Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pope Abbot and the Witch Burners

Tony Abbot and his gang of right-wing radio shock jocks, astro-turfers and Tea Party sourced PR consultants have declared all out war on the Gillard government, using the Carbon Tax as a woodpile to hold their own witchburning.

We know Abbot has never liked the idea of doing anything about climate change, but why is Pope Abbot now stoking the fires of his Liberal/National propagandists to such a degree against the Carbon Tax?

Is it because he wants the best for Australians? Is it because he wants to ensure a great future for the wide brown land? Is it even because his religious beliefs as a Catholic compel him to decry an atheist Prime Minister?

No, of course its because he wants to rule.

Check out this video I did a while back, as promo for the Imaginary Friends Show - a great podcast that pokes fun at religious types. The depiction of a witch burning reminded me so much of the image of Abbot above, that I just had to go and dig up the video and repost it here. What do you think? Abbot the Witch-finder Persuivant?

But seriously Abbot wants to pillory the Labour/Greens Carbon Tax not because he believes its bad policy but because his polluting big-industry backers have agreed to help him into government in a US style lobbying driven back room deal, and it is that which requires him to fan the flames of fear and loathing against the Carbon Tax. Abbot believes that he can use the Carbon Tax issue to generate enough heat and smoke to spark an election to get himself into power. But now that the blaze is taking hold just as the Carbon tax becomes law, he has no choice but to become even more strident.

Now I'm quite sure that Abbot also happens to believe that Climate Change is crap, and that therefore he has no problem personally getting on board with the anti-carbon tax fervour. I also think Tony would have no problem convincing himself that God wants him to teach that atheist red-head a thing or two, and that a nice little burning that the stake would fix her right up.

But that is not why he is turning this Liberal/National opposition into a medieval pogrom.

Now just before we go on and look at what is going on here, a brief look at the tax itself.

The first point is this: The Carbon Tax is on polluters. No member of the Australian public is going to pay a cent of carbon taxes into government coffers.

What Abbots scaremongers are relying on is that the big polluters once hit with the real costs of dumping their waste into the air we breathe will immediately pass on that cost to you and me - the Australian public.

So just before it gets completely lost - the polluters are going to hit us with these costs, not the government. There is nothing in the Carbon Tax legislation that says the polluters have to make us pay, its just that they have been making out like bandits for so long, its pretty much a certainty that the polluters will be making us pay, now that the jig is up for them.

Also - the fear, uncertainty and doubt being peddled about jobs is not a government mandate either. If these big fat-cats cannot make enough profit from their coal-mines and manufacturing plants, by slugging us with the additional costs once they can no longer pollute for free, the argument goes that they will have to sack workers.

Again - that is a matter for those industries. And as BHP has committed billions to expanding its CO2 producing operations rather than contracting, its very unlikely that the coal industry will be sacking anyone over the Carbon Tax, even without the massive payments that they are getting from government. If anyone gets the sack after the Climate Tax becomes law it will be because the polluters sacked them, not because the law mandated it. But it won't happen, because the government is already cutting most of these groups so much slack that it has had to go into the red on its Carbon Tax rates, just to get it to pass.

But that truth won't stand in the way of a good story for Pope Abbot and his torch-bearing mobs.

But my main question - and my reason for writing today - is that so far Abbot has been playing all sides of this table, at once buddying up with the extremists and at the same time peddling a much tamer line, whenever questioned on it.

Just to be clear, some of the people who are attending these rallies subscribe to a range of bizarre beliefs. They are supporters of movements that believe fervently that the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund are part of a conspiracy to bring down the great nation of the USA. They are people who believe, like Pauline Hanson who was also at the above pictured "grass roots" rally, that asian immigration is the source of all our woes. These people are nut jobs. Crazies. But if in between the craziness they will offer their clenched fist in the air along with the others in response to Tony's anti-climate tax call, then Abbot will be there with them.

So come on Tony, where do you actually stand? Are you going to stand with the mob you have created? Or will you denounce in the strongest terms the calls from your mob, for Gillard to be put to death for what you claim to be lies?

Let's start with just two easy questions for you Tony Abbot:

1) Do you or do you not claim that Gillard knowingly mislead the public about her intentions regarding the Carbon Tax?
2) Do you agree that John Howard is a liar for introducing a GST when he said he would not?

Tony, do you call every one who ever made a political backflip a liar? Remember a liar is someone who knowingly misleads. Did John Howard then knowingly mislead?

John Howard promised that there would be no GST, only to later introduce one. That is one of many "liberal lies", and then of course there are the outright lies - like the Children Overboard scandal.

Tony Abbot has never been a Prime Minister. But if he manages through some ghastly miscarriage of political justice to ride his manufactured wave of fear and hatred to the top, there is nothing surer that that he will be forced to make political compromises.

Of course Gillard's government has been forced to work with the Greens, lead by Bob Brown, and as a result introduce a Carbon Tax at this time. As we know both sides of politics are in agreement that Climate Change initiatives are essential, Labour has had policies on the issue for sometime, including the ones for an Emissions Trading Scheme which Kevin Rudd was planning to bring in and which spelled his political demise. However its almost certain that Labour would not have bought in anything like the Carbon Tax this early without the requirements of their agreements with the Greens when they formed government.

Malcolm Turnbull too was crucified in his political ambitions by his position on Climate Change policies.

But the thing is Abbot has never been forced to make a Climate policy actually work in government. He is thus able to stand back and make inflammatory statements, and align himself with the rabid right - whilst at the same time stepping back from extremist association when it looks as though he might take a penalty from centrist Liberal voters.

Abbot gets to play both ends of Liberal/National politics, pretending to be reasonable while at the same time currying support from the conspiracy theorists and climate denialists.

The problem Abbot has now is that he has unleashed attack dogs like Cory Bernardi who are pulling together any and all of the rabid right that will support the anti-carbon tax cause, regardless of whatever other crazy causes they also support, and also regardless of the methods they are willing to use. The death threats against Gillard and other extreme

This interview with Bernardi shows him quite unabashedly talking about his astro-turfing techniques:

In this image from the Daily Telegraph we see Abbot alongside "Chris" of CATA, yet another of Bernardi's cookie-cutter generated "citizens" websites.

As explained in the interview with Bernardi these websites are all cross-linked, as can be seen in this page from the CATA website, linking in turn to several other "grassroots" websites, including "".

The trouble is that Abbot is now - whether he likes it or not - being closely associated with these radical groups. Anti-jewish groups, conspiracy theorists, anti-foreigner, anti-islam and anti pretty-much-anything you can name are all jumping on the buses organised by Abbots astro-turfers. Now when Abbot stands on that stage and accepts the microphone, he is joining their causes as much as they are joining his.

Every day that Abbot fails to clearly and comprehensively denounce the death threats and hate-speech from his far-right rabble, he becomes more clearly associated with them.

The Abbot lynch mob is now trying to pressure MP's - especially the independents such as Rob Oakeshott - since the only way his tactics can succeed is to stop the Carbon Tax before it becomes law.

Like the GST, once it is seen that life goes on and the new tax is not the monster it is portrayed as, Abbott's hysterical cries will have lost all credibility.

Don't bring the worst of US politics to Australia Tony, we don't want it.