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“HERE’S THINKING OF YOU . . .” October 31, 2005

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I lied my way through this quiz – I could do no other – then . . .

casablanca
“You must remember this, a kiss is still a
kiss”. Your romance is Casablanca. A
classic story of love in trying times, chock
full of both cynicism and hope. You obviously
believe in true love, but you’re also
constantly aware of practicality and societal
expectations. That’s not always fun, but at
least it’s realistic. Try not to let the Nazis
get you down too much.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

I hit the jackpot. At least I have seen the movie, and watched it again, and again . . .

The source, and memes similar in nature,was discovered at Mickey’s Musings.

It was the movie that should have played on television, not just once, during the Tampa affair.

INTRODUCING THE POLICE STATE October 31, 2005

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The mere association of Australia with a police state was for many years up until the present was almost inconceivable.

Up until now Australia has had an exemplary reputation as a liberal democracy. I had thought that the London bombings on 7 July would change the British Government because Blair had taken Britain into the Iraq disaster, and that craven act to cuddle up to the last standing superpower would have seen his demise. Not so, or at least, not so far.

Howard seemed to have followed Blair’s determination that the suicide bombers were induced into their behavior, not as soldiers of Islam as one bomber declared himself to be, but by the extreme Imans. By this reasoning, and the presence in our society, so we are told of number of people with terrorist training, makes it necessary to induce extreme police powers, of a nature that call into question the continuation of Australian Democracy. Fear may be powerful, and much like other strong emotions is antithetical to liberal democratic assumption of rational argument and dissent.

But do not just consider my view. Here is the judgment of the John Von Doussa, Chairman of the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. As reported by ABC News:

He says the Federal Government cannot be trusted. . . Mr Von Doussa says the legislation gives the executive extraordinary powers to detain people without charge, but there are no means by which the application of those powers can be checked or appealed.

“The defining characteristic of a police state is that the police exercise power on behalf of the executive and the conduct of the police cannot be effectively challenged and regrettably that is exactly what these laws are proposing,” he said.

Mr Von Doussa says the judicial review of control and detention orders is illusionary. “The executive power is not in any realistic sense subject to review on the merits,” Mr Van Doussa said. He says the Government is seeking to enact extraordinary powers to deprive people of their liberty while asking to be trusted not to abuse that authority.

“The difficulty of that approach is as experience has shown not only in places like South Africa but here in Australia is that reality turns out otherwise,” he said.

And then consider the Editorial opinion of The Sydney Morning Herald which said in part:

The Prime Minister may be relaxed, but the rest of the country should not be. It should be both alert and alarmed.

Parliament will see the bill this week. It will view for the first time legislation which represents a serious reduction of the ordinary democratic rights of all Australians on the day it must start to debate it. There is no time for a considered reading, no time for reflection. . . Legislation about which some of the most eminent legal minds in the country have expressed the gravest doubts, and which finds almost no other lawyers in support, is to be rammed through with a minimum of debate. Meanwhile, the Government is already hinting it knows whom it would like to lock up in secrecy under the preventive detention provisions. The arrogance is breathtaking.

The consensus among the states, on which the Commonwealth must rely to achieve its security aims, has been looking a bit frayed. Even Labor, scared stiff of looking soft on terrorism, is starting to wonder whether its obedience to the Prime Minister is wise. . . The problem with the bill[is not its constitutionality as raised by the States but] is far more profound. As it stands, its provisions strike straight at the heart of ordinary democratic rights and freedoms. It gags public debate. It bans information. It empowers police to make people disappear and punishes anyone who talks about their disappearance. The Government has never explained why those draconian measures are necessary. . . The final contents of the bill, even now, are a secret. The Government prefers the tools of the propagandist: the scare, the talk of nameless threats, the hint of traitors in our midst. We must give up our freedoms, and quickly, for fear the bogeyman will get us. It is a base and cynical approach which puts a democratic country to shame.

There are editorials, and there are editorials, but I cannot remember a more impassioned set of declarations from The Sydney Morning Herald.

And then we hear that Kim Beazley and the Federal Opposition, in the perceived frame of wedge politics perhaps, are delaying their judgment to oppose the legislation or not, until the see the actual Bill, which might sound fair enough except that a draft text was released on the website of Jon Stanhope, the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory.

BUSH WHACKED October 31, 2005

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The indictment of Irving Lewis Libby was Friday’s news.

And it may well mean “a heap of trouble” (via Modulator) for the Bush Administration. However, it seems to me one important significance of this development is that Bush’s henchmen, most particularly Karl Rove, will not in the immediate future be able to go after dissenters from the official line in the way they have in the past. They will have less power to intimidate. On one level, Bush is into his second term, so the need for intimation was not as great as previously.

However, I would expect that Bush’s enemies from within the government administration, and the disaffected with the style of administration will now be heard in the mainstream media. I suspect that Lawrence B Wilkerson’s column, initially for the Los Angeles Times, about Cheney’s Cabal signified.

I would anticipate more revelations about torture and Guantanamo Bay will emerge in future weeks. Nor would I be surprised by stories relating to economic management sourced by insiders.

As the situation is Iraq continues to deteriorate, Bush will want to stay the course, but the pressure to withdraw will build. The longer withdrawal is delayed, I suspect, the more difficult it will become.

HOWARD TO STAY AS PM October 30, 2005

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According to this AAP report, published by The New Zealand Herald, Howard is staying on as PM for at least another year.

Things can change. I am curious, but not very curious, as to what he would do if he retired. There are limited options for former prime ministers, and I do not think this includes sitting on company boards. Where would John Howard’s skills and experience, as distinct from contacts, be used for the best?

He sounds to me like he intends to stick around for the immediate future, based on this report from ABC News:

. . . Prime Minister John Howard says he is not about to backdown, despite acknowledging the unpopularity of the measures.

“Once a prime minister reaches a stage where he’s not willing to push something he believes in because of short-term criticism or unpopularity, then he has reached his use-by-date,” he said.

This approach might be seen as a form of political perversity. Howard will not have to live with the consequences, and doubtless his rich friends, soon to be richer at the expense of the immiseration of much of the Australian workforce will doubtless reward him well.

BUSH KEEPS SPEAKING October 30, 2005

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I am shocked. Where, I ask, is the Patriot Act?


As President Bush spoke on the war on terrorism, a protester interrupted from the balcony of Chrysler Hall in downtown Norfolk, Va., shouting ‘War is terrorism! War is terrorism! Step down now, Mr. President. Torture is terrorism,’ Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. The president continued speaking as the man was forcibly removed. (AP Photo/J. Scott applaud)

A man seeks to protest against the Iraq War, at a political meeting addressed by the president. The president looked befuddled he said. He was greeted by applause – no, he was hustled out by security guards. The President continued with his address without stopping. Such is the land of the free.

Reminds me a lot of Walter Wolfgram at the British Labor Conference.

I found the reference for this story at Common Dreams.

TELEVISION AND DEMOCRACY October 30, 2005

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Just to do something different, I tried to watch television this evening.

Maybe I started watching late in the evening, with nothing in mind to watch,but I cannot credit how bad it is. Nonsense, nonsense and more nonsense it seemed to me. To be clear, I am referring to the programming, not the advertising.

And then there was the government’s party political propaganda and national enlightenment, modeled perhaps appropriately enough on the principles of Joseph Goebbels, or so I imagine because I refuse to watch or read it on principle because the nature of such material is antithetical to the standards of democratic discourse, dialogue and debate.

John Quiggin has a suggestion, which is one I too had contemplated, and Chris Sheil provides some background on the High Court judgment, which has been somewhat of mystery to me. I am also wondering whether the Medicare advertising in the last election or the Working Nation ones before 1996 changed voting behavior in a significant way. I doubt it.

Still propaganda, by its nature is evidence of intelligent design (I presume), and therefore, given this promotional campaign must be based on some plausible theory. Here again, in my opinion, the inherent need for secrecy in this aspect, if we understood we would be more resistant to it, makes it inherently anti-democratic. I merely note, that undue legislative haste, antithetical to legislative deliberation and secrecy as intrinsic to the terror laws.

My view is that we are not seeing plebiscitary democracy here, let alone representative democracy, but rather a to date unnamed variation based on a mix of focus group opinion, polling and marginal seat politics. In other words, “the politics as usual” crowd do not get it, nor what needs to change.

Am I wrong in thinking that the Opposition has demonstrated itself to be inept in the face of Howard’s framing of the policy debate and the agenda, and the threat of wedge politics. Beazley, does not appear to have the aptitude for the task. He is unable to counter-wedge Howard, or as George Lakoff says frame the issues and set the agenda.

Still in my judgment, Howard’s political success with employment relations and the terror legislation, should it happen, will be Australia’s disgrace. We should have foreseen he would not stop with his refugee policy. The Tampa Incident is now a classic example of wedge politics in Australian political history, and this interpretation supports my thesis, and the blindness of many of us, not least elite journalism and the mainstream media.

The man who denies class politics, will have left us a very poisonous legacy indeed. This will pass in due course, but not before considerable suffering on behalf of those citizens judged to be unworthy of human dignity.

Political paradigm shifts may yet be possible, even though they are completely outside the conception of “the politics as usual” crowd, whether in regard to the two-party system as it exists here, or for example as it exists in the United States, and it may be forced by the slow building up of a mounting reaction over a period of time.

We do not normally understand politics as a dialectic, either in the Hegelian or Marxist sense, but rather as sets of linear progressions, for example, the continuing power of the executive, in our case concentrated on the office of the prime minister, in relation to other players and the legislature.

( I have thought that it is possible to develop the worksheet concept of posting. You start off by making observations and expressing opinions, then to you link, and see what happens. Some people might think, and surely they are right, such as process, violates the cannons of publishing and elite journalism. Just remember there is always comments, which the elite journalists and other writers do not offer that option through their usual mediums. Discovery is often a process of haphazard experimentation, rather than methodical experimentation with well established algorithms.

More explicitly, as I understand it, the worksheet idea corresponds to the exploration stage of an essay, where you try to cover the key issues and cover the different perspectives. Anyway, at least to me, the links transform the above piece, as perhaps a sculptor sees unrealized possibilities in stone. )

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES October 28, 2005

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Photographic images by their nature reflect circumstances. This was the week the paid workforce held out its conditional open palm, and the week before the onset of day light saving, or moving the clocks forward, which for a minority represents a lost opportunity.

Meanwhile, Taffy on his insistence, was out and enjoying the sunshine. Don’t tell him about that option we were given when he broke his leg, given he is an old dog.

Taffy energised by sunshinePosted by Picasa
Taffy on the right side.Posted by Picasa

“It does not get better, or whatever Kurt Vonnegut says.” Posted by Picasa
Taffy checks out the earth moving machinery. Posted by Picasa

Sasha is continuing on different paths and different directions, and now at different times to avoid mechanical change agents so obviously present in out midst.

Sasha: ” Here I stand . . .” Posted by Picasa
“Time for a paradigm shift!”Posted by Picasa
“Now, this is better.” Posted by Picasa
And, this is better still.”Posted by Picasa

And with the weather warming up, something to keep in mind.

Sasha feeling thirsty. Posted by Picasa

In the bush, there is more shade and less sunlight:

Sasha looking back along the track.Posted by Picasa
Time to relax. Posted by Picasa

Getting out early makes a difference, while the opportunity exists:

Sasha caught by the morning sun. Posted by Picasa
Sasha and the green escarpment in profile.Posted by Picasa
The morning sun: A look, a disposition. Posted by Picasa
Different body language, different message. Posted by Picasa
“Let’s go” Posted by Picasa

ps:Click-on to enlarge photos.

GOVERNMENT BY CABAL October 27, 2005

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Lawrence B Wilkerson, Chief of Staff for Colin Powell from 2002-2005, continues to dump on Team Bush.

In an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald, republished from the Los Angleos Times, he observes:

IN PRESIDENT George Bush’s first term, some of the most important decisions about US national security – including vital decisions about postwar Iraq – were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

But I believe the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the President, and sometimes with something less. More often than not, the then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.

Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift – not unlike the decision-making one would associate with a dictatorship. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy with its dissenters, obstructionists and “guardians of the turf”.
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But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.

I gather from this account that President Bush was not in charge of the process, and was acting as a nominal head of government.

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her application for a position on the Supreme Court.

The Whitehouse is reported to be tense about the Fitzpatrick inquiry in which Karl Rove, Irving Lewis Libby and Richard Bruce Cheney may be charged by the special prosecutor, although the latter is considered less likely. We will see . . .but the wait might be like the election in 2000.

THE TRIAL OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH October 26, 2005

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According to the Daily Star (Lebanon), Saddam Hussein’s defence lawyers want to indict President Bush.

After all playing by the same rules is the meaning of the rule of law, which also presumes that nobody is exempt. The grounds for criminality would have to be established in international law. the procedures, processes and judgement would have to be seen to be impartial and independent.

There is, at least, a prima facie case, that invading another country to steal its oil and other resources, and in the process cause the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, as well as trash that countries and the world’s cultural artifacts and cultural heritage is criminal in the absence of any proven and acceptable justification.

I suppose, this move by Saddam’s lawyers has to be seen as a legal tactic, but it has a point, and in the longer and broader perspective, the planet is becoming more communalized by the speed and number of interactions. For example, during the American War of independence it took three weeks for a message to get to Britain, and then another three weeks for another message to get back to North America.

IDEALIST – HUH! October 26, 2005

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No wonder I have so much trouble with the way the world is, and worst still, is becoming, it seems to according to my answers on this personality test (Myer-Briggs Model), I am an idealist. Meanwhile, take the temperament test, for sanity sake, prove you are not an idealist

I was curious as to what answer would come up, as for some questions I was selecting answers I should not have selected.

What is an idealist? According to this classification system:

Your Temperament is Idealist (NF)
Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. . .Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. . Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. . . Idealists are rare, making up between 20 and 25 percent of the population.

Far too many, I would have thought.

Actually, I considered I was experiencing the same problems, at least in general, as George Bush is supposed to be undergoing. As Gordon Livingstone, via Common Dreams, notes:

The ability to reason accurately is not randomly distributed; some people are better at it than others. Though this is only one form of intelligence, it is an important one, and the lack of it tends to have adverse consequences on one’s chances for success at tasks that require good decision-making. . .Which brings us back to our president: incurious, inarticulate and insulated from people and information that might contradict his “gut feelings” or religious beliefs. To fulfill the duties of our national chief executive, intelligence is not enough – Woodrow Wilson taught us that – but a conspicuous lack of it is fatal.

I do not know much about Woodrow Wilson, but I wonder why he consistently gets such a bad press. Perhaps he was an idealist? What would general personality type does George belong t0?

There are questions hanging over personality tests, and these are fundamental issues such as reliability and validity. I know that is possible to answer, especially this set of questions, in a way that can lead to a prescribed result, but that seems to me to destroy the point, which is not so much to establish what you are, but to understand others better.

In my case I do tend to answer these questions fairly consistently, and come up with the same boring outcomes, which is probably more reflective of my personality.

Since an election is a selection process, perhaps intelligence and personality testing may have some relevance to them, and perhaps especially for the selection of the President of the United States. That, of course, could be George W Bush’s great and singular positive contribution to history.

EXTENDING SHOOT-TO-KILL October 26, 2005

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This report in The Independent should give pause to those shoot-to-kill provisions in the anti-terrorism laws.

The paper reports that:

Scotland Yard’s “shoot to kill” strategy has been widened to include other offences such as kidnapping, stalking and domestic violence, The Independent has learned.

We might expect the same progression to occur here as well.

SOUNDS OF SEDITION October 25, 2005

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The new so-called anti-terror laws will be debated in the House of Representatives on Melbourne Cup day. What are the odds on sedition?

John Quiggin referred to the article.

Perhaps this is seditious:

Knock, Knock: “Who is there?”
“We can’t say, we are acting under the anti-terrorist laws.”

When the goons show in the morning knocking on the door, turn off the radio, do not laugh, because laughing is probably seditious.

Wikipedia provides a legal description of sedition, with historical background, including reference to the American precedent, and the proposed changes to Australian law.

Various prominent persons are calling for careful consideration of this legislation in The Sydney Morning Herald, which would seem the very minimum requirement. A problem here it seems to me, although it surely does not need to be expressed, members of parliament, who formally decide such matters, subject to their constitutionality, have not sworn allegiance to Australian Democracy, but rather overtly to some curious, alien, and absurd historical fiction.

(Cathy Wilcox – SMH)

To paraphase JM Coetzee yesterday,the Apatheid state had anti-terrorism laws, and were not, as he had supposed as the time to be “moral barbarians” but “pioneers just ahead of their time.”

UPDATE: It seems, via The Road to Surfdom, that there has been a change of mind, and the constitutionality of the proposed legislation is now an issue to be reconsidered. Howard has agreed to a summit with the premiers and other heads of government.

It occurs to me there could be all sorts of possibilities for a live blogging protest as the laws are passed. The problem is that the crime of sedition is so vague. If freedom of communication is implied in the Constitution, presumably there is implied freedom of speech. Ironic, I note that John Howard is relying on the legal advice of the Solicitor-General, as governments do, which did not help Whitlam. Perhaps the Governor-General ought to be petitioned by email not to sign the bill until the constitutional and civil liberties concerns have been given full and proper deliberation by the Parliament. Just an thought.

26/10/2005 - Ken Parish clears up the issue as to what constitutes sedition:

However, mere seditious intention doesn’t amount to the crime of sedition. The intention has to be converted into action. The offence isn’t committed unless a person urges another “by force or violence” to overthrow the Constitution or the government or to engage in war or terrorist acts against Australia (and so on).

This would appear to explain why these provisions have been dusted off to combat terrorism, as a means to provide pre-emptive powers to prevent for example suicide bombing, and to widen the net of those involved in a crime beyond those who committed the act, who may be dead, to those that promoted and encouraged the course of action. Beyond that, I do not know what existing laws provide for, although I would be surprised if conspirators in the committing of a crime could not be judged by courts as complicit in the act.

The real concern with this legislation, as commentators at John Quiggin have pointed out, are the provisions for the suspension of habeus corpus, detention without trial while held incommunicaido, and similar provisions. These would have to be last resort measures. The question then becomes who makes the judgement, and under what circumstances.

Legal commentators know a great deal regarding legal technicality, the devils in the detail about specificity and extent, but not necessarily as competent in the judgement of political expediency, and everything the Howard Government, either says or does has to be subject to close scrutiny and scepticism. They more often lie, than not.

BLACK THURSDAY October 25, 2005

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The Guardian, 24 October 1929, reports:

In an unprecedented wave of fear, confusion and panic, nearly 13 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange today. Dazed brokers waded through a sea of paper clutching frightened investors’ orders to”sell at any price”.

At the peak of the panic selling this morning, the market ceased to function as such and turned into a mad clamour of salesmen looking for non-existent buyers. . .
The crisis started early, when the sheer volume of selling caused prices to drop sharply. The ticker tape started to lag behind, and as prices fell faster and further, spot quotations began to show shocking collapses in value. Orders to sell came in from worried punters and boardrooms across the US. The bottom truly dropped out at around 11.30. . . At midday, New York’s leading bankers held an emergency meeting at the office of J. P. Morgan & Co. . .The afternoon saw prices recover strongly, largely thanks to the big bankers’ reassuring statements and frenzied efforts to prop up the market. . . New York bankers were tonight blaming the panic on the technical inadequacy of the ticker-tape system in processing such massive volume trading.

And so that is how one newspaper reported the beginning of the Great Depression. In my opinion, this example illustrates simple and compelling journalism.

The question immediately arises for me as to the cause of the Depression, which according to one easily understood explanation over production without buying power. I like this because it is a theory that good wages, and a level of job security, but not quite the level that most politicians enjoy, are good for the economy. I suspect that Milton Friedman had another explanation related to money supply.

And there is an issue here of crisis management. The New York Times, on 25th October 1929 reported:

Confidence in the soundness of the stock market sturcture, notwithstanding the upheaval of the last few days was voiced last night by bankers and other financial leaders. Sentiment as expressed by the heads of some of the largest banking institutions and by industrial executives as well was distinctly cheerful and the feeling was the worst had been seen. Wall Street ended the day in an optimistice frame of mind.

The feel-good factor did not quite work this time.

THREADBARE DEMOCRACY October 24, 2005

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We do not need to be in Iraq. Think, Canada. Thnk, New Zealand. Or if you wish think, France, think, Germany.

And by extention we do not have to have the so-called “anti-terrorism” laws that call into question the continued existence of our status as a democracy. We may still be a democracy in a sense, since people still vote, but what kind of democracy are we becoming?

There is a distinction made by Benjamin R Barber between thin democracy and strong democracy.

In the United States, it is generally assumed that democracy is representative democracy, what I have called “thin democracy” to contrast it with participatory or ‘strong democracy’ – a form of government more closely associated with Switzerland’s decentralized participatory system. Under representative democracy, where citizenship is limited to voting, ordinary citizens can feel privatized and marginalized. Once a year the voter is free, she votes and then goes home and watches and waits The rest of the year she lives privately as a consumer or a client, letting her elected representatives do the governing. This wan and pallid version of “thin democracy” often creates passivity and cynicism. The active citizens who are engaged in their neighborhoods, towns, schools, and churches creating social capital and civic trust cannot be produced by watchman style representative government.

John Howard, like prime ministers before him, was not accountable to Parliament when he launched Australia’s involvement in Iraq. Now we have having a propaganda campaign prior to the Government using its numbers in both houses of Parliament to enact its workplace relations laws that, as far as I can tell, will preference employers over employees.

As with all propaganda, lying is made into an art form. As I discovered recently, Joseph Goebbels made it into an art form, and his rules for propaganda would not be amiss among today’s spin doctors. I also discovered that Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslavkia in 1938 was part of a war against terror, and it seems that the South African aparthied regime was also engaged in a war against terror. J.M Coetzee, a person with a fair turn of phase, and potentially a very successful blogger, told an Australian Book Review function at the National Library in Canberra, as reported by Matt Price in The Australian:(via Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom)

“I used to think that the people who created (South Africa’s) laws that effectively suspended the rule of law were moral barbarians. Now I know they were just pioneers ahead of their time. . .“If somebody telephoned a reporter and said, ‘Tell the world — some men came last night, took my husband, my son, my father away, I don’t know who they were, they didn’t give names, they had guns’, the next thing that happened would be that you and the reporter in question would be brought into custody for furthering the aims of the proscribed organisation endangering the security of the state.”

Now the Prime Minister with the Priemers has decided on anti-terrorism laws. Parliament is irrelevant. Its members will do as they are do by their masters, who are not the people.

It is both pathetic and a disgrace. John Faulkner recognizes many of the problems, (via Imagining Australia) including the cynicism, and that the Labor Party is losing members, with the factional bosses in control, but he has no real idea as to what must be done, except to rail against the belief that politicians cannot be trusted.

“EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS PROTECTED BY LAW” October 23, 2005

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The government spends millions of dollars(at least $15 million) on its new workplace relation proposals, not yet enacted into legislation. The details of the legislation are still being drafted. And I know nothing about it, because I do not watch television much, except what I read through the internet.

Howard, I head on radio, justifying his propaganda ploy, by saying that it was non-partisan, because the adds did not attack the opposition. I suppose on this argument when another constitutional referendum is proposed by Parliament that it will state the Yes case and ignore any No case.

This seems to be an objectionable way to promote public policy, in fact it is not an exaggeration to suggest that it is more propaganda than policy. But we did learn today, one of the implications, which will have immediate effect. Unemployed people, in receipt of benefits will expected to accept any job they are offered, regardless of the terms and conditions.

This is the apparent policy of sadists taking their pleasure out on the less privileged, because it work is not simply part of the quality of life – poor working conditions have a vicious boomerang of social and personal relationships -and work that involves travelling compounds the problems. So typical is this policy of Howard and his government, we should have expected it.

Alternatively, those who propose and make policy, including our elected representatives do not simply understand its impact on individual lives and its wider social implications. Policy makers, especially politicians, might pay need to the principle espoused by Angela Merkel that they show humility before their electors, reveal in detail their proposals and allow a voice for those who will feel where the shoe hurts, even if yet they do not fully apprehend what they are to be fitted with.

One test of good policy in workplace relations, it seems to me, is that it should place a premium on good management theory and practice, rather than regressive and primitive management set to drive out quality in product, productivity and life, and in doing so mistake vile means for gross ends, as slavery and serfdom might be the model rather than virtue that freedom and democracy requires. The idea of the working poor, much less its realization, should be a source of shame, but will not be as Howard has already demonstrated in relation to refugees.

I understand the Government, through its national enligthenment and propaganda is claiming that employment rights and contractual agreements will be “protected by law”. Maybe so, maybe not, but it is clear that, if we follow the American precedent, unions will not be protected by law. The law, in its usual impervious way to the pursuit of justice, will be designed to favor those with the most resources, which almost without exception is never going to be the average employee, or those benefit dependent or poor.

Postscript: Why don’t I turn on the television? I out of the loop. Now I understand, that Howard is also promoting his anti-terrorism laws on television, which like the workplace relations ones have not been drafted into legislation. The ABC news reports he wants these passed by the end of the year, hopefully it seems without any public scrutiny whatsoever, because we trust him. There is a nice symmetry: These proposals might be called “unprotected by law”.

FURTHER PRAISE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY October 22, 2005

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I had to struggle to get ten points. There are several variable at work here, including my knowledge and fluency.

There is good reason, I believe, not to be just a carping critic, in part because that will not accord perhaps with direct experience, because democracy is inherently imperfect, more so representative democracy, and because lessons can be learnt from other people’s experience, and it is likely they do some things better.

So far, I thought:

  1. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.
  2. Local democracy and the inspiration of the all the congregation.
  3. US flag as a symbol designed by Congress.
  4. Enshrining of the rule of law.
  5. Energy for innovation as seen in primary elections and television debates.

Further points that merit praise, in my estimation:

  1. The republic of oratory – There is a tradition of public speaking. A most notable example is, of course, the Gettysburg address. Public speaking, so I understand, is encouraged in primary schools. Many of us lack the confidence to speak in public.
  2. The “Melting Pot” and civil rights movement – the Constitution acts as a focus of national identity and in the process emphases the democratic nature. Martin Luther King, in 1963, before the Lincoln Memorial spoke of the “true meaning of their creed”. There is an ideology for inclusion, but perhaps not the recognition of difference and equality.
  3. The Confederate Constitution recognized freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which illustrates that those principles has been deeply imbued in American political consciousness by the mid-nineteenth century.
  4. The Ideology of Individualism -“My name is Jimmy Carter, and I am running for president”. The irony is that effective political practice requires collective behavior.
  5. Vision Over-stretch – Different small parties have run in presidential elections, most recently led by Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, Gene McCarthy and George Wallace, but going back to 1949, and they have never been able to sustain their enthusiasm and acted because of the voting system, in some critical states, as spoilers effecting the election of the major presidential candidate most opposite to their policies and programs. Here, I believe, cynicism in the voice of pragmatism is stronger in our political culture than idealism.

Now I will go and look at what others might put on their list, or at least, as seems to be mostly the case, what they find problematic. And it seems to be true, there is no shortage of critics, including Emerson in the nineteeth century, who I knew nothing about.

23/10/2005 - Here is one example, I have just found. The sub editors in there blurb quote, the writer of these essays, Benjamin R Barber, as saying:

“In these essays … I have been hard on my country. Like most ardent democrats, I want more for it than it has achieved, despite the fact that it has achieved more than most people have dared to want.”

And here is a review essay,by Scott London, who surveys the situation facing democracy across the world. Howard Zinn, via Common Dreams, suggests:

No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence-an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness-be fulfilled.

The established democracies, such as the US and Australia, are respectively good examples of 18th Century and 19th Century models of democracy in terms of structure and process,(and Australians were very conscious to the point of some imitation of the US example) but that they both need to update, most particularly in regard to their voting systems.

Interesting, don’t you agree?

And, here is Benjamin Barber on “The Ambiguous Effects of Digital Technology on Democracy in a Globalizing World”.

INFLATION, I BELIEVE October 22, 2005

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My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?

But then again, here is a meme for you, via Tom Peters

TRAFALGAR DAY October 21, 2005

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The Battle of Trafalgar, as seen from the mizzen starboard shrouds of the Victory by J. M. W. Turner (oil on canvas, 1806 to 1808) (via Wikipedia)

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Perhaps this matters more in England. And it probably is one of the key English naval victories of all times, along, I suppose, with the defeat of the Armada, without the European significance, more a global significance for 19th Century British maritime dominance, which where I guess we the far-flung colonies and settlements come into the picture, as do those other places that were colored red, at least on British maps.

Certainly, the US has emulated the British, with the arrival over the horizon of Teddy Roosevelt’s“Great White Fleet” in the early 20th Century(1907 – 1908). There are photos and other memorabilia of this event, sufficient for me to suppose it captured the imagination of this then comparatively isolated part of the planet.

The Invasion of Iraq seemed to show a change in US policy for a preference for onshore bases for aircraft, rather than the off-shore balancing use of naval power in the Persian Gulf.

My suspicion is that naval power in the 21st Century has been superseded as the essential accoutrement of a great trading power, although I expect by the turn of the next century China and India may well build significant naval capacities to project influence as much as to defend interests.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – AT THE SITE October 21, 2005

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The land reclamation at the old collery has gone ahead. There are at least two ways of approaching it. Taffy, given his circumstances, opts for pedestrian poses. Wherea Sasha looks over developments on the site itself, and mixes with one, or perhaps, two surprises.

Taffy happy to pose before the various signage.Posted by Picasa

Taffy and earth-moving machinery.Posted by Picasa
Open for Business.

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Taffy at the corner.Posted by Picasa
“How did I get into a dog blog?”
(lloydwebb.org – Taronga Zoo)
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Sasha overview

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Just another dog-whistle. Posted by Picasa
Across the way. Posted by Picasa
Sasha on a newly formed slope. Posted by Picasa
And the status quo ante. Posted by Picasa
What is this? A police line?

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EARTHQUAKE AFTERMATH October 21, 2005

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According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan there is now a race against time as winter approachs across an wide area of rugged terrain in Pakistan that would produce a “massive wave of death.”

The story is carried by The Independent. In this case, I suspect, the important aid will have to come from countries with available resources. In the devasted area much of the infrastructure has been destroyed. According to the report of the Kofi Annan’s press conference:

“The people and government of Pakistan are faced with an extraordinary challenge and we need to make an extraordinary effort to support them,” Annan told a press conference. “What is needed is an immediate and exceptional escalation of the global relief effort to support the work of the government of Pakistan.” He said he was sending letters “to a whole set of countries” seeking help.

The latest death toll stands at 42,000 with at least 67,000 people injured, “but because we still have not accessed hundreds of thousands of people in remote areas, we fear that the actual figures are far higher,” he said.”And unlike some natural disasters, in which victims die immediately, the death toll in Pakistan is not over yet,” Annan warned.

“An estimated three million men, women and children are homeless. Many of them have no blankets or tents to protect them against the merciless Himalayan winter.” “That means a second, massive wave of death will happen if we do not step up our efforts now.”

The BBC also carries reports of the urgent need for more assistance in the earthquake devastated areas, and has an analysis suggesting that the Pakistan Government, after initial unwillingness will now accept Indian aid, particularly in the form of helicopters for rescue work across the Line of Control. In the meantime, the Pakistani mules are coming into their own, ” proving saviours for some of the tens of thousands of quake survivors still stuck atop inaccessible mountains.”

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