MINE-AVOIDING SEA WEASELS:
The US Navy's mine-clearing dolphins have been the surprise media stars of the Iraq war, but they have not exactly won over Australian divers working alongside them.
The polite way to express their scepticism about the mine-clearing skills of the dolphins is to question their reliability and cost efficiency, but there is another way to put it.
"Flipper's fucked, mate," was how one diver saw things yesterday.
"The dolphins have had all this amazing publicity, but as soon as they put one in the water it shot through. There's a war going on and Flipper goes AWOL.”
SCORCHING IRAQI SUMMER alert! The ABC's World Today program just announced the impending arrival of Harsh Afghan Winter Version 2.0.
"CLEARLY," Michael Moore once claimed, "I am a person who suffers from a lack of ego."
That was back in December. Looks like Michael has since recovered; in this love poem to himself in today's Melbourne Age (first published in the LA Times), Moore mentions "I", "me" and "my" more than 50 times. Freud's concept of an id, ego, and super-ego is insufficient to accomodate Moore's condition. He possesses a Super Duper Mega Monster Ego, with cheese:
I had already received awards in the days leading up to the Oscars.
My book Stupid White Men still sits at No. 1 on the US bestseller list. Bowling for Columbine has broken all box-office records for a documentary. My website is now getting up to 20 million hits a day (more than the White House's site).
Diane Lane opened the envelope and announced the winner: Bowling for Columbine. The entire main floor rose to its feet for a standing ovation.
I didn't see a single person booing.
A few orchestra members came up to me later and apologised, saying they had wanted to hear what I had to say.
On the way back home, the day after the Oscars, two flight attendants told me how they had been stuck overnight in my home state - and wound up earning only $30 for the day because they are paid by the hour ... Who will speak for them if I don't? That's what I do, or try to do, every day of my life.
If not for Mike, flight attendants would have no voice. Nobody would.
Motorists in Johannesburg who tooted their car horns outside the US consulate to demand an end to the war against Iraq were slapped with 100-rand ($20) fines.
PAUL SHEEHAN has an unusual reason for opposing the war in Iraq - he believes the Arab world is too immersed in hatred to be saved:
Such is the depth and breadth of the ocean of scapegoating and loathing of the West in the Arab diaspora that the greater the success of the US military, the greater the insult to Arab pride. So the Arab world, the Islamic world and the Trotskyite left have largely embraced Saddam. Better a genocidal Arab than a humiliated one.
Why on earth would the Americans - and British Prime Minister Tony Blair - want to sail on this ocean of racist rage?
THE SAME AUSTRALIANS who pay his ABC wages are philistines, according to David Marr:
Novelists and other artists must cease "flinching" from their marginalisation and work "to shake off the new philistinism of John Howard's Australia", the author and journalist David Marr says.
Delivering the annual Colin Simpson Lecture at the Australian Society of Authors' general meeting at the weekend, Marr derided the "exaltation of the average" among the Prime Minister's "radical populist" supporters.
"Exaltation of the average" accurately describes the critical response in Australia to Marr's work. He is adored by sump-witted intellectual slobs. And isn't it cute when leftists attack the average folks?
Marr suggested that political and business "elites" had inverted that term and directed it towards mostly poor and marginal artists. In response, literary novelists had retreated from the sharp edge of public debate.
He says this like it's a bad thing.
"So few Australian novels address in worldly, adult ways the country and the time in which we live. It's no good ceding that territory to people like me - to journalists. That's not enough. Even the best journalism dies because so much journalism is written in the air. But fiction lives - an essential in a country with a dramatically short attention span."
That's us; philistines with no attention span to speak of. Marr is an air-writing pseud.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'S Bernard Zuel, who was able to dodge the whole Bush-is-embarrassing controversy in his Dixie Chicks concert preview, gives the Prez a mention in his Dixie Chicks concert review:
Even their fellow Texan, the 40-watt dim George Bush, would recognise their music as country, even before he heard the more prominent bluegrass of their new material.
Reader Donnah writes:
I was very surprised by the gratuitous insult given by the reviewer about the president. Does the SMH have no editor? The lack of professionalism really surprised me. It reminded me of one of those free local rags set out in stacks by the bus stop.
FURTHER reader mail on Robert Fisk's fortunate find. Paul Hickman writes from Salinas, Kansas:
I'm sure it must have occurred to you that even if this fragment is genuinely from a piece of U.S. ordinance it doesn't necessarily follow that the fragment was retrieved from the market. Planting evidence recovered from a different "crime" scene is an old trick.
From Reid Reynolds:
Excellent analysis. But how do we know Fisk actually collected the putative missile fragment from the area of the marketplace? Do I believe Fisk would substitute a piece of wreckage from an entirely different site in order to give the US a black eye? You betcha.
From Eric Glynn:
Any regular reader of Fisk would know that his columns condemn the killing of Iraqi innocents, their use as shields and the commission of war crimes and other "terrorist" tactics no matter who does this.
A problem with Fisk is that he does not join up with the hypocrites who condemn such practices, but only when the "wrong" side commits them.
From a former Naval Air Systems Command employee, whose name I'll take the precaution of not publishing:
That part number is indeed a piece of a HARM (AGM-88 series) High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile, insofar as I can tell.
I was a contract specialist on HARM in the ‘80s. In those days we were buying AGM-88A, and were in the process of transitioning to the AGM-88B. AGM-88C, IIRC, was the so-called "Block IV Upgrade". I imagine there have been various upgrades since.
One of the things you didn't try (why should you, you have no idea how the screwy DoD inventory system works!) is substituting a number for that "letter" that appears in the serial number. I tried the obvious choice -- 8 (i.e., 704AS87492) and fed it to the WEBFLIS systems and lo!--got a hit (I also tried avery other digit and got no hits). The complete results of my search are here, or you could just go to the top page (the one you link to)
and feed it the SerNo as shown above.
CAGE Code 30003 is in fact my old employer, Naval Air Systems Command, erstwhile of Crystal City, Virginia, and now at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Lexington Park, Maryland. The CAGE for the item manufacturer appears to be the division of Raytheon formerly known as Texas Instruments, Defense Systems and Electronics Group. The HARM was, in those days, primarily assembled in Lewisville, Texas, just north of D/FW, in a huge plant we referred to as "The House That HARM Built." RayCo has apparently consolidated most if not all their missile manufacturing in a plant they acquired from long-time competitor Hughes Aircraft Company, in Tucson, Arizona: dunno what they did with THTHB.
The description of the actual part number is "Cover, Access". There is a decent chance this is the access cover for the port used to reprogram the guidance system: one of the huge breakthroughs of my era was to replace the old PROMs with EEPROMs, which allowed you to update the missile software without taking the whole missile apart, removing the memory board, and either replacing it outright or replacing the PROMs. I know that sort of
thing is "so what?" stuff now, but believe me, in the early 1980s, it was big medicine! We even managed to use it almost as soon as it was deployed, because the first lot of missiles with EEPROMs also had a new software "tape": it started giving us problems, and TI discovered a small error that required three lines of code (IIRC) to fix. So they were able to reblow the EEPROMS instead of having to take each missile apart and rebuild it!
Bottom line: your overall conclusion is correct.
Well, not my conclusion, but that of several informed readers. From Bruce Bridges:
Fisk asserts that he has seen a piece of a missile that even the Iraqi government does not have knowledge of? Why is that? Why would somebody who discovered such an important piece of evidence not turn it over? Do they want to sell it on eBay?
And why would Fisk include such a point in his report? Simply to pre-empt the inevitable suspicion that the missile piece is itself propaganda. It sounds like the military structures are chock-full of Missile debris so that
would be easy to find.
I don't buy it.
From RB Archibald in Ogden, Utah:
I've been reading the speculation on your site today and, while I'm no expert on ordnance, it seems to me that it would hardly be difficult for the Iraqis to plant wreckage of American missiles (from previous strikes) at the Baghdad market site. No one would know the difference, least of all Robert Fisk. If Fisk told me the sky was blue I'd look up to make sure.
From Fred Ray in North Carolina:
Several news reports are now saying that the missiles in question were misguided Iraqi SAMs, and that Saddam's boys are "sanitizing" the areas before Fisk et. al. get there. You hear a lot about the Americans "planting" evidence but no one seems to think the Iraqis are capable of it.
Also from North Carolina, Doug Morris, LtCol, USAF (ret.):
Since HARMs have been used to strike Iraqi anti-aircraft sites all over the place, perhaps it would be useful to ask Mr Fisk, "Who handed you this piece?"
From Henry Cybulski in Barcelona, Spain:
So, Robert "I deserve to be beaten" Fisk is handed a piece of metal with coding on it and that AUTOMATICALLY means it came from the bomb that hit the market. Sure.
From Homer Paxton:
We know 100's of bombs have landed on Bagdad. Probability theory tells you some will hit where they shouldn't. Moreover they are guided by high technology which has been known to be unreliable.
Ipsofacto the bombs exploding in Bagdad shopping areas are much more likely to be US than Iraqi.
And Max Sawicky notes that I couldn't bear "giving simple, unqualified credit to Fisk -- a real journalist actually on the scene (ahem) -- for breaking the story." True. Fisk breaks a lot of things, including his teeth and glasses.
IRAQI CIVILIANS are being deliberately targeted. Just not by Americans, Australians, or the English.
FOR EVERY PARENT there comes a time when the peanut butter sandwich must be eaten.
THOSE SAMIZDATA people are revealing top-level Australian military secrets.
GET A OUIJA BOARD:
Osama bin Laden, usually eager to rally Muslims by highlighting US "atrocities" around the world, has not been heard from 10 days into the US-led war on Iraq, leading to new speculation on his fate.
ROBERT FISK claims to have located a piece of metal bearing a serial number that he says is proof yesterday's missile strike on a Baghdad market was launched by the coalition:
It reads: 30003-704ASB 7492. The letter "B" is scratched and could be an "H". This is believed to be the serial number. It is followed by a further code which arms manufacturers usually refer to as the weapon's "Lot" number. It reads: MFR 96214 09.
Fisk - who could well be right, for once - doesn't know much more than that these numbers and letters are "western style". Any reader with any military background or insight might be able to add further information. Please send me any decoding e-mails.
UPDATE. It's looking good for Fisk. Reader D., whose background is in something-I-can't-say but which is relevant to the case, provides an exceptional analysis:
From the pictures I saw of the market, plus the eyewitness accounts, it didn't look like it could possibly have been caused by a Tomahawk or a bomb, as the media were speculating. It seemed to have been a relatively small blast with a lot of fragmentation. My initial suspicion was Iraqi artillery - not AAA, but a deliberate artillery attack to pin the blame on the US. But Fisk's find has given me reason to revisit this. I now believe the cause was probably a US High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) fired from a USAF F-16. How do I know? Thanks to reporting from the blast site, with a lot of help from Mr Google. Let me run you through it briefly.
The serial number found by Fisk is almost identical to the serial number of a LAU-118 underwing missile launcher, as described here.
This is the important bit. Note the P/N and CAGE numbers, which when put together look eerily similar to Fisk's number (30003-704ASB 7492):
NOUN: Launcher, Aircraft Guided Missile
APPLICABLE: LAU-118 Launcher used on the F-16 Aircraft
Some more Googling and I learned that the LAU-118 is exclusively used to launch HARMs from F-16s. I can't prove it for sure, but it seems to me to make sense that a HARM missile may well have a serial number very close to that of its launcher. I can't find any other serial numbers which are even remotely close to Fisk's. So a HARM seems to be the initial prime suspect, based on Fisk's serial number.
I then returned to the images and descriptions of the scene. The key things I'd initially deduced about the blast was that it had quite a small kinetic force, not much heat, but a hell of a lot of schrapnel. The crater was very small, a nearby wall appeared undamaged, and yet there were signs of a lot of schrapnel - not least in the reporting of the types of injuries. As it turns out, these are the precise characteristics of a HARM - a small warhead with lots of embedded schrapnel, designed to tear a surface radar to shreds. In fact I can't think of another missile in the US inventory which would so closely match the apparent blast characteristics.
This site provides a detailed description and specs for a HARM.
By themselves, both the serial number and the blast pattern are circumstantial. But put together, I'd argue they strongly suggest a HARM was to blame. One more thing supports that - the guidance system. In the case of Tomahawks and gravity bombs, the US is using weapons guided by GPS and lasers. A person designates the target and then the missile/bomb goes exactly where it is told to go. But a HARM, by its very nature, takes the man out of the targeting loop to a greater extent. Once fired, it guides itself directly to the source of emitting radiation. My guess is that the Iraqis had something emitting in the vicinity of the market - perhaps a mobile radar - which was engaged by the HARM. Once released, the HARM guides itself to the emitter, or wherever it last saw the emitter. So it seems to me more likely that a 'self-guiding' weapon like a HARM is more likely to cause this sort of problem, because once it's launched, it will go where it wants to go.
Anyway, that's my reasoning. It's not conclusive proof, but the weight of evidence - the serial number, the blast pattern and the nature of the targeting system - tends to suggest it was most likely a HARM.
D's informed theory on the source of the missile is supported by reader Rob Lain:
The "MFR" number described by Robert Fisk (which he incorrectly describes as a lot number) is a manufacturer's code, also called a CAGE code (Contractor and Government Entity Code or Commercial and Government Entity Code). This number belongs to Raytheon, best known as producer of the Patriot theater ballistic missile defense system. The CAGE of 96214 refers specifically to an electronics division that I believe Raytheon acquired from Texas Instruments some time ago. Use of the publicly accessible Defense Logistics Agency Federal Logistics Information System Web Inquiry (WEBFLIS) provides company specifics.
A further search using the other alphanumeric string (30003-704ASB 7492, with the "B" possibly being an "H") was fruitless, working on the assumption some or all of the string represented a manufacturer-assigned part number since it isn't in the format of the National Stock (or Item ID) Numbers normally used by our military. An inquiry to either the Defense Department or Raytheon may prove useful in sorting that out.
While I think we have a right to doubt anything Fisk or the Iraqi regime says about the cause of the explosion, the number of casualties, or the physical evidence from the blast, this seems to confirm Fisk's assertion that the piece of metal was from an American weapon, though it greatly pains me to confirm anything that this fuckwad has written.
Given this research, Rob's conclusion is in line with my own:
What does this mean? It means we damn well may have dropped that ordnance on that neighborhood. It means a coalition pilot may have made a mistake or a weapon may have malfunctioned, as will tragically but inevitably happen, even as we justly conduct this war by making extraordinary efforts to limit civilian casualties. And it means Fisk will capitalize on this by accusing Americans of committing a war crime, while the Saddamites pitilessly kill thousands of Iraqi innocents, use them as shields, commit unspeakable war crimes on my comrades-in-arms, prepare to use chemical weapons, and resort to terrorist tactics without a single word from him. What an asshole.
That's sounder reasoning than you'll ever get from Fisk.
Reader Al B. has yet more detail:
I think 30003 is the US Defense Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code for US Naval Air Systems.
Similarly, 96214 is the CAGE code for Raytheon.
704AS**** is a DODIC (Department of Defense Identification Code)/NALC (Naval Ammunition Logistics Command) number or part number. The number Fisk found is probably from a forward component of a bomb or missile. This number is used to identify, track and monitor the whole weapon assembly, from the time of manufacture to the time of disposal or destruction.
For example, on older AGM-88s, 704AS2602 was the part number for the Target Detector Unit in the missile. This doesn't give much of a clue as to what Fisk actually found, but we can reasonably speculate that it was a US ship or navy aircraft launched weapon with Raytheon componentry.
Two possibilities that spring to mind are the AGM-154 JSOW or one of the latest variants of the Block VI AGM-88 HARM (D/E spec). If it was a Homing Anti Radiation Missile (ie a radar killer), it makes you wonder where the nearest Iraqi air defence radar was in relation to the ill fated marketplace.
That question has occurred to David Janes, and also to Karl F. Bock:
Just one point on the HARM that I haven't seen addressed: HARM is a specific use device. It is fired at radars and follows the beam in to take out that radar. So, why would a HARM have been fired in the first place? Probably because the Iraqis lit off one of their remaining radars. Are any of these units mobile? A market would be a great place to set up a mobile radar unit. Nice big clearing. You have an air raid, you quickly fire up your radar, direct the triple A, shut the thing off, and get the hell out of Dodge, because sure as hell, a HARM is probably on the way.
Remember, the HARM will follow the radar beam or GO TO THE BEAM'S LAST KNOWN LOCATION. Anyway, nobody is going to fire off a HARM unless it has a target to lock on to. After seeing the Iraqi predilection for placing SAMs and triple A, and presumably their radar units in densely populated areas, it's a wonder we haven't seen more of this.
Meanwhile, an Instapundit reader writes:
For the last few days, I've been wondering how come Bob Fisk hasn't been jumping up and down waving bits of metal with "Raytheon" printed on it. Surely the Iraqis have enough of the stuff lying about the place by now...
Several readers have e-mailed similar ideas here. The more Fisk proclaims his certainty, the more, it seems, people doubt him.
LOCAL RADIO is reporting a successful attack on a Ba'arth Party meeting in Basra.
COMEDIAN ALEXEI SAYLE is the latest columnist to attempt the "psychoanalyse George W. Bush" routine. Snore. Sayle covers the usual ground - except for his incorrect claim that Bush has admitted being an abusive user of cocaine, and the following, in which Sayle puts the whole United States on the couch:
If we look at the nation that President Bush leads, it also behaves in many ways like an addict. The United States is a gigantic John Candy of a country, straining its oversized elasticated pants from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The country is addicted to more or less everything, constantly craving greater and greater quantities of petrol, electricity, pointless sports, empty patriotism, fatty hormone-crammed meat, gigantic pedestrian-crushing four-wheel drive trucks, ever more baseball caps with nonsense written on them and unquestioning obedience from every nation on the planet.
John Candy was Canadian.
JULIE BURCHILL calls in an airstrike on her Elite Republican Guardian readers:
Surely this is the most self-obsessed anti-war protest ever. NOT IN MY NAME! That's the giveaway. Who gives a stuff about their wet, white, western names? See how they write them so solemnly in a list on the bottom of the letters they send to the papers. And the ones that add their brats' names are the worst - a grotesque spin on Baby On Board, except they think that this gives them extra humanity points not just on the motorway, but in the whole wide weeping, striving, yearning world. We don't know the precious names of the countless numbers Saddam has killed. We're talking about a people - lots of them parents - subjected to an endless vista of death and torture, a country in which freedom can never be won without help from outside.
Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here?
Not Susan Sarandon and the rest of her "not in my famous name" conscientious objectionables, all happily chewed up by Ms Burchill.
DR GERM or Mrs Anthrax? Matt Hayden reports that the Sydney Morning Herald has got their Baath Party bio-terror babes all arse-about.
The SMH has also re-assigned Sgt. Stryker's gender, describing his site (in the print edition, no link) as "a collection of emails from a daughter in the marines, posted by her mother. Often inaccessible."
TONY BLAIR seems to have learned a thing or two lately about the
joy of unilateralism:
The other man who is feeling the force of Mr Blair's new-found assurance is Gordon Brown. The Chancellor used to rely on his ability to squish his kid brother, the Prime Minister. He dominated Mr Blair intellectually and played psychological games with him, such as avoiding meetings or refusing to tell him the contents of his Budgets until the last minute. This dynamic is changing. When the Prime Minister wanted to fix a meeting with the Chancellor some weeks ago, Mr Brown tried to make him come to the Treasury (where the Chancellor sits on a chair much higher than that of his guest, who is immediately cast in the role of supplicant). "No, you come over here," barked Mr Blair down the phone. "I'm the f***ing Prime Minister!"
IT'S JIHAD TIME, as usual:
A leading Iraqi imam, holding a rifle as he led weekly prayers in Baghdad today, called on Muslims and Arabs worldwide to launch a "Jihad" or holy war to protest the US-led onslaught against Iraq.
"We address our appeal to all Muslims and Arabs everywhere to tell them this is the day of the Jihad which has become the duty of every Muslim," said Abdel Ghaffur al-Qaissi.
"Failing to join the Jihad would be disobeying the orders of God," he said.
I wonder if this Australian kid will heed the call.
BIG JOHN LITTLE continues to perform yeoman service over at Blogs of War. Next time you pay him a visit, pay him.
GREAT LINE FROM Evan Kirchhoff, discussing Martin Amis:
Even writing a book-length expose on the peer pressure of intellectuals is insufficient immunization against the peer pressure of intellectuals.
As Colby Cosh observes: "Zing!"
CHECK OUT Doug Morris for all your quality ranting needs. Also, chicks. Chicks with guns.
USEFUL FINANCIAL AND INVESTMENT STUFF from Rodger Schuester. More specific information blogs!
WATCHING CNN AND AL-JAZEERA = FUTURE WORLD GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE. This equation only makes sense if you are Margo Kingston, or if you've been drinking industrial solvents:
The whole world is watching this war. For the first time, we get propaganda from both sides, and we become the judge of what is true or false. This is an extraordinary development in warfare, and one creating tremendous accountability pressure, particularly on the Americans. Is this the beginning of world government by the people?
Maybe it is, Margo! Or maybe it's the beginning of a termite aristocracy, or an interplanetary government of gophers! Nobody knows!
COLGATE refuses to take a stand in the heated flip top/twist top argument. Talk about your craven moral cowardice.
Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers have conducted bombing attacks against Iraqi Republican Guard units in fighting along the road to Baghdad.
In the first release of specific information about RAAF activities in the Iraq conflict, an Australian defence source said the attacks occurred over the past 48 hours in support of the US 5 Corps in its advance on Baghdad.
CHINA sure is incredibly puritan for a place where half the population is named Dong or Wang or Boner or whatever.
ADELE HORIN declares her position:
No matter how scared and vulnerable our troops may be, their anxiety is nothing compared with the suffering of the Iraqi people terrorised by the bombing and shelling. The allied soldiers, though obliged to follow orders, have joined the military of their own free will, and are well paid and fed.
But not as well paid and fed as dipweasel Sydney Morning Herald columnists. So, according to the Horin scale of Moral Goodness, we are obliged to care more for our troops than we do for her. And we do.
SOMETIMES random blog searching turns up a kindred spirit:
if i ever see someone so much as looking at my car in a funny way i will fuckin kill them i swear to god ...
THE CURRENT Sydney Morning Herald fierce resistance Google count stands at 52.
IF YOU'RE a patient at Port Lincoln Hospital, and you don't like pumpkin soup, now might be a good time to kill yourself.
JIM TREACHER has a delightful plan to remove Saddam Hussein - without violence:
First we'll coax Saddam out of his bunker with a trail of delicious candy. Then, once his belly is full and he's all sleepy and happy, we'll calmly explain that we don't approve of what he's been doing and it's not very nice and we wish he'd stop. And he'll be like, "Whoa, I never thought of it that way. You guys are my friends! I like you!" And then everybody will hug and cry, and then get a little embarrassed about crying, and then make some jokes to cover up being embarrassed. And then a beautiful rainbow will appear, and a shy unicorn will walk down it, and Saddam will ride it to the North Pole, and he'll spend the rest of his life helping Santa make wonderful toys for all the good little girls and boys, and there'll be hot chocolate, and, and, and nobody will ever ever die again for any reason ever.
I think he's stolen this from the Hans Blix Anthology of Morphine-Laced Children's Literature.
THE CORRECT ANSWER, as Kevin Donnelly explains, is no:
Can Australian parents trust our schools and teachers to present a balanced and impartial view of the war in Iraq?
ENTER NOW! The BBC is running a Michael Moore caption contest!
UPDATE. Check out the lame-o winning entries. Moore himself is funnier.
AUSTRALIAN PEACE PROTESTERS are exploiting Muslim kids:
Organisers of a violent anti-war rally specifically enlisted Muslim students from southwest Sydney to tap into the passions in the local Arab community against the war on Iraq.
National co-ordinator Kylie Moon, 24, said students from schools with large Muslim populations were sent emails and leaflets urging them to attend the rally.
"The Middle-Eastern kids are more passionate about this issue. They relate to it much more strongly," she said.
"They all see (Arab satellite TV network) Al Jazeera and see much more detailed footage of what's going on so they are very angry.
"We gave them an avenue to express their anger, that's not irresponsible. Police need to come with a more sensitive attitude to these sorts of kids."
How "sensitive" is it to incite teenagers then deploy them in the front lines of demonstrations?
UPDATE. Angela Bell sends word that in a TV interview Ms Moon said she'd been an activist for ten years - since she was 14. Man, when her conversion happens, it's going to be like ten million MOABs detonating inside her skull.
WEEP FOR the war's hidden victims ...
Normally healthy and vigorous, Deborah Dashow Ruth of Kensington has developed a case of shingles, her ulcer is acting up, and her head has been throbbing since the United States invaded Iraq a week ago.
She ascribes her current health problems to the intense emotions the war has provoked. "Just as Iraq was invaded by the viral Republican administration, I have been invaded by these viral Republican conditions," she said.
Poor Ruth, all shingled up and suffering a fatal case of head-throb. Imagine how much worse her symptoms might be if she was actually sick.
MARGO KINGSTON is outsourcing Webdiary:
Is anyone interested in tracking and analysing the propaganda war, the media coverage, or some other aspect of this incredible "tipping point" in world affairs?
Any readers out there care to apply? This could lead to a spectacular comedic payoff. Hell, I might ask for the job myself.
MARK STEYN'S latest is among his greatest. That's saying something, I know, but read it and tell me I'm wrong.
FIGHT FOR SADDAM ... or die:
Several hundred tribespeople are reported to have died at the hand of Iraqi forces in a village near Kirkuk, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
WEDNESDAY'S PEACE PROTEST in Sydney sure was peaceful:
A group of young men, described by police as "Middle Eastern males", created havoc by throwing chairs, rocks, bottles, eggs and golf balls at police and media during several hours of chaos in the CBD.
Police also seized two knives from protesters, one of which fell on to the ground in the midst of a scuffle.
The violent spectacle began at Town Hall and resulted in two police officers and a number of protesters being injured.
At least some of the peaceniks recognised the obvious irony:
While some burned the US flag and then freely admitted they had no idea why, others were dismayed their pro-peace views were being overshadowed by violence.
"Don't you understand this is a peace rally?" one girl screamed as sections of the crowd began to riot.
WHEN CONSIDERING the civilian deaths in Baghdad, we must always maintain our sense of perspective.
Perspective. That is what is needed most but today is just an opportunity for everyone to engage in hyperbole, sentimentality and emotional dishonesty.
AN IRRESISTIBLE FORCE approaches an unacceptable object ...
WHO NEEDS AMMUNITION? Via Winds of Change:
Despite the American foothold on the eastern side of the Euphrates, Iraqi forces continued to attack in what soldiers described as futile, almost fanatical assaults against M1-A1 tanks and Bradley armored fighting vehicles.
Cpl. Benjamin R. Richardson, who was among the engineers who went to the bridge, said he saw two civilian vehicles with armed Iraqis drive straight toward Americans. A tank drove simply over one of the vehicles without firing a shot ...
BURIED IN this Daily Mirror lead item is a fascinating story:
A British man surrendered on Sunday to the Desert Rats after travelling to Iraq to fight for Saddam, it emerged yesterday.
The unidentified prisoner, in his mid-20s and speaking with a northern accent, gave himself up to Irish Guards telling them he wanted to go home to Manchester.
A source said: "He told us he wanted to fight for the Iraqis because he didn't agree with what Britain and America are doing. Then he taunted soldiers saying he'd soon be back in Britain enjoying state benefits."
Prisons are state funded.
ANYONE IN AMERICA who objects to the conflict in Iraq is not allowed to say so, according to The Guardian's Gary Younge:
The harassment, arrest, detention and frustration of those who are against the war is becoming routine.
Guess that explains why WarbloggerWatch is so quiet lately.
ROBERT FISK finally has the civilian casualties he's been lusting for. Sometimes we pro-war types are accused of becoming inappropriately aroused by weapons and war and chaos, but we are limp compared to Death-Porn Bob.
UPDATE. James Morrow advises that the segment is now scheduled to go to air Monday. So don't tune in tonight. Watch something else.
WHAT DO students learn at journalism school? Among other things, that Al-Jazeera is the only media outlet you can trust, Israel has no right to exist inside Palestine, and the September 11 attacks may have been orchestrated by President Bush.
ARAB INTELLECTUALS are just as perverse and fuckheaded as Western intellectuals:
Normally, the appearance of Saddam Hussein on television prompts catcalls, curses and prayers for his demise from a regular gathering of about 20 Saudi businessmen and intellectuals, but Monday night was different. When he appeared, they prayed that God preserve him for a few more weeks.
"They want Saddam Hussein to go and they expect him to go eventually, but they want him to hold on a little longer because they want to teach the Americans a lesson," said Khalid Batarfi, the managing editor of the newspaper Al-Madina, describing the scene in a sprawling living room in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
They want Saddam to fall, but they want as many deaths as possible in the meantime. These people are garbage.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS in the Daily Mirror:
Here we go again: first the phoney war and then the war of the phoneys. In Kuwait, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan - all of the post-Cold War conflicts against regional aggressors and terror-sponsoring states - it was necessary first to endure a lengthy period of apocalyptic warnings.
If the democracies stuck up for themselves or others, there would be intensified chaos and misery, uncountable civilian casualties, intervention from other states to widen the war, legacies of bad blood, massive alienation, etc, etc.
You have read it and I have read it.
The question is - do those who have written this tripe ever dare to go back and see how wrong they were last time?
And Guy Rundle in the
With no sign that the regime will collapse it seems that, one way or another, slaughter is coming.
Before it does, the brief burst of support for our troops may melt away, with the sudden realisation that we have become the bad guys.
ELDERLY PEACE POET Bill Bridges has posted an elegant contribution at the Poets Against War website.
Pay particular attention to the first letter of every line ...
UPDATE. The great Jim Treacher challenges readers to "find the hidden message":
Stop it, Mr. Bush.
Taking lives is going to help?
Unilateral murder of thousands?
Is it easy to sleep at night, Mr. Bush?
Do you care?
How does it feel to kill babies, Mr. Bush?
Precious mothers and wives?
Pause and reflect, Mr. Bush.
If you continue this course,
Elections aren't the only things you'll steal.
Freedom fries aren't the issue.
All your bombs can't blow up the truth.
George W. Bush, wake up!
Smell the crying children.
POLLSTER Gary Morgan reports:
A clear majority of Australians, 61 per cent, believe the United Nations should have supported military action against Iraq.
SETH. D. MICHAELS of the Malden Observer writes to point out that "while it's true that commercial reality might limit political pretensions on the part of some famous folks, it's worth noting that the Dixie Chicks album has actually gone UP in the Billboard charts - from 6 to 4 - since their anti-Bush statement. I doubt it's just from copies people bought to burn."
Hmmm. Could it be that this whole crushing of dissent notion is exaggerated?
THE OSCARS AUDIENCE wasn't booing Michael Moore; they were booing the booers. Big fat deluded idiot man explains:
But, no, look I was very appreciative of, you know, the standing ovation there and the booing that started was way up in the balcony, and then the people supporting what I was saying started booing them.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Mike.
THE BBC'S war coverage is biased and incompetent, according to a BBC war correspondent:
The BBC's coverage of the war has come under fire from one of its own correspondents in the Gulf who has fired off a furious memo claiming the corporation is misleading viewers about the conflict in Iraq.
Paul Adams, the BBC's defence correspondent who is based at the coalition command centre in Qatar, complained that the corporation was conveying a untruthful picture of how the war was progressing.
Adams accused the BBC's coverage of exaggerating the military impact of casualties suffered by UK forces and downplaying their achievements on the battlefield during the first few days of the conflict.
"I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering 'significant casualties'. This is simply not true," Adams said in the memo.
"Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving 'small victories at a very high price?' The truth is exactly the opposite. The gains are huge and costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected," Adams continued.
This memo applies with equal force to Australia's ABC. They want us to lose.
THE BUNYIP is back, and he's got Melbourne Age columnist Kenneth Davidson pinned down and squirming in a dank and inaccessible section of the billabong. Davidson, he writes, "does confirm a long-standing suspicion that fools seldom differ. In fact, they often use the same words."
Indeed. Here's Davidson on March 20:
Davidson: The blueprint for the creation of a ‘global Pax America’, to which Bush subscribes and which is driving the invasion of Iraq, was drawn up in September 2000 for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush (George's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, called Rebuilding America's Defences: strategies, forces and resources for a new century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think tank Project for the New American Century.
And here's Neil Mackay in Scotland's Sunday Herald:
Mackay: The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
Hmmm. Those two excerpts seem similar or something. While we're at it, let's review the Bunyip's other Davidson investigations. Here's a line from Kadaverous Kenneth's kolumn of October 7, 2002:
Davidson: The wording of the accord was designed to guarantee rejection. It amounted to a demand for Yugoslavia to surrender unconditionally to US/NATO control.
This is how Noam Chomsky expressed the same thoughts some years earlier:
Chomsky: ... the wording was designed so as to guarantee rejection. Perhaps so. It is hard to imagine that any country would consider such terms, except in the form of unconditional surrender.
The same Davidson column also recalled a 1998 piece by William Blum:
Davidson: In 1997, the US Senate passed the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act. Section 307 stipulates that 'The President may deny a request to inspect any facility in the United States in cases where the President determines that the inspection may pose a threat to the national security interest of the United States'.
Blum: Less than a year ago, the U.S. Senate passed an act to implement the ‘Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction’ (Short title: Chemical Weapons Convention) ... The Senate act, Section 307, stipulates that 'the President may deny a request to inspect any facility in the United States in cases where the President determines that the inspection may pose a threat to the national security interests of the United States.'
Davidson: Section 303 of the act stipulates that 'any objection by the President to an individual serving as an inspector ... shall not be reviewable in any court'.
Blum: Section 303 further states that 'Any objection by the President to an individual serving as an inspector ... shall not be reviewable in any court.'
Davidson: Iraq was a client state or, in polite terms, an ally. Client states are defined, according to US academic Noam Chomsky, by their obedience, not their values. Saddam was given diplomatic cover for as long as he was obedient to US interests. Now, he is damned as a monster.
Fernandes: As Noam Chomsky has remarked, client states are called 'allies' in polite terms, and they are defined by their obedience, not their values. Saddam Hussein was an 'ally' until he became disobedient. While he was obedient, he was armed and given diplomatic cover. When he became disobedient ...
Davidson: A client oil state was first defined by Lord Curzon, who was the British foreign secretary after World War I. He said it was an 'Arab facade ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff . . . There should be no actual incorporation of the conquered territory in the dominions of the conqueror, but the absorption may be veiled by such constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer state and so on'.
Fernandes: This is what Lord Curzon referred to as an 'Arab facade' - a state 'ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan, and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff'. For the client state, the principle to be followed is that 'there should be no actual incorporation of conquered territory in the dominions of the conqueror, but that the absorption may be veiled by constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer State, and so on.'
And yet more from Davidson's Sept. 23 column, this time compared to a some lines written by Fernandes in April 2002:
Davidson: The official US State Department history (1945, volume 8, page 45) noted: 'These resources constituted a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history ... probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment.'
Fernandes: As the US State Department noted at the time, these reserves constitute 'a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history ... probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment'. Sources: (US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945, VIII, 45; cited in Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
Media Watch might be interested in all of this. As MW executive producer Peter McEvoy once wrote: "We try to be balanced and we're more than happy to come down on some lefty columnists if we catch them stuffing up."
HOW IS IT, asks Jacob T. Levy, that distant Australia considers fighting Iraq its responsibility, when almost no other country in the world is doing the same? Interesting piece.
A PRO-WAR editorial ... from China:
Those who maintain that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has no connection to the international war on terrorism are in most cases the same people who deny that the anti-terrorist struggle is in fact a "war" at all. This is yet another symptom of the international dismissal of 9/11.
The solution, for most of the world, is to shelter behind the illusion that the world is still at peace. This, even while the flames of Islamist terror - characterized above all by the indiscriminate murder of civilians - spread across the planet, fanned by international cowardice, irresolution and even complicity. After a decade of Clintonian appeasement, culminating in the Manhattan atrocity, the US has had enough of this.
Some disputes cannot be resolved by any amount of arguing. Especially when, as in this case, argument disguises bitter antagonism.
Much of the world has deliberately blinded itself to the depravity and menace of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Hopefully this cocoon of self-deception will be among the early casualties of the campaign.
THOSE RUMSFELD press conferences are becoming more lively by the day:
"Now that some Americans have been killed and captured, will you admit the futility of this war and that its costs are too high?"
Rumsfeld thought about that for a moment. "I think the best way to answer that question would be to rip this podium out of the ground and then smash it over your head," Rumsfeld said, ripping the podium out of the ground and then smashing it over the reporter's head. "Any other questions?"
ALAN ANDERSON wants a war election. The numbers sure stack up.
Last Thursday, before the first shot had been fired in Iraq, law firm Slater & Gordon warned that their clients would count dead bodies in their pursuit of Prime Minister John Howard and his senior ministers for war crimes.
Most of their clients have been vigorous opponents of Howard. Called the Victorian Peace Network they include the Socialist Party, the Socialist Alternative, the International Socialists Organisation, the Democratic Socialist Party, a selection of unions and student unions.
Scum. Janet closes with this:
While lawyers vie for the spotlight on the international stage, Australia's finest are engaged in other pursuits in the war in Iraq. Writing home to Australia last Christmas one soldier serving overseas wrote: "Australia sleep well. We are keeping watch." Few among us can claim such a fine job description.
FOX NEWS coverage of the war is "like the Jerry Springer Show", according to ABC radio's Sally Loane, who just described the network as more entertainment than journalism. She then took a call on her main subject of the morning: knitting as the hip trend among Sydney's cool people.
UPDATE. Now SMH "journalist" David Dale is on. He tells Sally that the BBC is "very balanced". Fox presents "wishful thinking", promoting the "constant idea that they're winning". It has "no credibility" and is "misleading" its audience. The BBC is "giving a reasonable position".
It is telling that Moore mentioned the Dixie Chicks, for the recent experience of this all-female American country music act might indicate why so many otherwise outspoken celebrities decided to say their thank-yous, then sit down and shut up.
Precisely. Commercial reality is a bitch-stomp corrective to the anti-war artistic elite. Who knew their price was so low?
ONE OF the Opera House vandals wants to migrate to Australia:
A peace protester who scaled the Sydney Opera House to paint a massive "No War" slogan on one of its famous white sails was fighting deportation yesterday.
Dr Will Saunders, a British astronomer in Australia on a sponsored working visa, was last week issued with an Immigration Department notice of intent to cancel his visa.
"I love Australia, and I will settle here if you will have me," he said.
LEARN FROM my bitter experience: you do not want to confuse an invitation from the Ba-ath Party with an invitation to a bath party. Trust me on this.
ALAN RAMSEY has become unhinged:
We learnt this week, however, that Britain's first battle deaths were two pilots disintegrated by a missile from a US ground crew, and that American marines shot up a CNN television crew, killing at least one and most likely three journalists ...
Terry Lloyd and his associates worked for ITV, not CNN, and nobody - so far as I'm aware - has yet established the source of the friendly fire that killed him. His own network says the deadly round may have come from British troops, but is uncertain. Ramsey seems to have a problem with low civilian casualties, too:
It's just that you look at the grossness, in this country's political leadership as well as what is happening in Iraq, with its "humane bombing", as Washington obscenely portrays it - "tapestry" bombing as opposed to "carpet" bombing, one talking head observed - and you can't help feeling the sheer madness of it all.
Ramsey thinks a bombing campaign that spares civilians is "obscene" and "madness"? It's time for the Sydney Morning Herald to book Al a retirement suite in Crazy World.
GUESS the speaker:
"This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold."
Yes, it's little Bobby Mugabe, Jacques Chirac's playdate pal, currently delivering justice and independence via the unusual medium of whips and iron bars.
MENTIONED IN this week's column for The Bulletin: Richard Neville, Saddam Hussein, Freedom Beanies™, Bob Ellis, Terry Lane, Mike Carlton, Damien Lawson, Bob Brown, Carmen Lawrence, George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, John Highfield, Phillip Adams, the EU, Bob Lutz, the Leyland P76, Greenpeace, Robert Manne, and Elvis.
UPDATE. Combustible Boy takes the Lyric Challenge (see column above), offering three potential closing lines to this verse :
Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts
Open your minds to our song
We sing for peace, through the power of love,
CB's suggested lines:
"... and a free game of Donkey Kong"?
"... have a hit off our skull-shaped bong"?
"... got your nuts in our salad tongs"?
From John O'Leary:
" ... and your ventricles will follow along."
Eric Carra aims for the surrealist vote:
"... hamsters crawl through our brains." (who said it had to rhyme?)
Dr Alice brings her medical wisdom to the subject:
"Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts"? Um, those would be valves. These people appear to be advocating bacterial endocarditis as part of the peace process:
Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts
Open your minds to our song
We sing for peace, through the power of love,
Though our grasp of anatomy is completely wrong.
ANDREW COYNE in the National Post:
Take the famous "bombing of Baghdad": a bombing so terrible that the lights are still on, the bridges are intact and the cars are in the streets; a bombing so brutal a Canadian peace activist interviewed by The Globe and Mail was moved to describe it as "tiring" ("I'm totally sick of being bombed"); a bombing with so many civilian casualties that Robert Fisk could personally visit them all.
FORMER LABOR LEADER Kim Beazley thinks Tony Blair is right to pursue war in Iraq. So he must think John Howard is also right, yes? Au contraire! As Beazley explains, Howard's case is somehow completely different:
ALEXANDRA KIRK: What about your friend, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, why do you think he's been such a staunch advocate of military action against Iraq, UN-backed or not?
KIM BEAZLEY: I think Tony Blair has been the standout amongst the international leaders engaged in this, for being primarily motivated by a deep moral commitment, a sort of core central direction.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: We could argue that about John Howard as well.
KIM BEAZLEY: No, no you can't. We'll set that to one side. Not at all, not a bit of it, and nor the force and understanding that Blair brings to this subject. I've already explained what I think about John Howard's level of commitment and what motivated that.
No, Blair is infinitely superior a person when it comes to determining the course he ought to go down. He may well have come to the conclusion that's in British interests; my conclusion is that this is not in Australian interests.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: So why would it be not in Australia's interests, but why would it be in British interests?
KIM BEAZLEY: I'm not going to even begin to comment on why you might think it's in British interests, but it's not in Australian interests, because it renders us less secure, because it breaks up coalitions that were important to us in the war on terror.
Beazley's insightful logic is one of the reasons voters are flocking to the federal Labor Party. Well said, Kim.
JUSTIN KATZ encounters another wise, sensitive youngster mouthing off. Am I being too harsh when I call for these children to be staked to ant beds?
No. No, I am not.
MORE NAKED PEACE THERAPY:
Disrobe for Disarmament spokeswoman Linda Seaborn said despite the cold, it was a very empowering experience.
"Before we did this, we were all feeling very overwhelmed," she said.
And now they don't! Isn't that wonderful?
The women - most of whom headed off to work after baring all - would hold a "what next" meeting later this week.
Followed by a "how to reverse park" seminar and a "do I look fat in this?" workshop.
AS WE NOW KNOW, our man from British Sky News - who was convinced that an American pilot had been captured in the Tigris - was a little misinformed. Paul McGeogh reports from the scene that some in the crowd were even urging the non-existent US airman to safety.
DEATH BURIES CYNICISM:
So now an Australian cameraman has been killed by people most Australian commentators and many politicians said did not exist – members of Iraq's al-Qa'ida connection.
Ansar al-Islam, the group that killed Paul Moran, operates in northern Iraq in an area not controlled by Baghdad. It has been trained by al-Qa'ida, funded by al-Qa'ida and includes Arab al- Qa'ida operatives in its number.
All of this has been on the record for months. Yet the Australian debate has been infused by such irresponsible cynicism, and such an ill-informed but pervasive assumption that all these threats are exaggerated or even invented, that Ansar al-Islam – one of the most obvious connections between Iraq, terrorism and al-Qa'ida – has been almost totally ignored in the debate.
Professor James Lindgren writes:
Since much of the anti-war Australian press thinks that there is no Al Qaida/Iraq link (and therefore no need for Australia to send troops to Iraq to prevent future Bali-like massacres), it must confuse them greatly when an Australian news reporter is killed by an Al Qaida group in Iraq--indeed, the very Al Qaida group that supporters of the war have been pointing to as one reason to go into Iraq. In fact, it's the very same Iraqi Al Qaida group that was formerly reported as the probable source of the Ricin discovered in England and France.
When supporters of the war would mention the Al Qaida terrorist training camp in Northern Iraq, they would be derided.
And they probably still will be. With the anti-war crowd, we're not exactly talking rapid assimilation of information.
AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS are creating beautiful havoc:
“Special forces have been active destroying enemy installations either using their own resources, or directing coalition air support for destruction mission.
"Our forces are denying freedom of movement to the Iraqi forces.
"They are generally creating havoc and uncertainty behind lines, and are constantly redeploying in their area of operations.
"My conclusion is that the special forces have been very successful in interrupting enemy operations."
MICHAEL MOORE even lies to himself:
In an interview after the show, Moore said he did not hear the jeers. "I was extremely grateful for the response," he said. "I mean, that's not what I saw. I saw the entire place stand up and applaud. I mean, don't report that. Don't say there was a split decision in the hall because five loud people booed. Do your job and tell the truth. This is how this town feels, and the majority of Americans did not support getting into this war."
Interesting that Maximum Mike orders journalists to censor their copy. Sounds a little like that "crushing of dissent" we hear so much about. Hey, did anyone else catch Michael's new word, blurted out in panic as his speech commenced to tank? "Fictition". Dubya himself would be proud.
James Lileks notes another Official Oscars Gibberish Moment:
The announcer flubs a word, and in doing so she birthed a term of surpassing perfection. She was talking about the Holeywud ectors, their deseyah not to seem out of sync with the mood of the times. Two words must have appeared in her brain simultaneously: frivolity and privileged.
And so she said of the actors who declined to appear:
"They fear the ceremony will appear friviledge."
CHECK OUT K-Dog R, the mine-seeking dolphin - and future gangsta rapper. K-Dog is in the house!
UPDATE. Dolphins trump SEALs! Conrad writes:
Some years back, when I was a young US Marine officer, I had two friends in Navy SEAL Team 6 who told me about training missions in which they played divers seeking to attack Navy ships from below, while trained dolphins were employed to stop them. Apparently the SEALs got their asses kicked. There I heard tales of face masks and airhoses ripped off and other underwater mayhem. I remember one of my buddies repeating over and over, "I hate those fucking fish!"
EVIDENCE, at last, that it really is all about oil!
WE LIVE in a gilded age. Our lifespans are longer, our freedoms more abundant, and our dreams more achievable than for any generation prior. Yet still emerge talents so sublime as to remind humankind of our massive potential, thus far unrealised.
I speak, obviously, of Margo Kingston.
No other living practictioner of the paranoid arts can compete with Australia's gift to irrational panic. Margo's latest is a masterpiece:
Hi. I stopped watching the war after Saturday night, when US troops planted the United States flag after conquering a port town, and Turkey decided to send its troops into Iraq. This war is unbearable, a frightening threat to world peace. This should not be Australia's war.
Margo has refused to follow other wars; prior to the conflict in Afghanistan, she decided it was phoney and unworthy of her attention. Hers is an unconventional approach to journalism.
This is not a war of liberation. It is a war of conquest. We are all in danger.
Australia is next to be crushed by Bush's rapacious war machine! It would be worth it, actually, just to see Margo's reaction.
The photograph just about all the papers ran on Saturday - of an American soldier giving water to a captured Iraqi - looked like a still from a Hollywood movie. And I haven't seen any shots in our papers of Iraqi casualties - have you?
Hey, lazy gal, if you can't be bothered following the war, why should we?
On the right hand column of Webdiary, another staged shot which tells the tale of not just an ordinary war of conquest, but a religious crusade, a religious war.
The shot is "staged"? How so? Where is the fakery Margo implies? What part of the image is inaccurate or deceptive? How has the photographer manipulated events? Does Margo even know what "staged" means?
An American soldier, Saddam in his sights, has a picture of a naked, buxom woman on his dashboard, an obvious affront to Muslim sensibilities.
Shocking nudity! Muslims will be offended! Curiously, Margo didn't give a damn about Muslim sensibilities when she was promoting naked anti-war protests. Australia's 300,000 Muslims no doubt reeled in terror. They probably don't think much of the fact that Margo has a job and gets around burkha-less, either.
And on his helmet, lines from Psalm 37: "The wicked plot against the just and ground their teeth at them, but the LORD laughs at them, knowing their day is coming."
Well, that proves it. One soldier writes somes scripture on his helmet, therefore the entire war is a religious crusade.
And all along I thought it was about oil.
FOR THE latest and most up-to-datest news, go to Blogs of War.
Events of the past 48 hours have reinforced the moral chasm separating the two parties to the conflict in the Gulf.
Those events include the pictures flashed around the world of US, and Iraqi, prisoners of war. A stunning image on the front of The Weekend Australian on Saturday showed two US Marines giving an exhausted Iraqi soldier a drink after capturing him near the Kuwait border. A day later, however, came much more disturbing images of PoWs. Five US soldiers were seen being interrogated on Iraqi television; one of them, seriously wounded, was mistreated by his interrogators, being dragged into a sitting position to answer questions. But worse was to come, with images of dead US soldiers, some of them appearing to have been executed, being dragged across the floor, shown with their trousers down, and otherwise mistreated by grinning Iraqi officials.
The contrast between these images, and the utterly different treatment of PoWs that they reveal, should serve as a corrective to any drift towards moral relativism regarding the allies in this war, and the regime that they are fighting to disarm.
Should serve, but won't. The whimsically-named "peace movement" is now beyond reach of sensible argument.
As we did in Afghanistan we have our own area of operations as we do things in our own particular way.
Our guys won. Earlier, Australian fighter pilots aborted a mission when it seemed civilians would be exposed to excessive danger:
The RAAF F-18 fighter pilots were allocated a target by the coalition forces' command. But as they got closer, the pilots stopped the mission because their intelligence was insufficient to identify the target positively, Brigadier Mike Hannan said.
Meanwhile successful bombing raids continue:
Australian FA-18 Hornet fighter jets led bombing raids on identified targets over Iraq overnight, Defence officials said today.
They confirmed at a media briefing that all Australians fighting in Iraq were safe and well, and still undertaking missions.
Defence spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan said Australian FA-18 Hornet fighter jets dropped laser-guided 2,000 pound bombs on the targets.
ANDREW BOLT writes:
How dare our "peace" protesters presume to speak for Iraqis to justify their hysterical opposition to this war?
Speak for yourselves, appeasers. Many Iraqis who dare to defy Saddam Hussein and his secret agents are trying to tell you they support this war.
Read whole thing. Is good.
WILLIAM BLUM: We saw the people taken prison in Afghanistan, who were then taken to Cuba. They were tied up like animals, blindfolded and put in cages, and that was shown all over the world. Speaking of prisoners being humiliated, I think that would stand far in excess of what happened now in Iraq.
JOHN HIGHFIELD: At what stage do you believe Americans will start to turn against the war?
WILLIAM BLUM: They are against it. If you ask the right questions, if you ask … see, the questions they ask usually in the polls is: do you support the President's attempt to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein? Well, for that I myself might even answer yes. That implies that the only consequence of a war would be to overthrow one tyrant.
It all depends on the "right questions". And what question would Blum ask?
WILLIAM BLUM: If you ask a question like: do you support the dropping of powerful explosives upon the heads of totally innocent men, women and children, demolishing their homes and their schools and their hospitals, are you in favour of that? That would change the answers, I think, quite a bit.
It would also change the truth, which is nothing the ABC or Blum cares about.
AUSTRALIAN AIR MARSHALL Angus Houston briefed the media yesterday, and in response to a question about a piece in the New York Times had this to say (via radio, no link):
I can't comment on articles that appear in American newspapers. The information we give you here is factual.
MORE HAPPY ANTICS from the peaceful people:
In Sydney, they set alight 700 newspapers outside the Condell Park Newsagency and used black spray to paint the words "Kill Bush" and "Kill Blair" across shops in the area.
Environmentalists will be distraught.
Perhaps some of those in command would have done well to read some of the ancient tactics developed by Alexander The Great, as he made his war advances, for it seems American and British soldiers and armour are being slowed down, forced to deal with pockets of Iraqi soldiers attacking fragmented supply lines lying behind the advance.
Memo to John: the US has atomic bombs. Any time they like, they can deal with "pockets of Iraqi soldiers" - or pockets of the whole damn world - in an instant. Coalition forces are pulling their punches. They don't want to kill everybody, and they're taking losses as a result.
Tomorrow Highfield will be telling Ricky Ponting how to bat.
(Thanks to reader Brad Johnson for the alert. Talk about bulk mail.)
By the way, who is Moore to condemn fiction? No wonder he was booed.
CHINA has fallen to fundamentalist Islam! We are surely doomed.
"IRAQ WILL not harm the captured prisoners of war," Defence Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed told a news conference.
Hans Blix might believe him.
DRUDGE HAS images of the murdered US servicemen filmed by Al-Jazeera.
Presumably these terrifying stills will be of great comfort to the peaceful Indymedia children, one of whom writes:
Support our Troops--but only those who Frag their commanding officer.
MICHAEL MOORE thoughtfully provides a grand photoshopping opportunity. Have at him, pixel mavens.
SEVERAL US SERVICEMEN are apparently captive at the hands of Saddam's ghouls. Impossible to sleep after reading this.
AIEEE! IT BREEDS! John Pilger's daughter Zoe proves that the stupid apple doesn't fall far from the idiot tree. Let's fisk little teenage commie girl:
Of all the carnage to come from a war in Iraq, one positive element has emerged. Young people of my generation are becoming more and more politicised.
Isn't it great? Maybe if a few Tomahawks go astray and rub out a kindergarten, they'll become even more politicised! Cool!
It is now normal for me to overhear 14-year-olds discussing the pros and cons of military intervention, on the bus on the way home from school.
They're probably talking about your house, Zoe. I favour intervention.
It is common to turn on the television and see students under the age of 18 defying their teachers, waving banners and megaphones, and protesting in Parliament Square.
Not on my television it isn't. Not since I installed FuckWitBlock™, anyway.
"Generation apathy" has officially woken up. This is much to the dismay of the British media who have long cherished the view that young people are indifferent to politics. We would rather, if you believe what you read, vote for our favourite contestant on some brain-dead reality TV show such as Big Brother than for our choice of prime minister in the next general election. Reporters such as Andrew Marr of the BBC have dismissed the massive growth of school students' direct action against the war with back-handed comments like: "Well, it beats doing your homework."
Does anyone else detect the leaden hand of Big Daddy John in this grinding, painful prose?
A new anger has arisen, fed by other issues that affect our lives, such as the proposed top-up fees for students. For the first time young people are asking how it is that the Government cannot afford to send our generation to university without loading them with up to £21,000 of debt? And yet it can afford to spend untold billions on a war against a country which poses no immediate threat.
Yep. Pure JP.
For many of us, such priorities are wrong. This is also the first major war in our living memory, and there are no "grey area" justifications, like there were in Afghanistan, when we were supposed to believe that searching for an evil baddie in caves was enough reason to level a starving Third World country.
That "living memory" of hers isn't very accurate. Afghanistan was levelled?
The increase in press attention to the anti-war movement from wide circulation papers such as The Mirror (Daddy's paper!) and The Independent has helped us become more shrewd in reinterpreting the propaganda and lies in other parts of the media. For example, students from my school strongly opposed to the war dismissed the front-page and government calls to "support our boys in the Gulf". As one 15-year-old campaigner observed: "I'll support the troops when they start coming home."
Talk about your shrewd reinterpretations. That kid'll be reading at an 11-year-old level within two years, tops.
It is a well-documented figure in the young anti-war movement that 42 per cent of the Iraqi population are under 15. As one student shouted from our school stage on Thursday: "We're not going to die, so why should they?"
Quite so. The London schoolchildren must be killed at once.
REGRETTABLE BUT minimal civilian injuries in Baghdad leave Robert Fisk sounding a little underwhelmed. Where's all the mayhem? Where's the random carpet bombing? Where's all the death? Why aren't the Americans being, well, more American?
Yesterday, Baghdad could still function. The landline telephones worked; the internet operated; the electrical power was at full capacity; the bridges over the Tigris remained unbombed. Because, of course, when – "if" is still a sensitive phrase these days – the Americans get here, they will need a working communications system, electricity, transport. What has been spared is not a gift to the Iraqi people: it is for the benefit of Iraq's supposed new masters.
Evil Americans. Now they're not destroying the village in order to save it. How despicable can a people be?
MIKE SECCOMBE, whose Fairfax employers endlessly accentuate the negative, is annoyed that other media see different angles:
Rupert Murdoch's Fox is the most flag-wavingly patriotic and least objective. Like all Murdoch media, Fox is under instructions to get behind the war effort.
And people are awake to it. At yesterday's big anti-war demonstration in Canberra there were anti-Murdoch placards as well as anti-Howard and anti-Bush ones.
The other American networks are little better. Cynics might suspect they have decided US public opinion supports the war, and so they will, as the song goes, "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative".
Or maybe they just don't take their editorial cues from placard-waving 'tards.
BRITISH SKY NEWS is claiming with absolute certainty that two coalition airmen parachuted into Baghdad after their aircraft was presumably shot down, and that one airman has been captured. Sky's reporter in Iraq just told the studio: "Somebody has been captured here without a doubt."
But Fox and CNN (and Sky, for that matter) have only denials from US/British authorities. All aircraft and personnel are accounted for. The riverside scene being shown on all networks is yet to show anything that might be evidence. Developing, as Drudge might say.
UPDATE. Rumsfeld now says he has reports of an allied aircraft having been shot down, but offers little further detail.
TEARS OF FREEDOM:
Zahra Khafi, a 68-year-old mother of five, cried as a group of American and British visitors came to the town shortly after Saddam's army had appeared to melt away. "I'm not afraid of Saddam anymore."
No thanks to the UN, Hans Blix, or the global hate-the-West peace brigades.
UPDATE. Or the French, or the Germans, or the Russians.
FURTHER UPDATE. Or the Australian Labor Party, or Robert Fisk, or Margo Kingston.
And their online SMH sidekick Margo Kingston, as always, hasn't posted a single item during the weekend - despite, you know, the war and all. Calls herself a journalist.
AN AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST has been killed in northern Iraq. No word yet on his or her identity. I fear that it's someone I know. Also, British journalist Terry Lloyd, his cameraman and their translator are missing in southern Iraq.
MIRANDA DEVINE writes:
How will the hate-filled zealots of the anti-war movement who bombard me daily with violent emails react to the joy of the liberated Iraqi people? With silence, most likely, having learned nothing.
THE AUSTRALIAN'S Terry Plane reports on a mystery mission to Iraq involving a medico now resident in Adelaide (no link available):
Dr Aidinis had cause to look at Hussein more closely than most. As a member of a four person, US-sponsored specialist medical team in the late 70s, he flew into Baghdad on a secret mission - to fix Hussein's back.
"It was all very hush-hush," Dr Aidinis recalled yesterday. He was not told until he was about to board an aircraft at Dulles airport in Washington DC where he was going or what he was doing. "We were told that if things went wrong we were on our own - without our passports."
Dr Aidinis, then professor of anaesthesiology at George Washington University medical centre, was chosen by the US state department to accompany two other professors - of neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery - on a goodwill mission endorsed by then US president Jimmy Carter.
Aidinis and his team repaired the brute, who invited them to return to Iraq any time they liked. The doc's prized memento of Operation Fix Saddam is "a mounted citation from the White House, signed by Mr Carter."
SADDAM HUSSEIN is "very confused and mixed up", according to a Michigan peacenik. Maybe it's just a phase he's going through.
Also at Country Store - Saddam's impersonator exposed!
A DAY that will live in infamy? I don't think so. Heather Havrilesky disses the couch-bound war viewer after several hours of viewing war from her couch, and concludes:
This is an eye for an eye, on a global scale. We finally one-upped Osama bin Laden by providing a spectacle more stunning than the one the world witnessed on Sept. 11, 2001. Now, instead of sympathizing with us, angry masses of disempowered citizens throw stones and set fires in the streets of cities across the globe, while at home arrogant men continue to brag about their deadly toys.
PEACE PROTESTS are the real danger to human life. The UN should move to ban them.
TEACHERS. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.
NEXT, we go after the advertising people.
THE AUSTRALIAN discovers an insight into John Howard's thinking:
Howard seems to have left his ultra-brief speaking notes (written on hotel notepaper) at the lectern after he gave a controversial press conference last week in the Kiwi capital Wellington, linking the campaign against Iraq with the Bali bombings. And this is what the PM, who famously shuns speechwriters and typically speaks off the cuff, wrote down: "Disarming Iraq is part of the wider war vs terror, because of Iraqi's past and ongoing support for terrorists. If Iraq is not disarmed there cd be more terrorist attacks like Bali or worse (worse sharply underlined)". So frightfully simple.
Sometimes it is.
QUICK! Someone grab a screen shot of this pic before it vanishes.
UPDATE. Andrea got it!
SKYNEWS reports the collision of two British helicopters. Seven Royal Navy personnel are said to be missing.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'S Lindsay Murdoch witnessed an Iraqi-US battle near the Kuwait border:
The Iraqi gunners fired first, soon after United States President George Bush announced the attack on Saddam Hussein was under way.
It was a fatal mistake.
A few minutes later ...
"Dead bodies are everywhere," a US officer reported by radio.
Poor bastards. Imagine dying for Saddam Hussein.
IT'S ALL ABOUT DUNES:
Mr Donald said environmental concerns such as damage to sand-dunes by tanks and pollution from burning oil wells were one reason for opposing the war.
Tell it to the Iraqis, sandboy. Tell 'em you think dunes are more important than liberty.
ROBERT FISK'S SOURCES are ignorant. File this under “the fuck you say??!!”
SIGH. IF ONLY all anti-war types were as thoughtful as Tony Pierce.
CONRAD FISKS THE FAT MAN:
"The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN." The Pope also says homosexuality, birth control, abortion and -- particularly relevant in your case -- gluttony and sloth are sins. The Catholic Church doesn't serve a' la carte. The management insists you take the set menu. Are you ready to order, sir?
A NEW ZEALAND journalist interviews John Pilger, and emerges with the impression that Pilger has become "so angry about the world that merely suggesting there might be another way to look at it in order to elicit a view from him felt like some kind of outrage".
Capitalism won. Poor John.
(Via NZ Pundit, currently loaded with quality posts)
WHY THE HELL would the New York Times remove this remarkable photograph? (Oh, and scroll down the link to see the image headlined "No description necessary".)
GORE VIDAL'S WORLD: where Bush wasn't elected, Blair is a coward, and rabbits yap.
CHEMICAL ALI has been removed from the periodic table.
PEOPLE WANT to know where to find the audio clip I played on 2UE this morning. Go here - and don't try with me the ping pong, little girl.
ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATOR REPORTS SHOCKING "REALITY" EXPERIENCE:
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality."
Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
INSTAQUITTING! An anti-war blogger says he's retiring before he turns into Glenn Reynolds.
LET'S REVIEW the predictions of Bob Ellis, made a couple of weeks ago:
We are told, for instance, that "regime change" in Iraq will be easy because its people will be glad to be rid of the evil tyrant Saddam Hussein and they will welcome the conquering US troops in the way, presumably, the Parisians did in 1944.
They will applaud when Saddam is killed and Tariq Aziz put in a filthy cage in Guantanamo Bay and a junta, friendly to President George W. Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, takes over the oil wealth and redistributes it among the more deserving.
Well, perhaps, but I doubt it ...
Why, one might ask, would anybody welcome their neighbours' killers, their schoolfellows' killers,
their family's killers, anywhere?
If what I'm expressing reads like kindergarten prattle, it's because under Bush all talk of foreign affairs is now on this level ... He thinks that death doesn't matter.
And he's wrong.
And the Mother of all Armageddons is waiting to tell him how wrong he is.
You wait and see.
We're still waiting, Bob.
MORE EVIDENCE of the balance and lack of bias at the ABC:
JOHN HIGHFIELD: Well the Nazis used to call it "blitzkrieg" when they did it prior to the Second World War, a softening up process. The Americans are calling it "shock and awe".
Highfield isn't a guest. He's the fucking host.
JAMES MORROW performs a mass fisking upon the Sydney Morning Herald's letter writers. Picture a MOAB lobbed into Oxford Street.
DON GORSKE, THE WORLD SALUTES YOU:
Gorske, who downed his 19,000th Big Mac on Wednesday, said he wouldn't know what else to eat if it weren't for Big Macs.
"I'd be clueless," he said, adding that he ate a piece of pizza recently, but it "just wasn't the same."
Speaking of clueless, Robert Fisk in Baghdad is loading up on siege cheese:
At the Tabarak store – in English, the "God Bless You" store – I put 24 bags of crisps, boxes of long-life cheese and 30 cans of the most tasteless soft drink in the whole world on the counter. After a siege or two – the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut was my first – you develop an uncanny knack of knowing what to hunt for.
Fisk has foolishly announced to the world his abundant supplies of crap food. Hostile children will soon assault him and steal it all. That's if these store owners don't get him first:
At Baalbek Nuts I bought pistachios from the Lebanese owners, who answered my request for their thoughts on the war with the typically Lebanese response of "no problem". It's a lie, as we all knew.
Calling Lebanese liars. And Bob wonders why he always gets beaten up.
AUSTRALIANS support the war:
The first Australia-wide poll since the war began has found a slight majority of Australians approve of the United States using military force to depose Saddam Hussein.
But Australians still remain divided on whether Australia should be involved, with 48.5 per cent disapproving, compared with 46.5 per cent who do approve.
ABC radio host Richard Glover believes the number disapproving to be 70 per cent. No doubt today he will correct his error.
DIFFERENT early accounts of civilian deaths reported one casualty, ten casualties, and no casualties. Using the Marc Herold Murder Misoverestimater, we arrive at this definitive calculation:
1 + 10 + 0 = 1,100 innocent Iraqis killed
TURNS OUT that the French have actually sent troops to Iraq after all.
UNTIL I can find out exactly what the desolate Baghdad intersection being shown on all the cable networks is called, I'm going to refer to it as "the corner of Maple and Hegemony".
Either that or "Shock and Awe".
THIS SUCKY REPORT of Sydney's war protest was written by the Sydney Morning Herald's Jacquie Maley, and glowingly quoted Walk Against War Coalition drone Amanda Tattersall - one of Jacqui's old school friends. Together, forever, fighting for peeeeeace!
HADI KAZWINI, a refugee from Iraq, has a message for Australian troops:
Your names will be recorded as heroes in the bright lists of history. You will help restore the weeping face of humanity with your good deeds.
Read the whole thing.
ASKED IF he wanted the US/British/Australian coalition to triumph in Iraq, Simon Crean refused to answer:
The Opposition Leader was asked a pertinent question: given his relentless criticism of the war, did he now want the coalition to win?
Remedial Politics 101 tells you this was a no-brainer; something like "Yes - and quickly" might suffice. Instead, Crean argued there was still hope for a diplomatic solution.
Little wonder Alexander Downer had this to say to Crean in Parliament:
I'm shaking my head in desperate sorrow for you, you pitiful creature.
UPDATE. Maybe Simon can find a position on the San Diego City Council .
BOYCOTT the liberal-dominated US entertainment industry in order to send a message to the conservative US government? It makes sense to Gerald Stone, who probably eats steak to celebrate vegetarianism and raises toasts to sobriety.
(Stone's opinion piece was prompted by his letter earlier this week to the SMH, where no bad idea goes unpublished.)
Here's a typical brutish right-winger who'll be wounded by the movie show boycott:
One of those at the front of the march, behind a "No war on Iraq" banner, was actor Heath Ledger, who is in Melbourne to launch the new Ned Kelly film.
Ledger called on Prime Minister John Howard to assert the nation's independence. "I think John 'Coward', should just grow up," he said earlier while watching the war on Iraq unfold on television. "He's so subservient to this guy (US President George Bush) and they're sending 250,000 troops over there. Why should we send our 2000? It makes no difference. We've got nothing to do with it."
I agree with Stone. You are so boycotted, kid. Meanwhile we await the US film industry's response to Stone's blatant McCarthyism.
SADDAM HUSSEIN, the environment's friend, is said to be torching oil wells.
SIMON CREAN'S hypocrisy and opportunism is shocking. Thursday's editorial in The Daily Telegraph puts him to rights:
It should be remembered that with a flip of just one vote the Australian Labor Party would be supporting the invasion of Iraq that could start today.
If there had been a switch in French thinking, leading to Paris backing the US-sponsored resolution before the UN Security Council, Simon Crean would be waving off the bombers.
Mr Crean is not opposed to war on Iraq. He just does not like the way the invitation has been written. Mr Crean does not want to be seen doing the bidding of George Bush – but he will allow Jacques Chirac to decide Australia's course.
He wants the 2000 Australian troops in the Gulf region withdrawn, but not the 300,000 American and British troops, the ones who will do the most damage.
Worthless Crean. History will judge him cruelly, if it bothers to judge him at all.
ONLY A LEFTIST economist - who believes that one person's wealth makes another person poor - could write this:
Bush personifies the American quest for absolute security. Americans don't yet understand or care that this status can only be achieved by making everybody else absolutely insecure.
ABC RADIO in Sydney yesterday opened its lines to talkback callers, urging them to voice their opinions on the war. The first several callers were predictably anti-war; one wanted the Governor-General to fire the Prime Minister; a young woman complained that Australia's involvement had "destroyed the security" of her children's generation; several condemned "this illegal war" and urged people to attend a demonstration at Town Hall.
Eventually a pro-war caller got through. In heavily-accented English, he praised John Howard as a "brave man". Next, a furious female caller said she was "disgusted" by Australian appeasers. She was followed by an Italian woman who hailed America as "our ally".
I expected that to be the end of reason, but the pro-war callers kept coming. "I've never voted anything other than Labor all my life," said one oldtimer, announcing his conversion to Howard. "It's great to live in Australia, where you can protest and not get your tongue cut out," noted the next pro-warrior. Another dismissed the UN as "a bunch of wimps". "I'm from the Middle East myself," said yet another, calling for Saddam's violent removal.
At a guess - and I didn't hear all the calls, so this could be totally inaccurate - there were more pro-war calls than there were anti. Australian readers, who are aware of the usual preferences of the ABC and its audience, might be surprised. I was.
Two calls in particular stood out. One came from a woman whose brother, working for a western company fifteen years ago in Iraq, was kidnapped by Iraqi secret police. "He was an absolute mess" when returned to his family, she said. He'd been held captive and tortured for nearly a month.
The other came from an older woman named Jill. Her family had migrated to Australia after WWII. "I wish we'd had politicians in the 1930s with the guts of Tony Blair and John Howard," she said, her voice catching slightly. "Why?" asked the host.
She answered through a rush of tears. "Because then I'd have a lot more relatives."
UPDATE. Gareth Parker monitors commercial radio, and discovers exactly the opposite talk-back trend.
DRUDGE reports the first casualty figures from Iraq. As to accuracy, take into account the primary source:
Ten people died in the first wave of U.S. airstrikes on Baghdad, Russian ORT state television reported from the capital, citing the Iraqi Information Ministry. There was no other confirmation of the reports.
UPDATE. Iraqi officials cited on ABC radio now claim no people died.
THIS WaPo opening paragraph is beautifully written:
Around 4 p.m. yesterday, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet offered President Bush the prospect -- improbable to the point of fantasy, yet somehow at hand -- that the war against Iraq might be transformed with its opening shots. The CIA, Tenet said, believed it had a fix on President Saddam Hussein.
Read it out loud. Christopher Johnson, meanwhile, has an example of how not to write an opening par ...
QUOTE OF THE WAR (day one) via Dan Meijer, who caught this line from a US Marine officer addressing his platoon, shown on one of the news stations:
"When the president says go, it'll be hammer time."
Dan is now trapped in an early '90s timewarp. Invest in the internet, Dan! Sell before '98!
PROTESTERS, always protesters ...
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in capital cities across Australia to condemn the war on Iraq.
Summoned at only three hours notice, this afternoon's impromptu anti-war rally in Sydney still managed to muster up thousands of protesters.
It's not as if they had anything better to do. As for "impromptu", the Sydney Morning Herald has been publishing helpful protest guides.
Happily, these guys showed up:
Protesting against the speakers themselves were three Kurdish-Australian men, brandishing pictures of the dead civilians killed by Saddam Hussein's 1988 chemical attack on the Kurdish city of Hulabja.
One of the trio, Gafoor Muhamad of the Australian Kurdish Community Association, said of the gathered crowd: "I think these people don't understand what they are talking about. They are supporting Saddam emotionally."
ABC-TV just reported Iraqi Scud missiles hitting Kuwait.
FIRST PICTURE of the attack launch.
And the strike.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH'S David Penberthy recently re-wrote his paper's September 11 coverage to accommodate the demands of anti-discrimination zealots. No link is available, so I'll post it here in full, "tastefully shorn of any inflammatory references to gender, size, race, sexual preference, religion, handicap, and special culinary requirements ..."
MANHATTAN MISHAP, September 12, 2001
Two public buildings were destroyed in New York City yesterday after a collision involving two passenger jets.
While mechanical failure has not been ruled out, The Daily Telegraph understands a group of persons, sharing a common belief system, may have deliberately or unwittingly caused the jets to fly off course, striking the buildings.
Structural engineers were unable to say last night whether the collisions were the sole cause of the collapse or whether design faults may have also played a role.
The Manhattan area has also been plagued in the past by flood and tremor, raising questions about the buildings' stability.
Despite the absence of firm evidence, people outside the buildings were quick to apportion blame for the collapses and the death they allegedly caused.
"When he find the sons-of-bitches who did this we should bomb them back to the Stone Age,'' said one person, expressing a level of hostility for which this newspaper apologises.
Others blamed "Arabs'' for the attack but it should be stressed that the race of those who may or may not have interfered with the passage of the jets has no bearing on the nature of the collision or the ultimate collapse of the edifice.
More than 2000 people are believed to have died as a result of the collisions.
Friends and family of those who died said yesterday it was "a tragedy'' that their ``loved ones'' had been killed "going to work''.
However, it should also be pointed out that by "going to work'' in these buildings they were contributing to a system of economic order which offends and troubles other persons in other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, another building was hit by a plane in Washington and a fourth plane crashed in the state of Pennsylvania in what some analysts have been quick, possibly too quick, to describe as related incidents.
These other collisions have prompted claims that a group of persons may have entered the cockpit of the plane, loudly affirming the greatness of their chosen deity in a foreign language while interfering with navigational equipment.
American news sources reported last night that these persons may have even tried to fly the planes deliberately into the buildings, labelling them "suicide bombers''.
However, there was no evidence that any bombs were found on board and the nature of their demise cannot be discussed in accordance with guidelines covering the responsible reporting of suicide.
Whatever the case, the incidents triggered jubilant scenes in some parts of the world where people express a high level of commitment to their chosen faith.
There were suggestions that a social organisation called al-Qaeda, headed by a Mr. Osama bin Laden, may have been involved.
Mr bin Laden has been described as "a dangerous terrorist'' but others regard him as a religious man who would only use violence as a means of answering the might of the American military-industrial complex.
WAR HAS BEGUN. Cruise missiles have been launched against "targets of opportunity" in Baghdad.
UPDATE. Fox is reporting that the US military has hacked Iraqi state radio, and is broadcasting the following: "This is the day you've been waiting for."
PETER FITZSIMONS - whose immediate response to September 11 was, let it never be forgotten, to declare how "desperately sorry" he was for the "incredible suffering" of Osama's terrorists - is again exercising his powerful intellect:
There will come a time. A time when historians will look back on this day and try to gauge just what the mood of the Australian people was on the eve of the invasion. To those historians I say, "Welcome to our nightmare".
To those historians, I say: "Why are you reading Peter FitzSimons?"
For the short answer is that there is no one mood which can be ascribed to the nation as a whole, and as a matter of fact none of us can remember a time when - with the possible exception of the Tampa episode - we were ever less united and more at each other's throats.
FitzSimons writes for a broadsheet, but his inclinations to drama and exaggeration are those of the greasiest tabloid hack. Where is this throat-atting he speaks of? Certainly not in the offices of the Sydney Morning Herald, where group hugs long ago replaced story conferences.
On the one side of the argument there are those who gravely assure us that this is a just war and that we Australians are honour-bound to be a part of an action which will deliver what the world most needs at the beginning of the third millennium - which is Western violence wrought on Muslim territory.
As opposed to Muslim violence wrought on Western territory, which FitzSimons has apparently dismissed from the whole equation.
This is the way to a more stable world, they say, and none of them appear to have the slightest problem that so far there has not been a scintilla of difference between what George W. wants and what John W. does.
FitzSimons wants us to stand side-by-side with the Great Satan's foes. Won't happen.
And then there are the rest of us. Who are we?
I don't know. Two-legged carp? Amoral, insensible flesh loaves? Reason-defiling swarms of insect people?
We are first and foremost those who resent headlines like the one carried on the top of the front page of the Herald yesterday - "Australia chooses war" - for the simple reason that Australia bloody well did no such thing. In our view John Howard chose this war, and we want it on the record that the vast majority of us are against it.
Just like FitzSimons was against the war in Afghanistan, which he believed would level houses, turn schools into rubble, eradicate hospitals, destroy infrastructure, and cut Afghans off from medicine and health care.
Even if the whole thing is over in four days and the combined military might of the invaders takes out a nation where the majority of the population is under 15, we still want it on the record that we are against it.
The war isn't directed against a "nation", or teenagers. You know this, Peter. Stop being a dick.
And yes, we know that the Iraqis are not free to protest as we protest, nor write narky columns and letters to the editor as we do, but we still don't feel that dropping bombs on them will make it right.
The worst human rights violations FitzSimons can identify in Iraq are limits to free speech. Iraqis wish.
We further feel that the test of the "success" of this war will not be in how many days it will take to achieve nominal "victory" but in what kind of world will emerge from it.
After Saddam is dead and his regime destroyed, ask his former citizens what they think of their new world. Once all the dancing stops, that is.
Even before the first bomb is dropped, however, we know that bitter division is not confined to Australia, but also describes what was formerly known as the Western alliance.
Sounds like there isn't a scintilla of difference between what Chirac wants and what FitzSimons wants.
But back to our bewilderment.
We don't understand how in Britain the likes of Tony Blair can have 121 MPs from his party publicly break ranks from him - as well as suffer the humiliation of seeing three of his ministers resign - and yet, here in Australia, our Liberal Party apparently stands totally united behind its leader. How can it be that in all the ranks of the parliamentary Liberal Party there is not even one person with the courage of their convictions to make a stand and say what they surely must feel: that this is crazy? Just one!?
"That they surely must feel"? Despite being equipped with Helen Keller's observational skills, FitzSimons is somehow able to read minds.
Make no mistake. So bitter is this division in Australia at the moment that all of us who are against this war find ourselves being accused of being "pro-Saddam" and all the rest. We are not that.
Well, you're not exactly against him. Note also that just a second ago FitzSimons was complaining about a lack of division in the Liberal Party. Make up your mind, man! Is division a bad thing, or a good thing?
But in a contest of evils, we feel that by far the greatest danger lies in tearing the world asunder and can't help but feel that wherever he is, Osama bin Laden could surely not be more delighted with the way things are heading.
Like most dead people, Osama is happy as a clam.
Mostly, though, there is this. As we tuck our children into beds at night, we can't help but wonder just what it would be like to be a family in Baghdad doing the same ...
Once they've detached the torture squad's electrodes, and explained again why Daddy has no tongue.
We do not want this war. And we are outraged that it has come to this.
FitzSimons offers, of course, no alternative.
WELL, of course I'm also a Pentagon spokesman. You think I make a living just with this blog?
READER DAVE F. writes:
I think you're wrong about the Oscars being a platform for the sublime and the ridiculous to have another go at Bush and the war. On the contrary, now the troops have hit the ground and the solid waste has hit the propeller, they will not dare open their yaps for fear of backlash from the moviegoing public.
I believe the first word any recipient or guest presenter utters such as "oil", innocent," or any others on the producer's list will result in microphone cutoff. I reckon the blabbermouthed will be told the conditions in no uncertain terms.
It'll be interesting to watch. Michael Moore's audience, of course, dwells entirely within the Backlashville city limits, so he likely won’t be reluctant to make a fool of himself; he knows where his money comes from. As for the others, they may well have noticed the career-halting effects of Dixie Chick Syndrome. I'll post a form guide by the end of the week.
IT'S THE THREE ANGLOS, starring Yul Brynner as John Howard.
THE HUMAN SHIELDS and their preachy pals are in place:
The Reverend Neville Watson, a 73-year-old Uniting Church minister from the Perth suburb of Wembley Downs, is with a world Christian group that is not a part of the shield movement. Instead, they are here to pray and comfort the Iraqi people.
"I had this awful thought that this might be our last supper, so I brought this," he said, holding up a camera. "Makes you think what this is all about, doesn't it?"
It makes me think how many teeth you'll have left after chowing down on a Minolta.
Australian Special Air Service troops and clearance divers aboard the HMAS Kanimbla are moving into position to participate in the initial assault on Iraq, according to military experts.
CHEESE-EATING SURRENDER ... VULTURES?
Prime Minister John Howard today led a scathing attack on France for its strong opposition to war on Iraq ... Federal parliamentary secretary Warren Entsch called the French international vultures.
Whoa! Entsch went on to describe France as a nation that "circles around and does nothing for itself, waiting for the opportunity to go and pick the benefits of other peoples' hard work." He evidently provoked a free-wheeling beret assault:
France was also condemned in the parliament by several MPs as treacherous, duplicitous, World War II Nazi-collaborators and makers of inferior wine whose talents were restricted to cooking.
Jacques Chirac might want to reconsider his visit.
TERRY OGLESBY is right - the name is perfect.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'S Mike Seccombe, desperate for an anti-war angle, finds wild inspiration in banal coincidence:
Remember the scene from Apocalypse Now? Colonel Kilgore, the mad militarist, "loved the smell of napalm in the mornings", swooping down in his helicopter to blow away Vietnamese civilians, as specially mounted speakers on his chopper blared Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.
Ominous coincidence, then, that as the Herald was waiting on hold for the Prime Minister's office yesterday, the recorded music was Ride of the Valkyries.
There was John Howard, on his feet, arguing that Australia, for the first time in its history, should be involved in a pre-emptive strike against another nation.
And on his office phone the music of German militarism.
A violent metaphor for the violence about to be unleashed on Iraq.
Wait until Seccombe learns that Howard's prime ministerial vehicle uses oil. An ominous coincidence!
MORE PEACEFUL ANTICS from the anti-war crowd:
An anti-war farmer has admitted he tried to enlist people to shoot at Parliament House earlier this month.
What? Without UN sanction?
FOUR REASONS why Western values will prevail.
The Iraqi opposition is trying to verify reports indicating that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz may have been killed on his way to the Kurdish part of the country.
"We have received no confirmation of such information," Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in Sofia Yahya Mahdi told BTA.
"This is not true. Mr Tariq Aziz is a well-known patriot, he will stay in Iraq and he will be in Iraq till his last moment," the charge d'affaires said.
He may have done exactly that.
The Dixie Chicks are attempting the risky Hillary Gambit:
Are the Dixie Chicks victims of a right-wing conspiracy?
That's what their manager, Simon Renshaw, has told country music stations being pressured to drop the Chicks' music after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush last week.
In an e-mail to stations distributed by Sony Music, their label, Renshaw says the protest has been orchestrated by Free Republic.
"Your company is being targeted by a radical right-wing online forum," Renshaw says in the e-mail. "You are being 'Freeped,' which is the code word for an organized e-mail/telephone effort attempting to solicit a desired response."
"Freeped" is a code word?
FORMER AUSTRALIAN government minister Andrew Thomson, now based in DC, on anti-Americanism:
Behind the bitter diplomacy lies an unspeakable truth: A great many people who live in wealthy countries are hostile to the United States and secretly believe that America deserves to suffer these attacks. True, they believe this in the abstract. They don't believe Americans as individuals deserve to be murdered. But what they believe--in ferocious, mindless hostility towards "America"--results in the regular slaughter of ordinary people just like themselves and their families, who happen to be citizens of the United States.
As a consequence, the murder of Americans has become not merely an object of complacency in wealthy Europe, but the inevitable outcome of its professed foreign policy. Finally, Americans are waking up to this appalling new reality.
The link was sent by Nelson Ascher, who writes: "Is there something special with the air or water down there that keeps some minds sane?" No! It's the cigarettes and the wine.
PETER BRIFFA channels the Brit columnists. Bonus points for somehow including a reference to Collingwood.
THE DAILY MIRROR, exercising the same elevated judgment that saw it re-hire Bronze Age pundit John Pilger, believed the biggest story in the UK yesterday was Clare Short's backflip. Possibly the Mirror is taking things too personally.
IT WAS FUN today listening to ABC radio host Richard Glover swap inaccuracies with guest Michael Ignatieff (Glover: "70% of Australians are against war"; Ignatieff: "The Blair government is hanging by a thread"), and Glover's attempts to spread his moral hurt were entertaining (he described a blue-sky Sydney day as "grim") but the real highlight was Glover's call to an elderly Australian human shield, bravely protecting a water treatment plant outside of Baghdad.
Glover didn't get the chance to ask even his first question before the old woman launched into her speech: "Don't let anyone convince you otherwise! This war is all about oil!"
And so on, for several minutes. Glover may as well have interviewed Uday. For all I know, he will tomorrow. If Uday is still able to speak.
HAS TARIQ AZIZ been azapped?
The Iraqi opposition is checking reports, according to which, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has been killed while trying to enter the Kurdish part of the country.
We do not have any confirmation of this report, Iraqi Ambassador in Sofia Yahia Mahdi told BTA. According to him, this is cheap anti-Iraqi propaganda.
I prefer to think of it as a happy bedtime story.
SO GO investigate the BBC already:
The New York Police Department has stepped up security outside major television news outlets in Manhattan to prevent possible takeovers by terrorists who may want to broadcast anti-American messages.
"It's a concern, especially with international television companies," police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday.
HELP! HEEELP! DISSIDENTS ARE BEING ARRESTED! IT'S TERRIBLE! PLEASE, CARING LEFTISTS, YOU MUST DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO ... oh. Sorry. This is happening in Cuba. Forget about it.
SHERYL CROW displays her keen eye for news and newsmakers:
There are many questions that beg to be asked. Some are being asked rhetorically by many journalists, including a great writer at the New York Times by the name of Daniel Friedman.
Not to mention Eddie Pilger and Zebulon Fisk. Maybe Sheryl should never have given up booze.
NOW BEING SERVED ... a delicious Italian stupidity salad:
In Italy, militants briefly took over the offices of the US Esso oil company and pacifists temporarily blocked an Esso fuel terminal, as activists vowed to launch crippling strikes if war starts.
That's all three idiot breeds in the one dish. Sort of like a political form of turducken.
LEIGH HANLON has an intriguing clue as to the likely commencement of Operation Anglosphere.
DESPITE MASSIVE DEBT, league fines, player disputes, and injury problems, Carlton is confident. An AFL piece by me in The Bulletin.
BRITISH bomb arrests:
Anti-terrorism police had arrested three men after finding two homemade bombs at a flat near London's Gatwick Airport, police said.
Sussex police said the men, who they described as European nationals, were arrested yesterday evening under the Terrorism Act 2000 in Crawley, less than 8km from the airport.
"Got any idea who he meant?" writes Bob Black, of Edmonton, Canada. “W.C. Durant wasn't a frog, was he? There was that Louis Chevrolet guy who was involved for a while, but of course he was Swiss. I'm stumped."
Quite so, Bob. Old Five Chins can't get anything right, even when it's about people connected to Moore's home town. (By the way, does anyone sane ever write an open letter these days? The form has become an indicator of pitiful delusion.)
Maybe you want to post your own open letter at Moore's website. Well, you can't; his online forum has been permanently removed, although the old link still claims this is due to apparently temporary "technical reasons". Enjoy the Oscars, fat boy!
FROM JUAN GATO'S GLOSSARY, useful new definitions for multilateral:
Doing what the French want
... and unilateral:
Going forward without the support of the New York Times
MENTIONED IN this week's column for The Bulletin: PETA, Saddam Hussein, Meryl Yourish, Scott Murray, Julia Gillard, John Howard, George W. Bush, Michael Moore, Nicole Kidman, Tom Schieffer, Simon Crean, John Doyle Ong, Jan Petersen, Martin Hall, David Crane, and John Herron.
MEANWHILE, on Planet Blix:
If Iraq has chemical or biological weapons, it will probably refrain from using them against attacking US troops, Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix said. He told a news conference that Iraq was "capable of building warheads" to carry toxins, but said it was an open question whether it had the weapons.
The main constraint was not technical but political, Blix said.
"World public opinion, which they study quite a lot, is feeling in large measure that going to war is too early. That skepticism would turn immediately around if they used chemical or biological weapons," he said.
Sure, Hans. Iraq is famous for its sensitivity to world opinion.
FOR ONCE, a taxi driver provides a journalist with a useful quote:
A taxi driver unloads with thoughts that ordinarily would bring prison and a flogging: "You like this Baghdad? You should have seen Baghdad before Saddam - he takes everything for his family."
MEET Lenora Tomalin, mother of ultra-leftoid Susan Sarandon:
"I am a conservative. I voted for George W. Bush and I simply agree with most everything he has said," Tomalin told us yesterday ... "It's not that I'm pro-war. It's just that I think that I trust my government more than I would empathize with the government of Iraq."
Of Sarandon's anti-Bush activism, Tomalin said: "That's a given. That's the way she thinks. That's what Hollywood thinks. We don't agree, but I respect her -- more than she does me." But surely, we suggested, Tomalin's 56-year-old eldest child respects her mother's opinions. "Wanna bet?"
OH NO! AUSTRALIA is a divided nation!
Australia was a divided nation last night as its troops prepared to join a United States-led invasion of Iraq and Federal Parliament descended into a bitter debate over waging war without specific United Nations backing.
MADELINE MAXWELL, of Austin, Texas, writes:
Back when your countrymen were attacked with the Balinese, I followed your suggestion to earmark a donation to the AU Red Cross. I was so pleased at the suggestion because I simply would not have thought of it, even though I have been a Red Cross volunteer. At any rate, I just heard an expression of fear from the Red Cross/Red Crescent making plans for Iraq. They said that they are scared that they won't be ready because people don't donate until they actually see refugees in trouble. I'm going to make a donation on line as soon as I finish this note to you. Perhaps you would think it worth mentioning on your website.
An aside - I've been so impressed by (and grateful to) both PMs Blair and Howard. I thought Mr. Howard's comments today were downright humbling. With so much of the world rewriting history with a vengeance, I deeply appreciate good comrades.
Madeline isn't alone. Charles Austin asks:
What is the best way for us to express our thanks and support for Australia and PM John Howard?
Send a note to John Howard here. Alex Robson has an excellent idea:
Now that Prime Minister Howard has formally committed our troops to war in Iraq, it would be a great time to write to our troops to tell them that we fully support them, and that we hope they kick Saddam's butt!
The map-related images in this Fark photoshop contest -- the theme is other things that should be renamed along the lines of Freedom Fries, etc. -- demonstrates that a lot of the Farkers haven't gotten the news that you guys in Oz are on our side in the war.
If this is indicative of the average person's perceptions, then the anti-war folks don't have to worry about John Howard making you guys a terrorist target, since nobody outside of Australia has heard about his pro-war position anyway. It's a shame, that, because I think he's been quite articulate regarding that position.
Get the word out, bloggers! In closing, Rebecca Harris speaks for many in the US and Australia when she writes:
I'll say a prayer tonight for all your boys in uniform as well as for our own, and I'll say it every night until it's over and everybody is home safe.
IF EVER you think bloggers are intemperate, abusive, and uninformed, read Alan Ramsey and be aware that even the world's oldest mainstream journalists are prey to the same flaws:
Finally, we've reached the pits. A sickening humbug of a Prime Minister genuflects to George Bush rather than the anger and foreboding of the Australian people. A pathetic Opposition Leader is desperate enough to think war with Iraq could save his political career. The sanctimony in Canberra yesterday was vomit-making. Is there nothing politicians won't say or do in defence of deceit or ambition?
Of course, if Ramsey was a blogger, nobody would read him. The standards around here are way too high.
WHEN GEORGE W. BUSH blunders verbally, he is an idiot. When a sainted environmentalist blunders, he is apparently being "stark":
Greens' leader Bob Brown used stark language against the decision. "The blood of Australians, if and when it is spilt, is on this Prime Minister's shoulders."
Poor John Howard. He'll be caught red-shouldered.
CLARE SHORT, the UK Labour MP who threatened to resign if war was waged without the support of the UN, will now stay. According to Sky News, she's expected to vote for her government's pro-war resolution.
Maybe this witness statement changed her mind. It was supplied to the organisation Indict (chaired by Labour MP Ann Clwyd) and describes life in peaceful Iraq, where the west has no right to intervene:
"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."
Those peace protesters must feel so proud.
All of a sudden, Crean had the gaul to call his team "a Labor government in waiting", an alternative, he said, which "WILL be prepared to act in Australia's national interests".
The rest of Margo's post is insane.
UPDATE. Dave Schipani writes:
Mock the Banana Splits at your own peril. They are the deadliest and most effective team in Hanna-Barbera's clandestine counter-insurgency organization. Fleegle is a martial-arts expert whose trademark is ripping out the windpipe of his opponent and showing it to him as he dies. Snorky is an international playboy, fluent in seventeen languages, who uses his magnetic charm and impressive proboscis to seduce classified intel out of enemy agents both male and female. Drooper is a munitions expert who can make high explosives out of table salt and his own feces. And Bingo runs into things a lot with a "bonking" sound.
"Tra-la-la, la-la-la-la" is the last sound you will ever hear.
And from John Stotz, of Fallon, Nevada:
Maybe after Iraq we can roll that bad boy of a killer Oz Land Rover into downtown London and drive old Red Ken nuts. It will be a short drive and it won't cost nuthin! John Howard is THE BOMB! Let's Roll!
THE GUARDIAN is disgusted that Iraq will be rebuilt by tainted and greedy private companies instead of pure, inviolate NGOs:
The United States plans to transform the infrastructure of Iraq within a year of a war ending, but has sidelined aid agencies by allocating almost all the funds available to private American firms.
Non-governmental organisations and the UN would get just $50m, a tiny fraction of the $1.5bn being offered to private companies, according to more than 100 pages of confidential contract documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal.
I hope McDonald's is among those companies. And Starbucks.
THE VANDALISED Opera House - its exterior, incidentally, is covered with thousands of Italian tiles - is being repaired. Cops have charged an environmentalist and a British scientist.
MARGO KINGSTON is predicting World War One Hundred and Eleven:
Without UN sanction, we effectively turn our backs on the body we helped found after World War 11 to help stop World War 111.
This futuristic conflict has troubled Margo before. Hey, and how come Margo hasn't explained to Webdiary readers the background behind her confrontation last week with SMH management? Surely this is a breach of the Webdiary Charter, which holds that "the future lies in a collaboration between journalists and readers" and that "newspapers have lost their connection with the readers they serve". Serve the readers, Margo!
UPDATE. Andrea Harris corrects me - it's World War eleventy-one! And reader R.R. Ryan has news of Margo's apparent links to the US military:
Coincidence or conspiracy? My roommate's father, who flew for the US Army on D-Day, died this past August. Last week his brother finally received the small military plaque to be affixed to the headstone. In addition to getting the birth date wrong, the army made the dubious claim that the man had served in World War 11. We were all quite amused by this, but now that Margo seems to be operating from the same fact set as our military, I'm truly disturbed. Well, all right, I was already disturbed, but this isn't helping.
AFTER WE'VE totally dismantled the UN, we must crush the ICC:
John Howard stands to lose more than the next election if he commits Australian troops to Iraq. He could also find himself facing charges of war crimes, according to international law expert Gillian Triggs.
TUNE IN to the ABC's Health Dimensions program at 6.30pm Sydney time to see ABC reporter babe Shelly Horton zooming around Sydney in my car.
(Shelly's piece is on midlife crises. Naturally, she turned to me for assistance.)
PROTESTERS have scaled the Sydney Opera House and painted NO WAR on the uppermost sail. In response, the Opera House has announced that it will not engage in any acts of warfare, either domestically or internationally. "I am a building of peace," the structure said. "It is important at this time that we think of the innocent architecture of Iraq."
HELEN CALDICOTT has been talking again. Here she discusses Paul Wolfowitz:
I think he is so disturbed that it doesn't even enter his consciousness. Maybe he was abused as a child.
Here she describes an audience who disagreed with her:
The men listening were almost clinically and psychologically dead.
Here is her recipe for world peace:
They are truly pathological and they should all be removed, as I have said, for the public health of the people of the planet.
She's talking not about terrorists, but about the US government. Speaking of which ...
What's wrong with TAKING OUR CLOTHES OFF TOMORROW AT THE WHITE HOUSE…YOU WILL HAVE THE WHOLE OF THE WORLD’S MEDIA THERE BECAUSE WE ARE ON THE BRINK OF WAR. AND YOU WILL GET ON EVERY TELEVISION STATION AND EVERY NEWS OUTLET ALL OVER THE WORLD WITHOUT A DOUBT. I think that that is the best thing to do.
And here is Helen's artfully-concealed secret agenda:
We are on the edge of annihilation and I’ve written all about it in my book.
It’s not just that America is going to go in [to Iraq] with the hideous weapons of mass destruction that were used in Afghanistan (which I describe in my book).
I think the only thing that can stop this war is if the Pope goes to Baghdad because George Bush will not kill the Pope ... So I've written the Pope and if you want to know the email address, it's in my book.
MEDIA WATCH, last night:
The Fairfax papers were reporting a survey of 200 kids commissioned by the Australia Institute. It found lots of kids came across lots of dreadful material on the Internet ... The reports were short on evidence about the harm porn might cause – but if Fairfax thinks the panic stories are worth running on page one, they should do something about these images from the Herald's own website.
Me in The Bulletin, last week:
The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's only broadsheet-format tabloid newspaper, has become alarmed by a study on internet pornography. "It reveals that Australian teenagers have access to thousands of porn sites, covering an extraordinary variety of genres and fetishes," wept Herald columnist Adele Horin. Among them is the Herald's own site, where genres and fetishes abound.
Media Watch is a program about media ethics.
LYLE LOVETT is one class act.
GOOD FROM The Age:
Today the French like to lecture about world peace. This is despite the miserable record of France as a colonial power in South-East Asia and Africa, and its recent effective support for the mass murderers of Rwanda. Moreover, no Western government has a worse record than France in supplying aid and comfort to Saddam in recent years.
At the moment Jacque Chirac is the hero of the self-proclaimed peace movement and a latter-day hero to his nation's left. This overlooks the fact that, if Chirac had had his way, Iraq would have had nuclear weapons around the time it invaded Kuwait.
BAD FROM The Age:
Saddam Hussein yesterday threatened global retaliation against a US-led invasion, as Iraqis finally grasped that they are on the verge of one of the most merciless bombing campaigns in history.
"JOHN HOWARD has lost it," writes ... Margo Kingston!
Sure he has, alternative reality lady.
PEACENIK ACTORS who plan on using the Academy Awards to condemn the evil war for oil should think again - the peacenik audience won't be watching:
The easiest way for ordinary people around the world to vote against a US-led attack against Iraq would be to refuse to tune into next week's Academy Awards. A massive turn-off of Oscar night - traditionally America's most widely watched program - would send the kind of message even President Bush couldn't ignore. Those reluctant to miss an evening of Hollywood glitz to help avert war obviously couldn't give a damn.
Yes, an Oscars boycott would sure get Bush's attention. "How are the ratings in Oslo, Ari? Down? My God!" By the way, the author of this notion is one Gerald Stone - most likely this Gerald Stone, former executive producer of Australia's 60 Minutes program. TV people have unusual ideas about the influence of their medium.
WE WANT ALL THESE REGIME PEOPLE KILLED. Apparently this attitude exists elsewhere other than in my office. Iraq, for example:
One man pulled aside a reporter. "Don't believe anything anyone says here, because we all know that your translator is a government spy," he said. "We'll only say good things about Saddam to you. But 90 percent of us want Saddam to go. We'll cheer the Americans if they come and get rid of him."
Looking nervously around him, he continued: "We want all these regime people to be killed."
Via the Sharkman.
"UN" stands for uninsured:
Iraq said that five of eight helicopters used by UN weapons inspectors have left for Syria en route to Cyprus after a Western insurance company suspended its cover for the aircraft.
SOON SADDAM'S only ally will be Jacques Chirac:
Saddam Hussein's most important Kurdish ally has defected to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq in what officials here say is an indication that the Iraqi president's internal support is beginning to crumble.
Jowhad Herki is chief of the powerful Herki tribe and since the 1960s has supported successive Baghdad regimes in putting down revolts by fellow Kurds. He arrived in northern Iraq via London after travelling there from Baghdad for medical treatment. He is a former member of the Iraqi parliament.
FROM THE GUARDIAN, February 6, 1999:
Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.
The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad's ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam's most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.
Via the excellent Blog of MidEast Politics.
ROBERT MANNE'S enormous brain is offended:
Last week I read the editorials and the leading columnists of the Murdoch stable in Australia. The overwhelming impression was of propagandistic repetitiveness and great intellectual crudity.
Manne works for Fairfax, whose leading columnists include Margo "propagandistic repetitiveness" Kingston and Hugh "great intellectual crudity" Mackay.
THIS WHOLE business of de-Frenchifying everything - "freedom fries", etc - has become officially hilarious.
ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GUV PISS A CHINCE:
Thousands marched in cities and towns in New Zealand yesterday to protest against a possible American-led war to disarm Iraq.
More than 4,000 people marched in southern NZ's main cities of Christchurch and Dunedin chanting "give peace a chance".
IT'S ANOTHER bin Laden tape - and this one you can dance to:
A niece of Osama bin Laden is launching a career as a pop singer after rejecting her Muslim background and throwing herself into the London party scene.
She has been working on a demo tape and reportedly has been advised on her musical ambitions by acclaimed rap artist Wyclef Jean.
MARK STEYN reminds us to fear Canada's ferocious expansionist ambitions:
In 1898 Sir Wilfrid Laurier, prime minister of America's northern neighbor, declared that just ''as the 19th century was the century of the United States, so shall the 20th century belong to Canada.''
The line caught on. ''The day is coming,'' predicted another prime minister, Sir Charles Tupper, ''when Canada, which has become the right arm of the British Empire, will dominate the American continent.''
We just thing that Bush is a fucking idiot for his 'kill 'em all' rehotric. We all are in favour of a UN ratified solution. If you feel stongly about peace, we urge you to write a message on your body, and send it in more info on the site.
Do you feel "stongly"? Then get with the anti-war "rehotric" and join the other idealists.
(*Warning: not suitable for work or any other known venue)
UPDATE. Show's over, folks. The Nude For Peace site has apparently been de-activated.
BILL CLINTON - master diplomat, international statesman, and high-steppin' Harlem homeboy - hasn't been paying attention:
On the issue of Iraq, Clinton said he supports booting dictator Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad and destroying his weapons, but he said Bush has made it more difficult to line up international cooperation for a possible war.
Right after winning UN Security Council support in November for weapons inspections, the White House "sent 150,000 troops to the gulf, which convinced everybody we weren't serious about UN inspections. That's how we got into this political mess."
Hans Blix and Kofi Annan have both attested to the fact that had it not been for the American military build-up, the inspectors would not be back in Iraq. The French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has said likewise. And Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac have signed an EU declaration that makes the same point.
AIEEEE! Salon's Anne Lamott has been attacked by a squid.
ALL THOSE peace protests in the US sure are having an effect.
MORE NAKED FEMALE PROTESTERS - except these gals are on our side!
(Via Peter Kerr, who also has a great idea for a reality TV show.)
QUIZ TIME! Name the famous Australian journalist who last night sent this e-mail to a puzzled correspondent:
I've just puyblished a detaioled comments on his answers to the quesytions.Stadn d by my interpretation. etation.
MUSICIANS FOR UNILATERALISM:
Over recent weeks artists like Ani DiFranco, Billy Bragg and John Mellencamp have used their Web sites as tools to distribute protest songs, unbureaucratically adopting the controversial MP3 format to get the word out quickly instead of waiting for official release through their record labels.
Immediate, decisive action, unhindered by bureacratic process. Sounds good to me.
YOU'D EXPECT someone trained in the visual arts to have a sense of perspective. You'd be wrong, though.
THE MELBOURNE AGE, home of the ranting leftist, comes out in support of the war.
IT SOMETIMES crosses my mind that maybe, just maybe, Hans Blix wasn't the right man to send in search of weapons of mass destruction:
To me the question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war. We will have regional conflicts and use of force, but world conflicts I do not believe will happen any longer. But the environment, that is a creeping danger. I'm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.
So go looking for SUVs, Blixy. Here's one lurking ominously outside a terrorist compound. Good luck finding it.
POSTING WILL be light today while I work through my addiction to this.
(Via Dave Barry)
"TRACKING DOWN terrorists is a job for intelligence services and police forces, not armies," writes Hugh Mackay. Fine. We'll let this guy take care of Iraq. Mackay also mounts the ingenious argument that Saddam Hussein should not be deposed because there are too many reasons to do so:
Long ago, I was taught that if someone gives you two reasons for declining an invitation, that probably means they're hiding the truth (which is, presumably, that they simply don't want to come). The anti-Iraq propaganda is a bit like that.
Hugh no doubt has more experience than I in the area of declined invitations, so I'll skip to his next point:
First we were told Saddam had to be disarmed by force before he had a chance to deploy his weapons of mass destruction. When it became less certain that he had such weapons, and even less clear why or where he might want to deploy them, the focus switched to the need for "regime change" in order to establish democracy in Iraq (though not, we assume, the Florida-style democracy that installed Bush in the White House).
How has the discovery of missiles and drones made their existence "less certain"? As well, how does Mackay square away the comments of former Australian senior intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie, who on Thursday was telling peaceniks that "if war proceeds Saddam Hussein is likely to use weapons of mass destruction"? Seems like Wilkie knows something, Hugh.
Now we're being told an invasion can be justified on humanitarian grounds and we will be the heroic liberators of an oppressed people. Too many reasons, John.
The humanitarian argument was raised in response to claims that thousands of innocents would be killed by a US-led attack. It added to the existing arguments. Too many reasons? Indeed.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'S Alan Ramsey thinks the Prime Minister should confront his enemies in hand-to-hand combat:
Our Prime Minister these days has a permanent armed bodyguard, around the clock, of 13 so-called "federal agents" - we cannot help copying the Americans - who work in relays. It used to be a unit of seven when Paul Keating was prime minister. It has all but doubled for his successor. And yet still John Howard will not take his argument for war out to the Australian people. Instead he does it by interview from the safety of his office over the phone with a clutch of favoured radio talkback hosts or from television studios.
Or in nationally broadcast speeches. Ramsey imagines that the logic of Howard's position would be enhanced by placing himself in the midst of hostile demonstrators; perhaps he should urge Saddam Hussein to try the same stunt. Come to think of it, I haven't noticed Ramsey taking his argument against war out to to the Australian people. Instead he does it by computer from the safety of his office.
Ramsey also writes:
Two weeks ago John Kiesling, an American diplomat, sent a letter to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, that says everything about the George Bush White House that worries Australians. What follows is an edited version.
Kiesling sent the letter (by fax) on Monday, February 24, almost three weeks ago. Alan Ramsey is the world's only weekly columnist with monthly deadlines.
AN EXCELLENT decorating tip.
IS IT Jacques Hussein, or Saddam Chirac? Magic morphing fun from the London Sun.
FRENCH MEMBER of parliament Olivier Dassault asserts his nation's superiority:
One of our great "weaknesses" is that we do not, alas, have the kind of gutter mentality, rubbish-bin culture, which could enable us to reply in kind to the amiabilities which the Anglo-Saxon press pours on us at the slightest sign of a divergence of interests.
We cannot create a gutter press, Anglo-Saxon style. French people are (still) too well educated for there to be any readership for such a publication.
British prime minister Tony Blair has declared diplomatic war on France, accusing President Jacques Chirac of trying to destroy his efforts to win majority support in the United Nations for war on Iraq.
In an extraordinary move that risks inflicting long-term damage on Anglo-French relations, Downing Street accused the French of "poisoning'' the entire diplomatic process with its pledge to veto a second UN resolution.
Some risk. John Howard shares Blair's wrath:
Prime Minister John Howard today launched a blistering attack on France ... He said France has always regretted the rise of the United States as the pre-eminent world power and the fact that Europe was no longer as powerful in relation to the United States as it used to be.
Mr Howard said Australia had solid evidence of links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, blamed for the September 11 attacks.
But if Australia had to wait for criminal jury proof, it could result in another Pearl Harbour style attack, he said.
This mention of Pearl Harbour prompted Simon Crean to say something unusually imbecilic:
Opposition Leader Simon Crean said Mr Howard's evocation of Pearl Harbour suggested Australia was an outpost of the United States.
"Goodness gracious, what have we become? The 51st state of the United States?" he said on ABC radio in Melbourne today.
Impressed, ABC radio has been running this quote on every news broadcast since.
UPDATE. Steven Den Beste writes regarding Olivier Dassault's claim that "without France's intervention in 1776, the US would only be a New England, a sort of Australia (politically) and New Zealand (economically)." Says SDB:
Which France? It was imperial France which intervened in the American Revolution. And it didn't do it in 1776; it intervened in the Battle of Yorktown, in 1781. I'm not aware of anything the French did as early as 1776.
YESTERDAY'S CONFLICTS with management did little to perturb Margo, whose copy was up to her usual standard. That is to say, it was loaded with bias and ridiculous mistakes. Following is her account of John Howard's speech to the National Press Club, interspersed with extracts and follow-up questions from that speech:
Margo: When Herald correspondent Mark Riley asked whether it was now time for him to follow the lead of George Bush and Tony Blair and be candid with the Australian people about his intentions in the absence of a UN sanction, he said no. Refusing to comment was "the only responsible decision". That makes Bush and Blair irresponsible, one supposes.
Howard's reply was a little more detailed than "no comment":
Howard: Mark, I'll just repeat what I have said before, and the Australian people understand this – a final decision will be taken on that when all the processes at the Security Council are known. I've said before, and I'll repeat it today, we seek the 18th resolution of the Security Council – it's not the 2nd, it's the 18th resolution of the Security Council – not because we believe as a matter of international law that it is needed. We believe it would be better politically, strategically and in terms of the united voice of the international community, if you could get another resolution. I take you back to what I said in my speech. I really do believe that if everybody got behind the sort of resolution of which I have spoken, and I acknowledge that the prospects of that now are not great, you would perhaps have a real prospect because if you had 15 nations saying you disarm or we're coming after you, and you had the neighbouring Arab states saying look, the game is up, you might just get some change in Baghdad. Now if that doesn't occur, I think the prospects for a peaceful resolution don't appear very bright. We are positioned to participate in military action. That is self-evident. But as you will have observed from the remarks made by our men in the field, they clearly have not received any instruction as yet, and that will not be given until the Cabinet has considered the matter in the wake of the issue being resolved one way or the other, or no way, at the United Nations. That has been my position all along. I think it is the only responsible position. You never in the situation in which I am placed, you never pass up by taking a decision before you need to, the capacity to consider last-minute circumstances that may affect the type of decision you take. You never do that.
That's 327 words of "no comment", covering rather neatly the current impasse. Back to Margo, who evidently can't hear a word Howard says, but hears reporters say things they never said:
Margo: Asked by the Bulletin's Tony Wright whether Australia would still consider supporting a unilateral attack if Britain pulled out, he again refused to answer. What Britain did "is a matter for Britain".
Wright's actual question:
Wright: How comfortable would you have been for Australia to be the single deputy to the US in any strike on Iraq? And when you deployed Australian troops in the first place, did you imagine at that time that Australia could still be in the position of being the only other nation that troops in the Gulf, other than the US and Britain, at this time?
You'll note that at no point did Wright ask anything about Australia re-considering its involvement. And this is the nub of Howard's "refusal to answer":
Howard: We made our decision based on our own assessment. I mean, as to what the British do is a matter for Britain. What we do is a matter for us.
More from Margo:
Margo: His performance got even hairier when Catherine McGrath of the ABC asked about the dangers of Pakistan and its WMD. Howard called Pakistan "a very, very good international citizen", forgetting, perhaps, that Pakistan had helped fund the Taliban in Afghanistan, which housed Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 attack.
Again, she has substantially misrepresented Howard's reply:
Howard: I do have some warm regard for the courage and the stance of General Musharraf in the war against terror. I have great admiration for the risks that he's taken and the strength he's displayed ... although Pakistan has not had the same familiarity with parliamentary democracy as India, it is nonetheless in many other ways a very very good international citizen.
She just goes on and on ...
Margo: Mr Howard offered nothing but his "belief" to support his view that Australian and world security would be enhanced by an invasion. He did not mention the blowback of instability in Muslim countries, the possibility that moderate Muslim states could swing to Islamic fundamentalism in response to an invasion and occupation, or the possibility of an explosion in the Middle East.
Why would he? These are the same arguments advanced by the crazy Left before the attack on the Taliban. The reason Howard didn't mention them is because he is not a crank. Speaking of "blowback" and "the possibility that moderate Muslim states could swing to Islamic fundamentalism in response to an invasion and occupation", Margo doesn't mention this section of Howard's speech:
Howard: Australia is a western nation. Nothing can, will or should alter that fact. As such, in this new world, we are a terrorist target. Those who assert that through some calibration of our foreign policy we can buy immunity from terrorist attacks advance a proposition which is both morally flawed and factually wrong.
It is morally flawed because this nation should never fashion its foreign policy under threat. The foreign policy of Australia should always reflect the values of Australia. Bin Laden identified Australia as a terrorist target because of the intervention in East Timor. Let me pose the question, if that threat had been issued prior to the invention in 1999 should the Australian government have pulled back? I think not. Would the Australian public have wanted the government then in the face of that threat to have pulled back? I think not. The proposition about your foreign policy being adjusted is also factually flawed because the victims of terrorists over the past decade have come from many nations sharing a full variety of foreign policy and strategic views.
JOHN PILGER launches a pre-emptive attack:
Watch how the propaganda unfolds once the bombing is over and the Americans are running Baghdad and their spin machine. There will be the "discovery of Saddam's secret arsenal," probably in the basement of one his palaces. This will be accompanied by the "discovery" of gruesome evidence of Saddam's oppression.
John Pilger is a "journalist" with a "newspaper" called the Daily Mirror. He is always "accurate" and "not insane".
MARGOGATE, DAY TWO: A NATION SITS AROUND AND WAITS. The latest on Ms. Kingston's fight against the crushing of dissent:
Accusations of bias were flying in Sydney yesterday as Fairfax journalist Margo Kingston launched an incendiary Anti-Discrimination Board report accusing certain sections of the media (that Kingston does not work for) of slanted coverage of race issues. The report, which had already been leaked to Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald, prompted Sydney's Daily Telegraph editor Campbell Reid to take to the airwaves, declaring Kingston one of the most biased, agenda-driven journalists in the country. The man who commissioned the report, ex-Liberal Chris Puplick, was also in the firing line. Despite the reservations of her employers – she was called in by editor Robert Whitehead to explain – Kingston went ahead with the launch. She tells Strewth there is no truth to the rumours that she has been sacked or was asked to cancel. However, Kingston says she was appearing "in a personal capacity".
Get some supplies in, folks. This one's going to run for weeks.
THE PROTECTORS of journalistic decency at The Age last night began a 24-hour strike:
Around three hundred staff at The Age newspaper in Melbourne have walked off the job for 24 hours over editorial concerns.
The Union representing the workers claims it is to preserve the credibility of the paper.
"Preserve"? Apparently the problem is an advertisement - which scandalously was to be placed in front of a whole section of advertisements:
Journalists at Melbourne's The Age newspaper staged a wildcat strike this evening over a management decision to place an advertisement on the front cover of Saturday's property guide.
MARGO vs. THE MAN. A few hours ago Margo Kingston was invited into Sydney Morning Herald boss Robert Whitehead's office and fired. Well, so early rumours had it; the latest word from SMH sources is that la Margola has been given a "final warning".
Reason for the trouble: Margo is scheduled to speak at a launch this evening of a report compiled by NSW Anti-Discrimination Board president Chris Puplick. The report slams rival Sydney paper The Daily Telegraph for its coverage of a gang rape case last year in which teenage girls were attacked on the basis of their race and religion.
The attackers were Muslim.
Puplick claimed on ABC radio this morning that the Telegraph's coverage had excited anti-Islamic prejudice (I'm paraphrasing). He also praised the wonderfully progressive and enlightened Margo, his choice to speak at tonight's launch. (One assumes Puplick isn't aware of Margo's belief that "all migrants need to subscribe" to "core Australian values".)
Daily Telegraph editor Campbell Reid told the ABC that the choice of Kingston as speaker "said it all", and dismissed her as an "agenda-based journalist".
Presumably weary of his Webdiarist's perpetual politicking, Whitehead called her in this afternoon. The upshot is, from what I hear, that Margo will still attend the launch - but won't mention her employer.
What might happen next? Stay tuned for more thrilling Margo news.
THIS MEANS WAR! The "US has changed the world order," according to The Age. Check the story and you'll notice that The Age has retaliated by changing Paul Wolfowitz into a four-eyed, plate-faced Frenchman called Francois Heisbourg.
As reader Andy Murphy writes: "For all the smug sense of intellectual superiority possessed of the suckholes at Fairfax, you'd think they'd be able to identify their sworn enemy when they see him."
I cannot believe that "Nreb, nreb, kovla fti nreb" is winning this poll. What is with you people? Can't you see the intelligent choice ("Trengip? Snad fni trengip") right there in front of you?
THIS SCENE would never make it into a Michael Moore documentary.
HEY, HUMAN SHIELDS! Why not try to block China's mobile execution vans?
MIRANDA DEVINE explores the psychosis of the Bush-haters:
"I am against so many things about him it is hard to explain," 24-year-old student Kiffa Alverfors told The New York Times. "The capitalist system is a way of living that I don't agree with."
Australia's version of Kiffa is Radio National's millionaire announcer Phillip Adams, who last week wrote a column in The Australian laughingly entitled "Why I'm not anti-American". Adams revealed it was "regime change" in America that so alarmed "us, the chattering classes".
Then there was ABC's Four Corners on Monday, which built up a picture of a sinister Jewish cabal of "neo-cons" who have stolen Bush's brain, for what it's worth. There was even ominous music to introduce these scary conservatives who are "almost all Jews whose parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe", reporter Jonathan Holmes told us.
Strange how the left's contempt for WASP-y George so often mutates into suspicion of the wicked Jews, who really run the planet.