January 30, 2004


Mark Steyn discusses wartime strategy with Senator John Edwards:

I asked him what he would do about Iraq.

‘We need to get the UN in there,’ he said.

‘But they were in there. They pulled out because it was too dangerous.’

‘We need to get Nato in there,’ he said.

‘But 21 out of the 34 countries with troops on the ground are, in fact, Nato members.’

‘Hey, that’s what I love about these town hall meetings,’ he said, shaking my hand. ‘You get to hear from the people.’

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:13 AM | Comments (41)

January 29, 2004



Tony Blair was plunged into the biggest crisis of his premiership last night after a leading Ministry of Defence adviser who became caught up in No 10's vitriolic battle with the BBC was found dead in woodland near his Oxfordshire home.


The BBC was plunged into the biggest crisis in its history today when its multi-millionaire chairman Gavyn Davies quit after the corporation was heavily criticised and the British Government cleared unequivocally by the Hutton report.


BBC director general Greg Dyke today dramatically resigned as the corporation struggles to deal with the biggest crisis in its 82-year history.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:50 PM | Comments (24)


John Kerry has one victory speech:

Those little crowd participation deals ("Bring! It! On!" … "When I'm president!" … "The only thing to fear is me itself!") are borderline tolerable the first time, pretty damned annoying in Round 2.

He has one physical gesture:

He thrusts his index finger at the audience in an overhead arc again and again, as though launching a projectile.

He has one joke:

Kerry grinds out this excruciating gag (he calls it a “story”) every chance he gets, drawing pitiful applause from people who can’t remember the same joke referring to Clinton, the first George Bush, Reagan, and Nixon. One oldtimer has the fossilised witticism pegged to Harry S.

And, if those Botox rumours are to be believed, he's got only one facial expression. Pity he’s got more than one policy about the war -- and on more than one war, as it happens.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:44 PM | Comments (30)


And the winner for the Best Opening Line in a Nigerian Email Scam goes to ... “Nana Shaffer”!

Dear sir,

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because I believe everyone will die someday.

Sickly doom-bound Shaffer will die rich, according to his message. He’s got $18,000,000,00, of which 20% has been set aside “for you and for your time”. Hit the PayPal, Nana!

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:34 PM | Comments (8)


"Are state schools politically correct?" asks Andrew Bolt, back on deck at the Herald Sun. "Unions and Leftie journalists say no. But have a look at what they preach and make up your own mind."

Professor Bunyip unearths yet more thinking matter on the same subject. My own state school teachers (Werribee Primary, PS 649) were among the last of the non-PC breed; years after leaving I'd sometimes drop in on them, to chat and help mark a few tests or whatever. Once a former teacher and I set a sixth-grade class this impossible, practically university-level combination maths/English/science quiz ("the results will be on your permanent record!") so we could go outside and talk about cricket for an hour.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:31 PM | Comments (22)


Only a short while ago, Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi was the man who would deliver Dean to the White House via modem:

Trippi's Internet savvy and penchant for old-fashioned political trench warfare have proved an effective combination in Howard Dean's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Internet has been a fixture of sorts in two previous presidential campaigns. But admirers say it took Trippi to capitalize on its explosive potential to spread word of mouth at the speed of bytes.

Now he’s been fired.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:59 PM | Comments (10)


Here’s a complete list (and here’s a translated list) of those accused by Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada of accepting Saddam’s oil bribes. (No Australians are included; as commenter murph suggested, an earlier Le Monde report seems to have confused Australia with Austria.)

George Galloway’s name appears often.

(Much thanks to Franco Alemán of HispaLibertas for locating and forwarding this.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:28 AM | Comments (57)


A Labor conference is taking place in Sydney this weekend, so I’m fleeing to Melbourne. Posts will be infrequent until Monday at least, so take this opportunity to scroll deeply through the recommended sites listed at left.

Or -- here’s an idea -- start your own blog! Many commenters at this site are too clever to remain forever in comment-land. Speak up, and join the oppression!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:53 AM | Comments (17)


Someone at The Australian doesn’t like Imre Salusinszky. A week ago he was briefly bylined as Salusinsinszky -- and today he appears as Emre. Has Margo Kingston been moonlighting as an online News Ltd subeditor during her summer break? Soon Imre’s proud Hungarian name will be reduced to “Ernie Sigley”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:28 AM | Comments (4)


The Hutton inquiry is in, and it’s all bad news for the BBC:

A report by the BBC that the British government deliberately exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was "unfounded," investigating judge Brian Hutton said on Wednesday.

Some people predicted this outcome as far back as last July. Advantage: Jarvis. Also, advantage Chavetz.

UPDATE. Goodbye, BBC chairman Gavyn Davies.

The ABC’s coverage of the Hutton inquiry hasn’t turned out to be very accurate, has it? This exchange last September between the AM program’s David Hardaker and ABC London correspondent Fran Kelly was typical:

FRAN KELLY: That's the Hutton Inquiry that's going on, resumes again next week, into the apparent suicide of Dr David Kelly and that's all to do with this BBC claim that the Government sexed up the dossier. There's been a lot of reporting coming out of that inquiry, a lot of embarrassing things being said there, embarrassing for the Government and people generally have judged it very negatively for Tony Blair ...

DAVID HARDAKER: There's more to come next week at the Hutton Inquiry. Does that hold any more problems do you think for Tony Blair?

FRAN KELLY: Absolutely, undoubtedly I would say.

UPDATE. The British Prime Minister politely requests:

The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:27 AM | Comments (69)

January 28, 2004


Word is that columnist Luke Slattery is leaving for Paris, taking with him partner and The Australian's weekend magazine editor Helen Anderson. Replacing Anderson is former Age and Who Weekly editor Bruce Guthrie.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 PM | Comments (13)


Maybe it really was all about oil:

Claims that dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, had taken bribes to support Saddam Hussein are to be investigated by the Iraqi authorities. The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents.

Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua denies any involvement. Instapundit links to a translation of a Le Monde piece naming other accused (“George Gallaway, former Labour deputy with the Communes, appears in good place in the list”). And the UK Telegraph reports:

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in [Saddam’s] pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.

Abdul Sahib Qotob, an under-secretary in Iraq's oil ministry, said the documents "reveal how Saddam jeopardised the oil wealth of Iraq on personalities who had supported him and turned a blind eye on the mass graves and injustice he inflicted on the sons of the Iraqi people".

A senior official at the oil ministry said last night: "This is oil money that should be used for reconstructing Iraq. We will use all means to get it back."

Read the Le Monde translation to discover who that prominent Indonesian leader is alleged to be. Also in the Le Monde report:

Among the quoted countries appear inter alia: South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahreïn, Bielorussia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Spain, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

Australia? Very interesting. Earlier, AP ran this:

About 270 former Cabinet officials, legislators, political activists and journalists from 46 countries are on the list, suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales that Saddam had allegedly offered them in exchange for cultivating political and popular support in their countries.

Bring on the list! We wanna read the list!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:57 PM | Comments (34)


With 60% of returns in, John Kerry is a winner:

Kerry 39%
Dean 25%
Clark 13%
Edwards 12%
Lieberman 9%

Special congratulations to Al Sharpton on his 187 votes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 PM | Comments (22)


They’ve fixed it now, but an earlier version of this report from the Guardian ran like so:

The Sun newspaper has tonight claimed to have a leak of the Hutton report. The paper says Tony Blair has been cleared of wrongdoing but that the BBC and the governors have been criticised for not investigating the voracity of the Andrew Gilligan report that sparked the row between the corporation and the government.

Gilligan’s voracity was never in doubt. Blair now seems to have survived both the Hutton inquiry and the university fees vote.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:21 AM | Comments (15)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Robyn Nevin, Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating, David Hookes, Rick Darling, John Howard, Stephen Kenny, Taliban Dundee, Mamdouh Habib, Bob Brown, Drew Hutton, Stefan Rahmstorf, Dr Ion Lascar, and Gareth Evans.

Also, please read Ian Chappell’s remembrance of David Hookes, and Gideon Haigh’s beautiful obituary.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 AM | Comments (1)


An ominous event looms:

Margo will be back on deck at the end of January.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:37 AM | Comments (14)

January 27, 2004


Who’ll take New Hampshire? Mark Steyn predicts:

1) Senator John Kerry 29 per cent
2) Governor Howard Dean 28 per cent
3) Senator John Edwards 19 per cent
4) Senator Joe Lieberman 12 per cent
5) General Wesley Clark 10 per cent
6) Everybody else 2 per cent

Andrew Sullivan anticipates a better result for Kerry, worse for Edwards:

It's Kerry 35, Dean 28, Edwards 17. Percent, that is. All three survive.

And Dave Barry, writing a few days earlier, may yet be proved correct:

Almost all the experts now predict that Kerry will win in New Hampshire, which probably means he won't.

UPDATE. Wesley Clark is strong in the hamlets. Must be that Moore endorsement kicking in.

UPDATE II. Dissenter crushed:

Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.

Turns out the shouter was a Lyndon Larouche supporter. Who to back in this dispute? As Australian formula one driver Alan Jones said in 1981, when asked whether he preferred Nelson Piquet or Carlos Reutemann to win that year’s world championship: “It’s like choosing between cancer and leukemia.”

UPDATE III. Dave Barry adds:

I predict that, once again, I will finish within two percentage points of Dennis Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:27 PM | Comments (27)


Play this exciting Mystery Phrase guessing game, brought to you by The Independent:

Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by (INSERT MYSTERY PHRASE HERE), new research suggests.

Is the correct answer:

a) Mad Cow disease?
b) Halliburton?
c) David Beckham?
d) Robert Fisk?
e) normal English weather?
f) the BBC?
g) a mythological climatic phenomenon, which apparently causes everything in some way or another?

Guess quickly, before your keyboard ices over!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:53 PM | Comments (41)


David Frum writes:

Twelve months ago, the support for President Bush among conservatives was rock-solid: I mean, Reagan 1984 solid. Today, that support is still more solid than not – but just enough softer that if I were a Bush political adviser, I’d be concerned.

And with good reason. As admirable as Bush has been in fighting the war on terror, his federal spending record would embarrass a Kennedy:

Since President Bush took office, the federal government’s domestic civilian work force has increased by more than 79,000 jobs, nearly a 5 percent increase. And the number of government workers paid at least $130,000 annually has tripled.

Much of the increase came with the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security two years ago. But the nation’s war on terrorism does not account for all of the rise. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, has added 1,445 employees since President Clinton left office.

“We are seeing a general growth in the size of government. That is just a fact,” said Bob Moffit, former deputy assistant health secretary during the Reagan administration and now a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “And the increases did not all go to Homeland Security. The rise in federal discretionary spending, frankly, has been breathtaking.”

Andrew Sullivan gets angry mail every time he points out these elemental truths. I don’t know why; Bush, for all of his qualities -- he’s still a mile in front of every Democrat candidate, who’d spend even more -- is clearly no friend of Reagan-style governmental minimalism. Bush lied! Small government died!

UPDATE. Reason’s Jonathan Rauch has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:36 PM | Comments (13)


Yet more evidence of progress in Iraq:

The nation's thousands of Saddams are queuing up to change their once illustrious moniker to something more in tune with the times.

More than 300 are in the process of changing their names, and each day several forlorn-looking Saddams visit Baghdad's directorate of citizenship, where deed polls are granted. Many more are too scared to own up in public and have quietly adopted a new identity.

"It's the most depressing thing in the world to be called Saddam Hussein," said Saddam Hussein Karim as he completed the final paperwork for his name change.

Yes. Well. You try being a journalist named Blair these days.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:14 PM | Comments (7)


New York Metro reports:

Dude, where’s my French bottled water? It appears that man of the people Michael Moore has gone completely J.Lo on event organizers with pre-event demands. Before he’d agree to present an award for the best 30-second anti-Bush ad at a Manhattan MoveOn.org benefit earlier this month, Moore’s handlers insisted that he have a supply of Evian backstage. “Even Poland Spring wasn’t good enough,” says our inside source. “They called up to make sure he would have Evian.” If he starts demanding orange-blossom-scented candles next, we’re going to call for an intervention. (You’re a leftist, Michael. A leftist. Not a consumer.) Presenters without designer-water specifications included Julia Stiles, Moby, Janeane Garofalo, and Margaret Cho.

"Moore’s handlers". Brrrrrr. Add that to the list of the world’s worst jobs.


If there’s one thing Moore wants to make clear, it’s that he is normal. A regular guy. The sort who might be picked for that “Average Joe” television show.

(Via reader Lisa F.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:09 AM | Comments (35)


Let’s see Wesley Clark live this down:

A veteran journalist told me that, of the Democratic candidates, Howard Dean is by far the best pancake flipper. The worst is Gen. Wesley Clark. "He doesn't flip at all!" the journalist told me, genuinely outraged. "He just slides the pancakes around!"

He’s a pancake faker! And, according to this 1999 Robert Novak column, Clark may have prompted European anti-Americanism:

Who is responsible for an air offensive that is building anti-American anger across Europe without breaking the Serbian regime's will? The blame rests heavily on Gen. Wesley Clark, the NATO supreme commander.

After 40 days, U.S.-dominated NATO air strikes no longer even pretend to aim solely at military targets. Pentagon sources admit that the attacks on the city center of Belgrade are intended to so demoralize ordinary citizens that they force President Slobodan Milosevic to yield. That has not yet happened, but diplomats believe the grave damage done to American prestige in Central and Eastern Europe will outlive this vicious little war.

UPDATE. Howard Dean alleges dirty Democrat tricks:

His spokesman, Jay Carson, said Dean supporters are getting phone calls criticizing Dean for, among other things, claiming to be a Christian when his wife and children are Jewish. Also, he said they are getting faxes and e-mails that are designed to look like they are from the Dean campaign, but distort his record.

For example, Carson said, an e-mail that proposes to be from campaign manager Joe Trippi asks for interns, but says because of tight sleeping headquarters, homosexuals are not accepted.

Carson said the Kerry campaign was making some of the negative calls in Iowa, but he was unsure who was behind them in New Hampshire.

Daren Berringer, director of Dean's Michigan campaign, said the Kerry campaign is distributing a flyer that "distorts and outright lies" about Dean's record on the environment, energy, gun control, the death penalty and higher education.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:06 AM | Comments (8)


Gerard Henderson invites us to “examine the programs of the various taxpayer subsidised festivals, most recently, last year's Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Melbourne Writers' Festival and the Ideas at the Powerhouse in Brisbane”:

These occasions appear to have taken the format once prevalent at the ABC: that is, put on a forum where all members of the panel agree with everyone else and a highly self-indulgent ideological time is had by all.

In Adelaide a session on truth in public life featured Margo Kingston, Humphrey McQueen, Robert Manne, David Marr and Moira Rayner - with Phillip Adams presiding.

In Melbourne a so-called panel discussion of Robert Manne's edited collection Whitewash on Aboriginal history comprised Manne with Patrick Dodson and Malcolm Fraser.

It was much the same in Brisbane where the inaugural lecture on What happened to a tolerant Australia was delivered by Adams and the final one on War and Empire by Tariq Ali.

Who the hell goes to these things? Interesting to learn of the taxpayer subsidies involved, however; perhaps a Sydney Festival of Intolerance should be organised.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:43 AM | Comments (19)


Short review of Ken Layne and the Corvids' debut CD, Fought Down: it’s like 1972 all over again, but this time with brains.

Longer, track-by-track review:

1. Ain’t They Pretty

Mournful and sweet; lamentastic. It’s impressive how well Layne sings these slower tunes.

2. Fought Down

If you’re not sunk completely into this after the first two lines, you will be after “Well, I’m so far gone I can’t stand up” opens the chorus. A driving song for those who don’t mind an occasional vehicular homicide conviction.

Matt Welch is the world’s greatest living tambourinist*.

3. I Should Be That Guy

Inspired by the Paris Hilton video. Well, probably not. But it would make an excellent soundtrack, if Paris’s tastes run to rock so pure it actually cleans your Discman as it plays.

4. The Sun Don’t Shine

Nashville meets Nuremburg! Did you know that Corvids’ guitarist Axel Steuerwald had never played anything even remotely country-ish before recording this track? So he lies, anyway. I bet he’s got Ernest Tubbs tab sheets hidden away in a Bavarian bunker somewhere.

Drummer Steve Coulter should never be allowed to have as much fun as he is having here. I was forced to buy whisky, as a coping device.

5. Mama, Take Another Stand

The most Stones-like track here, except more evolved and less -- I don’t know -- pouty. Much is made of the similarity between Layne’s voice and Jagger’s, but it should be remembered that Jagger arrived at that sound, and Ken can’t help it. He’s from New Orleans. There ain’t no cure.

6. Lincoln Town Car

Plenty haunting. Not for the daylight hours. Much like an actual Lincoln Town Car, in fact.

7. Here’s To You

A genial failure’s anthem, performed in the country idiom. How else can you frame lyrics like:

When I get the black-ass feeling in my soul
When I’m holding down the loser’s club
At the bottom of the hole
When I just want to quit and go away
I drink to you, here’s to you

Hmmm. Maybe not that genial.

8. Worried

My elderly neighbour dropped by as I was reviewing this, so let’s get her impressions:

It’s very loud. Could you please turn it down? This is the third night in a row! Some people need their sleep, young man. Don’t make me call the police again.

Only kidding! She didn’t really say those things. She’s been dead for weeks now. This is my favourite 'Vids track, an earlier version of which is reviewed here.

9. Glitter On

I should mention Jeff Solomon’s bass work, except I really don’t know anything about the bass, or any other music machinery. This band does, however. You can kind of tell.

10. Like A Train

No; more like this, all V8 noise and momentum and heat. But “Like A Mustang” didn’t fit.

For the love of God, don’t just take my word for how great this CD is. Take the word of Howard Owens, Charles Hill, Jim Treacher, Glenn Reynolds, Tony Pierce, Kate Sullivan, Stephen Green, Shannon Okey, Paul Palubicki , Henry Copeland, Penalty Kicker, Scott Chaffin, Greg McIlvaine, George Wallace, Steve Smith and Cindy Chaffin. These are people who know things.

You may listen to some Fought Down mp3’s here, and get some t-shirts here, but why not just bypass these distractions and buy the album immediately?

*among tambourinists actually playing on this CD

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:39 AM | Comments (3)


The latest victims of ethnic stereotyping: red-headed New Zealanders.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:03 AM | Comments (15)


George McGovern predicts:

I think a slight majority will vote to throw Bush out.

Slight majorities aren’t really McGovern’s area of expertise. He’s more your man for “total electoral annihilation” commentary. I’m still hoping for a Kucinich revival, especially now he’s got Homer Simpson campaigning for him:

It was hard to overlook Kucinich on this day, not only because he may have been the only person in the dining hall wearing a suit, but also because his lunchtime arrival was announced by a guy wearing a jester's cap and banging on a drum made from a 55-gallon white plastic barrel.

And in news sure to boost the President’s re-election campaign, they finally found that dictator’s hoard of chemical weapons.

(Many emails have arrived over the last few days demanding that I address this “no evidence of chemical stockpiles” issue. I already did, back in July. But I’ll have more to say in next week’s Bulletin column.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 AM | Comments (11)

January 26, 2004


Gary Sauer-Thompson (who emigrated here from New Zealand) denounces Australia Day:

I reckon it has to do with planting the British flag on the soil of the continent. An act that says 'this land belongs to us.' An act that signifies colonial conquest. An act that looks towards a bloody history of conflict to dispossess the indigenous people from their land.

Robert Corr (who emigrated here from Ireland) agrees:

Today marks the arrival of the second group of boat people to arrive in Australia. They stole land from the first, and now they lock up the newest boat people (who have no such heinous intent).

The various ethical issues raised by these remarks are too complex for me to deal with, so I contacted ethicist Dr. Festus Wolfenstein, head of the School of Ethics at the International Ethics University in Brussels. Here is his report:

Mr. Sauer-Thompson is plainly moved by the plight of Australia’s indigenous people, whom he sees as victims of conquest and dispossession. Australia is, he writes, ‘their land’. He also perceives that events subsequent to white settlement are part of a ‘history of conflict’. I imagine he refers here to the construction of cities and roads on Aboriginal land; which is, in his view, the whole of Australia.

Mr. Corr characterises Australia as ‘stolen’ from prior inhabitants, and sees present occupiers of Australia as the inheritors of this theft. He contrasts the thieving behaviour of the first white settlers (their crime shared, in Mr. Corr’s view, by subsequent generations) with the honest and decent motives of recent applicants for asylum.

But where, in this history of dispossession and theft, are we to place Mr. Corr and Mr. Sauer-Thompson? Both men evidently profit from the same theft that they condemn. One appreciates the moral torment both must endure as they daily tread on the rights of a disenfranchised, demoralised race. The only solution to their agony is to redress the wrongs committed by Australia’s invaders, beginning with themselves. If I may summarise:

If they don’t like it here, they should fuck off back to where they came from.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:54 PM | Comments (38)


You’d hope that at least one of the BBC staffers present at meetings to discuss this might have thought: “You know, we could be doing something really, really stupid here.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:59 PM | Comments (9)


Iowahawk locates an earlier draft of Maureen Dowd's notorious poodles 'n' lackeys column:

Once Michael Dukakis got in trouble when he failed to get angry when asked how he would react if his wife were raped and murdered.

I once posed the same question to Michael Douglas, and that's when he filed that restraining order.

Complaints about Dowd’s characterisation of US allies as fluffy little dogs were earlier brushed aside by Arthur Bovino, a lackey for NYT Public Editor Daniel Okrent. Now Okrent himself responds:

The opinion columns are governed by different rules than the news pages. In fact, the guidelines are very, very broad -- the Times doesn't allow obscenity, nor does it countenance libelous material. But opinion writers are, in fact, allowed to express their opinions. Nonetheless, I do feel that the issue is a substantive one, and will look further into it as I get more comfortable in this difficult job.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor

In other ombudsman news, the OmbudsGod covers a moral crisis at The Guardian:

The Guardian is torn. They recently carried an advertisement for a “2 for 1 offer on flights to US,” which encouraged people to pollute the earth by riding in airplanes. Should they forego revenue and refuse to carry such ads in the future? According to ombudsman Ian Mayes, “No one I have spoken to in the Guardian believes the curtailment of such offers, let alone airline advertising, is a serious option.”

This from a newspaper that wants the Kyoto Protocol ratified immediately.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:54 PM | Comments (10)


Mark Latham thinks he’s Judge Judy:

A federal Labor government could ask courts to order parents to undergo parenting classes if they failed to adequately discipline their children, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.

In his Australia Day address to a citizenship ceremony in his electoral base of Campbelltown, Mr Latham said a federal Labor government would support the introduction of "parental responsibility" contracts and orders.

I wonder what the penalty will be for raising a child who beats up taxi drivers and calls women whores.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:48 PM | Comments (12)


Nedra Pickler reports:

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean said Sunday that the standard of living for Iraqis is a "whole lot worse" since Saddam Hussein's removal from power in last year's American-led invasion.

"You can say that it's great that Saddam is gone and I'm sure that a lot of Iraqis feel it is great that Saddam is gone," said the former Vermont governor, an unflinching critic of the war against Iraq. "But a lot of them gave their lives. And their living standard is a whole lot worse now than it was before."

A lot more of them seem to be actually living, however. It’s difficult to measure the living standard of people in mass graves.

"Now I would never defend Saddam Hussein," Dean told the "Women for Dean" rally. "He's a horrible person. I'm delighted he's gone. Would there not have been a better way to get rid of him in cooperation with the United Nations?"

What part of the word no doesn’t Dean understand?

UPDATE. Living standards weren’t so hot in post-war Germany, either. If only there had been a better way ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:24 PM | Comments (14)


We already know, thanks to John Cameron, just how out of touch is the ABC. The SMH’s Phillip Derriman is almost as totally clueless:

Until a few weeks ago, nobody realised quite how popular Waugh was. Then came his retirement from the Australian team, and the public's response revealed the depth of affection and admiration for the man.

The question that cricket people have since been asking is why. How did this rather introverted, tradesman-like cricketer manage to strike such a chord with the mass of the game's followers?

Nobody realised how popular Steve Waugh was until a few weeks ago? Please. Has Derriman been filing from Antwerp? Next in his series of searing exposés: Australians Like To Swim!, and Is Home Ownership An Issue Amongst The Wider Community?

The Age’s Geoff Slattery also requires a clue, or several:

The way we have become as a nation, we would never hit five fours in a row, as Hookes did in that remarkable cameo in the Centenary Test. We are becoming defensive, inward-looking. As a country, we are more inclined to protect our wicket, to go for the draw, rather than seek the victory. We're not after the glorious outcome, we're content to rejoice in mediocrity. We don't think big any more.

That’s why we avoided any involvement in the liberation of Iraq. Not for us the seeking of victory when, like the French, Germans, New Zealanders and Russians, we could have settled for a tame UN-approved draw. Slattery’s theory makes no sense; Australia increasingly pursues free trade, a policy which tends to erase the mediocre. In fact, mediocrity seems only to be celebrated these days by The Age and the SMH.

(Further destroying Slattery’s stupid metaphor, we’re now far more adventurous at cricket, too. Has Slattery never heard of Adam Gilchrist, who, on debut in 1999 -- during our current era of terrible conservative torpor -- hit five fours off Mushtaq Ahmed in one over?)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:01 AM | Comments (16)


ALP leader Mark Latham hasn’t bought into the ongoing Australian education debate. But he wouldn’t shut up about the topic in 2001, as Paul Sheehan reveals:

Latham put his ideas into What Did You Learn Today?, a book ignored in the past week's Festival of Fixed Ideas. Reading this book, it is easy to see why he largely stayed out of the fray. He has plenty to say about what is wrong with public education:

"Parents are looking for clearer choices, responsiveness and accountability in the school system. This is why government schools, with their homogeneity and inflexibility, are losing public support."

Latham also lashed out at Catholic schools and market-based education policies. Education is one of his pet subjects. If he isn’t going to speak up now, is it a further signal he’s planning a Beazley-like small-target strategy?

If so: wimp.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:53 AM | Comments (5)


It’s always fun when millionaires lecture us about materialism. Take it away, Peter Garrett:

Australians are privileged to live peaceably in a timeless land of great beauty and promise. We are a nation with no immediate enemies.

No immediate enemies? Has Peter forgotten about those lunatics who want to kill us for helping East Timor?

The old ideal of a fair go, expressed through the arbitration system, for instance, when married with technological innovation and ever-growing trade, has seen a virtually classless society emerge where the means of a reasonable existence is available to most people, including the less well off.

Wa-hey! This marks something of a turning point for Garrett; he’s sounding almost like one of those horrible neo-cons. But soon the latent idiot Garrett re-emerges:

If we put to the back of our mind for a moment the tarred history of relations with the original Australians. If we ignore the jarring chasm between the wealthy, who own a lot of the country's assets, and the rest of us ...

Us? Us? Garrett, former lead singer of Midnight Oil, is extremely wealthy. He means "the rest of you". Within a few more sentences he cites Hugh Mackay as a rational source, so let’s abandon this examination of Peter’s Deep Thoughts right now.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:46 AM | Comments (16)


The Middle East’s first Formula One Grand Prix will be held in Bahrain this April, and I’m tempted to make the trip, not just for Legitimate Journalistic Purposes but also on the chance that I might meet Mahmood Al-Yousif, king of Bahrain bloggers. Here’s his take on a member of Bahrain’s parliament who wants to ban his fellow citizens from entering the nation’s hotels:

Please join me in welcoming MP Abdulla Al-A'ali into the "Wheel is turning but the hamster is fucking dead society (tm)" for this gem of an idea again to "protect us from EVIL":

It’s difficult to disagree with Mahmood’s conclusion:

I think the guy's turban is most definitely wound too tight. Loosen it up Abdulla before it completely cuts off the blood to your brain. NO WAIT please wind it tighter! Pretty pretty please?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:34 AM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2004


Former London Times correspondent Robin Shepherd on the Robert Kilroy-Silk affair:

The swiftness of Kilroy's demise points to something more than a simple scrap over political correctness. It's a symptom of a new European reality: surging growth among Muslim populations and establishment nervousness over how to deal with them -- a nervousness that threatens to stifle much-needed debate over events in the Middle East and Muslim integration at home ...

Small but significant sections of that growing Muslim community are either outright hostile to or at least ambivalent toward Western values. Skeptical? Consider the following: A survey conducted by the ICM polling agency and published in December 2002 showed that more than 10 percent of Britain's 1.5 million Muslims believed that further attacks by al Qaeda on the United States would be legitimate, and 8 percent supported such attacks against Britain. More than half of those polled refused to accept al Qaeda's guilt in the 9/11 attacks and more than two-thirds believed the war on terror to be a war on Islam.

You’d probably get similar results from a survey of BBC staff.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:24 PM | Comments (25)


How will Howard Dean rebuild his campaign? "I can't give specifics yet," he told David Letterman, "but it involves Ted Danson."

Psych! Alerted to Dean’s plans, Wesley Clark quickly moved to secure that crucial Danson endorsement. The man most likely to be the next US president currently needs all the support he can get. In other important Democrat endorsement news, this is so sad it makes me want to cry:

Of the four main Democratic candidates, the one that has perhaps received the least celebrity support is North Carolina Senator John Edwards. His only noticeable star-support has come from the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish.

Poor John Edwards. And Dean should aim higher than old TV people for his endorsements; maybe he can get one from the President:

The time was 1998, when Republicans were on the verge of impeaching President Bill Clinton. Howard Dean, then governor of Vermont, was unhappy with Mr. Clinton and disgusted with the Republican leadership in Washington. But he did find a Republican to admire.

"George W. Bush did very well," Dr. Dean said of the Texas governor, who had just been elected to a second term. "Why? Because he is talking about his issues in a civil, thoughtful way in getting his point across."

When Dr. Dean was praising Mr. Bush in 1998, he added that the Texas governor and others he did not name were successful because "they govern from the center, they are respectful of their opponents."

Whatever happened to this sweet Dean of Reason? Meanwhile, Quebec’s Bruce Gottfred writes: "I know who I'm going to be reading in the future to get the real story of the race for the presidency." He’s talking about Dave Barry, who’s running hot in frozen New Hampshire:

Dean is trying desperately to soften his image by wearing suits, smiling, no longer ending speeches by breaking boards with his forehead, etc. But these measures may be too late, as almost all the experts now predict that Kerry will win in New Hampshire, which probably means he won't.

The candidates had their last debate here Thursday night at St. Anselm College. Outside, it was roughly 870 degrees below zero, but hundreds of campaign activists showed up to wave signs and shout at each other. This always strikes me as strange: I mean, what's the point of holding a Dean sign and shouting ''DEAN! DEAN! DEAN!'' for three straight hours in the bitter cold when the only person who can see or hear you is holding a Kerry sign and shouting ''KERRY! KERRY! KERRY!''? Does anybody's mind get changed? After a while, do these people become convinced by each other and swap signs?

What with the likes of Dean, Martian Rover Kucinich, General Confusion, Rev. Al ”Federal Reserve” Sharpton, and a rib-obsessed incumbent, this election year requires a whipsong humour writer like Barry to properly explain things. So-called serious pundits are out of their depth. For example, Maureen Dowd:

Howard Dean's bark was missing its bite. And his socks were missing their warp. Not to mention their woof.

As Jeff Jarvis asks:

Can any sane person tell me what the f this means?

UPDATE. Dave on Democrat hair:

From the front, the Rev. Sharpton looks as though he doesn't have much hair, but in fact he has enough for several people: He combs it all straight back to an area behind his head, where it forms this highly disciplined hair structure the size of a small dog. It's very impressive, although they never show it on TV. (No wonder the voters are apathetic!)

For the record, the other candidates with strong hair are John Kerry and John Edwards. They both have what I would describe as Ken hair, as in Barbie and Ken, although Kerry is more Lumberjack Ken, while Edwards is more Star Trek Ken.

The other contenders all have average hair, except Dennis Kucinich, who appears to be using some kind of tofu-based mousse.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:18 PM | Comments (16)


Anybody who doubts the creepy politics of Australia's teachers'
unions should be reminded of this, from Martin Roth:

In February, The Australian newspaper printed a half-page anti-war advertisement from three teachers’ unions. In large type it read:  

War on Iraq will kill tens of thousands of innocent children and their families. Many more Iraqis will suffer disease, hunger and homelessness.

Really did their homework, didn’t they? No retraction was ever published.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:14 PM | Comments (12)


Farmer John "Bart" Stratford, 78, isn’t worried by the mere matter of a crushed pelvis:

A farmer has survived 51 hours lying hurt in a cow paddock after being run over by his tractor near Mt Gambier, South Australia.

Hospital staff were unable to say how long Mr Stratford will remain in hospital, but the spritely survivor already is looking forward to returning to the farm.

"If little things like this worried you, you'd never get anything done," he said.

I was once at my uncle’s farm while he repaired a windmill. He was working high above me when I, on the ground, felt what I first thought was rain. It was blood, and lots of it; some piece of machinery had cut deep into the meat of his palm. And he just kept working. When he was done, he climbed down and got me (14 years old) to drive him into town for repairs. Farmers are tough.

UPDATE. Don’t miss the story of Jebediah Hudsucker, toughest farmer of them all!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:12 PM | Comments (14)


The Jerusalem Post marks Australia Day weekend with this fine column by Gerald M. Steinberg, of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University:

In an era of anti-American and anti-Israel political correctness Australia has become the leader of a counterrevolution based on morality and common sense.

Instead of double-talk and double standards from much of the self-declared "international community," Australian leaders consistently say what they mean, and mean what they say.

When the head of Sydney University's Peace Foundation emptied the concept of peace of any content by honoring Hanan Ashrawi, the PLO's star propagandist and leader in the demonization of Israel, officials noted the absurdity of the decision and stayed far away.

The policies adopted and implemented by Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer – who is in Israel for an official visit – are characterized by a combination of backbone, courage and principle, which have paid off well for the Australian people.

Canberra is now widely recognized as a leader in the response to terrorism and the restoration of international stability.

In sharp contrast to European politicians and diplomats whose policies on terrorism and the Middle East have been total failures, the Australians are increasingly welcomed as realistic and effective.

Like the Bush administration and, on occasion, Tony Blair's Britain, the Howard/Downer foreign policy recognizes the inherent immorality and transmission of weakness in evenhanded responses to terrorism and hatred.

Australia has consistently avoided being caught in the demonization of Israel, joining a handful of countries in opposing the General Assembly resolution which asked the International Court of Justice to investigate Israel's separation barriers.

In contrast, Canada and most of Europe took a carefully evenhanded and entirely unprincipled position by abstaining.

There's more. Via reader Joel G.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:34 AM | Comments (10)

January 24, 2004


Joshua Micah Marshall reviews the Democrat debate:

Everybody basically did fine and no one made any bad mistakes.

Wesley Clark might disagree.

UPDATE. Reverse the cap and he’s Michael Moore.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:38 PM | Comments (9)


In response to complaints about Maureen Dowd's poodles 'n' lackeys column, the NYT's Arthur Bovino is sending this form email:

Thank you for your message.

Unless there's evidence of ethical misbehavior of factual error, individual columnists can say what they want to say and individual readers can like the ones they like and dislike the ones they don't like.

Please email us with your concerns on any specific articles with which you take issue.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Which would be fair enough, except we know that individual columnists at the NYT can't "say what they want to say". This is Spectator editor Boris Johnson's account of events following his submission of a column (requested by the NYT) last year:

'Boris,' said [NY Times op-ed editor] Tobin, 'we love it! Everybody loves it. But we have, uh, a few issues of political correctness that I have to go through with you' ... he said that he had made a change to a sentence about donations of U.S. overseas aid to key members of the UN Security Council. I had said something to the effect that you don't make international law by giving new squash courts to the President of Guinea. This now read 'the President of Chile.' Come again? I said. Qué?

'Uh, Boris,' said Tobin, 'it's just easier in principle if we don't say anything deprecatory about a black African country, and since Guinea and Chile are both members of the UN Security Council, and since it doesn't affect your point, we would like to say Chile' ...

That was nothing, however, to the trouble I had with a sentence about the aftermath of the war.

I was trying to explain that so many people, in the commentariat and in the saloon bars, had invested so much emotional and intellectual capital in the anti-war cause that in a perverse way they would be hoping for disaster. To illustrate the point, I noted that the last Gulf war had been so amazingly free of casualties that Gulf war syndrome (a stochastically unexceptional ragbag of symptoms) had been invented to fill the void, and to satisfy the yearning of the anti-war brigade for catastrophe.

'We just cannot say this,' said Tobin.

So ... columnists at the NYT can say what they want to say about Australia and England and other US allies, but can’t say what they want to say they about black African countries and Gulf War syndrome. Perhaps Mr. Bovino would care to explain.

UPDATE. Judith Weiss has other examples of the NYT not allowing opinion writers to say what they want to say.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:27 PM | Comments (24)


The Australian’s Stephen Romei has issues with Mark Steyn:

New Hampshire-based columnist-at-large Mark Steyn has dubbed John F. Kerry - who likes people to know he has the same initials as the last Massachusetts Democrat to win the White House - John F--- Kerry. It's a reference to Kerry's observation that he didn't think George W. Bush would "f--- things up so badly" in Iraq.

That's quite an amusing line from Steyn; one that helps explain why neo-cons love him so. He possesses something they'd dearly like to have but know in their dreary hearts they never will: a sense of humour. Too bad his political analysis is a joke.

Right wingers don’t have a sense of humour, eh? There’s an original idea. Actually, Romei does have a few original notions, among them that the crew currently stinking up New Hampshire is an “impressive Democratic pack” and that “the Democratic campaign, led by the uncompromising doctor from Vermont, may have started out as a Bush-hating contest, but it's now a Bush-beating one. The hot competition between Dean, Kerry, Clark and John Edwards is forging a nominee who will shake the Shrub come November 2.”

Ha! He called Bush “Shrub”! Those lefties and their crazy gags. By the way, Romei’s preferred political commentator is Hillary Clinton:

The insider's story of a White House fixed in its ways after the Reagan-Bush years is told with wit and grace ... Some see Living History as the opening shot in the Hillary 2008 campaign. For what it’s worth, I think they’re right and I hope she wins.

Funny guy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:47 PM | Comments (33)


It doesn’t take much to incite the John Howard haters. Here, again, are the PM’s extremely mild, utterly defensible comments on government schools:

People are looking increasingly to send their kids to independent schools for a combination of reasons. For some of them, it's to do with the values-driven thing; they feel that government schools have become too politically correct and too values-neutral.

The initial reaction to this, notably from Christopher Sheil and Tim Dunlop, was not against the content of Howard’s remarks, but that they were made at all. Wedge politics! Dog whistling! Please stop talking about this terrible, divisive subject! Not that Sheil is himself opposed to division:

The enemy must exclusively remain the rich and privileged schools, into which His Darkness is busy funnelling workers' taxes ... [Howard] is a disgrace who should be sent home to hell at the first opportunity.

The enemy? I bet Sheil went to a private school (update: he did). Howard’s opponents continue to harp on this “wedge” idea; here’s the Daily Telegraph’s Mark Day:

His attack on public schools has driven a wedge into the very things schools are supposed to teach – tolerance and togetherness in a world of diversity.

And, if they’ve got 15 minutes or so to spare at the end of the day, maybe some maths and spelling. The Age’s Suzy Freeman-Greene was inspired to rail against other “wedge” terms:

What is the label "illegals" if not an attempt to reshape perceptions of asylum seekers who have broken no Australian law? And what is talk of "elites", if not a ploy to disparage educated people who may have an alternative point of view?

What is the label "asylum seekers" if not an attempt to reshape perceptions of illegal immigrants who have no legitimate claim to asylum? And what is talk of "educated people", if not a ploy to establish their point of view as superior? Richard Butler -- you remember him; he’s the clown who said that the attack last August on the UN’s Baghdad headquarters “killed the wrong people. They killed the good people” -- says that Howard’s criticism threatens “the very concept of Australian decency."

And Mike Carlton in the SMH outdoes them all, writing today that Howard’s remarks contained “not a shred of evidence to demonstrate such wickedness” and condemning other conservative criticism as a “broad brush smear”. Carlton then delivers his own broad brush smear, supported by not a shred of evidence:

My daughter went to a North Shore ladies' college. Too late, we found that the "values" there were narrow, elitist and smug, with a whiff of racism from not a few of the parents. You could almost hear the WASP-ish hiss of disdain in the school assembly hall as the Chinese girls trooped up to scoop the prizes on speech day.

An inaudible sound is Carlton’s evidence of racism. The fact that Chinese girls won all the awards is, I would have thought, more substantial evidence to the contrary. Kevin Donnelly in The Australian addresses an issue largely avoided by Howard’s critics: the influence of teachers’ unions on education. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:55 PM | Comments (18)


It's a quagmire, with no exit strategy in sight! The bloody Google wars continue:

The first victim was President George Bush, who found last year that his official White House website biography came top of Google's results whenever someone typed in the phrase "miserable failure". Now a battle between Mr Bush's opponents and supporters has catapulted the White House profile of Jimmy Carter, and the home page of writer and filmmaker Michael Moore, to second and third spot in the "miserable failure" stakes.

No longer. Click here for today’s “miserable failure”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:37 PM | Comments (12)

January 23, 2004


Pause now and consider your exact circumstances so that you'll one day be able to tell your grandchildren exactly where you were when you heard this.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:57 PM | Comments (36)


Processing all the polling data he can gather, the Blogging Caesar comes up with a nifty map showing the current state of play in the US. Constantly updated, so check back often.

(Via Florida Cracker)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:01 PM | Comments (20)


Mark Latham two days ago:

Opposition leader Mark Latham said today he was not really politically correct.

Mark Latham today:

Mark Latham will next week announce a ban on accepting political donations from tobacco companies.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:45 AM | Comments (20)


Mark Steyn on Squeaky Dean:

Then he made a monster-type noise — ‘EEEAAARRGHRRR!!!!!!!’ — such as the Hulk makes when he picks up a tank, rips off its turret, and tosses what’s left over a distant mountain range. But the berserker howl was pitched somewhere in Charlotte Church’s upper register and it was hard not to notice that he hadn’t exploded into a big green monster. If anything, he seemed to be shrinking.

Read the whole, hilarious piece. Dean is now attempting damage control:

"The context was 3,500 kids waving American flags who'd worked their hearts out for us for three weeks, and I really felt I owed them an uplifting speech, so, I don't know what it looked like on television," he said in the interviews. "But I understand the audience wasn't shown, which is really too bad because it was really a terrific rallying cry."

Yes. For the Republicans. Speaking of whom, George W. Bush turned up yesterday in Roswell, New Mexico, to order ribs at the Nuthin’ Fancy restaurant and mock reporters:

You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:16 AM | Comments (28)


Maureen Dowd in the New York Times:

Can you believe President Bush is still pushing the cockamamie claim that we went to war in Iraq with a real coalition rather than a gaggle of poodles and lackeys?

Reader Matt F. writes: “I didn't know that poodles were eligible for service in the Australian SAS. Please clarify.” That line confused me, too, Matt. As far as I was aware, the only role for poodles in our SAS was as occasional target practice (they're cheap and speedy). Let’s see if US Army Officer Jason Van Steenwyk, currently in Iraq, can help:

I wonder how many of these soldiers she's had the privilege of looking in the eye? I've met and worked with soldiers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand (Hey, Maureen, how come you don't bother mentioning these in your list? Can it be you're stacking the deck?), Poland, the Ukraine, Romania, Azerbaijan, and Denmark.

I've also met Fijians. Those guys ride around in swivel chairs with machine gun mounts on the backs of pickup trucks guarding Iraqi Currency Exchange convoys. Their role is absolutely vital, their job dangerous as hell, and they are as tough as two-dollar steaks.

Further, Maureen, believe me -- the ANZACS are not poodles, nor lackeys. Nor do they represent a government who is.

The rest of Dowd’s column is such a mess I doubt whether the SMH or The Age, which sometimes run her pieces, will pick it up. Pity. Australian readers might then ask of Maureen and her craven NYT friends: “Why do they hate us?”

(In fact, that’s a question you can ask Daniel Okrent, recently appointed as the NYT’s reader advocate. Email him here.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:42 AM | Comments (156)


The Prime Minister recently said that some people were shifting their children away from government schools because such places were too politically correct and too values-neutral.

Which is true. I know parents who’ve taken their kids out of government schools for precisely these reasons. But according to The Age’s Farrah Tomazin and Orietta Guerrera, government schools are stacked to the windowsills with wonderful, wonderful values:

A study commissioned by the Federal Government last year found that state schools were doing a good job teaching "values" - contradicting Prime Minister John Howard's claims that they are "too values-neutral".

The study found that schools in all sectors, including state and private, had good systems to promote and foster values such as tolerance and understanding, social justice and respect.

”Tolerance and understanding, social justice and respect” sound like exactly the sort of vague, valueless PC values the Prime Minister is complaining about. This report doesn’t contradict him; it supports him. But why listen to me? I don’t know nothin’. Listen to Greens candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane Drew Hutton, a former “teacher educator” at the Queensland University of Technology:

Now retired from many years’ teaching from QUT, I am proud to say I used my position as a teacher educator to influence the content of social science curricula and to champion peace and environmental education in schools as well as more democratic school environments and teaching practices.

To hell with you, Drew. Anyway, according to this AP piece, the Prime Minister’s comments are “a rare political stumble”; Professor Bunyip eloquently disagrees.

Tim Dunlop and Christopher Sheil would disagree with the Professor, but I haven’t noticed yet if either have declared themselves to be the products of government schools, or if they send their children to these enforced tolerance gulags. Updates will no doubt follow in comments.

UPDATE. Wendy James has assembled an essay from comments posted on this issue by teacher S. Whiplash. Very worth reading ... although Chris Sheil warns that Whiplash “has an established record of blogging trenchantly in favour of Howard” and is therefore “best disregarded”.

Whatever you say, Senator McCathy! Chris apparently believes we can only rely on Whippy’s testimony if it “cut(s) across his political preferences”. Does Sheil apply the same caveat to his own writing?

UPDATE II. As suspected, public school defender Tim Dunlop is a private school boy ... but at one stage he wanted to go to a public school and "had a big argument with my parents about it". No word yet from Sheil.

UPDATE III. Of course, Sheil is another private school kid.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:25 AM | Comments (58)


You drive an SUV? Well, you’re financing terrorism, according to these folks. Here’s a script from one of their ads:

This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive that sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil, that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV.

Bad George. But times have changed; the new terror-funding consumable is no longer oil:

The al Qaeda terror group has embraced heroin trafficking to such an extent that its leader, Osama bin Laden, is now a "narco-terrorist," says a U.S. congressman just back from a fact-finding mission in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"It seems clear to me heroin is the No. 1 financial asset of Osama bin Laden," Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, told The Washington Times. "There is a need to update our view of how terrorism is financed."

There’s also a need to update those anti-SUV ads:

This is Ben the filthy junkie. This is the heroin that Ben bought with money earned selling stolen household goods. This is the dealer that sold the heroin that Ben bought with money earned selling stolen household goods. These are the criminal gangs from whom the dealer bought the heroin, that was cut with battery acid to make the junk that Ben bought with money earned selling stolen household goods. And these are the terrorists who get money from those criminal gangs every time Ben fills up his collapsed, scab-coated veins.

Fight terrorism. Kill Ben!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:39 AM | Comments (13)


SBS economics correspondent Peter Martin (previously mentioned here) reveals his stunning economic theory:

The bulk of exports from the US are only worth something if the rest of the world agrees to pay something.

Hey, it might sound crazy, but give it some thought. Peter might really be on to something. He continues:

The rest of the world could pay less, or less than the US wants. Against Australia's financial interest we agreed to extend the patent life on drugs a few years back. The US would like us, and the rest of the world, to extend the term on copyright.

We could refuse. And the more the US throws its weight around worldwide the more likely it is that that someone will.

Except that they won’t. From London’s Financial Times:

Consumers around the world put aside any ill-feeling aboutUS foreign policy when they choose their fast food, soft drinks and sports shoes, a Harvard Business School study has found.

The survey of 1,800 consumers in 12 countries including Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia found that, despite expectations of a consumer backlash against US brands, most people still choose brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:12 AM | Comments (16)


The Australian’s Martin Chulov reports:

Hambali, Southeast Asia's most dangerous terrorist, wanted to attack Australia but had failed to establish a local network capable of staging bombings, US interrogators have learned.

The CIA, acting as interrogator for the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, asked Hambali in late November more than 200 questions about terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah's intentions in Australia.

The answers reveal Hambali had almost no success in establishing a local Anglo-Saxon network ...

Poor Hamball! His attempt at assembling a multilateral idiot coalition was brought down by whitey’s lack of co-operation. This will probably earn us another negative citation from the UN.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:57 AM | Comments (9)


Tex, who knows his motorbikes, wrote a year ago (can't find the link) about the disgusting styling of the 2003 Ducatis. They looked as though each square millimetre had been designed by a separate committee of people whose only point of commonality was an allergy to compound curves.

But if Ducati put these delicious prototypes into production -- check the 70s Ducati script! -- well, I believe Tex would join Greenpeace if that could somehow clear his way to owning one of them. They’re beautiful. Jeebus, I’d join the Taliban for a shot at one of these.

In other speedy news, Wallace of Big Gold Dog writes:

Thought you might like to see this. We are building a new wing at our Petroleum Museum to house all the Chaparral road racing and Indy Cars. Grand opening April 15th. Come on over ... a big time.

There exists on this earth a place called the Petroleum Museum. Life is great.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 AM | Comments (9)

January 22, 2004


Remember this line from Howard Dean?

I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

Hmmm. Dean’s method of attracting the pickup truck/Confederate flag demographic is a little unusual:

Late yesterday afternoon, while speaking to a rally crowd in Concord, Dean happened to notice a man mockingly -- but quietly -- holding a Confederate flag. Whereupon the governor stopped himself mid-sentence, announced his view that the flagholder ought by rights to be removed from the scene, and then stood there glowering, while the TV cameras whirred, as security guards literally dragged the poor guy away.

UPDATE. Desperate to revive his stalled campaign, the former frontrunner invokes the magical turkey of falseness:

Later, Dean is speaking about Bush’s Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops and recalls a photograph of Bush holding a roasted turkey that didn’t end up getting served to soldiers.

“This is not the only fake turkey in this administration,’’ Dean chortled, wagging the fingers of his left hand over his head.

He’s still got that sleeve-rolling act going on, too. It might work if Dean was from a labouring or farming background, but Dean is a doctor.

And when doctors roll up their sleeves, usually the next thing they do is put on rubber gloves ...

UPDATE II. A couple of hours ago NPR (relayed to Australia via ABC News Radio) broadcast the James Lileks Screamin’ Deanie remix. You know what? You know something? (as Dean would say); Howard really is the first Presidential candidate to run his campaign via the internet. Oops, typo -- I meant ruin. Or maybe Dean lost in Iowa because he was imprisoned in an energy-beam cage that dampened his Zenn-Do attack capabilities, leaving him unable to battle the other Democrat Superheroes.

No; that’s crazy talk. Luckily genius Dean campaign manager Trippy Joe is here to tell us the real story:

On Monday night Howard Dean walked in to the ballroom in Des Moines and there were 3500 people there. And the energy was higher than most victory parties I’ve been to.

Joe worked on the Presidential campaigns of Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, and Dick Gephardt. Has he ever been to a victory party?

The Governor looked out at the room and saw 3500 people who had come from all across the country because they believed in changing their country and he wanted them to know how proud he was of them and their efforts. And he wanted them to know that we’re going on no matter what.

We know. To California and Texas and New York, and to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan ...

He wasn’t thinking about the cameras. It was the people right in front of him who had done so much because they believe in a better America that he was speaking to.

He wasn’t thinking about the cameras? As David Letterman said: “Why can’t this man be President?”

That the press would report on his speech for one day is understandable. But what’s remarkable is that they could run it over and over for 48 hours and still call it journalism.

Hey, it’s not just the press. It’s that pesky internet. According to this USA Today piece, you’re an internet cybermaster:

The Internet has been a fixture of sorts in two previous presidential campaigns. But admirers say it took Trippi to capitalize on its explosive potential to spread word of mouth at the speed of bytes.

It can spread screech of lunatic at the same speed.

UPDATE III. We’re going to New Hampshire:

Democrat John Kerry, riding a wave of momentum from his Iowa caucus victory, grabbed a three-point lead over Howard Dean in New Hampshire five days before the state's presidential primary, according to a Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

(Trippi link via contributor J. F. Beck, presently capitalizing on his explosive potential)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:42 PM | Comments (27)


I’ll be talking conspiracies on 2GB at 7.30 tonight and on Perth’s ABC at 10.30 tomorrow morning. So tune in, otherwise Prince Phillip will kill you.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:00 PM | Comments (3)


Good news, so far as anything associated with this case can be good:

Zdravco Micevic has been charged with manslaughter over the death of former Australian Test cricketer and Victorian coach David Hookes.

Micevic is still out on bail. The amount? Just $2000.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:11 PM | Comments (16)


Robert Corr is having basic comprehension problems again. Could someone who is patient and works well with children please help him out? Thank you.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:21 PM | Comments (48)


Women ... you can't live with 'em, and you can't live with 'em. Ain't that the truth, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh?

Saudi Arabia's most senior Islamic cleric has condemned women who mingled unveiled among men at a business conference this week, saying their actions could cause "evil and catastrophe".

Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of the desert kingdom, made his comments after the country's top businesswoman called for reform and pictures of her supporters - without headscarves - appeared on newspaper front pages.

"Allowing women to mix with men is the root of every evil and catastrophe," he said. "It is highly punishable. Mixing of men and women is a reason for greater decadence and adultery.

"This is prohibited for all. I severely condemn this matter and warn of grave consequences."

In accordance with Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh’s wishes, Shani is presented here not mixing with men. Interestingly, this BBC report takes a considerably softer line on the Grand Super Ultra Mega Mufti; his threat is reduced to a mere "stern rebuke".

UPDATE. Er, it’s about the name ...

Prince Naif said women are more honored in Arab and Islamic societies than in the West. “In our society, we take care of them and provide them with all services,” he said. “At the Manpower Council, we deal with problems related to women with equality and justice,” he added.

You’d expect nothing less from the Manpower Council. Certain minor inequalities remain, however:

He said the ban on women driving was a social decision. “The evidence is that at the time of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, some women tried to drive and this created a big social uproar. Many people opposed their action and there would have been a catastrophe if the government had not intervened.”

Imagine. They tried to drive.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:17 PM | Comments (26)


Congratulations to Kofi Annan, winner of the German Media Award for 2003. Kofi won the award for helpfully saying exactly the same thing about every single issue, thereby allowing journalists to re-use previous Annan press releases with only a minimum of changes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:31 PM | Comments (8)


Damn that evil John Howard and his bigoted pro-railway views:

The arts had fallen off the national agenda, Robyn Nevin said last night. The Prime Minister, John Howard, would attend the opening of a major new railway, but not the opening of a major new theatre.

Tragic, isn’t it? Try to hold back the tears.

Ms Nevin said: "We thrived under Gough Whitlam. We might have under Paul Keating and his untried creative nation. We benefited from Harold Holt's Australia Council, John Gorton's film school and Malcolm Fraser's film industry funding. Don Dunstan, Neville Wran and Bob Carr have been bold in their vision for the arts in their states."

Artists may have thrived. Art didn’t. Nor did the taxpayers whom Nevin demands must finance her friends and their hobbies.

"Artists have a role to play in the unfolding of our national narrative ... "

So let ‘em play it. Just keep your artistic hands out of our pockets, you thieving pack of mimes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 PM | Comments (23)


The Age received several emails praising yesterday’s column by Caroline Overington. But the letters editor chose to run only this negative comment from Carlton’s Matthew O’Keefe:

Caroline Overington states that any student of history knows America saved the Western world from communism, and also saved Australia and France. Astonishingly, she suggests that America's motivation was a desire to stand up for freedom. Any student of history also knows this is absurd. America has always been motivated by its own, usually financial, interests. It didn't join World Wars I and II until directly attacked. It would not have saved Australia if it wasn't in its interests to do so.

If America was motivated by freedom, it would have invaded many countries with oppressive regimes before Iraq. In fact, it created many of these oppressive regimes during their fight against communism by installing or supporting despots in Iraq, Iran, Cambodia, Indonesia, Congo and much of Central and South America. America's puppets are collectively responsible for the murder of millions. These innocents have paid for our freedom.

What a strange, sad place must be The Age. It prefers to trash the US even at the expense of its own writers. Remarkably, The Age’s letters gatekeeper decided not to run the following, which was sent by the opinion page editor of rival broadsheet The Australian:

Congratulations to your New York correspondent Caroline Overington for an excellent piece on how Americans regard George W. Bush. She takes Americans and the national social psychology seriously and, unlike most Australian newspaper correspondents in the US, she doesn't treat mainstream Americans or their President as unsophisticated and ignorant bigots. More power to her and your opinion page editor for publishing it.

Best regards,
Tom Switzer
Sydney, NSW

Praise from The Age’s hated Murdoch rival! What a coup! And they ignored it!

UPDATE. Bernie Slattery writes:

The Age ran five notes of praise for the article in its And Another Thing section. They don't run these on the web site.

Well, good. Consider the above criticism withdrawn. The Age might consider some revisions to its online strategy, however; reader feedback is kind of important. Don’t restrict it to the print edition.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:54 AM | Comments (25)

January 21, 2004


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Paul Keating, Don Watson, John Howard, Steve Waugh, Denis Compton, Thomas Lord, Mark Latham, George Lucas, Molly Ivins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clive James, Clive Barnes, Howard Dean, Al Gore, Paul Krugman, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Chris Textor, George W. Bush, Harold Shipman, David Blunkett, Frances Crook, and Harry Fletcher.

Plus there’s this:

So many of Australia's National Living Treasures have ceased living since they were elected in 1997 that the National Trust is running a new election to find some replacements. Most already on the list are completely unacceptable – Peter Garrett, Judy Davis, Bob Brown, Cheryl Kernot, Michael Leunig, Phillip Adams – and new treasures will likely include pointless anti-war types such as Andrew Wilkie and Richard Neville. This column therefore demands you vote for Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, the woman who put paedophile Robert "Dolly" Dunn away for 30 years and secured a record 55-year sentence for Sydney rape-gang leader Bilal Skaf. Send your vote here.

Also: conspiracy theories.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:32 PM | Comments (14)


Here’s a fair and balanced account of George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech, currently running as The Age’s main online story. Maybe it was written by Rickie Lee Jones and Joan Baez, both of whom have recently featured at Peter Briffa’s must-read site. Take it away, Rickie:

He's smug, he's arrogant, he's really dumb, and he's incredibly wealthy. This pisses me off, because I think that if he has that much money, at least he could be smart, y'know? He's corrupt, and he's dumb, and he'll destroy us all because he's corrupt and dumb, not because he's corrupt and smart.

He’ll destroy us all! A Kucinich supporter in this brilliant Evan Coyne Maloney video takes things even further, warning that Bush is “destroying the future of all generations.” Why would he do such a thing? Joan Baez explains:

Because I think he's a sociopath. He doesn't care. He has no empathy. Nothing registers with him. He doesn't understand the world's disapproval - he just unplugs the TV. Now I understand, for the first time in my life, what the answer is when people ask, 'Why didn't people stop Hitler?'. It's a reign of fear. People are afraid of being called 'unpatriotic'.

Joan’s obviously been employing Jennifer Bishop Fulwiler’s Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator. So has SBS economist and SMH pundit Peter Martin (mentioned earlier here) who believes that Bush’s tax policies are destroying marriage:

As US male incomes have become more unequal over the past 20 years, females have become commensurately less likely to commit ... Bush has acted to increase that inequality further. In economic terms he has probably been anti-marriage.

Martin’s solution (not to mention his theory) is, well, interesting:

A pro-marriage president or prime minister would use economic and taxation policy to make already successful men less financially attractive, rather than more so.

Yeah, Peter. Sure.

(Via reader Karl O.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:28 PM | Comments (48)


Yet more Howard Dean audio fun, from James Lileks and Jim Treacher. Dean’s genitals-in-a-blender howl is the YEEEAAARGH!! that launched a thousand mp3s! An earlier Screamy Deany dance hit can be found here.

Incidentally, the Washington Post goes with Yaaaaaaaaaah! National Review Online prefers YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!.

According to David Hogberg, “One of Howard Dean's selling points is that his campaign attracts a lot of people who do not participate in politics.” They sure don’t:

Kelly Chambers, a precinct captain for Dean on the south side of Des Moines, speculated that the near zero temperatures had kept many elderly people away from the caucuses and that hurt Dean.

Damn that global warming! Err ... cooling. James Morrow looks forward to a hard-fought election:

In the wake of Iowa, Dean's candidacy looks far less assured. For American voters, that suggests Bush may have a tougher time than anyone has previously thought. Which means the 2004 presidential election, rather than being a foregone conclusion, will be a great illustration of that cherished conservative virtue, competition, in action.

But don’t count Dean out just yet, writes Janet Daley:

As everybody keeps saying, the New Hampshire primary is next and that state is full of what CNN approvingly described yesterday as "highly educated professionals who are likely to support Dean". In other words, once we get free of all these yokels from the sticks, our guy will really come into his own. What we need is an audience game for anti-war tirades and eager to pay more tax.

UPDATE. The Weekly Standard’s version: AARRRGHHA!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:00 PM | Comments (19)


The tragic death of David Hookes is enormous and heartbreaking news, across Australia and all around the world.

Yet one Australian news service -- the one completely funded by Australian taxpayers -- didn’t think so. Following is an internal memo sent yesterday by ABC national editor John Cameron to his network’s radio stations:

We had a prime example in some states today of failing to recognise a big news story when it happens.

By any objective journalistic reasoning, the David Hookes story is one of impact. As the saying goes, it would be the most talked about yarn of the day on the streets. It has literal shock value.

It happened late, and wasn't in the papers. More than a million Australians were hearing about it for the first time from their ABC radio news bulletins.

Why, then, would we relegate it to a down-bulletin position - in some states as low as 10th item in the main bulletins? Some states did not even use the story in some bulletins. Given that many (if not most) listeners hear just the one bulletin, this meant that the story was missed altogether.

Some states headlined the story, but didn't actually name Hookes, or even capture the story's dramatic nature in the headline. Only two states used the story as the lead in their main bulletins. While it may be marginally debatable that the story should have been at the head of every bulletin all morning, it should certainly have been in the top two in every bulletin.

We have done ourselves a great disservice. I understand Melbourne handled the story promptly and well, so the problem didn't rest there. I'd ask individual newsrooms to discuss how they handled the story, and why they did it that way.

John Cameron
National Editor.

I’d ask why the ABC employs as journalists people so completely lacking in empathy for the interests of their audience that they didn’t instantly recognise the importance of this story. In fact, how can anybody who omitted Hookes’s name or who failed to mention his death in news bulletins even be called a journalist?

(This isn’t the first time a Cameron memo has leaked. In August it was revealed that Cameron had requested ABC journalists not to refer to Australian troops as "our troops" in reports from Iraq. He’s on more solid ground with the Hookes complaint. Incidentally, my ABC leakers -- there were several -- share Cameron’s outrage.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:47 AM | Comments (48)


Caroline Overington, New York correspondent for the Melbourne Age, tells of examining newspaper diagrams of the war in Iraq with a fellow airline passenger:

It was clear from the diagrams that troops were near Saddam's airport, and close to the centre of Baghdad. I turned to my seat mate and said: "I don't think this is going to be a long battle, after all."

It was only then that I noticed, with horror, that he had started to cry. And then I noticed something else: a photograph, wrapped in plastic, pinned to his lapel. It was a picture of his 20-year-old son, a young marine who died in the first days of the war. The man's wife was sitting across the aisle from us. She had a round bowl on her lap, filled with water and some drooping tulips. The movement of the aircraft was making the water slop around. She was trying to wipe her hands, and her tears.

The couple told me they had just been to a private meeting with Bush to discuss the loss of their son. At the time, it was already clear that Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

"But I never thought it was about the weapons," my seat mate said. And, although I can't remember his exact words, he also said something like: "We have always stood up for freedom, in our own country, and for other people."

Read the whole column. Send The Age a note of thanks for running it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:42 AM | Comments (29)

January 20, 2004


Paul Krugman:

Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean was a momentous event.


The entrance poll in Iowa found that less than one percent of voters cared about endorsements.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:19 PM | Comments (10)


It’s the Howard Dean game the whole world can play! Go nuts Dean style in your own country! Let’s see how Ho-boy’s psycho speechifying works for Australia:

And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to Noosa Heads, we're going to Andamooka and Werribee and the Bungle Bungles and Shepparton and Yass! We're going to Camperdown and Kiama and Naracoorte! And we're going to Wallaroo and Tennant Creek and Ulla Dulla and Albury! And then we're going to Canberra. To take back Parliament House! YEEEAAARGH!!

Compose your own regional variations in comments. Man, I hope some of those Iraqi bloggers hear about this ("We’re going to Abu Hishma and Mosul and Sulaimaniyah province!"). Bring it on, France, Bangladesh, Spain, Sweden and Bahrain. Do it for Dean!

UPDATE. Via Bill in comments, here’s Right Magazine’s totally danceable Dean Goes Nuts Remix.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:44 PM | Comments (82)


Hostile Howard Dean, the angry bland man of America, knows something:

You know what? You know something? You know something? If you had told us one year ago that we were going to come in third in Iowa, we would have given anything for that ...

And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to New Hampshire, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! We're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan! And then we're going to Washington, D.C.. To take back the White House!

You know something? You know what? It’s even funnier when you hear it.

As well, there’s this puzzling Dean line:

Most of all, let me thank you from all over America, coming here to change this country. We haven't seen this in 30 years.

What’s he talking about? Watergate? The thrilling era of change that ushered Gerald Ford into the White House? The age of optimism inspired by the oil crisis? Neil Sedaka’s pact with Satan? What event from 1974 is Shouty Dean referencing here?

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:19 PM | Comments (24)


It’s a whole new game for Howie:

Howard Dean experienced a first on Monday: He lost his first political race in 22 years in politics.

Beginning in 1982 with an easy victory in his first race, for a seat in the Vermont House representing a working-class neighborhood in Burlington, Dean has won 10 consecutive elections without a defeat. That included three contests for lieutenant governor and five for governor.

But his third-place showing in the Democratic presidential nominating contest in Iowa ended that streak. Dean finished a distant third in the opening caucuses of the nominating season.

Dean is having problems coping:

The final day of campaigning did not go well for all candidates. John Kerry lost his voice and had to cancel most of his campaign appearances, and Howard Dean lashed out at the press after they swarmed him at an appearance. He decided to leave early, but not without a parting shot, telling the press to "get a life."

One imagines the reply: Get a vote!

UPDATE. Reuters thinks Howard Dean is a Senator:

The loss for Senator Dean, the former Vermont governor who had been considered the party's front-runner based on big fundraising and a series of major endorsements, opens the door for other candidates and turns what was shaping up to be a quick Dean victory into a dogfight.

Senator Dean congratulated Senator Kerry on his showing but said he would push on with his campaign.

"I think Senator Kerry is doing very well, so is Senator Edwards, I want to congratulate them both," Senator Dean said on CNN.

Senator Blair reporting. Via Senator Hoysted in comments.

UPDATE II. CBS has more on Dean's "get a life" moment.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 PM | Comments (10)


Will Britain’s Daily Telegraph go tabloid? Sounds like it, judging by these comments from one of the new owners:

Barclay said the Daily Telegraph may have to follow its nearest rival The Times and The Independent in printing a tabloid edition, aimed mainly at commuters, as well as the normal, full-sized paper.

"We would have to go all-tabloid if we did it, and my young family members like tabloids," Barclay told the Guardian.

"The broadsheet is associated with an older generation. So we might be forced to do it," he said.

There are also hints that the Telegraph may alter its conservative stance. Which would be a mistake; the Telegraph massively outsells the lefty Guardian and Independent.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:47 PM | Comments (7)


When the big media companies have online problems, they tend to be massive.

UPDATE. The mains News Ltd site is back up, but problems remain throughout the network.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 AM | Comments (5)


David Hookes was the youngest player in 1977's Centenary Test, and is the first to die. The South Australian's second innings in that celebrated contest -- his first match for Australia -- largely defined Hookes to cricket fans, although he subsequently reinvented much of his game.

And his life. As a young state representative Hookes was in awe of then-Australian captain Ian Chappell, and naively sought to imitate Chappell off the field. At 20 he adopted Chappell’s policy of refusing to sign autographs while out drinking. Later he realised how offensive it was for a youngster to reject the friendly requests of often elderly fans.

Hookes could be scathing about his off-field behaviour during the early years of his international career, and was equally so about his application and abilities on the field. Factors beyond his control contributed to Hookes’s decline, however. As a contracted World Series Cricket player from 1977 to 1979, Hookes faced little but fast bowling; once WSC ended and Hookes returned to the Test side, he found his skills against slow bowling had vanished.

This coincided with a tour of Pakistan. Hookes, bewildered by Iqbal Qasim’s left-arm spin, failed to score a single run in the First Test at Karachi. He was also troubled by extreme pace, having had his jaw shattered during WSC by an Andy Roberts bouncer.

It took two years for Hookes to regain his Test place. In the intervening period he’d altered his batting style and briefly taken an all-rounder role with his state team, bowling medium pace. The experience was later to make him an exceptional coach.

Hookes’s finest Test in his comeback 1982/3 season was at the MCG, scene of his first match. On a difficult pitch Hookes scored quickly and violently: 53 runs came from 69 balls in the first innings and 68 from 87 in the second. Rates of this kind were exceptional for the era.

(Hook shots like you wouldn’t believe. I saw both innings, and haven’t wtinessed cleaner or more correct play against the short ball since. Whatever demons Andy Roberts had placed in his mind were by this time clearly banished.)

Test appearances following 82/3 were sporadic, but did include a century against Sri Lanka (Hookes’s only three-figure Test score) and a tour of the West Indies. Hookes left Test cricket where he joined it, at the MCG, in 1985/6. Given the all-or-nothing nature of his career, it was somehow fitting that his final innings was a first-ball duck.

In retirement Hookes became an abrasive, though insightful, commentator. I interviewed him a few times, and he was terrifically helpful and generous, especially once he realised you had some idea of what you were talking about. Unlike many past players in the media, he was disinclined to comment off the record. Hookes spoke much as he played; aggressively, entertainingly, with occasional wild lapses of judgment.

His death, particularly in such appalling circumstances, is tragic.

UPDATE. The Bunyip has researched the magistrate who sent the accused home on bail, not to face court until April. Certain inconsistencies are revealed. Yobbo has some thoughts, too.

UPDATE II. Richie Benaud just referred to yesterday as "one of the most awful days I've ever known." That about sums it up.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:29 AM | Comments (33)


Did Howard Dean suffer an anxiety attack when he was elected as governor of Vermont? Dean says no; but People magazine has a transcript that says yes.

(Via Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:19 AM | Comments (14)


This is hellishly graphic, but also illustrative of certain facts about the war in Iraq. Namely that US weaponry was directed not randomly but at precise targets (in this case, an Iraqi unit loading shoulder-fired rockets); and also that modern military technology (the footage comes from a nighttime Apache helicopter attack) is beyond overwhelming.

It‘s terrifying, and you’d be less than human if you felt no horror for the individuals caught in that Apache’s sights. At the same time, we must consider that such actions were the only way a nation was to be liberated from a tyrant’s murderous control. Opposition to military intervention may have meant we’d never see images such as these, yet would also assure future Saddam-led atrocities; supporting military intervention leaves us pro-war types to consider Iraq’s long-term benefit in the wake of ghastly, immediate death.

It isn’t easy. But I still know that last year’s war means fewer horrific deaths in the future.

UPDATE. Via the Bunyip, some evidence of the brutality that would persist in Iraq were it not for the war.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 AM | Comments (35)


Australia isn’t a fuming pit of ignorant racism after all, according to Indian journalist Soumya Bhattacharya:

In my few months in this country, I have - perhaps I have been more fortunate than most because of the circles I have moved in - been at the receiving end of only kindness, helpfulness and hospitality. Yes, there was one occasion when a reasonably inebriated old man in front of the members' bar at the SCG pushed me aside rather too roughly and sniggered as I steadied myself on the edge of a seat, but no sooner had he gone a step than a group of sober old men standing watching the cricket offered to trip up the bozo for me.

And that is only part of the story. A few weeks ago, in the sport pages of this newspaper, I wrote a column in which I had patronised the Australian sporting fans' patronising attitude towards the Indian cricket team. I had expected hate mail. What I got instead was more than a hundred messages - and not one of them was abusive; not one of them failed to catch the irony and the sense of introspection with which I had written the article.

Australians are, I have found, ready to laugh at themselves if they think that the joke is funny and the humour not ill-directed. And the ability to be self-deprecating is the mark of confidence; it is, as much as anything else, the yardstick by which a society measures how tolerant and self-assured it is.

This sounds close to exactly right.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (24)


A Rebuild Iraq Expo is currently underway in Kuwait. Private enterprise is rallying to the Iraqi cause:

France will be represented by just three companies, although Germany, which also opposed the US-led war, has 50.

Iran is participating with 130 companies, the largest contingent, followed by the host country Kuwait with 119.

Italy is sending 112 firms, while fellow US ally Britain is taking part with more than 100.

All of this is excellent. But where the hell is Australia? It’s not as if we’re avoiding opportunities to be involved in Iraq’s reconstruction, but according to this list of exhibitors Australian firms have dodged the Expo entirely. Not good.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 AM | Comments (5)

January 19, 2004


What exactly is the difference between western-style democracy, which these experts tell us just won’t work in Iraq, and plain, simple democracy? Is it like the difference between ordinary square dancing -- completely acceptable to Muslim societies -- and corrupt western-style square dancing? Or the difference between horse riding in the holy Islamic sense and impure, doglike western-style riding?

Or are people who say western-style democracy won’t work in Iraq actually saying that democracy won’t work in Iraq, because Iraqis are genetically stupid or backward or something? And they add that “western-style” bit to make it seem as though their opinion involves a considered critique of the west instead of being an outright slag against Iraq?

UPDATE. These Iraqis seem to find the Western democratic concept of direct elections quite appealing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:34 PM | Comments (30)


Prepare yourselves for the annual State of the Union drinking game! If you drink enough, this statement might almost sound rational:

We have an embarrassment of riches in this Democratic primary this year.

That’s Michael Moore’s assessment. Well, he’s partially correct, which is better than usual. At least he isn’t a mink-murdering fur wearer. Throw paint at the monster, PETA activists!

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:55 PM | Comments (14)


If you think Baghdad is tough, you don’t want to know about West Timor. The UN doesn’t, anyway.

And The Age’s Ray Cassin doesn’t know much at all:

It is not known how many Iraqis have been killed, by either coalition forces or resistance movements, since the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. No one has bothered to keep a tally.

Marc Herold will be heartbroken. All of his hard work, painstakingly duplicating and multiplying casualty figures, completely ignored! Seems Cassin couldn’t be arsed typing iraq civilian deaths into a search engine. Luckily he doesn’t allow the absence of any data -- either supporting or negating -- to interfere with his conclusion:

But it is certain, because of the "shock and awe" tactics employed by the coalition in the war's initial weeks, that there will have been a substantial number of civilian casualties.

You kind of get the feeling Ray hasn’t done a great deal of research here, don’t you?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:37 PM | Comments (15)


If you followed Australian cricket in the ‘70s, you followed David Hookes. Last night Hookes was bashed outside a Melbourne bar:

A man has been charged with assault following a life-threatening attack on former Australian Test cricketer David Hookes.

Hookes is on life support in Melbourne's Alfred Hospital after the incident which left him "technically dead" on a pavement outside a hotel shortly before midnight last night.

Zdravco Micevic appeared at Melbourne Magistrate's court today and has been released on bail. He was charged with one count of assault.

TV images just shown of Hookes being delivered to hospital were terrible. Wish him well.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 PM | Comments (40)


"At what point," asks the Melbourne Age’s Terry Lane, "should we start to become concerned that the President of the United States is a dangerous moron?"

I don’t know, Terry. The point at which he wins two wars? The point at which he liberates two nations? The point at which he evaporates Osama bin Laden and captures Saddam Hussein? The point at which he steamrolls the next US election? Lane should be more concerned about The Age, which thinks it wise not only to run his own tragic columns but also to devote 936 words to the issue of a book shop moving from Acland Street to Swanston Street.

(Via Gnu Hunter)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:34 AM | Comments (48)


Imre Salusinszky -- or Imre Salusinsinszky, as he’s referred to by his own newspaper -- proposes a counter to the Australian National Trust’s list of “Living National Treasures”:

Here is your brief: nominate up to 15 Living National Shockers, giving your reasons for each choice. Please note that, although I may quote from your entries in this column, I will not quote any reader by name.

But what, you ask, is a Shocker? I think we instinctively recognise a true Shocker when we see one. The Macquarie defines a shocker as "an unpleasant or disagreeable person".

But it goes deeper than that. The National Trust defines a Living National Treasure as someone who is "valued and precious, attracting warmth". Since much the same is true of a Shocker - especially the precious bit - it is no surprise that there was a significant overlap between the 100 official Treasures and the parallel list of Shockers in 1997.

Imre’s 1997 Shocker collection contained many individuals subsequently mentioned at this site. Send your 2004 Shocker nominations here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 AM | Comments (11)


It’s about time:

NSW Police has revived controversial plans for a specialist Middle East squad to tackle the wave of violent crime that has plagued Sydney's south-west for more than a decade.

The squad would reverse a decision by the former police commissioner, Peter Ryan, to shelve a proposal for such a unit because of fears it would be seen as racist.

Yes -- must avoid at all times the fear of being seen as racist, even with a knife at your throat. Former Sydney detective Tim Priest has pursued this issue relentlessly:

In February 2001, when I appeared before an inquiry into Cabramatta's crime problem, I gave evidence which at the time attracted the usual claque of ratbags from the ABC and their associates at The Sydney Morning Herald, as well as Sydney's Radio 2UE broadcaster Mike Carlton. I said that Sydney is going to be torn apart by gang warfare the likes of which we have never seen. Last year I was finally proved right, but I take no comfort from that. However, the criticism I received was unprecedented. I was a nutter, a liar, a racist, a disgruntled detective.

Speaking of Carlton, here’s his first column for the year:

More and more evidence is coming in. The jigsaw pieces are fitting into place. It is becoming appallingly clear that President George Bush is an arrant liar and - as Mark Latham correctly suggested - "the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory".

Carlton may be the most incompetent columnist in living memory. More and more evidence is coming in! Last year he mischaracterised Wesley Clark as a trenchant critic of “Bush’s ill-planned invasion of Iraq”, guessed massively wrong on the economy, repeated a grave Maureen Dowd inaccuracy (and bitched about it when he got caught), revealed his ignorance about Robert Byrd’s sheet-wearing, cross-burning past, joined the herdlike braying against neo-cons, and predicted a rain of death in Baghdad.

How many mistakes will Carlton make in 2004? A Carlton Blunder Count will soon be featured at this site, in competition with a Phillip Adams Error Meter. Watch the media heavyweights duke it out!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:32 AM | Comments (13)

January 18, 2004


ALP leader Mark Latham is charging boldly into a bright new past. Column by me in today’s Telegraph.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:19 PM | Comments (10)


Latest reports of the suicide bomber attack in Baghdad indicate that 18 people have died, all of them civilians -- 16 Iraqis and two Americans. The first BBC account I saw of this referred, of course, to "the resistance". That's the BBC's term for "the people who used to kill Iraqi civilians, and are still killing them today."

Meanwhile, so far as I can tell, this story hasn’t been reported anywhere outside of the US military press:

When he was forced to fashion statues of Saddam Hussein on horseback, the Iraqi sculptor, Kalat, had no idea that someday he would melt them down to create a memorial for American Soldiers.

(Via Fayrouz and Florida Cracker.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:09 PM | Comments (15)


Behold, the Howard Dean NASCAR racer -- the only race vehicle in the world actually designed to spin. Currently stalled in turn four, Iowa.

(Via Dean for America. The good Dean for America, that is.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:53 PM | Comments (6)


Conrad Black, publisher of some excellent titles (The Spectator, the UK Telegraph, etc) is in increasingly serious trouble:

Newspaper publisher Hollinger International Inc. said late on Saturday it was ousting media tycoon Conrad Black as its chairman and suing him and one of his top deputies for more than $200 million.

What this means for his various magazines and newspapers is anyone’s guess.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:49 PM | Comments (6)


Universities: where free thought and open debate are nurtured.

As Tex says: Yeah, right.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:22 PM | Comments (16)


Dave Barry asks:

Does the vegan diet kill brain cells, as evidenced by the fact that it causes people to stand outside in the freezing cold dressed as giant vegetables?

The answer is yes. Barry also has all you need to know about the current state of affairs Democrat-wise:

The big news was that John Edwards, who had been stagnant, was surging, while at the same time John Kerry -- who had faltered early in the race, then surged, then re-faltered -- was now surging AGAIN.

This bodes badly for Howard Dean, who used to be the Lone Surger out here, as well as traditional Iowa-caucus winner Dick Gephardt, who has, frankly, been unable to surge. He is surge-impaired, and he badly needs surgification in Iowa if he is to survive New Hampshire, where, word has it, Wesley Clark, who had been faltering, is now surging like a madman. He's the Surgin' General.

Which ties with Mark Steyn’s Mad How for the best line from the Iowa caucuses. And here’s Barry on blogs:

Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, in Iowa covering the lighter side of campaigns, said the public should treat blogs as skeptically as they do mainstream media. "There are lunatics who are out there running blogs, and there are lunatics who work in the print media," he said. "It all sorts itself out."

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:00 PM | Comments (18)


I don’t know about the other guys HispaLibertas mentions, but I’m headed to Spain the first chance I get:

Caí en la cuenta de que estar sentado alrededor de una mesa con Tim Blair, James Lileks, Mark Steyn y Jonah Goldberg debe acercarse bastante a la felicidad. Con unas cervezas bien frías, en cualquier lugar en que no haya hora de cierre.

Key phrases, as identified by online translator technology: “affluent beers” and “a place in which there is not the hour of closing”. Oh, yes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:49 PM | Comments (8)

January 17, 2004


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Washington correspondent Marian Wilkinson reports:

Dean's slump is also apparent in New Hampshire, the next battleground in the Democratic race, where Wesley Clark is breathing down his neck.

But how? The airtight seal around Dean’s neck won’t allow even an atom of Clark breath to reach it. He's impenetrable. Aim for the unsleeved forearms, General!

UPDATE. Check out Howard Dean’s metrosexual pink market rating.

UPDATE II. Dean? For America?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:36 AM | Comments (17)

January 16, 2004


• Ann Coulter -- Michael Moore has a crush on her, don’t you know -- is in sensational form.

• Meet the Reverse Tim Blair -- he hates George W. Bush and is useful around the house!

• Whatever you think about this PETA animation, it’s a safe bet that no animals were harmed during the making of it. Which means you can harm more animals than usual, to make up for the animal-harmage shortfall.

• Dennis Perrin’s attack on James Lileks was strange and sad, but the just-discovered original draft is a work of genius. Extract: "Lileks wasn't as bad as some of the keyboard warriors I'd read, but there was that gloat and strut, that preening and fawning, the unseemly dancing in the kitchen with his wife, as if Lileks had personally captured Saddam. The whole scene sickened me so that I had to put down my night vision goggles."

• Australian blogger Mike Jericho has friends in high places.

• Snowheads on pikes! Possibly the finest Calvin ever.

• Harvard guys need some work on those pickup lines, writes Anne Cunningham: "I have noticed, whenever I meet someone from Harvard, that they do not introduce themselves in a normal manner, but try to come up with an original greeting. I met one guy who opened with, 'So, Anne, how do you get on with your parents?' and another whose first question was, 'Describe a typical day for me - what's your routine?' Both lines, come to think of it, sound like something a therapist would ask."

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:37 PM | Comments (31)


It’s not often that a weather report makes you laugh like Santa Claus on nitrous oxide:

Residents of the U.S. Northeast shivered through an extreme blast of Arctic air and snow on Thursday as temperatures from New York to Maine plunged toward record lows.

A five-inch blanket of snow grounded more than 225 flights at New York City airports and canceled school for children in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As much as 10 inches of snow fell in Michigan.

And just why are these low, low temperatures so hilarious? Jeff Jarvis explains.

UPDATE. "Coldest day in the city for decades." Ha, ha, hahahahaha!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:51 PM | Comments (29)


Jim Nolan urges the Australian Labor Party to join the pro-war left:

While it was easy for Mark Latham to excoriate the Liberals' support for the US as part of the "conga line of suckholes", the arguments of the most successful social democratic leader ever - Tony Blair - have been quietly overlooked without any need felt for explanation or justification. Passionate articles making a case for intervention on humanitarian grounds by, to name just two, Jose Ramos Horta and Vaclav Havel, have been passed without comment.

Can we expect a vigorous debate on these issues at Labor's national conference or will it be more of the same lazy consensus that has persistently shrunk from confronting the real human rights argument for intervention in Iraq.

Tony Blair, Ann Clwyd, Jose Ramos Horta, Vaclav Havel, Barham Salih, Christopher Hitchens - now that's a "conga line" any self-respecting leftie should be proud to join.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 PM | Comments (22)


Andrew Sullivan has a batch of posts railing (quite properly) against George W. Bush’s fiscal recklessness, including this line about Republican spending: “Fiscal conservatives really have no place to go any more. But if you had to pick, you'd have to support the Democrats.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:56 PM | Comments (50)


To celebrate winning Michael Moore's endorsement -- congratulations, General! Way to grab that middle ground! -- Wesley Clark has decided to lose his freakin' mind:

Clark has called for a full congressional probe into why the United States went to war in Iraq, but his comments Thursday marked the first time he had hinted at possible criminal wrongdoing.

Asked by a reporter if he thought Bush might have committed an impeachable offense, Clark said, "Let's have that investigation done."

Clark renewed his criticism that Bush misled the nation on Iraq. "This was an elective war," he said. "He forced us to go to war."

Clark denied that he had changed his position on the war, renewing his assertion that he had opposed it all along.

Leaving aside what Clark may or may not have told Congress in September 2002, let’s remind ourselves what Clark wrote for the London Times last April:

Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? Memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of Milosevic in Belgrade flood back. Statues and images of Saddam are smashed and defiled. Liberation is at hand. Liberation — the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions. Already the scent of victory is in the air ...

As for the political leaders themselves, President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt. And especially Mr Blair, who skillfully managed tough internal politics, an incredibly powerful and sometimes almost irrationally resolute ally, and concerns within Europe. Their opponents, those who questioned the necessity or wisdom of the operation, are temporarily silent, but probably unconvinced.

Unconvinced about Clark is The Village Voice’s James Ridgeway:

In a rather bizarre appearance before about 500 townspeople in this southern New Hampshire town's high school last night, General Wesley Clark joked that we might as well send George Bush to Mars and claimed that lobbyists keep America safe.

This capped an hour-long gathering that arranged mostly middle-class citizens in a large circle in the high school's auditorium. Before Clark could come onstage there was the obligatory showing of a dreadful documentary film on the general's brilliant career ...

People began to ask him questions: How come you got relieved of your command? Clark said he wasn't relieved, but in the interests of helping the Kosovo people, he quit his job as supreme NATO commander. (Actually, he called them "Albanian people," though people in Kosovo do not consider themselves part of Albania.)

And then there’s this little vote-losing line, identified by Frank Joseph in the Michigan News:

Wesley Clark, who wants to be president of the United States made one of the most nonscientific, disgusting and cruel statements that I have ever heard. In an interview with the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, Wesley Clark said "Life begins with the mother's decision."

When does Clark’s campaign end?

UPDATE. John Hawkins presents Wesley's finest words.

UPDATE II. Dave S. in comments writes:

"Life begins with the mother's decision" ... Shit, that's pretty open-ended. I wonder if my Mom's on record yet. I'd better send her some flowers or something just to be safe.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 PM | Comments (28)


AP reports:

The first female Hamas suicide bomber was given a hero's funeral Thursday, a day after killing four Israeli border guards, and Israel sealed the Gaza Strip to review security at border crossings.

"She is not going to be the last (attacker) because the march of resistance will continue until the Islamic flag is raised, not only over the minarets of Jerusalem, but over the whole universe," Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said.

Remember that line the next time you hear people complaining about Western imperialism. Anyway, what’s the correct term for a female Hamas bomber? A Hamiss, maybe? A Hamette? A Hamstress? If she’s not going to be the last, we journalists need to know. We'd hate to cause offence.

UPDATE. Hamasista? Shamas?

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:59 AM | Comments (54)


Take a look -- eight seemingly-genuine images of Saddam Hussein’s capture. Not previously published.

(Via Brussels Blog and reader John S.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:22 AM | Comments (58)

January 15, 2004


Who selected Carol Moseley Braun in Mark Steyn’s Dem-Olition Derby?

UPDATE. Steyn’s festival of Dem doom rolls on:

Which Presidential candidates will be next to call it quits? Here’s your chance to predict the next Democratic drop-outs and win big, just like Mike in Indiana. If you entered last time round, voted for Kucinich or Gephardt and struck out, don't feel bad, humiliated, victimised. Don't let resentment breed despair, despair breed anger, and anger breed terrorism. Instead, wipe the slate clean and try your hand at our new rounds.

Kucinich has got to be next. This planet’s atmosphere can’t sustain him much longer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:07 PM | Comments (14)


Those kids sure can run. Catch 'em, Michael!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 PM | Comments (11)


The Week magazine announced its inaugural Opinion Awards today. Columnist of the Year: Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times. Single-Issue Advocacy Columnist of the Year: Paul Krugman, The New York Times.

And the Blogger of the Year, as selected for The Week by Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Jarvis, and Daniel Radosh? It’s D.C.-based Joshua Micah Marshall, an occasional New York Times contributor who covers much the same narrow territory as Krugman and, to a lesser extent, Friedman (Marshall nowadays rarely links to Krugman because, as he explains, "there's so much overlap between our audiences that the links are redundant").

Strange choice. My vote -- in a heartbeat -- would have been for Salam Pax*, whose politics I disagree with but whose influence and significance in 2003 was undeniable. Every blog reader will probably have a different choice. "Different" being the point; Josh Marshall simply isn’t. From millions of bloggers, the judges -- to whom, on the subject of online expertise, I’ll usually defer -- have chosen someone whose journalistic, social, and political DNA is a 99.999% match with the winners of the mainstream opinion categories.

UPDATE. Marshall was an early believer in the fake turkey.

UPDATE II. I love this line from The Week’s write-up of the awards, reprinted by Jeff Jarvis:

Marshall, a liberal in a medium better known for its conservative and libertarian voices, has also aggressively covered the Bush administration's strategy.

In other words, Marshall stands out among bloggers because he’s more like the New York Times. Just what we need.

*Actually, I would have voted for Treacher.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 PM | Comments (42)


How is it even possible to negotiate with these people?

Israel must take full responsibility for a suicide attack on its border with Gaza which left the female bomber and four Israelis dead, Palestine said today.

"Israel bears sole responsibility for what has happened as it continues the occupation, construction of the wall, the closures and the escalation," Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's chief adviser Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:18 AM | Comments (39)


Academic Leslie Cannold, pondering the revival of the Playboy bunny image, writes:

Another positive take on the Bunny's return is that in donning this long-standing symbol of female oppression, women are reclaiming it as a sign of empowerment. In the same way that gay people reclaimed as a symbol of unity and pride the pink triangle that the Nazis used to brand and oppress them ...

Such a pity that Oberführer Hefner killed himself in the Playboy Bunker before he could be brought to trial. And in the Toronto Star, Thomas Walkom seeks to correct a popular misconception:

Some refer to George W. Bush as another Hitler. This is a gross exaggeration. He has constructed no death camps and only one concentration camp — at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

By the way, much thanks to the US reader who sent me the Guantanamo Bay fridge magnet. I goose-step past it every day.

While it does seem, in Nuremberg terms, that Bush could be called a war criminal (invading other countries on the flimsiest of pretexts), he has not engaged in genocide. Nor, unlike Volkswagen supporter Hitler, does he promote the production of small, cheap cars.

Hitler was even better than that -- he was an environmentalist and a non-smoker. Good Hitler! No SUVs for Hitler.

True, both came to power constitutionally (although under dubious circumstances and with the support of only a minority of voters). True, both masterfully used traumatic events at home (the 1933 Reichstag fire for Hitler; 9/11 for Bush) to make a frightened and resentful populace accept restrictions on civil liberties.

These restrictions are mentioned often. Could Walkom please identify one?

True, also, that the U.S. leader shares Hitler's taste for military costumes — although to be fair to the German dictator, he did serve on active duty in wartime.

Nice that Walkom is fair -- to Hitler. I’m with Cathy Young: retire the Hitler comparisons, if for no other reason than to force better writing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:09 AM | Comments (45)


Celebrated No Logo authorette Naomi Klein -- and hasn’t the buzz gone out of that little campaign? -- joins the gullible gobblers:

This was the year when fakeness ruled: fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey.

Fake you, Naomi! You’re now part of the globalised, multi-national, fake/bogus/plastic turkey consortium.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (20)


The latest Achewood storyline is brilliant, and still developing. Follow it from the beginning to now.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:23 AM | Comments (10)


Nelson Ascher on Iraq’s invisible arsenal:

How are we supposed to find hidden and buried WMDs in Iraq if, wherever one digs there, we just keep finding mass graves?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 AM | Comments (2)


"I set off for Egypt convinced that, unlike America, there was no corruption and hypocrisy in the Arab Muslim world," writes US-born Muslim convert Murad Kalam, "and that it bore no responsibility for its own appalling condition."

After a few days in Cairo, Murad’s view had changed:

For a week I managed to persist in the happy belief that I was not living in a brutal police state.

I fled home the next week, leaving all my illusions of the Arab world in my Cairo flat. I couldn’t wait to be in America again. On the long flight home, I promised myself I would never accept anything less than full democracy for my fellow Muslims in the Arab world or apologize for the tyranny that now masquerades as Islam.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:27 AM | Comments (13)


German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder may be shrinking in the polls, but somehow he still manages to stand tall. Perhaps he’s proud of this German product: condoms with walnuts (and hazelnuts). Send some to Molly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:14 AM | Comments (2)

January 14, 2004


• Chuck Simmins asks: "Is it just me, or is it at all odd that two Chinese guys are using lasers to slice cheese in Wisconsin?"

• Missed by me earlier, due to email overload: Darren Kaplan’s refutation of the "we helped create Saddam" myth.

• Marty K. previews next month’s Queensland elections.

• You want your deeply thoughtful intellectual blog portrait? Mîchåel Bérubé has got you covered.

• Media graduate Ryan Boots aims to become a blog-funded Rush Limbaugh. Without the truckloads of prescription painkillers.

• Jan Haugland reviews Professor Jeffrey Record’s press-friendly anti-war study.

• Southerly Buster claims that Niue could become the first nation "extinguished by global warming". Let’s hope the cute dinosaurs are all safe.

• For a fine starting point on the Paul O’Neill/Ron Susskind 60 Minutes oil fiasco, check out Powerline.

• Prepare to be judged! It’s Blogger Idol.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:19 PM | Comments (6)


Nine years ago Vermont governor Howard Dean wrote a letter to President Clinton. Extracts:

Dear Mr. President:

After long and careful thought, and after several years of watching the gross atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs, I have reluctantly concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure.

Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action.

Yours sincerely, Howard Dean M.D., Doomed Presidential Candidate of 2004.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:07 PM | Comments (11)


At last -- a cautious, dispassionate, thoughtful analysis of George W. Bush’s presidency, from a liberal viewpoint. This is exactly the sort of thing voters will respond to in an election year. Via National Review.

Meanwhile feminist Phyllis Chesler writes:

I will vote for a Republican for the first time in my life. I will be voting for George W. Bush in the next election. 

Find out why.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:51 PM | Comments (12)


The Media Research Center presents its sixteenth annual awards for the year’s worst reporting. Here’s the center’s quote of the year, from Boston Globe writer Charles Pierce:

If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.


Posted by Tim Blair at 09:43 PM | Comments (11)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, that kid in Baghdad with no arms, Molly Ivins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clive James, John Birmingham, John Howard, and Jim Treacher.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:21 PM | Comments (6)


The Palestinian Authority is only a few days away from setting up a PayPal account:

Hit by waning support from fatigued donor nations, the Palestinian Authority has been forced to borrow from banks to pay salaries to its 125,000 employees and may be unable to meet its February payroll, the economy minister said Tuesday.

Not to mention waning suicide-bomber support from fatigued donor dictators. That sector of the Palestinian economy isn’t exactly, er, booming these days.

[Palestinian Economy Minister] Masri said that Arab declarations of support for the Palestinians were not being matched by remittances, with only Saudi Arabia and Libya agreeing to send money. "The Palestinian cause is not the world's highest priority these days," he said.

Life’s tough. Maybe Yasser could help.

UPDATE. They can still afford explosives, apparently. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reports:

Reemsaleh al-Riyashi, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman staged a martyr-seeking operation on Wednesday at the main border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which left four Israelis dead.

The attack was a joint operation by Hamas and the al-Aqsa martyrs brigades, sources within both groups said.

How long before Reuters starts using “martyr-seeking operation”?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:17 PM | Comments (20)


Howard Dean puts George W. Bush on the couch:

This president is not interested in being a good president. He's interested in some complicated psychological situation that he has with his father. He is obsessed with being re-elected, and his obsession with re-election is hurting the country.

Dean sounds crazy. He’s acting crazy, too:

Former President Jimmy Carter will offer support for Democratic White House hopeful Howard Dean in a joint appearance in Georgia on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, campaign aides said on Tuesday.

An appearance with Carter? Maybe Dean is obsessed with losing the election. In other campaign news, MoveOn.org’s anti-Bush advertising contest receives a positive review:

"I think the contest has been very effective," says Whit Ayres, a Republican media consultant. "Effective for George Bush. It reinforces the view that those opposed to Bush are incredibly strident, leftwing and out of bounds. At the end of the day, the Hitler ad is all people will remember about this."

UPDATE. Drudge has a partial transcript from MoveOn’s big contest awards night. First prize for incoherent paranoia goes to actress Julia Stiles:

I was worried that some soldiers over in Iraq who are actually younger than I am would see some salacious report on MSNBC and think that I was attacking them and not the government that put them there. And I was afraid that Bill O'Reilly would come and, with a shotgun at my front door and shoot me for being unpatriotic. But I decided that that's actually, that fear that was silencing me is actually why it's so important that MoveOn exist and do this ad contest ...

Relax, Julia. O'Reilly supports gun control, and probably hasn't murdered more than two or three people in his whole life. Meanwhile, following Dean's example, Wesley Clark pursues the angry man vote:

General Wesley Clark unleashed his most blistering attack yet on the Bush administration in the president's home state Monday, vowing to win Texas in November if he is the Democratic nominee.

"I think we're at risk with our democracy," Clark told an audience of about 500 people at a fund-raiser at the Westin Galleria hotel. "I think we're dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest administration in living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame."

Clark voted for Nixon. Twice. Shame!

"They are a threat to what this nation stands for, and we need to get him out of the White House. And we're going to do it."

"A threat to what this nation stands for." No wonder Michael Moore supports him.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:10 PM | Comments (31)


Emma Tom in The Australian explains the elections of Arnie and George W. Bush:

A couple of years back, American voters accidentally elected a man who believed police officers deserved to be killed and who supported wife abuse.

When asked how he'd made it to the New Hampshire House of Representatives without his extremist views becoming known, the Honorable Tom Alciere said: "Nobody asked."

Perhaps this explains how Arnold Schwarzenegger ended up at the helm of the Californian economy and why the US itself is now led by a man who has gone on the record complaining that "down in Washington they're playing with social security like it's some kind of government program".

Talk about your sophisticated political analysis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:14 AM | Comments (31)


Speed limits in Australia are low. Urban limits have been reduced over the past few years to 50 km/h (30 mph) in many cities. Yet, writes Peter Martin in the Sydney Morning Herald, “this year's holiday road toll was the worst in eight years.”

This doesn’t stop Martin from concluding that higher speed limits cause more deaths. He doesn’t address the lower limits now enforced thoughout Australia, which should, according to him, have reduced traffic deaths to historical lows; instead he relies on old, possibly unmoored data:

During the energy crisis of 1974 the Carter administration succeeded in enforcing a low nationwide US speed limit of just 55 miles per hour (88kmh). Road deaths slid 15 per cent.

From 1987 each state again became free to choose to lift the limit on its rural interstate roads. Within a year most states had lifted their limit to 65mph. But seven left the limit unchanged.

In a paper soon to be published in the Journal of Political Economy, the economists Orley Ashenfelter from Princeton University and Michael Greenstone from the University of Chicago examine what happened in those states that lifted their limits. Their findings are surprising.

First, the actual increase in speed in those states was quite low, an average of only 2mph (3.2kmh) on the roads affected. The professors say that is because a lot of drivers on those roads were already speeding.

Second, the small increase appears to have pushed up deaths per mile on those roads by an astounding 36 per cent.

I’m not a former Treasury official like Martin, but when I see a claim that an average statewide increase in speed by only 2 mph blew out the number of deaths by 36%, I sense some deep selectivity and flawed analysis. These results aren’t “surprising”; they’re unbelievable. This is an issue for genuine experts to pull apart. With that in mind, over to you, readers.

UPDATE. In other automotive news, it turns out that cars can cause five-year jail terms even when they aren't moving.

UPDATE II. I missed a howler in Martin's piece, but readers didn't: Carter was elected in 1976, raising certain doubts about his administration's involvement in the 1974 oil crisis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:50 AM | Comments (58)


"You dislike us. You really dislike us." In seven words, Reed Johnson of the LA Times summarises the public’s attitude towards the media. The rest of his piece, as The Lincoln Plawg points out, provides reasons to dislike Reed Johnson of the LA Times.

(Via reader J. Softley)

UPDATE. In his piece, Reed writes: “No wonder so many people have been taking us to task: pundits, bloggers, journalism school professors and politicians right up to and including the president of the United States ...”

Here’s the latest taking to task, performed by Robert Musil.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (11)


Germany’s Berliner Morgenpost notes progress in Iraq. David Kaspar posts an English translation:

Business is booming especially with no taxes to pay. Office furniture is currently in high demand as new companies are being established all over ... There are modest loans from the occupational authority for those seeking to start a small business ... In Baghdad the internet cafes are shooting out of the ground like mushrooms. Even in distant small towns you find some.

It’s staggering that “repression of free speech” under the hated Bush junta should have become such a persistent theme in Western media while the explosion of free speech in Iraq post Saddam is almost ignored. More chilling is this Iraqi translator’s account, in the same story, of life under the former resident of Spider Hole Street:

I have seen recordings of how the Fedayeen were trained. Small children would be executed in front of them to harden their hearts. Dogs would be set on old people and criminals with the same purpose. Saddam paid them good money, which is why they served Saddam.

The only people who are against the Americans now are those who were rich before. Now they know that they can’t sit at home and get wealthy. They will have to work and they don’t like it. They lost the power and authority. It is very dangerous.

What would I say to the American people? You have to be proud of your sons. You have to be proud of your army. They are fighters for freedom.

Consider again the people the anti-war left was defending: lazy rich murdering bastards.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 AM | Comments (12)

January 13, 2004


Richard Littlejohn sits in on Robert Kilroy-Silk’s all-new, no-longer-offensive BBC comeback special:

KILROY: My next guest is a young man, Ali, from Salford. He’s just volunteered to go to work in Jerusalem as a suicide bomber. That’s an interesting career choice.

ALI: I’ve always wanted to travel and kill Jews.

UPDATE. Folks ain’t happy:

Fifty thousand people have voiced opposition to the BBC's suspension of a popular television show after its host Robert Kilroy-Silk made inflammatory remarks against Arabs, a British tabloid newspaper said.

UPDATE II. Was the BBC right to take Kilroy off the air? Should there be limits to freedom of speech? Tell the BBC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:03 PM | Comments (10)


Molly Ivins 'fesses up:

Crow Eaten Here: I learn via The Weekly Standard that I owe credit for a line I've used about Arnold Schwarzenegger -- "looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts"-- to an Australian journalist named Clive James. I first heard the line from a civil libertarian in Vermont and had no idea it had come from James, or I would have given him credit. My apologies.

Presumably Molly will also apologise to the "civil libertarian in Vermont" (what are the odds?) after claiming sole credit for the line during an appearance on CNN. Still, at least she’s got the balls to correct her error, unlike Phillip Adams, who wrote that George Bush not only held aloft a plastic turkey but that he brought it with him to Iraq, and Alan Ramsey, who claimed the fictional plastic Thanksgiving bird was served for Christmas dinner. Frauds.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:54 PM | Comments (40)


Progress, of a kind, is noted in Baghdad:

Some in the city are determined to try to get back to normal, like the organisers of what's thought to be one of the first post-Saddam Hussein heavy metal concerts at a community centre in the suburb of Karada.

Meanwhile the nation’s newly-free press is adopting entertaining sales strategies:

"Saddam married 18-year-old girl in spider hole," it screams. Details in the next edition, says a tiny paragraph below. Such are the tactics used to sell newspapers in Iraq.

UPDATE. It’s the triumphant return of Lunchboy!

So Tim 500 dead kids from the mid west and where's your sorry ass. Guess you are at lunch practising being a legend in your own lunch time.

Come on Tim, get down to that recruiting office and sign up for the big foreign adventure you so crave for all us to be on.

Guess not.

Now don't choke on your afternoon latte you yellow belly coward.

Lunch today: five beef tacos.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:47 PM | Comments (57)


Phillip Adams, millionaire friend of the working class, details a grave threat to his pseud-infested farming village:

The landscape that was attracting writers, painters and potters, bringing new life to a community that had been in retreat, was under attack.

The nature of this attack? A planned coal mine. Which likely would bring more life to "a community in retreat" than thousands of clay-fondling watercolour diarists. The Bunyip has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:38 PM | Comments (10)


Mark Steyn on BBC bans:

Let me see if I understand the BBC Rules of Engagement correctly: if you're Robert Kilroy-Silk and you make some robust statements about the Arab penchant for suicide bombing, amputations, repression of women and a generally celebratory attitude to September 11 – none of which is factually in dispute – the BBC will yank you off the air and the Commission for Racial Equality will file a complaint to the police which could result in your serving seven years in gaol. Message: this behaviour is unacceptable in multicultural Britain.

But, if you're Tom Paulin and you incite murder, in a part of the world where folks need little incitement to murder, as part of a non-factual emotive rant about how "Brooklyn-born" Jewish settlers on the West Bank "should be shot dead" because "they are Nazis" and "I feel nothing but hatred for them", the BBC will keep you on the air, kibitzing (as the Zionists would say) with the crème de la crème of London's cultural arbiters each week. Message: this behaviour is completely acceptable.

Principled public broadcasters. Where would we be without them? Probably still calling Saddam a dictator, like the fools we are.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:28 PM | Comments (5)


Mark Latham in 2001:

Tariffs and other forms of protection are the economic equivalent of racism. They encourage Australians to think poorly of people from other countries and to believe that we would be better off isolated from the rest of the world.

Protectionism is not a viable option. No nation has ever prospered by aiming at economic self-sufficiency. No society has ever advanced its culture through an ethos of isolationism.

Mark Latham yesterday:

Mr Latham said the ALP would not support a free trade agreement with the US either if it did not provide sufficient benefits ... "We don't want the massive loss of Australian TV in cultural content."

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:01 PM | Comments (16)


Those intellectuals at BabesAgainstBush still believe that the Prez forced troops to celebrate Thanksgiving at 6am. This claim was debunked weeks ago. Hey, babes? Less thinking, more standing around naked, OK?

(Via Lawrence Haws, who told the anti-Bush babes of their error, only to be called stupid and pointed towards a Sydney Morning Herald article that repeated the 5am landing/6am let’s-eat-plastic-turkey dumbness.)

In other chick news, let’s compare Maureen Dowd’s views with reality:

Dowd, last Tuesday: “Iraq is still a free-fire zone.”

Reality: “Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq have dropped 22% in the four weeks since Saddam Hussein's capture.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:07 AM | Comments (23)


Academic Matt McDonald emits tears over greenhouse emissions:

The announcement that Australia has abandoned the international greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme of the Kyoto Protocol hammers another nail into the coffin of a legitimate climate change policy in Australia.

Hopefully that nail was made of depleted uranium, and the coffin built entirely from the last tree of its species. Although Melanie Phillips is more nuanced and balanced on global warming than me (I don’t even care if global warming is happening; let’s get this sucker cooking, that’s what I say) her comments on the likes of McDonald are still worth reading. Consume some precious earthly energy by clicking the link and taking a look.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:01 AM | Comments (17)

January 12, 2004


White supremacists and Indymedia agree: George W. Bush’s pro-war agenda is totally Jew-driven. But someone forgot to tell the Jews:

U.S. Jews would overwhelmingly support any major Democratic candidate over President George W. Bush if the election were held today, according to the 2004 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion.

Joe Lieberman, the only Jewish candidate, would defeat Republican Bush by the largest margin, 71 percent to 24%, the poll found.

In one-on-one matchups with the president, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Richard Gephardt would each receive about 60 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to about 30% for Bush, according to the survey conducted for the American Jewish Committee and released Monday.

Dubya's next sinister alliance will be with his hidden army of Black Panther supporters. No blood for bling!

UPDATE. Maybe Bush actually controls the Jews. After all, he did oppose that fence ... and now look what’s happened.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:44 PM | Comments (16)


Jim Nolan -- with whom, among others, I enjoyed a sensational eight-hour lunch last Saturday -- dissects John le Carre and Anne "le Greenpeace" Summers:

Will Le Carre serve to popularise the anti-Americanism already so evident among the conformist left and reactionary right? Perhaps, but if Summers’s inarticulate pleading is any example, not to an extent that it can get much worse.

"Inarticulate pleading" could be the headline for the latest piece by The Guardian’s Ian Black, who somehow reaches this conclusion:

Islamophobia is a bigger problem than anti-semitism.

Quite how he reaches this conclusion isn’t clear, at least to me. In fact, a great deal of his column seems to indicate the opposite.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck, who hails from a far western locale where lunch, alas, is never taken)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:11 PM | Comments (10)


The angry candidate meets an angry voter:

Dale Ungerer, a retiree from Hawkeye, Iowa, lectured Dean for nearly three minutes near the end of a forum aimed at winning voters for Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses.

"Please tone down the garbage, the mean mouthing, the tearing down of your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer told the former Vermont governor and Democratic front-runner. "You should help your neighbor and not tear him down."

"George Bush is not my neighbor," Dean replied.

"Yes, he is," Ungerer said, to which Dean responded: "You sit down. You've had your say and now I'm going to have my say."

Lucky the old dude didn't criticise bike paths. Dean would've punched him.

UPDATE. What does this prove?

Under fire in a campaign debate, Howard Dean conceded grudgingly Sunday night that he never named a black or Latino to his cabinet during nearly 12 years as governor of Vermont.

Nothing at all, I suspect. Hiring minorities for the sake of hiring minorities doesn’t indicate sensitivity to racial issues; it indicates cynicism. Besides which, Vermont is about the whitest place in the US. When Vermonters say “Yo”, the second syllable is always “gurt”.

(Via Martian Sermon)

UPDATE II. Dean remains a clown on other issues, however. Here’s Joe Klein in Time:

In Indianola, Iowa, last week, Howard Dean said the most amazing thing. He was talking about free trade. He said that if his trade policy—a tax on products from countries that don't meet labor and environmental standards—was enacted there would be some bad news: "Prices will go up at your local Wal-Mart." But, he added, there would be good news too. American jobs would be protected. Immigrants would be less likely to come to America, since their wages at home would probably increase. A stable middle class would be created in developing countries.

Protectionism helps developing countries? Sure thing, sleeve boy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:07 PM | Comments (35)


Jim Treacher and Kevin Parrott rue the MoveOn.org anti-Bush video that could have been: “I'm thinking Bush laughing and eating Iraqi baby brains for breakfast, followed by a soak in a hot tub filled with crude oil ...”

Speaking of drug-fuelled art, here are some fun LSD drawing experiments. “Upon completing the drawing the patient starts laughing, then becomes startled by something on the floor.” Sounds like those MoveOn.org kids to me.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:35 AM | Comments (8)


AAP reports:

The Howard government's decision to join the US-led coalition in the war on Iraq was a mistake, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.

"It was a war justified primarily to find and eliminate weapons of mass destruction - none were used in the conflict, none have been found since," Mr Latham told Sydney radio 2UE.

"I think they made a mistake in going to a war on Iraq. Whatever the reason or motivation was I think it was a mistake."

Big call. Humanitarian reasons, tactical reasons, long-term reasons -- all wrong, apparently. If the war was a mistake, Latham's campaign to restore Saddam should be an interesting part of his election strategy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:10 AM | Comments (58)


"The new Vanity Fair is out," writes a reader in New York. "This month's edition has a page of mocked-up bumper stickers, which are meant to be bitter (and, I suppose, also meant to be funny). They say things like: 'America: Inventor of the Gated Community' and 'America: Almost All Paved' (except, of course, for all that god-forsaken desert and wilderness you see from the air).

"But some of them I would actually quite like to put on my car: 'America: You Just Try to Knock That Smile Off Our Face' and 'America: You Want Fries With That?' (well, absolutely, with everything).

"But my personal favorite is: 'America: The Moon's Ass Belongs to the US. So Don't Be Landing Your Skanky Rocket on It. Don't Even Be Looking at the Moon.'"

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:28 AM | Comments (42)


Charles Krauthammer in Time:

When the Iraq war began, the French Foreign Minister refused a reporter's question as to which side he wanted to win. This was not a mere expression of pique. When the existential enemy was Nazism or communism, the world rallied to the American protector. But Arab-Islamic radicalism is different. Its hatreds are wide, but its strategic focus is America. Its monument is ground zero. Ground zero is not in Paris.

Given the number of anti-western activists resident in France, the French Foreign Minister might one day regret not taking sides. Krauthammer concludes: “The grand alliances are dead. With a few trusted friends, America must carry on alone.” Sadly, he’s right. Unilateralism -- as such it is called -- is more the result of the US being shunned by former allies than it is of the US deciding to act without international support. International support was invited. Few cared to sign up.

(Via Meyer Rafael)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:06 AM | Comments (23)


Spanish bloggers HispaLibertas pull apart a Wired article on Spanish bloggers. Key paragraph:

Blogs are becoming important in Spain (although, sadly, much less than this article implies) for exactly the same reasons why they are becoming important everywhere else: dynamism, directness and a fresh perspective than the one found on traditional Spanish media, which is almost monolithically positioned on the left side of the political spectrum. Sadly, most if not all the blogs quoted in this article, share that position: on the oil spill, on the war, on the nazi, war-mongering Bush-puppet government of Aznar, on the evil Americans and the super-evil Jews … and just about everything else.

More positively, Jack Kelly in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette credits John Cole’s sharp observation:

Web logger John Cole noted a fascinating difference between the news accounts accusing Halliburton of overcharging on a contract to deliver oil in Iraq, and the accounts of Halliburton's subsequent exoneration.

Halliburton’s interests in Iraq are substantially less complicated than voting in the Australian Blog Awards:

To vote you will have to email me to request a ballot paper, which will be emailed to you ASAP. You will then be required to fill out the ballot paper and email it back. PLEASE NOTE that the system being used for these awards are the Optional Preferential Voting System (the ballot paper will have more information about this).

What's next? DNA samples from all the nominees? It’s easier for a terrorist to migrate to the US.

UPDATE. Tim Russert and guests are currently blabbing about blogs on Meet the Press. They seem confused.

UPDATE II. Jeff Jarvis rates Meet the Press.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:28 AM | Comments (13)


Thanks for the polio, bastards:

Polio has spread to two more countries in West Africa, further jeopardizing the World Health Organization's goal of wiping out the crippling disease by next year, an official of the agency said Friday.

The chief obstacle is opposition to polio immunization by some Islamic leaders in the state of Kano, in the northern part of [Nigeria]. These opponents contend that the vaccine contains hormones that sterilize girls.

Their concern is touching. A 2001/2 study by the Nigerian Centre for Gender Health and Human Rights found that 80% of Kano girls had undergone female circumcision.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (18)


Gobble gobble! CounterLunch writer David Lindorff joins the plastic turkey chorus :

It's a little like that plastic turkey the Commander-in-Chief carried around during his photo-op quickie visit to the airport near Baghdad at Thanksgiving -- it looks good but you can't eat it.

Lindorff takes his place alongside fellow poultry conspiracists Howard Kurtz, John McLaughlin, Saul Landau, W. David Jenkins, Matt Taibbi, Mark Morford, A.L. Kennedy, Heather Wokusch, Ian McNamara, Gregg Easterbrook, Phillip Adams, Alan Ramsey, and Mark Lawson.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:39 AM | Comments (11)


George W. Bush might be headed for a landslide win, guaranteeing four more years of Stupid White Men best-sellers:

President Bush is in a stronger position with voters than his father or Bill Clinton were at the same stage of their re-election bids, an Associated Press poll found.

Bush is about the same as Ronald Reagan before his landslide re-election victory in 1984.

Ed Koch, Democrat mayor of New York during Reagan’s presidency, is one of Bush’s supporters:

I intend to vote in 2004 to re-elect President Bush. I will do so despite the fact that I do not agree with him on any major domestic issue, from tax policy to the recently enacted prescription drug law. These issues, however, pale in importance beside the menace of international terrorism, which threatens our very survival as a nation. President Bush has earned my vote because he has shown the resolve and courage necessary to wage the war against terrorism.

Koch has been trending towards Bush for some time. In other New York news, Maureen Dowd tackles the big issues:

Is there anything more annoying than argyle?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:36 AM | Comments (12)

January 11, 2004


Egyptian Ibrahim Nawar, head of the Board of Management of Arab Press Freedom Watch, defends axed BBC host Robert Kilroy-Silk:

I fully support Robert Kilroy-Silk and salute him as an advocate of freedom of expression. I would like to voice my solidarity with him and with all those who face the censorship of such a basic human right.

I agree with much of what he says about Arab regimes. There is a very long history of oppression in the Arab world, particularly in the states he mentions: Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, as well as in Sudan and Tunisia.

I condemn the decision to axe his programme and call for the BBC to reinstate him forthwith. Indeed, the treatment of Mr Kilroy-Silk is very worrying because it indicates that censorship is now taking place in liberal, Western countries like the United Kingdom. These countries should instead be setting an example to the oppressive Arab regimes that violate freedom of expression on a daily basis.

Nawar also agrees with Kilroy-Silk's views on Arab oppression of women, pointing out that “women in Saudi Arabia even have to struggle for the right to walk unaccompanied in the street or to drive a car.” On that last point, science may one day prove that Arab women can, in fact, control an automobile:

“The prohibition of women driving is not an established religious rule,” Al-Qarni said. “If a woman is given the choice between driving a car herself or being alone in a car with a stranger, then I would choose that she drive herself,” he added. The scholar, however, does not want to give the impression that he necessarily believes that women should drive. “I personally will not allow my wife or daughters or sisters to drive. But I tell my brothers to keep the matter open for debate by a responsible scientific body,” he said. “We have to address all issues, including women driving, in a wise and rational manner,” he added.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck)

UPDATE. The BBC hasn’t axed this geezer:

Tom Paulin, the poet and Oxford don, has continued to be a regular contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review arts programme, despite being quoted in an Egyptian newspaper as saying that Jews living in the Israeli-occupied territories were "Nazis" who should be "shot dead".

(Via Scott Burgess)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:47 PM | Comments (28)


Cuba allegedly has a 96% literacy rate. Which isn’t much use when the internet is banned:

A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans.

Only those authorised to use the internet from home, such as government employees and doctors, will be able to do so on a regular telephone line.

The bill says the state phone company Etecsa will use technical means to detect and impede access.

It will take effect on Saturday, according to a letter sent by Etecsa internet service E-net on Friday to customers.

The Cuban Government passed a decree last year that the internet could only be accessed using a more expensive telephone service charged in US dollars, not generally available to ordinary Cubans.

Way to keep your people poor and stupid, Fidel.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 PM | Comments (29)


Eighties pop joke turned food activist Alannah Currie reveals her ingenious plan to combat GM crops:

We're going to pull crops out and there will be loads of other people with us. If there's loads of us, how can they arrest all of us?

With loads of police, one assumes. Alannah might also consider the possibility of armed farmers defending their property. When will the anti-GM lobby turn their attention to deadly non-GM foods?

Peanuts and kiwi fruit have been allowed to become part of the European diet over the past half century in spite of the fact that both cause potentially fatal allergies in susceptible individuals. Had they been GM foods, the allergies would almost certainly have been picked up in safety tests and the foods banned from distribution. Far from shunning GM foods on the grounds of safety, a logical consumer would eat nothing but.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:12 PM | Comments (35)


Time is running out for the Wahabists, predicts Bahrain’s Mahmood Al-Yousif:

The wahabi/salafi axis has been exposed and will be crushed. No, not by the Americans, but by the very society they're living in. People are fed up of their in-bred hatred. They're fed up of these proponents of darkness and minute-minds. They're fed up of being ostracised and pushed out of the world because of these animals. They're fed up of having their religion defiled and hated because of these in-breeds.

And no, I'm not taking about the Shi'a doing the hating and rising against the wahabis here, I'm talking about the Sunnis!

Mahmood is bringing down Wahabist cultural attitudes from within. Go Mahmood!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:33 PM | Comments (4)


The London Times reports:

An Islamic terrorist suspect linked to Al-Qaeda has been arrested after apparently preparing himself for a suicide bombing in Britain.

The man, an Algerian asylum seeker, had left suicide notes to his mother and sister warning them that he planned to "martyr" himself.

If you’re not a Times subscriber, another report can be found here. Things seem to heating up all over Europe:

Previously seen as a relative backwater in the war on terror, Europe is now in the frontline. 'It's trench warfare,' said one security expert. 'We keep taking them out. They keep coming at us. And every time they are coming at us harder.'

Britain is still playing a central logistical role for the militants, with extremists, including the alleged mastermind of last year's bombings in Morocco, and a leader of an al-Qaeda cell, regularly using the UK as a place to hide. Other radical activists are using Britain for fundraising, massive credit card fraud, the manufacture of false documents and planning. Recruitment is also continuing. In one bugged conversation, a senior militant describes London as 'the nerve centre' and says that his group has 'Albanians, Swiss [and] British' recruits. He needs people who are 'intelligent and highly educated', he says and implies that the UK can, and does, supply them.

Europe is a more likely site for a major terrorist attack this year than the US.

UPDATE. As predicted:

The French police are convinced that their country has escaped a planned chemical or biological attack by an Islamist cell linked to al-Qaida.

An interior ministry official said evidence from Islamist militants arrested in the Lyon area last week made it "very plain" that an attack with the deadly botulism or ricin toxins was being actively prepared.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 PM | Comments (7)


Add a few plants or maybe a dog fence and Mars would look a lot like Australia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:56 AM | Comments (12)

January 10, 2004


The BBC has suspended its entire staff because of offensive anti-western commentary. No, wait; that’s wrong. The BBC has suspended one presenter because of offensive anti-Arab commentary:

The Kilroy programme will be taken off air immediately following comments made by Robert Kilroy-Silk in a newspaper article, the BBC has announced.

The presenter branded Arabs "suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors" and asked what they had given to the world other than oil.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) described the piece written by the discussion show host in last week's Sunday Express as a "gratuitous anti-Arab rant".

Mr Kilroy-Silk's article included comments saying the toppling of despotic regimes in the Middle East should be a war aim, and questioned the contribution of the Arab nations to world welfare and civilisation.

He said Arabs "murdered more than 3,000 civilians on 11 September" and then "danced in the streets" to celebrate.

Perry de Havilland summarises:

Whilst I found his remarks full of nasty collectivist generalization, many of the points he made about what passes for civilization in the Arab world are simply facts... people do indeed get their limbs chopped off as punishment in Saudi Arabia, women are indeed second class citizens (if they are even citizens at all), human rights are ghastly across a great swathe of the Middle East, the last time the Muslim world was a hive of innovation was in the 12th Century etc. etc... all these things are simply facts.

Yet my point is not to defend Kilroy-Silk, of whom I am not a particular fan but rather to wonder why it is that Robert Fisk and John Pilger can make equally sweeping and egregiously collectivist statements about Israel and the United States without so much as a murmur from the Guardian reading classes?

Sounds about right. Other good points are made by Natalie Solent. Strange thing is, the contentious Kilroy piece was originally run last April:

This is the second time in nine months that the Sunday Express had published the offending article under Kilroy-Silk's name.

It previously appeared on April 6 last year, with a different headline and slightly different editing - and did not attract any complaints.

It is not clear whether the article had been submitted twice or whether it was a production error.

I’m informed that Kilroy emailed the old column by mistake, and nobody at the Sunday Express noticed. Great work. Kilroy has now issued a statement:

It was originally written as a response to the views of opponents to the war in Iraq that Arab States 'loathe' the West and my piece referred to 'Arab States' rather than 'Arabs'.

Out of that context, it has obviously caused great distress and offence and I can only reiterate that I very deeply regret that.

Expect Kilroy to win a British Islamophobia Award. The bar isn’t set very high; last year William Hague was nominated for saying this:

I am a friend and supporter of Israel and believe Israel has a vital role to play in the region … Israel may sometimes do things that we don't approve of in the West, but the whole point of having the State of Israel is that the Jewish people can have self-determination.

Apparently supporting Israel is Islamophobic. Interesting.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:22 AM | Comments (93)


Geoff Kitney waxes lame in the Sydney Morning Herald on the subjects of Prime Minister John Howard, individualism, and the hateful Australian population:

Letting people say what was on their minds fitted well with the big idea that is at the heart of Howard's political philosophy: individual freedom. Howard's lifelong core belief has been in the power of the individual. It is the inspiration for his commitment to free market economics.

Sounds fine, yes? You know, people saying whatever they want. Individuals empowered and all. But NO! NO! NO! Individuals are bad, as Kitney explains:

In these hedonistic and self-focused times, broader issues of community interest, equity and minority rights are sidelined or given lower priority. The environment, for instance. Australians are less fussed now about the threat of global warming than they used to be and the Howard Government has not paid any significant political price for playing a leading role in wrecking the Kyoto Treaty.

The government would have paid a massive price had it agreed with Kyoto. And how would Kitney earn a living once his tree-munching newspaper was closed down?

Australians are much more concerned about the threat of terrorism than the risk of rare animals and plants becoming extinct as the climate changes.

The notion that people are more concerned about an immediate deadly threat rather than a theoretical problem that might kill a few dumb bugs 20,000 years from now seems alien to Kitney.

While individualism has flourished we, in our debt-laden castles and our fear of the unknown which the new world order of global terrorism has created, have become more selfish and less tolerant.

Name names, Geoff. Name one person you know who has become more selfish and less tolerant. Identify them and their crimes!

The most conspicuous victims of this are asylum seekers, the vast majority of them desperate people who have fled the threat of persecution and death but have been met with flint-faced determination to punish them for not following proper procedures in seeking to enter Australia, a shameful and immoral absurdity about which few Australians have the slightest pang of conscience.

Those proper procedures ensure two things: one, that people with genuine claims to asylum are admitted to Australia; and two, that there is not seen to be a reward for the risks involved in people-smuggling. Which causes people to die. Australians would rather not have dead bodies piled up on our shores. (By the way, those asylum seekers made their decisions individually.)

Kitney’s dismissal of most Australians as conscienceless is sickening. He despises his own readers.

I also believe that the power of individualism is breaking down a sense of community and community responsibility which will have long-term consequences for cohesion and ethical standards.

And Kitney’s evidence of this?

Social workers and parents say there are clear signs of this in youth behaviour, with crumbling respect and civility as a "me first" culture grows.

Kitney sounds like one of those 1950s conservatives complaining about Elvis and Jerry Lee. The teenagers, they have no respect! They misbehave! Ban dancing! Restore civility!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:23 AM | Comments (29)


A bunch of illegal immigrants whose claims for asylum have been rejected according to UN guidelines go on a hunger strike, and their supporters demand that the Australian government provides medical help:

Australian-based representative for most of the 284 asylum seekers on Nauru, Hassan Ghulam, warned that if the medical team failed to arrive the hunger strike, suspended yesterday, would resume.

"I think they would resume (the hunger strike)," he said.

"The Government should know that the severity of this radical action will be dictated by the Government, not the detainees.

"If there's no action by the Government it means loss of life."

No, Hassan. It means loss of life if people decide to not put food in their own mouths. This isn’t a government decision. It’s a personal one.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:02 AM | Comments (14)


Graham Barrett in the Melbourne Age:

Just six decades after the Holocaust, it is no longer considered socially inappropriate in some educated circles of the West to express anti-Semitic sentiment. It happens right here in Melbourne.

I wish this wasn’t true -- I love Melbourne, where I lived for a decade -- but it is. I lost an old contact book a few months ago, and I don’t miss it that much, because it’s loaded with people I used to like who these days blame the Jews. Sad.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:59 AM | Comments (28)


Congratulations on your latest award, Maureen:

No one does less with the largest opinion platform in American than Dowd. Her vacuity is legendary, but 2003 was a banner year even by her standards. In addition to weaving her incessant Bush-hating pop culture analogies every single week, this year she also managed to (among other things) deride Clarence Thomas as an affirmative action baby and call into question her own veracity by altering a quote by President Bush.

MoDo is dull and worthless, but she can’t compete with Australia's Hugh Mackay, who’s got a theory about advertising and politics and the war and ... look, just don’t read this while operating heavy machinery, OK?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:46 AM | Comments (16)


Highlights of a year in Blairsville.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:41 AM | Comments (3)


AFP reports:

America’s controversial foreign visitor screening program has nabbed 30 criminals in its first three days of operation, an official said yesterday.

I wonder how many American criminals the Brazilians have caught.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:25 AM | Comments (9)

January 09, 2004


Is leftist comedy writer Guy Rundle an effortlessly funny man? Read his latest column and decide. Or read his previous effortless jokery:

It is clear the Iraq war will not be a walkover for the United States-led coalition ... With no sign that the regime will collapse it seems that, one way or another, slaughter is coming.

Ha ha ha! And then there was his hilarious desire for mass Syrian and Iranian death, all in the service of merry anti-Americanism:

It is not impossible that substantial sections of Iran and Syria - with or without their governments - will join the fight. Bloody as such a result may be, it may be for the best in the long run, because it is the only result that would set limits to future adventures.

“Future adventures” being Rundle’s term for “getting rid of fascist dictators”. Funny; used to be that the left wanted that.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:48 PM | Comments (7)


“What liberal media?” asks Eric Alterman. Well, how about this liberal media:

America's first family has its share of parenting headaches with George Bush's twin daughters acting out their resentment at his chosen career with under-age drinking binges and other escapades, excerpts from a new book have revealed.

Excerpts published in the Washington Post departed from the media convention of granting privacy to the children of previous presidents, including Chelsea Clinton.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:04 PM | Comments (21)


Charles Krauthammer quotes Howard Dean:

One of the attacks they don't bring up very often anymore is the Saddam Hussein thing, that it's not safer since Saddam Hussein's been captured -- because we now have 23 troops killed and we're having fighter planes escorting passenger jets through American airspace. I noticed that line of attack disappeared fairly quickly.

Contented little dude, isn’t he? Krauthammer sets Dean straight.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:53 PM | Comments (3)


"This planet, it is an infidel planet?" James Lileks faces some searching questions.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:31 PM | Comments (12)


A friend writes asking which car he should buy. The sort of thing he’s looking for is summed up by his subject line:

Fuck, I've Just Turned 40 and I Want a Car With a Big Fat Spoiler and A Sun Roof and I Don't Wanna Drive any Euro Crap.

A black Monaro was his first choice, but it’s just a little too expensive. So he’s narrowed it down to either a Holden Commodore SS or a Ford Falcon XR6.

Any thoughts from owners or experts would be appreciated. Owner data: married, teenage children, drives everywhere, requires loudest sound system available.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:02 PM | Comments (43)


Maybe Saddam should have had that humiliating medical examination a little earlier:

The ousted Iraqi dictator, who is currently under custody with the coalition forces, suffers from cancer of lymph glands, Kuwaiti Al-Anba daily reads, citing an Iraqi official. According to the daily, the disease is in an advanced stage, so doctors predict the former dictator would probably live a couple of years more.

Not sure how reliable this is. Let’s hope he lives long enough to be killed.

UPDATE. Joseph de Bonald posts the comment of the week:

Wow, I'm taken aback. You know, that's a pretty malicious thing to say about anyone, even someone as unpleasant as Saddam Hussein. With comments like that, it's clear you're no better than the "terrorists" you purport to hate.

But your anger is understandable. Having lost the political war to the Left on almost every domestic front, to compensate, you take out your frustrations on foreign tinpot dictators. You're too chickensh*t to face the music in your own country.

And to think that US soldiers are fighting and dying so f*cking scumbags like you can vent your nasty little spleen.

Truly, it isn't third-rate dictators like Saddam Hussein that pose a threat to the West. It's moral primitives such as yourself.

Beats me what he's so upset about. The radiation therapy all of us moral primitives wanted delivered to Saddam would’ve cured his cancer perfectly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:24 AM | Comments (46)


A.L. Kennedy, writing in The Guardian, puts on her best Tokyo Rose act:

Perhaps you've just finished a tour for Uncle Sam. Maybe you're one of last year's lucky amputees, or you've suffered a recent "mystery illness" or "mental breakdown". Well, give yourself a shake, shine up those new prosthetics and re-enlist today. In other wars you'd have been left idle, but no matter what levels of physical and mental trauma you've endured, this time the Department of Defense Inc still needs you. And with veterans making up 9% of the US population but 23% of the homeless - and Veterans Affairs taking care of 40,000 out of 500,000 - what better options have you got? You have a 50% chance of substance abuse and a 45% chance of mental illness - and let's not even talk about Gulf war syndrome and depleted uranium. In fact, let's not talk about that, ever.

How long before she asks: “Are you enjoying yourselves while your wives and sweethearts are running around with the 4F's in the States? How will you get home? Here's another record to remind you of home.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:58 AM | Comments (17)


Column by me on criminal mastermind Prince Charles. This was commissioned yesterday on a two-hour deadline, and is on a subject I hadn’t paid much attention to; one of the advantages of blogging, however, is that it teaches usable rapid-response skills. Another reason more journalists should blog.

UPDATE. Richard Littlejohn, in The Sun, gets to the point rather quicker than do I:

Lady Di was killed when a car driven by a man off his face on drink and drugs hit a wall at high speed.

End of story.

OK, so she claimed her husband was planning to kill her, according to letters released by her sleazy little butler. But she was a grade A fruitcake.

Hit the link to read Littlejohn’s opinion on strict new US visa requirements for British travellers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:44 AM | Comments (15)


Wisdom from a cretin:

The secret to life is to fuck up just enough that it doesn't catch up with you until after you're dead.

As Peter Briffa says: “Cretin? The guy's a genius. I hope he never posts again. It would ruin everything.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)


New York blogger Spartacus follows the money:

Thanks to the Federal Elections Commission's database of individual political contributions over $200, however, it is possible to fairly easily measure the distribution of staff and faculty political contributions at major universities. Yesterday I did a quick and dirty analysis of four universities' staff and faculty contributions to the 2004 federal election cycle (as reported to the FEC) during the first nine months of 2003 (the most recent period available). For this analysis, I looked at the three most prestigious Ivy League schools (Harvard, Yale and Stanford) and a more or less randomly selected state university (the University of Tennessee, where Glenn Reynolds -- better known as Instapundit -- teaches constitutional, administrative and internet law). The results were, well, predictable.

But very interesting.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:35 AM | Comments (4)


To properly appreciate the media reaction had George W. Bush made this joke, you’d have to detonate 40 kilos of Semtex in your pants:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for joking that Mahatma Gandhi used to run a gas station in St. Louis, saying it was "a lame attempt at humor."

The New York Democrat made the remark at a fund-raiser Saturday. During an event here for Senate candidate Nancy Farmer, Mrs. Clinton introduced a quote from Gandhi by saying, "He ran a gas station down in St. Louis."

After laughter from many in the crowd of at least 200 subsided, the former first lady continued, "No, Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader of the 20th century."

Great save.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:26 AM | Comments (28)


Fatima Shah defends the burqa, while she's still free to speak her mind:

The fact is that most women who wear the burqa in the West do so because they want to. I know, because I wear it. My father didn't force me; my mother doesn't wear it; and my husband didn't order me to do it, because I'm not married yet.

But after she’s married ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:17 AM | Comments (24)


Madonna endorses Wesley Clark:

I've never done this before. But life is about taking risks is it not?

Some risk. Celebrity says politician is good! Yeah, that’s gonna kill your royalties. And she has done this before, only a month ago. The aging tyrant singer continues:

I know that people seem to pay attention to everything I do. Big or Small. Ridiculous or Sublime.

Capitalised or Uncapitalised. For No Apparent Reason.

I am supporting General Wesley Clark for President. Not only as a "celebrity" but as an American citizen and as a mother. I want my children to grow up with the same opportunities that I had to know and understand what's going on in the world and to travel that world safely and with pride.

Madonna grew up under Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon -- all of them famously open and generous with information about what was going on in the world during the Cold War. When any Western kid could “travel the world safely and with pride”.

Our greatest risk is not terrorism and it's not Iraq or the "Axis of Evil." Our greatest risk is a lack of leadership, a lack of honesty and a complete lack of consciousness.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:10 AM | Comments (25)


Law student Robert Corr, the face of intelligent young Australian leftism, asserts that which he cannot support. Read the comments for a feast of evasion, confusion, and denial.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:07 AM | Comments (35)

January 08, 2004


Posting will be infrequent here for the next few days while I clear a bunch of paying work. Normality -- well, such as it is -- should resume on Sunday. Or Wednesday. Friday? Soon, anyway.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:15 PM | Comments (5)


Michael Moore: factless burger hoover or plus-sized deception pusher? Have your say.

Here’s the article, from the UK Telegraph, that inspired The Age’s reader poll.

UPDATE. Ogram N'otsgnik speaks:

We must free our minds to use the brains and Michael Moore provides the information and conceptual relevance to frame the context of the ongoing debate about America's hegemonic lust for flag-planting and the cannabilistic murder and consumption of its own poor people and children. ("Yes," says George W. "let the NRA pass me some dark meat from the ghetto to go with my blood pudding.")

Even now, as Uncle Sam's jackboot grinds free speech to a bloody pulp in his own homeland and democracy withers under direct orders from Washington in Australia, the grasping octopus of American imperialist adventurism is no closer to singing its swan song.

On Mars the Stars and Stripes flies -- the Red Planet, how appropriate, red with the blood of workers poisoned by the toxic byproducts of the imperialist war machines march on the high frontier of space in its phallic symbols of globalised corporate power. Did you know that every rocket that takes off from Cape Canavaral kills 73 seabirds (on average) and has led to nervous conditions amongst neighbouring manatees.

Michael Moore sees and speaks these truths in a simple, down-to-earth way that people who have been denied the benefits of tertiary education (unlike me and most Age readers) can understand.

His truths are such a challenge to the patriarchal power structure and its Zionist puppetmasters that it requires definite bravery to articulate them. They shot Martin Luther King and John Lennon in America. How long can it be before this large precious object is martyred by the same interests that gave us the Big Mac, George W. Bush, and showers instead of relaxing baths.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:26 AM | Comments (71)

January 07, 2004


Dennis Kucinich. Congressman. Presidential candidate. And Supergenius:

Federal spending was the topic and Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich came prepared with a pie chart to argue his point about a bloated Pentagon budget.

But although many listened to Tuesday's presidential debate, few could see the Ohio congressman's prop.

The debate was broadcast only on National Public Radio.

Via Roger Bournival. Kucinich is almost as bright as that Neal Starkman guy, who thinks people can be regular recipients of the Darwin Awards.

UPDATE. Kucinich impresses NPR listeners with his fashionable homemade trousers:

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:01 PM | Comments (47)


MoveOn.org calls for a bunch of anti-Bush television ads ... and they end up being used by Republicans:

The two 30-second ads were submitted as part of a contest MoveOn.org sponsored. The organization invited submissions of spots criticizing Mr. Bush's record. Two of the submissions compared Mr. Bush to the Nazi dictator of Germany, whose regime killed 6 million Jews during World War II.

One ad used computer effects to morph a picture of Hitler into one of Mr. Bush.

Another ad compared Mr. Bush's push for war to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq to Hitler's push for Nazi domination in Europe and said Hitler's war crimes are "2003's foreign policy."

The two Hitler ads are no longer on MoveOn.org's site since the contest ended at the end of 2003. But the Republican National Committee is making copies available on its own site.

One day -- possibly in 2005, or 2008, or 3729 -- the crazy left will learn that its tactics are self-destructive. Until then: BusHitler!

UPDATE. "I think my MoveOn.org ad was one of them that ticked off the RNC," writes Todd Mattson:

....and boy does that make my day. Thing is, I didn't really state that Bush is Hitler, nor do I believe that. I do, however, know that he has said some rather scary stuff, and his administration is hell bent on turning America into a police state.

A few votes go the wrong way in Florida and suddenly it’s East Germany. Right. Check out the rest of MoveOn’s anti-Bush ads, and the all-tard panel that will select a winner. Selected -- Not Elected!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:03 PM | Comments (45)


It’s the Australian Blog Awards! I’m nominating Robert Corr's new site, Chicken Scream, in all appropriate categories, except in those cases where I’ll nominate those two wacky web wildmen Gary Sauer-Thompson (“what drops out of sight is the need to develop a sustainable and socially responsible energy industry”) and Christopher Sheil (“this is the time when we characteristically look backward and forward, reflecting on the year that was and anticipating the one about to be”). Maybe Tim Dunlop deserves a prize, too. Hit the link and vote, vote, vote!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:16 AM | Comments (11)


Part one, from The Age’s Tony Parkinson:

A Belgian colleague of mine from the days of the 1991 Gulf War, Alain Hertoghe, has been sacked from his job at the La Croix newspaper in Paris. His crime? To have the temerity to suggest publicly that American strategy in Iraq was not the wholesale strategic disaster so many commentators, in France and elsewhere in the West, would have us believe.

Rather than debate Hertoghe's analysis, the collective response has been to ostracise one of the few professionals in their midst who knows from experience that myth-making and ill-informed prejudice can be every bit as as dangerous and blinding as a desert sandstorm in coverage of events in the Middle East.

Parkinson also mentions Californian Dr. Susan Block, whose language skills have lately inspired an Islamist audience. Part two of our Euro Sophisicato roundup is from Germany, where asylum seekers are much more generously treated than in wicked Australia:

In 2002, Germany registered 71,000 requests for asylum. About 6 percent were granted.

In Australia, about 90 per cent of asylum seekers who arrive illegally by boat are granted protection visas. We so bad! And part three, via Eursoc, is this line to journalists from former Parmalat finance boss Fausto Tonna:

I wish you and your families a slow and painful death.

Which is essentially what BBC director general Greg Dyke is wishing for his own organisation, as it prepares for the publication of the Hutton report. Dyke’s comments provide part four:

"What is important once Hutton is published is that if the BBC is criticised we learn from whatever is written - assuming of course that we agree with what is said," Mr Dyke told staff.

How unilateral of him.

(German link via Ian from Berlin)

UPDATE. This piece by Philip Jones on the proposed European constitution makes several good points, including:

The driving force behind the construction of a united Europe in the past 60 years was not France or Germany but the determination of the hated USA to bring about a stable alliance in Europe in order to counteract the communist threat from Russia.

UPDATE II. Germans and Frogs demonstrate the European method of getting along.

(Via reader Lewis A.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:01 AM | Comments (45)


David Brooks on the neocons -- (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish"):

Theories about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves. One day you read that neocons were pushing plans to finish off Iraq and move into Syria. Web sites appeared detailing neocon conspiracies; my favorite described a neocon outing organized by Dick Cheney to hunt for humans. The Asian press had the most lurid stories; the European press the most thorough. Every day, it seemed, Le Monde or some deep-thinking German paper would have an exposé on the neocon cabal, complete with charts connecting all the conspirators.

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.

In a speech last year I offered a definition of “neocon” in which con stood for “evil” and neo meant “really”. Brooks has it nailed, though. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE. Kevin Drum disagrees.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:02 AM | Comments (48)


You want to argue that the war in Iraq was wrong? Argue with Dr. Taki al-Moosawi:

A month after American troops occupied Baghdad, the family of Dr. Taki al-Moosawi was gathered at his Baghdad home, watching one of the Arab satellite channels that have become popular since the toppling of Saddam Hussein made it possible for any Iraqi, not just the ruling clique, to have satellite receivers.

And suddenly there it was: Old film clips of executions looted from the archives of the General Security Directorate, the most powerful of Mr. Hussein's secret police agencies. There, too, in the last terrifying moments before he was blown apart by a grenade his executioners had taped onto his chest, was the nephew who had disappeared without trace more than 18 years before, Mehdi Salih al-Moosawi.

When he saw the tape on Al Jazeera, an Arab station that has frequently been criticized for whitewashing Mr. Hussein's rule, Dr. Moosawi said, he was overcome with anger and disgust, as well as shame that it had been Mehdi who died, not him. He also felt at that moment, he said, that any price Iraqis paid for the overthrow of Mr. Hussein, including the ravages of the American invasion, had been worth it.

For so many reasons. The gals checking out computer cafe photographs at Zeyad’s site also support liberation:

These pictures give me the perfect opportunity to say something I've been noticing for quite awhile. Iraqi men are very handsome. Although in these pictures we see the back of heads, mostly, other pictures I've seen show handsome men.
Polly | 01.02.04 - 3:11 pm |

Yes, Polly. In our newspaper after SH was captured, they ran a full page of color pictures of people celebrating. In one picture, the guy at the forefront was photographed pretty close up. He was SMMMMMOKIN hot!!!
Karin-CT, USA

And then there are all the lives that have been saved.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:21 AM | Comments (5)


Mark Steyn leads a lockless life:

British friends visiting me in this corner of northern New England from their crime-ridden leafy shires always remark on my blithe unconcern about "home security". I don't have laser alarms, or window locks, or, indeed, a front-door key. Like most of my neighbours, I leave my home unlocked and, when I park the car, I leave the key in the ignition because then you always know where to find it.

I'm able to do this because - and this is where the gung-ho bit comes in - I live in a state with very high rates of gun ownership. In other words, if you're some teen punk and you want to steal my $70 television set, they're likely to be picking bits of your skull out of my wainscoting. But the beauty of this system is that I'm highly unlikely ever to have to blow your head off. The fact that most homeowners are believed to be armed reduces crime, in my neighbourhood, to statistically insignificant levels. Hence, my laconic approach to home security.

Living in Sydney, I’m not able to possess the handgun that I need. Not legally, that is. Our place has been broken into and robbed twice, and our car broken into four times. One neighbour, a single parent, has twice encountered burglars in her house; confronted, they were defiant and mocking. As you’d expect them to be. They knew that the tiny, terrified woman challenging them had neither the strength nor the means to do anything about them.

Anyway, I’ve got a few knives stashed around the place. Some friends prefer baseball bats. Not exactly a laconic approach, but it’s about all we can do.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:12 AM | Comments (95)


A letter to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz:

Knoxville, Tenn.: Why have we not seen one retaction or apology from any major pundit over the way they hammered Gov. Howard Dean after his comments that arresting Saddam would not reduce the threats of continuing terrorism? Now that we enter the second week of "Code Orange" and we are told it will last at least until the end of January -- it is shameful how the press can't bring themselves to say they were wrong. You demand perfection out of Gov. Dean and jump on any minor mis-speak yet when Bush was caught lying repeatedly about the Thanksgiving trip to Bagdad (British Airways-Plastic Turkey-Fox News reporter calling his office) silence is the order of the day.

And the reply:

Howard Kurtz: I think that's a fair point. The rival Democrats who ganged up on Dean over that statement have also failed to apologize. Of course, just because we're in an orange alert doesn't necessarily mean that the capture of Saddam hasn't made Americans, or at least American troops, somewhat safer. After all, Saddam in the spider hole was playing some role in the continuing attacks inside Iraq. But Dean was obviously trying to make a point about the broader war on terror.

Kurtz somehow missed that the “Bush lie” about the plastic turkey was itself a lie; nobody to date has apologised for that. As for the press jumping on “any minor mis-speak” from Howard ... tell George W. Bush about it, Mr. Knoxville. Besides which, Howard’s mis-speaks aren’t exactly minor. Sometimes they’re howling contradictions of his earlier statements. Maybe the Amazing Kreskin's Dean prediction will be proved correct.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:06 AM | Comments (9)

January 06, 2004


This bright new Guardian columnist will really provide some competition for The Independent’s Robert Fisk. He’s punchy and controversial, and seems to have a deeper affection for Islamic terrorists than even Fisk himself.

UPDATE. Andrew of Pathetic Earthlings reveals an earlier celebrated UK columnist.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:42 PM | Comments (18)


Professional misery monger Hugh Mackay, whose view of human nature always inclines to the negative, last year had this to say:

We have taken our eye off the big picture. We don't want to know. We've shifted our gaze to the things we can understand and control - the minutiae of our personal lives ... we prefer TV programs about backyards to news and current affairs ... we have become more self-absorbed; we are obsessed with the idea of security ... we're more prejudiced and, correspondingly, less interested in information that might challenge those prejudices ... we have been destabilised by too many changes coming too quickly; we're tired of "issues", disappointed in our leaders and disturbed by our own sense of powerlessness ... we have taken refuge in the celebration of our ordinariness, our normality, our domesticity ... we're scared, so we've switched off.

According to incoming World Vision Australia boss Tim Costello, writing in the Sunday Herald Sun (no link), Hugh’s gloomy theory was exactly wrong:

Post the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there was an expectation that Australians would become more isolated. We were told people would turn inward, they would care less about global issues and instead focus on their families and close circle of friends.

There is now evidence that for scores of Australians nothing could be further from the truth. World Vision has found that since September 11 there has been a surge in giving to overseas aid organisations ... some 40 per cent of [World Vision’s] child sponsors have made their commitment since the attacks on New York and Washington.

So much for switching off. Interestingly, Costello says younger Australians now rate global poverty as a bigger issue than the environment; I’d like to know how many understand that trade (rather than charity or debt forgiveness) is the solution. Quite a few, I imagine.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 PM | Comments (58)


The Guardian’s Ciar Byrne makes an appalling accusation:

The killing of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, who was shot dead by US troops in August for filming outside an Iraqi prison, provoked outrage.

This is a lie. Jason Van Steenwyk, serving in Iraq, responds:

Mazen Dana was killed when he went downrange during a firefight, turned around, hefted something on his shoulder, and foolishly aimed it in the direction of a tank’s gunnery optics.

For The Guardian to use the construction “shot dead by US troops for filming outside an Iraqi prison,” implicitly alleging that the shooting was, in effect, calculated murder, is quite simply beyond the pale of responsible journalism.

The Guardian should be ashamed of itself.

Should be. Won’t be, however. The Guardian doesn’t care.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 AM | Comments (28)


Can Australia score 433 runs at 4.81 per over to defeat India in the Fourth Test? Well, yes, in the same sense that Wesley Clark can become President or Dennis Kucinich can produce offspring with a humanoid mate. Not likely, but possible. It’ll require freakish batting and the intervention of almightly powers, but who knows?

Working in favour of an Australian win: a rapid outfield, lame Indian bowlers (besides the genius Anil Kumble) and Steve Waugh.

Working against: mathematics, history, possible rain ... and Kumble. My prediction: an early run chase stalled by a middle-order collapse, leading to a draw. Australia 7/320.

UPDATE. The figures above refer to the runs required today. The overall target is 443 off 94 overs -- a rate of 4.71.

After 16 overs, Australia is 0/75. Rate: 4.68. Early days, but the chase is on.

UPDATE II. Both openers out. 2/92 after 20 overs -- rate 4.6.

UPDATE III. The rate has slowed to 3.79, but will likely increase with Waugh now in (for his final Test innings). 3/182.

UPDATE IV. We’re into the last 90 minutes or so of Steve Waugh’s career. Australia (4/231) can no longer win; we’re fighting for a draw, with the major interest now Waugh’s eventual total. He’s 32 at present.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:56 AM | Comments (16)


Leon Kofmansky sends a letter to the Melbourne Age:

Michael Leunig's first cartoon of the year queried the new year resolutions America had made for us.

As a refugee from the former USSR, I wish Leunig and other Age cartoonists would stop publishing one-sided caricatures of America and other nations of the free world, and attempt a balancing act to mock the various police states and terrorist groups.

Never going to happen, Leon. You’d have had better luck writing to the Kremlin.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:40 AM | Comments (11)


"What can explain his popularity?" asks Neal Starkman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, of George W. Bush. "Can that many people be enamored of what he has accomplished in Iraq? Of how he has fortified our constitutional freedoms with the USA Patriot Act? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment? Perhaps they've been impressed with the president's personal integrity and the articulation of his grand vision for America?"

Starkman believes this to be unlikely. The real reason for W’s popularity, Neal explains, is that Bush has ingeniously cornered the Moron Vote:

It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright.

It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.

You know these people; they're all around you (they're not you, else you would not be reading this article this far). They're the ones who keep the puerile shows on TV, who appear as regular recipients of the Darwin Awards, who raise our insurance rates by doing dumb things, who generally make life much more miserable for all of us than it ought to be. Sad to say, they comprise a substantial minority -- perhaps even a majority -- of the populace.

Don’t understand the variegated interplay of humans and the environment? You Bush-voting idiot! Neal understands. He has the Supersized Democrat Mega Brain, and it tells him how to grasp the nuances of macroeconomics and such.

Neal’s hateful theme has been kicking around for a while in Monster Intellect circles. Phillip Adams, for example, wrote that the President’s "excruciating misuse of language" had "made him the darling of the angry and inarticulate." (As far as "misuse of language" is concerned, Adams is a repeat offender.) And remember this Democratic Underground wiseguy?

I would dare to assume that most of us here are in the upper 1%-20% of the population intelligence-wise. We must come to the realization that the majority of the population is in the lower 80% to 99% percent of the bell-curve. WE are not the norm. The Republicans understand that the average American is not very bright. They cater and pander to the masses. The Democratic Party tries to appeal to the population about "issues" that these people just don't understand.

Even Margo Kingston -- Margo Kingston! Wrong about everything! -- asserts the left’s brainiac superiority:

I believe that the people in my terrorist cell - you people - have got more brains than the other lot. The other lot has got the power, and we've got the brains. We have got to free our minds to use the brains.

If you’ve got the brains, how come you don’t have the power? Discuss amongst yourselves, intellectuals. For the next four years.

(Via Eye on the Left)

UPDATE. Victor Davis Hanson in today’s Australian, on a couple of genuinely stupid people:

Al Gore dubbed the Iraqi liberation a quagmire and, absurdly, the worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy. Howard Dean, more absurdly, suggested that the President of the United States might have had foreknowledge of September 11. Most Americans now shudder at the thought that the former might have been president in this time of crisis – and that the latter still could be.

UPDATE II. Mike G. sends a note to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

i wish I cud figger out how to be rel smart lik Neal Starkman. it isnt from making anny effurt 2 unnerstan wy uther Amurkans mite suport Prezdunt Bush that’s 4 shure. he just sez hes smart an were dum so i giss i beter beleeve him. Maybe whining about losing eleckshun after eleckshun makes u smarter cuz that shure seems 2 be the mane thing peepul lik him do.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 AM | Comments (83)

January 05, 2004


The fun never stops at the Sydney Morning Herald. This email was sent to all SMH staffers following an incident after the SMH Christmas party (name deleted to protect the injured):

N. and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has called, visited, offered support, etc. etc. I am pleased to say that he is now at home and is expected to make a good recovery within 5-6 weeks.

We understand that there have been conflicting stories about N.’s actual injuries and hopefully, this will explain the story clearly.

N. and I were leaving the Xmas Party and crossing Murray Street when a car tried to drive through the pedestrians crossing the street with the 'walk' sign. The driver of the car got too close and N. tapped the side of the car. The driver then got out of the car, marched over to N. and, with no warning, he pushed N. (once) so hard with both hands on his chest that N. hit the footpath and broke the neck of his femur -- the attacker then got back into his car and drove away -- it happened very quickly. The attacker has subsequently been charged and will face court soon. N. was operated upon and now has crutches, a nice long scar, pins and a metal plate. So once again, thank you, and please feel free to visit N. as there is always a cup of coffee or cold drink on offer.

My only question: how did the driver know N. worked at the SMH?

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:49 PM | Comments (14)


Gloria La Riva seeks to put Cuba’s socialist revolution in perspective:

In Cuba, a third television station was added called the "University for All." Its programming includes English, French and Spanish lessons, mathematics, geography, history and culture. It is revolutionary mass media at work, educating and spreading culture that inspires solidarity, not cutthroat competition and demeaning behavior.

You will never see a Jerry Springer or Cristina show on Cuban television. Or a commercial, for that matter. That alone proves socialism's superiority over capitalism.

Cuba provides the essentials of life for every citizen of its country. It's a country free of landlords; imagine not having a landlord breathing down your neck. That's real freedom, that's workers' democracy.

Even better: imagine not breathing at all, like the three men executed last year for attempting to escape the “freedom” of Castro’s “worker’s democracy”. It must puzzle idiots like La Riva why so many people want out of Cuba, while the numbers inbound are fewer than La Riva's intelligent thoughts. Cuba provides the essentials of death for every citizen of its country.

UPDATE. A few years ago La Riva was the PeaceTard Party’s candidate for Governor of California. Let’s see how her platform compares to conditions in the “worker’s democracy”:

• Full rights for immigrants. There are no borders in the workers’ struggle.

Cuba’s workers perpetually struggle to flee Cuba’s borders.

• Abolish the death penalty.

According to some estimates, Cuba is per capita one of the leading practitioners of capital punishment in the world.

• Raise the state minimum wage to $10/hour.

The average Cuban brings home only $20 per month.

• Stop police abuse. Justice for all victims of police brutality.

Especially for the victims of Cuban police brutality.

• Support women’s right to choose.

Abortions in Cuba must be performed within 10 weeks of conception. By contrast, in the US about 9% of legal abortions are performed in the second and third trimester.

• End lesbian/gay/bi/transgender oppression.

Castro rounded up gays and put them in forced labor camps.

La Riva should run for office in Havana. They need someone with her passion for social justice.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:39 PM | Comments (27)


How much of his book deal will Andrew Gilligan donate to David Kelly’s widow?

He had faced the most withering scrutiny any journalist has ever had to endure (editor's note: give me a break) and been accused of misleading MPs and undermining the reputation of the BBC. Even his own boss said Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter at the heart of the Hutton Inquiry, 'paints in primary colours rather than something more subtle'.

But Today's defence correspondent, who accused Downing Street of 'sexing up' intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq, is set to have the last laugh with a book deal for his story that could earn him up to £250,000.

As well as detailing his relationship with MoD weapons expert Dr David Kelly, who committed suicide last summer after being named as the journalist's suspected source, Gilligan is thought to have several sensational revelations up his sleeve, including further details of his relationship with Kelly going well beyond the scope of the Hutton Inquiry.

Or well beyond what he was prepared to tell the Hutton Inquiry. Got to keep an eye on that book deal.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck, who has not placed an advance order for Gilligan's gibberish)

UPDATE. But he has ordered this. And, as of one minute ago, so have I.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:25 PM | Comments (4)


That Howard Dean is one tough talker:

"I understand Osama bin Laden has essentially claimed responsibility for these terrorist acts."

That’s telling him. Hey, at least Dean knows Outkast lyrics:

In response to a question testing his youth-culture awareness, Dean did a brief takeoff of a song by Outkast, the hot hip-hop group. "He knows the lyrics to Outkast songs and, man, can that dude dance," enthused a 16-year-old.

Who is too young to vote.

UPDATE. Marty in comments writes:

Hold on, I'm desperately trying to scrounge up any remaining respect I had for Dean so I can throw it away.


Nope, nothing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:10 PM | Comments (20)


When you meet the object of your childhood lust, it pays not to be glassy-eyed, slack jawed, wearing Dockers, and holding a ham sandwich and a bag of Funyons. Otherwise said object of childhood lust is liable to flee the state.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:48 AM | Comments (3)


For sheer smothering sanctimony, this letter to The Age -- from Mark Svendsen, of Highgate Hill, Queensland -- may prove impossible to beat:

I was taught from the earliest age that guests are special. As a child, when guests came to our home, we shared with them the best of what we had.

Sometimes it was with a grudging respect, especially if we didn't much like them, or they frightened us, though we would never, even for a moment, let our guests know if this were the case.

We were not a religious family, nor a particularly wealthy one; these were not our motives. We cared for our guests because not to do so would betray the most profound essence of our humanity.

We shared with our guests because they reminded us of who we are, what we believe, what we value and what we want most for ourselves - the best we can offer.

In my family's values our guests became who we were: respected members of our family, our town, our nation, our civilisation. If only for a moment in time spent with us.

In Nauru, in Port Hedland, in Villawood - we Australians have guests. I, as an Australian, have guests. For how long they will stay is unknown, some may be not what they seem, some may return from whence they came, but for however long they are my guests they are a special category of me.

I must, by all that is most human, offer them what is best of me as I would for my own children.

To do so is not merely a mark of a caring civilisation it is the mark of our deepest respect for ourselves and for our own humanity.

My people are in prison. Let my people go.

Note to self: turn up unannounced at Svendsen’s place. If he doesn’t let you live there permanently, threaten to sew eyelids together.

(Via reader Richard G.)

UPDATE. From the Department of Doomed Ideas:

Under the proposal to be debated at Labor's national conference at the end of the month, all asylum seekers would be freed from detention centres to live in hostels or other accommodation with access to Medicare and jobs.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:45 AM | Comments (24)


Musing on the world post-September 11, Rod Dreher once said: "Words matter as they haven't in a generation."

He was right. Just ask Californian sex therapist Dr. Susan Block, who last month published at her website an anti-war piece entitled Rape of Iraq:

The supreme victory for the rapist is proof that his victim "enjoyed" it. Though he may force his way into her property, demolish her home, murder her loved ones, pillage her belongings, though he may terrify and humiliate her, beat and batter her, break her bones and tear her flesh, spill her blood, wound her organs and lay waste to her very soul, if, in the midst of the rape, between tears and shrieks of agony, if his victim should, for a moment, for some reason, any reason, if she should smile, or, better yet, orgasm, the rapist is redeemed; he is even (in his mind) heroic.

Block’s perverse symbolism was noted and subsequently warped by Islamist media in Turkey, which used the Block piece to promote the idea that US soldiers were physically raping Iraqis. Words matter, Susan:

Nurullah Kuncak says his father, Ilyas Kuncak, was boiling about the rumored rapes just before he killed himself delivering the huge car bomb that devasted the Turkish headquarters of HSBC bank last month, killing a dozen people and wounding scores more.

"Didn't you see, the American soldiers raped Iraqi women," Nurullah said in a recent interview. "My father talked to me about it. . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?"

The articles in the Islamist press are based in part on comments allegedly made by a US sex therapist who denies having written or said anything about soldiers raping women. The therapist, in an online column, explicitly and graphically described the US invasion as a rape, but says that this was clearly a metaphor unrelated to the actions of individual US soldiers, and that she has no knowledge of any physical rapes.

Or, put more simply, Block has no knowledge:

"I am a sex therapist and I use sexual terminology for political commentary," Block said. "I did not say American troops are literally raping Iraqi women. . . . I don't know if Americans are raping Iraqi women. I do know they are killing them. I don't know if that's much better." She said it is clear that she was using "rape" as a metaphor for "invasion."

"I am appalled to be misquoted and even more appalled that the story inspired someone to such violence," she said.

Idiot leftists. They try to help, and in their blind, shivering madness end up the unwitting inspiration for mass murder. Enjoy the next few months of sleepless nights, Doc.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:02 AM | Comments (35)


Scott Ritter -- currently taking time out from arranging Burger King playdates with undercover police to pen some revisionist nonsense for The Independent -- is accurately analysed by Mark Steyn:

Anyone who doesn't know about the mass graves and torture in Baathist Iraq is someone who's chosen not to. A lot of people fall into that camp -- for example, weapons inspector turned Saddamite shill Scott Ritter. ''The prison in question was inspected by my team in January 1998,'' he told Time magazine, a propos one grisly institution. ''It appeared to be a prison for children -- toddlers up to pre-adolescents -- whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually, I'm not going to describe what I saw there, because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.''

Ritter is rare in the extent of his depravity: He saw the horror close up and opted to turn his back.

The Independent should ask Ritter to tell readers exactly what he saw at Saddam’s Tortured-Kids-R-Us. But they’re too busy “waging peace”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 AM | Comments (6)


Greenpeace bore Anne Summers defends John le Carre against the neo-con and right-wing cabals that would savage him:

Hell hath no fury like a conservative scorned. Or so it would seem from the savagery with which the neo-con and right-wing cabals have turned on John le Carre and his latest book, Absolute Friends.

Why are they bothering? It's a novel, after all. Can you imagine the left caring enough about Tom Clancy's latest to go to the barricades?

Yeah. It’s not as though the left would ever be distracted by anything so trivial. Like a plastic turkey, for example.

Last January [le Carre] published in The Times in London a no-holds-barred opinion piece entitled "The United States of America has gone mad".

And the flak Le Carre copped then is being repeated now because his latest book, published in early December, takes up these themes with even greater gusto.

"There's a new Grand Design about in case you haven't noticed," he has one of his characters say. "It's called pre-emptive naivety, and it rests on the assumption that everyone in the world would like to live in Dayton, Ohio, under one god, no prizes for guessing whose god that is."

That is plain awful writing. Nobody speaks like that. Nobody even writes like that, outside of paranoid lefty chatrooms. Naturally, Summers loves it:

Le Carre is a compelling story-teller. It has been said his plots have the intricate precision of marquetry. His principal characters are equally complicated, usually imbued more with self-doubt than ideological fervour. He is always a great read but this one has something else, a white-hot anger fuelled by his absolute comprehension of the evil that is being done to humankind in the name of politics, religion and profit.

Why is Summers bothering to tell us this? It's a novel, after all.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (29)


Hooray! It’s Guantanamo Bay Lock-Up Day!

Guantanamo Bay Lock-Up Day is a special event designed to allow anyone in the world to protest against the illegal detention of hundreds of people in Guantanamo Bay in an independent, yet collective fashion.

The suggested means of protest is, uh, a little on the lame side: “Choose a door, a gate, a vehicle or anything else in your neighbourhood that's vulnerable and lock it up nice and tight.”

That’ll show those neo-con and right-wing cabals! I prefer Penny’s suggestion, posted at the Lock-Up Day website. She proposes Guantanamo Sealed Shut Hallmark Envelope Day:

You enter a Hallmark store and lick as many envelopes shut as you can. Then, the future purchasers (provided they weren't women ever beaten by taliban goons), realizing it symbolizes the locked cells at gitmo, can prostrate themselves on the floor demanding immediate release of the keyless at gitmo.

My own observance of Blessed Gitmo Locky Day will involve prising open the court-ordered locks on the booze cabinet to celebrate the marriage of Britney Spears. Happy wedlock, Britney!


UPDATE II. Mark Steyn toasts Locky Day.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:08 AM | Comments (11)

January 04, 2004


As a certain bunch of Chechen theatre enthusiasts once discovered, Vladimir Putin doesn’t mess around:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the arrest of two alleged marriage agency fraudsters after a Sydney man wrote to him, saying he had been conned by a sexy young Russian brunette offering marriage over the internet.

Terry McCarthy, from Epping, was so outraged after allegedly being ripped off that he wrote directly to Mr Putin, declaring it was a matter of "Russian honour" that she be brought to justice.

So touched was the Kremlin leader by the carefully crafted letter, he ordered police to track down the criminals, regardless of time or cost.

Or maybe Vlad just wanted to hook up with some hot Russian chicks. You hev special Kremlin discount?

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:43 PM | Comments (7)


Bruce Hill, a Reform Jew, recently travelled from Melbourne to Auckland on Emirates Airlines. Told beforehand by his travel agent that kosher meals would be provided, this turned out not to be the case. Bruce explains:

I was advised to contact the airline in Auckland. I did so on Monday, and was told that Emirates has a policy of refusing to accept requests for meals that meet Jewish religious requirements.

I was also told that Emirates is “an Arab airline, so we don’t really expect Jews to use us”.

Emirates, of course, is a major sponsor of the Collingwood football club:

I, like millions of Australians, might be considered a minor Collingwood sponsor. Over the years I’ve tipped cash into the club via memberships, raffles, donations, and simple match attendance. And I was fine with the Emirates sponsorship, until made aware of this anti-Jewish policy.

So, until the policy is revised or Collingwood ditches Emirates, no more money from me. If you’re of a like mind, contact the club and tell them what you think. And contact the Melbourne Herald Sun, too. Refer them to Bruce’s Emirates piece. In football-crazed Melbourne, this deserves to become a big story.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:16 PM | Comments (18)


The inquiry into the death of David Kelly, which war opponents hoped would shame the Blair government, might end up turning the BBC on itself:

BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan has warned his managers that he will reveal their role in the "outing" of David Kelly if he is forced to resign as a result of the Hutton report.

The journalist fears he is to be scapegoated by the corporation if, as expected, Lord Hutton is highly critical of the BBC when his report into the circumstances surrounding the death of the weapons scientist is published next week.

Should be a fun read.

UPDATE. Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is also warring with the BBC:

Recently, when the program was bumped back a bit on the Sunday night lineup without much notice, presenter Jeremy Clarkson tried to regain the BBC's favor by offering to rename the show The Nelson Mandela Car Show while series regulars James May and Richard Hammond ostentatiously read copies of the leftwing Guardian and flashed their New Age sandals.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:27 PM | Comments (7)


This smear-mongering is downright unfair:

Retired Gen. Wes Clark a girlie-man? So say some of his foes, snickering that he likes to drive a "chick car," his wife's Miata, and the campaign minivan. We tried the wimp smear on Clark spokesman Chris Lehane, who fired back with both barrels. First, he notes, while commander of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, 4th Infantry Division, his guy drove a tank. In the Balkans, he favored a humvee. "Despite all the different rides," says Lehane, "Clark knows that it is the man who makes the sleigh, not the sleigh that makes the man."

I drive a Miata (known outide the US as an MX-5) and there’s no way it’s a chick car. A gay male’s car, maybe. Depends on the Miata; mine is the ultra-het no-power-steering early-90s version. With custom floral paintwork.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:22 PM | Comments (19)

January 03, 2004


Americans are behaving badly in Baghdad, according to The Guardian:

Surrounded by upturned chairs and an abandoned turban, Sabah Al-Kaisey surveyed his ransacked office yesterday.

The American troops who burst into his mosque on Thursday morning had smashed down the front gate, broken the air conditioners and ripped up the carpets. They had also thrown several Korans on the floor and allegedly punched the man giving the call to prayer in the face.

"They even took our nuts," said Mr Kaisey yesterday.

They got your nuts a long time ago, pal. But why were these US troops being so unruly?

The troops who raided the Ibn Taymiyah mosque, used by Baghdad's Sunnis, appear to have been looking for weapons used by Iraq's resistance. They recovered a couple of AK-47s, hand grenades and an anti-aircraft missile, US military officials said.

Hmmm. Explaining that stash of goodies might be a little difficult.

Abdul Sattar, the mosque's imam, said the weapons were used by its guards. "They were there to protect ourselves," he told the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera.

Excuse me ... an anti-aircraft missile?

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:58 PM | Comments (41)


Wasn't there some kind of "welfare reform" deal a few years ago? San Francisco seems to have successfully avoided it:

For years, there have been rumors among the homeless downtown that a drifter in North Beach was sleeping in the gutter while he had all the money he needed in the bank.

It's true. That drifter is 68-year-old Lou Dinarde.

Dinarde is homeless, he often sleeps in the gutter or on the sidewalk, and he has plenty of cash -- a trust fund that at one point was worth nearly $700,000. He draws $2,500 a month from the fund plus $500 a month in Social Security.


Posted by Tim Blair at 04:09 PM | Comments (34)


The incredible Indian run machine is advancing on 500, for the loss of only three wickets. Laxman (159) and Tendulkar (149) are building on a 301-run partnership. How much further can India go? Following is the all-time list of high scores against Australia, with Indian innings highlighted:

903-7d England The Oval 1938
705-7d India Sydney 2003/4
658-8d England Nottingham 1938
657-7d India Kolkata 2000/01
636 England Sydney 1928/29
633-5d India Kolkata 1997/98
627-9d England Manchester 1934
624 Pakistan Adelaide 1983/84
622-9d South Africa Durban 1969/70
620 South Africa Johannesburg 1966/67
616 West Indies Adelaide 1968/69
611 England Manchester 1964
606 West Indies Sydney 1992/93
600-4d India Sydney 1985/86
595-5d England Birmingham 1985
595 South Africa Adelaide 1963/64
592-8d England Perth 1986/87
589 England Melbourne 1911/12
585 West Indies Perth 1975/76
580-9d Pakistan Peshawar 1998/99
577 England Sydney 1903/04
576 England The Oval 1899
574-8d Pakistan Melbourne 1972/73
573 West Indies Bridgetown 1964/65
569 West Indies Georgetown 1990/91
553-7d New Zealand Brisbane 1985/86
558 England Melbourne 1965/66
551 England Sydney 1897/98
548 England Melbourne 1924/25
547-8d Sri Lanka Colombo 1992
538 England The Oval 1975
537 Pakistan Rawalpindi 1994/95
536-9d West Indies Bridgetown 1990/91
534-9d New Zealand Perth 2001/02
533 England Leeds 1985
529 England Melbourne 1974/75
524 England Sydney 1932/33
523 India Adelaide 2003/04
521 England Brisbane 1928/29
520 India Adelaide 1985/86
519 England Melbourne 1928/29
517-5d India Mumbai 1986/87
517 South Africa Adelaide 1997/98
510-7d India Delhi 1979/80
510 West Indies Bridgetown 1954/55
509 West Indies Bridgetown 1983/84
506 South Africa Melbourne 1910/11
501-6d Pakistan Faisalabad 1982/83
501 England Adelaide 1911/12
501 India Chennai 2000/01
500-8d Pakistan Melbourne 1981/82

(List updated)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:45 PM | Comments (18)


Scott Ritter -- former UNSCOM weapons inspector, Burger King romeo, and Iraq switcheroo specialist -- is now peddling dubious intelligence about dubious intelligence used to lure Britain into war against Saddam:

AMY GOODMAN: Scott Ritter, why didn't you say this before the invasion?

SCOTT RITTER: Look, Amy -- I'm sitting on a wealth of data. You could interview me for a year, and I would come up with something new and dramatic every time you talked to me. Why didn't I pick that particular piece of data? Which piece of data do you want me to pick out of my seven-year experiences of weapons inspector which was very detailed and involved, multifaceted operations around world?

It takes Ritter until eight months after major operations have ceased in Iraq before he gets around to what he now claims is important data that he knew about all along. And he wonders why people point and laugh. In another section of the interview, Each-Way Scott continues his feud with ex-UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler:

I have been very accurate about everything I have said in regards to weapons of mass destruction. I stand by everything that I have ever said. And, you know, I think it's Richard Butler that is the one that the media should start looking at askance whenever he opens his mouth about his investment in the disarmament effort. Because clearly, he is part of the problem. He is somebody who, you know, didn't run a very effective ship when he was the Executive Chairman. He is somebody who stated with absolute certainty that these weapons existed. I have never said that.

Well, he may never have said it. But he sure has written it. Here’s Ritter in his 1999 book, Endgame - Solving the Iraq Problem Once and For All, a copy of which I have in front of me:

I have grown convinced that there has been a total breakdown in the willingness of the international community to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein is well on the road to getting his sanctions lifted and keeping his weapons in the bargain. A resurgent Iraq, reinvigorated economically and politically by standing up successfully to the United States and the United Nations, will be a very dangerous Iraq -- one that sooner or later will have to be confronted by American military might.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:49 AM | Comments (16)


Zis perfectly illustrates ze dangers of, ‘ow you say, cowboy unilateralism, no?

Four French soldiers are accused of robbing a bank in Ivory Coast they were supposed to be guarding, sources say.

The men have been placed under judicial investigation, one step short of formal charges, say judicial and military officials in Paris.

They are accused of taking 58,000 euros from the bank in the northern rebel-held town of Bouake.

The officials in Paris said the men were detained after allegedly trying to buy diamonds and gold.

Bank robberies. Rebels. Diamonds and gold. It’s the Wild West over there.

UPDATE. Things aren’t much better back home:

France witnessed an orgy of vandalism as rioters set more than 300 cars ablaze, in what has become something of a New Year tradition.

Thirty-two of the 324 vehicles which ended as burned-out shells were found in and around the eastern city of Strasbourg, where the practice began in the 1990s.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:10 AM | Comments (11)

January 02, 2004


This time of year must be an absolute riot over at the Nailer residence:

Is there anyone out there who finds the manic revelry of New Year's Eve verging on the obscene?

Upwards of 50,000 people are dead or homeless in Iran, our grandstanding Prime Minister makes much of a $2 million gift and our detention centres give me cause to feel utter shame to be called Australian. What in hell is there to celebrate?

Just stop dancing for a minute and think!

Claire Nailer,

We’re way ahead of you, sourpants! Claire’s miserable letter appears in the January 2 edition of The Age. On January 1, at 5.59pm, reader J. Softly predicted:

The Letters Editor at the SMH or The Age will publish a "I feel ashamed to be an Australian" or "I have never been so ashamed to be an Australian" letter.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:42 PM | Comments (28)


It’s all about oil, and the American public is a “bewildered herd”. Kucinich supporter Willie Nelson might want to loosen his ponytail a little:

There's so many things going on in the world
Babies dying
Mothers crying
How much oil is one human life worth
And what ever happened to peace on earth

And the bewildered herd is still believing
Everything we've been told from our birth
Hell they won't lie to me
Not on my own damn TV
But how much is a liar's word worth
And whatever happened to peace on earth

UPDATE. Fidens in comments writes: “Don't underestimate the difficulty in capturing all the leftoid shibboleths in musical form ... and it RHYMES.” Kucinich himself is also something of a rhyme wizard:

CAFTA not only rhymes with NAFTA, but will extend the economic 'disasta' that Ohio knows something about.

K-Dogg is the masta.

(Via James Taranto)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:38 PM | Comments (41)


James Carville on Howard Dean:

The Osama bin Laden thing is going to hurt him. There's no -- there's no excusing this ... there's something -- let's put it this way. He seems to -- he seems to not appreciate, as I said earlier, the glory of the unspoken thought ... I'm scared to death that this guy just says anything. And it just -- it feels like he's undergone some kind of a political lobotomy here.

No complimentary Crushies for Dean membership will be coming Carville's way.

UPDATE. Hugh Hewitt warns that Dean shouldn’t be misunderestimated:

What if Dean is smarter than people give him credit for being?


Posted by Tim Blair at 12:33 PM | Comments (15)


Brigadier General Martin E. Dempsey, commanding general of the1st Armored Division, has good news from Iraq:

The question is, what have we seen in the aftermath of the capture of Saddam Hussein; have attacks gone up or gone down? Absolutely gone down.

And it just keeps getting better:

The intelligence being provided for us by local Iraqis has gone up.

Strange. We were assured that Saddam’s capture wouldn’t change a thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:41 AM | Comments (16)


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Geoff Kitney explains his newspaper’s guiding philosophy:

Since when did you need "expertise" to be "qualified" to engage in political debate. The essence of any democracy is that everyone is qualified to say whatever they think and the essence of a healthy democracy is that they are encouraged to do so with vigour.

Now we know why the SMH gets it wrong so often. Who needs expertise? Say whatever you think!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:27 AM | Comments (14)


Attention, Hitler experts! What Nazi nightmare is Brazilian Federal Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva talking about?

"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," said Federal Judge Julier Sebastiao da Silva in the court order released on Tuesday.

Hmm. The "worst horrors committed by the Nazis" ... herding people into ghettoes? Invading neighbouring countries? Gassing millions? Well, not exactly:

Starting on January 5, citizens of countries such as Brazil who need a visa to enter the US will be fingerprinted and photographed when they pass through immigration at major US airports and seaports.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:46 AM | Comments (24)


Today’s column in The Daily Telegraph mentions Stalin Death Crispies, Maoist Flakes, Anarcho-Syndicalist Bix, Socialist Bran, Third Way Brits, Commie Loco Pops, Environmentalist Wheat Bubbles, and, by way of contrast, Michael Totten, Christopher Hitchens, Jim Nolan, and Pamela Bone.

UPDATE. Jim Nolan writes:

In what must count as the grossest defamation imaginable, you have described me as a ... 'Melbourne Barrister'. I am of course from Sydney, as any sane person is. Melbourne indeed!!!

I expect the usual groveling apology and massive damages, blood money, a Michael Moore dart board etc etc

The thing is, Jim seems so reasonable and intelligent I just assumed he’d have to be from Melbourne. Better call those lawyers ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:30 AM | Comments (6)


Mark Steyn sets a reasonable target:

A frequent criticism of the anti-war crowd this last year ran along the lines of: “The Americans are, like, totally hypocritical. If you’re going to topple Saddam, why not topple Mugabe?” To which the correct answer should be: “You’re right. But all in good time.” Many of the horrors that lie ahead can be found at the intersection of wily dictatorships and freelance terror groups. So the US and its allies should be at the very least philosophically committed to regime change in all dictatorships. The delay between the fall of the Taliban and the fall of Saddam was a little too long: there should be an informal target of one tinpot thug per year, to be removed by whatever means are to hand.

Mugabe is a sucker for any big UN talkfest. He can’t keep away from them. Hint, hint, assassins! And Steyn has this to say about brazen joke bandit Molly Ivins:

I don't know why Miss Ivins sounds so pleased with herself about her borrowed insight. When Clive made this crack about Arnold back in the Eighties, in his Conan loincloth days, it was a brilliantly accurate observation. During the recall campaign, when he was wandering around California in a suit, it made no sense whatsoever: the line was obviously a good decade out of date. Molly Ivins is so feeble she can't even steal right.

On the subject of lazy columnists, Professor Bunyip catches the Sydney Morning Herald’s Adele Horin in a bind about foot-binding.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:21 AM | Comments (8)