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Archive for May, 2008

>Fuel leak burns Rudd

>There are two types of control freak: in-control and under-control.

An in-control freak has to be involved in every decision being made. An under-control freak has to be sure that his management team is on top of things and executing policy effectively.

Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, is an in-control freak and the latest example is the mess that he has created with the government’s FuelWatch policy.

FuelWatch is meant to reduce petrol prices by keeping an eye on petrol outlets. It has come to light via a leak from a government source that cabinet rejected advice from four departments that FuelWatch would probably lead to increased pricing, as has been the case in Western Australia where the scheme was first implemented a few years ago.

FuelWatch is yet another example of this government’s penchant for style over substance, of symbolism over outcomes.

Andrew Bolt has been providing the best coverage of the issue and The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan has written the best article on the matter:

KEVIN Rudd has been sent a strong message this week with the emergence of leaked departmental briefings to cabinet: change your style and political approach or face more debilitating crises such as this week’s petrol price disaster.

…The issues now go far beyond the potent issue of petrol prices to the conduct, direction, style and substance of the Rudd Government.

The damaging leaks revealing deep rifts within the cabinet over the FuelWatch price monitoring scheme have come at a crucial time for the Government. It is six months since the federal election and, although still popular, Rudd and the ALP are showing signs of losing their first blush. In addition to frustration within the bureaucracy over delays caused by funnelling too many decisions through the PM’s office, there is concern that good policy is being sacrificed to solve publicity problems.

That last sentence highlights what an in-control freak Kevin Rudd really is.

Shanahan finishes:

The leaks – wherever they came from – underline the fact that without a coherent, definitive articulation of what the Government stands for, it can’t hope to hide behind stunts that don’t deliver.

With all the weight and responsibility of managing an economy and the knowledge that this isn’t going to finish the Government, somebody’s bound to blow the whistle.

Wise words. Will Rudd listen? Don’t bet on it. Rudd is a micro-manager in a macro job.

Which leads me to articulate for the first time my view of the man. As I’ve posted previously, leadership changes people. Sometimes they surprise people, step up to the mark and become real leaders in the way that Howard did. Sometimes they crash and burn, as Mark Latham did, though that was much more predictable. Therefore, it’s always wise to let some time pass before making a judgement.

Six months into his term I think I’ve seen enough to have a clear view of Kevin Rudd.

Leadership: As a leader, Rudd is more Custer than Patton; more Whitlam than Hawke or Keating. He is a manager, not a leader. Australia is in a terrific position economically, small inflation worries notwithstanding, and so it’s possible that a competent manager can be successful. The job of prime minister at the moment and for the next few years can be done effectively in management mode so Rudd’s lack of leadership ability may not work against him – as long as things don’t go pear-shaped in the world economy and we don’t otherwise face a major crisis.

Competence: Here’s a big statement that I think people will come to reflect on the wisdom of in years to come – Kevin Rudd is profoundly incompetent to be prime minister. Profoundly. In fact, I’d go so far to say that when his time has come and gone Rudd will be seen as one of our worst ever PMs. He has Gough Whitlam’s understanding of economics and Paul Keating’s understanding of the ordinary bloke. I think he will be seen to have squandered a huge opportunity to move Australia forward at a time when international competitiveness is growing ever tougher.

Vision: It is now clear that Rudd has no vision for Australia. His policy of symbolism and populism over outcomes and substance is proof. From the economic disaster of ratifying Kyoto to the Stolen Generations’ Apology to a plethora of inquiries into all sorts of issues and to FuelWatch itself Rudd has been focused more on his personal popularity than achieving positive outcomes for Australians. Can you imagine this man taking the tough, unpopular decisions on illegal immigration, workplace relations and even the Iraq war as Howard? Even his most ardent supporters must wonder what he stands for.

Personality: Rudd has no charm and no charisma, traits that are important to hold a leadership team together, especially when times get tough. It can be quite justifiably said that Howard lacked charm and charisma. He turned out to be one of this country’s best ever leaders so why can’t Rudd follow suit? The fact is that Howard slept the sleep of a leader. Rudd sleeps the sleep of a manager.

My hope is that the government will continue to run large surpluses and not interfere too much with the business community’s ability to be successful. The former should be guaranteed. The latter looks unlikely given the union movement’s current strategy of testing their strength.

If Rudd can at least achieve these two outcomes then he will still be PM at the next election. If not then I think we’ll be seeing a different person leading the Labor Party, and probably a female at that.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Politics

>Ninemsn continues to allow manipulation of its online polls

>As reported yesterday, Camden Council did not give approval to a Muslim group for an Islamic school to be built in the area.

The decision was reported as being entirely due to racism with the official reason, based on planning grounds, was dismissed. TV reports showed the same woman wearing an Akubra hat with Australian flag telling reporters that “we don’t want them here” or words to that effect.

Ninemsn carried a poll on its website asking the question “Is the Islamic school ban a victory for racism?”

Through to mid-afternoon yesterday the results were as follow:

Yes: 3338 No: 5820 Ratio: 0.574

Yes: 9955 No: 16833 Ratio: 0.591

Yes: 13467 No: 22495 Ratio: 0.598

When I had a look last night the ratio was about the same with Nos in the 40,000s.

I’ve pointed out a number of times that these polls tend to get stacked by those mostly pushing the left wing line, generally overnight, as follows:

Do you find Santa’s Ho Ho Ho offensive?
Should Australian police use Taser guns?

Should gay couples get equal rights under the law?

Would you vote for the Coalition under Peter Costello?
Should the government give Dr Haneef his visa back?
Should school corporal punishment be reintroduced?
Do you believe Australia is one of the worst countries for workers?

The corporal punishment in schools and Peter Costello polls were the only ones that are not definitively leftist though Labor was pretty keen at the time for Costello to take over from Howard for the upcoming election.

I did send an email to Ninemsn some time back and they responded that they would look into it but clearly they’re still happy to have any credibility their online polls do have to be trashed because this is what we woke up to this morning:

Yes: 125959 No: 48357 Ratio: 2.605

I can understand why the left needs to manipulate public polls. Redefining history is a necessary requirement for them to escape the negative effects that their policies have had on society but I don’t understand why Ninemsn continues to allow these people to hurt their brand.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Media, Politics

>Camden Council ‘racist’ against 65 different ethnic groups

>Camden Council last night voted unanimously to not allow an Islamic school to be built. The reasons they gave were all based on planning and development issues, thus avoiding the issue of religion after a ferocious campaign from locals who don’t want to see what is effectively a Madrassa in their area.

The following article contains one of the greatest examples of muddled logic in recent history.

A Sydney council’s rejection of a proposed Islamic school is a victory for racism, a Muslim community organisation says.

No surprises there. Muslims don’t get their way so they seethe and call everyone racists.

Camden Council has voted unanimously to reject a proposal for a 1,200-student Islamic school, a decision that followed months of heated community meetings and the release of an adverse report by the council’s planners last week.

Mayor Chris Patterson said the council’s decision was based on concerns surrounding the impact on traffic flows, loss of agricultural land, highlighted in the planners report and not on religious grounds.

One does wonder whether things would have been different if it was a government school that was being proposed.

But the independent think tank FAIR (Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations) said the decision came as no surprise and was “a reflection of unwarranted fear and ignorance about Islam”.

FAIR sounds like CAIR. I wonder whether they get their money from the same sources.

“The decision based on planning grounds is only a smokescreen for the real issues which were related to community tensions and potential social upheavals if the school was approved,” FAIR executive director Kuranda Seyit said in a statement.

“I see this as a victory for racism.

He sees this as a victory for racism. But what does racism actually mean?

According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.’

Here comes the logical inconsistency…

“The fact is that Muslims are diverse and come from more than 65 different ethnic groups and everybody is suffering because of the negative perceptions about Muslims.

Soooo…the decision is racist against Muslims…who come from more than 65 different ethnic groups…so the decision is racist against 65 groups?

Really?

These people are lunatics. Mind you, the non-thinking so-called elites in the media will play this for all it’s worth as an issue of racism. It’s clearly not. It’s an issue of values and integrating with Australian society – something that Muslims do not have a spectacular track record on.

“I am not sure where people get their information from and how they form their ideas but I can bet you a dollar per resident that they have never actually met a Muslim before.”

I reckon they’d lose a fair amount of money with that bet.

The development has been the subject of heated town meetings and a protest rally involving up to 1,000 people.

Tensions reached a climax in November when two pigs’ heads were rammed on metal stakes with an Australian flag draped between them at the school’s proposed site.

A completely stupid and counter productive incident, it must be said.

“People of Australia should speak out against this decision and try to build more understanding and mutual respect for each other,” Mr Seyit said.

What he really means is – people should understand what we want and accede to our demands to live in a parallel society with our own rules.

The council’s decision was likely to be contested in the Land and Environment Court, he said.

Mr Patterson said that proponents of the school were welcome to look at an alternate site for the development.

In other words, “Bugger off.”

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Islam

>Where is the justice in Australian courts?

May 27, 2008 1 comment

>What is going on in the courtrooms of Australia? A number of commentators including Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair have started to notice a disturbing trend.

A RESPECTED Aboriginal elder who bashed his wife before smashing a glass door over her head, killing her, has been sentenced to…

Before we get to the sentence the following should be noted:

Camfoo had been convicted for two previous assaults on his wife and was under a restraining order at the time of her death.

He had a history of violence and should not have been anywhere near his wife. So what was the sentence?

…at least four years and six months in jail.

That is outrageous.

How is what Camfoo did any different to Robert Farmer’s horrific attack on Lauren Huxley? Farmer has been found guilty and the prosecutor has asked for the maximum 25 year custodial sentence to apply.

But there’s more:

Nine males who pleaded guilty last month to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York…

Can you think of an appropriate sentence for gang rape?

…have escaped a prison term…

Can you think of a reason the judge would have to come up with such a travesty of justice?

…with the sentencing judge saying the child victim “probably agreed” to have sex with them.

The mind boggles. If the girl was white then what would the outcome have been? If the attackers were Middle Eastern and had organised it by SMS then what would it have been?

Because she agreed then she’s not a victim, apparently. She consented. Sounds like the same defence being given of Bill Henson who displays photos of naked 13 year old girls.

Unsurprisingly in Victoria, given the Labor government’s history of appointing activist judges:

A TEENAGER who bashed a 75-year-old great-grandmother in her bed has avoided jail because a judge thought he was too skinny and “worth a chance”.

Judge David Parsons described Ashley Wayne Brooks’ attack on Barbara Durea as sickening. But he said Brooks, 19, was a disadvantaged young Aborigine whose chances of rehabilitation were reasonably good.

Judge Parsons said because of his youth and slight build, Brooks would not fare well in an adult prison.

Excuse me? So if you’re well built then you’re more likely to be sent to prison in Jude David Parsons’ court? Again, if Brooks was white then would the same leniency apply?

Meanwhile, an elderly lady will live in fear for the rest of her days, unable to sleep at night, starting at every little noise while the person who bashed her unconscious gets away with a two year term in a ‘youth justice centre’.

These cases highlight a disturbing distortion of morality by judges. Activism has no place in our courts.

I don’t care what side of politics people come from. If they are prepared to promote partisan activism over correct application of the law then they have no place in our court system.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, Culture

>62% of US voters prefer smaller government, lower taxes

>The divide between how to solve society’s issues is on clear display in the latest Rasmussen poll.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 62% of voters would prefer fewer government services with lower taxes. Nearly a third (29%) disagrees and would rather have a bigger government with higher taxes. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.

Those numbers have changed little over the past month.

Would you like to hazard a guess at which party’s voters want small government?

Republican voters overwhelmingly prefer fewer government services — 83% of the GOP faithful hold that view while just 13% prefer more government involvement. Democratic voters are evenly divided on this question: 46% prefer more government services, while 43% prefer less government services.

No shocks in those results. Conservatives want smaller government. The fact that liberals are evenly divided comes as somewhat of a surprise given that the Democratic Party playbook is all about bigger government to solve the big issues of health, education and jobs.

Not surprisingly, conservative voters like less government while liberal voters favor a bigger government. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of politically moderate voters prefer smaller government. A separate survey found that most adults (56%) are worried that the next president will raise taxes too much.

That’s pretty interesting: 57% of moderates prefer smaller government. That must be to McCain’s advantage?

Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters think American society is generally fair and decent. Twenty-seven percent (27%) think it is unfair and discriminatory. Those numbers have become slightly more positive over the past month.

I reckon the 27% should go and live in a truly unfair and discriminatory nation. All of the women can go and live in Saudi Arabia for a while, for example. That should cure their nonsense.

Three quarters of voters (75%) think people who move to America from other countries should adopt the nation’s culture. Just 13% think they should maintain their home country’s culture.

It’s pretty interesting, really, that multiculturalists have the political and media high ground in the immigration debate. I’m sure that the 75% figure would be replicated in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand etc. In the circumstance where the economy goes pear-shaped and jobs are being lost it’s the immigrants that will come under closest scrutiny, as regularly happens. If 75% of the population believes immigrants should adopt the nation’s culture then that’s a large pool that nationalist parties can draw support from, as is being increasingly demonstrated in Britain and Belgium.

Forty-three percent (43%) of voters think the nation’s allies should do what the United States wants more often. Last month, 47% held that view. Twenty-eight percent (28%) think the U.S. should do what the allies want more often. A related survey found that most voters say bringing the troops home from Iraq should be a higher priority than winning the war.

Finally, nearly half of voters (47%) say American’s best days have come and gone. That number has not changed since last month. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters think the nation’s best days are still to come.

If America’s best days have come and gone then, by definition, America’s best day has come and gone.

What was that date?

What defined it as being the ‘best’?

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Politics, United States

>Sunday night rock ‘n’ roll

>Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry (born October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Chuck Berry is an influential figure and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website, “While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together.” Cub Koda wrote, “Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers.” John Lennon was more succinct: “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2000 in a “class” with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plácido Domingo, Angela Lansbury, and Clint Eastwood. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Chuck Berry #5[4] on their list of The Immortals: The First Fifty. He was also ranked 6th on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included three of Chuck Berry’s songs (Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene, Rock & Roll Music), of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll.

What a legend. 81 years old and he still makes many of today’s young rockers look ordinary.

Johnny B. Goode

Roll Over Beethoven

Maybelline

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Music

>Iran opposes peace talks in Middle East

May 24, 2008 1 comment

>Here’s something that has been widely unreported by the mainstream media – Israel and Syria are in peace talks.

Whether anything comes from the talks, which are being held in Turkey, is the big question. Syria wants the Golan Heights back, which it lost in the 1967 war, and Israel doesn’t want to give the territory away, as it provides Syria and its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, greater ability to attack Israel.

Iran is not pleased with the talks.

Think about that for a bit.

Why would any nation oppose peace talks between two nations?

Does Code Pink support the talks I wonder rhetorically?

Iran has promised Hamas new rockets and more funds, an expression of the Islamic Republic’s displeasure with recent news of renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, the London-based newspaper, Asharq Alawsat reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who held a press conference in Teheran with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki Saturday, expressed his concern over statements issued simultaneously by Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara last Wednesday in which a renewal of talks between Syria and Israel under Turkish mediation was declared.

Mashaal reportedly told his Iranian hosts that despite commitments he was given by Damascus that peace with Israel would not come at the expense of Syria’s ties with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, he was still aware of the fact that Syria would have to make some concessions.

He emphasized that he understood that Syria could not sign a peace agreement with Israel, exchange ambassadors, end the state of war and make the Golan Heights demilitarized and at the same time continue to allow Iran to use its territory to transfer weapons to Hizbullah, train Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists and help in the financing of those groups.

An Iranian source told the paper that in light of Mashaal’s fears, Iranian regime officials promised the head of Hamas’s political bureau that Iran would continue supporting Hamas financially, materially and morally, even if Syria would turn its back on the organization for the sake of an agreement with Israel.

According to the source, the Iranians had even elaborated what that support would be: Newer, upgraded rockets and an increase in the budget allotted to Hamas to $150 million in the second half of 2008.

A source in the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Mashaal was promised that Iran would supply every support his organization might need, be it weapons, finance, or military training.

Iran’s defense minister also expressed confidence on Sunday that negotiations would not hamper the strong alliance between Teheran and Damascus, the Iranian FARS news agency reported.

Labeling Syria a strategic ally of Iran, Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammed Nejad called on “Islamic states to strengthen their relations in order to defend themselves against the dangers which threaten the region.”

I wonder whether Syria is looking to regain some semblance of respectability after being kicked out of Lebanon (though Hezbollah is gaining in strength there now) and suffering the embarrassment of Israel knocking out its North Korean built nuclear plant.

Certainly, Israel would not be negotiating with Syria “without preconditions”, as those on the left seem so willing to do in the West.

I also wonder what Lee Bollinger and his crew of appeasers at Columbia University think of their Persian Poster Child opposing peace.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Israel, Middle East