5th November 2004
- ELECTORAL REWARD -
At the federal election, Pauline
Hanson attracted around 4.3% of the primary senate vote, so qualified
for the prize of a couple of dollars for each vote. Quite
scandalous that anybody should be paid for attracting votes.
- JUSTICE SHAW -
In Australia, having an alcohol level above 0.05 while in
control of a motor vehicle is a criminal offense, with a mandatory jail
term (except by judicial discretion).
Recently NSW Supreme Court
Judge Shaw had a car accident near his home.
Justice Shaw had recently been appointed by Premier Bob Carr from his
high political office as industrial relations minister. After the
accident the Judge was taken by a
barrister friend to a nearby hospital.
As required by law in the case of car drivers obtaining treatment after
an accident, doctors in the hospital took two blood samples, gave
Justice Shaw one,
and put the other into a specially locked police box.
When the police arrived at the scene of the accident they were
advised that the judge had attended hospital. When the police box
that was supposed to contain the Shaw blood sample was opened, it was
reported that the sample was not therein.
Oddly, the last time a blood sample was not present in the hospital police box was
about ten years earlier, and the person from whom the sample was
obtained was then Premier of the state of Victoria, Henry Bolte.
Our system of selecting public officials seems to be a
little bit incestuous. Are we encouraging a system of mates who
give quid pro quo. Perhaps our judicial officials should be elected, not appointed by politicians?
- US ELECTION -
The US election was won by incumbent George W Bush. At the
time of writing, the state with the smallest margin was Ohio, with a
population of around twelve million, responsible for around twenty
electoral votes. The Republicans were about 10,000 votes ahead,
and about 120,000 votes had yet to be counted. If Ohio had gone to Kerry, then Kerry would have been President.
I believe that two events precipitated that result.
The first event was the appearance of a prosperous looking Bin Laden on the small screen.
My own response was "Didn't the Democrats predict that he would be
caught in time for the vote?" According to Lois Weiss (NYP) Bill
Clinton is of a similar mind. So much for Democrat predictions.
The second event was caused by British Liberals who apparently targeted regional Ohio newspapers with anti Bush propaganda (The man's an idiot
etc.) A writer in the UK Telegraph reported that the vote in the
targeted counties was seriously affected pro-Bush. In Ohio, a few
thousand votes made the difference.
I also believe that the well reported distaste of the French for Bush
would have influenced the vote pro-Bush. During my travels in the
US (March-July 2004) I did not find many US citizens who were
sympathetic to the French or (after the government change following the
Madrid train bomb) the Spanish. I have never considered myself a
Francophile, but in the USA I was a French apologist. When I was
in France, I noted that while the older generation of French was
somewhat anti-American, (mostly they didn't or wouldn't speak English)
I found that anyone under the age of about 30 was friendly and willing
to attempt to converse in English. I now believe that when Bush
spoke of "Old Europe" he was referring to the older people (in e.g.
France), not the French nation.
One interesting bye-product of the Bush victory is the fall in value of
US dollar. I suspect that concerns that Kerry might win and begin
protection of US industries was artificially sustaining the US$
Since the Bush victory those concerns have dissipated. The
Chinese have realized that
the US is not going to solve their problem by restricting
imports. As a consequence the
Chinese have apparently decided to slow internal demand for
imported resources by various strategies such as increasing interest
rates. This has, by the
convoluted logic of the market, caused the fall in value of the US
dollar. I fail to understand the logic of those financial pundits
who deplore this
devaluation. If the US$ falls, then local business will be
stimulated. Isn't that what is desired? I suppose that
those who never had to worry about selling products (but rather where
to book their next overseas holiday) might think having a high dollar
is a good thing.
- ZAYED BIN SULTAN AL-NAHAYAN -
Nearly every Muslim country is governed by what we in the "Western
world" call a "Dictator". That is of course a gross
oversimplification, for which the populist media is chiefly to
blame. Unlike Christ, Mahommed was a religious prophet
and a tribal ruler. To the western mind he acted like a
dictator. He collected taxes to his personal estate and disbursed
them to the needy. To a Muslim, a leader governs (like Mahommed)
by the will of God. If God is dissatisfied, he will replace the
Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahayan, ruler of the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) died recently. He was one of those dictator rulers who
disbursed the people's assets (which, the UAE having about the fourth
largest oil reserves in the world are quite stupendous) to the benefit of
the people. Among other things he initiated an education system
that is a model for the world.
Based on examples like that,
Muslims believe that their system of dictatorship is superior to that
of Western Liberal Representative Democracies. The problem with democracies is,
and always has been, (even the ancient Greeks noted it) corruption.
(See for example above - "Justice Shaw"). Our populist journalists are not advising us well when they dismiss
arabs states as "dictatorships". A Muslim dictator's power is
severely limited in comparison to that of a classical dictator. For instance; he cannot make any law that would be in
conflict with Sharia. (well, not unless he had a large, loyal army, and was prepared for serious civil unrest.)
However, just as the UAE was a successfully governed Muslim
there exist a plethora of failures. Yasser Arafat (At the time of
writing he may be deceased, may
his soul RIP) was one leader who made a few ill advised
decisions. Saddam Hussein
might have been revered by the Sunnis around Baghdad, but it appears
that he was less than popular in the outer (majority Kurd/Shia)
regions. And it does seem
that the unelected "Guardians council" in Iran are unnecessarily interfering in the incipient
democratic processes of that nation. It must be admitted that
predominantly Muslim Malaysia seems to be economically progressing,
however the population of Malaysia is around 45% Chinese, and it
appears that the adage on "Democracy" (as being two wolves and a sheep
voting on what to have for dinner) might be "sick" joke in the apartheid state of Malaysia.