5th November 2004


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.


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?


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 the US dollar.  I suspect that concerns that Kerry might win and begin protection of US industries was artificially sustaining the US$ value.  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.


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 leader.

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 dictatorship, so 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.