Empty Rhetoric: Obama’s BS On Climate Change

THE POLITICAL LEFT — internationally — is cock-a-hoop in the wake of a “deal” between China and the USA on climate change, announced last week by US President Barack Obama; far from isolating Australia, this arrangement will never even take effect, and far from achieving anything meaningful, it will disappear behind the shifting priorities of Chinese pragmatism and the reality that Obama has lost control of his own government.

I have continued to be deprived of the time I would like to post on this site over the past few days, and whilst I haven’t published anything I have certainly been keeping track of the goings-on at both the G20 summit in Brisbane and in politics generally; we will, I’m sure, touch on several of the “missed” issues as we move into the week.

But I wanted to comment on the “deal” on climate change that was announced late last week by Barack Obama, because it’s been some time (and distance) since such an unutterable pile of sanctimonious bullshit was last dumped on “believers” and the gullible and/or stupid — assuming, of course, those groups aren’t comprised of exactly the same people.

And in terms of the distance travelled since the last batch of comparable verbal diarrhoea was encountered, the name of a town called Copenhagen springs to mind.

I’m not going to pull apart the specifics of the promised deal; there is no need to do so, save to note that China and the President of the United States appear to have confirmed a framework of aspirational targets to enact swingeing cuts in global emissions, with China and the US ostensibly providing the world “leadership” that has been conspicuously absent, often demanded by the “believers,” and claimed for patent purposes by the Australian Labor Party and the Communist Party Greens in the form of a tax.

Rather, I simply wish to point out why this latest exercise in verbal defecation won’t even yield a solid stool, let alone emissions reductions, and anyone who accepts the announcement by Obama without a very big pinch of salt probably needs their heads read.

On the Chinese side, it has been a fashionable argument of the Left (and the Greens in particular) to observe that China has been closing down coal-fired power generation plants, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, and such an observation is correct.

But this characteristic and deliberately misleading half-truth neglects to add that the decommissioned coal-fired plants are being replaced by new, far larger plants (that also swallow tons and tons of coal) and being augmented by new nuclear power generation and hydro-electric capacity, too; far from reducing her energy footprint, China is rapidly and exponentially expanding it as it caters to the energy consumption needs of a modernising — and ballooning — new middle class comprising hundreds of millions of affluent Chinese.

To date, China has exhibited scant practical interest in emissions reduction, combating climate change, tackling global warming, or any of the other emotive watchwords of the Left.

The “science” of climate change — settled or not, depending on your view, and not even relevant on this occasion — has failed, if it is true at all, to curb or even alter the course of colossal industrialisation of Chinese industry, commerce, and consumption, and there is no reason to believe this will change.

What China does have a reputation for is pragmatism: pragmatism through the prism of its own interests and its own agenda, and this, I suspect, is where the “deal” announced by Obama comes into play.

After all, China has faced relentless criticism and sustained political pressure from the global Left on this issue; what better circumstance in which to strike a “deal” could it wish for than with someone who currently stands in the shoes of Barack Obama?

A big hint that this “deal” is nothing more than a partisan political stunt (agreed to by the Chinese for reasons of pure and understandable expediency) was glaringly evident from the start; the USA and China may very well be the two biggest emitters in the world, but the complete absence from the structure of the agreement of any of the others — India, the EU, the UK, Russia, or the developing bloc in South America — somewhat tarnishes the glittering light in which the “deal” was presented.

But Obama, with two years remaining on his presidential term, can do little more than talk.

Already unable to control the US House of Representatives, his Democratic Party was brutalised in mid-term elections last week that saw it also lose control of the US Senate; consequently, Obama is — to use the American vernacular — a lame duck in every sense of the word.

In practical terms, it means Obama can promise whatever he likes, but unless it’s something he is able to decree by the Executive Orders he has proven so enamoured with during the past six years, his initiatives will never see the light of day: and anything that radically targets climate change — a subject viscerally detested by the energised Republicans who now operate the levers of legislative government in the USA — will be bitterly and ruthlessly savaged by his opponents.

It is all well and good that the G20 summit in Brisbane has concluded with the issuing of a communique that pledges constituent nations to “support strong and effective action to address climate change;” these are mere words, and whether you fit the “believer” or “sceptic” approach to climate change, they will amount to precisely nothing.

The Chinese, for their part, can hardly be blamed for signing up to Obama’s plan; after all, with a complete inability on the US side to deliver, they will be held accountable for nothing by doing so.

And if a Republican wins the White House in November 2016 — which is a distinct possibility, with Jeb “the competent one” Bush increasingly likely to seek his party’s nomination — this “deal,” announced with such fanfare, will quietly cease to exist at all.

Which, frankly, is as it should be.

I’m not passing any judgements on the merits or otherwise of what the agreement sought to achieve; merely to note that far from the big win the lunar Left thought it had scored, it is nothing more than an empty, empty promise.

What it was, however, was a flagrant play at partisan politics.

Far from isolating Australia, the “deal” probably makes the Abbott government’s Direct Action plan look good (or at least, to look better than it otherwise would); after all, doing something, however spurious, is better than doing nothing more than talking.

And with the darling of the American “moderate Left,” Hillary Clinton, seeming more likely than not to stand against (we presume) Jeb Bush in 2016, there is a clear vested interest for Obama to pump up the hot button issues US Democrats crow about at election time, but rarely — if ever — deliver on.

Obama can hardly crow about healthcare, employment, education, welfare reforms or the state of the US budget deficit: after six years as President (and too long to keep blaming George W. Bush), these are all signature failures of a regime seemingly obsessed with European-style socialism and the unproductive sovereign debt levels that accompany it.

And he can hardly claim to have been a successful President in international affairs when the Cold War has all but resumed on his watch, with Russia emboldened by his policies of strategic disarmament and the perception that if push came to shove, Obama would do nothing.

Just like the annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian-orchestrated insurgency in Ukraine have been met with little meaningful response.

And elsewhere in the world, and particularly in those areas in which America traditionally prides itself on its influence in the Middle East and Asia, the number and scope of dangerous flashpoints have exploded on his watch as President.

Hence the grandiose rhetoric and posturing on climate change, and this “deal,” from Obama: just about the only agenda item in the Democratic manifesto his administration has singularly failed to bugger up thus far.

Nobody ought to believe for a moment that “progress” has been made on climate change this week, if that’s what they are looking for: it hasn’t.

And far from being hailed as a hero and a man of principle, this “deal” of Obama’s should be examined in context of the spectacular failings of his administration and the failure he has been as President, and the tacky attempt to reset US Democratic politics in Clinton’s favour by using this incendiary hot-button issue in an international setting when his own domestic political shortcomings now dictate he can deliver absolutely nothing.

This is empty rhetoric, delivering an empty promise, premised on little more than hot air and bullshit.

But Obama has made a political career from these attributes for years, so it ought to surprise no-one.

It should, however, make plenty of people who “believe” — in both Obama and in climate change — very angry indeed.

And when all is said and done, China — in agreeing with Obama — can hardly be blamed for it.

 

Is Vladimir Putin Welcome At The G20 Meeting In Brisbane?

WITH THE G20 SUMMIT scheduled to take place in Brisbane next month drawing closer, increased debate about whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin should attend (or is even welcome) seems to reveal Australian attitudes that are split on the question. I agree that Putin is unwelcome. But I also believe he should attend, and not simply on account of notions of “inclusion” or exposure to the leader of another major world economy.

Quite a brief post from me this morning; I’ve been a bit waylaid these past few days as readers will have noticed, but I think — given this particular issue has not merely resurfaced, but will probably persist over the next month — that we should give it some attention.

I have noticed in The Australian this morning that the paper’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan has published a terse, succinct and blunt piece arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be “welcomed into Australia for any reason on any pretext” in the aftermath of the murderous crime that blew a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 out of the sky above Ukraine, killing dozens of Australians in the process.

Here in this column, we too have given this obscene atrocity a great deal of consideration. Those who wish to recap can access a selection of relevant articles via this link.

I have been consistent in my condemnation of Russia and of Vladimir Putin; his excuses and obfuscations and rationalisations do not justify Russia’s culpability — nor absolve it of responsibility — over the slaughter by separatist insurgents of hundreds of people, including Australians, using armaments made and supplied by Russia for the express purpose of killing civilians.

And I agree with Sheridan that Putin is not welcome in Australia.

Yet despite my past suggestions that Russia be completely excluded from the civilised system of world affairs, I think he should attend the G20 summit in Brisbane; far from a show of embracing Russia, or extending it an olive branch, I think the Russian President should be encouraged to come here to face off with the international partners so rightly enraged by his conduct.

Putting the heat on Putin over his (and his country’s) refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions will be an apt activity in the middle of a notoriously uncomfortable Brisbane summer; and with a throng of world leaders in attendance — all bristling with outrage over the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines jet — there is one forum in which Putin should be made to feel obliged to show his face.

Simply stated, the Russian leader should be corralled into a room with his counterparts and told, in no uncertain terms, that unless his country publicly accepts the blame for what transpired in Ukrainian airspace and makes some genuine attempt to redress the terrible mistake it made, then “exclusion” is precisely what Russia can look forward to from a huge proportion of the international community.

Our own Prime Minister, Tony Abbott — who, with the forceful and eloquent Julie Bishop at his side, has led the international response to the MH17 incident — is more than suited to lead a terse international rebuke of the Russian leader, behind locked doors, and on his own turf to boot.

This is the conversation Putin has studiously avoided ever since the disaster occurred.

Yes, such a course of action is replete with risk: after all, Russia is brimming with nuclear weapons, and has made barely veiled threats to use them if confronted militarily; some will argue there is no point, literally, in “poking the bear.”

But the West has made the mistake of appeasing Putin too often and for too long as it is, with the end consequence to date of the mess in Ukraine and threats of military retaliation against any use of force there. The soft option has proven utterly useless. There is no point persisting with more of the same.

Administering a swift diplomatic boot up the backside might prove more productive, and whether it does or not, too many governments have spent too long tiptoeing around Putin trying not to offend him when they should have been more actively alert to what the forces associated with him were doing.

In the end, of course he should come here — and if the truth hurts, then so be it.

But after this exercise, he should then be sent packing; there is no need to offer Russia any input into decisions that will affect hundreds of millions of others when it shows no respect for the lives of ordinary people.

And if Putin doesn’t like that, then on the ride back to Brisbane Airport he can take his pick of the city’s Gateway Bridges, instruct his driver to stop at the top of it, and take the proverbial flying jump.

 

G20: Abbott’s ALP Critics Answered

BRIEFLY REVISITING an issue we discussed last week — namely, the outraged criticism of the Labor Party in the face of the fact Tony Abbott dared to allude to its uselessness as an economic manager at an international forum — someone with a better idea of the realities of such matters has returned fire; former Treasurer Peter Costello, who has more economic credibility than the entire ALP, has called the Labor attack for what it is.

I don’t intend to dwell long on this; to be sure, the intention here is really only to follow up on an issue we’ve discussed at length — and one which has generated a reasonable debate among readers.

Most will recall my response to the indignant criticisms levelled by Labor at the Prime Minister last week on account of the brief allusion he made to the previous government; some — here and in other forums — sought to ridicule my analysis, and in particular where knowledge of the previous government’s track record among our international trading partners is concerned.

I don’t pretend to know everything, and whilst the odd “whisper in my ear” backgrounds me to some of the issues I cover in this column, for the most part my calls are made purely on political instinct — which is why, whether I get those calls right or wrong, they usually appear here before they do so elsewhere.

Even so, my judgement — that Abbott’s mention of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government at the G20 was a signal to international colleagues who really already knew the truth of that outfit too well — appears to have drawn support from perhaps the most credible quarter in Australia, with Peter Costello arguing many of the same points in his weekly column today for the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

I’m not going to drill into this too far; those who missed my earlier piece can access it through the link above, and I think everyone who makes it that far should check out Costello’s article from the Murdoch press. His remarks carry the clout of somebody who actually ran the system — for 12 years, brilliantly, putting Australia on the soundest footing it has enjoyed in decades — against the sniping and petty mudslinging of a party that managed to comprehensively trash that system in, literally, half the time.

For those who do not have time to read the Costello article in full, I draw attention to one key paragraph:

“Labor worked itself into a huff and pretended this was some international gaffe; that Abbott had no right to point out the previous government had woefully underperformed against the expectations it set itself. But Labor showed sensitivity, not sense. Does it really think other countries are ignorant of what has been going on in Australia? Does it think this is a closely guarded secret? Other nations know what has happened. What they are interested to know is whether it will change.”

I think that says it all.

I can dish it out and take it with the best of them, but the one thing I cannot abide is spivs and shysters from the ALP with their heads wedged so far up their own backsides in self-denial that the shit they talk actually starts to influence the gullible, the stupid, and those who really couldn’t care less.

To the boys over at the ALP: here’s your bone, fellas — go and tear Costello apart. You won’t get off quite so easily if you try it, methinks.

 

 

Davos, G20: On Economic Matters Labor Should Keep Very, Very Quiet

BRIEF REMARKS on domestic politics made by Tony Abbott at a forum of the G20 in Davos need to be kept in perspective; for the past six years, this country — through those who governed it — sent the rest of the world the message that Australia’s “miracle economy” was being trashed, and held out the prospect of sovereign risk to those who invested here. If Abbott wishes to drive home his “we’re open” message to a wider audience, so be it.

The tiresome, hypocritical, troublemaking rabble that the Labor Party has reduced itself to knows no low too low to steep to; not only does it deny any and all responsible for the mess it left others to clean up — or that a mess exists at all — but increasingly, it seems determined to stifle that clean up effort for reasons best known to itself. It lost the election last year, after all; one might expect the ALP to wait until after the tough elixir has been administered before trying to score political points from it.

By now, I think everyone knows that the Prime Minister touched, e’er briefly, on domestic political matters in his speech to the G20 today.

To some extent, he had to: this was his first address to the G20 both since assuming office and since Australia assumed the group’s rotating presidency. And whilst a little vision (as melodramatically demanded by opposition “leader” Bill Shorten) may be a nice thing on such an occasion, the reality is that the government still doesn’t know the exact scope of the budget problem it’s inherited, and thus precisely how to proceed as a result.

What it does know, however, is that Labor’s mining tax — despite raising two-tenths of diddlysquat in terms of revenue — sent a dreadful message to Australia’s trading partners, cruelling investment in mining and sending a shudder through other sectors, and signalling a very real prospect of sovereign risk to anyone prepared to invest here on Labor’s watch.

And what the leaders of the G20 countries and their economics ministers know — even if the rest of the world doesn’t glean this from their consumption of news media, and certainly if Australian voters don’t as a result of the best efforts of the ALP to hide it — is that the previous government chewed through close to half a trillion dollars in spending outlays, more than $300 billion of it now sitting on Australia’s balance sheet in debt to creditors, in an unprecedented exercise in pissing money up against a post with next to nothing to show for it.

What the Labor Party does not want Australians to know is that it acquired, through its “negotiations” to win Australia a seat on the United Nations Security Council, an international reputation for wanton profligacy, throwing money at delegates in the form of promises of “special aid” and other bribery, that did the image of the country no favours behind the closed doors of the very international partners Abbott was addressing.

What the Labor Party certainly does not want Australians to know is that it had 80 new taxes in various stages of development when it was thrown out of office: taxes designed to fund even more crazy and unrestrained spending had it been re-elected, but which would have pushed huge numbers of ordinary middle-class families into unsustainable financial territory.

And what it really doesn’t want Australians to know is the huge number of stalled trade and investment deals that were left on the table, mired in red tape, the benefits of which it comprehensively failed to deliver.

In this sense, comments by Abbott that “governments can be like addicts in search of a fix” and the allusion to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government using the Global Financial Crisis as a pretext to “change the rules and…spend our way to prosperity” are not simply appropriate or reasonable but importantly, were delivered to precisely the audience needing to know, and quickly, the attitude of Australia’s new government to its old where matters of economics and financial management are concerned.

Of course Wayne Swan — that petulant, odious, self-important brat who presided over virtually the entire debt and spending binge as Treasurer — would race out with a self-serving and moralising column in the Fairfax press to waffle on in his own defence.

And of course Shorten would paint Abbott’s speech as “embarrassing,” and he’s right: the track record of the last government was, to be sure, an international embarrassment; far from simply guiding Australia through the GFC six years ago, it went much, much further, squandering the handsome position it inherited and ultimately raising questions in international circles about Australia’s long-term direction.

Yes, that is embarrassing, Bill.

It’s just unfortunate that the real message at the heart of the Abbott speech — the need for developed countries to recommit to free trade with each other, and to refocus on removing trade barriers in the aftermath of the GFC rather than erecting new ones — was completely ignored by Shorten, Swan, and the rest of the shysters at the ALP who want to be taken seriously as candidates for government.

The irony is that in accusing Abbott of offering nothing, they have shown themselves utterly bereft of new ideas of their own.

And whilst Labor is unprepared to own the consequences of its own incompetence, it is happy to shoot the messenger who brings word of fundamental change in the way things are to be done.

The ALP has neither the moral authority nor any record of substance when it comes to economic matters, and not certainly those involving Australia’s international partners at the elite level the G20 represents.

It would better serve its own interests — and that of Australia — by keeping very, very quiet indeed.

 

Deadly Joke: Rudd Postures On Syria And G20

IF KEVIN RUDD — on the sham pretext of mock concern over the spiralling situation in Syria — goes to the G20 summit in Russia next week, it deserves to drive the final nail into his government’s coffin; grandstanding by Rudd will achieve nothing, and there is more at stake than his ego-obsessed image.

The problem with a pompous, egomaniacal, self-obsessed and narcissistic cretin is that he or she will typically turn up to the opening of an envelope; when that cretin is Kevin Rudd, there is no limit — or safeguard — on exactly what he might do.

Rudd has for months hankered after attending the G20 summit in St Petersburg on 5 September, ostensibly to accept the rotating presidency of the forum on Australia’s behalf: a jaunt he indicated, reluctantly, had been ruled out by the date of the imminent election.

However, word is circulating — in the aftermath of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on its citizens, and ahead of what seems a likely retaliatory military strike by the United States — that Rudd is again contemplating making the eleventh-hour trip.

And why? To avail the G20 of his particular talents and wisdom in the field of international diplomacy. Seriously.

(Those who haven’t been following the situation can get some background here and here).

I simply point out that at some point Rudd has got to either abandon this ridiculous pursuit of slaking of his ego, or have someone — the electorate on 7 September — do it for him.

One of the more fortuitous consequences of Labor’s increasingly likely defeat in nine days’ time is that this lunatic, with his penchant for traipsing around the world making a fool of both himself and this country, will be involuntarily restrained from ever doing so again in the name of the Commonwealth of Australia and/or its citizens.

Which is just as well, because what is going on in Syria at present is no joke.

Far from it.

For the first time in decades, the West (in the classic sense) — the US and its allies, such as the UK, France, and others — appear certain to militarily strike a country with close ties to and a deep alliance with Russia.

It is inarguable that any use of chemical weapons (or any other weapons of mass destruction, for that matter) represents a moral outrage and an absolute expression of human barbarism that cannot and should not go unpunished.

The problem is that Russia is sticking close to the besieged al-Assad regime in Syria; publicly, it denies that any use of chemical weapons has even taken place, and has given every indication thus far that it is prepared to defend its ally.

Ominously, Syria — along with Iran — was nominated by Russian Prime Minister Dimity Medvedev last year, when he was President, as a global flashpoint from which any military conflict could escalate into a nuclear war. We talked about this at the time.

This isn’t kid glove stuff, or a game; it’s real, earnest, and potentially lethal.

If there is any substance to the rumours that Rudd is considering using it as the pretext to attend at G20, I think fundamental questions must be asked of his suitability for office.

I don’t seriously think there is much likelihood of Russia responding to a Western attack on Syria with the use of nuclear weapons, just to be clear on the point.

But it has persistently and consistently warned of unspecified “catastrophic consequences” that would follow any US-led military strike on Syria; and over the past few years generally — and especially since the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin last year — the general tone of Russia’s communications with the West has grown decidedly more bellicose.

It is also well known that relations between Putin and Barack Obama are frosty, to say the least, and have been for some time.

None of this, of course, should dissuade the West from intervening; reliance on the United Nations Security Council — a forum long used by Russia and China to flex their muscles and frustrate the US — for authorisation to act would seem an abject waste of time.

Some would interpret my remark on the UNSC as tantamount to the advocacy of a flagrant disregard for international law, and they are entitled to their view.

But the fact remains that in an increasingly multipolar world, the United Nations has to a large degree passed its use-by date, and any body of “law” that would shield a regime that uses chemical weapons on its own people — if only by virtue of a vote of veto by one of its members, acting in its vested interests — is morally obsolete anyway.

Whether the US launches a strike on Syria or not, and what (if any) retaliatory measures the Russians undertake, will occur irrespective of anything Australia says or does.

Which brings me back to Kevin Rudd.

Anyone whose only possible path to re-election seems to be to lie (and lie blatantly) about his opponent’s policies can hardly be deemed a fit or proper person to engage in diplomacy on Australia’s behalf and on such a delicate issue; there goes one justification.

Rudd’s foreign minister, Bob Carr, has in any case ruled out any possibility of committing Australian troops to a US-led military effort; there goes another.

And there is no case to justify Rudd’s attendance in St Petersburg on account of Australia’s recent elevation to a temporary seat on the UN Security Council: the G20 has nothing to do with the United Nations, and in any case, even if it did, Australia would play an insignificant role indeed in any proceedings of real consequence.

The simple fact is that Rudd — if he goes to Russia — will have decided to use the dreadful events of the past week in Syria, and the attendant prospective consequences of their aftermath, to justify one more ride in the VIP RAAF jet, and for no better reason than to get some footage into the evening news in Australia a few hours before polling booths open.

Frankly, in those circumstances, Rudd would prove once and for all what a contemptible specimen he is; at a time of international crisis and the real danger of a wider conflagration, that such a cheap stunt would motivate simpering expressions of concern and talk of “helping” to justify the field trip would be reprehensible, to say the least.

Perhaps Rudd might reason that if he’s in Russia, he’d be spared the ignominy of having to make an embarrassing concession speech when — as seems increasingly certain — the ALP loses on 7 September, and loses very badly indeed.

Even so, this is an abominable idea of the lowest conceivable order, and — should he pursue it — then Rudd deserves, politically at least, to be absolutely crucified.