Archive for August, 2013

We need to have a chat about Syria

Hey, I was downtown at the Senate Forum last night, but didn’t get to share my view on what action we should take in Syria to counter the abominable response by the worst candidate I have met for election to the Senate this cycle, Sue Lines (LAB).

See, the Labor government is now ready to rush to support military intervention in Syria, and Sue attempted to pull our heart strings with ‘I am not sure the children of Syria can wait for the UN or the Australian Parliament to deliberate’.

Once again, a government with no real answers is ready to dance to the tune of the US or Britain with respect to military strikes that will do more damage, be indiscriminate in their effect (surgical strikes, my arse). Like the Coalition before them, then aren’t willing to do the hard work for years, then rush to some populist travesty in order to prove they are doing something.

Now I care as much about human beings as the the next guy, but we didn’t get here in a couple months in Syria, lots of people are already dead or dying, and unfortunately many more are to come, regardless if military action is taken now or not. If you want to do something about genocide, you need to support a change in the definition of the term by the UN, and to put fast action triggers in the UN plan for addressing it when it raises its ugly head. Addressing issues like this with violence in the short term is virtually never effective, doesn’t really save that many lives in the overall scheme of things, and leads to problems of regime change and occupation (who do you support amongst the dozens of rebel groups? Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Druze, Christian, etc?). You can only grow a representative democracy, not impose it, and this is a country that has had more than 40 years of dictatorship, since Assad’s old man Hafez used to compete with the Shah over the title of Most Evil Motherfucker on the Planet.

You want real short term action. How about the NSA using its powers for good instead of evil for a change? How about the NSA publish all it knows on Syria in as transparent a fashion as possible, and keep at it worldwide through all its available propaganda organs? Frankly, that will scare the shit out of all of us, including the Assad regime if they know that they will get no safe harbour anywhere unless they immediately surrender to the International Court of Justice. We can also continue to press the General Council and the Security Council to take joint action as and when we can get it through. Prepare for humanitarian assistance to refugees in neighbouring countries, and do what we can to ameliorate the worst of the negative effects.

That’s reality, and what we should be pursuing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete pacifist wuss, and I have a long history here of appropriate use of the dogs of war, but we ain’t there yet.

Today’s conversation

The following is the issue of the day as requested by email. I think it is indicative of how to provide cruelty free leadership toward Sustainable Prosperity. I will publish more of these as they come up.

Hi Anthea -

Thanks for voicing your concerns. I believe they are fully addressed in well established policy on the issue, as attached. However, I will elaborate for you briefly so I can demonstrate to you that I understand the issue, AND how to fix the problems you identified. Live export of animals must be eliminated with a preference for the shipment of frozen meat products (including halal conforming meat). Further, we need to address conformance to acceptable behaviour through random audit of Australian meat processors, and insure they have systems in place to meet those requirements. Those that demonstrably cannot or will not conform with be closed. Those that can meet requirements will thrive with new business in processing additional frozen meat for export.

With respect to battery farms, and any other animal production activity, I support the development of an independent and scientifically overseen standards for labelling of “free range”, “organic” and other terms that are misleadingly used in advertising. See the National Carbon Offset Standard for an example of what works in this type of area.

Long term, it would be nice if we could all be vegetarians, but that isn’t going to happen, not even to me. However, I have a long history as a problem solver, including the invention of pollution control devices and development of systems of controls to minimise environmental, safety and health risk in industry, and for the public. Please check out my profile if you want to know more. I and my company practice what we preach, as the first voluntarily carbon neutral consulting firm in the country, we have been carbon emission neutral since 2008. We support communities where we live through things like Wakakirri.

I truly believe I will be the most competent and effective representative you could elect this election, and ask for your support.

William Thiel, Australian Democrats Candidate for Senate (WA)


NPER 2043071


On 29/08/2013, at 6:25 AM, Anthea wrote:

Hello fellow Australian,

I am writing to enquire about your policy towards Animal Welfare. I hope if successful your party will give serious consideration to this problem. I am a very serious activist in this area, and disgusted how our poor animals are treated, not only in the live export practice but also in the farming area.

I have watched many videos of how our poor sheep, cattle, hens and pigs are treated. Recently it has been uncovered how sows are forced to lay down permanently to feed piglets, whilst bolted in place, this is happening at a piggery in NSW. This and all the other cruel practices should be abolished and free range farming enforced as in New Zealand and other countries. We are supposed to be a first world country but have practices that not even third world countries allow. Not very Australia.

Today In Schadenfreude

Apparently, even the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a sick sense of humour.

How to look like the reasonable candidate

Today’s observations from a campaigning novice come from my participation last night in a Senate candidates forum in the northern suburb of Perth. When trying to attract votes of engaged community members there are strategies that I think are obvious winners and losers, including:

• Get some input on your uniform. If, like me, you have virtually no fashion sense and generally do not look in a mirror before exiting the house, check with someone who does. As mom used to say, it’s easy to be underdressed, but difficult to be over dressed.
• If you get 10 minutes to talk, use 5 and hand back the rest. I tend to over-explain things, especially when they are complicated issues, so trying extra hard to be concise has become very important to me.
• Try to talk last. This one has been very useful to learn. If you steer it such that you speak last, you can say in relation to the filibusters that have come before you, “I agree with X, but . . .” and save some time, as well as come off sane in relation to a point that might be right minded, but wrongly explained or too extreme.
• Study up ahead of time, but don’t use notes. I didn’t get to 95% of what I knew from my preparations, but referring to notes would have been tedious.

• Overwhelm. For instance, both Wikileaks candidates showed up at the forum, as did 3 or 4 of their supporters, all in uniform (the black Wikileaks hoodies). Comes off like a gang or less than savoury political party in a room of maybe 30 audience members.
• Avoid polemic, and don’t even use the word, even if you know what it means (I’m looking right at you Socialists)
• Have one idea or policy. I mean honestly, some of these single issue parties really do give the elections for the Senate a carnival feel. As an environmental engineer, I surely do recognise the problems with overpopulation and resource use
• Filibuster. Yes Wikileaks, each party does get 10 minutes to present their case, but not 12 minutes, and not 12 minutes per member of the party at the meeting.
• Present your favourite conspiracy theory. Always entertaining, and I do love me a good one over the water cooler, but probably not a real good idea in front of a public you have not met before, with no evidence, and presented very emphatically (see polemic above)
• Don’t show up. The Coalition, Labor and the single owner Katter and Palmer parties didn’t even send a person along. Clearly their messages are better delivered through paid advertising and they need not actually engage with small groups of the public organised locally.

Given my accent and proclivity to drop the odd topical F-bomb when I get going, if you would have told me that I would come off as the reasonable, thoughtful alternative out of a group of 8 minor parties (including the Greens), I would have paid about 5:1.

Press Ganged

Hey, for the occasional reader, or anyone wishing to catch my latest rant, I am actually now doing live gigs.

Funny story. I was looking for an alternative place to place my vote this year, as no way am I giving any of the major parties (Coalition, Labor or the Greens) my vote this time around. So, my buddy the Chairman asked just after the election was called, “Whatever happened to the Democrats?” Well, it turns out they are still around and have been continuing to develop policy since they last held a federal seat in 2008, and it turns out its still spot on.

So, I start to check them out, have some discussions with the guy who heads the tram up over here in WA, then go along to a meeting, and after committing some money, and trying to talk a good option into being the second Senate candidate for a couple hours, I end up being a candidate for the Senate to help the team strategically this election. Because it also turns out that there are one hell of a a lot of people like me this election, and we need a credible alternative. We can and should catch a good part of the protest vote this election.

But, let’s be honest. I have a better chance of coming in most spirited newcomer in the Melbourne Cup this November. But as I always say, if you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly. So, in support of the Australian Democrats and with their endorsement nationally, I am campaigning this election for a Senate seat as our second candidate. I have been working the pavement every weekend, talking to prospective constituents about their concerns, and trying to convince them that sound economic policy need not be cruel, and sustainability means more jobs all the time in addition to making sure your kids can breathe, swim and eat without an EVA suit in a hundred years.

Observations from campaigning include:

• You will get ZERO editorial coverage as a minor party in Australia unless you pay for advertising, or you are the butt of a joke. Fair enough, I ain’t complaining, just saying from personal experience.
• The wind is not your friend.
• It isn’t that bad, talking to people you meet on the street, even if they are crazy. See, I’m not the most personable guy (no really). And, I don’t like to hassle people who are just going about their business; so when out in public, I typically mind my own business. I’m wallpaper. It’s a skill. But having to carry out what is basically direct advertising means you want to talk to anyone who wants to talk to you, and sometimes those people have problems you can’t solve, or just want to have a rant, or have views you don’t share (and sometimes are even offensive). But, you know, free speech is a two-way street, and it has been a lot more pleasant than it has been a chore engaging with people during a campaign.
• It’s expensive and I could use some help.

For the record, here’s the issues I’m focusing on, although the party has comprehensive policy across the board.

Aust Dem Flyer 1
Aust Dem Flyer 2

Aust Dem Flyer 4

Aust Dem Flyer 5

Now this is funny

Nice to see some US cartoonists are still going well in addition to Ted Rall.

Love your work Mr. Sorensen

Jen Sorensen