John Howard’s free market and minimalist approach
to government is not responsible for our declining civility, says Peter
Saunders in The Australian. But today “our shared norms of behaviour are repeatedly
being challenged, and this generation probably feels less certain of
itself than any other before it.” And when this happens “it
is vital that people in authority reaffirm our shared, instinctive
ethical judgements and do not undermine them.” Community leaders,
teachers, politicians, broadcasters need to “wholeheartedly and tenaciously” defend these shared values.

“Under the Westminster principle of ministerial
responsibility, a minister should be held accountable for the
conduct of his officials,” says Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald,
but don’t expect any sackings, or even any “unpleasant disciplinary
action,” to come from the AWB storm. Because “in the
Howard Government, presiding over a national disgrace is
not a sacking offence.”

The million dollar donation from a British Lord
to the Liberal Party should raise more than a few questions. Because
“if foreigners can insert significant monies into another country’s
domestic political setting, they may be able to unduly influence its
public policies to their liking,” say Peter van Onselen and Wayne
Errington in The Courier-Mail. “Businesses
don’t donate to political parties to simply function as good corporate
citizens” – that would be a waste of money. Instead they buy influence
and access. Meanwhile, the laws are about to become looser, and the supposed
“transparency is dramatically reduced when the figures are released
right in the middle of an electoral cycle.”

“We have a war president, war hawks, war planes, war correspondents,
war cries, even war crimes – but do we have war?” asks James Carol in
The Boston Globe.
Iraq may be in a state of war, but when it comes to
the US’s involvement, something kind of necessary is missing
– an enemy. The Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Kurds are fighting around a hatred
for each
other – based on long held religious beliefs – and there’s no
equivalent hatred towards the US. Not even the war on terrorism
is an actual war, because Bush has failed to actually engaged Bin Laden
or Al Qaeda. Bush is deluded; there’s no war, just “catastrophe, pure
and simple.”

“For the past five years, America has been led by a president who is
clearly not up to the job — a man who is not just inarticulate, but
lacking in judgement, intelligence, integrity, charisma or staying
power. Yet America as a nation seems to be stronger, more prosperous
and self-confident than ever,” says Anatole Kaletsky in The Times. It has forged ever further ahead of Europe in
terms of wealth, science, technology, artistic creativity and cultural
dominance.” And while America’s elected representatives are dim, with a
minimalist system of government like America’s, you don’t
need to be too bright. And you certainly don’t
“need a genius in the White House.”

Worth reading Highly recommended