Entries Tagged 'Politics' ↓

Obama: I’m not Muslim. No, really.

Look, I’ll be honest straight off the bat: I’ve never much liked politics. There, I admitted it, and I am not ashamed to have done so. Having said that, of course, I try to pay attention where necessary. And sometimes things will just jump out at you, interested or not. I totally understand why, in Australia, we seem to follow the US elections (including the primaries) with as much, if not more, interest than our own. We have good reason to care about the outcome, even if watching reruns of 90210 might seem more appealing than following a US election (not that I watch 90210, just saying. No, honestly.)
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FYI, this talk is HAZ-MAT

Phillip Coorey has a humorous op-ed in today’s Sydney Morning Herald about Kevin Rudd’s increasing — and unrestrained — use of acronyms. Hey, I’m all for the everyday FAQ, IOU, PS, ATM and ASAP. But there is a limit to how much we should invoke acronyms, particularly in conversation. Right? Not sure? See below.

Ever since Washington, where Rudd cooly dropped the acronym CSBM (confidence- and security-building measures) during an address to foreign policy wonks at the Brookings Institution, collecting examples of what Rudd calls “geek talk” has become a trip favourite.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest, where Rudd spoke of war in terms of establishing and measuring performance benchmarks, the ABC’s Louise Yaxley asked him whether the leaders had streamlined the rules of engagement that apply to the NATO soldiers.

“You mean RoEs,” said Rudd.

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A matter of honour

There is a scene in The West Wing (a show I have belatedly grown to absolutely love for its sharp, intelligent and witty dialogue) where Charlie, President Bartlet’s assistant, gives him a gift: it’s a map of the Holy Land, from 1709. Bartlet, admiring the artwork and history behind it, wishes to display the map outside his office. He is told, emphatically, not to do so by his staff.

“It doesn’t recognise Israel”, says Toby. A perplexed Bartlet points out that it was drawn in 1709. “Israel wouldn’t happen for another 250 years,” he adds.

Toby agrees, but still says no to the map. “Some people are going to find it offensive.”

Bartlet asks why. “It doesn’t recognise Israel,” Toby repeats.

It’s an interesting scene. The dialogue is brief, but it says so much.

And it’s sort of strange that I first saw this in the same week our new PM Kevin Rudd made the fortuitous decision to mark and honour Israel’s 60-year occupation of Palestine — sorry, “statehood”. But this weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey considered the other side of the story.

A World Without Islam

In the January/February 2008 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Graham E. Fuller, former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council of the CIA, engages in an interesting thought experiment.

Imagine, if you will, a world without Islam—admittedly an almost inconceivable state of affairs given its charged centrality in our daily news headlines. Islam seems to lie behind a broad range of international disorders: suicide attacks, car bombings, military occupations, resistance struggles, riots, fatwas, jihads, guerrilla warfare, threatening videos, and 9/11 itself. Why are these things taking place? “Islam” seems to offer an instant and uncomplicated analytical touchstone, enabling us to make sense of today’s convulsive world. Indeed, for some neoconservatives, “Islamofascism” is now our sworn foe in a looming “World War III.”

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The anti-Ron Paul Coalition

Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo on the unholy alliance that has formed between the “extreme Left” and “neoconish Right” in response to the rise and rise of American presidential hopeful Dr Ron Paul:

The Ron Paul campaign has generated a lot of excitement, especially among young people. It has made political history by raising more money in a single day than any other presidential campaign, ever. It has inspired thousands and given hope to those who had given up on politics altogether – as well as thrilling longtime libertarians who have been laboring in the vineyards all these years and haven’t seen anything like this before. On the other hand, it has inspired – if that’s the right word – a counter-movement, an anti-Paul coalition that extends from the extreme Left to the neoconish Right, and all points in between. What’s interesting is that the lies told by these anti-Paulistas amount to pretty much the same tiresome mantra, no matter what the politics of the perpetrator, and it amounts to this: Paul is a secret neo-Nazi.

I kid you not.

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The Virtues of Being Prepared

Within hours of Brendan Nelson being named leader of the opposition, someone put a site up (nelsonfacts.com) attacking him. According to the Whois record for the domain, the site was registered on November 26th.

Domain Name: nelsonfacts.com
Created on ………….Mon Nov 26 16:46:53 2007
Expires on ………….Thu Nov 26 16:46:53 2009
Record last updated on .Wed Nov 28 18:51:42 2007

It’s not immediately clear who is behind the site but when one looks at the Whois record, it is apparent that they are using the ALP DNS server, dns1.alp.org.au.

Interestingly, the same person or group also registered costellofacts.com, bishopfacts.com, abbottfacts.com, turnbullfacts.com, and robbfacts.com (all named after prominent Liberal politicians who may have been contenders for the leadership) so obviously they were hedging their bets on who would assume leadership of the opposition today. They haven’t yet registered pynefacts.com (after Christopher Pyne) or andrewsfacts.com (after Kevin Andrews).

Is “climate change” a religious issue?

Last Sunday, Compass asked a number of religious leaders and one Muslim identity to discuss their thoughts on the coming federal election.

Geraldine Doogue
Imam Ali, what do you believe are the major moral issues to be addressed in this campaign?

Imam Afroz Ali
The issue of climate change is a moral issue. I think I’m quoting Al Gore there. That it’s not a political matter. It’s a moral matter. And we need to return to understanding what the environment is. What is the environment? Why does it exist? Do we use it until the last drop of water on earth? Is that how it is? Is there a cross generational responsibility?

It’s interesting to note that the other religious representatives made similar points. And recently the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils were calling on the government to:

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The Fifth of November

On the fifth of November, the American libertarian candidate for the Republican nomination, Dr Ron Paul, made history by raising an amazing $4.3 million dollars in a single day of online fundraising.

YouTube Preview Image

The fifth of November is, of course, the day on which an attempt was made to blow up the parliament and features prolifically in the movie V for Vendetta. The next online Ron Paul fundraiser promises to be even bigger; to be held on December 16th, the day of the Boston Tea Party.

Unlike some of his opponents, Ron Paul’s message of small government, humble foreign policy, personal freedom and low taxes is simple and coherent. It is interesting that the message — or elements of the message — evidently resonate with many people, including people who might not have identified themselves as Republicans or libertarians in the past. A Ron Paul victory would be good for the United States and good for the rest of the world. Let’s hope this is the start of something.

(And, of course, if you are Australian and you too are sick of the depredations of government, then you know who to vote for in the coming election.)

The Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP)

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many Muslims about the political situation and our engagement with the broader society. Although some may disagree, my experience has been that, overwhelmingly, the Muslim community just wants to practice our religion in peace. We want to be free to believe what we want, dress how we like, associate with whom we please, and say what we wish in our mosques and centers. In essence, we — like most other Australians — want to be left alone to pursue our own personal objectives in a manner we see fit.

As I have written previously, it’s my view that the political ideology that best guarantees us those freedoms is libertarianism. It is therefore of particular interest that there is a libertarian party, the Liberty and Democracy Party, running in the coming election — and they have a real chance.

So, to find out how this party views issues of concern to the Muslim community, I put a few questions to John Humphreys, the party’s vice-president and senate candidate for Queensland. We report, you decide; but I know who I’ll be voting for on election day.

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