Recovering from the Walkleys, then flying to Melbourne, so no more posting today. Who knew awards nights could be so much fun? It helps to be at the best table, with Time magazine’s Steve Waterson, Tom Dusevic, and Liz Feizkhah, as well as Andrew Denton, Jennifer Byrne, and Matt Doman.
Arguments with: Paul McGeough, Libby Gore, all the CNNNN people, someone I can’t remember from the ABC, and Andrew Denton.
Agreements with: Patrick Cook, David Hardaker, Mark Day, Jennifer Byrne, and Andrew Denton. Congratulations to Gold Walkley winner Richard Moran of Channel Nine (soon bound for Los Angeles) and The Bulletin’s Eric Ellis, who won the Asia-Pacific coverage award for his Bali coverage.
It’s happening again:
Simon Crean's support as Labor Party leader is bleeding away, with several of his key backers in the June leadership ballot shifting their support to alternative candidates.
None of whom are any better. The Bob Carr rumours will probably re-commence next week. Hey, why not recruit this guy?
UPDATE. Kate in comments refers to Kevin “good to be with you, Kerry” Rudd. It’s funny because it’s true.
Wonderful piece on Steve Waugh from Frank Devine:
The gifts - of quickness of hand, eye and feet, muscular co-ordination and preternatural calm at the hundreds of climactic moments in a day's international cricket - must have been there for him to have achieved so much. But my intense admiration for Steve Waugh is based on a perception of him as the most completely self-made man to reach the Himalayan heights in a sport.
Got a call yesterday from The Australian asking if I’d like to write something about Waugh’s retirement ... but Frank's taken me out of the game. I'll have to rob him to make up for the cash he's cost me.
Those evil Bush boys. Whatever will they do next?
Street robberies in London soared by 20 per cent during US President George W Bush's state visit to Britain last week, as thousands of extra police officers ditched normal duties to help oversee an unprecedented security operation.
Personally, I’d be more inclined to blame this on the robbers than on a state visit. Meanwhile Neil Bush proceeds with his interesting divorce:
He admitted in the deposition that he previously had sex with several other women while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong at least five years ago.
The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and engaged in sex with him.
He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.
"It was very unusual," Bush said.
Bill Clinton is reading about this somewhere and thinking to himself: “Ah ... good times.”
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Justice Michael Kirby (also mentioned today by Janet Albrechtsen), Natalie Portman, John Doyle, John Howard, George W. Bush, Noam Chomsky, Oliver Kamm, Pauline Hanson, John Wood, David Wenham, yobbos, lesbians, skippies, wogs, Christians, deadbeats, journalists, and Menzies Campbell.
This is a master cylinder from a Ford braking system. Look at it. Arrogant, tyrannical, oozing malevolence. Sense the fear it inspires thoughout the vehicle.
And here is a slave cylinder, liberated from an Alfa Romeo clutch assembly. It is beaten and cowed. Clear evidence of whippings can be seen on its once-proud alloy surface. Perhaps it tried to dissent.
Well, thanks to the County of Los Angeles, such inequalities have been abolished. The county has requested that equipment suppliers no longer use the terms “master” or “slave” in product descriptions. Cry freedom!
(Via reader Geoff E.)
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
Australian Test captain Steve Waugh has announced that he will retire from Test cricket after the home series against India this summer.
Waugh’s last match will be in Sydney starting January 2. Australian captain Greg Chappell played his final Test exactly twenty years earlier, and scored 182. What are the odds of Waugh departing on a similar note?
Keith Richards, secret conservative:
Even at his leaden nadir as a smack addict, Keith was unabashedly proud of a past that would be branded imperialist in today’s Britain. His all-time hero was the second world war fighter ace Douglas Bader. He once named his two favourite films as Reach for the Sky and The Man Who Would Be King ... Just a year or two ago, Keith opened a letter appealing for funds to save his local village hall. The council wondered whether residents might each be willing to donate £30. No problem, said Keith, and wrote out a cheque for £30,000.
Richards turns out to be something of a softie: he remains close to his 87-year-old mother, gets on famously with animals and kids and quietly donates to dozens of charities. He is also chummy with John Major.
John Major?! It gets even better:
His in-laws gave a startling interview in which they portrayed Keith as an ‘enthusiastic disciple of Christ’ and that he ‘embraced Christ as a way of life’. Under Patti’s influence, Richards cut back on drugs, attended church from time to time and even started a gentle exercise regime. ‘She’s a wonderful girl; I ain’t letting the bitch go!’ he confirmed in a speech at his wedding reception. Keith may have written ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ back when, but these days much of his life is spent with a woman who attends a weekly Bible study group and who won’t stand for swearing around the house.
There’s a few things that Keith won’t stand for, too.
Will this terrible Australian racism never end?
Last week, a pedestrian yelled at me from across the street as I walked to a Sydney mosque popular with Muslims working in the central business district. He was standing out the front of a pub.
I could not make out what he had said initially and I avoided eye contact, worried that he was abusing me with racist remarks. I know some of you will think of this as passive behaviour, but a day of fasting is not relieved with adrenaline-charged confrontation.
But he yelled out again and this time I could hear. "Assalaama alaykum," the voice cried clumsily in a rugged Australian accent. This means "Peace be upon you" and is the traditional greeting of Muslims.
I blame John Howard.
(Speaking of whom, Michelle Grattan believes JoHo to be the new Bob Hawke.)
Australia: love it or leave it.
Bashir's sermon said "the satanic group which is undermining Islam and trying to destroy it, on this day is led by the US Government which is exploited by the Zionist Jews.
"The US Government and its lackeys have become the lackeys of Zionist Jews and extreme Christians."
Always with the lackeys. Use of the word -- whether you’re railing about a "crack down on the working class resistance in the face of super-exploitation by imperialism and their local lackeys", countering the "myth of ethical capitalism propagated by the owning class and their lackeys", or telling "the criminal Bush and his lackeys that the cars of death will not be limited to Baghdad" -- identifies the speaker as damaged.
(Brain link courtesy of Zsa Zsa. Welcome back, collaborator.)
Meanwhile, in other cartoon news ...
"I know 'spin' when I hear it," writes Richard Woolcott, "and I can recognise government attempts to mislead and manipulate public opinion." As it turns out, Woolcott is no mean spinner himself:
When, after nearly four months of intensive search by a 1200-strong team led by the CIA weapons expert David Kay, no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons had been found, the spin was that "evidence of programs" and of "intentions" to develop them had been found.
Contrary to the impression Woolcott would give, Kay’s report was interim. It was filed after only about 8% of weapons storage areas had been searched. Spin, Richard, spin! Forwards, not backwards, upwards, not forwards, and always spinning, spinning towards freedom!
Woolcott’s piece also includes the Lileks-mandated “but” coverage (as in "Saddam was a wretched tyrant, and the world is better off without him in power, BUT, Baghdad’s electricity service is now undependable. No, but. Yes, but."):
Saddam's regime has been removed from power and that is welcome. There is some hope that the US might, if it stays the course in an election year, produce a soundly based, decent and quasi-democratic government in Iraq. But ...
Australia’s Official National Artistic Notables (ONAN) rave about their talents as cinematic storytellers, but, as Bernie Slattery points out, they ignore many excellent stories of Australian life. He’s doing something about it:
Waddabout a comp for the 10 best of "Our Stories" to be pitched as movie productions? I'll shout the winner pots at the Bush Inn, West Toorak on Satdee night.
My pitch: She Cares, the inspiring story of two confused Queensland women who, after years of distrust, are brought together by the mysterious voices in their heads.
The Imam has a solution:
Consider the reality of the woman at whom one is gazing. If she does not groom herself or apply perfume for one day, she will look dreadful and stink. For a number of days every month she has impurity pouring out of her. If one had to just go near such impurity, one will wish to flee. Imagine if she went to the toilet and forget to flush and, if you had to enter the toilet, will you still have the desire to gaze at her? If this woman does not have Deen, then by raising her arms and exposing her unsightly armpits, she will give out the smell of a skunk. These are some thoughts (although undignified), will assist one in taming the evil desire to look at women.
That’s some great advice. Thanks, Imam! Oh, and while we’re chatting, what do you make of this?
Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew says Europeans don’t understand and underestimate the threat of Islamist terror. And he rejects the idea -- festering in the minds of Pilger, Rall, Fisk, Adams, etc -- that being nice to militant Muslims is a safeguard against attacks:
'There is a shared fanatical zealousness among these different extremists around the world. Many Europeans think they can finesse the problem, that if they don't upset Muslim countries and treat Muslims well, the terrorists won't target them.'
But that is a fallacy, he said, bringing up the terror threat in South-east Asia as a case in point: 'Muslims have prospered here. But still, Muslim terrorism and militancy have infected them.'
He told Newsweek that both Singapore and Thailand had been targeted in recent years, even though neither had mistreated its Muslims.
He also criticises American tactics in dealing with terrorism:
'You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem. In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees.'
What is needed, he said, is to get at the 'queen bees' - the clerics who spread their twisted ideas of Islam, poisoning the minds of the young.
Like the guy the London Sun refers to as a hook-handed Muslim loudmouth.
I’ll be at the Walkley Awards on Thursday night. Much complaint about the “crushing of dissent” and the “silencing of debate” is anticipated. Wonder if anyone will mention Cuban journalist Manuel Vazquez:
On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists plans to honor Vazquez and three other journalists with its 2003 International Press Freedom Awards.
Vazquez, 52, was among 75 dissidents, pro-democracy activists, librarians and journalists sentenced last spring to up to 28 years in prison after the biggest crackdown on the political opposition in decades.
Vazquez is serving an 18-year sentence. Think of him the next time a Western commentator shrieks “oppression”.
Yvonne Ridley, the former Sunday Express reporter who converted to Islam after being imprisoned by the Taliban, has been fired by al-Jazeera. Now she’s stuck in Qatar without an exit visa. At least her faith will keep her strong:
"I think Islam has had a really positive effect on my life. It's made me more tolerant, more philosophical and much more calm. I feel far healthier and more confident."
That ol' gravity sure is a tricky customer:
A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said.
The Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department offers further insights into this fascinating gravity phenomenon. Klanners may take note:
Please remember that what goes up, must come down. Therefore, firearms should not be fired in the air. In past years, innocent victims celebrating festive holidays such as July Fourth have been killed, or injured when hit by falling bullets caused by the insensitivity of people using guns as a party favor. It is the utmost of importance that all people refrain from using firearms as a celebration device.
(Via Silent Running.)
Apart from border protection, Beazley has never been all that excited by policy and his apparatchiks remain poll driven. So we'll have a real ding-dong as both sides of politics try to outdo each other in the war against terror.
I've always believed that Beazley would have been an even more willing member of the coalition of the willing than Howard, that his passion for military history would have had him wanting to make it. So it's odds on we would have sent even more troops to the Middle East had Beazley been PM - and it would have been him having the photo ops with George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
How awful. Interestingly, considering his history of opposition to the war on terror, Adams also throws in this line:
It's likely, even inevitable, that Australia will have a car bombing on its soil.
Any ideas on how we might combat this “inevitablility”, Phil?
Debate over our handout-demanding film industry continues. Here’s Paddy McGuinness:
The truth is that most of our films are no bloody good ... Film stars are notoriously ill-educated and ignorant - their opinions are worthless, regardless of their talents.
Sophie Masson writes:
Lazy assumptions – Australia is uniquely racist – and shallow talk about how we are useless culturally and politically due to following the war on terrorism or John Howard, combined with claims of New Zealand's superiority as a film culture, citing The Lord of the Rings, seem to dramatise exactly the kinds of attitudes that are making audiences turn away from our films.
Why should film be protected, asks Gerard Henderson:
There is a case for preserving an Australian film industry. Yet film is but one cultural medium. Those who tell Australian stories in print, fiction and non-fiction authors alike, are not protected from overseas competition. No exception can be made for film.
And Martin McAvenna reviews Friday’s AFI awards telecast:
Ladies and gentlemen, if this debacle was representative of the best we can do, no wonder you want protection to continue. Get over it. Do something about it.
Hey, puzzled foreigners! Grab a copy of Sally White’s Understanding Australia: a Guide for International Students:
To 'go apeshit', for example, means "to react with unrestrained emotion". Ms White offers this example: "Jill went apeshit when her dad bought her a car."
Hmmm. Usually apeshit, and the going of, is associated with anger. In any case, this’ll be a big seller; Australia has many foreign students, who plainly struggle with local weirdness:
Swede Linnea Magnuson, 25, who arrived in 2000 to study at Manly's International College of Tourism and Hotel Management, has happily taken up surfing and beach volleyball.
But Australian speech was hard. "The abbreviations, everything is shortened down . . . and some people are really hard to understand - people from Queensland or the country."
Fellow student Heng Hua, 25, who arrived from China in 2000, had a more immediate problem: "When I got out of the aeroplane the first problem I got was the appearance of the taxi is pretty much like the police car in China."
He spent the next 30 minutes avoiding cabs.
From Mark Steyn’s latest column, a small extract:
It's one thing to dislike Bush, it's one thing to hate America. But it's quite another to hate America so much you reflexively take the side of any genocidal psycho who comes along. In their terminal irrelevance, the depraved left has now adopted the old slogan of Cold War realpolitik: like Osama and Mullah Omar, Saddam may be a sonofabitch, but he's their sonofabitch.
Read the whole thing, which includes comparison of GWB and JFK. And from David Warren, a piece on protest culture:
Students are taught not to think, but to attitudinize, to strike the right posture when the signal is given, on subjects they know nothing about. This is what makes possible such things as "peace" demonstrations, in which large numbers march in support of slogans which are mindlessly trite.
The miracle is that so many of our young see through the imposture, educate themselves in spite of their seedy old draft-dodging professors, and find their own routes to their own views.
It's easy if you stay out of universities.
Howard Dean has secured the vital Ted Rall endorsement, reports Eye on the Left. And Dean is actually proud of this. Rall’s endorsement will trigger a furious battle for the persistent vegetative state vote between Howard the Coward and Michael Moore’s wild-eyed Wes Clarkoids. Who will win? Nobody!
"We really do need our own stories for our own wellbeing as a nation, and in order to keep us what we are," writes David Williamson in today’s round of Australian culture-begging. "Keep us what we are"? No, the reason Williamson and the rest of our subsidised story-tellers want to maintain protection of their, er, "industry" is to keep them as they are: quarantined from market and social forces that would otherwise compel them to come up with better ideas, or get work in fields more commensurate with their abilities.
Williamson is tall. He could stock shelves.
Besides, isn’t the desire to “keep us what we are” just a little ... conservative? Don’t these people always rail against the repressive Australia of the 1950s, an era they see reproduced under the present reich of John Howard? Don’t they demand change? In his Australia Day speech, Williamson didn’t sound very happy with the status quo he now seeks to maintain:
What it means to be an Australian in 2003 is apparently to put one's head in the sand and, like the rest of the world, decide to ignore patent reality. Or even worse, to be complicit in the unfolding disaster.
I'm alarmed at the way the world is heading at present - greed and envy pushing us towards what could be an eventual terrible reckoning. And I'm alarmed that we're such an enthusiastic little helper in the whole process.
Down with greed and envy! Remove subsidies to greedy local culturekeepers who envy the abilities of foreign artists and want to keep this market all to themselves!
(Oh, and John Spooner’s depiction of “an Australian free trade negotiator” shows just how perverse this debate has become. Apparently free trade will turn us into a Gitmo.)
The Green cult has shed a few adherents of late, as Andrew Bolt writes:
Last week's Newspoll showed the Greens stuck on 7 per cent support, down from last month's 8 per cent high.
At the last election, the combined vote for the Greens and Australian Democrats, which compete for the tofu vote, was 10.4 per cent. Now, says Newspoll, it's 9 per cent.
Read on to discover why. Maybe it’s the plan for “non-violent civilian resistance training" in case of military threat. Or possibly it’s something to do with providing an income "without the prior necessity to seek work" ...
The Ministry of the Interior reports that during the first eight months of this year it has expelled some 22,000 foreign nationals who were living in France without authorisation. This was 12% up on the same period last year. They were mainly North Africans (Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans), Chinese, Iraquis, Senegalese, Turks and Pakistanis. Among them, 7,162 holding no resident permits were sent back to their native countries, 7,342 were refused entry, and 7,459 were sent back to other EU countries, using the procedure laid down in the Schengen convention.
How can we possibly compete with those numbers? I’m ashamed.
The Melbourne Age reports a massive international scandal:
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was frisked at Sydney Airport for explosives in an incident that has embarrassed the Australian Government.
Ha! Not likely.
Despite having a NZ security officer with her, Miss Clark was pulled out of a queue on October 28 and given a body scan with a new explosives detection device to make sure she was not a bomb-carrying terrorist, The Age has learned.
”The Age has learned.” Again, not likely.
A senior adviser to Miss Clark said the NZ security officer accompanying his Prime Minister was "a bit upset" that she was being scanned for explosives.
Film Finance Corporation Australia is a government agency that funds Australian movies. Lots of movies. Lots of very bad movies:
In 15 years, the corporation has backed 169 features but only eight have turned a profit.
Director Sue Brooks complained the other night about free trade negotiations that "threatened" Australia's film culture. "Our audiences," she said, "would be appalled to think that we were trading that away against wheat." Sue, sweetheart ... what audiences?
When George W. Bush spoke to Australia’s Parliament, Ahmed Habib turned up as the guest of Greens senator Bob Brown:
Ahmed Habib wanted to send a message to George Bush about his father, Mamdouh, yesterday.
"What about my father's rights?" he called out before security guards escorted him from Parliament, making him the only person removed during the address.
Ahmed’s daddy-o is in Gitmo, which explains why someone like Brown would want to be his friend. Li’l Ahmed is now himself facing potential confinement:
The son of an Australian al-Qaeda suspect held at Guantanamo Bay was involved in the abduction of a woman who was bound with tape and had her head shaved, a Sydney court heard yesterday.
Ahmed Mandouh Habib, 18, of Birrong - eldest son of terror suspect Mamdouh Habib - was charged in connection to the alleged assault at Bankstown earlier this month.
The woman, believed to be a Habib family relative, was dragged out of a car parked outside Bankstown TAFE just after midnight on November 5.
One of Ahmed’s co-accused, only 15 so too young to be identified, allegedly held the victim while Ahmed’s twin brother wrapped masking tape around her mouth and head. Other allegations: the woman was tied up with electrical wire and driven to a garage at her former home, where her hair was shaved off.
Bidura Children's Court, where the 15-year-old appeared, heard that he told the woman: "I'm only doing this for your own good - I love you like a Muslim sister."
Nice people Bob hangs out with.
Jane Campion’s In The Cut features a scene in which schoolteacher Meg Ryan writes something on a blackboard. Her handwriting is childish. Later we see Ryan (or a hand supposedly belonging to Ryan) crafting quite elegant script on a piece of paper.
Conclusion: Meg Ryan used a stuntwriter.
In other exclusive showbiz revelations, here’s Jack Black spinning out in a Sydney hotel room, and from Europe, news of possibly the planet’s most marginalised community -- French Michael Jackson fans:
In Paris around 60 Michael Jackson fans, many holding candles, gathered on the Champs Elysees and marched through crowds of shoppers to the Arch of Triumph.
The fans, some who travelled from other cities in France, carried placards and banners of support and shouted "Innocent! Innocent! Innocent" and "Michael, Michael."
A couple of fans put on a show of Jackson-style dancing next to the Arch of Triumph, one of Paris' best-known monuments.
They really should change the name of that thing.
John Pilger’s latest New Statesman column -- helpfully duplicated by Pravda, so we can avoid paying any fee at the NS site -- begins:
Shortly before the disastrous Bush visit to Britain ...
Well, maybe for Pilger. He’s an angry, angry man these days. Why, he’s even lashing out at his former pals from The Observer:
How decrepit the Independent's warmongering rival the Observer now appears, with its pages of titillation and hand-wringing, having seen off a proud liberal tradition.
Those old revolutionaries sure love their tradition. By the way ... The Observer? Warmongering? Presumably Pilger is pissed at the likes of Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley, who writes:
As for those protesters who toppled that papier-maché Bush in Trafalgar Square, they were made to look naive. The bombers, if they could, would happily slaughter them too. It is a delusion to think that all that is needed to make the world safe is a change to the occupants of the White House and Number 10. Charles Kennedy could be Prime Minister and Michael Moore might be President of the United States. Al-Qaeda would carry on killing. Because, to them, freedom is an ugly thing.
It's ugly to Pilger, too. Dumb commie.
Confused cartoonist Michael Leunig -- he wants us all to forgive Osama bin Laden, but he hates men in suits -- has alienated so many people that these days his only friends are the reptiles on his farm:
"I've found the last couple of years difficult in some regards because I've had a lot of hostility," Leunig says. "I've encountered difficulty with editors, condemnation in letters pages, hostility from other columnists, including Clive James, who damned me publicly in a piece in the paper.
"But, you see, I have little brown snakes and big brown snakes which I meet between here and the studio on my way to work which are far more real and serious and beautiful ..."
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Mike. Leunig’s latest cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald -- no link available, so prevail upon any nearby tard to draw a few bulb-headed things; I’ll provide the text -- features this Q & A:
Q: It is now estimated that 55,000 Iraqis were killed in the recent invasion of their homeland. Ten times as many were ruined or crippled. Should a monument be made for those media people who worked so hard to promote and support this war?
A: Ah yes, good point. But don’t worry, those people will always be remembered ... although they really do deserve something more.
Something more? Is this a threat? Leunig’s tone sure has changed. He used to be so huggy and lovey, even to psychotic murderers:
On Christmas Eve, in the Melbourne Age, another pundit, Michael Leunig, called for a national prayer for Osama bin Laden on Christmas Day. "It's a family day," Leunig explained, "and Osama's our relative."
Sickening, isn’t it. I wish all Leunig’s whimsical characters would take the Drinky Crow option.
Satire -- not that I’m an expert -- can involve exaggerating a known circumstance for intended comic effect. For example, we know that The Independent is easily frightened by stories of environmental destruction and also believes George W. Bush to be evil. So to satirise The Independent you might take these elements and boost them to an absurd level, perhaps by claiming that Bush was prepared to kill people with deadly sun rays just to score a few votes. Something like this:
President George Bush has brought the international treaty aimed at repairing the Earth's vital ozone layer close to breakdown, risking millions of cancers, to benefit strawberry and tomato growers in the electorally critical state of Florida, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
See? It’s so easy! Why, with a little work you could almost pass this off as a real story.
Baghdad blogger Zeyad reports big anti-terrorism demonstrations planned for Iraq on December 10. Let’s see how much coverage these receive in the West. As well, Zeyad takes on the “brainwashed and deluded demonstrators in London”. He’s an excellent writer; scroll around for other entertaining posts.
UPDATE. Ishtar in comments writes:
We must counter them on the ground. Let's take up Zeyad's call to campaign for a world-wide Rally for Iraq on December 10.
Could be an idea. Another commenter already has her slogan planned:
I think I will carry a sign that says: "Hitler is Hitler, you morons."
Back in May, Maureen Dowd damned George W. Bush for claiming the threat of terrorism was reduced:
Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. "Al Qaeda is on the run," President Bush said last week. "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated ... They're not a problem anymore."
Dowd -- who doctored Bush’s words to make her point -- also mentioned US intelligence bragging about their work against terrorism, and "the administration's lulling triumphalism about Al Qaeda." That was seven months ago; now Dowd is damning Bush for claiming the threat of terrorism isn’t reduced:
"It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known," Mr. Bush says, in a State of the Union clip.
Well, that's a comforting message from our commander in chief. Do we really need his cold, clammy hand on our spine at a time when we're already rattled by fresh terror threats at home and abroad?
"It's the MoDo principle," writes Andrew Sullivan. "Attack 'em whatever they do, and hope no one will actually pore through your paper-trail."
Robert Fisk in The Independent:
The Australians paid the price for the alliance with Bush in Bali.
Incidentally, 1999 was the year leftist prophet John Pilger wrote this:
Tomorrow, the East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao, is due to be released from house arrest in Jakarta. If he returns to his homeland, he is likely to be killed and the murder weapon is likely to be British.
Gusmao became East Timor’s President in 2002. Not bad for a dead guy.
UPDATE. Related to the Fisk item, Melanie Phillips on the don’t retaliate, do-nothing, come-and-get-us-when-you’re-ready British peacemice :
The logic of this insane way of thinking is that the west must not ever seek to defend itself from attack by the jihad by waging a just war of self-defence, because to do so will merely invite yet more terror ... It may well be true that the attack on Iraq has provoked more violence. But that should not support an argument for surrender to such monstrous intimidation. It's rather an argument for redoubling the fight against an insane and totalitarian ideological death cult.
In entirely unrelated news, attractive and dentally-flawless Australian singer Holly Valance says the English are bitter and twisted and get on her nerves and the water in London makes her gag and she’d return to Australia the very first chance she gets because England sucks and ... and ... we were robbed, I tell you! Robbed! Jonny Wilkinson, you goal-getting, rugby-ruining, life-hating, consonant-missing bastard!
Paul Bickford tuned into last night’s shambolic telecast of the Australian Film Industry Awards:
The AFI awards last night confirmed why the Australian film and television industry requires propping up - bad production values, pissed presenters unable to read off an autocue and constant bleating about how the big nasty Americans are sooo much better at everything; just the sort of pathetic inferiority complex endemic in every industry that demands protection.
Comically, as actor after whiny actor howled about the need to “save our culture” from US imperialism, they did so in a format that aped Oscar night exactly, right down to the trophy babes escorting winners from the stage. Australia's elite televisual skills were evidenced by tard-quality production, sound problems, and halting, confused hosts. Well, it was the ABC ...
Funniest moment: after Geoffrey Atherden told us “if we lose our voice, we lose our identity” and “we need to hear stories in our own accent”, the next prize was accepted by someone with a Scots accent, who was there on behalf of the winner -- “who is in America at the moment, finishing a four-week shoot.” Ha!
Andrew Bolt lists the academic tax hogs:
Professor Marilyn Lake, the feminist who claims women are "worked to death" as "slaves to the nation" now gets $480,000 to attack the "history of White Australia through an investigation of the idea of the 'white man's country' as a defensive response to a changing world order".
Veteran Marxist Professor Bob Connell got $126,000 for research on "peace-making", and "how masculinities are mobilised in conflict situations".
Professor Diane Austin-Broos got $150,000 to compare "the welfare economy in Central Australia and the drug economy in downtown Kingston", in her native Caribbean.
Another $450,000 was bestowed on Dr Gerard Goggin for "a biography of the mobile phone", in which the phone will be studied as "a cultural object".
And Dr Robert Hattam will share in $150,000 to develop a "theory of pedagogies for reconciliation"; nice work for a "social justice" theorist out to explain "the politics of teachers' work in terms of a productive theory of power".
Goggin, the chucklehead who’s scammed nearly half a million bucks to write the life story of a Nokia (suggested title: Years and Years of Ears) has just commenced blogging. How much is this going to end up costing us?
Regrettably, Greg Sheridan will probably be proved correct:
Al-Qa'ida and its offshoots have said often that Australians are a prime target. I think we can take them at their word. Our citizens are going to be killed and maimed again by these murderous fanatics. That is as certain as anything can be.
He’s also correct about foreign minister Alexander Downer’s response to this week’s threat from al-Qa’ida. Sheridan describes Downer’s words as “just right”. It’s hard to disagree. Take a look:
"We treat these people with scorn and contempt ... I think these fanatical Islamic terrorists know only too well that there are some countries with the courage and determination to take them on and defeat them ... It'll take a long time. It'll be hard work . . . (But) Australia is a tough country, we're not going to be cowed by these sorts of people."
No hint of appeasement there. Good.
Eight happy Australian drunks -- well, that we know of -- were at Telstra Stadium last weekend to witness our defeat of New Zealand. After the match, an incident took place in an elevator ...
The floor before they were due to get off, the lift stopped and the doors opened. At the elevator door, waiting to get in, stood the Man of Steel himself, Johnny Howard, PM. After initial stunned silence they loudly cheered and invited him into the lift. Johnny's security advised against it but the Man's gut instinct led him into the elevator and into the embrace of eight super drunks who all shook his hand and gave him a pat on the back.
Hit the link (which I should've linked to earlier). You've got to see the picture.
UPDATE. It's Mark Steyn's picture of the week! Check the right-hand panel.
Crucial to any coverage of anti-Bush protests is the “even as” moment. This is the point at which the malevolent and deceitful behaviour of the President is contrasted with the kindly and democratic actions of angelic protesters, whose wisdom Bush hatefully ignores. We see a typical “even as” in this report by Richard W. Stevenson of The New York Times, here syndicated in The Marin Independent Journal:
Bush, making the first full-scale state visit here since Woodrow Wilson in 1918, later attended an ornate state dinner at Buckingham Palace. Even as anti-war protesters gathered outside the palace, the Queen and the president exchanged warm toasts inside.
Did I say “typical”? This is a brilliant “even as”, suggesting that Bush and the Queen should perhaps moderate the warmth of their toasts due to the proximity (and moral authority) of anti-war protesters chanting in nearby streets. The same “even as” appears in Stevenson’s piece for The Arizona Republic:
Bush, making the first full-scale state visit here since Woodrow Wilson in 1918, later attended an ornate state dinner at Buckingham Palace. Even as war protesters gathered outside the palace, the queen and the president exchanged warm toasts inside.
So far, so bad. But here’s something interesting; even as The Arizona Republic and The Marin Independent Journal run Stevenson’s “even as” line, The New York Times itself has dropped it. This is from the NYT’s current version of the same story:
Mr. Bush, making the first full-scale state visit by an American president, later attended an ornate dinner at Buckingham Palace. As antiwar protestors gathered outside the palace, the queen and the president exchanged warm toasts inside.
Google News picks up the NYT story on an even as search, so possibly an earlier take carried the original line. Subsequent deletion of the “even as” indicates that the NYT is alert to its reporter’s bias.
Craig Emerson, Australian Labor Party spokesman for industrial relations, attempts to define wedge politics:
Ultimately it comes down to this: splitting the nation in two and picking up the bigger half.
This person aspires to a role in government that would assist in determining wage levels. Bigger half?
Most Australian films are at least partially funded by the government. They are also mostly trash, and barely anybody watches them. Check Guy Rundle’s solution:
The most radical and effective response to this would be to vastly increase the number of films which are 100 per cent funded by the government.
Our creative classes apparently aren’t so creative when it comes to raising dollars. As well, Guy claims that “what we really need is a sort of government film studio”. Hey, film boy? You want to make pictures, you do it with your own damn money, OK? Either that or broaden your funding idea; give me a chunk of your wages to run this website. Why should movies be the sole medium for tax mooching? Why should filmmakers get a single cent of someone else's earnings?
Paul McGeough almost did it. In one article, he has mentioned “cycles of violence”, the “Iraq quagmire”, a “Top Gun president”, and “the poverty that breeds terrorists”. If only he’d included “Vietnam” and “cowboy”, we’d have a new War On Terrorism Cliche Champion.
From the department of deep British insight emerges anti-Bush protester and legal authority Wendy Rumsey:
"I've nothing personally against President Bush," said Wendy Rumsey, a civil servant from Ramsgate in Kent. "He might be a very nice man; removing Saddam Hussein may have been a worthy ambition, but the point is that it was illegal."
Picture the scene: Mrs. Rumsey accidentally drives over a pedestrian, trapping him beneath her car. “Get this off me!” screams the dying man, his legs crushed under the front wheels. “Reverse! Back up, for the love of God, please!”
Later, at the police station, Mrs. Rumsey calmly explains why she didn’t act. “It was a one-way street,” she tells an officer. “The point is that it was illegal.”
Polly Toynbee has identified the cause of yesterday’s attacks in Turkey -- it’s Tony Blair:
Once had decided to take the country to war, terrorist retaliation was certain.
Toynbee supported the liberation of East Timor -- “There is a right time for dealing with long-running oppressions - Serbia and Kosovo, or East Timor. Whatever the reason, when the chance comes it has to be seized” -- so, by her logic, we may blame Polly for retaliatory strikes against Australians. Strange how often the left forgets Osama bin Laden’s condemnation of that campaign. In hindsight, would Toynbee not have supported a free East Timor? It seems so, given that avoidance of retaliation is her primary aim. Oh, she blames Bush as well:
Bombs in Istanbul are the only outcome from this presidential visit.
No, the bombs in Istanbul are the outcome of a global terrorist cult that would as soon kill Polly as any other infidel. Probably sooner, seeing as she’s such a mouthy chick.
Bombers must be defied, but who is tackling the global causes of bombing?
They’re both mentioned in your column, Polly. For your next trick, let’s see you blame Blair and Bush for this:
Islamic militants burned to the ground thirteen churches and several houses in a remote northern Nigerian town after a Christian student was accused of blasphemy, police said on Thursday.
Well, it is if you don’t want Iraq to become a free and wealthy nation.
In happier news, a museum in Kirkuk has been delooted and unpillaged:
Iraqi workmen and American soldiers cleared out debris by the truckload. They swept, scrubbed, rewired and filled the wide halls with the smell of fresh paint.
As completion of the project neared, local artists submitted their work to be displayed in the reborn museum. The 173rd commissioned a Kirkuk sculptor to produce a centerpiece for the courtyard and the grand opening was slated to coincide with the onset of Ramadan.
On Oct. 23, the museum opened to a jubilant throng of proud citizens. The sculpture was unveiled, speeches were made and the old Ottoman structure was baptized by the tears of people who had not walked through its doors for 30 years.
Imagine the draw this place will have on history freaks.
Talk about your brutality. Mike Dukakis remembers the time Ronald Reagan called him an invalid:
Dukakis said he hopes the current Democratic candidates are ready for similar encounters. "Whoever the Democratic nominee will, in my judgment, be subjected to a brutal attack campaign by Bush," Dukakis said.
Balmain for Refugees -- sounds like a fair swap -- is organising a trivia night, to be hosted by “the wonderfully witty Jonathan Biggins”.
It’s at Leichhardt Town Hall on Friday 28 November. A clever right-winger -- say, like trivia maven Tony the Teacher -- could sweep the floor with those mooks, so turn up and win all the lefty prizes. Of course, it’s possible that the questions will be loaded to suit the biases of the hardcore anti-Howard, anti-Bush, anti-anti-anti crowd ...
Whose US presidency is funded by Saudi oil in which Iraqi babies have been drowned?
Palestine is illegally occupied by what race of blood-drinking Shylocks?
Australia is modelled on which mid-20th century European regime? (Hint: whitegoods.)
Who the hell says Jonathan Biggins is wonderfully witty? I mean, what the fuck?
Maybe that last question won’t appear. Who knows? An agent may be deployed to find out.
No matter how often it’s tried, the “right to interact with this broken world” defence just never seems to work:
A man jailed for decapitating a $354,000 statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today lost an appeal against his conviction for criminal damage.
Paul Kelleher, a theatre producer from London, pleaded innocent to criminal damage, saying he was protesting globalisation and what he sees as Britain's too-close relationship with the United States.
He said the act was not criminal damage but "artistic expression and my right to interact with this broken world."
Meanwhile the animal liberationist charged in Australia with introducing sheep to an innovative pork-based diet is out on bail. He held a press conference this morning but was interrupted by an angry Victorian Farmers Federation livestock president Simon Ramsay, who simply said: “This man is speaking absolute and utter crap and I’ve had enough of it.”
Frank Devine declares war on the Swiss:
Switzerland, a key spoke in the axis of evil, gets away with secretly maintaining the arterial flow of illicit money to terrorists, arms dealers, drug tsars, dictators, mass murderers, slave traders, people-smugglers, oil sheikhs, pimps, gambling racketeers, embezzlers, pornographers and the mafias of several nations.
Many of the people who find good karma in secret Swiss bank accounts are dishonest parasites. This includes the entire population of Switzerland, whose support of their country's secrecy laws makes them objects of shame and a threat to global security.
Nuke them! Steal their gold!
Lord knows I’ve written enough failed columns to recognise a doomed intro when I see one. Here’s Ross Fitzgerald in The Australian:
When the US President needs a distraction from a domestic scandal in the comedy movie Wag the Dog, he declares war on Albania. But not a real war. A fake television war, created by a hired gun using Hollywood techniques and reported by gullible media.
"The President will be a hero. He brought peace," says the Hollywood producer hired to create the diversion.
"But there never was a war," complains the naive staffer.
"All the greater accomplishment," replies the producer.
The similarities with real life, here and in the US, are chilling.
Er, yeah? Now watch as Fitzgerald labours to fit real life into his Wag the Dog scenario:
On the eve of the election, along came the Tampa refugee crisis and the September 11 attacks. With the threat of international terror, voters focused on Howard's fighting words that "we decide who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they come".
Howard had his war on Albania. Only he didn't have to stage-manage it. It landed in his lap.
Tampa and September 11 were real events, as I recall. Fitzgerald’s next line, referring to Howard’s re-election in the wake of these non-fake occurences, is appalling:
Can he be so lucky the next time?
Leave aside Fitzgerald’s hideous notion of September 11 being “lucky” for Howard and return again to his introduction. Wag the Dog is manufactured; the fictional President devised a war. No luck -- however you look at it -- was involved. This column makes no sense. Besides which, how can anybody write a Wag-based column in 2003 without referring once to Clinton’s impeachment-era bombing raids?
Speaking of art, as I was in the previous post, take a look at this. It’s an image of a monkey, holding an American flag, standing on a dodo. There are also aircraft. Behind the monkey-dodo combo are the words “mass slums”, “warm air”, “trust?”, “two dollar” and “peace”.
And others, including (I think) “poi” and “gulpy”.
Now, this might seem incoherent and worthless and insane, but, believe me, it is the perfect visual guide to the Sydney Morning Herald Webdiary piece it illustrates.
Please take the time to read it. SMH Webdiary contributor Jack Robertson is the author.
It is incomprehensible.
Consider as you struggle though the text that the SMH is a serious newspaper, run by actual adults. Wonder at the process that has allowed this to be published. And fall to the ground in narcoleptic paralysis as you encounter possibly the finest Margo Kingston quote ever uttered:
A growing proportion of the media are behaving as propagandists, not as journalists.
Read that line one more time. And now join me in an early-morning vodka bender inspired by the grossest hypocrisy yet witnessed in the Australian press. Gulpy!
I don’t get it. How come this Webdiary item depicts Margo Kingston about to devour Australia?
In other image developments, check out the UK cover of Paul Krugman’s book. He’s clearly aiming at the Big Scary Protest Puppet demographic. Strange thing is, even after his publishers have used all the Halloween art to create FrankenBush and an Oil Crypt Veep, they still don’t look as weird as Krugman himself. Aieeee! It’s alive!
(Book link via Sullivan.)
Amir Taheri encounters evil idiocy in a conversation with a spokesghoul from London’s Stop The War Coalition:
"We really want to stop Bush and Blair from going around killing babies," she said. "Our objective is to force the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan."
But what if a U.S. withdrawal means the return of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein?
Naturally, the Stop The War Coalition attracts Britain’s finest citizens:
A prominent member is George Galloway, a Labour-party parliamentarian under investigation for the illegal receipt of funds from Saddam Hussein. In his memoirs, Galloway says that the day the Soviet Union collapsed was "the saddest day" of his life.
Some life. Also in the National Review, in which the above article appears: David Frum meets the BBC.
From an anonymous reader:
Hear about the 17 less americans!
hope they had famlies!
This person will be delighted to learn that, yes, the 17 soldiers killed in Mosul on Saturday did have families. Let’s meet them, via various news reports:
His grandmother said he was kind, nice and honorable.
Then again, she said, that's how all grandmothers see their grandsons.
"All I can say is that I couldn't ask for a better one," said Bitha Heidelberg, from her home in Clarke County.
Her grandson, 21-year-old Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg, a Shubuta native, was among the 17 killed Saturday in Iraq when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.
Warrant Officer Erik C. Kesterson spent eight years in the Marines as a crew chief and gunner on helicopters. He was awarded the Marine Corps Medal of Heroism for pulling seven men out of a burning helicopter crash. He left the Marines, but after Sept. 11 he re-enlisted in the military, joining the Army's warrant officer program.
"He was very patriotic and believed in this country," his father, Clayton Kesterson of Independence, said. "He's a good man."
Pfc. Sheldon Hawk Eagle joined the Army while he was visiting his sister in North Dakota and dreamed of becoming an elite Army Ranger, his cousin says.
Hawk Eagle, 21, of Eagle Butte, S.D., a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was among 17 Americans killed when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq, on Saturday.
"He's a hero," said Harold Frazier, the tribal chairman. "He defended our country and protected our freedom."
Two dozen long-stem roses remain in bloom on a dining room table inside the Federal Way home where a 28-year-old widow tends to the 2-month-old twin sons that a husband, father and soldier gone to war will never see.
Katrina Sullivan knew immediately the roses were from her husband, 26-year-old Army Spc. John Sullivan, when they arrived last week commemorating both her Nov. 7 birthday and the birth of their sons.
The last thing helicopter crew chief Sgt. Ryan Baker did when he was home on leave two weeks ago was to hug his mother, assuring her that he would be safe despite his job as a helicopter mechanic in Iraq.
The family, said mother Vicky Baker, is devastated."I’m just so proud ... and I’m so angry that they would take my baby like that," the mother sobbed, her voice trailing off.
Funeral arrangements have been made for a fallen South Dakota soldier who died in a helicopter collision last weekend in Iraq. 33-year old Scott Saboe of Willow Lake joined the Army in 1989. He leaves behind his father, Arlo; his sister, Ann; his wife, Franceska and their six-year old son Dustin.
Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Martin Liberato Bolor, a Maui native, was among those killed in Saturday's collision of two Black Hawk helicopters in Mosul, Iraq, the Army said yesterday.
Bolor, 37, was an Army reservist and a supply specialist with the 137th Quartermaster Company, which was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. The 1984 Lahainaluna High School graduate lived with his wife, Kelly, and their 3-year-old son, Kyle, in Whittier, Calif.
Spc. Eugene A. Uhl III was honored to follow his father and grandfather into the military.
"He was proud to be there (in Iraq), proud to be defending the country," said his mother Joan Uhl.
William Dusenbery was a devoted flyer, his father said Sunday.
"He died doing something he loved," William Dusenbery, Sr., who lives in Fairview Heights, just outside St. Louis, Mo.
Nancy Koeppen planned to answer an e-mail from Warren Hansen, a Clintonville soldier stationed in Iraq last Saturday, but thought it could wait until Monday.
Koeppen watched Hansen grow up with her son Mark. "Warren’s mother Beth and his stepfather Jim (Karlson) are great people, always doing and thinking about others first. Warren was the same way."
The flags outside Gregory Portland High School are at half staff in memory of 26-year-old Sgt. John Russell.
He graduated from high school in 1995 and went on to serve his country in the 101st Airborne based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Dennis Russell, John's father, said, "The media is using them to advance somebody's political ... for whatever reason and attacking our president. And it's wrong."
He says we should not forget those in the armed services who make the ultimate sacrifice.
First Lieutenant Pierre Piche, 28, was one of 17 soldiers from the 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky., who died in the collision. "They said . . . there was an attack and that the helicopters may have collided," his mother, Lisa Johnson, said yesterday to WCAX-TV. "He was supposed to grow old with his wife."
Rick Hafer lived for two things: football and his two half-sisters.
Hafer joined the Army to get his life together after poor high school grades kept him from entering college to play football, family members said. Also, he wanted to fight to keep his country safe for his younger sisters, Holly and Heather Strickland.
"His sisters were his whole life," his former stepmother, Sherry Barclay, said Monday from her home in Nitro, a suburb about 15 miles from Charleston. "He said when he left that he wanted to keep our home ground safe for them to live in. He wanted to prove to everybody that he could be somebody."
When Michael Acklin Sr. spoke to his son, Army Sgt. Michael Acklin II, during a telephone call from Iraq about two weeks ago, he could hear the sadness in his only child's voice.
The younger man didn't cry, but Acklin said he could hear his pain over losing a member of his Army unit to gunfire.
"He expressed to me the situation was getting worse over there. I tried to encourage him, keep him strong. I couldn't tell him, `Son, I miss you.' I didn't want to upset him.
"I hope our country and our community of Louisville will take time to appreciate our brave soldiers who sacrificed their life for ours."
Pfc. Joey Whitener spent his childhood wanting a military career.
But the birth of his son on Sept. 13 changed Whitener's priorities.
"He was so happy to be home with his friends and family and his son," Whitener's wife, Beth, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, recalling her husband surprising her by taking leave to be home for Tristan's birth.
"His son was his pride and joy. The first time they put him in his arms, he cried."
Spc. Jeremy DiGiovanni, 21, died Saturday, in the helicopter collision that also killed Mississippi soldier Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg.
"It brings it home. This thing is real and it's not over by a long shot," said the Rev. Harold Gartman, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Summit, where DiGiovanni will be buried when his body returns from Iraq.
The stunned community has tried to extend sympathy to DiGiovanni's father, Joe, who owns a store in the community, Joe's One-Stop.
"He's super fine guy," Gartman said.
Inside the rural Menomonie, Wis., home of his dad, David Wolfe, somber friends and family gathered to grieve the loss of Jeremy Wolfe, 27, a helicopter pilot who died Saturday in Iraq.
"He should be remembered as a soldier for the United States, who fought for his country and for its beliefs," said David Wolfe.
Poor anonymous e-mail person. He’ll never know this sort of love and pride.
Writes Atrios: “I'm sure this quote will pop up on every wingnut site from now until the end of time.” Well, let’s get things started:
"The evil ones now find themselves in crisis, and this is God's will for them," said Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat.
Clicky on the link for an explanation of Daschle's, er, uncharacteristic tone.
Who feeds pigs to sheep? Why, Australian animal liberationists, of course:
Animal rights activists claimed yesterday to have fed pig meat to 70,000 sheep awaiting shipment to the Middle East in an effort to render them unsuitable for consumption by Muslims.
There’s doubt over the liberationists’ claim, but meanwhile I suspect I won’t be the only carnivore wondering about the potential taste sensation of these lamb-pork hybrids. I guess the only way to find out is to shoot them all and eat them. Thanks, critter activists!
UPDATE. One of the liberating porkers has been arrested. And a halal butcher says the whole ham scam was a total waste of time:
"All you have to do is leave the sheep for three days until the items they have been fed leave their bodies," said Mohamed El-Mouelhy, chairman of the Halal Certification Authority.
"As far as Muslims are concerned, it makes no difference because it is not a religious breach whatsoever.
"It might be a breach of local health requirements, but they should do more homework on halal dietary laws before they do this."
Use the brains, people. Use the brains!
Now it’s blood libel TV:
A television series broadcast throughout the Middle East by Hezbollah, a Lebanese group listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, drew the department's wrath again Wednesday.
The episode of "Al Shatak" -- meaning "the diaspora" -- broadcast Tuesday night portrayed the killing of a Christian child on the orders of a Jewish rabbi so the blood could be used for the Jewish Passover celebration.
Earlier episodes of Al Shatak -- which featured various fantasies about Jewish global domination, Jewish plots to steal Arab land, and, for all I know, Jewish attempts to infiltrate the Australian cricket team -- drew rave reviews:
Lebanese viewer Hajj Hussein judged “al-Shatat” very good, “and very strong against the Jews.” He said he was watching it every night.
See what happens when people don’t have access to Fox News?
They’re against Saddam Hussein AND they’re against the Americans. They’re also evidently against the Red Cross, the UN ... and, considering how many Iraqi civilians they’re killed, they’re also against Iraq. The leaders of Iraq’s blood-crazed “resistance” speak:
A former Iraqi general who claims to be part of the insurgency against U.S. troops says the guerrilla war around this "Sunni Triangle" city is being waged by small groups fighting on their own without direction from Saddam Hussein or others.
He and two other Samara men, who said they are in separate guerrilla units, insisted in interviews with The Associated Press that their fight isn't aimed at returning Saddam to power. They said it's about ending the U.S.-led occupation and restoring Iraqi rule.
"I am fighting for my country — not Saddam Hussein — to get rid of the infidels. Very few people are fighting for him. They gave up on him at the end of the war," said one of the men, an unemployed electrical engineer.
Here’s a better way to fight for your country, Commandant Sparky: get a job. It seems as though the inspiration for these bumpkin warriors is drawn from the helpful propaganda of idiot Westerners:
The men said they believe the Americans are here to pillage Iraq and steal its oil.
Well, looks like at least some people -- who make up in arms what they lack in cognitive ability and numbers -- are convinced that it’s all about oil. Who said that the peace movement was ineffectual?
People sure do like to comment these days, don’t they? Man, this place has turned into a miniature LGF since I've been away. Let’s see if a return to regular mundane posting doesn’t cut things back a little.
The 2003 Listening Tour of the US is almost at an end. In recent days I've mostly been listening to the outstanding violence of snowbound musicians and writers trapped in Mammoth Lakes, California. Ken Layne was involved, of course.
Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald continues its own slide toward madness. Robert Manne predicts nothing but doom for Iraq, regardless of whether US troops stay or go:
If they depart relatively soon, Iraq will almost certainly descend into chaos of a fearful kind. To remain will be terrible; to leave probably worse.
Remember pre-war Iraq, when there was no chaos at all, let alone chaos "of a fearful kind"? Just friendly Saddam and Uday and Qusay giving candy to the children and helping old ladies cross the street. Glory days! Manne prays for their swift return. I myself can't wait to get back to Australia and Margo Kingston, who recently was accused of a form of anti-Semitism:
The Sydney Morning Herald spectrum editor, Michael Visontay, in a deeply felt and honest piece, argued in the SMH today that several commentators, including myself, were legitimising anti-semetism.
Contradictory statements from the Government about 14 Kurdish boat people have Margot Kingston's web correspondents angry.
Margo with a 't'? Only an idio would make such a mistake! The error has opened new faultlines in Margo's mind. Check it:
G'day. How are we supposed to make sense of anything when the Government lies, quite casually, about the latest refugee landing, just as everything it assured us about Iraq - despite overwhelming military, intelligence, political and academic advice - turns out to be false and dangerous to us and our children?
It's beyond me, so here's a sample of the thoughts of Web Diary readers during another incomprehensible and seriously scary week in Australian and world politics. Where the hell is a trustworthy leader to explain it all and reassure us that we're in safe hands? Maybe no leader can save us now. Maybe we have to concentrate and save ourselves.
Concentrate, Magoo! Or whatever your name is. Save yourself, at least until such time as a trustworthy leader emerges to tell us we're in safe hands. Hey, maybe I can do it ... let's try:
You Are In Safe Hands! Please Return To Your Bewilderment!
Kinda works, doesn't it? I may run for the office of Trustworthy Leader as soon as I get back. Should be in Sydney by Wednesday.
Robert Manne worries that "we are about to experience the Americanisation of the Australian culture wars." Here's news, Bobby -- we already are. And it's being led by the left, using our taxes.
Manne's fear of US-style cultural warfare is prompted by Paul Sheehan's new book, which he calls "distorted" and "hopelessly crude". That sounds like a good description of the ABC's new drama series, Marking Time. It's dumb propaganda. Here's the synopsis, by way of the Wogblogger:
The two-part mini-series is a "Romeo and Juliet" story set in a rural Australian town. Told with warmth, humour and acute observation, MARKING TIME traces Hal's journey from boy to man over the period of one year. At the outset, the town and the country are intoxicated with the spirit of the Olympics, and the Centenary of Federation. Hal gets his licence, first car, the right to drink, the right to vote, and falls in love with Randa, a young Afghani refugee. But there is a shifting of consciousness in the town and the nation about refugees, border protection and their place in the world. Hal's heart is broken when he realises that his town is one in which he no longer belongs. MARKING TIME is the coming of age of a boy and a nation.
Gotta love that line about Australia being "intoxicated with the Centenary of Federation." (I prefer the Wog's synopsis. Go read.) Marking Time is full of cartoonish dialogue that serves to present Australians as brutish oafs, unable to cope with the manifold sensitivities of our Muslim brethren. An example:
"Do you have Santa?"
"No, we have Ramadan. A spiritual time, of fasting."
And, in Iraq, of attacks on the Red Cross. Meanwhile my own Holy Month (a spiritual time of driving fast) continues. More to come.
Driving in snow isn't nearly as difficult as people say. My method, honed over several hours in the Rocky Mountains, involves a mere three steps:
One: Turn the steering wheel towards your intended direction of travel.
Two: Note how little effect this has. Interesting, isn't it?
Three: Collide repeatedly with trees, wildlife, and other vehicles.
And that's about it. Learn these three crucial steps, and you too can be a SnowMaster! Well, I managed to avoid Step Three, but only because my elite performance driving skills saved me. These skills are faith-based. Much prayer is required.
(The Rockies, by the way, are beautiful. I'm no nature boy, but ... wow. Those Mormons did a great job building them. Congratulations, Mormons!)
So now I'm in Reno, at the Ken Layne ranch. Heard the new Corvids CD last night. It's like rock music, except you want to hear it more than once. Such guitars! I've got a small bet with Ken on the numbers he might expect to sell; my estimate is higher than his. The winner of this wager gets to leave Reno.
More soon, once the Snow Panic completely fades.
I can exclusively report that North Platte, Nebraska, is cold. Freezing, in fact. The frostbite has claimed most of my fingers, and I am typing this with my elbows.
Oops -- slipped on the iced-up keyboard. Hey, what do people do in Denver? I'm four hours from finding out. Send advice via email or snowcow, which I understand is the main news delivery method around these parts.
What can I say about James Lileks, except that I now have several of his possessions and will shortly auction them for gas money? I'll post more on our meeting later, but let it be recorded here that we successfully devised the First Boilerplate Amendment, for occasions when editors demand things like this be inserted into copy:
Of course, none of this is to suggest that all Muslims/leftists/environmentalists are terrorists/zombies/retarded, and I in no way wish to infer that these killers/cranks/feebs are responsible for global crime/destruction of values/frostbite in North Platte, Nebraska.
Thereafter such a paragraph, according to proposed legislation, would follow our Amendment:
But they are.
I'm out of here. See you in Colorado and points west.
This post comes to you direct from Kent State University, scene of a notoriously enthusiastic National Guard deployment some decades back. A link may exist between campus friendliness and shootings; the only happier university I've visited in the US is the University of Texas, where Charles Whitman went wild. Another happy place is Florida State, a Ted Bundy hunting ground.
But enough of homicide and specious contentment theories. Last night in Youngsville, Ohio, I met a bunch of US air force guys. All had recently served in the Middle East. They refused to let me pay for any drinks, and I refused to let them pay for any drinks. Somehow, despite all this refusing, an appalling number of drinks were consumed.
Next stop is Chicago. I'm driving a '91 Cadillac; it's 200 feet long, weighs 14 tons, and is powered by a WWII tank engine. Actually, the engine is an aluminium V8, a curious concession to modernity in a design closer to 1963 than 1991. The power steering is so extreme that an imbalance in fingernail weight could send you spearing into oncoming traffic. Suspension? It's only now reacting to bumps encountered two days ago in New Jersey. Kinda floaty.
Still, the thing is loaded with character. I love it.
Too many things to do to be able to blog much. Usual output will resume in several days. (And a reminder: the usual e-mail address is still busted, so send to the address listed a few posts below.)