Inflexibility is not to be respected

February 23rd, 2007

Today, in a speech to the Australian-American leadership dialogue in Sydney, Dick Cheney spoke in glowing terms of Australian military support in Iraq and the strong alliance that AU and the US have formed through the commitment to the war on terror. Vice President Cheney highlighted the respect that the world has for our PM for not withdrawing from Iraq before the job is done.

“He stuck to those words one day later and he has stuck to them every day since. Prime Minister Howard and the nation that he serves have never wavered in the war on terror. The United States appreciates it and the whole world respects him for it.” -Dick Cheney.

In every classroom, workplace, and family, in every city around this country, people are practicing and valuing being flexible.

In the workplace or government, when a new policy is decided, there is a pilot project (or two) which has at its core a review mechanism. This acts as a feedback loop for customers, staff, management, stakeholders and funding bodies to have input into the way that policy impacts on the way that business is done. It provides new information, highlights unintended consequences and serves to alter the policy so that it does what it is supposed to do. It is not a deficit model, it is a celebration of fluid and dynamic decision making. In healthy organisations this feedback loop is continuous and fluidity is valued.

What do we then have to celebrate in our respected by the world PM who has stated that no new information will be considered in deciding Australia’s commitment to the ‘war on terror-ism’? Sadly, we have very little to celebrate in our PM’s decision-making behaviour. It is very clear that our PM has reached his potential capacity.

It is not a strength of character to be inflexible and rigid when new information enters into a system. The new information can be minimal or profound. The point is that a system must be flexible enough to consider all new information for it to remain dynamic, and therefore valid.

John HoWARd- inflexible, rigid and ‘stuck.’ With fans like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, it’s clear our PM occupies a redundant time line with a redundant personality type.

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Park it or drive it Johnny!

February 12th, 2007

Yesterday I heard HoWARd wade into the US presidential candidacy and US foreign affairs with this outburst and cringed.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory. If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.” – John HoWARd.

Today I heard Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama respond to HoWARd and grinned.

“I think it’s flattering that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced [my candidacy]. I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400. So if he is…to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.” – Senator Obama.

Not usually a fan of dichotomous thinking, I am very much enjoying that my PM is being bitchslapped by a junior Senator in the US Congress.

UPDATE: Our ‘Man of steel’ not so tough. While in New Zealand, during a press conference, a reporter asked HoWARd if he had any other advice for Barack Obama. Our Johnny went off,

“I do not resile from anything I have said….


Crud from Rudd

December 6th, 2006

Since being elected leader of the Labor party Kevin Rudd has said he offers a new style of leadership and an alternative policy platform rather than an echo of the Government. Really?

On the issue of legislation which will implement the recommendations of the Lockhart review into stem cell research, including a new process of allowing embryonic cloning, Kevin certainly has an alternative policy platform, but it’s alternative to former leader Kim Beazley. What I’m really looking for is an alternative to HoWARd.

Kevin Rudd: “I find it very difficult to support a legal regime that supports the creation of a human life for the single and explicit purpose of experimentation on that human life”

John HoWARd: “I don’t think the science has shifted enough to warrant the parliament changing its view (since the 2002 vote to ban therapeutic cloning).”

My concern is that Kevin has articulated his belief that human life begins at conception. What may be the implications on choice this may have for Australian women in the future.

The Lockhart review suggests that,

A fundamental judgement needs to be made about when a fertilised egg becomes a potential life form deserving of special ethical respect and treatment. A key recommendation of the Committee was for a clearer definition of what a human embryo is. The current statutory definition catches embryos from about the age of 22 hours to about 8 weeks. This is in stark contrast to the definition which many in the scientific community would prefer.
The UK’s Warnock Committee were of the view that until the fourteenth day of development most cells of the embryo had the potential to develop into tissue which would not even form part of the ultimate foetus (such as placenta or the amniotic sac), and that cells which were identifiable as dedicated to the development of the foetus itself would not be determined until at least day 14 after conception. Defining an embryo before this stage as a ‘potential life’ therefore, according to the Warnock Committee was ‘inaccurate and misleading.’


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Houston v. HoWARd or Exocet v. Torpedo. Round #2.

September 9th, 2006

Late in 2001, the then acting Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Air Marshal Houston had to contend with the Defence Minister, Peter Reith and the Prime Minister, John HoWARd who slavishly defended the lies and misleading images regarding the incident we have come to know as ‘children overboard.’

The following is drawn from the Executive summary of the report of the Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident.

“FINDINGS OF FACT: No children were thrown overboard from SIEV 4. […] On 7 November 2001, the then Acting Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston, informed Minister Reith that children had not been thrown overboard from SIEV 4. On four other occasions the lack of or dubious nature of evidence for the ‘children overboard’ report were drawn to the attention of the Minister or his staff by officers from Defence.”

This from HoWARd in Senate estimates on 20/02/2002:

“Last night, they thought they had an Exercet [sic], they thought they had an Exercet from the Air Marshal. I think you had a decent torpedo from the Admiral, Mr Speaker.”

“If I confirm to the House which I have previously said about my discussions with Mr Reith. I specifically add that he did not convey to me in our discussion the discussion he had with Air Marshal Houston.” – HoWARd.

“I was concerned that I had the opportunity to speak to the Chief of the Defence Forces and had not had a proper detailed and conclusive report. I am certain I did not discuss Air Marshal Angus Houston’s comments with the PM because I felt it was wrong to do so without talking first to the CDF.” -Peter Reith

It is traditional practice that the ‘colour’ of CDF rotates between the three services- Army, Navy, Air force. It was widely believed that after Admiral Barrie it was to be Air Force blue for CDF. It is also believed that Air Marshal Houston, and with him the Air force, was being punished for his honesty in the children overboard affair and it would be some time before he became Air Chief Marshal Houston. That day came and now we have an honest man meeting a dishonest man yet again.

I predict that whilst Houston has the height to beat HoWARd even with Minister of Defence, Brendan Nelson acting as spit-bucket boy, CDF does not have the trickiness, the sneakiness or the dishonesty to beat the unflushable turd and his little fart that are our PM and Defence Minister, respectively.


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The pursuit of justice

August 27th, 2006

On Friday night along with about 1099 others I made my way to the City Recital hall to a GetUp! gig to hear MAJ Michael Mori speak.


It was fascinating (and refreshing) to hear someone in a US military uniform openly criticise his government and its structures. The Major’s flow chart left us in doubt that David cannot be released from the psychological horror that is Guantanamo bay. The Major was asked how he can keep his energy to defend David from sapping, year after year, against the structurally unfair and overwhelming odds, and he answered simply,

“Justice. Whether I am the prosecuting counsel or the defense counsel, my role is the same – Getting to the truth and being a part of a just outcome”

The most disturbing bit of data that came out of the night was the Major’s answer to the question,

“Given that Tony Blair did not tolerate Britons being kept in Guantanamo bay, do you think that president Bush and Co., if asked by HoWARd, would have released David Hicks?”

“Without a doubt”

The Major is a classic example of American culture for good – loud, brash, and without the slightest hint of timidity. It was no wonder that at the end Australians gave this man a standing ovation.