December 13, 2004
December 12, 2004
OUR MEN IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Yesterday I came to your country. Today, I met the President.
Jeff Jarvis, a tireless and incredibly generous promoter of Middle Eastern bloggers, has more on the Bush/blogger summit:
Mohammed said the President understood what blogs are and their importance and they found the staff in the White House views reading blogs as part of their jobs now. The brothers said they were in the White House not just as Iraqi citizens but as representatives of the blogosphere.
There's yet more here; please read. Meanwhile, Omar and Mohammed's Washington visit hasn't received much mainstream coverage (aside from a radio appearance arranged by the resourceful Jarvis), despite screamingly obvious human interest angles. Perhaps the weeklies will run something. Of course, Australian readers got to know our Iraqi friends months ago ...
MOORE RATIONAL, BY COMPARISON
Compare the paranoid howlings from these people to the calm reason of Michael Moore. If only all anti-Bush activists were as rational.
(Via Rob at SemiSkimmed)
Remember how Australia's international reputation was completely destroyed in 2001 by our no-messing-around response to illegal immigration? Here's a collection of typical views:
Our reputation abroad has changed dramatically for the worst.
Australia's track record in relation to asylum-seekers has now become an international scandal and a disgrace to our reputation as a country strongly respectful of human rights and dignity.
Our reputation as a people who believe in a "fair go" for all has been severely, perhaps, irreparably, damaged. Many of us, for the first time in our lives, are now ashamed of being Australian.
It is Australia's reputation that's going in the trash bin here, not just the rights of the asylum seekers. The rest of the world will see this as Australia acting outside international law and dropping Australia's great reputation for humanitarianism.
Our system of mandatory detention is cruel and a blot on our reputation for humanity.
Prime Minister John Howard didn't quite see things that way, telling an interviewer in 2002: "I reject this claim that our reputation's been damaged. I think people understand that we have taken action in a difficult situation that is wholly consistent with the right of this country to protect its borders."
And it seems he was right. Just ask Ellen and Peter Bles, who are among many Dutch leaving their country for Australia and other reputable nations:
An exodus of native-born Dutch in search of a new life abroad has reversed immigration flows for the first time since the post-war era.
Last year more people left the Netherlands than arrived as migrants or asylum seekers, even though unemployment remains low at 4.7 percent and per capita income is higher than any major country in Europe.
Lawyers, accountants, computer specialist, nurses, and businessmen are lining up for visas to the English-speaking world, looking to Australia, New Zealand and Canada as orderly societies where people have the space to breathe.
The new wave of "middle-class flight" has quickened this year following rising ethnic violence and crime committed by and against immigrants, and in response to fears that social order is breaking down. In the first six months there was a net outflow of 13,313 people.
Requests for visa information have exploded since the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker and acerbic critic of Muslim views on women.
It's likely that Australia's reputation was enhanced by coverage of the illegals/refugees/asylum seekers issue. If this story gets wider coverage locally, expect the left to respond with something along the lines of: We're attracting white racists! Shame, Howard, shame!
CLEAN UP IN AISLE THREE
The Guantanamo Bay nightmare gets worse and worse. Here's The Guardian's latest shocking report:
Fresh allegations about a regime of torture and humiliation inflicted on detainees by their American captors atGuantánamoBayhave been made by a Briton still held there, according to Foreign Office documents seen by the Guardian.
The claims by Martin Mubanga, fromLondon, are the latest to surface from the prison where theUSholds 550 Muslim men it claims are terrorists in conditions that have sparked worldwide condemnation.
Mr Mubanga, 31, alleges that only months ago he was kept shackled for so long that he wet himself, and then was forced to clean up his own urine. He claims to have been threatened, that an interrogator stood on his hair, and that he was subjected to extremes of temperature rising to 36C (97F). He was kept chained to the floor by his feet for an hour during a welfare visit from a British government official.
Imagine, if you can, a prison so brutal that inmates don’t have their own personal urine-mopping maids. The Daily Mirror's Stephen Moyes could've used one himself in 2002.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
December 11, 2004
THEY KILLED HERBIE
Herbert M. Hazelkorn, of Glencoe, Illinois, left us on December 7, 2004, of a broken heart at the recent passing of his wife of 35 years, Bobby, exacerbated by a broken spirit arising from the results of the Presidential election.
PUT THE MASS INTO CHRISTMAS
Want to send a Christmas card to Michael Moore? Of course you do!
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been cleared of corruption. I guess this qualifies him as an official James Wolcott Hero for our Time following Wolcott's celebration of George Galloway's legal win. About which lawyer Damian Penny writes: "Wolcott, by the way, says the Telegraph's incriminating documents 'were either forged or doctored' - even though the court made no such ruling, and Galloway did not even challenge their authenticity."
NAME THE BRAVE RISK-TAKING COWARDS
Margo Kingston calls for nominations in the prestigiuo ... pretstigi ... important 2004 Webdiary Awards:
1. The most courageous Australian in 2004
2. The most cowardly Australian of 2004
3. The biggest Australian risk taker in 2004
4. The Australian who was most effective in promoting good governance in 2004
"Most cowardly Australian"? That's an uncharacteristic idea from Margo, who's previously complained that "we're all running about tearing other to bits. It's not healthy, it's not sensible, it's not sustainable, and it's not even terribly fair.” Perhaps shaming an Australian as our greatest coward is Margo's way of searching for some consensus.
Actually, make that two Australians. Under Webdiary rules you're requested to offer two nominations for each category, "one on the basis that only politicians are eligible, and the other on the basis that the field is open to all Australians." Let's see how nominations are progressing ...
Most courageous: Mike Scrafton, Bob Brown ("standing up to the awesome power of conservative evil"), Antony Loewenstein ("a lot of courage"), Terry Hicks ("for standing up for his son David"), Pauline Hanson ("for going on Dancing with the Stars"), and John Howard ("for doing what he thinks is right on the war on terror and refugees").
Most cowardly: John Howard ("for the continued incarceration of refugee children, his continued defence of the illegal invasion and massacres in Iraq and his gutless attacks on anyone who dares to dissent"), John Howard ("head of the most incidious government this country has had at any level in our history"), John Howard ("rattus howardii"), John Howard, John Howard, Peter Costello ("his strong convictions on social justice are no where evident in Government policies"), John Laws, David Marr ("because of two spineless omissions, both involving the Sydney Morning Herald: 1. When Margo claimed that the media were controlled by Zionists, he declined to mention it. 2. When the Herald ran that crazy story about Allawi shooting prisoners in a Baghdad jail, Marr turned the other blind eye"), Carmen Lawrence ("for always taking the easy way out"), and "all those males who have beaten or raped women in the past 12 months."
Biggest risk-taker: Mark Latham, Peter Garrett ("you could have been a leader of a powerful new political force of integrity and honour - the Greens"), Bob Brown, house-dads, South Australian Opera CEO Stephen Phillips ("for producing first Australian production of Wagner's Ring, in a country where the arts don't appear anywhere on the political radar"), and "those brave souls acting as human shields in defiance of the murderous governments of our country, Britain & the USA".
Most effective in promoting good governance: Bob Brown ("there has not been anyone else at all ... the greatest Australian political leader"), Kevin Rudd ("one day the pendulum will swing back to a time where courage, vision and wisdom is rewarded"), Tanya Pliberseck ("stood tall"), Kerry O'Brien ("for honesty and integrity"), Peter Costello ("for the cool manner in which he has managed the country's economic resources"), and Margo Kingston ("a GREAT voice in a sea of propaganda and mindless banality - thank U Margo, you've kept the dream alive for many of us").
UPDATE. Nominations keep rolling in:
Most courageous: Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Margo Kingston ("for continuing to host Webdiary after exposing the Zionist media control in Australia"), Alicia Sorohan ("grandmother who wrestled a croc to save her grandson's life"), Andrew Bolt ("a true iconoclast"), Keith Windschuttle ("standing up for truth"), Dr Mal Washer ("had the guts to stand up to Abbott"), Noel Pearson ("put pride and people before political baggage"), Brian Harradine, Clover Moore, Imre Salusinszky ("exposed the postings overboard affair in which Margo Kingston tried to secretly wipe her own anti-Semitic comments from the Webdiary archive"), and Paul McGeough ("the only reporter who was really reporting on the war, not just propagandising. Whatever happened to his stories about those horrendous new and unidentified weapons the USA used on busloads of civilians, and the one about Allawi shooting prisoners?").
Most cowardly: John Howard (five times), Rupert Murdoch, Max Moore-Wilton, Peter Garrett ("for conveniently deciding that US Forces in Australia are a wonderful thing"), Anthony Loewenstein, General Peter Cosgrove, the Canberra press gallery ("displayed exceptional group think"), Barry Cohen ("for waiting till the day after the elections before revealing the depths of anti-semitism and Judenhass within the ALP"), the anonymous individuals who recently painted "six million more please, plus fries" outside a synagogue, David Marr ("for taking pot shots at personal foes whilst hiding behind a structure that is fundamentally anti-democratic"), Margo Kingston, those who live in democratic, affluent and tolerant Australia and yet are apologists for terror or terrorists, those pro-illegals whiners who haven't the guts to nominate just how many illegals they would allow into the country before shutting the gate, and Phillip Ruddock ("for his attacks on little children").
Biggest risk taker: Dr Tim Flannery, John Howard ("for supporting George Bush in the attempt to bring democracy to the middle east"), Phillip Adams, Tony Abbott, Peter King, Chris Masters, and Stephen Kenny.
Most effective in promoting good governance: Julia Gillard, the editors of crikey.com.au, Tim Blair (!!), John Howard, the Australian public ("for re-electing Howard, and allowing him to misrepresent us to the world. We now look like a country of morons. Second only to the US"), Bob Carr ("such an apalling example of what Not To Do"), The Hon. Jerrold Cripps QC, the Australian voter ("for sending a foolish and irresponsible ALP into the wilderness"), the High Court, Simon Longstaff, and Michael Long.
HANDY HOUSEHOLD TIPS
Jim Treacher, whose nation still believes in the outmoded and barbaric concept of "not allowing oneself to be killed by burglars", offers some useful advice to the besieged British:
• Hit the intruder's fists, knees, elbows, and feet with your face, ribcage, and genitals. This will subtly wear him down and require him to stop for a glass of water.
• On a related note, robbery is thirsty work, and a parched burglar is an angry burglar. If all you've got is tap water, you're just asking for trouble. Try to keep a wide selection of beverages on hand at all times, just in case. This will subtly lull your new friend into a false sense of comfort and good cheer, giving you the chance to crawl out of the room for a change of underwear before the smell requires him to punish you further.
• Refer to the home-invader as "massuh." This will impose a subtle feeling of guilt on the misguided victim of society, causing him to pause briefly for self-reflection in the course of upending your laundry room for hidden jewelry or drugs. In another 30-60 years, he will die of natural causes and cease all criminal activity.
• Many wealth-redistributors are atheist or agnostic, as is their right. Try to avoid offending your guest with thoughtless phrases such as "Please, God, help me," "Oh Christ, I can't feel my legs," or "Jesus, Jesus, there's so much blood."
• If at all possible, prevent the problem entirely by not living indoors. No home = No possibility of home invasion! Divest yourself of all personal possessions and take up a crimefree outdoor urban lifestyle.
Please vote for Jim in the soon-to-conclude Weblog Awards. Vote or die, as Sean Combs or a home invader with an overdeveloped sense of civic participation might say.
Phillip Adams thinks he's being clever:
There has to be a day of reckoning on this wretched war. And in that reckoning we need more information than a rollcall of dead Americans. After all the disinformation on Iraq, the surviving defence for the invasion has been on moral grounds. The Coalition of the Willing was saving Iraq from despotism. If that’s the case, how many dead and devastated Iraqis are too many?
If we are to cling to the belief - I think the illusion - that this was a just war, then give us a number.
Okay, Phil, I'll play. My number is 252, 943. Happy? Now, how about you give us the number of Iraqis who would have had to be tortured and murdered before you'd think an invasion was justified. Or the number of times the US should have been attacked by terrorists before it reacted.
For that matter, I'd be interested to learn how many claimed asylum seekers you believe should be permitted to enter Australia without documentation before you'd consider restrictions. Come on, Phil; give us some numbers.
(Of course, Phillip has borrowed his demand-for-numbers tactic from fellow ABC identity Kerry O'Brien. How many elderly commie ABC presenters are too many?)
Accused South Australian Taliban fighter David Hicks, currently in US custody, claims he was beaten, injected with drugs, and invited to have sex with prostitutes. Congratulations, Guantanamo Bay officials, for making our boy feel right at home.