May 10, 2004


The following letter to the editor (no link available) ran in today's Newcastle Herald:

We are all aware, mainly through government rhetoric, that Saddam Hussein was a bad ruler.

Most Australians are unaware of the good that occurred under Saddam.

Copious funds were given to schools and hospitals. All religions were encouraged - their expenses, such as electricity, were even paid for.

Women were allowed to work and wear what they wanted.

Yvonee Brent
Kilaben Bay

Via reader Peter S. There’s more local clue-free opinion, from Nick Kenny of North Ryde, in today’s SMH (again, no link -- this letter doesn’t appear online):

Iraqis have no employment, food, water, electricity, nor any certainty about the future of their nation. Suicide bombings are regularly occurring in major cities. Iraqi prisoners are being treated as subhumans. Is this what Mr Bush calls freedom?

Mr. Kenny must be a real handful at McDonald’s. “I have no fries! I ordered fries! But I have none!” “Sir, your fries are right in front of you.” “No they aren't! There are no fries anywhere in this entire restaurant!” etc.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 10, 2004 06:35 PM

Yvonee Brent forgot to mention Saddam’s lesser known benefit programs.

There was no charge for women staying in Saddam’s rape rooms.

Saddam did not charge burial fees for his mass graves.

Saddam gave $25,000 cash bonuses to the families of suicide bombers.

Saddam simplified voting procedures so that only one name appeared on the ballot.

I think Yvonee might be a tad mistaken about subsidizing electricity. Regarding Jews, I believe the only electricity Saddam paid for was electrical bomb detonators.

Posted by: perfectsense at May 10, 2004 at 06:56 PM

Actually, prisons by design deny freedom. So no, that's not was President Bush would call freedom. If anything, he'd call it incarceration.

Posted by: RC at May 10, 2004 at 07:03 PM

Actually, President Bush would probably call it "in-carci-fication" but we'd understand what he meant. :)

Posted by: JDB at May 10, 2004 at 07:07 PM

try "Yvonne Brent" in Google rather than Yvonee Brent and see what comes up - yet another UN scandal. For example, see this site:

Posted by: chambo at May 10, 2004 at 08:20 PM

Anyone who wants to thanl Yvonee for that useful information, could try -

Brent R & Y
[Look it up yourselves. Don't post physical addresses here unless you want to get banned. -- The Management.]

Thank you white pages online.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at May 10, 2004 at 08:34 PM

Harry, I think that's totally wrong.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 08:37 PM

The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively.

What the... Andrew Sullivan's getting the wobbles.

What are we going to do?

Posted by: Rex at May 10, 2004 at 09:19 PM

Oh god, Oh god no. Please don't tell me we have reached the "phony war" stage of the War against Terror already? We didn't get to this stage in the Cold War until the sixties, and now we've ALREADY got people musing,

"Life in brutal Arab dictatorships aren't as bad as the evil Amerikkka would have you believe..."

Someone should tell Yvonne about the old canard of Hitler building the Autobahns, or Mussolini making the trains run on time...

Stalin would indeed be proud.

Useful idiots indeed.

Posted by: Quentin George at May 10, 2004 at 09:21 PM

Can someone send Yvonne a barrel of oil?

Harry, you shouldn't post information like that.

Posted by: Andjam at May 10, 2004 at 09:25 PM

Via reader Peter S. There’s more local clue-free opinion, from Nick Kenny of North Ryde, in today’s SMH (again, no link -- this letter doesn’t appear online):

Today's letters can be seen here. And it is online.

Amnesty International is cashing in on the blanket coverage of the torture accusations. Page 7 in today's edition of the SMH.

No excuse for torturing Iraqis
Torture cannot be tolerated
Right now you are shocked and outraged at the brutal treatment of Iraqis featured in global media. But you have done nothing about it.
There is no excuse.
We urge Sydney Morning Herald readers to become Human Rights Defenders. At just 50c a day you can afford it, and you will make a difference. Call 1800 266 378 or complete the coupon below.

etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: Andjam at May 10, 2004 at 09:32 PM

CurrencyLad is right. Harry, in a civilised society we don't pursue people into their homes to harass them for expressing opinions -- even stupid opinions. Leave that to Greenpeace and other loops who don't recognise the sanctity of the home and of private property.

Speaking of which, I saw a leaflet around my univ campus today advertising a free public lecture by the Socialist Workers: something about "Ending Israel's Apartheid". Usual rant, but midway through the blurb was something about how "Israel has stolen land that doesn't belong to it". "Stolen"?! "Belong"??!! Marxists For Inviolable Property Rights and Sacrosanct National Borders! The workers do have a country after all, and la propriete, n'est-ce pas le vol after all!

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 10, 2004 at 09:33 PM

Harry, REALLY don't do that again. I agree Brent is a moron, but putting her address up is just not on.

Posted by: Pacman at May 10, 2004 at 09:43 PM

It's only torture if Americans do it. Why are you all getting so upset?

Posted by: ushie at May 10, 2004 at 09:54 PM


I'm not sure if this is a piano-stopping observation at the Thread-Blair Saloon or not but it doesn't surprise me that Sullivan may have begun work on his own exit strategy. No, I'm not referring to the other causes to which he's committed. Many wannabes make a pitch for the image but he's a man and scholar of the genuinely renaissance kind.

It's just that I find he's too preoccupied with the news cycle. I often get the impression that the totality of a moral position is often on the verge of internal collapse with him as he eyes and analyses both the headlines and the zietgeist. He starts off being opposed to abortion, for example, then relents on first trimester terminations. Yes, that's a personal outlook of mine and I don't presume anyone else on the thread shares it.

We're ONE YEAR out from overthrowing one of the most entrenched and bloody tyrannies in contemporary history. What did people think was going to happen? Of course there were going to be crises. For me, the test has always been and will remain linked to these questions: do the Iraqi people stand a better chance of enjoying liberty and prosperity in a modernised, democratic, rehabilitated nation without Saddam and his Ba'athists? Is a world where terrorist Islamic states fear overthrow or annihilation if they are connected to attacks on Western interests safer? Yes and yes.

Under what circumstances would I prepare my escape pod, Blofeld-like, to effect an intellectual escape from this position? If politicos start dithering to the extent that Coalition troops end up with one hand tied behind their backs while being used for target practice.

I'm still optimistic that the momentum-creating positiveness of the handover process and of elections successfully carried out will change for the better the temper of the media coverage and of the situation on the ground. In some prudent and diplomatic way, we should be courageous enough to say this to the Iraqis: "we rescued you from oblivion and gave you another chance. Don't blow it!"

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 10:13 PM


The Kenny letter doesn't appear when I load the SMH letters page. Weird thing, though: if I search for words within that letter, I'm directed to Kenny's name.

It's a ghost letter!

Posted by: tim at May 10, 2004 at 10:40 PM

Ms Brent wouldn't have anything to do with the mysteriously "kidnapped" Donna Mulhearn would she?

Fellow travellers, and both from the same neck of the woods.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at May 10, 2004 at 10:42 PM

Explanation of, and antidote to such monumental silliness. From Victor Davis Hanson, the most awesome article I've yet read on the present and how the US and the West got here:

"...George W. Bush...has, in a mere two and a half years, reversed the perilous course of a quarter-century. Since September 11, he has removed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, begun to challenge the Middle East through support for consensual government, isolated Yasser Arafat, pressured the Europeans on everything from anti-Semitism to their largesse to Hamas, removed American troops from Saudi Arabia, shut down fascistic Islamic “charities,” scattered al-Qaida, turned Pakistan from a de facto foe to a scrutinized neutral, rounded up terrorists in the United States, pressured Libya, Iran, and Pakistan to come clean on clandestine nuclear cheating, so far avoided another September 11 - and promises that he is not nearly done yet. If the Spanish example presages further terrorist attacks on European democracies at election time, at least Mr. Bush has made it clear that America—alone if need be—will neither appease nor ignore such killers but in fact finish the terrible war that they started."

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 11:41 PM

We are all aware, mainly through government rhetoric, that Saddam Hussein was a bad ruler.

Well, at least she admits that people probably wouldn't have heard about Saddam's atrocities by listening to sources other than the Aussie government; like most of the press, or people of her ilk.

Posted by: PW at May 11, 2004 at 12:03 AM

"Harry, REALLY don't do that again. I agree Brent is a moron, but putting her address up is just not on."

Utter bollocks. It's on the public record.

Posted by: walter plinge at May 11, 2004 at 12:21 AM

Thank you Walter, I was just about to point out that fact myself, however if anyone is after any other TOTALLY WRONG info on people who give out their name and address in a newspaper, they might try -

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at May 11, 2004 at 12:53 AM

Walter Plinge:

So what? While it is on public record, we shouldn't be implying or suggesting harrassment. Posting the address encourages harrassment. That's something you'd see on the Democratic Underground.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 11, 2004 at 12:56 AM


This is just my opinion and I put it to you respectfully and without smarminess - there are few poster boys for prudence on this planet. I sure aint one of them.

The lady's general locality and name were on the public record, yes. People could, independent of this site, track her down if they really wished to do so, yes. Agreed on those basics.

However: 1) she signed up to express her opinion in a newspaper, not to be abused on the phone; 2) were it to lead to trouble - and Telstra has special protocols for dealing with abusive calls - that trouble could be connected to this site, which would be a shame, no? 3) she just could be a senior citizen or living alone.

Just a thought. Why not just move on.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 11, 2004 at 01:11 AM

It does amaze some on the left, but there are people who wish Saddam was back in power. It just amazes me that anyone could be that stupid.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at May 11, 2004 at 01:13 AM

What I miss most about Saddam was Uday's (or was it Qusay's) brilliant motivational techniques for the Iraqi soccer team. So sad he was cut down by brutal, overwhelming Amerikkkan firepower before he could put his successful techniques on paper. Amerikkkans disdain soccer just as they disdain the rest of the world. Or maybe it is just the cowboy Bush who inspires soccer-bashing amongst the unwitting, dullard Amerikkkan population with his neo-fascist propaganda organ called Fox News. I don't hate Amerikkkans, only Bush, so don't get me wrong. And McDonalds. And Coke. And Levi's. But Amerikkkans are great, so friendly, and they have great teeth.

And that is what I miss about Saddam.

Thank you very much.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at May 11, 2004 at 01:31 AM

This is the 'he may be a sonofabitch, but at least he's not our sonofabitch' Pavlovian response of the moonbat Left. It's as least as wrong and stupid as its Cold War realpolitik counterpart.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 11, 2004 at 03:46 AM

The collapse of the Saddam body double job market has also thrown countless Iraqi men out of work. Damn that Bush!

Posted by: Randal Robinson at May 11, 2004 at 03:59 AM

We are all aware, mainly through government rhetoric, that Saddam Hussein was a bad ruler.

PW, I'm not entirely sure she really believes it: government rhetoric? I think her opinion is more along the lines of the old saw, "The Fascists may have been bad people, but damnit, they made the trains run on time!"

Why is the rhetoric of the Modern Left so much like that of the Fascists of old?

Posted by: Spiny Norman at May 11, 2004 at 05:02 AM

"Why is the rhetoric of the Modern Left so much like that of the Fascists of old?"

Because if the left sounded like the opposite of the old Fascists, the Modern Left would sound much like the Modern Right. Heaven knows they couldn't do that.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 11, 2004 at 05:32 AM

"..And then those idiots at McDonalds served me PLASTIC fries!"

Contrary to government rhetoric, this is the real reason why Saddam kept the industrial shredders and large vats of boiling oil on hand. To provide his happy people with a limitless supply of crunchy, delicious french fries. And they also had fancy tomato ketchup, not the inferior non-fancy kind. Damn that Bush!

Rex and Currency Lad. I also respect Andrew Sullivan a great deal. He usually comes to a solid and sensible conclusion in the end, but the angst level in his decision making process sometimes seems to be stuck at 11. I think his deep and longstanding differences with the Bush administration's domestic policies are making it even harder for him to stick with what he knows was the right decision, or to give the administration the benefit of the doubt vs an onslaught of gratuitiously bad press.

Posted by: Bryan C at May 11, 2004 at 05:35 AM

Ms. Brent's wording sounds eerily like one of those hostage tapes, in which the victim is forced to repeat idiotic propaganda for public distribution. Possibly, someone was holding a shafra or khanjar to her throat--

Posted by: c at May 11, 2004 at 07:23 AM

Mail your responses to the Newcastle Herald letter through to the letters editor, Tony Troughear, at Perfectsense, I'm almost certain your brilliant take down would be published.
Don't forget to include some sort of contact details so TT can contact you and tell you whether they're published or not.

Posted by: TimT at May 11, 2004 at 10:56 AM

One further, rather equivocating thing on Yvonne Brent:

follow this link already given 3rd post above -

and you'll find that she is a local representative of the United Nations for which she gives her home phone number on their newspage for anyone on the 'net who wants to enquire about it.

It is really disturbing that someone who is so publicly pro-Saddam is representing the UN. She should be called to account.

But I do think that publishing her address as well crosses a nuanced line into a bullying mode.

Posted by: bemused at May 11, 2004 at 11:03 AM

Yvonee Brent doesn't seem to know that Saddam's thugs would demand compensation from families for the price of the bullets used to execute their loved ones.

It's amazing the depth of antipathy felt towards Bush that people are trying to defend Saddam's regime, in all its terror, as not being so bad after all.

Posted by: Moonbat_One at May 11, 2004 at 11:07 AM

As the Yanks say 'we are all going to hell in a hand basket' over this prisoner mistreatment and Iraq in general. We can't fight a war in the glare of instant media releases. The public of today can only handle a 'McWar' i.e. cheap, sweet and over in a minute. Forget the stoic approach of our WWII forefathers.

The barbarians are at the gate and the hand wringers and lefty tossers are busy kicking the gate down from the inside.

Forget it all.. it is over and we are all going to get screwed!

Posted by: Dog at May 11, 2004 at 12:09 PM

dog: take heart.

"...we shall defend our [civilisation], whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."

Accoding to legend, during a pause in recording this famous speech, Churchill muttered, "and we'll beat the bastards about the head with bottles, because that's about all we've got."

Drown your sorrows dog. And hold on to the bottles.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 11, 2004 at 01:39 PM

Sorry, just got back from work now. And in reponse to popular outcry, the physical address of Ms. (Mrs.?) Brent has been removed.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 11, 2004 at 02:13 PM

Andrea, Andrea, Andrea, you have disappointed me. If someone writes to a paper to express an opinion in public, then they should be able to accept any responses. I regularly look up people's telephone numbers in the local telephone book when they have written to the newspaper and are factually wrong and give them a call to put them straight. Live by the pen....

Posted by: Razor at May 11, 2004 at 05:04 PM

5 or 6 posts out of 37 so far = popular outcry?

Pretty sad to see how fast someone can be to censor.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at May 11, 2004 at 06:48 PM

Razor Razor Razor -- stuff it. I said "look it up yourself." You were outvoted, in that most people here wanted the address removed. I don't care what you want, and if you or anyone else is too lazy to click on over to an internet website that isn't my problem. Perhaps it never occurred to you that the "Y. Brent" so found was some other "Y. Brent" -- "Brent" is not that uncommon a name, I am sure there are several in your country, which does have a population of more than twelve persons. So I imagine some hapless "Yolanda Brent" or "Yvor Brent" getting a bunch of letters cursing at them for some reason. Far-fetched you say? It could happen. Also, the person could have used a fake name; I doubt this paper checks.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 11, 2004 at 08:26 PM

And Harry, you can stuff the whinging about "censoring" too. I will censor what I like here -- this isn't your website, nor is it a government-supplied free speech forum. As to your silly count, I counted the number of posts on this particular subject, not the ones that didn't even mention the address. Don't act like an idiot and don't play me for one.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 11, 2004 at 08:28 PM

Can I post Margo's address?

Posted by: Quentin George at May 11, 2004 at 09:48 PM

It could be worse. Patty Murray assured us that among the reasons Moslems love Osama bin Laden is that he builds day care centers--and Patty Murray is a U.S. senator.

I usually post under my real name, but one of my relatives is working on Murray's re-election campaign.I am just thankful I don't live in Washington state so I won't have to consider voting for someone who has the good taste to employ one of my relatives.

Posted by: Chief Snark at May 12, 2004 at 04:41 AM