As I see it, John Howard is a terrorist
Let's start with taking control of our language; it's being stolen from us. Let's refer to terrorists as those people who want to wreck our accepted freedoms and way of life and spread fear. Some terrorists do that with bombs, some with laws.
We have to make sure we understand that the means of spreading terror is not the defining feature of a terrorist. Those men who flew planes into the twin towers and bombed the nightclubs in Bali and those women who carry bombs into cafes are murderers. First and foremost they are murderers. They intend to kill with malice aforethought.
We have laws against murder. In many part of the US and the rest of the world, the punishment for murder is death itself. We value life and we fear death and those who would take it from us are criminals, guilty of one of the oldest "crimes" (a legal concept after all) mankind has described. It has developed that it is a crime nearly as bad as murder itself to even attempt to murder. Beyond that, it is a crime of conspiracy for people to act in concert to even discuss and plan a murder even if no act is done in furtherance of the plan.
Why, then, don't we speak of this rabble who do the bombing as such as murderers or conspirators? Surely that is as reprehensible a judgment as mankind needs, has ever needed, to brand their anti-social behaviour.
Because politicians know that we are pretty much inured to the idea of murder. We don't accept it as a practice but are consigned to accept it as part of what we are. It doesn't really provide any kind of rally point, even though Fox news can take any old murder and turn it into a "theme" or "topic" of "news" and run with it for a year or two. It may sell papers or news time, but it doesn't really rally the voters.
Fear on the other hand is something that we are all hard-wired for, just like deer and prairie dogs and doves. As a social beast, we have leaders and poppas constantly heads up while others are heads down, to be on the look out, and to squawk at the first sight of danger. Any squawk rallies us together like a troop of baboons to fend of the real or imagined threat. When the threat passes, we harumph and beat our feet and scratch and settle back down to the business of heads down. It is a satisfying, socializing behaviour that helps define who and what we are. We are as hard-wired for it as chimpanzees.
So playing the fear thing is a means of leaders reminding us of who the leaders are. Really, they are just guards along the watchtowers, but they have come to believe that, since we all jump and dance and howl about whenever they bark, that they can control us. This has given them an overblown sense of self-importance.
This control business is really important to them, and has served us well in times long gone. It is the essence of the pecking order concept. It has been essential in our social evolution. In the deep past, when self selection was the go, it assured we had the strongest and smartest leaders so the troop survived.
The thing that we should remember, though, is that it is the troop that does it all together. Any watchtower guard who goes off in the face of danger alone without the support of the troop meets with disaster. The troop as a whole has no real interest in such adventure. In fact, if any watchtower guard (a description I prefer to "leader" since it really better describes the function) keeps the troop on too constant a state of alarm, the "heads down" business does not get done and the survival of the troop is put at risk by its very own organisation. Survival of the troop requires that both the heads up and the heads down business get done.
We no longer live in troops and we no longer organise ourselves around self-selecting leadership models. But the hard-wired fear response is still engrained in us and still forms part of our social reflexes. Just like horses, which have been domesticated from before the times when mankind first learned to paint and record their histories, we will react to fear spontaneously. Horses react by flight, we react by fight. Our adrenalin shoots up, we bare our teeth, our hair stands on end, we circle the wagons, we whoop, stomp our feet, agitate and fight back.
For the watchtower guards, this reaction is quite satisfying. It validates their position. It defines them individually from the rest. It keeps potential competitors for their job off balance. But for the rest, all the hoopla is tiring and distracting from the heads down business which is what their lives are all about. Still, time and again they will tend to respond to the squawk of the guard: they are hard-wired to do so, notwithstanding an intelligence system that learns from iteration that not all squawks are legitimate.
Which is where I'll stop this little story telling and get back to my point. As I see it, John Howard is a terrorist. The bombers are terrorists, too, but they are murderers first and foremost. They spread fear, and intend to do so, by killing innocent victims.
So maybe there is some enhanced and distinguishable "crime" they are commiting beyond "mere" murder that independently defines them. That can be the only intent of characterising them as "terrorists" rather than the murderers that they are. It must be the intent to spread fear and disrupt our accepted freedoms that is be meant by the term terrorist. If a rose is a rose is a rose, then a murderer is a murderer is a murderer, and a terrorist must be someone who is something distinguishable from a someone who simply kills with malice.
John Howard is a watchtower guard, and certainly no murderer, but by putting us in a constant state of fear (he did, after all, send us refrigerator signs reminding us to stay alert) and by disrupting our established sense of freedoms, he is, as near as I can tell, IMHO, a terrorist. And so it George Bush. They are not content to leave us to go about our heads down business, but seem compelled to raise the alarm needlessly and disrupt our heads down order. They are neglecting the murderers (http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/10/it-was-never-ists-it-was-always-ism.html) and are consumed by the alarm and the sense of power that gives them.
Which makes each of them very bad watchtower guards. John Howard has been too long at the watchtower. His absolute power is tending to absolutely corrupt him and he must be replaced.
The last straw is actually not the new terror laws he's trying to bring in. The new terror laws are what is spreading terrror and destroying our established sense of freedoms. Those are what paint him as a terrorist.
The last straw is his utter disregard for the whole notion and process of democracy. It is the hamfisted, tyrannical, spoiled bratish way he is foisting the new terror laws on us, like an enima. He has the power to bring them about in a democratic fashion, through a transparent and thoughtful debate. He has the power because he has total control of his party (http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/09/unrepresentative-swill-part-one.html) and total control of the senate (http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/09/unrepresentative-swill-part-2.html).
But that doesn't content him. He must prove to himself that there are no challengers to the watchtower. He must RAM the laws through. He has adopted a process and a mindset that will brook no dissenting (though eventually powerless) viewpoint. It is bravado and machismo of the worst political order and odour.
He is adopting a process that is non-transparent (http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/10/mushies.html). When the ACT Premier released the proposed draft of the laws, Howard had some slight changes made and passed the revised drafts out to all the Premiers EXCEPT the ACT Premier (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200510/s1487986.htm).
He is adopting laws that are completely alien to democracy (http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/10/seven-bullets-to-head-should-be-enough.html) and family (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/mums-the-word-in-terrorist-purge/2005/10/21/1129775959888.html). It's almost treasonous, at least in spirit if not in law.
John Howard is our duly elected watchtower guard. But he is spreading fear and interrupting our cherished freedoms and way of life, and in that respect he is not qualitatively different from those murderers who are trying to accomplish the same thing.
If he is not acting like a terrorist, then I need someone to give me a better explanation of what a terrorist is, different from what I've described above. Elsewise I will have to stick to my description and opinion: John Howard is a terrorist.