indefinitely?”

Comment on Facebook

Ok, it’s totally over the top to suggest that the Indonesian Navy will attempt to intercept and detain Australian boats who are breaching their sovereignty. I mean, if a boat “accidentally strayed” into our territorial waters, we’d just ignore it wouldn’t we, unless it was full of people who may want to live here. An armed ship from another country, on the other hand, wouldn’t need permission and we’d all be relaxed and comfortable with that.

No, the Facebook comment was a silly as Kevin Rudd when he said that there would be Konfrontasi:

KEVIN RUDD: If the ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in Australia says that the policy of the government of Indonesia is not one which would faintly support the policy put forward by Mr Abbott, and secondly if Mr Abbott as prime minister then seeks to do that, you end up with a pretty robust diplomatic conflict and I become a little uncertain as to where that heads.

As Paul Kelly said in The Australian at the time:

Rudd’s reference to past conflicts and invoking Konfrontasi during the 1960s, when Australian forces were involved against Indonesia, is extraordinary. Making these remarks just days before Rudd’s anticipated visit to Indonesia for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is even more extraordinary.

Even when he clarified his remarks, Rudd still said that while he was referring to “diplomatic conflict” he was always wary about where diplomatic conflicts could lead.

He said that confrontation with Indonesia evolved over a “set of words” and “turned into something else”.

Yep, it sure looks like Rudd was playing politics and not giving an accurate prediction of what might happen when you allegedly have a PM who approaches things with all the sensitivity of the proverbial bull in the china shop.

Now, I know that some of you think that there’s a bit of a contradiction between Abbott standing in front of a board with the number of boat arrivals prior to the election and deciding that releasing information afterwards would “help the people smugglers”.

There is a clear difference. But unfortunately, it’s an “operational matter” and therefore can’t be released. The Abbott Government have a clear unequivocal policy of not commenting on “operational matters”. Operational matters include anything our navy has done and any questions a journalist may ask.

Operational matters does not include denials of any accusations. Operational matters only include things that have happened, not things that haven’t happened. So, if for example, the navy is accused of firing warning shots, we can be told that it DIDN’T happen. Examples of this include asylum seekers not being ill-treated, shots not being fired and boats not arriving for a couple of weeks in the monsoon season. Another example is when we wish something hadn’t happened – like when our “assets” accidentally stray into Indonesia. It’s ok to comment on that by either saying that it didn’t happen, or later on, we wish that it hadn’t happened, which is practically the same thing. However, if someone suggests that a boat slipped through unnoticed, that’s an operational matter because it DID happen and, therefore, can’t be commented on.

Now that doesn’t mean that one should presume that every time the government refuses to comment that the thing in question has occurred. Sometimes, Scott Morrison genuinely won’t have the answer.

Examples of questions to which Scott Morrison has no answer:

  1. “What is your strategy if the current policy fails to stop the boats?”
  2. “Why did you disband the advisory group of doctors?”
  3. “Are the allegations that glasses, prosthetics, hearing aids and medications have been confiscated from asylum seekers in detention?”
  4. “How much profit does SERCO make from asylum seekers? And is anyone on the Audit Committee connected with SERCO?”
  5. “How do you reconcile your treatment of asylum seekers with your Christian values?”
  6. “What is the justification for boarding boats in international waters before they’ve actually entered Australia’s territorial waters?”
  7. “How many politicians dye their hair?”
  8. “Is Christopher Pyne considering plastic surgery, and if not, why not?”

Scott Morrison should not, of course, be expected to answer these questions.

Neither should he be expected to answer any questions which will jeopardise our attempts to stop the boats. And, of course, any question which demonstrates a failure of policy by the government would do just that.

So, there’ll be absolutely no comment from the Government about the boats arriving or anything connected to “Operation Sovereign Borders” (that’s ours, not Indonesia’s). Apart from telling us when no boats arrive, of course. Or when the navy gets lost and ends up in Indonesia.* If they don’t say that boats have arrived, however, we can’t presume that there have been boats arriving – that would be speculating about “operational matters” which would be counter-productive.

Best not to think about it, and just accept that Abbott and Co have it all under control.

*This is probably – like the spying incident – Abbott taking the blame for something that’s Labor’s fault. Obviously, the GPS tracking system was purchased by Kevin Rudd from the $2 shop and this explains why it didn’t work.

Why I’m happy that Tony Abbott is PM!

Photo: ABC Net

Photo: abc.net.au

At various times over the past few years, I’ve felt enormously frustrated. Not just on social media and reading comments on some of Murdoch’s Media Sites, but listening to the garbage that people have written and said about the Labor Government.

I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool, Labor forever lefty as anyone who disagreed with me wanted to suggest – I even voted for Fraser in 1975 – so it’s wrong to dismiss me as someone who’d justify the ALP whatever they did. But that seemed to be what happened any time I defended anything that the Labor Government was doing.

Over the past few years, I’ve read such wonderful things as:

“It’s time we had something similar to Fox News in Australia to give the shameless ABC propaganda some balance”

And

“the labor morons have a complete disliking for any persons that have had success in their lives, they cannot understand that 1=1=3”.

One of the pages on Facebook was called “Direct Democracy” and was arguing that citizens should have the right to call an elected government back to the polls if 15,000 people signed a petition. This was particularly ironic given the fact that one of the site’s administrators was David Flint – a staunch monarchist. Another point of irony was that it used a drawing of senators in ancient Greece as its profile picture! Ancient Greece – where democracy was born, but women and slaves weren’t allowed to vote!

Naturally, its followers were of the opinion that not only had Gillard lied about the Carbon tax, but she was lying about the whole climate change thing. It was a UN conspiracy to enable world government AND Australia was going it alone and no other country was introducing a carbon tax AND the carbon taxes in other countries – which, in the space of two comments, now had them – were much lower than Australia’s. Lately, however, it seems to have dropped this concept of citizens being allowed to demand an election, preferring to complain about Paul Keating and suggesting that people want the cane reintroduced to Queensland schools. (Personally, I think that there’s a much better case to introduce it for Queensland voters! Although, it seems that many of them must enjoy that sort of thing given how overwhelmingly they voted for the Newman Government).

When Abbott was first elected, I was concerned. I was afraid that the Murdoch Press would continue to present his failings as insignificant, to magnify any minor achievement and to continue to present him as the strong man (as opposed to a “weak” woman, but then a “strong” woman is just unnatural, so ain’t it great that a real bloke is back in charge, but don’t call us sexist, you politically correct parrots!).

I imagined day after day when I’d have to listen to the gloating of Liberal lackeys who possessed less grace than the Australian Cricket Team after a night out celebrating. I worried about my blood pressure. I was concerned about keeping my temper in check.

But I’ve found the past few weeks surprisingly calming. Oh, for sure, there are things I find appalling. I worry for the future. And I’m sure that as time passes, I will start to shout at the TV again. However, so far, Abbott has given me more laughs than an episode of “The Chaser”. I’m finding it hard to actually believe that he’s PM – as I’m sure he does from time to time – and it’s like watching a re-write of “Yes, Prime Minister” with an Australian setting, and a less sympathetic main character.

Great comic moments include:

His trip to Indonesia, where he apologised for just about everything, followed a few weeks later with his lack of an apology, because we’re not admitting to tapping anyone’s phone and anyway, everyone does it.

Julie Bishop saying that she wasn’t commenting on anything that involved intelligence.

Hockey’s attempt to increase the debt limit by 66%.

Pyne – “We discovered that they didn’t sign anything, so we’re starting the education reforms from scratch”! Actually, just about anything Pyne does makes me laugh. Watching him with the sound down makes me think that I’m watching new episodes of Mr Bean.

Morrison – “There were no unaccompanied minors sent overseas because we thought they were older”! Try that one in court! (No, really, it deserves a trial).

Browyn Bishop – first the idea that she’d restore “dignity” to the role of Speaker, then her ruling that “Electricity Bill” wasn’t a nickname, it was a description.

Barnaby Joyce – our own Basil Fawlty.

So, it’s my turn when smug Liberals point out that they won the election to say, “No, you didn’t – you got less first preferences than Labor and it’s only when you add the National’s vote that you get there and we all know that parties shouldn’t form coalitions! And now, thanks to Tony, no objective person can say that the recent Labor was the worst government ever”.

Coalition Treachery Cannot Stand

 

coalitionOpinion:

As reported recently in various news outlets, including The Age and recounted here at AIMN by correspondent Rossleigh, it is the Coalition’s intention to hand over decisions regarding the provision of information about Asylum Seeker boat arrivals to the military.

”That will be an operational decision, as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, for the three-star military officer,” Mr Morrison said.  ”I don’t think those decisions should be put in the hands of politicians … I think those decisions should be made by implementation officers and I’m quite happy to trust a three-star military officer of our armed forces.”

I don’t especially care who you are prepared to trust, Mr Morrison.  What matters is who the Australian people are prepared to trust.  More to the point, why the hell is “trust” being mentioned at all?

The more you toss the word around, the more concerned I become.  Whenever someone says, “trust me” you have to automatically wonder why.  Usually, it means something is being withheld.

As things stand, under Labor, we are privy to all pertinent information regarding boat arrivals.  That is how it should be.  How can the population possibly make any informed decisions regarding public policy without information?

You are deliberately taking this whole matter, an explicitly humanitarian matter out of the public’s hands.  That is utterly unacceptable.  Your agenda is clear enough.  You want to “solve” the issue by neatly removing it from public view.  Out of sight, out of mind.

But it is nothing less than scandalous to attempt to remove the public’s ability to have an informed opinion about anything a Government is doing.   You are seeking to exclude the Australian public from the political process.

I can already hear the words “We cannot release details of operational matters.” resounding in my head.  I assure you, lots of Australians aren’t naive enough to think that a conversation about this hasn’t already taken place between the Coalition and General Three Stars.

Lots of Australians are not naive enough to be unaware that every moment of the development of Coalition refugee policy has been an orchestrated affair aimed at making the problem magically disappear.

It was bad enough when you started characterising this human tragedy as an issue of “border security”.  It got worse when you militarised our entire response to it.  But to now go further and hide the thing under the cloak of a pseudo-military campaign is idiotic and gratuitous.

Make no mistake, that is what you’re doing and we know it.  You have effectively declared war on persons seeking asylum.  You have effectively put us on a war footing.

What is it about Conservatives that makes them unable to function unless they’re waging war against someone?  The procedures and approach you are proposing, and what you have already set down as policy, is taking us down the path of turning Papua New Guinea into our own version of Guantanamo Bay.

Now, you may complain that the analogy is hyperbolic, but the parallels are there.  You have consistently sought to dilute the legal rights of Asylum Seekers in direct contravention of established International laws and conventions.  You now seek to cloud this whole matter in secrecy.  You have expressed a preparedness to not only ignore International law and convention but to go so far as to remove this Nation from its status as a signatory to them.  No, my analogy is perfectly reasonable.

In my view, this is nothing less than treachery.  It cannot stand.  This alone is reason enough not to vote for the Coalition.  But more than that it speaks to a philosophy that will inform everything the Coalition would do in Government.

That philosophy is one that will send shivers down the spines of any Queenslander old enough to remember.  It is the philosophy of, “Don’t you worry about that.”

Well, as it turned out under Joh Bjelke Peterson we had a great deal to be worried about and the same applies here.  It’s a breathtakingly patronising, contemptuous and condescending attitude.  You use the language of fear and emergency in an attempt to manipulate the minds of the electorate.

You know if you speak and act in such a way as to make people feel insecure, they will turn to those who offer them security.  In such a situation you know you’ll get away with almost anything and that people will set aside natural humanitarian impulses, not to mention reason itself.  There is, it must be said, no word in the English language that comes close to properly describing how deeply disgusting that behaviour is.

But perhaps I’m being unfair.  Perhaps you really believe in what you’re doing and saying.  Perhaps rather than disingenuous, you are just plain imbecilic.  Either way, Australians suffer for it.

Sick of hearing about those bloody boat people – Scott Morrison has the answer!

 

“Australians may never know how many asylum-seeker boats arrive under a Coalition government, with opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison refusing to release details about boat arrivals without the approval of a three-star general.

The Coalition has previously said it would appoint a three-star military officer to command a joint taskforce, which will include some 12 government agencies.”  The Age

Some Balance for those complaining that this site doesn’t present the “Right” perspective.

Well, that’s one way of eliminating the problem of “illegal arrivals” – note we kept get into trouble for calling them “illegal immigrants” so we don’t do THAT anymore – we won’t let you know how many there are. That way, you won’t be troubled by them apart from when they cause traffic jams and make hospital waiting times longer because they keep jumping the queue.

From our pamphlet

“We will deliver stronger borders – where the boats are stopped – with tough, proven measures.”

So you see we don’t need to give you actual numbers. We said that this election was about TRUST. And if you vote us in, you can trust us. If you don’t vote us in, we can’t trust you. It’s a contract.

Speaking of contracts, there’s been a scare campaign from Labor saying that we’d re-introduce WorkChoices. Abbott said on a number of occasions that WorkChoices is dead and buried. He doesn’t believe in resurrections, apart from when he’s talking about his Christian beliefs and no-one ever suggested that WorkChoices was Christian. So you won’t hear us mention the name WorkChoices ever again.

Although there is a need for greater productivity in Australia. One of our first acts in Government will be to come up with a name for something that increases productivity which doesn’t sound like WorkChoices or Fightback. Perhaps, we’ll have a competition. We like competition.

Labor’s been using a lot of scare campaigns in this election – things like pointing out that Hockey will be Treasurer or that some of our policies will take money from people. We may cut the Schoolkids Bonus, but ultimately you’ll be better off when your kids quit school to work in the mines. And think of the money they’ll save without a HECS debt!

Our policies are consistent and costed. We have the back of the envelope in Joe’s top pocket for anyone who wants to see it. Our NBN and education policy are pretty much the same – if that’s all Grandpa needed when he was growing up, that’s all we need today.

So make sure you vote for us so that you don’t have to hear about boat arrivals and incompetent government. There won’t be a word of criticism about us in any paper. And everything we farm out to the private sector will be commercial in confidence, while Government departments will all be subject to the official secrets act.

And we’ll stop Labor’s waste. I’m sure that you must have received our advertising material. We sent it to every voter at least four times.

Trust Tony. It’s your choice. For now.

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