Nacht und Nebel

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Fifty days ago, the Australian electorate blinked, and chose a Coalition government led by Mr Abbott – devout Catholic, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford Blue, sometime journalist, advisor to former LOTO Dr Hewson, exercise junkie, father of “not bad-looking daughters”, self-proclaimed political offspring of Mrs Bronwyn Bishop and Mr John Howard – a man who counts among his political and spiritual mentors B. A. Santamaria and Cardinal Pell.

The government as a whole, and Mr Abbott in particular, are deeply indebted to two powerful individuals, Mr Rupert Murdoch, and Mrs Gina Rinehart. The debt owed by the new Federal government and prime minister to Mr Murdoch in particular is extraordinary, and is most likely to be paid through the sale hand-over of the NBN and, possibly, the privatisation or abolition of the ABC. Mrs Rinehart’s rewards are the repeal of the MRRT, the “liberalisation” of 457 visas to enable the employment of ever-cheaper labour in her mines, and an open-slather approach to exploration and mining, maybe even in national parks, and to coal seam gas fracking. After all, what else is the environment for?

So, what has the new government achieved over the past 50 days?

  • Abolished the Climate Commission.
  • Sacked three departmental heads.
  • Sacked the NBN Board.
  • Announced the privatisation of Medibank Private.
  • Appointed the head of a major business union to chair the Commission of Audit which also includes (gaia help us) Ms Amanda Vanstone. Mr Tony Shepherd also chairs a company that has substantial contracts with the Commonwealth.
  • Announced a witch-hunt judicial enquiry into the Rudd Government’s home insulation scheme.
  • Cut disaster relief payments in the middle of major bushfires in New South Wales.
  • Denied any possible connexion between bushfires and climate change.
  • Released draft legislation to repeal the MRRT, which also (among other things) repeals
    1. – the schoolkids’ bonus
      – the low-income tax superannuation contribution
      – geothermal exploration provisions.

    Then, and worryingly, are

    1. The increased demonisation of asylum seekers arriving by boat by requiring the Immigration Department and detention centre staff to call them “illegal arrivals” and “detainees”,
    2. The militarisation of border protection, which is the excuse for
    3. Attempts to restrict information about the arrival of asylum seekers, and their movement to and from various places of detention.

    What we are witnessing is an attempt – by shutting down sources of information, whether they are bodies like the Climate Commission, or reports in real time of boat arrivals – to keep Australians ignorant of the real state of affairs, and ultimately and as soon as possible to silence dissent. How long will it be before there is federal legislation of the type Queensland Attorney-General, Mr Bleijie, released two weeks ago – legislation that has the potential to control what people wear, what music they listen to, maybe even what books they read and films they see? How long will it be before all Australian courts are effectively instructed to do as they are told by the government that – in Mr Newman’s words – they should come down from their ivory towers and make decisions in line with community expectations?

    Silencing dissent sounds to me very like Mussolini’s third principle of fascism:

    1.”Everything in the state”. The Government is supreme and the country is all-encompasing, and all within it must conform to the ruling body, often a dictator.
    2.”Nothing outside the state”. The country must grow and the implied goal of any fascist nation is to rule the world, and have every human submit to the government.
    3.”Nothing against the state”. Any type of questioning the government is not to be tolerated. If you do not see things our way, you are wrong. If you do not agree with the government, you cannot be allowed to live and taint the minds of the rest of the good citizens.

    Prime Minister Abbott has made it clear time and time again that he will not brook questions, he will not brook debate, he will not brook dissent. He is, as Jeff Sparrow points out, a cultural warrior par excellence. He has no compunction about establishing the slush fund, ”Australians for Honest Politics”, that resulted in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that he might act in a similar way to anyone who dissents, disagrees, or differs? It may seem ridiculous in 21st century Australia even to ask such a question. However …

    … remember,

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    Remember Argentina in 1966, Chile in 1973, Germany in 1933.

    Nacht und Nebel has happened before, and will again unless we heed Martin Niemöller’s words:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

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    Phantasmagorical Friday Raffles

    Maybe we are living in a dream existence.

    124765And it’s all just a Bad Dream

    bad-dream_editedThat this idiot is our PM.

    Abbott NSW BurnsAlas not. He is. So time for a kick along

    download (13)Raffles are on again as usual

    images (25)

    And there is  a poll below to start deciding who we will donate the the proceeds to. Thanks to all pubsters that generously donated their winnings to the pool.

    After we decide the general idea then we will get down to specifics.

    Have a great night and good luck.

    WHEN?

    It’s been the hottest October on record, and the subject of Global Warming is still taboo, perhaps even more so than before.

    Instead we get political mechanics trying to gloss over the bleedin’ obvious: the Earth doesn’t give a damn about Newspoll, wedge issues, or pundits opinions about who’s won the 24 hour news cycle.

    For God’s sake, if it’s not appropriate at this time to discuss the core issues at the heart of Climate Change and Global Warming, WHEN will it be?

    Bushfire Victims

    Mark Kenny today managed to write 1,000 words on repealing carbon pricing without once mentioning why it’s there: global warming.

    Here’s what it’s really about, in Kenny’s estimation (and he’s not alone in this):

    * Abbott taunts Shorten for being a pragmatist;
    * Look what happened to the Libs because of Work Choices;
    * Mutterings in the ranks;
    * Irresistable mandates;
    * Carbon pricing is unfashionable, the Carbon War has been fought and lost;
    * The polls;
    * Electricity will be cheaper;
    * Something to do with Peta Credlin;
    * The Libs will let you keep the compensation…

    Kenny Yada

    … everything but

    * The Earth is warming at a catastrophic rate and millions will die if we don’t wake up and do something meaningful.

    When Kenny refers to the “Carbon War”, he doesn’t mean the battle against global warming. Nothing so noble as that.

    He means some obscure political numbers shitfight, some argument about who’s wedged who, some ill-informed dross concerning $100 dollar roasts, business profits, faction fighting, opinion polls and biased, wilfully obtuse political hackery masquerading as “commentary” like his own, backed by billionaires with an anarchist, all-mining, no-government agenda.

    Faced with really, really important stuff like the above, mere rising temperatures around the world don’t get a look-in.

    He seems to think Global Warming is a policy issue that’s old-fashioned, been done to death, so “yesterday”, now that his hero Tony Abbott is in charge.

    Is Abbott going to solve the problem of Global Warming through sheer willpower? Is he going to, maybe, embarrass the Earth into going off the boil simply because he’s a conviction politician? Or because he plays dressups as a Firey?

    Abbott NSW Burns

    It’s all politics, all calculation, all polls and wedges and numbers, and worse…. the “look of things”.

    This is the world of Mark Kenny and his ilk. Everything is distilled down to who’s up who, no matter the gravity of the core policy.

    It’s interesting that Kenny writes for the SMH. He’s touted as their “Chief Political Correspondent”.

    The SMH editorialized in favour of a vote for Labor in the election, in great part because of their ETS policy, stating that action on Global Warming was vital for both our nation’s future and that of the world.

    Kenny doesn’t seem to have received the message.

    “Earth calling Mark. Pick up the phone!”

    To reduce action on Global Waring to a sequence of wedges, numbers, polls, and phoney mandates – without any mention of the core issue – shows just where political commentary has gotten to.

    Reading Kenny’s article you’d have thought that the bushfires raging at the moment (and due to flare up again next week) had not happened. You could have been forgiven for thinking that the Artcic ice wasn’t melting at record rates. Or that more droughts and cyclones – the product of wildly raging weather – weren’t forecast for this summer. You’d have to believe the IPCC report was just another opinion, mostly wrong, because someone, somewhere found a comma out of place in a leaked draft copy.

    He’s not alone in this.

    Bushfires

    To Kenny, and to most political commentators, everything can be reduced to interactions between humans.

    Petty squabbles, shitfights over political corners, hair-splitting arguments over who said what first. and gotchas… endless gotchas… like the one where Climate scientists are slagged off because they can’t make up their minds whether Global Warming means more droughts or more rain.

    It means BOTH, dummies.

    You can sort-of understand the Kenny attitude… politics takes little note of reality. It’s all about spin, appearances and politicians behaving in the way that political commentators believe they should behave. There’s a sort of science to it… polls are its metrics, and political opinion writers interpret the polls.

    But opinionistas also affect the polls. They seed them with their casual negligence in addressing what’s behind policy.

    How else could a competent government, one of achievement, like Gillard’s, be written off, almost from the get-go, in ignorance of all its legislative and policy achievements, as dysfunctional? This is a particularly pertinent question given the parlous state the House was in – a hung parliament – balanced on a knife’s edge, when every sitting day could have been its last.

    drop of water

    Take a look at a simple  drop of water…

    You can see beauty and wonderful light, the world refracted through a tiny amount of clear liquid. You see cohesiveness – surface tension keeps it all together in simple, yet amazing harmony.

    Or you can look at it through a microscope. It will be teeming with life, raging in battle, microbe against microbe in a ceaseless, yet pointless war of attrition.

    The latter view is closer to how political commentators see politics. If there is calm they look for conflict. If there is established fact – scientifically proven, grave and threatening – they seem to believe that mere opinion (theirs or someone else’s) is enough to outweigh, even totally obscure that fact.

    At its most trivial we see the endless He-said/She-said battle in the media. At its worst we get columns like Kenny’s today.

    I assume Kenny has kids, or relatives that he cares about.

    But you wouldn’t know it from reading his pieces, especially this one.

    He has reduced the entire problem, the looming catastrophe of Global Warming to a simple matter of interactions between puny humans in suits, wedging, polling on, and arguing with each other.

    It’s as if Global Warming is just some kind of abstract political problem, a game, something for Kenny and his nodding pals on the political panel shows to write about, agree with each other, and show-off how well-connected they are , by quoting insiders, polls, and disputed theories of what the words “political” and  “mandate” mean.

    He would no doubt argue that politics is “The Art Of The Possible” or some similar cliche. Or, alternatively, that he is a political correspondent, not a “science” correspondent. That, of course, is true. But where is Kenny’s humanity, especially in this week where hundreds of families have lost everything due to un-seasonal bushfires, the product of record shattering high temperatures?

    I wonder if he would have been so sanguine and cynical today if it had been his house that was burnt to the ground yesterday?

    Winmalee Bushfire 2

    It’s not even summer, where the real high temperatures will most likely create more misery and loss, yet all Kenny can waffle on about is some game – a zero sum game at that – that political tragics and hard-bitten numbers men examine in minutae, as if it was that teeming, microbial war being fought inside that tiny drop of water.

    Yes, it is a war, but it doesn’t matter a hill of beans compared to what will happen if we don’t get off our collective arses and, as the World’s chief per capita polluters, as well as its richest ones, do something meaningful about Global Warming to show the other nations an example of real repentance, not the phoney Abbott version that is all short-term point scoring and semi-religious bunkum.

    As long as political pundits – and politicians – treat Global Warming as an economic, or worse, a purely political problem – a matter of political science, rather than real science – one that determines who can remain in office sucking perks off the public tit while the World fries and millions are devastated, we will make little progress in combatting it.

    It’s time for the core argument to be made. As Wendy Harmer puts it (ironically in the same edition of the same newspaper):

    Is this what the future is like??
    Whether or not it’s unseemly for Greens politicians to raise the spectre of future cataclysmic climate change when bushfires are still raging out of control, there’s no doubt that many of us who looked up to bruised and belligerent skies swirling with ash and a drift of incinerated gum leaves had to wonder, ”is this what the future will be like”?

    Yes, well, it will be what the future is like as long as Global Waring is seen not as the greatest disaster-in-waiting, if an entirely avoidable one, that humanity faces today.

    It will be what the future is like as long as the Mark Kennys and the Tony Abbotts of this world see it is just another wedge issue.

    It will be what it is like if we fail to listen to the drumbeat of impending catastrophe and instead, like empty vessels, make a lot of noise about petty, political machinations that will do nothing at all to stop Global Warming and everything possible to hasten our doom as a species.

    The case needs to be argued on its merits. It needs to be argued without excuses or apology, and in defiance of the the hecklers who tell us that it’s never the right time to do so.

    Cyclone Yasi

    By their logic, the more bushfires and droughts and cyclones that hit us, the less appropriate it is to discuss the core issue.

    This is the ridiculous line of argument that gives gun nuts in America almost free reign to spread their vile implements of death everywhere, even into schools and churches… and parliaments: people are grieving, don’t upset them even more. It’s impolite, so insensitive.

    Labor should quit the useless He-said/She-said bits-and-pieces arguments about percentage points and inflation increments. It should abandon the stupid “electricity bills” argey bargey and the futile attempts to pull Direct Action to pieces by criticising its individual elements. There’ll always be someone to counter these lines of argument with more minutae, more belly fluff that gets a run in the papers, yet signifies nothing.

    Yes, it’s a cliche, but what WILL we tell our children?

    What WILL other countries think of the morality and the urgency of battling climate change when the World’s worst climate offender, made rich by digging up polluting coal and selling it to other carbon addicts, abrogates responsibility for its own actions, and abandons the world to its fate, because the local political numbers were a bit dodgy?

    It’s a scary thought, but Kenny dares to dream.

    It’s time to come to the core of the matter: we either do something meaningful – and exemplary – to fight Global Warming, we force our politicians and our commentators to cease their obsessions with themselves and address matters of real an imminent concern… or we die.

    WHEN will it happen?

    It had better be soon.