February 29, 2004


Oh my God -- it’s true! The president really did serve fake turkey! Well, a fake president did, anyway.

The real president still has his accusers. Add movie fan Kevin Dawson to the cast of Plastic Turkey Believers:

One wonders whether our choir boy in chief will really care much for this cinematic portrayal of his personal philosopher. He’ll probably be confused by the Last Supper scene when Jesus doesn’t show up with a plastic turkey.

Mark Engler is another fakery fan:

Seeing the president in action outside of Top Gun dress rehearsals and fake turkey deliveries has been less than encouraging.

And Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, writing from Princeton in Bangladesh’s Daily Star, reveals the sinister source for Bush’s bogus bird:

Stage management of the President continued through his surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Baghdad last November when it was revealed that the huge turkey with which he entered the mess hall and which he supposedly was going to serve the soldiers was fake and was supplied by his cronies at Halliburton!

Got a spare $6.75? Send one of these to your personal choice from our extensive range of plastic turkey pinheads.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 PM | Comments (28)


Via a reader with US military connections (to put it mildly), this e-mail account of recent activities in Afghanistan:

So we are up in the mountains at about 0100 hrs looking for a bad guy that we thought was in the area. Here are ten of us, pitch black, crystal clear night, about 25 degrees. We know there are bad guys in the area, a few shots have been fired but no big deal. We decide that we need air cover and the only thing in the area is a solo B-1 bomber.

He flies around at about 20,000 feet and tells us there is nothing in the area. He then asks if we would like a low level show of force.

Stupid question. Of course we tell him yes.

The controller who is attached to the team then is heard talking to the pilot. Pilot asks if we want it subsonic or supersonic.

Very stupid question. Pilot advises he is twenty miles out and stand by. The controller gets us all sitting down in a line and points out the proper location.

You have to picture this. Pitch black, ten killers sitting down, dead quiet and overlooking this about 30 mile long valley.

All of a sudden, way out (below our level) you see a set of four 200ft white flames coming at us. The controller says, "Ah ... guys ... you might want to plug your ears". Then a B-1, supersonic, 1000ft over our heads, blasts the sound barrier and it feels like God just hit you in the head with a hammer.

He then stands it straight up with 4 white trails of flame coming out and disappears.

• Cost of gas for that: Probably $50,000

• Hearing damage: For certain

• Bunch of ragheads thinking twice about shooting at us: Priceless

UPDATE. Read all about the entertaining jet antics!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 PM | Comments (52)


The New York Times reports:

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.

That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.

Via Instapundit, who observes about UN claims that they didn’t notice Saddam’s oil sales: “Those guys are either lying, or dumb as rocks.”

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


Gore-loving punks aim to bring down George W. Bush:

Nearly 200 US punk bands have lined up to try to get fans to boost the vote against President Bush through the Punk Voter coalition.

Punk Voter's roots go back to 2000 when NOFX bassist Fat Mike suffered insomnia after Bush beat Al Gore in the election by 537 votes in Florida.

Poor Fat Mike. Wonder which way DJ Earthquake is going to vote?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:07 PM | Comments (16)


Ann Clwyd MP responds to claims that her human shredder story is just so much mean-spirited Saddam-bashing:

Brendan O'Neill was told by my office, but chose not to include in his article, the following information. In his statement, the witness who said that people were killed by the shredder was very specific: he named individuals who he said were killed in the shredder and the individuals who he said supervised the execution by shredder; he stated where the shredder was located and the month and year when the executions took place. The witness was closely questioned by Indict researchers and was described by them as being "unshakeable". He said he is also prepared to testify in court about the incident.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:55 AM | Comments (8)


Is 5.6 percent a low figure, or a high one? Depends. If only 5.6 percent of hamburgers are discovered to contain meat, that’s way low. But if 5.6 percent of teachers are using their students as drug mules in elaborate Asian heroin importing schemes, that’s sort of high.

We’re comparing apples and oranges here. Or junkies and burgers. What if we compare similar or identical figures on the same subject, and from the same source?

Here’s CNN in July 1996, as the Clinton-Dole election approached:

Economists didn't expect June's unemployment rate to be much different from May's, which was an already-low 5.6 percent. But in fact, it did fall -- to 5.3 percent. The unemployment rate hasn't been that low since June 1990.

So 5.6 percent is “already-low”. Now here’s CNN in December 2001:

The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 percent in November - the highest in six years - as employers cut hundreds of thousands more jobs in response to the first recession in a decade in the world's largest economy.

Can you “jump” to a figure 0.1 percent above that already defined as “low”? More from CNN, this time in March 2002:

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in February and businesses added jobs for the first time since last summer, the government said Friday, as the labor market began to recover from a downturn that led to more than a million job cuts in 2001.

The jobless rate fell from 5.6 percent in January as employers added 66,000 jobs to payrolls ...

That should read “fell from an already-low 5.6 percent in January”, surely. In January, CNN’s Mark Gongloff decided that an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent was bad news for Bush:

Though the unemployment rate posted a surprising decline, and many economists believe the job market will improve in 2004, Friday's report probably will keep Fed policy-makers on hold and may put some political pressure on President Bush.

A weak job market could prove tough for President Bush as the November election approaches.

Gongloff repeated his line about Bush’s election chances earlier this month when a familiar number appeared:

The unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, the lowest level since January 2002, from 5.7 percent in December.

A weak job market could prove tough for President Bush as the November election approaches.

Why? It didn’t for Clinton.

(Via Phisher at Free Republic.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (232)


Maybe it’s just me, but our beloved local Mufti seems to be begging for a one-way ticket back to Egypt:

The powerful leader of Australia's 300,000 Muslims, Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, has praised the September 11 terrorist attacks as "God's work".

The controversial Mufti also appears to have lent support to Arab suicide bombers in an inflammatory sermon during a Middle East lecture tour.

Sheik Al Hilaly, who is based at the Lakemba mosque, last week vehemently denied that he called for a jihad against Israel in one of his sermons. But a translation of a sermon, delivered at the Sidon mosque in Lebanon and obtained by The Sun-Herald, is littered with references to Arab martyrs and Americans being punished by God.

Sheik Al Hilaly spoke of an "Islamic revolution", and told his audience not to be surprised if one day a muezzin called out "Allah is Great!" from the "top of the White House".

The muezzin should practice a little before trying on the White House. Let him start with Elvis’s birthplace in Tupelo. Then, once his remains are strained from the fingers of outraged Mississippians, they can be hauled to the White House roof in a sack. The Mufti continues:

"September 11 is God's work against oppressors," he said. "Some of the things that happen in the world cannot be explained; a civilian airplane whose secrets cannot be explained, if we ask its pilot who reached his objective without error: 'Who led your steps?'

"Or if we ask the giant that fell: 'Who humiliated you?' Or if we ask the president: 'Who made you cry?' God is the answer."

If we ask the Mufti: “Who humiliated you? Who made you cry?” Customs officials running a ten-minute baggage check is the answer. Andrew Bolt recently explored the background to the Mufti’s presence in Australia:

Hilaly came to Australia from Egypt in 1982 on a temporary entry permit and simply overstayed. But when the Hawke Government's Immigration Minister, Chris Hurford, horrified by Hilaly's extremism, tried to deport him, he was overruled by Labor heavies such as Leo McLeay and Paul Keating, who had seats in Sydney's west and wanted Islamic votes.

If votes were the reason ol’ Mufto was allowed to stay, think of the potential votes for John Howard if the government were to deport the goon.

UPDATE. As Gnu Hunter points out, we can’t deport Mr Mufti. He’s a citizen. Thank you, Labor Party!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:13 AM | Comments (28)


Finally somebody has invented a device able to measure the time that elapses from the moment a reader begins a Mike Carlton column to the point where the column is abandoned and the page is turned.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:39 AM | Comments (11)


Hooray for Robert Mugabe, who is promoting a growth industry in shattered Zimbabwe:

President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.

The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres ...

If they get paid for it, I guess torturing and murdering are jobs.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:18 AM | Comments (14)

February 28, 2004


The Chicago Tribune’s Uli Schmetzer locates an Australian psychiatrist with alarming views on Aborigines:

"These people always complain," said Graham Thorn, a psychiatrist. "They want it both ways: their way and our way. They want to live in our society and be respected, yet they won't work. They steal, they rob and they get drunk. And they don't respect the laws."

That’s just about the perfect quote to illustrate Schmetzer’s claim that “the outlook of white Australians seldom is sympathetic”. In fact, it’s a perfect quote to cover just about every stereotyped notion believed held by racist Australians -- among whom one rarely finds psychiatrists. Especially psychiatrists prepared to go on record saying these things.

I don’t buy it.

Googling has so far failed to turn up a person matching Thorn’s description; I’ll hit the phones on Monday to see if I can track him down. Other Schmetzer pieces on Australia tend only to increase doubt:

Two decades ago, the Australian pastime of kangaroo hunting was popular ... Then friends of the kangaroo forced through legislation that virtually banned the hunting. Off the menu went common dishes such as kangaroo steak, kangaroo kebab and kangaroo tail soup - even on overseas flights of the national airline, Qantas.

What the hell is he talking about? Anyway, I’ve sent Schmetzer a note. Let’s see what happens.

UPDATE. Graham Thorn, Australian Psychiatrist, writes!

UPDATE II. In other local food news:

South Australia's parliament has passed a bill making it illegal to eat cats and dogs.

While the serving of cats and dogs in restaurants in the state was already illegal, state parliament's upper house passed a bill banning the consumption of the animals anywhere.

The bill was opposed in the lower house by Greens MP Kris Hanna, who said the legislation was founded on racism.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:18 PM | Comments (53)

February 27, 2004


Attention, Wesley Clark fans! You’ve already donated money to help the General win -- and now he’s giving you the chance to donate again after he's lost! Following is an edited version of Clark’s Feb. 26 begging note to supporters, via Josh at bushblog:

Dear supporter,

It’s an exciting time to be a Democrat. 

While ending my campaign was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, seeing the unified spirit and energy of Democrats around the country confirms that it was the right decision at the right time. Now that two weeks have passed, I hope you too can appreciate just how important our work has been. 

But please realize how much work is ahead for all of us.

So that I may properly transfer the incredible support, energy and resources of my campaign to the eventual Democratic nominee, I need you, one of my most loyal and generous supporters, to help today. The costs of shutting down a national organization are costly. I can assure you that we have a strong team working on this matter quickly and cost effectively.

"Costs are costly." And people doubted this man’s knowledge of economics! Clark continues:

Your personal contribution of $50 or $100 right now will help us close the books on my campaign and will allow us to focus our complete attention and resources on the great challenge ahead.

Over the coming days we will be treated to an intense debate between the remaining candidates. It is a valuable debate about the issues we face, and the American people are listening. Voter turnout is setting new records across the country. Together, we stand poised to win in November – and we will.

What do you mean "we", Paleface? Clark’s website these days is a sad, barren place. None of the internal links ("about wes clark", "issues", "community blog") are active; the only button still functioning is the one marked "contribute".

Howard Dean, having chewed his way through $41 million before a single primary had been held, is also begging:

One-time presidential candidate Howard Dean, whose campaign fund went from boom to bust, is pleading with donors to open their pocketbooks one more time and help him retire at least $400,000 in debt.

"Can you help by making a small contribution today?" Dean asked in his Tuesday e-mail. "I won't suggest a specific amount: $250, $100 or even $50 would be appreciated. ... This debt is of huge concern to me. I need the help of good friends like you now."

Get a job, doc.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:24 PM | Comments (29)


Check the intro to this Tony Jones interview with Christopher Hitchens, from last night’s Lateline:

Barely a year after the end of his emphatic military victory over Saddam Hussein in America's first Gulf War, President George Bush was roundly defeated in a general election by a young Democrat from the tiny southern state of Arkansas.

Now, after completing his father's unfinished business - going on to Baghdad to topple the Iraqi regime and finally capturing the family nemesis - President George W Bush is also facing the prospect of a stunning military victory followed by electoral defeat.

He is? Hitchens doesn’t seem so sure; here he discusses John Kerry’s campaign:

One reason I think this campaign is very lame -- it's supposed to have momentum, I wouldn't say it had much enthusiasm behind it -- he gives the impression that it's kind of his turn to be president and that he has a feeling of entitlement to the job.

I think that is a very great disadvantage.

I've never heard him or any of his supporters make any case why this is the moment for John Kerry.

He hasn't been able to come up with a reason that would even persuade his wife, as far as I can see.

(Via reader Maurice W., who notes that the earlier headline -- now removed -- on this ABC transcript was “Bush to face father’s fate: Hitchens”.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:43 PM | Comments (20)


Well, it works for this guy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:34 PM | Comments (20)


Mark Steyn in the latest Spectator:

To many Democrats, there is no war. It’s a fraud got up by Bush because Halliburton were itching to get the exploitation rights to Afghanistan’s supply of premium rubble. Or something like that. It’s hard to follow ...

This is, when you think about it, a very odd situation. Generally speaking, when a nation’s at war, its citizens recognise it as such. In, say, 1944, even the conscientious objectors did not attempt to argue that there was, in fact, no war. But in 2004 America is divided between those who want to fight the war and those who want to fight the guy who invented the war as a means of distracting us from the tax cuts for his cronies and his plan to destroy the environment.

Lately, I’ve taken to employing the Patrick Cook gambit:

He merely asks: "Do you believe we are at war?" An affirmative answer indicates that conversation may proceed at an adult level. A negative reply requires Cook to excise large words, and to explain any difficult concepts using puppetry and mime.

You know ... it actually works. Try it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:49 AM | Comments (107)


Hey! The new counter -- it first reported for counting duties on November 19 -- just reached the million-hit mark. And the equally compelling 361,329 unique visitors mark.

Too bad I can’t remember the total from the old counter, which was destroyed in a freak boating accident. I think it was around two million. Who cares? Just keep dropping by, and please check out those ads on your left. They provide fuel -- delicious, folding, bankable fuel -- for this site. As do your donations, and (for the purposes of actually filling this site with stories and links) your emails.

Which I’m slowing getting around to answering. Currently I’m replying to reader Jennifer K., who asked in January 2003: “Doo you think the oil war in Iraq will be good. I bet you do, Mr Hate! Nobody is you’re friend.” Her note ends with a demand that I “completely expose” Halliburton. Well, I think it does; the spelling isn’t great, and Jennifer could be referring to Halle Berry. Either way, consider it done!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:46 AM | Comments (17)


Rachel Ward -- actress, political activist, and MILF -- is in love. Apparently all you need do is whisper the magic words: “Civil society, social capital, trust and co-operation.” But, you know, without vomiting.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:57 AM | Comments (20)


Just like that, readers have already donated $US250 (update -- now $US453) via PayPal to this education appeal for the young children of Staff Sergeant James Cawley, killed last year in Iraq. Hundreds more were sent to the appeal’s mailing address, which you can find at the link. Much thanks to all.

I mentioned in an email to a few donors that this appeal particularly resonated with me, since my own father died when I was five, and my sister only three. Beats me how our mother managed to put us both through school.

You can read more about James Cawley here. Sounds like he was our type of guy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:53 AM | Comments (16)


The Australian’s Greg Sheridan makes a good point: if Australia’s ABC had based its coverage on Fox News instead of the BBC, “it would have got many more judgment calls about the war right than it did.”

Perhaps Fox should become the national broadcaster. For more on the ABC’s war coverage, such as it was, check the report.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:32 AM | Comments (14)

February 26, 2004


The Oakland Tribune reports:

Last fall, the Army's surgeon general's office sent a team of psychiatrists and social workers to Iraq in response to a high number of suicides and cases of depression. Of 21 U.S. service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2003, 18 were in the Army and three were Marines, according to the Defense Department.

Surprisingly, those numbers aren’t high, at least compared to the suicide levels among armies not in Iraq, as David Kaspar points out:

Duty in the US Army in Iraq presents a lower suicide risk (13.5 per annum per 100,000 ) than service in the German Bundeswehr (17 per annum per 100,000) … Alright then Bundeswehr: Time to hurry on down to Iraq!

In fact, adds Kaspar, living in France prompts more suicides than serving in Iraq:

BTW: a suicide rate of 13.5 per annum per 100,000 is within the bottom third of the European countries! Very remarkable: France's average is 19.25 ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:30 PM | Comments (22)


marr (mär) v. marred, mar•ring. 1. To deface or damage. 2. To invent crap new verbs that never catch on because better ones already exist. (See also mcevoid, the act of dodging criticism of the left.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:00 PM | Comments (6)


Wasn’t John Kerry meant to be more electable than some of the other Democrats?

Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, frequently calls companies and chief executives "Benedict Arnolds" if they move jobs and operations overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

But Kerry has accepted money and fundraising assistance from top executives at companies that fit the candidate's description of a notorious traitor of the American Revolution.

The Washington Post concludes:

Kerry has come under attack from President Bush, as well as some Democrats, for criticizing laws he voted for and lambasting special interests after accepting more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years. Some Democrats worry that Kerry is leaving himself open to similar attacks on the latest issue.

Maybe not. There’s only eight or so months left until the election. After covering all the rest of Kerry’s inconsistencies, there might not be time to deal with this.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:25 PM | Comments (8)


Britain spied on the UN during the build-up to war. Gnu Hunter has the inside scoop.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:16 PM | Comments (17)


In his Wednesday column, the Melbourne Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt mentioned the “stolen generations” case of Lorna Cubillo and Peter Gunner, including this courtroom finding:

... the court said it hadn't found anyone who'd been stolen in the NT, and the "evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part-Aboriginal children such as that alleged by the applicants".

Left-wing blogger Gummo Trotsky went in search of this line. He couldn’t find it:

Bolt refers to the Federal Court Hearing into the case, which is also summarised here. He says:

That hearing cost at least $10 million and ran for a year, talking to all kinds of witnesses. It was, [Robert] Manne said early on, the best investigation we'd get into the worst area for child stealing.

But the findings? That Peter Gunner's mother had in fact signed a form to permit her son to go to a home in Alice Springs and get some schooling. That Cubillo couldn't be said to have been stolen either, not least because her mother and grandmother had died, her father had vanished, and it was hard to tell who in the hard bush was actually looking after the little girl.

But more than that, the court said it hadn't found anyone who'd been stolen in the NT, and the "evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part-Aboriginal children such as that alleged by the applicants".

Here's a little challenge; visit either of the two links to the Federal Court transcript or summary. Call up your browser's "Find in this Page" function and enter the text in bold in the search dialogue. Now click the "Find" button.

And, sure enough, the sentence cited by Bolt doesn’t appear. Gummo concludes: “It looks to me like Bolt has verballed Judge O'Loughlin, in the same way that Phillip Adams verballed Dubya. I look forward to the calls from Prof Bunyip, Tim Blair et al for Bolt's dismissal. He's been just as naughty as Phil.”

Which led Tim Dunlop -- an early believer in the fake turkey myth, by the way -- to write:

Looks like a job for those brave Media Watch watchers - hop to it, lads!

And genius Chris Sheil offers in comments:

Good work Gummo ... yeah, and I won't hold my breath.

Just as well he isn’t. Because poor Gummo’s search of the Federal Court document is flawed. If he’d omitted the hyphen in “part-Aboriginal”, or searched for other phrases, he’d have turned up the exact line quoted by Bolt:

" ... evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part Aboriginal children such as that alleged by the applicants."

Retractions from Gummo, Tim, and Chris are awaited. As are their demands for the sacking of Phillip Adams.

UPDATE. The Bunyip also noticed this tragic Google-bungle.

UPDATE II. Gummo issues a complete retraction, as does Tim Dunlop. Christopher Sheil’s enormous academic domehead, however, will admit no wrongness. It generates this babbling response:

This is not "the 'evidence ...'" as Bolt has written, but is explicitly limited to that specific evidence that was presented in that specific court in relation to that specific case, evidence that "does not" in any event, the court explicitly finds "deny the existence of the stolen generation". Thus, while a comprehensive examination of this issue may have to go to the actual evidence that was presented and its evaluation, on the surface, the change of verballing, or "albrechting", appears to stand.

Er ... okay.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:20 AM | Comments (49)


John Kerry is a one-man physics lesson. For every one of his actions, he provides an equal and opposite reaction. The Jerusalem Post reports Kerry’s latest reversal:

US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, described Israel's construction of a security barrier as a "legitimate act of self defense" after Sunday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem, clarifying a position he took in October when he told an Arab American audience, "We don't need another barrier to peace."

Here are the full quotes, as provided by the J-Post. This is from a Kerry speech to an October conference held by the Arab American Institute in Michigan:

I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line – cutting deep into Palestinian areas. We don't need another barrier to peace. Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder.

And here is Kerry’s new opinion, generously characterised by the J-Post as a “clarification”:

Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense. No nation can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors and on buses. While President [George W.] Bush is rightly discussing with Israel the exact route of the fence to minimize the hardship it causes innocent Palestinians, Israel has a right and a duty to defend its citizens. The fence only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel.

As reader DanG says:

I think I finally understand why Kerry underwent the botox treatments. It's so he could say all the things he does with a straight face.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:24 AM | Comments (21)

February 25, 2004


First we were promised that Margo Kingston would return by the end of January. Then by the middle of February. On February 17, she was said to be returning very soon.

She’s now missed that first deadline by a longer time than it took for coalition forces to remove Saddam Hussein. What’s slowing her down? UN negotiations? The brutal Australian summer? Massed troops of Elite Republican Guardsmen outside the SMH building? Does she have an exit strategy? Is this another Vietnam? As Margo herself wrote during the war:

... hopes soar, hopes dive, hour by hour now. Resignations abound, timetables slip, and the world waits, mesmerised.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:48 PM | Comments (26)


England doesn’t win too often these days in international sports. Mark Steyn reveals one reason why:

A third of London schools play no competitive sports. Teachers are uncomfortable with the notion of an "opposing side" one must strive to "beat" - just as, in the war on terror, many grown-ups are uncomfortable with the notion of "the enemy": to the progressive mind, there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet fully acknowledged.

This sad country needs fixin'. Joanne Jacobs reports that a children's pancake race (it’s an English thing) was recently cancelled “when insurance premiums soared and risk assessors demanded 25 marshals for the 50-yard course.”

A tough love/zero tolerance/random killing policy may erase these problems. Here’s the man for the job.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:27 PM | Comments (9)


Do you live in the Hollywood Blvd. area of Los Angeles? Or maybe in San Diego? Or Huntingdon Beach? Then hide your underage children and valuables, because Ken Layne and the Corvids will appear in these restricted zones this Thursday/Friday/Saturday. And in local courts the following days.

The ‘Vids fantastic new CD, Fought Down, achieved two major victories recently. First, it proved eternally hot during a Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney road trip (lesser CDs are routinely flung from the car); and then it astonished friend Brian C., a Rolling Stones and Neil Young obsessive. “This is Ken Layne?” he kept asking. “The Ken Layne I met when he came to Australia? This is him?” Then he stole one of my copies and ran off into the night. Or maybe I gave him a copy and he went home in a cab; I don’t remember. The important thing is: he loved it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:57 PM | Comments (2)


The fifth and final installment of US Marine Brian Taylor’s war journal is now online. Links to earlier installments of this fascinating and emotional series are included. Also, Brian’s brother Greg writes:

A reader of Brian's war journal has established a fund for the education of the children of Brian's friend Staff Sergeant James Cawley, killed near Al Jaraf, Iraq, on March 29, 2003. Cecil was 8 and Keiko was 6 when their dad was killed. You can send checks to that fund here:

Cawley Children Memorial Fund
America First Credit Union
P.O. Box 9199
Ogden, UT 84409

If anyone would prefer to donate immediately via PayPal, simply hit the Paypal button at left and mention in your note that it is for the Cawley children. I’ll forward all donations to the fund address in Utah.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)


Anti-globalisation, anti-advertising, and anti-capitalism activist Kalle Lasn investigates those scheming neocons:

Drawing attention to the Jewishness of the neocons is a tricky game. Anyone who does so can count on automatically being smeared as an anti-Semite.

Which is pretty easy in Lasn’s case, given the title of this column: “Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?” Which, incidentally, plenty of idiots do. Lasn decides to join them:

Here at Adbusters, we decided to tackle the issue head on and came up with a carefully researched list of who appear to be the 50 most influential neocons in the US. Deciding exactly who is a neocon is difficult since some neocons reject the term while others embrace it. Some shape policy from within the White House, while others are more peripheral, exacting influence indirectly as journalists, academics and think tank policy wonks. What they all share is the view that the US is a benevolent hyper power that must protect itself by reshaping the rest of the world into its morally superior image. And half of the them are Jewish.

That, believe it or not, is his conclusion.

(Via Michael Totten, who notes that Lasn adds a little dot to the Jewish names on his neocon list: “At least he didn’t use a yellow star.”)

UPDATE. Robert Corr has bought his last copy of Adbusters.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:25 PM | Comments (44)


And most of the time it appears as a byline.

UPDATE. For a reporter covering the scandalous dancing activities of the Bush sisters, this byline can’t be beat.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:11 AM | Comments (5)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, Keysar Trad, Captain Cook, John Wylie, Tony Jones, Thomas Hickey, David Fickling, Cathy Freeman, Deborah Mailman, Albert Namatjira, Evonne Goolagong, Eddie Mabo, Lionel Rose, Mandawuy Yunupingu, Neville Bonner, Michael Long, Pat O'Shane, Nova Peris Kneebone, Aden Ridgeway, Polly Farmer, Sally Morgan, Charles Perkins, Anthony Mundine, Lowitja O'Donaghue, Kyle van der Kuyp, Jason Gillespie, Mark Latham, Saufatu Sopo'aga, Al Gore, Robert McClelland, and Philip Ruddock.

Also in the Bulletin, Patrick Cook analyses the US elections:

According to the Democrats, John Kerry was a natural jungle fighter. He was usually spotted along the Mekong, leaping ashore from his frail craft, clad only in a colourful bandanna and a loincloth, trailing belts of ammunition, firing two M50 machine guns from each athletic hip. Although repeatedly wounded, he carried his men to safety on his back, along with his boat. When his broad chest could no longer accommodate any more medals, he reluctantly limped home, there selflessly to alert Congress to the problems of the Vietnam War.

President George W. Bush, on the other hand, skulked in the safety of the Texas National Guard, until the day he slipped into women's clothing and deserted to Alabama, presumably in search of moonshine. Of his way with livestock in Alabama in 1972, the Democrats refuse to speculate. To describe the president as an alcoholic, transvestite hog-fancier would be to lower the tone of the election to that of their opponents. Also Bush never flew that plane onto the aircraft carrier, and he had several pairs of pantiehose stuffed down the crotch of that flight suit anyway.

Read on for Cook’s assessment of the Republican view.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:30 AM | Comments (16)


Brendan O’Neill pursues Saddam’s shredder in this week’s Spectator:

Nobody doubts that Saddam was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who murdered many thousands of his own people (at least 17,000 according to Amnesty; 290,000 according to Human Rights Watch) and that the vast majority of Iraqis are glad he’s gone. But did his regime have a human-shredding machine that made mincemeat of men?

The evidence is far from compelling.

Other shredder-doubters are covered here. My own position? I’m not inclined to quickly dismiss the shredder claims, because any regime capable of these outrages is easily capable of devising an alternative use for industrial machinery. Reader Reg wrote:

We have footage of men being executed with explosives. We know of people being shot in front of their families. We hear from Western journalists of informants being returned to their homes in garbage bags, or in sealed coffins with insults scrawled across them. We can read in Kanan Makiya's book Republic of Fear about people being steamrollered under fresh ashphalt, or of men whose sole occupation seemed to be Government-Licensed Rapist. We know of the incredibly brutal ethnic cleansing of the Anfal, including the gassing of towns and mass executions.

As Reg concluded, there seem to be “some minor, passing concerns about the character of the Hussein regime, plastic shredders or no.” Back to O’Neill:

The shredding machine was first mentioned in public by James Mahon, then head of research at Indict, at a meeting at the House of Commons on 12 March. Mahon had just returned from northern Iraq, where Indict researchers, along with Ann Clwyd, interviewed Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam’s regime. One of them said Iraqis had been fed into a shredder ...

Clwyd tells me: ‘We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it.’ So nothing was done to check the truth of what the victim said, against other witness statements or other evidence for a shredding machine? ‘Well, no,’ says Clwyd. ‘[Indict researchers] didn’t have to do that; they were just taking witness statements.’

But surely, before going public with so shocking a story, facts ought to have been checked and double-checked? Clwyd clearly doesn’t think so. ‘We heard it from someone who had been released from the Abu Ghraib prison....I heard his account of what went on in the prison. I was there when [Indict’s] cross-examination of the witness took place, and I am satisfied from what I heard that shredding was a method of execution. We knew he wasn’t making it up.’

This is all that Indict had to go on — uncorroborated and quite amazing claims made by a single person from northern Iraq.

Obviously, interviewing anyone with first-hand -- or feet-first -- experience of the alleged shredder is impossible. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this person from northern Iraq was lying, for whatever reason; we pro-liberation types now find ourselves in the utterly humiliating position of having supported the removal of a tyrant who tortured and killed tens of thousands of people (at least), but who didn’t use a plastic shredder.

By contrast, antiwar folks are able now to state with authority: “Look at this! No shredding here at all! This murdered victim of Saddam’s regime, recently hauled from a mass grave, is completely intact! Except for the bullet hole in his skull!

Compelling argument, isn’t it?

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 AM | Comments (42)


Further to the Media Watch/Phillip Adams story, Professor Bunyip provides an excellent follow-up, which points us to this comment from Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy:

We aren't much concerned with the views of any bloggers, but we do review all the tips we receive (even those that come from bloggers) and assess them on merit.

What a load. Media Watch’s piece on Janet Albrechtsen was entirely driven by blogger Amir Butler, who didn’t even earn a credit during the broadcast. Media Watch later put this on their website:

Our research is based on the work done by Amir Butler of Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee who took the trouble to analyse Albrechtsen's article.

And Media Watch’s treatment of Adams plainly was driven by Bunyip. Maybe Media Watch is conscious of its waning influence; consider this line from host David Marr:

The verb "to albrecht" meaning to lift and twist - entered the language a couple of years ago when we reported columnist Janet Albrechtsen lifting and twisting academic sources to suit her purpose.

It entered the language? Outside of Media Watch, I haven’t heard it used at all. As opposed to fisking, which is now in international use. Extra evidence of Media Watch’s blog-following; another commenter at Ken Parish’s site reports admiringly that not only did Media Watch nail Adams’ journalistic impropriety, the weak, tax-fuelled program “in fact noted an additional transgression in the same column”.

That transgression -- Adams’ messing up a quote from a CIA report -- was first noted here, by reader Hugh W.

Maybe Media Watch should be a blog instead of a television program. They’d be able to cover more stories, and it would be cheaper. It's a win/win!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:52 AM | Comments (20)


Some people -- perhaps those who’ve confessed to murdering captured, unarmed bus hijackers -- shouldn’t blog. Israelly Cool brings us the story of Likud’s Ehud Yatom, whose blogging career ended after just one post:

Internet surfers quickly discovered [Yatom’s] posting and began to respond with a wide variety of stinging comments, some of which related to Yatom’s role in killing two captured terrorists during the Bus 300 affair. Apparently, Yatom did not consider the fact that surfers can and do respond to blogs at their own will. Some surfers ignored the web's rules of etiquette and phrased their questions very directly. One asked, “I wanted to ask someone with your security experience, from Bus 300, ‘what is the acoustic effect of a human skull being shattered? How much voltage does it take to extract a confession’?”

Yatom isn’t exactly the first guy you’d put forward as the friendly face of Likud. Anyway, the site was quickly removed, and Yatom advisor Boaz Yaakobi took the blame, claiming the post was his own work:

This version is supported by MK Ehud Yatom’s comment, “I don’t even know what a blog-shmog is. When I left the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting today (Monday), my aide told be that he had posted an article that I wrote after the attack to something called ‘Israblog’. I told him, ‘How could you post it without my permission? What’s a blog? Take it down’.” He added that the claim that the article had been removed because of unpleasant response was a total lie.

(Incidentally, the main purpose of this item has been to further popularise the term “blog-shmog.”)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:05 AM | Comments (3)

February 24, 2004


Bernie Slattery is keeping watch on Australia’s own version of the Gilligan scandal. Also, he has news of a deeply unfair dismissal:

Last week an angry father called 3AW to complain that Coles Myer (to non-Australians, our biggest retailer) had sacked his son from his manager's job at the retail giant's Pakenham supermarket.

Apparently his son, I think his name was Wright, had witnessed a youth shoplifting and followed the thief from the store. (Although subsequent reports have appeared in the Melbourne press, I can't find any links. C-M's a big advertiser).

Outside, young Wright was confronted by a gang of about 12 of the thief's cohorts and took the best defensive action.

Translation for US readers: by “took the best defensive action”, Bernie means “kicked the guy’s ass”. After which the gang fled -- and the young manager was fired. Bernie is a Coles Myer shareholder, and urges other shareholders to follow his lead: Write to the company. Tell them to re-hire this bloke.

Or just wander into any of their stores and take stuff. They’ll soon get the message.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:23 PM | Comments (7)


If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, John F. Kerry’s mind must be freaking enormous:

In the stump speech he delivers virtually every day, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) stirs the Democratic faithful by railing against current trade practices and slamming President Bush's policies on education, civil liberties and Iraq.

But the Democratic front-runner does not mention how he, as senator, supported the president on all four issues ...

No wonder Kerry prefers to focus on ‘Nam. Check his semi-apology to offended National Guardsmen:

Stephen Eckhardt was in the National Guard in 1968 when he was sent to Vietnam to run supplies into sniper-filled combat zones. Now he believes that service is being unfairly maligned.

Enough Guard veterans share Eckhardt's views that Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, quietly sent a message earlier this month to the National Guard Association of the United States, recognizing the service of guardsmen. "There are many members of the National Guard who served as I did in Vietnam, and I honor their service," Kerry said in a statement sent to the association after the group told campaign aides of its members' anger. "Many of them died and their names are on the Vietnam memorial alongside some of those in my Swift Boat."

Presumably Guardsmen who didn’t serve in Vietnam are spared Kerry’s honour. Of course, this is another issue on which Kerry has reversed his views; twelve years ago he didn’t want to divide America over who served and how. The ad campaign against this guy will practically write itself.

UPDATE. George W. Bush speaks at a Republican Governors Association fund-raiser:

"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions. For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it.

"And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:04 PM | Comments (19)


And petrol, and carbon fibre, and rubber. Mahmood previews Bahrain’s first Formula One Grand Prix -- and includes video.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:51 PM | Comments (4)


At last -- grudgingly, and only by comparing his case to a conservative columnist’s -- Media Watch cites Phillip Adams. Professor Bunyip, who does a better job than Media Watch at zero expense to the taxpayer, reviews last night’s episode; so does Tim Dunlop, in a pathetic kind of way.

Adams himself is today consumed by fear at what a Mark Latham-led government might mean for the ABC:

If Latham has been willing to echo Philip Ruddock on refugees, let the record show that he also has been willing to amplify Richard Alston on the ABC. It's not widely known but a few months before being anointed Opposition Leader, a letter from Latham arrived on the seventh floor at ABC headquarters in Sydney's Ultimo. While the letter is locked in a safe, those who've seen it talk of being surprised, even shocked, by its content.

Apparently it might have been torn from the pages of the conservative Quadrant or the rantings of Melbourne Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt. There are familiar rantings about elitism and complaints about public broadcasting being a sheltered workshop for middle-class wankers. In other words, Latham was picking up where Bob Hawke and Paul Keating left off -- making it clear that he despises the ABC and all that, to him, it represents.


Posted by Tim Blair at 12:50 PM | Comments (24)

February 23, 2004


An allegedly secret Pentagon report on global warming excites London’s Observer newspaper:

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration ...

The only people likely to be humiliated by this are the Observer’s reporters and editors, and everyone who’s fallen for the Observer’s line. Among them, Australia’s SBS:

Britain’s Observer newspaper said the report was ordered by an influential US Pentagon adviser but was covered up by "US defence chiefs" for four months, until the paper "obtained" it.

The leak promises to draw angry attention to US environmental and military policies, following Washington's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The ABC, The Australian, and AFP run similar pieces:

A secret report prepared by the Pentagon reportedly warns that climate change may lead to a global catastrophe costing millions of lives and is a far greater risk than terrorism.

The report isn’t secret, it wasn’t suppressed, the Observer isn’t the first to “obtain” it, and it was prepared for, rather than by, the Pentagon. Fortune magazine had the whole story last month:

Recently, renowned Department of Defense planner Andrew Marshall sponsored a groundbreaking effort to come to grips with the question [of climate change] ...

When scientists' work on abrupt climate change popped onto his radar screen, Marshall tapped another eminent visionary, Peter Schwartz, to write a report on the national-security implications of the threat.

Schwartz formerly headed planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group and has since consulted with organizations ranging from the CIA to DreamWorks—he helped create futuristic scenarios for Steven Spielberg's film Minority Report. Schwartz and co-author Doug Randall at the Monitor Group's Global Business Network, a scenario-planning think tank in Emeryville, Calif., contacted top climate experts and pushed them to talk about what-ifs that they usually shy away from—at least in public.

The result is an unclassified report, completed late last year, that the Pentagon has agreed to share with FORTUNE. It doesn't pretend to be a forecast. Rather, it sketches a dramatic but plausible scenario to help planners think about coping strategies.

Schwartz discussed the report last week on the BBC:

This is very much in the spirit of thinking the unthinkable. The report that we put together for the Pentagon is an extreme scenario, in the sense that most climatologists would say that this is low probability, in the sense of it happening soon, and as pervasively. But it is the Pentagon's job to think about many cases, the worst-case scenario.

Why is this report big news? Because it is being presented as a Pentagon report. Which it isn’t.

UPDATE. Mudville Gazette has lots more.

UPDATE II. Here’s a PDF of the whole “suppressed” report.

UPDATE III. According to lying Greenpeace, the report is evidence of the “Pentagon itself agreeing that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism.”

UPDATE IV. From today’s Sydney Morning Herald: “A secret report prepared by the Pentagon warns that climate change may lead to global catastrophe costing millions of lives and is a far greater risk than terrorism ...”

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:07 PM | Comments (104)


A year or so ago I was in some radio debate with a Michael Moore supporter. Moore’s errors and exaggerations didn’t much bother this guy; more important, he kept repeating, was that Moore “makes you think”.

What doesn’t? A book filled with blank pages will make you think, even if that thought is only: “Hey, this is so much better than Stupid White Men.” The jackhammer currently digging up the road outside my house makes me think of ways to imprison and mutilate its operator. Gary Sauer-Thompson’s website makes me think of much the same thing.

I’m a normal person. So I believe I speak on behalf of all normalkind when I say: “Making you think” is not a defence. In fact, it’s usually an indication that something idiotic is happening:

Organisers of an art show in Scotland that features a sculpture of Mickey Mouse flying an airplane into the World Trade Centre have defended the work, saying it was about "making you think".

Just like Mike:

"Bowling for Columbine" is that rarest of beasts: A movie that makes you feel, and then makes you think.

Strange that nobody ever uses this line in the case of, say, Ann Coulter, with whom many disagree. Disagreement isn’t a barrier to thinking:

"I feel controversial art, even if you don't agree with it, if it makes you think, it's a good thing," said Lawrence sculptor Bastian.

Even urine has thought-making properties:

And i can totally see why someone would find "Piss Christ" offending, and it's definitely not on my favorite list, but it makes a statement, and it makes you think.

All of these quotes make more sense if you replace “think” with “sick”.

UPDATE. I was wrong! Ann Coulter makes you think twice as much!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:54 PM | Comments (32)


Bush in 2004, Hillary in 2008! Dan Aykroyd wants both:

"There's a tremendous initiative in law enforcement [that] may be reversed if Bush is not re-elected," he said. "Let this administration finish this war and this fight against terrorism."

And, once that’s out of the way, Aykroyd will swing his support to Clinton:

"I'll be there with my band to help her. Then we'll have the glory days back for the Democrats."

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 PM | Comments (44)


We shouldn’t have waged war on the Taliban, according to the psychopathically peaceful. We should have been friendly. We should have sent aid.

Well, we are. And this happens:

An Australian pilot was killed when a lone attacker sprayed a US company's helicopter with gunfire as it prepared to take off from a southern Afghan village.

Four foreigners and an Afghan interpreter yesterday flew in the helicopter to inspect the construction of a health clinic in the village of Thaloqan, about 64km south-west of the provincial capital, Kandahar.

The group was about to leave when a man armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle attacked the helicopter and then fled, said Khalid Pashtoon, spokesman for governor of the Kandahar province.

Opponents of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq invariably characterised those wars as being against entire populations. They weren’t. They were against tyrannies -- now reduced, in Afghanistan’s case, to isolated brutes firing on people seeking to rebuild that nation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:13 PM | Comments (17)


Your special guest Fisker of the following news item is none other than Robert Fisk himself, who will provide an alternative to the bloodthirsty war-lusting analysis usually found here. Take it away, Robert:

Dhia al-Hariri returned to Iraq after decades in exile to reclaim his father's beloved home, only to find Saddam Hussein's regime had turned it into a house of horrors.

The last time I visited my childhood home in Squalidton, North Puke, it had been turned into an Halal butcher shop. Times change. Live with it.

What was once the back yard is now a dark maze of iron-doored cells. One bedroom has a hook in the ceiling from which interrogators hung prisoners, breaking their arms and giving them electric shocks.

Back in the days when you could depend on a reliable electricity supply ...

"This was my grandmother's bedroom," al-Hariri, 54, said Saturday, standing in a room barren except for the remains of iron bars embedded in the floor where lines of prisoners were chained.

”Were”. Past tense. Where are they now? Can’t find them, huh? Just like the so-called weapons of mass destruction!

For years, neighbors on the street of walled homes heard screams at night from the house down the lane and saw handcuffed men being led in and out.

The key words here are: “and out”. They were able to leave! Ever hear of a torture chamber where people just wandered in and out, as they pleased?

Saddam's security agents seized the house in 1980, after al-Hariri's family fled the country, and for the next 23 years, it was used as a secret interrogation center for political prisoners.

If it’s so secret, how come we’re reading all about it?

The house was the realization of a dream for al-Hariri's father, Kadhem. He built it in 1968, a one-floor modernist home in a neighborhood of doctors in Baghdad's upper-class Mansour district.

As the world recoiled at the horrors of Vietnam, and Paris erupted in revolt, this “upper class” doctor only dreamed of a “modernist home”. And we’re expected to feel sorry for him?

Abu Muhammed said he was hung by his arms from the ceiling hook, then pulled down until his shoulders dislocated. Electrodes then were put on his earlobes. The next room down, a tiny space by the stairs up to the roof, was where they held women, he said.

We’ve all heard these urban myths about “rooms” where “women” are allowed to be gently “held”.

One day, the interrogators brought in another prisoner, a man in his 60s. They threw alcohol on him and set him ablaze.

Alcohol? In a Muslim country? I don’t think so!

In the grandmother's room, Abu Muhammed was handcuffed, crouching, to the iron bar on the floor, with the burned man chained next to him. "Over the next few days they would take him away and bring him back. Then one day, he didn't return," he said.

Because he’d been freed!

Abu Muhammed, 39, was arrested in 1984 and held at the house for a month, accused of belonging to a Shiite Muslim opposition group, the Dawa Party. He estimated that several hundred prisoners - Shiites, communists and other activists - passed through the house just during the time he was there.

In my student days I lived in many houses where communists and other activists were always “passing through”. In fact, the same is true of my newspaper. Big deal.

"Who knows how many were here over the years? Maybe a third died in torture. A third were taken out and executed, and a third got out alive," al-Hariri said.

These numbers are fuzzy at best. Maybe only a quarter died in torture, or were taken out and executed. Or just a fifth.

"We would always hear screaming," said the neighbor, Zeini. "It became very ordinary for us. What could we do?"

See? Screaming was ordinary. We impose our western values on these people, and it distorts everything.

Al-Hariri, who had 10 relatives killed by Saddam's regime, has hired lawyers to start the long process of reclaiming the house. In the meantime, a cousin stays there to keep away looters.

Thank you very much, George W. Bush.

On the way out, he motioned to the front yard with one more memory. "Here we planted azaleas," he said. Now, it's covered with concrete. "They put that there. God only knows what's buried underneath."

Let me guess: azaleas?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:52 AM | Comments (28)


It’s 2004, and John Kerry thinks the next election is all about Vietnam:

Mr Kerry meanwhile challenged Mr Bush in a letter to a debate after accusing the President's re-election campaign of attacking his Vietnam-era military service and his Senate voting record on military and security issues.

"Over the last week, you and your campaign have initiated a widespread attack on my service in Vietnam, my decision to speak out to end that war, and my commitment to the defence of this nation," Mr Kerry wrote.

"As you well know, Vietnam was a very difficult and painful period in our nation's history, and the struggle for our veterans continues. So it has been hard to believe that you would choose to reopen these wounds for your personal political gain. But, that is what you have chosen to do.

"I will not sit back and allow my patriotism to be challenged.

"America deserves a better debate. If you want to debate the Vietnam era, and the impact of our experiences on our approaches to presidential leadership, I am prepared to do so."

In 1992, defending Vietnam war draft-dodger Bill Clinton, Kerry said: "We do not need to divide America over who served and how." Now Vietnam division is Kerry’s major policy. Move on, Senator. There's a new war.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:47 AM | Comments (25)


Because he can’t jump at all these days -- the massive force of his landing would induce a catastrophic spinal compression, and possibly one or two tsunamis -- Phillip Adams is obsessed with this forbidden activity. Here he is on Saturday:

When America says "Jump", our major parties reply, "How high?"

And last October:

So what happens when George W. Bush orders us to jump? If we say "How high?" we'll have to deal with the consequences.

And last March:

"How high?" we ask, even before Bush orders us to jump.

Regarding Adams, I’ve recently enjoyed an entertaining e-mail exchange with Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy. Why, I asked, was MW not interested in Phillip’s plastic turkey fantasy? McEvoy replied:

According to Piers Akerman you're a journalist.

Why don't you do the work to investigate this turkey yourself, and publish the results in your column?

Apparently MW only investigates conservative columnists. It might be easier for all concerned if McEvoy were to supply us with a list of potential Adams offences that would attract his program’s attention; recycling US columns, inventing quotes, distorting interviews, and telling turkey lies obviously doesn’t cut it. What does he have to do, Peter? Change his name to Janet? Murder your family? Vote for John Howard?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:22 AM | Comments (26)


Go Ralph!

(Via alert contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (10)


• Live from Florida: clog blogging!

• The New York Times continues on the path to jokedom.

• Lileks on the joys of microlife.

• Moorewatch has received its first death threat. Congrats!

• From Reuters, the news agency you’ve learned to trust:

The Bush administration acknowledged today that its ambitious plan to transfer sovereignty directly to a democratically elected government in Iraq was unlikely to succeed after Iraqis insisted on elections untainted by US influence.

• Millions of things live in your shower. That’s your shower, not mine.

• Maybe they’re the same type of menacing microbes that have taken over Robert Manne’s brain. (UPDATE. Tim Dunlop has more on Sponge Bob.)

• Former blogger David Morgan will appear on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? this Tuesday night. Sure beats PayPal!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:19 AM | Comments (7)

February 22, 2004


Islamic Jihad claims to be the victim of a brutal attack:

A Palestinian terrorist group accused American and Israeli groups Saturday of hacking its Web site to pieces.

Islamic Jihad, which has carried out suicide bombings in Israel, said the unidentified groups had destroyed the site to silence "the Palestinian voice."

It said this was not the first time its site had been attacked by unidentified "Zionist and American quarters."

Poor little terrorists. It may take a few hours -- even a whole day -- to fix their little website. The usual Palestinian method of hacking, however, is more difficult to repair ... as we’ve just been reminded:

A suicide bombing on a crowded Jerusalem bus Sunday morning killed at least seven people and wounded 44 others, police and rescue workers said.

The huge blast went off around 8:30 a.m. in the middle of the morning rush hour as the bus drove past a gas station. The explosion ripped apart the back of bus and scattered body parts and shattered glass across a two block radius.

Rescue workers at the scene were placing body parts into body bags.

Hacked to pieces.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:00 PM | Comments (10)


Test your Nostradamus skills by nominating in comments your answers to the following:

1. Who will win the US Presidential election? How many states will the winner carry?

2. Who will win the Australian election, and by how many seats?

3. How many people will the New York Times report marched in the Global Day of Action Against War and Occupation demonstration in NYC?

4. Who will light the flame in Athens?

5. Will Osama bin Laden (or several milligrams of his DNA) be located in 2004?

6. Assuming John Kerry wins the Democrat candidacy, who will be his running mate?

7. Who will win the Best Actor Oscar?

8. Will Dick Cheney run again as Bush’s VP? If not, who will?

9. When will Margo return?

10. Who will win the 2004 world Formula One driver’s championship?

11. Will the US (or a coalition led by the US) invade any country during 2004? If so, which country?

12. Which batsman (from either team) will record the highest single-innings Test score during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka? What will that score be?

13. Who will be awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize?

There will be a prize, although that prize is yet to be decided ... or indeed purchased from the K-Mart where it is currently stored. It is a fine prize. Make your selections!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:53 AM | Comments (51)


When former Gore wardrobe consultants begin to feel ignored:

The American feminist Naomi Wolf has accused a noted Yale University professor of sexually harassing her while she was an undergraduate, and alleged a long history of such events at Yale.

According to advance "tasters" of her magazine expose, Wolf describes herself as a victim of harassment and names Harold Bloom, a prominent literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, as her tormentor.

Bloom himself has never demonstrated particularly good judgment. Let the Gore/Clark booster battle commence!

UPDATE, via contributor J. F. Beck:

Sources at New York said that Ms. Wolf’s article was being fact-checked, and may change significantly in the next few days.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:04 AM | Comments (24)


The best newspaper title ever: Sao Paulo’s Jornal da Tarde. Found at this guide to global front pages.

Another popular tard journal reports that Ralph Nader’s dissent is still being crushed:

Some of Ralph Nader's best friends are desperately trying to persuade him not to run for president this year.

The left-leaning Nation magazine has pleaded in an open letter, "Don't Run." And yesterday Senator John Kerry's campaign delivered a not-so-subtle statement: "It is important that we remain united in November and rally behind the Democratic nominee, whoever that may be."

Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he had met with Mr. Nader several times to ask him not to run. "I'm urging everybody to talk to Ralph Nader," he said in a television interview Friday on CNN.

Oppression! Oppression! Let the people decide!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 AM | Comments (19)

February 21, 2004


Ramil S. needs to pay more attention in class:

An Armenian military officer attending a NATO Partnership for Peace program was hacked to death on Thursday morning with an ax and a knife by an Azerbaijani participant, police officials said.  

"We suspect Ramil S. of having committed murder with unusual cruelty," Budapest Police Maj. Valter Fulop told reporters. "We say 'unusual cruelty' because beside a number of knife wounds on his chest, the victim's head was practically severed from his body."  

The officers were attending an English language course within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, which is aimed at increasing cooperation between neutral and former Soviet bloc nations and NATO in peacekeeping and other areas.

Keep up the good work. In other English language news, the German press is struggling to make sense of recent developments in Australia; our head of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, Frank Lewincamp, spelled things out fairly clearly:

I have never said the Bush Administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated. Nor have I said that the Government was told that Iraq WMD did not pose an immediate threat.

But obviously not clearly enough for the German media:

Critical voices from intelligence sources regarding the alleged US proof for WMD in Iraq are on the increase. Now the chief of an Australian intelligence service has called the whole war as unjustified.

Perhaps this journalist should attend a NATO English course. Don't forget your ax!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:23 PM | Comments (8)


Artist Chris Reddy is furious.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:58 PM | Comments (11)


This ABC report is barely a month old, but reads like ancient history. It’s from the short-lived President Dean era. (If you take the time to go through the entire ABC item, there’s a bonus comical assumption in the final line.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 PM | Comments (10)


Kurdish leader Barham Salih addresses a socialist conference in Madrid:

Removal of Saddam tyranny was a seminal event in the history of the Iraq, and the Middle East. Most Iraqis see the moral and political imperative for the war of liberation as overwhelming. For many of us inside Iraq, who experienced first hand Saddam’s WMDs, the debate about lack of evidence of WMDs is difficult to understand.

15 years ago much the world doubted the evil of Saddam and refused to act in face of his weapons of mass destruction. I urge those who are seriously interested in evidence of Saddams WMDs to visit Halabja to witness the proof firsthand.

For us in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction are not about dry accounting; they have been conventional tools of repression by Saddam. Chemical weapons have been used against us more than 200 times. 

Ethnic cleansing began in Iraq in 1963, when the Baath Party seized power. Around a million people have been displaced, mostly Kurds but also Turcoman and Assyrian Christians. The fascist regime of Saddam has cost the lives of at least two million Iraqis. Four million more have been forced to become refugees. So far more than 170 mass graves have been uncovered throughout Iraq. These mass graves should vindicate the morality of this war of liberation in Iraq.

Where there’s evidence of mass destruction, who needs to see the weapons?

(Via Harry’s place)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:44 PM | Comments (5)

February 20, 2004


Further to the story about Age journalist Mark Forbes and his alleged sexing-up of comments made at a defence seminar last year, the following is from an internal mailing list at the centre where defence official Frank Lewincamp spoke:

The fact remains that very few journalists know the true definition of 'morally binding' or moral courage for that matter. 'The story' and their byline is all that matters. Every situation I have ever been in, whether it is in Australia or overseas where journalists have been present, has resulted in mis-reporting as a minimum. Their stories have been regularly embellished in order (I believe) to improve the journalists profile or sell papers.

In several cases, I have been near on pleading with journalists not to film or photograph soldiers and in some cases equipment because of the potential for that photo to compromise the individual or indeed an operational capability. Situations like this occurred in Iraq on many occasions and I can guarantee you that the information was utilised by Iraqi forces. Now I can't blame the Iraqis for that. But many of these supposedly impartial journalists relied on the Coalition to bail them out of trouble.

I can assure you that there are a few journos today who owe their lives to members of the Australian SAS in Western Iraq. But that didn't stop them reporting their encounter with the fellas in 'excessive' detail once they got to a safe location. Funnily enough quite a few Iraqi military elements turned up in those areas not long after.

The actions of Mark Forbes and the many like him do not aid in informing the population. Mark is no 'Public Crusader'. He abused the confidence and trust of an individual whose only interest was to ensure that we were well informed and better educated. For those of you who go on to positions of prominence in the Government, the Defence Community or the Media, remember that way down the chain, there is a young soldier who maybe putting it all on the line because he believes that what he is doing is just and right...because you... the educated one..sent him there.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 PM | Comments (12)


How come some journalistic errors attract the attention of the ABC’s Media Watch program, while others don’t? Let’s compare two similar cases, to see if we can detect Media Watch’s criteria:

CASE A: In November 1999, a columnist for The Age presented as fact a false story about an American in Vietnam.
CASE B: In December 2003, a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and a columnist for The Australian presented as fact a false story about an American in Iraq.

CASE A: In February 2000, after returning from its summer break, Media Watch exposed the columnist's mistake.
CASE B: In February 2004, after returning from its summer break, Media Watch hasn’t mentioned the columnists at all.

CASE A: The columnist apologised.
CASE B: Neither columnist has apologised.

CASE A:The columnist lost his column, and his job.
CASE B: Neither columnist has lost anything.

What could possibly explain Media Watch’s different treatment of these similar stories? Adding to this mystery, the senior Media Watch decision-maker in 2000 and 2004 is the same man: executive producer Peter "balanced and happy" McEvoy. Have his views on blundering, error-repeating, biased journalists changed? Does he no longer feel that they deserve to be exposed? Why was Case A treated so seriously -- resulting in very serious consequences for the journalist involved -- while the writers in Case B remain safely ignored?

Perhaps a further look at Case A is required. Here’s how Media Watch began its takedown of Michael Warby:

Warby hates welfare, whiners, and what he calls progressive views, but most of all he hates the ABC. In fact he's written three weighty reports on ABC bias and numerous articles.

I believe we have our answer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:45 AM | Comments (17)


Poor David Hicks, locked up in Gitmo just for joining a bunch of terrorists who want to destroy the west. It’s unfair, is what it is! And Australians whose taxes contributed to a movie about Brave Dave are also being denied justice:

Director Curtis Levy stated in October 2002 that he believed 'The President versus David Hicks' would take up to six months to complete. Sixteen months later, Australian taxpayers are still waiting.

We want our state-funded propaganda! Meanwhile, it appears that not all Australians trapped in seething foreign jails have been forgotten by their government:

For eight long years Jane McKenzie and Debbie Spinner have nursed the nightmare of their 50-year sentences in Bangkok's Klong Prem Prison with poignant images of the children they left in Australia.

Within weeks, the pain of distant separation, if not the deprivations of imprisonment, will be over for McKenzie and Spinner, 36, who has two children.

"I just thank God. This is overwhelming," McKenzie said.

"I'm extremely happy and very thankful to the Australian Government and the Thai Government for making this possible.”

They have no links to terrorism. Good that they’re returning to Australia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 AM | Comments (30)


A terrifying racial nightmare at Syracuse University may only have been something harmless, the university's newspaper reports:

An alleged blackface incident took place over the weekend, but those involved say it could all be a misunderstanding.

Just after midnight on Saturday morning, the Department of Public Safety received a report that a student was wandering around Watson Residence Hall with his face painted a dark color, according to a Public Safety report.

"We were unable to find him at first," said Marlene Hall, director of Public Safety. She said that DPS officers received a second report and were then able to located the student and speak to him.

The student told officers that the face paint was camouflage - not blackface - and that he was actually on his way to rob a house, Hall said.

"As far as we know, this was all a misunderstanding," Sheaffer said.

Even though the student claimed that he was going to attempt a burglary instead of dressing in blackface, DPS officers will continue to research both scenarios, Hall said.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 AM | Comments (20)

February 19, 2004


With a name like Buddy Grizzard, our latest member of the Plastic Turkey Club sounds almost over-qualified. The Atlanta-based buzzard grizzled in reaction to George W. Bush’s visit on Martin Luther King’s birthday:

Bush, a man who came to office through the electronic disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of mostly black voters in Florida, was shown that he could not pull off a cheap photo-op here in the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. There'd be no plastic turkey moments in our town that day, we made sure of it.

Buzzy Griddle links to -- how’d we miss this? -- noted food authority Michael Moore:

It turns out that big, beautiful turkey of yours was never eaten by the troops! It wasn't eaten by anyone! That's because it wasn't real! It was a STUNT turkey, brought in to look like a real edible turkey for all those great camera angles.

Sounds extra upset about it, don’t he? "It wasn’t eaten by anyone!" If Moore had enlisted, plastic or not, that turkey was going down. Another applicant from the Department of Perfect Names is Patricia Ernest:

Perhaps Jesus might inquire about the "Mission Accomplished" stunt, the fake turkey stunt, and all of the photo op stunts. Jesus might inquire about why george refuses to take responsibility for the many misstatements of this entire administration. I bet Jesus would have a million questions for bush. I bet bush would be sweating before that conversation was over. And, you know why he would be squirming and stuttering and sweating? That's right, because you cannot bs Jesus.

What would Jesus carve?

UPDATE. Semiskimmed has all your Bush = Hitler needs completely covered.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:42 PM | Comments (19)


Celebrate The Washington Post’s fine tradition of accuracy ...

July 23, 1984: Poll Puts Mondale Even With Reagan

Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale, on a post-convention fishing vacation in Gunflint Lake, Minn., did not catch any fish but hauled in some good news yesterday from a poll that showed him pulling even with President Reagan.

May 3, 1984: Mondale-Hart, Reagan-Bush Tickets Running Neck and Neck in New Poll

If the November election were held today, a Democratic Mondale-Hart ticket would run even with a Republican Reagan-Bush ticket, according to a new Gallup Poll.

October 28, 1980: Carter Goes Into Debate With Lead in New Poll

President Carter and Ronald Reagan meet in Cleveland tonight for the long-awaited debate that could be the crucial event in determining who will be the next president of the United States.

November 3, 1952: Final Survey Shows Nip-and-Tuck Race

Final poll results, based upon interviewing through Thursday, show Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson coming down the homestretch in a tight race for the popular vote majority.

July 12, 1936: Roosevelt's Popular Lead Is Reduced to 51.8% in July Poll; Landon Ahead in 21 States, Has Electoral Vote Majority

See? That’s why editors are important. Otherwise all these stories would have turned out wrong.

(Compiled by ambrose at Free Republic)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:51 PM | Comments (5)


British engineering student Matthew Richardson shares his name with a New York-based financial expert. Perhaps that is why he was invited to present a series of lectures in Beijing on global economics.

Despite knowing nothing about the topic, and unaware that he would be addressing a bunch of MBAs, Matthew accepted the invitation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:08 PM | Comments (21)


Oh no! Professor Bunyip has had a little too much to drink! See if YOU can work out what he is trying to say!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:39 PM | Comments (9)


Please welcome and enjoy the Bilious Young Fogey (“Random rantings of a foreign policy neocon, cultural and fiscal conservative, South Park Republican homocon and wannabe Juvenal”), Australian group blog The Rat Pack (starring Vikki McNaughton, Mike Jericho, Marty, and Scott), and Newcastle’s Tim Train, who has this election advice:

White Racists, Vote for the Left!!!

We oppose Free Trade with other countries. Keep Australian Jobs for Australian workers. Why should those dirty Pakis and greasy Wogs earn a minimum wage doing jobs for Australian companies when they could be earning nothing at all? They don’t deserve a cent!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:36 PM | Comments (2)


Howard Dean has quit. Goodbye, Howard Dean!

Naeem Mohaiemen reacts calmly:

In 1968, a sniper's bullet ended Robert Kennedy's anti-establishment candidacy. In 2004, the methods used were more subtle, but just as effective.

One difference: Kennedy didn’t scream like a girl.

(“Goodbye” link via Franco Aleman at HispaLibertas.)

UPDATE. Christopher Shiel -- the notorious Chris of Death, whose support invariably signals doom -- wrote back in December about America’s Hawkie (no question mark!):

It's now becoming apparent why Howard Dean may well be a shoe-in come November 2004.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 AM | Comments (39)


Piers Akerman in today’s Daily Telegraph kindly reviews the ABC study compiled by me and James Morrow.

And a note arrives from a Canberra-based journalist regarding Andrew Wilkie, whom the writer interviewed shortly after Wilkie announced his reasons for quitting the ONA: “At no stage did he challenge the claim of WMDs. Suddenly, he is a champion of the they-were-never-there cause, a retrospective expert on the absence of arms. The man postures shamelessly.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:20 AM | Comments (16)


Tex catches ABC regular and Fairfax favourite Richard Neville in a shocking blunder:

The increasingly creepy Richard Neville has posted this picture - supposedly of the bombing of the Baghdad suburb of Shua’le - with the caption "9,500 Iraqi civilians killed; John Howard has 'no regrets'".

I remembered seeing this picture before: the child on the left is an Israeli, who was badly injured when some Palestinian scumbag blew up a bus in Jerusalem. One of a long line of similar atrocities Richard has little interest in, except where the pics of Jewish victims of Islamic terror can be used as fake pictures of American terror.

Neville has since replaced that image. No explanation offered. No shame.

UPDATE. Scroll down far enough on Neville’s site and you’ll find this:

APOLOGY & EXPLANATION. When the above journal entry was first posted, it included an image which I mistakenly took to that of a scene from Baghdad. In fact, it depicted an Israeli girl who was injured in the bombing of a bus carrying Jewish families home from prayer at the the Western Wall in August of 2003. More than 20 people were killed, and dozens more injured. I apologise for this stupid mistake and the distress it may have cause. The image was replaced as soon as the error was drawn to my attention.

And apologies from me for not noting this earlier -- although I’ve got no idea exactly when it was posted.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:49 AM | Comments (25)


The US election campaign has hit Moby level:

President Bush faced an extraordinary claim last night that he once paid for a girlfriend's abortion.

The latest smear in an increasingly dirty election campaign follows a two-pronged attack on his likely election opponent, Senator Kerry.

The abortion rumour started last week when rap star Moby, who dislikes Mr Bush, suggested that Democrats attack Mr Bush in his conservative constituencies.

"For example, you can go on all the pro-life (internet) chat rooms and say you're an outraged Right-wing voter and that you know that George Bush drove an ex-girlfriend to an abortion clinic and paid for her to get an abortion," he said.

This isn’t the "latest smear in an increasingly dirty election campaign"; nor does it follow attacks on Kerry. The abortion rumour first surfaced in advance of the 2000 election. It’s been kicking around the usual sites ever since. Larry Flynt is the source.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 AM | Comments (42)


Looks like the Melbourne Age might have its own little Andrew Gilligan scandal going on. On Saturday, under the headline "Government 'warned' on intelligence", foreign affairs correspondent Mark Forbes wrote:

Intelligence agencies told the Federal Government in the weeks before the Iraq war that some of the Bush Administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated, according to one of Australia's most senior intelligence officials.

The official - who spoke on condition of anonymity - said the Government was told before the war that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction did not pose an immediate threat. Iraq's chemical and biological warfare capabilities were largely latent, they said.

Iintelligence official Frank Lewincamp revealed yesterday that he was the source of The Age’s claim:

The head of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, Frank Lewincamp, has told a Senate committee he was the principal source for a report in Saturday's Age on assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Lewincamp said he had spoken to Age foreign affairs correspondent Mark Forbes about four times since the seminar, most recently on Friday when Forbes told him an article on intelligence reporting on Iraq WMD would be in The Age the next day.

Mr Lewincamp said he did not make and would never make some of the statements attributed to the official in the report.

"For example, I have never said the Bush Administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated," he said. "Nor have I said that the Government was told that Iraq WMD did not pose an immediate threat."

That piece in today’s Age omits a line of Lewincamp’s that The Australian picks up on:

"Mr Forbes has confirmed to Professor Ross Babbage of the Australian National University that some of the information in the article was based on his attendance as a student at a presentation which I gave to a masters program seminar at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in September last year," Mr Lewincamp said.

Professor Babbage said last night he believed the newspaper report was "not an accurate reflection about what was said on that day" and breached a promise not to repeat it.

"A promise not to repeat" is a little different to speaking "on condition of anonymity". Bring on the inquiry.

UPDATE, via the ABC:

The journalist has been instructed not to comment and the Editor of The Age says the newspaper stands by the story and The Age neither confirms nor denies the identity of the source.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:45 AM | Comments (14)

February 18, 2004


As predicted, George Galloway’s Respect party is roaring towards electoral triumph across the whole of Europe. But the party’s proud 384-hour tradition of tolerance and love was recently threatened by the resignation of co-founder George Monbiot:

"I joined Respect in the hope that we could build a genuine coalition of progressive forces in Britain. I cannot think of a more urgent or more necessary task. At present, British politics is being dragged ever further to the right. We desperately need a coherent, effective movement, which will start to drag it back.

"I hope very much that one day Respect and the Greens can unite to become that force. If that happens, I would be happy to rejoin the coalition. Until it does I will have to stand back."

Maybe he was simply embarrassed by Respect’s cheesy website. Yo, George; go visit this one!

(Via Damian Penny, currently running hot.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:56 PM | Comments (8)


Kerry beat Edwards in Wisconsin, but not by much:

John Kerry squeezed past hard-charging John Edwards on Tuesday to win Wisconsin's primary, gateway to a 10-state, two-man showdown March 2. Howard Dean, his candidacy doomed, considered endorsing one of his rivals.

From an Australian perspective, both leading candiates can go to hell. Kerry described our involvement in the war as fraudulent:

This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition.

And that bastard Edwards doesn’t even want to trade with us. (Where is Drago when we need him?) This comment from the Capitalist Lion sums up the present choice:

1) The kyoto-ratifying, tax-hiking, turn-country-over-to-UN-ing Frankenstein morph.

2) The socialist protectionism-pushing, welfare-grubbing, kyoto-ratifying, eco-tard lawyer.

Let’s get Howard Dean back in the race! Sign the petition now!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:21 PM | Comments (12)


Mark Latham supports free trade:

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.

Wait a second; he opposes free trade:

Speaking in the heart of the motor industry, in Adelaide, Mr Latham said he opposed the proposed cut in car tariffs from 15 per cent to 5 per cent without a thorough review.

Today he supports free trade again:

Labor may abandon its opposition to a free trade deal with the United States after party leader Mark Latham today argued an inquiry may find it is in Australia's national interest.

But only a week or so ago he opposed free trade:

"If we were asked to vote on it today or in the parliament tomorrow we would be opposing it," said Labor leader Mark Latham. "It is not a free-trade agreement at all, it's a partial trade agreement that from our assessment this morning is not in Australia's interest."

The press went nuts over Howard’s perceived backflip on the relatively minor issue of parliamentary superannuation. How will they treat Latham’s somersaults on an issue so vital as trade?

(The Gnu Hunter has more on Rotating Mark.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:25 PM | Comments (10)


The Australian’s Peter Wilson re-defines success:

The radical traffic-busting experiment of charging pound stg. 5 ($11.95) a day for a car to drive into central London reached its first full year in operation yesterday as a raging success.

If anything, the congestion charge may have been a touch too successful because it has deterred so many drivers from going into central London - 60,000 a day, or 30 per cent of original traffic - that the revenue raised by the scheme is well down on projections.

Hooray for success!

The London Chamber of Commerce, which mainly represents small businesses, claims it has been a "substantial and negative" blow to inner-city shops, with 25 per cent of retailers saying they are considering moving out of the zone because of the charge.

Another triumph! The scheme is so successful that some are asking for alterations in the method of payment:

Such pleas have little chance of success following the disclosure last week by one of Mr Livingstone's advisers that they had deliberately made it difficult to pay the charge in order to discourage people from using the scheme.

No wonder it's so successful.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:03 PM | Comments (24)


Benny Hill isn’t dead. He’s writing for The Guardian:

An officer in France's elite DST counter-espionage service yesterday stood accused of fabricating investigations, inventing informants, fiddling his expenses, falsifying missions and cavorting with a glamorous Egyptian call girl while pretending she was a valuable source of undercover information.

Who's to say she wasn't?

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:57 PM | Comments (7)


Holy anti-war icon Andrew Wilkie quit his intelligence job before the war. Why?

Mr Wilkie quit his job as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments (ONA) before the Iraq invasion last year to publicly campaign against government claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Wrong. While Wilkie believed the threat of WMD was overplayed (“Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program is, I believe, genuinely contained”) he didn’t claim that Iraq had no WMD (“there is no doubt they have chemical and biological weapons”). His main concern was over something that never happened:

"My main concern is that Saddam could engineer a humanitarian disaster for any of a number of reasons. We all know of his program to co-locate his sensitive assets in civilian areas, next to schools and so on. He's also got a number of options up his sleeve. Three main ones come to mind:

"He creates a humanitarian disaster to overwhelm coalition forces. Just totally overwhelm them, with thousands of casualties, hundreds of thousands of refugees, internally displaced people, trying to move through their lines. That would play all sorts of havoc for the coalition military.

"He might create a humanitarian disaster to cause such outrage in the international community as to force the US to stop.

"He could create a humanitarian disaster as part of a scorched-earth policy once he realises the game is up. He's on the record as saying during the Iran-Iraq war when it looked like Iraq could lose that he would leave nothing of value for the invading army. That, I think, is an awfully important insight into the way this evil man thinks."

Wilkie thinks there are a number of ways Saddam could produce a humanitarian disaster. "He could do it with weapons of mass destruction. He's already used chemical weapons against the Kurds, and he could do the same again."

In The Bulletin story that first outlined Wilkie’s position on the coming war, his concerns over WMD amounted to only 40 words. Now he -- assisted by a media with short-term memory problems -- would have us believe it was his primary objection.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:07 PM | Comments (22)

test Administrative Announcement

test Okay, that's working.

Update: for some reason the main page of the site was coming up blank. I rebuilt the site and that seemed to solve the problem. I'll be keeping this post up a while for testing purposes.

Posted by Andrea Harris at 11:21 AM | Comments (31)


This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin mentions John Edwards, Kylie Minogue, Steve Irwin, Mark Latham, Kim Carr, Nick Minchin, Nigel Milan, Jenny Brockie, Helen Caldicott, John Traicos, Robert Mugabe, Chloe Traicos, and Andrew Bartlett.

Last week’s column has now reached Parliament. The following is a Senate committee exchange between Senator Santo Santoro and ABC boss Russell Balding:

Senator Santoro: I was interested to read in last week's Bulletin magazine that John Tulloh, the ABC's head of international operations, recently sent a memo to ABC staff telling them not to refer to Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organisations. The memo is reported to state:

"Please be careful with Middle Eastern references. Several recent slip-ups have attracted justified complaints. The ABC follows UN guidelines on proscribed groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad are NOT included in the UN's list of terrorist organisations and therefore must not be described as such."

Would you be prepared to make a copy of that memo available to the committee?

Mr Balding: I will look into that. If it is appropriate I will be more than happy to provide it to the committee.

Senator Santoro: Can you think of any circumstances that would apply where you think that that would not be appropriate?

Mr Balding: I cannot think of one at the moment, no.

Senator Santoro: I would like to elicit some further opinion from you. The memo goes on to state that if any of these organisations:

"... claims responsibility for, say, a suicide bombing or similar outrage, then it is entirely appropriate to describe the incident itself as an act of terrorism. A suicide bomber who detonates himself or herself is a terrorist. While we must avoid labels where possible, do not be afraid to call such a person a terrorist."

It would appear from this that, according to the ABC, at least as expressed within that memo, it is possible for representatives of non-terrorist groups to repeatedly commit terrorist acts. Would you think that that is the case?

Mr Balding: I think we need to have a look at the definition of 'terrorist'. I think that what John Tulloh would be trying to do is provide some guidelines and a style guide to ABC journalists to assist them. I am more than happy to have a look at that and provide comments to you.

Sounds like progress. Also mentioned during the same hearings: a study of the ABC’s Iraq war coverage, by me and James Morrow. Copies are available via the Institute of Public Affairs.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 AM | Comments (25)

February 17, 2004


The 1000 Fighting Styles of Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (31)


Appearing before a Senate hearing yesterday, ABC Managing Director Russell Balding revealed he’d commissioned a report on ABC editorial procedures:

And it will go through the Hutton inquiry report identifying where the report identifies the BBC was in error, particularly in respect of its processes and procedures, and compare that to the current ABC processes and procedures to see if we are satisfied that ours are of such rigour to avoid that, or a similar situation occurring at the ABC. You know we're fairly confident that our processes and procedures would stack up.

I wouldn’t be so sure. The ABC, after all, even got its reporting on the Hutton inquiry wrong.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:54 AM | Comments (4)


John Kerry abandons the NASCAR vote:

Kerry, who has a commanding lead in the race to oppose Bush this fall, chided the president for taking time out Sunday to attend the Daytona 500, saying the country was bleeding jobs while he posed for a "photo opportunity." Bush had donned a racing jacket to officially open NASCAR's most prestigious event in front of some 180,000 fans.

"We don't need a president who just says, 'Gentlemen start your engines,'" Kerry said. "We need a president who says, 'America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.'"

Great with the one-liners, isn't he? Kerry is just bitter that he lost, as Iowahawk reports. Scandal update:

A woman who has been the subject of rumors linking her to Sen. John Kerry denied Monday that she ever had an affair with the Democratic presidential candidate.

Iowahawk again:

Personally, I'm skeptical of the whole business. I can't believe Kerry would ever screw someone with a French name.

UPDATE. Mudville Gazette: 'Kerry should have kept his mouth shut'

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:52 AM | Comments (19)


Michael Moore has lost a fan. Former power plant worker Glenn Sacks writes:

In Dude, Where's My Country? you criticize the Democratic Party for "watering down their beliefs to appeal to all of the dumb white guys out there"--I guess you mean the guys at the power plant--and you imply that the Democrats should simply write them off in 2004. In your view these are the guys who "long for the days of Strom Thurmond and legally accepted date rape," and who oppose abortion because they are male chauvinists who want to control women.

Michael, it saddens me that the beleaguered men at that power plant have lost a valuable friend and gained one more enemy. It saddens me to watch you and your party marginalize yourselves and slowly commit political suicide by spitting on those who once admired and supported you.

And when the Democrats get trounced among male voters in 2004, I know what explanation you'll give. In fact, you've already written it in Stupid White Men: "men are just not as smart as women."

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:13 AM | Comments (13)


Colby Cosh on the greatest puppet-related scandal to beset Canada since Oscar the Grouch banged Margaret Trudeau:

There's no real excuse for the outrage. It's being fomented by the social-democratic NDP, which is opposed to humor on principle, and by Quebec politicians, who have an interest in representing Quebec to Quebeckers as being constantly under siege by menacing Anglo imperialists.

The halfwits who denounced a plastic dog-shaped glove have put a brand-new weld in the sealed American conviction that the gay-marrying, pot-legalizing, military-hating, gun-registering, socialized-everything Canadians are completely bughouse -- a freakish bastard admixture of Yippie and commissar. Even the Kucinich voters with braided beards and BUSH KNEW tattoos are looking north and going "Dude ... it's a puppet. Chill." Given the uproar, who wants to visit Toronto and possibly touch off some kind of international incident by saying the wrong thing? Aren't there dank, fungal Turkish-style prisons up there for people who make ethnic jokes? (Answer: not yet, but check back in ten years.)

The laugh’s on Federal and provincial Canadian governments who paid half a million bucks or so to import the wonderful dog, writes Mark Steyn:

One sympathises at the politicians’ shock on discovering that Triumph The Insult Dog is a dog in the insult business. But in the legal sense the chaps complaining that Triumph and Conan have perpetrated a “hate crime” are on shaky ground: it’s a bit like whining that your dominatrix put your back out. And, if they weren’t aware that Triumph is in the insult business, then that should stand as a cautionary tale of what happens when government spends your money: they haven’t a clue.

No, no, no! The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee won’t tolerate this anti-government slander:

Government is the only tool there is. In the right hands it can transform society. It is a force for progress, for redistribution, for putting right wrongs, for redressing the injustices of the market ...

And for subsidising puppets. As long as Polly is around, we can be pretty sure government isn’t the only tool there is.

(Toynbee link via We The Undersigned)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:31 AM | Comments (36)


The Sydney Morning Herald warns:

Margo will be back on deck very soon.

Her readers -- well, they’ll be eating their crayons with delight:

... the Sydney Morning Herald is written for a 5th grade reading level.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:48 AM | Comments (16)


Starring Marian Wilkinson and David Marr as Frederick and Mabel:

Moves are afoot to do a one-hour "Gilbert and Sullivan punk rock opera TV extravaganza" on the controversial Tampa affair.

TV scriptwriter and refugee activist Sammy Ringer said the Tampa story was so serious it could only be told as musical satire.

"It's sort of a cross between Pirates Of Penzance and punk rocker Marilyn Manson," she said.

"We are putting it together at the moment and hope to have it ready by the end of the year."

Which of course could be just before the election. Ms Ringer, who campaigned against the detention of refugees, sincerely hopes it will embarrass Prime Minister John Howard.

It will, Ms. Ringer. In fact, I think it will embarrass us all.

(Via Gnu Hunter, who locates the source of Sammy’s money.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:40 AM | Comments (15)


Scott Norvell, European Bureau Chief for the Fox News Channel, on blogging:

I think blogging is one of the best things to happen to journalism in decades. It has spawned a whole new range of new and different voices. Despite all its talk of diversity, big media in American tends to be something of a closed shop. Sure, they lack ethnic diversity, but they also lack ideological diversity. That’s precisely why Fox News has been so successful and that’s precisely why some of the most prominent bloggers tend to have a more conservative or libertarian tone to what they write. There’s obviously a market for what they do, or no one would be reading it and talking about it.

And I might feel differently if I wrote an opinion column that was parsed by thousands of people every week like (New York Times columnist) Paul Krugman. I think having widely available refutations of major opinion makers is a healthy thing. I like to think it makes them think a little harder before they write something.

Scott isn’t just talk. He’s a blogger himself.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:21 AM | Comments (8)


Via Sullivan, this editorial on John Kerry:

In 1991 he voted against the first Persian Gulf War, saying more support was needed from Americans for a war that he believed would prove costly. In 1998, when President Clinton was considering military steps against Iraq, he strenuously argued for action, with or without allies. Four years later he voted for a resolution authorizing invasion but criticized Mr. Bush for not recruiting allies. Last fall he voted against funding for Iraqi reconstruction, but argued that the United States must support the establishment of a democratic government.

Mr. Kerry's attempts to weave a thread connecting and justifying all these positions are unconvincing ...

The last creature to go through this many twists, bends, reversals and inversions was a tragic Warner Brothers cat. Not the works! Not the works! On a related note, here’s a few lines from one of those bloodthirsty neo-con Bush people:

Saddam's history of aggression, and his recent record of deception and defiance, leave no doubt that he would resume his drive for regional domination if he had the chance. Year after year, in conflict after conflict, Saddam has proven that he seeks weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, in order to use them.

Actually, that’s from Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, in 1998. Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be angry with him. Oh well, who cares.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:00 AM | Comments (7)

February 16, 2004


“We have lived through, been part of, party to, one of the greatest acts of mass deception in history,” writes Phillip Adams in his latest column, apparently referring to anybody who read it. Professor Bunyip once again exposes the hopelessly maladroit Adams; please read his entire post, an abbreviated version of which follows:

Adams, as he is prone to do, borrows from The New York Review of Books, but this time with a brilliant twist. To begin, let’s review George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech:

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

And so on, with Bush repeatedly providing sourced claims of WMD not accounted for by Saddam. These are crucial points to watch as Bush’s claims slowly migrate to Phillip’s column.

First, however, they are compressed by the NYRoB’s Thomas Powers, in a piece published last December:

Many of these claims were also cited by President Bush in his State of the Union message to Congress last January with additional hard detail — Iraq might have 500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 30,000 prohibited bombs and warheads.

Now things get interesting. Adams, in a lapse astonishing even by his standards, takes that paragraph and attributes it to George W. Bush -- and, additionally, changes “might have” to “has”:

Here’s an extract from Bush’s State of the Union message, January 2003: "Iraq has 500 tonnes of chemical weapons, 25,000 litres of anthrax, 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin, 30,000 prohibited bombs and warheads ... ”

That isn’t an extract from Bush’s speech. Adams has made it up. Once again:

Bush: “Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials.

“The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material.

Bush, according to Adams: “Iraq has 500 tonnes of chemical weapons, 25,000 litres of anthrax ... ”

Phillip Adams should be fired.

UPDATE. It gets worse. Reader Hugh W. has checked the other quotes in the Adams piece and turned up the following, to which I've added a few lines myself:

In Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, he said:

Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent.

Adams, relying on the NYRoB’s account, edits this down to "... Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent." Thus, Powell's presentation of an estimate is turned into an assertion of fact.

Adams then quotes Powell as saying: "... Iraq retains a covert force of up to a few dozen scud-variant ballistic missiles". The actual words spoken were:

While inspectors destroyed most of the prohibited ballistic missiles, numerous intelligence reports over the past decade, from sources inside Iraq, indicate that Saddam Hussein retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud variant ballistic missiles.

Here, Adams has not only removed the ambiguity and the statement of sources which were in the actual remarks, he has changed the words "Saddam Hussein" to "Iraq" for no apparent reason.

The next section of the quote ("... Iraq has illegally imported 380 SA2 rocket engines") was originally "UNMOVIC has also reported that Iraq has illegally important 380 SA-2 rocket engines." A claim carefully attributed by Powell to a UN agency has become another out-of-context assertion, again through Adams relying on the NYRoB as his primary source.

And what about this alleged Paul Wolfowitz quote? Adams claims he said:

The CIA has collected solid facts about a decade of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa’ida, facts about training of al-Qa’ida people ...

Wolfowitz never used the phrase "solid facts". Adams has again misplaced the words of NYRoB writer Powers:

Wolfowitz went on to claim that the CIA had collected solid "facts about a decade of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, facts about training of al-Qaeda people, including in chemical and biological weapons ..."

Here’s what Wolfowitz actually said:

So you weigh all of those things, and these facts that we have and the facts that are in the George Tenet letter, or facts about a decade of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda, facts about Iraqi training of al Qaeda people, including in chemical and biological weapons, and facts about Iraq providing sanctuary for al Qaeda people, including senior al Qaeda people, including in Baghdad.

In the following NYRoB extract, Powers uses the phrase "it could be worse than we think" in seeking the meaning of a CIA claim:

In a bow to candor the agency specified just how much confidence it had in its "Key Judgments"—high confidence in some, moderate to low in others. It had high confidence in four—that Iraq "is continuing, and in some areas expanding," its programs for WMD; that "we are not detecting portions of these weapons programs," meaning it could be worse than we think; that Iraq "possesses...chemical and biological weapons"; and that Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in a year if it had fissionable material. The agency expressed low confidence in its ability to know when or if Saddam Hussein would use WMD or provide weapons to al-Qaeda.

After getting the Adams treatment, those words are now in the CIA’s mouth:

The CIA National Intelligence Estimate was less emphatic, admitting it didn’t know everything. But this didn’t matter because what it didn’t know only intensified the problem: "Iraq is continuing and in some areas expanding its programs for WMDs; that we are not detecting portions of these weapons programs means it could be worse than we think; Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in a year if it had fissionable material."

Got your excuses ready, Phillip?

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:22 AM | Comments (64)


Further to the above post: Will the ABC’s Media Watch pay any attention to this, the latest and most grievous of Adams’s crimes against journalism? Not likely; the first time Bunyip identified Phil’s lucrative re-write hobby, Media Watch went to the trouble of explaining why they wouldn’t expose him.

The second time, Media Watch was silent; the third time, yet more silence. Way back when this happened? Nothing.

Which, a cynic might conclude, is what you’d expect ... given that Media Watch host David Marr promotes his books on Phil’s ABC radio program (where the friendly pair agree to agree about everything); that Marr contributes to books edited by Adams; and that Marr features at cultural festivals Adams is involved in at committee level.

You want an act of deception? Here’s Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy:

We try to be balanced and we're more than happy to come down on some lefty columnists if we catch them stuffing up.

Stuffing ... as in a Thanksgiving turkey? (More of which soon.) Meanwhile McEvoy’s response to a viewer complaint over last week’s Hutton inquiry debacle is 100% weasel:

Pay attention to what we actually said.

Check the transcript to find that we quote Jones' comments as supporting Gilligan's claim that the intelligence services were unhappy with the dossier.

Media Watch didn’t point out that the intelligence staffers cited were unhappy with their superiors rather than the Blair government, which was the impression created by Media Watch. Send McEvoy a note on any or all of this; he obviously needs to be told.

UPDATE. Not. Mentioned. Once. Although there was a big item on the vital local media issue of ... Paris Hilton.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:14 AM | Comments (10)


Wesley Clark has withdrawn from the race for the Presidency, leaving only memories of his awesome gravitas and consistency. Such as was evident in this February 5 speech:

I don't think you can stand with Bush one day and than against him once you decide to run for president.

Here’s Wes before he decided to run for president:

Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? ... 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 here’s Wes after he decided to run for president:

Iraq did not pose an 'imminent threat' to the United States or its neighbors prior to the war ... the Bush Administration misled us into a war we didn't need to fight.

Please, God, let him be the vice-presidential nominee.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 AM | Comments (6)


Melbourne Age columnist Terry Lane deplores the fascist Howard regime’s treatment of refugees, and he loves multiculturalism. Except when folks from other cultures want to spend their money here:

Back in the distant '80s, when foreigners had not yet quite taken over the entire nation ...

Bastard foreigners! The government should ban them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:09 AM | Comments (4)


All the news you need on John Kerry’s girlfriend, George W. Bush’s National Guard service ... and from Canada, the very latest on Triumph, “le chien comique de l'insulte”! First up, the Daily Telegraph reports:

Alex Polier, the twenty-four year old journalist who could end Senator John Kerry's hopes of becoming the next president of the United States is alleged to have had a two-year affair with the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Last night the rumours were in danger of becoming a full-blown scandal.

"This is not going to go away," one American friend of Miss Polier said yesterday. "What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."

That wouldn’t be difficult, seeing that so far not much has been reported at all. Oh, my; things aren’t looking good for George W. Bush, who’ll struggle to avoid impeachment after these outrageous revelations in the LA Times:

He drove a convertible sports car and braved the bachelor life in cramped, often disheveled rooms in one of Houston's tonier singles' apartment complexes. He also drank.

One effect of the latest Bush-AWOL investigations is that a lot more people are now aware that Bush once flew jet fighters, which wasn’t as widely known as you might think. But who cares about the US elections when Canadians are being taunted by a puppet:

The incident raised the ire of Quebec nationalist group Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, which demanded an apology from the politicians who brought Late Night With Conan O'Brien to Toronto.

In Ottawa, Mauril Belanger - the deputy government house leader - told the House of Commons that the government finds nothing amusing about the NBC show host making fun of Quebecers.

NDP MP Alexa McDonough said the sketch featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was "vile and vicious" and amounted to hate-mongering and that the feds should demand their money back.

Comments Damian Penny: “Terrorists murder 3,000 people on 9/11, and the New Democrats ask for calm and say we have to understand the 'root causes'. But a puppet insulting Quebeckers? Unleash the dogs of war!” The Globe and Mail reports that protesters turned up at a subsequent Conan taping, chanting “Freedom fries, racist jibes” in a breakthrough non-rhyming denunciation of the US and its imperialist dog puppets.

Reuters, the plastic dogs of the news business, covered events in their usual style:

Canada's government on Friday condemned a show by U.S. late-night television host Conan O'Brien that insulted people in French-speaking Quebec and seemed to suggest everyone in the province was homosexual.

Reuters doesn’t do humour. The Toronto Star’s Vinay Menon seemed to get things right: “I can't believe this country was successfully baited by a damn hand puppet,” he wrote. “This just in: Triumph isn't real.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:01 AM | Comments (22)

February 15, 2004


From Niner Charlie’s archives:

Veteran expatriate anti-nuclear fanatic Dr Helen Caldicott graced the airwaves of Australia’s Radio National Breakfast program this morning. When asked about the Democratic Party contest for the Presidential nomination she related an encounter with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean at a party in Los Angeles. Caldicott claimed that upon meeting her Dean had gushed “You are one of my heroes.” Caldicott thought that perhaps Dean might have been a member of her anti-nuclear physicians club.

Maybe Loud Howard will turn up at Caldicott’s Wisconsin speech on Monday. Organised by, er, madpeace.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:18 PM | Comments (2)


The ABC memo revealed in last week’s Bulletin column draws some further attention:

Australia's national broadcaster has instructed its staff not to identify Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah as terrorist organizations, because they have not been designated as such by the United Nations.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's head of international operations, John Tulloh, confirmed the policy Friday, in response to emailed queries.

Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said Friday the identification of terrorist organizations was not the problem the ABC claimed it was.

"Terrorist attacks are attacks directed primarily at civilians, and are generally readily identifiable, as even the ABC's own memo concedes," he said.

"A terrorist organization is one whose leadership espouses or claims credit for such attacks, or which has been identified by a legitimate court of law as having carried out such an attack, regardless of the cause in which the attacks was carried out. By this criteria, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah are unequivocally terrorist organizations."

Fleischer also questioned the policy of a taxpayer-funded Australian broadcaster to appeal to the U.N. as the "ultimate authority" when it came to designating organizations as terrorist.

"The U.N. is neither a judicial body, nor a world parliament, and the ABC was established to represent an Australian point of view, and not that of a political multinational organization in New York," he said.

The Republican debate was framed by many pro-Republicans as a chance for Australia to stand on its own two feet; as Ryan Heath said: "We believe that as Australians, we're grown up enough to run our own affairs completely, without the need for a foreign Queen, who does not live among us, to be our Head of State."

Apparently our national broadcaster isn’t grown up enough to run its own affairs. It follows the decisions of a foreign group that does not live among us.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:30 PM | Comments (28)


This comment from Shannon Love, about US politics, also applies to politics in Australia:

I think contemporary politics has more to do with social competition than the battle of ideas. Political parties no longer represent social class or region but instead represent subcultures.

People want to see that "people like us" are seen as dominant in society. They ego identify with political parties like people ego identify with sports team. They root for their team to win with the same uncritical fervor as a sports fan.

The Presidency has become a powerfully symbolic proxy for this struggle. Clinton drove social conservatives absolutely around the bend even though most of his policies were quite moderate because he was not perceived as being "one of us". The same effect occurs with Bush and Leftist even though his domestic policies are very moderate.

The Nation et al want to win for the sake of winning. They want to be able to paint their faces and scream "We're number one!" This ego driven pursuit of power causes them to abandon their principles.

That’s why so many on the Left support Mark Latham. The majority of the public has moved on, however; no longer locked into tribal loyalties, for the past decade Australian voters have sensibly supported a conservative government federally and (mostly) Labor governments at state level (Australia’s state conservative parties are as much a rabble now as the federal party was during the 1980s). They vote for sound policies and reliable government, not parties.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:28 PM | Comments (14)


The incoherence at the core of the ”Bush was a deserter!” argument is sharply identified by Mark Steyn:

To the media, the contrast is simple: Kerry = war hero; Bush = something smaller, shiftier. Bill Clinton, of course, is smallest and shiftiest of the lot, but, back in '92, John Kerry stood shoulder to shoulder with his fellow Democrat and said, "We do not need to divide America over who served and how." Now, apparently, we do. So Kerry has his supporter Max Cleland, former Senator, fellow veteran and triple amputee, all over the talk-shows, explaining that the difference between giving Clinton a pass on draft-dodging and hammering relentlessly on Bush's National Guard record is that in 2004 "it's the national security, stupid. We want a President who can really be Commander-in-Chief". And the fact that Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, has liberated two countries, overthrown the Taliban and slung Saddam in jail counts for less than whether he bunked off for the weekend in 1972.

Steyn’s conclusion:

If character is the issue, Bush can relax. And, if doing your bit for national security is the issue, then John Kerry's been AWOL for two decades.

UPDATE. Steyn on ... well, it doesn’t matter. Just read it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:10 PM | Comments (6)


The anti-Semitism that isn’t happening in Europe just keeps on not happening:

Prominent Jews in Britain are being targeted in a wave of anti-Semitic harassment by far-Right and Islamic fundamentalist organisations.

The incidents have emerged as police prepare to release figures this week showing that Britain saw a significant rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2003.

Australians shouldn’t imagine we’re immune from this. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise locally, too:

Recall that in March a pod of confused anti-war protesters trashed St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, mistaking it for a synagogue. Almost as bad were the letters published in various Australian newspapers following Mahathir Mohamad's statement that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." Alarmingly, several correspondents seemed to support the Malaysian simpleton. The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University reports that last year Australia recorded 625 episodes of anti-Semitism – "the highest annual number of reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation since the commencement of national record keeping in 1989". In 1997, for example, only 246 anti-Semitic crimes were reported.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 PM | Comments (6)


This isn’t a backflip. THIS is a backflip.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:46 AM | Comments (6)


The World Press Photo of the Year. Which says a lot more about the world press than it does about the photo. Please supply links in comments to your own selection of the best photo of 2003.

**UPDATE** -- Hit the archives and scroll down for all the bigotry and oppression you’ve missed over the weekend.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 AM | Comments (33)


Happy St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Day! I’m a day late in Australia, but what the hell. Mark Steyn identifies a crucial problem for us mono-linguists:

English has just four and a half rhymes for "love", approximately three-quarters of which offer highly limited possibilities: "above", "dove", "glove", "shove" and (the half-rhyme) "of". The last is the reason why, in English songs, "love" is a thing you spend a lot of time "dreaming uv". "Shove" is of limited application, except in ballads for spousal abusers. "Glove" is annoyingly singular. In Irving Berlin's "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm", the giddy romancer finds himself, as many Canadian canoodlers do on this day, in sub-zero temperatures but enflamed by his passion:

Off with my overcoat
Off with my glove
I need no overcoat
I'm burning with love

- and you find yourself thinking: why's the guy only wearing one glove?

Steyn’s right; the love rhyme is tough. The only way around it is to invent new words:

On life’s romantic highway
I drive my SUV of love
For the purposes of rhyming,
I pronounce it "suv"

Yeah, well ... you do better.*

*Note: better submissions will be deleted.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:42 AM | Comments (15)


The New York Times, cautious as always not to intrude on the personal lives of politicians, reports on the President:

He had his tonsils removed as a young boy, had appendicitis when he was 10 and at 14 had an operation to remove a cyst from his chest, leaving a scar. At the time he applied for entrance into the guard, he had a hemorrhoid, the location of which was charted with military precision.

'Rhoids aside, other revelations tend to make Bush look kinda good:

In November 1970, the commander of the Texas Air National Guard, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, called Mr. Bush, then 24, "a dynamic outstanding young officer" who stood out as "a top-notch fighter interceptor pilot" mature beyond his age.

"Lt. Bush's skills far exceed his contemporaries," Colonel Killian wrote in recommending that Mr. Bush be promoted to first lieutenant. "He is a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership. Lt. Bush is also a good follower with outstanding disciplinary traits and an impeccable military bearing."

To balance things, the NYT throws in:

The documents offer up flashes of detail about Mr. Bush's life in the six years after he finished college, as well as glowing evaluations of him as an officer and as a pilot that could help the White House rebut any suggestion that he passed that period aimlessly while other young Americans were risking or giving their lives in Vietnam ... Looking back from more than three decades, there are intimations in the records of a life of privilege and of fateful decisions to come.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:18 AM | Comments (34)


From Andrew Bolt’s speech last week to the Sydney Institute:

No, there was no "stolen generation" of children snatched from loving homes.

No, there was no genocide in Tasmania.

No, the smallpox that decimated Aborigines so cruelly was not brought here by European settlers.

No, windfarms will not stop global warming, or do much good to anyone.

No, man-made global warming is not a proven or "agreed" scientific fact.

No, we are not losing thousands, hundreds or even dozens of species each year.

No, forest cover in the industrialised world is not shrinking, we're not running out of oil and the Murray is not dying, In fact, the Murray's salinity is now as low as it's been for 50 years.

No, the US did not sell chemical or biological weapons to Iraq, the CIA did not bring Saddam to power and the turkey George Bush held up was not plastic.

Of course, all of these are articles of leftist faith, and therefore impossible to counter with logic or evidence or reason. Fun to try, though.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:54 AM | Comments (11)


Florida Cracker links to a new site run by Vietnam veterans opposed to the Democrat frontrunner: “This site is not against the Democrats, it is against John Kerry, it does not look at any other issue other than his military service, the anti-war movement and how he has dealt with Vietnam's Human Rights. If Kerry was running as a Republican or Independent, this site would still exist in opposition.”

• One of the finest comments threads ever spawned at this site will soon vanish to the archives. Include your story now, or ... don’t.

• Added to the blogroll, after months of pointless delay, is New York’s excellent Spartacus. Also Wonkette. (And ABC Watch.)

• Ask the CPA! Roger Bournival offers useful tax advice for US readers.

• The WogBlogger, who tends to post brilliantly or not at all, is in one of her brilliant phases.

• Mahmood offers a sociological analysis of Bahrain by vehicle type. Turns out the Camry Estate is the favoured transport of religious persons/mullahs/imams.

• The fourth installment of US Marine Brian Taylor’s war journal -- and the most compelling yet -- is now up at Opinion Journal. Earlier installments may be found here.

Mike Jericho is back blogging after a couple of weeks off. Take his scary poll.

• Where is Margo? Vikki McNaughton, like the whole semi-English speaking world, wonders.

• Type “Mark Latham” into Google and this site appears first. Well done, Flippy!

• Flee Canberra! Tex has news of an impending disaster.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:39 AM | Comments (3)

February 14, 2004


As a supporter of participatory democracy, I strongly urge Ralph Nader to once again run for President:

Almost exactly four years after he announced he would run for president, the former Green Party candidate is poised to declare that he is running again this year, this time as an independent.

Despite a vigorous effort on the part of the left to keep Nader from running and despite his insistence that he's still mulling over his decision, friends, associates and insiders say he is determined to run again.

Imagine you’re a young, idealistic, first-time potential voter. You hear all these people on the left urging you to vote. Then you hear the same side of politics urging someone not to run. No wonder young people become cynical!

I say Mr Nader must run. For the sake of idealism. Write to Ralph; send him money.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:36 PM | Comments (7)


Unable to form a coalition with the Greens, George Galloway’s new peace party is forced to act unilaterally:

The Green party has rejected an electoral pact with the anti-war Respect coalition, leaving the two radical parties in competition for the alternative vote at this year's European and London elections.

Despite several months of behind the scenes negotiations between the newly formed, George Galloway-led Respect party and the Greens, there will now be a straight "Red versus Green" fight to mop up the fringe vote in key constituencies like London and the south-east.

That’s not George’s only problem. Respect launched its revolting website two days ago, but forgot to register the domain.

So Tim Newman grabbed it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:21 AM | Comments (15)


Change is underway at Dave Barry’s place:

Next week, to Serve You Better, this blog is going to migrate to a new location. Even as you read these words, Miami Herald and Knight Ridder technical people are doing complex technical things that this blog does not even remotely comprehend, involving concepts such as "templates." Meetings are also being held. It is very scary, and this blog would not be surprised if there are technical "glitches," possibly resulting in worldwide nuclear war.

But if it all works out, we will be at a new location, with an upgraded blog that will feature such improvements as a "comments" section. Also there will be advertising, because this blog is part of the capitalist media corporate structure that controls every aspect of everything and already has determined the outcomes of the next six presidential elections.

I think we can all see what’s happening here. Barry wants my advertising revenue. Big media just keeps on crushing the little guy!

(By the way, those ads to your left? If you want in on the current cheap rates, do so now. An increase is planned.)

UPDATE. Uh-oh.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:40 AM | Comments (9)


Triumph the Insult Comic Dog -- he insults people; there’s a clue in the name -- has insulted Quebec. Now, as Damian Penny reports, Canada is in meltdown:

"So you're French and Canadian, yes? So you're obnoxious and dumb," a satirical sock puppet told one passerby in a taped segment on Mr. O'Brien's show last night.

"You're in North America; learn the language," Triumph, the cigar-smoking dog, hollered at another Quebecker at the carnival.

During the taped O'Brien piece, the sock puppet asked one couple if they were separatists.

"Listen closely," he said after they said they were. "Hear that? It's the sound of no one giving a...," followed by an expletive bleep.

And here’s the reaction:

Globe and Mail Review editor Elizabeth Renzetti was in the audience for the taping of the O'Brien show and said the segment received a disturbing amount of applause from the young audience.

"It left me with a real sour taste in my mouth. It seemed over the top; it seemed cruel, because a couple of the people didn't speak English and he mocked them mercilessly," Ms. Renzetti said. "It was like they had no idea that this is a bilingual country."

Actually, it seems pretty obvious that they did.

"Jesus. This is not going to play well here," said John Parisella, a communications specialist and a former adviser to late Liberal premier Robert Bourassa, after hearing the quotes over the phone.

"This is tasteless. It's extremely offensive to Quebeckers," he said. "This is not the kind of humour that is healthy for the country."

Same sort of thing happened here when the Simpsons in Australia episode aired. Many outraged letters to the editor. Furious columns. One reviewer sought out Matt Groening for an apology. What did these people expect from a cartoon? A documentary explaining Australia’s adoption of the metric system?

I’m far more offended by this:

When Helen Caldicott was 15 years old, she read a book that eventually changed her life.

The name of the book was “On the Beach.” It told the story of a nuclear bomb that killed everyone in the world, except for people living in Melvin, Australia, where Caldicott lived. But eventually, people there got sick and died too.

Supporters of the Melvin Football Club will be particularly outraged.

UPDATE. Oh, now I’m really insulted. Canadian reader Terry Nazar writes, in response to this old item on Michael Moore:

Since Michael Moore is a human being it would make sense that he has some flaws....just like any other human being. What makes Moore different and "more" tolerable, accepting and convincing is his intelligence and of course that's all relative too but on a scale of Bush to 10, I would put him 9 rungs up on "the Dubya" and that would be somewhat higher when we get into the credibility and hypocritical areas.

I'd say Michael has a wit similar to Andy Rooney and he's Revered by Conservative America,so for once in your life, try to do the white thing and be honest.

If you can get by the NC (Neo-Conservative) spell you're under and listen to what he is saying, I would rather live in that world than the one George Bush has placed America in for a very long time.

You saw Hussein come out of a hole and how he looked? Well America has been in one for about 9 months now and as a Canadian living very close to the border and going accross the gorge a fair deal (we also go to the zoo a lot) I see the changes in attitudes in my American friends and feel so sorry for them.
Their main question to us is, don't you guys worry about being blown up? Our collective answer is a resounding NO and then we ask the simpliest of questions.............WHY? Who Hates US (US not to be confused with the United States)


You are indeed part of what is wrong with America.

Terry Nazar

UPDATE. Yet more hilarious Canadian hypersensitivity. How dare General Motors insult Vancouver's public transit system!

UPDATE II. Reuters reports:

Alexa McDonough, a legislator for the left-leaning New Democrats, described the program as "racist filth" and "utterly vile" and demanded the government seek the return of the C$1 million subsidy.

"There may be those who would say, 'Isn't this interfering with freedom of expression?' It's not interfering to say we will not publicly fund this kind of vile, vicious hatemongering," McDonough told reporters.

Someone should tell that to the Victorian government.

(Via Jarvis, who writes: "I have just one request for Triumph: Go to France, next. Please!"

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:30 AM | Comments (64)


Bill at the INDC Journal writes:

I've had the misfortune of seeing Kerry up-close-and-personal once. I was at a reception following a pro-choice comedy benefit and Kerry was working the crowd with some empathy-smeared small-talk. I was standing next to the guy, really just looking up at him and trying to figure out if he was human or not. Seriously. The dude is like nine feet tall, looks like a walking, talking cartoon and that thick head of hair required its own box seat for the performance. The guy was very physically imposing. Not good-looking in any sense of the phrase, but scary as hell.

Salon’s Joe Conason is scared of a revived VRWC:

Is American politics suddenly returning to the bad old days, when Washington journalism became frenzied with sheet sniffing and keyhole peeping? That seems to be the default program of the right-wing media machine whenever Republican poll numbers sink into the red zone.

Late Thursday morning -- with George W. Bush's credibility damaged on several fronts as reporters demanded answers to questions about his National Guard service that should have been asked years ago -- the Drudge Report defamed his leading Democratic challenger with a "world exclusive" smudge of personal dirt.

Questions about Bush’s service: “should have been asked years ago”.
Questions about Kerry’s servicing: “keyhole peeping ... personal dirt”.

Well, at least we know where Joe stands. Or kneels. Hey, turns out Bush wasn’t such a hot driver when he was a kid:

The White House disclosed information in documents Thursday showing that President Bush had been arrested once for a college prank and was cited for two automobile accidents and two speeding tickets before he enlisted in the National Guard.

Man, scandal city! Meanwhile, the Bush AWOL story may be fading:

For at least six years, a retired Texas National Guard officer has maintained that President Bush's record as a member of the Guard was purged of potentially embarrassing material at the behest of high-ranking Bush aides laying the groundwork for Bush's 2000 run for the presidency.

But a key witness to some of the events described by [Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bill] Burkett has told the Globe that the central elements of his story are false.

Iowahawk has the real Bush scandal totally nailed. And Christopher Sheil, whose endorsement of Wesley Clark helped sink the General’s campaign, has done it again. Only hours before the Kerry story hit, Sheil posted this. Who will the Chris of Death bring down next?

UPDATE. The Kerry Mystery Woman is Alex Polier, currently residing in Kenya. Here’s one of her Associated Press stories. The caption error is, er, unfortunate.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:17 AM | Comments (11)


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey demonstrates his usual calm reserve:

John Howard lost it two days ago. His cool, his direction, his command of his party, his control of national politics, his image as the "man of steel". All in just, what, two months? Much less, when you think about it. Mark Latham became Opposition Leader on Tuesday, December 2. Tuesday this week was only his fourth day in Parliament as Labor's alternative to Howard. That was the day Latham announced his assault on MPs' superannuation. By week's end he had all but killed off Howard's prime ministership.

You think that an absurd rush to judgement?

Yes, I do!

Think again.


What we saw two nights ago could not have been a more humiliating, more devastating political white flag for any prime minister. Howard's surrender to Latham is that catastrophic.

Speaking of rushes to judgment, Al, how much time did you spend researching that plastic Christmas turkey column?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:09 AM | Comments (9)

February 13, 2004


The Boston Globe’s Alex Beam is one confused mofo:

What is that whooshing sound that you hear? It is all the hot air escaping from the self-styled "blogosphere."The blogosphere is the alternative reality Internet world, supposedly populated by vast communities of keyboard tappers linked by the World Wide Web. This campaign season, for the first time, the blogosphere had its own presidential candidate: Howard Dean.

Er ... it did? Apparently in BeamWorld, Dean’s use of the internet as a campaigning device means that all bloggers were part of the Dean campaign, because -- the logic is inescapable -- those bloggers are on the internet too!

Beam is unable to see the trees for the forest. To him, the wild, sprawling diversity of web opinion is One Massed Force. Possibly Beam has never recovered from the shame and humiliation of his April Fooling a couple of years ago. Watch him rant:

The Internet can be likened to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Ten years ago, the Web was going to put newspapers out of business. Now, hilariously, 99 percent of the Internet commentariat, my friends the "bloggers," spend all day spitballing, commenting upon, and stealing the content of papers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Globe.

Only a veteran journalist could fit so much wrong into one paragraph.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:04 PM | Comments (24)


Matt Drudge reports:

A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

Drudge also has this: "In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: 'Kerry will implode over an intern issue.'"

UPDATE. Instapundit has a whole bunch of scandal-enriched Kerry links. The Independent mentions the story in passing, and the Telegraph reports:

Bill Buck, the national press secretary for the Clark campaign, said: "We do not respond to Right-wing internet postings in any way, shape or form."

Two hours after the report first appeared on the internet, Gen Clark's campaign rushed to his aid, indicating that the retired general would endorse Mr Kerry today.

Drudge claimed that several prominent news organisations in Washington have been investigating the rumours. But some of those named denied this.

The Drudge Report said the allegation explained why Howard Dean, the former frontrunner, was now vowing to fight on, having earlier pledged to bow out if he lost the next big contest on Tuesday.

Diehard Dean supporters exulted on internet forums at the news that the man who usurped their hero's position as favourite was at the centre of his own media storm.

Deaniacs remain bitter at what they perceive as the media's destruction of their candidate, who only a month ago led the polls. Last night Mr Kerry's campaign internet forum for activists was seething with accusations of Republican dirty tricks.

Atrios writes:

Anyway, I don't care who Kerry is boinking, frankly, but if this is a) true and b) recent as in "after his decision to run for president" then he ain't too bright.

But, any "respectable" (hah) media outlet that reports this without getting some sources other than Drudge should be ashamed.

I don’t know why. Drudge’s record on Democrat intern stories is pretty good.

UPDATE II. Andrew Sullivan worries that Republicans are behind this story, and Tim Dunlop blames Bush. But it appears that it emerged via a Clark operative.

Also, The Corner links to this Washington Post item on Teresa Ketchup Kerry:

Her views on marital fidelity: "I don't think I could have coped so well" with a mate's philandering as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has. "I used to say to my husband, my late husband, 'If you ever get something I'll maim you. Not kill you, just maim you.' And we'd laugh, laugh, laugh." Heinz adds that she has never had any reason to suspect either of her husbands. "Not for one day, because what I expect of them, they have a right to expect of me. Maybe I'm into 18-year-olds." At which Heinz's campaign handler, former political journalist Chris Black, cautioned bleakly: "That was a joke."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:40 AM | Comments (61)


Wesley Clark supporters paid their money, and they want their signed photographs:

I donated $250 awhile back when there was a premium offered for that amount of a signed picture of Gen. Clark. I never received the picture. Wondering what others' opinions are as to whether it is in completely bad taste and classless to pursue it, and ask for the picture. I know the campaign staff has other issues they are dealing with, if in fact anyone is still there.

Another Clarkoid also lost out:

Linda, I have the same problem. I gave $500 and haven't received the 100 yr vision thing offered.

One hundred years of vision for only $500? Man, this guy was offering some value deals.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:11 AM | Comments (12)


Mark Steyn on the romantic allure of brutish conservatism:

Personally, I've always found there's a certain proportion of ferocious left-wing gals who find the idea of right-wing men strangely attractive in a disgusting kind of way - like Lady Chatterley and Mellors the gamekeeper, after you've been with these earnest dessicated socialist chappies so long the notion of some unreconstructed conservative neanderthal is not without its appeal, though they'll hate themselves in the morning.

A socialist ex-girlfriend -- waaay back in the ‘80s -- once described a commie former bedpal as “scrawny, but also flabby”. Judging by the types at last year’s anti-war demonstrations, the flab-scrawn demographic is still over-represented among lefty youth.

But, hey, who wasn’t a lefty when they were young and stu ... idealistic? I was; and so was James Lileks:

I held contrary positions when I was Young and Idealistic, and thought that those were attributes that lent some sort of moral weight to what I thought. (Hah!) I believed:

Ronald Reagan had the IQ of a Sea-Monkey, and not only wanted nuclear war but was completely unaware of the consequences of such an event, because he hadn’t read that New Yorker article by Jonathan Schell!

All people in the military were either brainwashed killbots, or generals who saw weapons as phallic substitutes, playthings whose lethality they could not possibly comprehend (The phrase “Boys and their toys” was the height of insight in our circle)

The Soviets could be best deterred by signing agreements that spelled out exactly how many thousand ICBMs we could point at one another, and the more we showed we desperately wanted peace the more they would want to be our friends, and while the USSR was possibly, maybe, perhaps an evil empire, it was extremely unhelpful to say such a thing out loud

It was better to let all of Latin America fall to Soviet-friendly regimes than to support governments that did not resemble North Dakota school boards

Europe had it all figured out

Rich people suck

Anyone who was socially conservative was probably repressing a vast amount of perversity, and your average Republican spent his private moments panting over the bra section in the Sears catalog

Religious people were okay as long as they didn’t seem to take it all that seriously

People who opposed unrestricted abortion rights wanted women to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen

Lileks subsequently went through what he describes as a “mid-30s polar realignment”. Mine began earlier and was largely complete by my mid-20s, after I’d endured and observed a gulag-load of left-wing hypocrisy, illogic, and outright wrongness. There’s only so many times you can be told that 2 + 2 = Walrus before this thought strikes: “You know, maybe these people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 AM | Comments (128)


An idea so crazy it just might work:

Israeli police have come up with plans to place bags of pig lard on buses in a bid to deter Palestinian militants from carrying out suicide attacks, the Maariv daily reported.

Authorities believe that the move could discourage Palestinians from carrying out attacks as pieces of their exploded body could come into contact with the pig fat, prejudicing their chances of entering into paradise.

Thanks to Australian deployment of pig blood, New York buses are already secure.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:50 AM | Comments (26)


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Mark Riley apparently has no idea what backflip means:

After two days of ridiculing the Labor leader as "Mr Flip-Flop", John Howard executed a spectacular backflip of his own on MPs' superannuation.

Howard explained his decision at a press conference late yesterday as being in keeping with the positive new air pervading federal politics.

He said he had always maintained that if an Opposition leader came up with a good idea, he would act upon it.

So where’s the backflip? When Mark Latham first raised the superannuation issue, Howard -- as Matt Price reported -- promised to analyse Latham's proposal. Which he’s now done. If he first rejected Latham’s proposal then later agreed with it, well, now we’re talking backflip. Let’s see if the SMH pursues Howard’s counter-challenge to the Labor leader:

Howard promised to analyse Latham's proposal, then challenged him to instruct the ALP to renegotiate the Centenary House lease, a shameless Keating government deal that channels about $2 million a year into party coffers.

If Latham was so concerned about cynicism, argued Howard, "he could say, 'Mate, renegotiate that lease, it's a rort".

Mr Flip-Flop smiled nervously at the Big Bad PM, perhaps reflecting that by the end of this story, only one would be living happily ever after.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:06 AM | Comments (16)

February 12, 2004


Remember this precise wartime analysis from Robert Fisk?

Anyone who doubts that the Iraqi Army is prepared to defend its capital should take the highway south of Baghdad.

How, I kept asking myself, could the Americans batter their way through these defenses ? For mile after mile they go on, slit trenches, ditches, earthen underground bunkers, palm groves of heavy artillery and truck loads of combat troops in battle fatigues and steel helmets. Not since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War have I seen the Iraqi Army deployed like this.

Instead of asking himself, Fisk should’ve asked Saddam. The New York Times reports:

A complacent Saddam Hussein was so convinced that war would be averted or that America would mount only a limited bombing campaign that he deployed the Iraqi military to crush domestic uprisings rather than defend against a ground invasion, according to a classified log of interrogations of captured Iraqi leaders and former officers.

Mr. Hussein believed that a "casualty averse" White House would order a bombing campaign that Iraq could withstand, according to the secret report, prepared for the Pentagon's most senior leadership and dated Jan. 26. And the Iraqi Defense Ministry, in a grand miscalculation, believed that any ground offensive would come across the Jordanian border.

The last ground offensive Saddam was involved in included a spider hole.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:45 PM | Comments (19)


Christopher Hitchens on master condescender Howard Dean:

It's always interesting when people don't seem to feel shame or embarrassment -- and it's often not a very good sign -- so when Mr. Dean went on about his black roommates in college he was as toe-curlingly awful as when he condescended to those who display the Confederate flag. To be crass about both groups in a matter of weeks is quite something.

Howie sure achieved a lot during his brief time in the spotlight. Imagine alienating even the Hate Bush crowd:

There are, clear across the country, people who sincerely cannot stand the policies or the personality of the president. When they say "ABB" (Anybody but Bush) they say it as if they really mean it. But there are limits, and Mr. Dean managed to find them in only a few weeks of cocky, half-baked and spendthrift posturing. This is not a time when the United States can afford even to flirt with the idea of an insecure narcissist and vain windbag as president. It's good to know that many liberals and leftists recognize that fact and act upon it, even when it costs them something.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:37 PM | Comments (8)


Further to the post below, Graham Freeman presents a work of genuine artistic merit. I've never seen a “3XY Rocks” sticker more poignantly displayed. Give the man a grant!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:28 PM | Comments (5)


The innovative and challenging (and taxpayer subsidised) artwork of Gordon Hookey, previously examined by Evil Pundit, Sam Ward, and Bernie Slattery, is now reviewed by Andrew Bolt:

Most of the surface, in fact, is covered by slogans. Big slogans. Crude slogans. Ignorant slogans -- but slogans conforming perfectly to the chants of the bumper-sticker Left. Indeed, I'd bet you a boomerang to Ayers Rock that if Hookey wasn't Aboriginal, and militantly Left wing, the National Gallery of Victoria would never have shown something so crass.

On one of his canvases, Hookey has even drawn the British and American flags next to a Nazi cross in a grotesque insult, not just to those democracies, but to the victims of the Nazis.

Nearby, a platoon of figures just recognisable as Ronald McDonald hold bottles of Coke, in what must now be one of the most hackneyed images in anti-American propaganda.

In yet another slogan, Hookey accuses American, British and Australian troops of wiping out "100,000+ innocent lives" in Iraq, a figure more than 10 times the most reliable estimate of civilian deaths in that war to topple a genocidal tyrant. But what is truth compared to an artist's truth, however false?

And on Hookey rants. "Land rights now", "George Dubbah Ya is the axis" of evil, Australia is the "51st state of the United States". Even Stalin's court artists would have blushed to paint propaganda this artless.

Your taxes at work, Victorians.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:56 PM | Comments (19)


Attention, Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy! Your services are required in the United States.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:35 PM | Comments (1)


Damian Penny explores religion and motor racing, and discovers ex-racer Michael Andretti’s reaction to Scientologist sponsorship appearing on his car:

ESPN's Dan Patrick: What's the most far fetched sponsorship you've been offered?

Michael Andretti: There was a time when we went down to the race and Dianetics was on the car and we said we weren't driving the car.

DP: And what did they do?

MA: Took it off.

DP: You're not a big fan of L. Ron Hubbard?

MA: No.

Damian’s post was prompted by news that Bobby Labonte's Daytona 500 Chevy will be sponsored by Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Daytona being in Florida, I’m reminded to point out that Donnah at Florida Cracker is currently posting up a storm.

Another gal to vist: Sasha Castel, who has located a site of particular interest: the Lunch Blog!

UPDATE. AP reports:

If President Bush was looking for a friendly audience in this vitriolic election season, he sure picked the right place. Bush is assured of getting a warm welcome - especially from those on the track - when he attends Sunday's Daytona 500.

"He's just a great American," said Terry Labonte, a Bush supporter and fellow Texan. "In times like this, I'm glad we've got someone like him in office."

Why do the Republicans seemingly have such a one-party hold on this sport?

"We're all individuals," explained Petty, who once held political office in his native North Carolina. "When the guys in here go to lobby NASCAR, most of the time it's what can they do for me? It's not for anybody else. This is not a very socialistic operation in here, that's for sure."

Labonte put it more bluntly.

"I guess most of 'em just have a lot of common sense," he said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:50 AM | Comments (21)


An interesting letter in today’s Washington Times:

Sadly, few of today's partisan pundits know anything about the environment of service in the Reserves in the 1970s. The image of a reservist at that time is of one who joined, went off for six months' basic training, then came back and drilled weekly or monthly at home, with two weeks of "summer camp." With the knowledge that Mr. Johnson and Mr. McNamara were not going to call out the Reserves, it did become a place of refuge for many wanting to avoid Vietnam.

There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2½ years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and me) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren't getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys.

The letter is from Col. William Campenni (retired), a fellow lieutenant with George W. Bush in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Texas Air National Guard from 1970 to 1971.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:32 AM | Comments (19)


A frightened Australian is popular in New York:

Advertising executive Jonathan Pease, 29, likes to "create a bit of noise", so scrawling "I'm afraid of Americans" in pig's blood on the back of a New York bus a few years ago wasn't out of character. "I like to make people think another way," he said this week after the slogan, now in bright orange on a pink T-shirt (by the Sydney-based Tight Knickers label he part-owns with two friends), caused a stir at New York Fashion Week.

He’d create a lot more noise if his t-shirt featured the slogan: "I'm afraid of Muslims". Or if he wrote that in pig's blood on the back of a Tehran bus. Oh, there'd be noise! Guaranteed!

The New York Times reported that the shirt, known as the "Dear George", was seen all over town, at after-show parties and on models as they dashed from catwalk to catwalk. "Each show cycle seems to produce at least one garment that telegraphs fashion's ambient political mood," the newspaper said. "This season's is a tight pink T-shirt with a legend scrawled in vivid orange letters, 'I'm Afraid of Americans'."

Fashion’s ambient political mood is usually: "I'm afraid of being out of fashion." Which explains the popularity of Pease's shirt.

Mr Pease said the original prank in pig's blood, which he and his partners thought was catchy enough for a T-shirt, was meant as a jab at American consumerism: "But then, like, a month later, there was September 11 and it started to mean a lot more to more people."

Was Pease afraid that murdered Americans might fall on him from the World Trade Centre? This idiot doesn’t make any sense. If Pease had been on any of the four jets that were, like, hijacked on September 11 by extremist, like, Muslims, or if he was inside the, like, World Trade Centre on that day, would he have been more afraid of those extremists or of, like, the Americans who died trying to rescue people just like him?

"They come up, all the time: 'Where can I get that shirt?' We never intended it to be anti-American - it's more ironic - and there are a lot of Americans, a lot of celebrities too, who wear it: Mike Moore, Ben Lee, the Baldwin brothers ..."

Those guys are all so scared of Americans that they've fled the country. Well, they would. If they had the money.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:32 AM | Comments (43)


All the peacenik lefties hate nukes, right? So they’ll all support this, right?

US President George Bush is to announce a broad strategy to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

He plans to act against a booming black market and to deny sales of some legal equipment to countries that do not agree to close international supervision.

Buy ear plugs lest you be deafened by the loud applause from the anti-nuke crowd. Helen Caldicott will be ecstatic.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:28 AM | Comments (23)


Reader Ric Manhard, of Ashburn, VA, writes:

John Kerry makes a big point of his personal experiences as part of his qualification to run our nation. I think, based on the same qualification, that he has a real plan to improve the U.S. economy.

But I'm not sure anyone has informed him that there are no ultra-rich, female nations for America to marry.

Ric also writes: “I think I need to start blogging.” Yes, he does! In other candidate news, Howard Dean delivers a searing insight:

The remaining field now looks to Wisconsin next Tuesday. Dr Dean suggested it could be decisive for his campaign, a point he has wavered on in recent days.

"If I don't win, then maybe I won't be president. We'll find out," he said on Tuesday.

UPDATE. Matt Welch writes:

This Kerry avalanche strikes me as pretty bad news for the Democrats. Competition creates interest; interested attention on Democrats creates pressure on Bush, and Kerry is about as inspiring as a bag of kelp. Out of the top five candidates, I would have chosen him maybe fourth, and the potential for us to get real sick of him between now and November seems way too high. So I'll pull the lever for either Dean or Edwards on March 2, if either are still around, and I might just vote for one of 'em if they stand aside. Too bad that this exciting political season lasted about three weeks.

Furious comments follow from Ken Layne. Both these men are communists, you know. Welch voted for Nader in the last election, and Layne -- I’ve been to his Reno compound, and he just leaves these incriminating documents lying around, underneath two or three telephone directories, locked inside a safe, encrypted in some Stasi code, and buried fourteen feet deep in his yard -- voted for something called "The Child Porn Coalition for the Death of Jesus Party".

As far as I can tell, this group is mainly a Reno thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:19 AM | Comments (18)


Powerline reports that "a group of young women from central Minnesota, some of them from St. Cloud State, where the SCSU Scholars hold forth, have put together a calendar which is being distributed to American troops around the world, including but not limited to the Middle East."

This may offend Muslim sensibilities. You know, if the pics are really good.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:14 AM | Comments (4)

February 11, 2004


Suddenly, fences are all the rage:

Saudi Arabia, one of the most vocal critics in the Arab world of Israel's "security fence" in the West Bank, is quietly emulating the Israeli example by erecting a barrier along its porous border with Yemen.

The barrier is part of a plan to erect what will be an electronic surveillance system along the length of the kingdom's frontiers - land, air and sea. The project, involving fencing and electronic detection equipment, has been in the planning stages for several years. It may cost up to $8.57bn (£4.58bn). Behind the plan is a deep-seated lack of trust in the Yemeni authorities' ability to arrest infiltrators before they make it into Saudi territory.

And in Jerusalem:

Palestinian officials are probing whether there's concrete evidence that some of their own firms are helping to build Israel's controversial "security fence."

One Palestinian lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday it appears that even a cement company owned by Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's family is among the businesses building the fence that their government vehemently opposes.

Israeli TV reported that the Al-Quds Cement Co., owned by Qureia's family, has been providing the materials to help build the barrier.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:58 PM | Comments (15)


This is going to drive the Deaniacs insane:

As John Kerry's campaign to secure the Democrat nomination - and with it a crack at the White House - continues to gather pace, it has emerged that it is being bankrolled by key executives from News Corporation, MTV-owner Viacom and Sony.

Unsurprisingly, the donation from News Corp's boardroom came not from chairman Rupert Murdoch, a committed Republican, but from the company's chief operating officer, Peter Chernin.

Mr Chernin, one of Mr Murdoch's most trusted lieutenants, is among several media chiefs who have pledged to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 to support the Vietnam war veteran's campaign for the White House.

It was all a big media plot, see? See?

UPDATE. What a long, strange trip it's been ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:44 PM | Comments (3)


Breaking news on Fox:

Wesley Clark to Quit Campaign

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:23 PM | Comments (24)


Ex-Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi is blaming Dean’s doom on the Gore Effect:

He pinned the campaign's downturn largely on former Vice President Al Gore's endorsement, which, he said, sparked a torrent of media scrutiny and attacks from rival candidates.

Or perhaps it was simply that Gore endorsed him. As Sullivan says: "Gore is always a very good indicator of where the country isn't."

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:38 AM | Comments (24)


This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin mentions John Tulloh, another leaked ABC memo, the UN, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the ABC, Mark Latham, the Partridge Family, Adam Hicks, the Gollan Hotel, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Saddam Hussein, Alan Ramsey, Iraq the Model, Wesley Clark, Phillip Adams, Margo Kingston, Megan Gressor, Marian Wilkinson, and Christopher Sheil.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:04 AM | Comments (104)


The Guardian’s Gary Younge writes, and the Sydney Morning Herald duly reprints:

This war is not just killing Iraqi civilians, resistance fighters and coalition soldiers. It's murdering any pretence that we live in countries that value, let alone practice, the principle of democratic accountability. It calls into question our ability to rein in political excess and to root out state-sponsored incompetence.

Democratic accountability? A dictatorship has been dismantled. Rein in political excess? Ubay and Qusay are no longer able to rape at will. Root out state-sponsored incompetence? Saddam, who bankrupted an oil-rich nation, was rooted out of a spider hole. On the Younge scale, we’re doing okay.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:15 AM | Comments (10)


From today’s editorial in The Australian (links added):

ABC television's Media Watch is back, with David Marr still at the helm. And the question is: why? Having spent last winter ridiculing then communications minister Richard Alston for his complaints of anti-US bias against ABC radio over its coverage of the Iraq war, Mr Marr was confronted with a semi-independent review panel finding that many of Senator Alston's complaints were justified. So, in his final show for 2003, Mr Marr promptly "went" the review panel. It was not an edifying spectacle.

On Monday night, Marr picked up where he left off, with a long attack on Lord Hutton for his "trial and sentencing of the BBC". According to Media Watch, the story that reporter Andrew Gilligan put to air last May, alleging that the Blair Government had "sexed up" an intelligence dossier on Iraq's WMD arsenal, and that was rejected by Lord Hutton, is now looking "right on the money". As evidence he cited a report in London's Independent in which a former Ministry of Defence expert, Brian Jones, claimed analysts were overruled in attempts to insert caveats into the dossier.

What Marr did not mention is that Mr Jones never claimed that Downing Street overruled the analysts - he claimed they were overruled higher up the intelligence chain. And if Lord Hutton got it so wrong, and the BBC did not broadcast a false report that led to the suicide of David Kelly, why did the BBC's chairman and director-general both quit, with the acting chairman apologising "unreservedly for the BBC's errors and to the individuals whose reputations were affected"?

Marr and Media Watch have been caught out here. And you kind of think they anticipated it, given that this was all they ran from The Independent’s report; no link, no nothing else so viewers or readers could check Marr’s claim.

(I’ll have more on Media Watch later in the week; specifically on how the program identifies its targets, and non-targets.)

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip further examines Hutton and Marr. If only David were this thorough. Judging by the Media Watch guestbook not being updated since 4pm yesterday, one may assume executive producer Peter McEvoy has spent the morning in damage-control mode.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:08 AM | Comments (6)


Phillip Adams writes:

In this era of technological triumphalism and digital dazzlements, you would think someone would have come up with a BSD. A bullshit detector. With circuitry installed in your TV, computer or mobile phone ready to buzz or blink when someone tries to lay it on with a trowel.

The old joke that asks: "How can you tell when a politician's lying?" is answered by: "When his lips move." Yet too many people remain oblivious to political lying. In many cases such credulity is wilful, a deliberate choice.

Tell us again about that plastic turkey, Phillip.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:30 AM | Comments (12)


According to Wonkette, Wesley Clark is the whitest of all the Presidential candidates. She makes a good case, but is Clark truly whiter than Howard "Bleached Ivory" Dean?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:17 AM | Comments (2)


Matt Welch is at the Bill O’Reilly Memorial E-Blog Laptop Conference in Willie Horton Plaza, San Diego, where the levels of violence are dreadfully low:

I'd like to see some real tension, some cheap insults, mild fisticuffs, things of that nature. Though we all sure hate partisanship & all, the dirtier truth is that political conflict fuels real productive interest, and forces people to answer uncomfortable questions. I want to see Jarvis mudwrestling with Larry Lessig, Richard Bennett snorting at Doc Searls, Atrios biting Andrew Sullivan’s neck, Tony Pierce telling Barrett that he's the worst Cam-girl he's seen. Obviously, I have a lot of bad ideas.

If there’s one drawback to blogging compared to print media, it’s the lack of violence. I once tried to break up a Christmas party fight at the first newspaper I worked at only to have both combatants turn on me. Good times ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:11 AM | Comments (6)

February 10, 2004


Fletcher Crossman on Fox News, and some limp tax-funded British network you may also have heard about:

It is disconcerting to think that American opinion is being informed by such unpredictable forces. Yet in a typically American way, the political bias of its news stations is open, brash and strangely addictive. The British bias is subtle, covert and shielded by the myth of objectivity. There is no such thing. When Fox News claims to be fair and balanced, we're all in on the joke. When the BBC makes the same claim, they seem to actually believe it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:37 PM | Comments (12)


Mark Steyn on John Kerry’s credibility:

The question for anyone who thinks Kerry has "credibility" on national security is a simple one: who do you think Iran, North Korea, Syria, al-Qa'eda's Saudi paymasters and the rogue elements in Pakistan's ISI would prefer to see elected this November?

Or we could ask Daily Mirror columnist Tony Parsons:

John Kerry will be the next President of the United States.

And what is really beautiful is that George Bush, who has posed for so long as a hard man, is about to get his clock cleaned by the real thing. Kerry fought in Vietnam as a young man, and fought prostate cancer as a grown man.

Wonder if he threw his PSA test over the fence at the White House. Or maybe it was someone else’s PSA test.

The unholy mess in Iraq would not have happened if Kerry had been in the White House. Tony Blair, our armchair Churchill, and George Bush, the Patton of the sports bar, should look at John Kerry and blush to the roots of their worthless heads.

These lying bastards would not have been so gung-ho about Iraq if either of them had ever heard a shot fired in anger.

This line of reasoning always puzzles me. It isn’t difficult to locate people who’ve fought in previous wars and who supported the war in Iraq. In fact, Kerry was one of them:

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

(The above are from a list of “Dems for the war” quotes circulating the internet and forwarded by reader Hugo Williams. Snopes provides the full list, and includes additional context for several.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:25 PM | Comments (10)


• The third installment of US Marine Brian Taylor’s war journal is now up at Opinion Journal. Read parts one and two here. Massively recommended.

• Increased stem cell research is a matter of vital international importance.

• Adam Yoshida digs and digs and digs into those George W. Bush AWOL reports. Expect the AWOL line to slowly fade.

• Random Prose discovers that ABC web polls are predictably inaccurate.

• Al Gore is out of his tiny robot mind.

• It’s a free trade omen! Rafe Champion alerts us to the bicentenary of free trader and miscellaneous reformer Richard Cobden’s birth.

• I’ve been blocked at Niall Cook’s website! Pity; I was going to tell him I saw a Vietnamese guy messing with his Camry. I think he was putting KILL WHITEY stickers all over it.

• Reader Rod A. writes: "The 7.30 Report guestbook is rarely if ever updated, making it very difficult to offer current criticism on any particular story. I have drawn their attention to the problem more than once but in true ABC fashion they refuse to even answer.” Solution: Privatise the bastard ABC.

• Dave at Israelly Cool has more to say on the issue of ethically-challenged Adelaide intellectual Gary Sauer-Thompson.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:23 PM | Comments (15)


Plastic turkeys apparently breed faster than the regular kind. In the latest harvest of Gobble Theorists, we find Marc Perkel:

As if this would surprize anyone - the turkey Bush served the troops for Thanksgiving is FAKE! Everything about Bush is fake. What you're looking at is Bush serving the troops a PLASTIC turkey. But - its consistent. A fake turkey for a fake war served buy a fake president.

We live in a fake democracy with fake freedom. This is an example of what the Bush government is trying to feed us.

The picture is from the FAKE NEWS MEDIA who is trying to get us to believe the fake news.

Perkel bills himself as “the most dangerous mind on the internet”. All that danger evidently interferes with Perkel’s ability to spell, read, and learn. Step up to the carvery, David Sirota:

President George W. Bush actually held up a fake Turkey and used troops as a prop in a photo-op.

He held up an entire fake nation? Bush so strong! In a turkey moment from December 8, Slate’s William Saletan nominates himself, John Kerry, and Howard Dean for full Gobbler membership:

... the turkey Bush had held up in photographs was fake. I counted at least three candidates who worked the turkey angle into their speeches in Florida: John Kerry ("This president flies all the way to Baghdad to walk out and hold a fake turkey for a photo opportunity"), Wes Clark (who promised to go to Iraq with more than a "midnight turkey"), and Dean ("That is not the only fake turkey in this administration)." If Iraq remains a mess, expect to hear more next year about the turkey.

Iraq is a mess for the antiwar left. That's why we're still hearing so much about this fantastic bogus meal. Reader Tim S. sends word that during a recent appearance on the Dennis Miller Show (no transcript available), Jon Bon Jovi also joined the plastic turkey band; as Marc Perkel might say, we now have a fake rocker with fake hair telling fake stories about a fake bird. Rock on, Gobblers!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 PM | Comments (18)


Listen to these ridiculous people:

Australian actors and audiences have been sold out for wheat and wine, the film and television industry claimed yesterday.

The free trade agreement has cemented fears American films and programs will swamp Australian television, leaving budding local actors no chance to become the future darlings of Hollywood.

So, for the sake of future darlinghood status for a handful of narcissist actroids, we should ditch real industries. Right. At least Queensland Premier Peter Beattie sees the big picture:

It is good for the beef industry, good for dairy, it's good for manufacturing, it's good for a whole lot of other people, and that's fantastic, and it's good for Australia, and I say that up front because I support it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:00 AM | Comments (51)


"A great cloud hangs over public broadcasting in Britain since Lord Hutton's trial and sentencing of the BBC," Media Watch host David Marr intoned last night. "Yet for the journalist at the centre of the fuss, Andrew Gilligan, it's been a great week, as more evidence emerged that his story was essentially correct." According to Marr, the core of Gilligan's story is "looking better and better":

Gilligan, May 29: "... our source says that the dossier, as it was finally published, made the Intelligence Services unhappy, erm, because, to quote erm the source he said, there was basically, that there was, there was, there was unhappiness because it didn't reflect, the considered view they were putting forward ..."

Said Marr: "Here Gilligan and the BBC were right on the money. Last week, the Defence Department's former chief intelligence analyst of Saddam's weaponry [Dr Brian Jones], wrote in London's Independent newspaper that his experts working on the dossier were 'very disgruntled' and 'right to be concerned' as the deadline for its publication loomed":

In my view the expert intelligence analysts of the D[efence] I[ntelligence] S[taff] were overruled in the preparation of the dossier in September 2002 resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq’s capabilities.

At issue here is who did the overruling. You'd assume from Marr's presentation that the government was somehow involved, especially as Marr followed that quote from the Independent with this line:

Witnesses told Lord Hutton how Downing Street had carefully massaged the dossier with the response of the media in mind.

But, as Melanie Phillips pointed out on the day the Independent’s story was published, the overruling Dr Jones complains about was nothing to do with Downing Street:

The first thing to say about this scoop is the misleading nature of the Independent's presentation. Its headline over its front-page splash screams: 'Intelligence chief's bombshell: we were overrruled on dossier'. This implies that, contrary to the Hutton finding, the government did in fact overrule the intelligence services to sex up the dossier. In fact, as Dr Jones makes abundantly clear, he is claiming that DIS analysts were overruled within the DIS by their own superiors. Although this is in itself a serious claim, it is a very different matter from the charge of political interference. What it reveals is that the intelligence world was disagreeing within itself -- hardly the first time this has happened. This was in fact perfectly clear from Dr Jones's testimony to Hutton, as was the fact -- which he has now repeated -- that he and the other DIS staff never actually saw the intelligence relating to the 45-minute claim bcause it was so sensitive. In other words, whatever doubts he had about the claim were not worth a great deal because he hadn't been shown the relevant intelligence. He had been kept out of the loop. To say this devalues his complaint is an understatement.

Well, yes. And while we’re on the subjects of concealment and twisting evidence and sexing up, here is the only extract from that Independent story to be highlighted by Media Watch. May we have an inquiry, please?

(Research by contributor J. F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:40 AM | Comments (9)


Last week:

Howard Dean sent an overnight e-mail message to supporters saying he would quit the Democratic presidential race if he did not win the Wisconsin primary on Feb. 17.

Today, after Dean spooked contributors into donating $1.1 million:

Democrat Howard Dean said on Monday even if he loses Wisconsin's Feb. 17 primary he will remain in the race for his party's 2004 presidential nomination.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:37 AM | Comments (4)


Freedom-loving artistes demand regulation:

After intensive lobbying that involved Toni Collette, Geoffrey Rush and Sigrid Thornton (editor's note: HA HA HA HAHAHA! HAAAAAA HAHA HA HA HA HA!!! HA HA!) the film and television industry was yesterday downbeat about the free trade agreement.

The executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, Geoff Brown, said it felt like a defeat for the industry campaign to protect local content.

"The outcome, regardless of what the Government is saying, will impact significantly on our ability to regulate in the future," he said.

Australian culture isn’t yours to control, film boy. Now get me my popcorn and shut up.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:19 AM | Comments (23)


Writing with Tim Colebatch in The Age, Marian Wilkinson seems mostly delighted about Australia’s new free trade agreement with the US:

The Australian economy is set to enter a new era, with manufacturers, mining and service companies gaining free entry into the giant United States market - while some highly competitive farm sectors remain shut out.

The Australian and US governments yesterday finally shook hands on a free trade agreement that will remove most trade barriers between the two economies, with the glaring exception of the US farm sector.

But teamed with Tom Allard in the Sydney Morning Herald, Marian is all gloomy:

The Federal Government faces a battle to persuade Parliament and regional voters to support its free trade agreement with the US after it signed a deal that benefits America more than Australia.

Bowing to US demands to keep its massive barriers to sugar exports out of the agreement, and accepting only small and slow cuts to beef and dairy tariffs, the Prime Minister said that he agreed to yesterday's deal because he believed it would still benefit the economy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 AM | Comments (18)


Rosie O’Donnell and Hillary Clinton spoke last night at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in New York. This site’s undercover NYC operative attended, disguised as a wealthy liberal elitist. Her report follows:

Until we were subjected to O’Donnell’s obnoxious diatribe, the evening was quite wonderful. I attended with eleven (eleven -- count ‘em!) gorgeous men, all in tuxedos, all extremely accomplished (and not all gay). This was a heavyweight political event; Hillary and Charley Schumer were the main speakers, and it's important to note that Rosie's role was solely as a presenter. Paul Smith, who presented the winning argument in Lawrence v. Texas to the Supreme Court, was seated behind me, and my dinner partners included a China scholar, my favorite designer, and a lot of deep-pocket, influential NYC Democrats. Gravitas reigned.  

Now, you know I'm a liberal Democrat. I'm very liberal on social issues, less so in other areas. Rosie, however, occupies a category unto herself. I was able to observe her throughout the night, seated approximately three tables away.   

The first Rosie moment occurred during the auction. The centerpiece was a year's lease on a Volvo SUV. My escort Joe was on the planning committee, and he hoped that the bidding would reach $12,000. It had stalled at $11,000 when Rosie raised her hand and yelled “Twelve thousand!” Ah, the grateful minions fawned over our Rosie, and the prize was hers. My friend Dr. Milt leaned in and said, “Oh my God, don't let her do it.” Dr. Milt teaches at a small private school on the Upper East Side, and at their annual auction fundraiser last year, Rosie apparently bid thousands of dollars that the school has never collected. He was apoplectic, and Joe began to look concerned. Moving right along ...  

Say what you like about Hillary, she can be a gifted speaker when the audience and cause is right. Although I have reservations about her, she roused the crowd with her funny, touching and passionate speech, and received a well-deserved standing O.    

Now the real show began.  

Rosie came to the podium to present an award to an esteemed magazine editor. This appearance was most definitely NOT about Rosie, yet she managed to transform it into an embarrassing, invective-laden diatribe.  

Rosie: “How do I follow THAT? I know; I'll take out my right tit. Everyone take out their right tit.”   

What?? Some embarrassed laughter, some audience rustling.   

China Scholar said, “What is she doing?” This time, it was Joe who was apoplectic. ”I knew this would be a mistake,” he said, sotto voce. ”A huge mistake!” he repeated, less sotto this time. George said: “She's drunk.”  

Then Rosie thrust both arms overhead, fists clenched Rocky-style, and said, “My fuckin' lawsuit's over!” Scattered applause, some titters (so to speak).  

Joe said, “Someone stop her. This is such a mistake!”  

Next, she segued into the Martha Stewart trial thusly: “You know why they sued me? Because I'm gay and because I'm a WOMAN!”  

Really. I would have guessed it was because you were obnoxious, unpleasant, abusive and crude. But that's just me.  

Rosie: “You gay boys with the deep pockets should get down there and support Martha Stewart. Don't let another woman go down for $40,000!”  

What was she talking about? None of us had a clue. The gay boys with the deep pockets didn't know either. I thought I'd have to reach for the tranquilizer darts to calm Joe. As a diversionary tactic, I told him to count the number of times Rosie said “Fuck” during the remainder of her speech. (It was either five or six more.)  

Finally, she got down to the business of presenting the award, and mentioned the honoree almost in passing, along with multiple references to her own coming out. It was the most angry, painful public speech I've ever witnessed. No eye-battings and coy little comments about Tom Cruise tonight, hmm? Poor Joe; he drank two bottles of red wine by himself after that.

Our operative shadowed Ms. O’Donnell for several minutes following the speech, but gave up when she realised she might end up trapped in the ladies’ room with Ragin’ Rosie. She survives to file future Inside NYC reports.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:00 AM | Comments (20)


Colby Cosh alerts us to the latest Helen Caldicott madness:

"We want to organize a bloodless, Gandhi-type revolution." So says Dr. Helen Caldicott, the Australian anti-nuclear scold who is the subject of a new documentary financed by CBC Newsworld. It's called Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident. "Dissident" is certainly a charming word to describe a pediatrician who has had an international media industry devoted to following her as she pursues her hobby: Solzhenitsyn should have been so lucky!

A Colby reader points out that "the documentary is directed (and its title chosen) by Caldicott's niece, Anna Broinowski." Yep; she's the daughter of stumpheaded diplomatic toxin Alison Broinowski. Some family.

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

February 09, 2004


It ain’t perfect, but it’s an improvement:

Australia and the United States today signed a free trade deal eliminating duties from more than 99 per cent of American manufacturing exports to Australia, but local sugar producers have missed out.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the agreement was only finalised after Prime Minister John Howard spoke directly to US President George W. Bush.

Watch for pundits to paint that reduction of duties as a benefit solely to the US, rather than a benefit to Australian consumers, who’ll now pay lower prices on imported US goods. Here’s News Ltd’s list of Who Gets What:

• Immediate access to US market for almost all manufactured goods and services exports
• Improved access for agricultural sector including beef and dairy producers
• Full access to Australian goods and services in US government procurement
• Protections for Australian health services and environment
• The right to ensure local content in Australian broadcasting retained
• Duty free access to metal and mineral exports
• Immediate removal on tariff on canned tuna, worth $US20 million ($26.3 million) dollars a year
• Zero tariffs for wheat and cereal flour and within four years for some fruit

• 99 per cent of US manufactured exports to Australia immediately duty free
• Benefits for US chemicals, auto, plastics and infotech sectors
• All agricultural exports to Australia, worth $US400 million ($526.3 million), to go duty free
• Australia to open service access, including telecom, express delivery and computers
• Australia to adjust Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme
• US contractors to get access to Australian government procurement

The “right to ensure local content in Australian broadcasting” should be in the debit column.

UPDATE. AAP reports:

The free trade agreement signed between Australia and the United States was not perfect but was "the best we could get in the circumstances", Prime Minister John Howard admitted today as Opposition leader Mark Latham labelled the pact a dud.

[Howard] said he was astonished by Opposition Leader Mark Latham's carping negativity about the deal.

I’m not. And it didn’t take long for the prediction above (“Watch for pundits to paint that reduction of duties as a benefit solely to the US, rather than a benefit to Australian consumers”) to come true:

The Greens said tariff abolition on manufactured goods would cost thousands of Australian jobs while many farmers would be saddled with US tariffs for a generation or more.

While we’re sort of on the subject, here’s a piece by Andrew Bolt on Mark Latham that I meant to link to the other day:

It’s the way Mark Latham keeps misremembering his boyhood that shows us what makes him dangerous. Take his recent speech to Labor's national conference.

"When I was young, my mum used to tell me there were two types of people in our street -- the slackers and the hard workers," he thundered.

In fact, his mum thought we were all either no-hopers or hard workers, as Latham explained in the draft of speech.

But then his shadow treasurer, Simon Crean, checked the draft, took out his red pencil and turned all those no-hopers into slackers -- presumably because he knew Labor delegates hate such judgmental language.

And that's what Latham ended reading out -- Crean's version of what Latham's mother said, and not the truth.

Well, there could be an innocent explanation; perhaps Simon Crean is Mark Latham’s mother. Bolt also highlights this Latham speech extract:

"Delegates, you hear some funny things in politics," he confided. "When I became leader, some in the media were asking: where did he get that expression, 'the ladder of opportunity'?

"Well, I didn't have to look too far. It comes from a place called Green Valley. It comes from who I am and where I've been."

In fact, Latham didn't even have to go back to Green Valley, his childhood home in western Sydney, to find his ladder.

He just needed to flip open a book of Ronald Reagan's famous speeches. And there it was -- "ladder of opportunity", used by this conservative president in his speech to accept the Republican nomination in 1980, in his State of the Union addresses in 1986 and 1988, and in a radio address to the nation in 1986.

Ha! ALP delegates were applauding the Gipper!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 PM | Comments (61)


What is it with lefty bloggers? Last week we had Niall Cook’s strange anti-Vietnamese rant; now Adelaide academic Gary Sauer-Thompson cheers Dave Brown’s notorious image of Ariel Sharon biting off a Palestinian child’s head.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 AM | Comments (54)


Feeling sick? Guy Rundle blames business class:

The 1918 flu followed the massive movements of people created by the First World War.

In 1970, the Boeing 747 jumbo was introduced and jet travel leapt dramatically; the first cases of European and American AIDS began to appear in the late '70s (after a few years incubation as HIV).

With the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the inauguration of a new free trade order in 1994, mobility has leapt again. The faster we move towards a borderless world in which a transnational managerial class zips around on jets, the more the world tends to the condition of being a giant Petri dish.

Damn business people, all covered with open sores and breathing big fat viruses over everybody. Look forward to Rundle’s next column, which will applaud the Howard government for protecting us from the transnational illegal immigrant class.

(Via reader Paul Kennedy)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:12 AM | Comments (15)


Leftist and war opponent David McKnight slaps John Pilger and Tariq Ali:

Do the bloody actions of the so-called resistance constitute a war of national liberation, making them worthy of left-wing support? Are Saddam Hussein's thugs comparable to the Timorese fighting Indonesian occupation? Or to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress? Or to the French Resistance against Nazi Germany?

Extraordinarily, ultra-leftists such as John Pilger and Tariq Ali think so. They say they support the "resistance".

Read the whole thing. Another extract:

The fact is that in Iraq today, the Iraqi Left, as well as the vast majority of religious and political forces, denounce the campaign of bombings and the attacks led by Ali and Pilger's "resistance".

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:17 AM | Comments (19)


Semi-related to this post: Is modern-day political reporting actually reporting? Jeff Jarvis thinks not.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)


A fellow Right Wing Death Beast writes:

I'm increasingly convinced this WMD thing is a mega-disaster. Notice how all the Usual Suspects are totally on the front foot, while we are now on the defensive? I also think it could do for Bush, probably for Blair, and maybe Howard.

But perhaps I'm being unduly gloomy.

He/she works at a broadsheet and is surrounded by WMD obsessives, which possibly explains his/her pessimism. Me, I don’t think Bush or Blair are in any serious danger, and Howard’s bid for a fourth election win may be cruelled more by the fact that he’s aiming for a fourth election win rather than any WMD claims. Besides which, a Democrat government in the US and a Labor government in Australia guarantees more money for us freelance right wing media pundits. Bring on the goofy leftist rulers! I crave wealth!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:48 AM | Comments (17)


The SMH's Paul Sheehan compares the real world with Media World, where omission syndrome is rampant:

The invasion of Iraq has provided a paradise for omission syndrome, and the latest fabrication is that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the invasion, thus the entire premise for the invasion was wrong, was almost certainly known to be wrong before the war began, and politicians have lied to us.

Everything about this mantra is a half-truth, and I write this as someone who opposed the invasion of Iraq (in columns on February 6, 24 and March 31). I have not changed my mind. In recent days the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Howard hunting pack has leapt upon the admission by Dr David Kay, a war hawk sent to Iraq by the Bush Administration as chief investigator for weapons of mass destruction, that "we were almost all wrong" about the threat from such weapons in Iraq.

While his admission has been given prominence, omission syndrome required that other significant observations by Kay be ignored, such as his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 28 when he said: "Let me be absolutely clear about it, Iraq was in clear material violation of [UN Resolution] 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their [weapons] programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal.

"... I think the world is far safer with the disappearance and the removal of Saddam Hussein. I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought. I think when we have the complete record you're going to discover that after 1998, it became a regime that was totally corrupt ... in a world where we know others are seeking WMD, the likelihood at some point in the future of a seller and a buyer meeting up would have made that a far more dangerous country than even we anticipated..."

Those lines haven’t run in any Australian report to date (apart from this Andrew Bolt column), at least so far as I’m aware. Sheehan concludes:

This latest campaign is the biggest media world try-on in this country since the children overboard crusade, when omission syndrome presented the carefully narrow narrative that the Howard Government lied about a child being thrown overboard from a boat people's vessel and used the lie to help win an election. Omitted from this version of events was that every child on the boat - 76 of them - ended up in the water, forced off a scuttled boat in an act of reckless brinkmanship. This was moral blackmail at its worst, and the tactic was rejected, emphatically, in the real world, even as it was endorsed and embraced in Media World in an attempt to turn the election.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:39 AM | Comments (5)

February 08, 2004


Why is The Age reprinting old Esquire articles from last October?

UPDATE. Now The Age is running a piece of crap Timothy Garton Ash essay first published last Thursday in The Guardian. Try to keep up, slowpokes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:50 PM | Comments (5)


Wesley Clark alleges White House meddling in his Kosovo campaign:

Some top Clinton administration officials wanted to end the Kosovo war abruptly in the summer of 1999, at almost any cost, because the presidential campaign of then-Vice President Al Gore was about to begin, former NATO commander Gen. Wesley K. Clark says in his official papers. "There were those in the White House who said, 'Hey, look, you gotta finish the bombing before the Fourth of July weekend. That's the start of the next presidential campaign season, so stop it. It doesn't matter what you do, just turn it off. You don't have to win this thing, let it lie,' " Clark said in a January 2000 interview with NATO's official historian, four months before leaving the post of supreme allied commander Europe.

Instapundit doesn’t completely buy this; neither does Andrew Sullivan, who writes:

Clark is simply too crazy to be president of the U.S.

Clark’s craziness was apparent months ago. And what is it with Clark and these White House voices he keeps hearing? Recall this, from Michael Moore:

My wife and I were invited over to a neighbor's home 12 days ago where Clark told those gathered that certain people, acting on behalf of the Bush administration, called him immediately after the attacks on September 11th and asked him to go on TV to tell the country that Saddam Hussein was "involved" in the attacks. He asked them for proof, but they couldn't provide any. He refused their request.

Hmm. Well, at least the following rings true:

Clark told the historian that he chafed during the war at having to submit individual bombing targets to the White House and the French government for approval. He said Clinton reviewed them directly, apparently because of embarrassment over the U.S. military's 1998 bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. He also quoted a deputy French defense minister as acknowledging that Paris rejected some of his target choices simply for the sake of "saying no."

DEMOCRAT UPDATE. John Kerry wins big in Michigan and Washington, and Howard Dean has lost the support of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:44 PM | Comments (11)


Norm Geras marvels at the ingenuity of Naomi Klein, now attempting to claim democracy in Iraq as a victory for those who opposed the war.


In other notable posts: Roger Bournival calls out the Boston Globe’s Derrick Z. Jackson on Super Bowl hypocrisy, and art critics Sam Ward, Evil Pundit, and Bernie Slattery review a recent, controversial work.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:22 PM | Comments (4)

February 07, 2004


Sounds like ol’ man Adams is fixin’ to die:

I hereby proffer my organs for transplants and my corpse for dissection, knowing the latter prospect will delight the many readers who send me hate e-mail. And I’d settle for a grave in the garden, alongside my recently deceased dog, with Aurora playing The Last Post on the violin. But no ceremony, no flowers, no service, no hymns.

No worries.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:06 PM | Comments (26)


He’s for it:

Life begins with the mother's decision.

No -- he’s against it:

I don't believe in abortion.

Wait -- he’s for it:

I have always been and always will be pro-choice.

Ummm ... he doesn’t know whether he’s for it or against it:

In general, I'm pro-life -- excuse me, I'm pro-abortion rights.

Hold everything! As of today, he’s for it again:

I support a woman’s right to choose.

If only Clark would choose. Make a decision, already! Ask Mary, if you have to. Man, even squirrels hold more definite views than old General Confusion here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:44 AM | Comments (30)


Clark fan Mike Carlton today defends Saddam Hussein against unfair accusations of brutality:

In the uproar over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction - or the baffling lack thereof - nobody has mentioned what happened to the evil despot's people shredder.

The Prime Minister evidently believed he had one. In his television address to the nation on the 20th of March last year, John Howard put it up as one of many convincing reasons for taking the nation to war.

"This week, The Times of London detailed the use of a human shredding machine as a vehicle for putting to death critics of Saddam Hussein. This is the man, this is the apparatus of terror we are dealing with," he intoned gravely. "The removal of Saddam Hussein will lift this immense burden of terror from the Iraqi people."

No doubt the critics will scoff that Rupert Murdoch's imaginative newspaper flagship might not be the most impeccable source of information on such atrocities, but it was certainly enough to convince the Prime Minister. And given the alarming disintegration of all the official intelligence assessments from the CIA et al, the lurid horrors dreamed up by The Times are probably no less reliable than the rest.

Carlton -- does he seriously doubt that Saddam murdered and tortured his opponents? -- has obviously been chatting with fellow has-been political commentator Mungo MacCallum:

The claim was that a gloating Saddam fed his enemies into the fiendish machine - a kind of giant paper shredder - while his family and friends looked on and applauded. Needless to say no trace of this gadget or anything remotely like it has been found.

Mungo has got just about every reported claim about this completely wrong. Left-wing Labour MP Ann Clywd, who made many visits to Saddam’s Iraq, was the Times’ source for the shredder story; here she discusses the subject with The Guardian’s Jackie Ashley:

In one of Iraq's most notorious prisons, Abu Ghraib in Baghdad, there were plastic shredders. They were a bit like an office paper shredder, except more robust, because they were designed to mince up old plastic. There, though, they were used to shred people. Just before the Americans arrived, Ms Clwyd says, the Iraqis "were executing all the remaining prisoners, and that's why nobody is found alive at any of the prisons".

But just before the war, Ms Clwyd met people in Kurdistan who had been in Abu Ghraib - "in fact they were the last people to come out alive" - and they confirmed the story. "People were either put in head first, or foot first. If you went in foot first, it took you longer."

She checked the story afterwards with someone from the prison "and they said yes, there were plastic shredders there and they were dismantled just before the military got there."

The antiwar left believes that George W. Bush tried to feed a plastic turkey to US troops, but giggles incredulously at the notion of a fascist regime feeding dissidents into shredders. Email Mike for more of his comical views. It would be interesting to get Mike's take on these unfounded rumours of Iraqis being blasted to pieces by dynamite.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:35 AM | Comments (67)


Gerhard Schroeder is to step down as chairman of Germany's Social Democrats, reports David Kaspar:

Schroeder was elected Chairman of the SPD just last November. He can still be Chancellor, but of course this is a major political desaster for him, the coalition Government and the SPD. Traditionally in Germany a Chancellor should be Chairman of his party. His political position is weakened if he's not.

But the experts told us it would be the pro-war leaders who’d be in trouble ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:29 AM | Comments (8)


Richard Glover in the Sydney Morning Herald:

For a long time, Scott Ritter, the UN's chief weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998, was virtually alone in expressing doubts about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

And for a long time Ritter expressed exactly the opposite. Here, again, is an extract from his 1999 book, Endgame - Solving the Iraq Problem Once and For All:

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.

Glover, who usually doesn’t give free passes to bunko artists like Ritter, is presumably unaware of Ritter’s earlier hawkish attitude. So he lets him get away with crap like this:

In his role as a weapons inspector, he told me, he liaised with intelligence officials from Israel from 1994 to 1998. By the end of that period, Israel had reassessed the threat from Iraq, believing it had been fundamentally disarmed. In the same period, he says, the CIA came to the same conclusion. So, he asks, what happened to change that view, if not the arrival in the White House of George Bush.

That sounds like the reason Ritter changed his views. By the way, Glover also fails to mention Ritter's role as an underage girl inspector at the local Burger King.

Ritter still speaks the military language of patriotism and service, which he now uses to condemn both the leaders who demanded faulty intelligence, and the spineless agencies which went out to find it. "An intelligence officer's job," he said, "is never to tell the boss what they want to hear, but what the facts are."

Interesting. We’re still waiting for Ritter to tell us the facts about Iraq’s toddler gulag:

The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. 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.

Wage on, faker.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:41 AM | Comments (17)


"Giving is the sacrament that brings the Dean community together," writes Jim Moore. Howard’s Deanie Babies reached a point of Lego-like togetherness in the past day; they’ve horked up $711,595 to keep their man in the race. Well, at least until Wisconsin:

Howard Dean sent an overnight e-mail message to supporters saying he would quit the Democratic presidential race if he did not win the Wisconsin primary on Feb. 17.

Dean is young, but I can’t imagine him making sequential, Gephardt-style tilts at the Presidency in 2008 and beyond. He was only viable in 2004 because of fuming anti-war sentiment among the Democrat base. Without that, he’s just some doctor from Vermont who likes to yell. And, for whatever reason, the loud northern medico sector of the US population is massively under-represented in the history of successful Presidential candidates.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:00 AM | Comments (13)

February 06, 2004


Baghdad is the scene of ferocious graffiti wars, reports the Christian Science Monitor:

"They write from the heart to the wall, without any hesitation," says Amir Nayef Toma. "And they usually write in the night, in the shadow of darkness. So you can guarantee that all of them express the real thoughts and feelings of the people."

The main battle identified in the article is between a writer who favours ocher colours and his blue-painting foe. It’s kind of an Iraqi version of Crips and Bloods:

Ocher throws down the gauntlet, declaring "Death to the traitor Saddam Hussein."

This salvo flushes out ocher's enemy. An unseen hand tries, unsuccessfully, to scratch out the word "traitor" and lamely retorts, in blue paint, that "Saddam Hussein is more honorable."

"The Baath Party is the party of filth," exults ocher.

"Long live Iraq, long live Saddam, and long live the honorable Iraqi resistance," comes the blue Baathist's frustrated reply.

"The Baath is the party of pimps," retorts ocher. To this, the blue scribbler has no reply.

"Come out, you Baath, and let the hate wash over you," taunts ocher, perhaps a little disappointed. But blue is silent; the battle is over, at least on this wall.

Can’t wait until these guys discover comments boxes. And imagine what might happen if they see 8 Mile ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (27)


Aiming to resolve the WMD debate, Ryan Boots concludes:

The question of the missing WMDs is indeed perplexing to intelligence experts and a major thorn in the side of the Bush administration. But rather than confront the issue head-on, Bush prefers to sidestep the issue. This prolongs the debate, worsens the political damage, and as I have articulated in the course of this writing, is quite unnecessary. The facts speak for themselves, and if they are framed properly, the political question of the missing WMDs can be answered conclusively for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

UPDATE. MSNBC reports that the panel to investigate prewar intelligence claims on WMD is likely to include John McCain.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:16 AM | Comments (44)


From the insanely boastful Melbourne Age.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:58 AM | Comments (12)


This week I set up a deal that will send me to Boston in July for the Democratic National Convention, and then to New York for the Republican National Convention in August. Expect unfair and imbalanced blogging from both events, and daily reports at The Bulletin’s website.

Word on the street is that several other journalists may also attend; their activities will be closely monitored. As well, minor celebrities, failed candidates, and insane delegates will be sought out for punishing interviews on all the Major Issues. We need to know exactly what Dennis Kucinich thinks about Phillippe’s campaign, for example, which is so obviously based on his own.

I covered the DNC in Los Angeles four years ago (well ... I was there) but Ken Layne and Matt Welch ruined everything with their yelling and their antics and their "hey, I found some vodka in this AP reporter’s briefcase". Even so, our uncompromising independent journalism still won widespread applause.

This I pledge: coverage in 2004 will be even more uncompromisinger and independented.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:42 AM | Comments (51)


Pre-war intelligence was flawed, no doubt about it. Check this bunch of wayward intel from some confused Australian academics:

Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq suggest that up to quarter of a million people may die as a result of an attack using conventional weapons and many more will suffer homelessness, malnutrition and other serious health and environmental consequences in its aftermath.

That’s from an open letter signed by Don Anton (Senior Lecturer, Australian National University), Peter Bailey (Professor, Australian National University), Andrew Byrnes (Professor, Australian National University), Greg Carne (Senior Lecturer, University of Tasmania), Anthony Cassimatis (Lecturer, University of Queensland), Hilary Charlesworth (Professor and Director, Centre for International and Public Law, Australian National University), Madelaine Chiam (Lecturer, Australian National University), Julie Debeljak (Associate Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University), Carolyn Evans (Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne), Devika Hovell (Lecturer, University of New South Wales), Fleur Johns (Lecturer, University of Sydney), Sarah Joseph (Associate Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University), Ann Kent (Research Fellow, Centre for International and Public Law, Australian National University), David Kinley (Professor and Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University), Wendy Lacey (Lecturer, University of Adelaide), Garth Nettheim AO (Emeritus Professor, University of New South Wales), Penelope Mathew (Senior Lecturer, Australian National University), Ian Malkin (Associate Professor, University of Melbourne), Tim McCormack (Red Cross Professor and Director, Centre for Military Law, University of Melbourne), Sophie McMurray (Lecturer, University of New South Wales), Anne McNaughton (Lecturer, Australian National University), Kwame Mfodwo (Lecturer, Monash Law School), Wayne Morgan (Senior Lecturer, Australian National University), Anne Orford (Associate Professor, University of Melbourne Emile Noel Senior Fellow, New York University Law School), Dianne Otto (Associate Professor, University of Melbourne), Peter Radan (Senior Lecturer, Macquarie Law School), Rosemary Rayfuse (Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales), Simon Rice OAM (President, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights), Donald Rothwell (Associate Professor, University of Sydney), Michael Salvaris (Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology), John Squires (Director, Australian Human Rights Centre, University of New South Wales), James Stellios (Lecturer, Australian National University), Tim Stephens (Lecturer, University of Sydney), Julie Taylor (University of Western Australia), Gillian Triggs (Professor and Co-Director, Institute for International and Comparative Law, University of Melbourne), John Wade (Professor and Director of the Dispute Resolution Centre, Bond University), Kristen Walker (Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne), and Brett Williams (Lecturer, University of Sydney).

No retraction has been published. Perhaps they need more time. Meanwhile, in other academic prediction news: whatever happened to the candidate from heaven?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:29 AM | Comments (32)


• Chief Wiggles -- whose toy drive in Iraq has now received more than $80,000 in donations -- achieves Presidential recognition: "Our people in uniform understand the high calling they have answered because they see the nation and the lives they are changing. A guardsman from Utah named Paul Holton has described seeing an Iraqi girl crying and decided then and there to help that child and others like her. By enlisting aid through the Internet, Chief Warrant Officer Holton had arranged the shipment of more than 1,600 aid packages from overseas."

• John Howard wins the crucial Jarvis endorsement.

• Bernie Slattery discovers that Mark Latham’s market penetration is about as deep as Corio Bay.

• Ryne McClaren locates some fascinating background on Wesley Clark Jr.

• Pixy Misa warns readers to not click on a particular link: "When you do not click on that link, you will thank me for this warning."

• James Lileks speaks truth to hippies: "I am deathly sick of the counterculture sixties. The music, the war, the protests, all the hagiography - it's not a reflection of the era’s importance but the self-importance of the generation who hung on the bus as it trundled along down the same old rutted road of history. I’m tired of hearing about the boomers’ days of whine and neuroses; I’m weary of ritual genuflection to their musical icons; I’m utterly disinterested in most of the pop-cult trivia they hold so dear."

• VodkaPundit spies on the new Porsche 911. Sweet.

• Robert Corr declares that there are no excuses for terrorism.

• Iowahawk designs a new itinerary for Howard Dean, and reveals futher evidence of ricin in Washington.

• To your left: the first ad! Please click. Click click click! It’s the sort of ad that Stephen "Flanders" Mayne refuses to run!

• Caz, in the greatest Internet contest ever, is giving away her retarded brother.

• And Randal Robinson provides the line of the week: "What's all this about Gilligan? I don't blame him a bit for sexing things up. I would too if I were trapped on an island with Ginger and Mary Ann." (Closely followed by Pixy Misa: "Okay, I followed the instructions, and the turtle is now safely installed inside the television. But my February decoder ring hasn't arrived yet, so I'm unclear as to what shade of blue to paint the gibbon. Can you help?")

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:26 AM | Comments (19)

February 05, 2004


UPI has compiled a detailed list of those shacked up at Gitmo:

At least 160 of the 650 detainees acknowledged by the Pentagon being held at the United States military base at Guantanamo, Cuba -- almost a quarter of the total -- are from Saudi Arabia, a special UPI survey can reveal.

The other top nationalities being held are Yemen with 85, Pakistan with 82, Jordan and Egypt, each with 30.

Afghans are the fourth largest nationality with 80 detainees.

One member of the Bahraini royal family is among those detained, according to his lawyer Najeeb al-Nauimi of Doha, Qatar, who was Qatar's 1995-97 justice minister and has power of attorney from the parents of about 70 prisoners.

Don’t forget Australia! Two of our lesser citizens are also dining on Gitmo stew these days. They get to mix with royalty!

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:40 PM | Comments (17)


The war lobby lied, claims Neil Clark in today’s Australian, where he is billed impressively as "a tutor in politics at Oxford Tutorial College* in England". Hmmm ... but what else is he?

• a man who describes himself as a "committed, and totally unreconstructed, old leftist"

• an antiwar activist who in 2002 urged Tony Blair to see the light, curry favour with Saddam, and get some oil concession action that otherwise would surely fall to France and Russia:

Britain is now universally despised in Iraq, and it is the French and the Russians who are the first in the queue for reconstruction rights and oil concessions. Unless Britain changes course quickly, the enormous commercial opportunities in helping to exploit the second largest oil reserves in the world will be gone for ever.

• someone who believes the US is "acting like Nazi Germany on the international stage [which is why] millions of us around the world are so passionately opposed to it"

• a defender of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, whom he excuses as "only the latest in a long line of Arab bogeymen"

• and an admirer of Slobodan Milosevic.

Odd that Clark should be presented by The Australian in such a neutral manner. Then again, I guess "US-hating commie stooge, Slobo muppet, terror patsy, and oil appeaser" wouldn’t fit.

*Oxford Tutorial College is a commercial cramming school that happens to be located in the city of Oxford.

(By contributor Elizabeth F.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:07 PM | Comments (7)


They’re hanging old Mr. Sexy-Upper out to dry:

Andrew Gilligan's former bosses at the BBC are preparing to blame him for the mistakes in the Iraq dossier story that led to the death of David Kelly.

As usual, BBC staff are revolting:

Today, thousands of BBC journalists, technicians and other members of staff are expected to stage a nationwide, union-organised protest at attacks on the corporation and to reinforce the case for reckless, stupid lying.

Oops; that was meant to read “editorial independence”. Just exercising a little editorial independence of my own there. Attempts to get even with Hutton via the courts seem doomed:

There is much resentment at the BBC of the Hutton report. The Today programme editor, Kevin Marsh, has consulted lawyers about action against Lord Hutton's assertion that his editorial processes were "defective", even though he was not called to give evidence. Sources at Today said the advice was "not promising".

No kidding.

UPDATE. Maaten Schenk has more on the BBC and legal issues.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:49 PM | Comments (12)


Richard Neville uncovers the Pentagon’s latest hideous plan: titanium-infused sun creams that will penetrate our organs:

A transparent sun cream sold in Australia contains macro particles of titanium oxide, which have the capacity to penetrate the skin, the blood stream and even our organs. "No-one knows the medical implications of this", reported bio-tech activist Roy Pat Mooney in a scary session, as there is no requirement to re-test ingredients at the sub atomic level, where the behaviour of elements can alter. The commercial use of nanoscale is being likened to either "the next best thing to sliced bread or the next asbestos." Blue Lizard sun cream boasts that its Baby Formulation contains "only nano-micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and no other active ingredients". There is zero regulation in this emerging industry, in which a major investor is the Pentagon.

(Via Tex, whose ongoing examinations of Neville's nanoscale mind are required reading.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:28 PM | Comments (20)


From a Sean Hannity interview with John McCain:

MCCAIN: I'm all for an investigation. I think we probably need to find out whether there were any flaws in our intelligence or not.

But that doesn't change the indisputable fact that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction. He had used them against his own people. He had used them against his enemies.

And there is no one, no one, who believes that if Saddam Hussein were still in power he wouldn't be trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

HANNITY: Maybe Howard Dean. You heard his comments.

MCCAIN: Excuse me. But, I mean, any expert.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:25 PM | Comments (10)


Here’s good news -- the protectionist message is dying, even among Democrat supporters:

If a protectionist political message were ever to find fertile ground this year, it should be in Michigan where about 24 percent of the work force is unionized – far above the national average. But while anxiety over jobs and anger at runaway corporations remain high, polls here show that the candidates who have been most outspoken in denouncing NAFTA are lagging, while Kerry continues to surge.

Kerry voted for the free trade deal with Mexico and isn’t exactly an enemy of globalisation. Good. Remember, too, that George W. Bush picked up massive donations from Steelville despite removing tariffs. Protectionism is endangered.

UPDATE. In other free-trade news, American business is standing up for Australia:

The powerful US business lobby flexed its political muscle today as it urged President George W Bush not to let special interest groups scupper a landmark US-Australia trade deal.

"We should aim for a comprehensive agreement with Australia and resist demands for special treatment for certain industries or products," said Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce.

"Let's not lose sight of the significant benefits of the agreement by listening to the narrow demands of special interest groups," he urged.

The proposed deal appears to be in danger of foundering over agriculture - particularly sugar production - with Washington refusing to open its heavily protected and politically sensitive sugar market to Australian competition.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:23 PM | Comments (13)


Richard Riordan encounters a merciless audience:

Richard Riordan, amateur comedian, former Los Angeles mayor and now California's Secretary of Education, just wanted to lighten things up at a speech to about 700 school superintendents in Monterey.

So as he was advocating more authority for school principals, he threw in part of his comedy act. His idea of an ideal principal was one of the "sisters of little or no mercy" at his Catholic school in New York, he told the group last week.

Sister Carmelita, the principal, could lift students up to the ceiling, and once hit a student 17 times before he crumpled to the floor in pain. Another time, she hit a student so hard on the hand she broke his knuckles and then complained about his penmanship.

The jokes fell flat in the audience of school leaders who are required to report such abuse to police. "Shock and awe" was the way one superintendent described the reaction.

I got to know Riordan a little, back when he was planning a new LA newspaper a couple of years ago. His audience is lucky he didn’t tell the one about the Pope and the miracle cure.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:08 PM | Comments (4)


The Bali bombing was intended to rescue locals from Western depravity, according to murderer Amrozi:

You can see from their attitude . . . they come here, people such as Americans, the Jews and their allies. They want to colonise, not just to play. They want to control Muslim people. They make us weak and they take our people to bars.

Since the bombing, Balinese who previously earned their living in the tourism industry have been forced into other work, as The Bulletin's Eric Ellis reports:

It's in Bali's north that western paedophiles have long preyed on villages, traditionally the source of so many of Bali's tourism workers but now, since the bombs devastated the island's economy, thrown into overnight penury.

"The bomb made the paedophile problem worse," she explains. "It was a simple matter of economics; people got thrown out of work, they needed the money, and there were accommodating European men to help them."

The children of Bali and their Euroscum exploiters offer you their thanks, Amrozi.

UPDATE. As vaara points out in comments, Australian molesters are also profiting due to Amrozi’s bomb attack. Child-wreckers of the globe unite to celebrate!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:11 AM | Comments (29)


Lefty blogger Niall Cook wasn’t too fussed by the deaths of 88 Australians in Bali:

Why do we have this nationalistic, some might say 'jingoistic' love of rolling around, wailing and bemoaning the loss of fellow countrymen and women, whom 99.999% of us have never known, never likely to have known, and probably never wanted to know?

In the same post, Niall counselled that “hate ... is a drastic failure in a social makeup” and urged that we “accept life for what it is and move forward”. Sensitively, Niall advised: “Shit happens, people. Always has and always will.”

Move forward, people. Accept life! Stop the hate! But it’s a different story when somebody scratches Niall’s 14-year-old Toyota Camry:

These four shots are the result of an ignorant, slitty-eyed, slimy little Landcruiser-driving vietnamese prick which tried to squeeze past me on the freeway entry ramp this morning. It doesn't look too bad, in fact I dare say 80% will just polish off, but that's beside the point. It's MY car and I don't go around driving into other peoples cars then shrugging it off and driving away. Not to worry, though. I have the slippery little shit's registration number and will be following him up via the police. Might be a nice chance to get the car re-sprayed at someone elses expense. I'll teach the ignorant, non-english-speaking immigrant to go around rubbing up against other peoples cars and fucking off without barely a word.

After some attention from Israelly Cool, Sam Ward, and Adam (and, in comments, from a few equally revolted lefties), Niall decided to compound his shame. Imagine how angry he’d get if a suicide bomber blew that old Camry to pieces.

UPDATE. Yay! The Camry has been repaired.

UPDATE II. Niall recants. Sort of.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:17 AM | Comments (80)


"Universities are a forum for diverse ideas and intellectual challenges," according to Ricardo Viera, director of the Lehigh University Art Galleries in Pennsylvania:

The photograph confronts anyone walking through the lobby of Lehigh University's humanities building: A man who could be President Bush's identical twin smirks for the camera, his left hand cupping the breast of a leering woman in a negligee.

The 4-foot-by-4-foot image — part of a satirical exhibit called "The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau," by internationally renowned photographer Larry Fink — has upset student conservatives who see it as further evidence of a liberal bias on campus.

In an essay accompanying the five vivid photographs, Fink makes clear the target of his satire. He says the 2000 presidential election was stolen, criticizes the "fundamentalist neoconservative conspiracy," calls Bush a "frat boy with charisma" and refers to "our current fraudulent leaders, George W. and his cabinet."

Fink told The Associated Press the woman in the Bush photograph can be seen as a metaphor for the entire world — and "George is groping at this particular metaphor. I think that would be appropriate for what we were doing in our foreign policy: Groping without any good understanding of what we were doing and taking advantage of our imperious power."

On the contrary; the groper seems to have an excellent understanding of what he is doing, and the gropee -- a metaphor, perhaps, for the liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan -- appears to be enjoying it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:53 AM | Comments (21)


The Jamrat tragedy, in which 251 people died, may have been caused by hair. The Arab News reports:

Mohammed Rafiq Ahmed, from India, claimed that many pilgrims had slipped and fallen after stepping on piles of shorn hair which had been left on the ground (shaving the head after stoning the devil at Jamrat is part of the Haj ritual). He said that the hair made the ground slippery so pilgrims tripped on it and fell, which produced a chain reaction of people falling which resulted in the 251 deaths.

According to the same item, some aspects of the Haj ritual weren’t completely holy:

Tahera Ahsan, an Indian housewife, said that in the confusion that followed the security breakdown, some women became victims of pickpockets.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:25 AM | Comments (8)


The lead letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Close to a year ago, one late summer Sunday morning, thousands of people gathered in Sydney in a peaceful protest. We were there to say "No war in Iraq. There is not sufficient evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction."

Our Government leaders called us rabble. They said we were unpatriotic and that we were supporters of the axis of evil.

We were correct. History will write a very critical and sad story of the activities of the "coalition of the willing" in which our Government played such an enthusiastic part.

Any chance of an apology to us or to all the innocent people who have suffered so dreadfully in this futile war, Mr Prime Minister?

Margaret Clark, St Ives, February 4

I, for one, am deeply sorry that Margaret Clark of St Ives is so fantastically stupid and sanctimonious. She should read Amir Taheri’s latest:

Those clamoring the loudest about the need for inquiries into the war are trying to narrow the focus to the WMD issue. What they say is simple: Show us the large stocks of WMDs that Saddam held, or admit that we should not have removed him from power.

No one could claim that Iraq never had any WMDs. Exhaustive lists of Iraqi WMDs are available from countless U.N. reports. Just a week before the liberation war started, Iraq admitted it was manufacturing the Al-Samoud missiles in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Let us also not limit the inquiry into the WMDs that Saddam had or did not have on the eve of the war. It is possible that at that time he had destroyed or shipped abroad his remaining WMDs to weather the storm he faced. What is certain, however, is that he had the intention, the scientists and the resources to re-launch his programs once the storm had passed.

Let us establish the circumstances under which the 4,000 mass graves came about and who were the 300,000 skeletons found in them. And should we not find out who organized those gas attacks that killed tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Iranians in what is now regarded as the biggest use of chemical weapons since 1918?

Our inquiry should also take testimony from the estimated 5.5 million Iraqis who served prison terms of varying length under Saddam and, in many cases, were subjected to tortures unseen since the darkest days of Stalin.

And should we not hear from the former inhabitants of the 4,000 villages that Saddam torched and razed during his infamous Anfal campaign?

The inquiry will have to hear at least some of the 4 million plus Iraqis driven into exile during Saddam's reign of terror. It would also have to provide answers for families who are still searching for more than 10,000 people listed as "missing" after being arrested by Saddam's agents.

Tell us again, Margaret, about “this futile war”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:05 AM | Comments (53)

February 04, 2004


Michael Moore seems to be backing away from his earlier endorsement of Wesley Clark:

"I will go out and enthusiastically support whoever the (Democratic) candidate is," Moore said.

Too bad that candidate won’t be Joe Lieberman. If I was Moore, I’d be worried about Bush losing; his whole lazy, fact-slashing act is dependent on the Evil One remaining in the White House. Ken Layne suspects a conspiracy:

Dubya's secret commandos Michael Moore & Al Franken have done such a good job since 2000, making sure the sane voter tunes out all the "Bush = Hitler" crap. I hope Karl Rove is paying those boys well, because Christ knows they're earning it.

The chances of any Democrat winning remain slender. P.J. O’Rourke explains why:

None of the major Democratic candidates has any Kennedy charisma, or even any Carter moral paradigm. There's something the matter with each of them.

He’s not wrong. And they keep saying weird, crazy things. Here, for example, is Wesley Clark:

I'm running for president because I long for a better America ... an America where we don't just preach our faith - we practice it.

Liberals who get spooked whenever Bush mentions Jesus ought to be alarmed by Clark’s apparent longing for universal religious observance. Not that it matters much; Clark, a winner in Oklahoma, is on the way out.

UPDATE. As well as jumping the shark, Howard Dean also drops the fish. Deaniac Kate O’Connor reports:

We had a good day today in Washington. We started the day in Spokane where the Gov (Doctor) toured a hospital and attended a town hall meeting on health care. We then flew to Seattle where the Gov (Doctor) toured a health care clinic and caught a fish at the famous Seattle fish market. I don't know how many of you have ever seen it (I hadn't), but the Gov had to catch a huge fish that was thrown at him by one of the workers at the fish market. The Gov dropped the fish the first time, but caught it on his second try. The fish was huge and slimely so I was surprised that he caught it at all!

A few weeks ago Dean was the frontrunner. Now people are throwing fish at him.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck, who is investigating claims that the fish was plastic)

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:36 PM | Comments (23)


Throw a couple more simpletons on the plastic turkey pile. First up, Daniel Patrick Welch:

Almost nothing could be further from the cynical, blood-drenched, plastic-turkey photo-op truth.

Welch wouldn’t recognise the truth if it was served to him on a big silver platter. And here’s Yamin Zakaria:

President Plastic Turkey Bush, "Foot in Mouth" Donald Rumsfeld with his "unknowns" and Saint Tony Blair with his 'divine' revelation, followed the example of Paul Wolfwitz, as they sneaked in and out of Iraq.

Just as Yamin "Can't Spell Wolfowitz" Zakaria followed the example of earlier turkey believers. How long will this myth persist?

UPDATE. One more. Texas A&M student Collins Ezeanyim:

Bush was shown carrying a fake turkey while visiting troops in Baghdad during Thanksgiving.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:19 PM | Comments (23)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Mark Latham, Larry Pickering, John Howard, Andrew Bartlett, Saddam Hussein, David Kay, Eleanor Hall, Fran Kelly, Tony Blair, David Hardaker, David Kelly, Gavyn Davies, Greg Dyke, and Andrew Gilligan.

Also in The Bulletin, director Bruce Beresford unloads on Toni Collette during an interview with Jennifer Byrne:

She makes Bette Davis look positively restrained. I wouldn't know how to direct someone who acts like that ... If you're going to have an actress who can only roll her eyes and grind her teeth, you shouldn't shoot her in close up. You should shoot her from 500 yards away.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:43 PM | Comments (2)


New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent replies to an email I sent regarding apparent inconsistencies in the NYT’s op-ed pages:

Dear Mr. Blair,

Thank you for your note. I only began in this job on December 1, and I've pledged not to spend time on stories that arose before my tenure began, lest I disappear from view in the process.

Consequently, regarding Boris Johnson's comments, I asked the editors of the Op-Ed page for a reaction. They replied, "The Op-Ed staff has a very different memory of the editing experience."

As for what I wrote concerning Ms. Dowd, I stand by it.

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Okrent

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:58 PM | Comments (18)


British reader Frances Robinson writes:

Had to chuckle over your Feb 1st entry, quoting the Guardian on protesting BBC hacks:  

"Leading figures including Joan Bakewell, Ben Brown, Gavin Esler, Jonathan Ross, John Simpson and Jeremy Vine were among 10,000 BBC employees who backed a newspaper advert yesterday, expressing 'dismay' at the loss of Dyke and vowing their commitment to a 'fearless search for truth'."  

Leading figures?  

Hmm ...  

They are actually pretty second division, even by BBC standards (if BBC and standards can be used in the same sentence).  

As someone who has to pay for their bilge, let me summarise:  

Joan Bakewell - fading autocue-reader, now seen (by very few) doing arts and travel segments on BBC's unwatched cable channels. Partisan leftist.  

Ben Brown - complete blank. Still, I'm sure mum loves him.  

Gavin Esler - third-string Newsnight presenter, only called in on slow news nights. Partisan leftist, though less so than Newsnight's second-stringer, Kisty Wark, aka Stalin's Granny.  

Jonathan Ross - moronic talk-show host.  

John Simpson - a legend in his own lunchtime. Claims to have led the capture of Kabul in 2001. (I'm not making this up.) Not a partisan leftist, but only because he treats everyone with Olympian disdain. Basically a pompous blowhard and general laughing-stock.

(For an example of Simpson’s Olympian disdain, consider his response to a concerned American soldier after Simpson was injured in a friendly-fire incident in Iraq.)

Jeremy Vine - downwardly-mobile autocue-reader. Sacked, first, as Newsnight's second-stringer, then as front-man of daytime politics show, he's currently making a hash of the morning slot on the Beeb's easy listening radio station. Partisan leftist, but such a buffoon even the left probably wishes he wasn't.  

So that's the gang of "leading figures" rushing to Dyke's defence.  

If I were Hutton, I wouldn't be losing much sleep.

Meanwhile, the BBC isn’t taking its humiliation lying down:

The BBC pledged today to broadcast as planned a comedy mocking the British government over last week's Hutton report, despite worries the program might inflame a dispute between the two institutions.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:31 PM | Comments (20)


“It's true that students in my first-year course in cultural and media studies, for instance, are exposed to feminist theorists, Marxist thinkers, and scholars who think the Western media trades in racist stereotypes,” writes Catharine Lumby, associate professor of media studies at the University of Sydney. “They are also asked to think about the way things such as class, gender and sexuality are represented in popular culture.” She continues:

Proof, you might think, that I'm intent on turning them all into dutiful lefties. Certainly that's a mistake some students make in the first few weeks of class.

But leftists are not the only thinkers they are asked to read. And after they have attended a few lectures, they discover that the whole point of the course is to debate and critique the ideologically diverse thinkers they have been asked to read.

Catharine doesn't list the non-leftists her students are asked to read. I wonder who they are.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:14 PM | Comments (27)


Bill Maher doesn’t know that the Indonesian President is female:

An Iraqi newspaper has just released a list of those who supported the corrupt, murderous Saddam Hussein regime ... The list includes Indonesian president Megawali Sukarnoputri, an outspoken critic of the U.S. action who pocketed a cool $5 million in profits for his "moral outrage" in the face of "American imperialism."

Doesn’t know how to spell her name, either. Via Wogblog.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:16 AM | Comments (18)

February 03, 2004


Could someone please remind Howard Dean what colour he is?

Dean received one of his biggest ovations after a heckler asked what he'd do to reduce the abortion rate. He suggested universal health care for children, sex education that isn't just abstinence-based, and finally, "We're going to tell all those white boys who run the Republican Party to stay out of our bedrooms."

You tell ‘em, Ho-Dogg! And tell the previous administration while you’re at it. How’s that new CD of yours selling, by the way?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:26 PM | Comments (23)


Faced by a global media that refers blandly to Hamas activists and describes suicide bombers as “Palestinians killed in the conflict with Israel”, Israel’s government is getting proactive:

The Israeli Government has taken the horror of a suicide bus bombing directly to the public via a video on the internet, bypassing what one official called the "distorted" coverage of the international news media.

"We decided this was the only way for us to bring our message to the world," said a Foreign Ministry officer, Gideon Meir.

The video is here. It contains scenes of graphic “activism”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:17 PM | Comments (14)


Finally, somebody has taken a principled stand against ideological journalism:

A member of the board of the National Press Foundation has resigned her position because of plans to present Fox News' Brit Hume with an award.

Hume, the managing editor of Fox News and its chief Washington correspondent, was selected to receive the NPF's Taishoff Award as Broadcaster of the Year during a Feb. 19 awards dinner.

But Geneva Overholser, formerly ombudsman at the Washington Post and currently a professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, told USA Today Hume doesn't deserve the award because he practices "ideologically connected journalism."

Good for you, Ms Uberholster! The Taishoff Award should only be given to pure, non-ideological journalists, like Ted Turner, Dan Rather, Nina Totenberg, Ken Burns ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:11 PM | Comments (9)


Mark Steyn on WMD:

As things stand, it seems unlikely that WMD will be found in Iraq. Doesn't bother me. In these pages a few days after 9/11, I stated that I was in favour of whacking Saddam pour encourager les autres. There was no sharper way to draw a distinction between the new geopolitical landscape and the September 10 world than by removing a man who symbolised the weakness and irresolution of "multilateralism". He was left in power back in 1991 in order, as Colin Powell airily conceded in his memoirs, to keep the UN coalition intact. Lesson number one: don't form coalitions with people who don't share your war aims.

Steyn makes the important point that the war in Iraq did uncover WMD -- in Libya. There are also some observations on the BBC (“I hail the many stellar BBC 'personalities' who are said to be threatening to quit the corporation”), a subject which steams The Guardian’s Martin Kettle:

Having read the Hutton report and most of what has been written about it, I have reached the following, strictly non-judicial, conclusions: first, that the episode illuminates a wider crisis in British journalism than the turmoil at the BBC; second, that too many journalists are in denial about this wider crisis; third, that journalists need to be at the forefront of trying to rectify it; and, fourth, that this will almost certainly not happen.

Stupid journalists. They’re destroying their own industry.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:40 PM | Comments (23)


Looks like Germany has finally had enough of being France’s poodle:

Germany is seeking to distance itself from France's tight embrace and realign itself more closely to Britain and America, senior German officials signalled yesterday.

They said the row with Washington over Iraq had been "catastrophic" for Berlin and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had become "a prisoner" of President Jacques Chirac's campaign to oppose the war to topple Saddam Hussein last year.

"We were more dependent on the French in that situation. But this will not be a permanent situation," said one authoritative source.

Another official explained: "We have to be careful that we are not identified with every word that the French president utters. We must have our own identity and be a little more clever."

Pushed around by the French. Man, the shame.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:10 PM | Comments (27)


The Melbourne Herald Sun reports:

A mentally ill child-sex offender regarded as a potentially serious risk was still on the loose last night after escaping during a shopping trip.

You know, it’s probably not a good idea to take these people shopping.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:31 AM | Comments (9)


US Marine Brian Taylor, whose stunning photographs from the frontlines ran here back in August, tells the story of his war in a five-part series at Opinion Journal. It’s remarkable reading, and we’re so far only up to part two. Click here for part one.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:11 AM | Comments (5)


Michael Graham, National Review Online: "Are these the worst Presidential candidates ever?"

Stephen Romei, The Australian: "An impressive Democratic pack."

Depends on how you look at things, I guess. The Dems might be looking a little more impressive to George W. Bush recently:

US President George W. Bush's popularity has tumbled below 50 per cent, with dissatisfaction mounting sharply over his handling of the Iraq war, foreign affairs and the economy, a poll shows.

The poll published by USA Today, CNN and the Gallup organisation showed Senator John Kerry, the leading Democratic candidate for presidency, opening up a seven-point lead over the Republican Bush in a head-to-head match up.

Election Projection presents the latest trends in visual form. The blue fungus begins to spread!

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:40 AM | Comments (21)


"In due course," writes Phillip Adams ...

... the story of why the UK and Australia went to war will finally emerge. And when it does it may be Blair and Howard who'll need to apologise. To their nations and to history.

You’ll notice he doesn’t suggest that Blair or Howard might have to apologise to Iraq, for helping rid the country of a murderous dictator. History, in Phillip’s view, would be better for leaving Saddam in place. The man is insane.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (80)


Look to your left: we’re taking ads here! Cheap rates, massive exposure, etc. Naturally, I’ll reject any advertisements which fail to meet my impeccable ethical standards (ie, that don’t pay). Check the site stats (further down to your left) for readership figures, which currently place this site way high amongst the most-read political blogs. As well, anecdotal evidence suggests that almost all my readers are voracious capitalistic consumers -- apart from those few readers of a leftist bent, whose tormented comments are sent from the cardboard shelters they live in behind convenience stores. Hey, maybe you sell sealants or other waterproofing products; I’ve got that market nailed!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:42 AM | Comments (17)

February 02, 2004


"Who killed David Kelly?" asks P.P. McGuinness. His answer:

The BBC, in its overweening institutional arrogance, killed David Kelly.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:51 PM | Comments (10)


If it was a “wardrobe malfunction” and “unintentional”, then what the hell was that big chrome star doing there?

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:44 PM | Comments (33)


Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore writes:

The environmentalists' campaign against biotechnology in general, and genetic engineering in particular, has clearly exposed their intellectual and moral bankruptcy. By adopting a zero tolerance policy toward a technology with so many potential benefits for humankind and the environment, they have lived up to Schwartz's predictions. They have alienated themselves from scientists, intellectuals, and internationalists. It seems inevitable that the media and the public will, in time, see the insanity of their position. As my friend Klaus Ammann likes to hope, "maybe biotech will be the Waterloo for Greenpeace and their allies." Then again, maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking indeed. Especially about the media.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 PM | Comments (10)


David Deming is an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Oklahoma. Sounds kinda cool, yes? Well, no:

I am scheduled to be moved out of the office I have occupied for the last twelve years into a dank hole in the basement that was never intended to be used as office space. Recent events are the culmination of four years of retaliation, intimidation, and harassment. You see, I don't have the right politics.

By which Deming means, he does have the right politics. It’s just that they’re the wrong politics for the University of Oklahoma.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:28 PM | Comments (14)

February 01, 2004


More big media lies:

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

She isn’t. A nation is forced to wait for the Pure Truth.


Margo will be back on deck by the middle of February.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:23 PM | Comments (47)


The Observer/Guardian reports:

Some of the BBC's biggest names are considering quitting in protest at the attitude of its acting chairman and the greatest-ever threat to their journalistic independence.

Journalistic independence? The BBC is taxpayer-funded. It’s dependent on public money. They want independence, go private.

Leading figures including Joan Bakewell, Ben Brown, Gavin Esler, Jonathan Ross, John Simpson and Jeremy Vine were among 10,000 BBC employees who backed a newspaper advert yesterday, expressing 'dismay' at the loss of Dyke and vowing their commitment to a 'fearless search for truth'.

And a fearless denial of same.

A number of distinguished BBC personalities explained their concerns to The Observer but insisted that, given the tension with their employers, they wished to remain anonymous. 'An awful lot of people feel Ryder went much too far with his apology,' said one. 'We don't need to abase ourselves. Quite a lot of people are anxious there will be too much timidity from now on. That's what Greg Dyke meant when he said we shouldn't be cowed.’

Dyke, by the way, claims the whole board was ready to resign:

The entire BBC board considered quitting in the wake of the Hutton Report, Greg Dyke revealed today.

The former director-general said he urged them not to resign because it would leave the BBC with no one in charge.

There were people in charge? Like, repressive figures of authority or something? Please, tell the angry protesters denouncing Hutton’s findings:

Waving posters that read "Bliar," the demonstrators also burned a copy of the report by senior judge Lord Hutton, which harshly criticized the BBC for alleging the government knowingly hyped the threat from Iraqi arms.

"The report is exactly the whitewash and the establishment cover-up that we predicted, with a cherry on top," said George Galloway, a member of Parliament vehemently opposed to the war who was expelled from Blair's Labour party last year.

Talk about a whitewash! No mention in that report of Galloway’s, er, friendship with Saddam Hussein, or the oil money allegations. BBC media correspondent Nick Higham advises closing down debate:

It's now in the BBC's interests not to keep the debate about the Hutton report open, but to close it down and move on.

It wants to re-establish trust in the organisation, re-establish credibility and do whatever needs to be done to put right the admitted errors.

The problem for the BBC at the moment is that there are people like Andrew Gilligan and Greg Dyke, who have left, who are not going to let it rest.

They want to keep it open and although the BBC denies it, I think that is potentially rather awkward.

Really? You think so? Awkward indeed was Richard Ackland’s attack on Hutton, skilfully sliced apart by Professor Bunyip. Let the BBC debate roll on!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:04 PM | Comments (28)


Everybody’s number eventually comes up, sooner or later. In the case of Lenny Isaac, that number was 20 and above:

A man who survived 19 gunshot wounds in 1995 died Friday after he was shot again multiple times in his pickup truck.

Lenny Isaac, 39, of Dorchester, was found by his sister, who spotted his blue pickup truck near the family's home at about 4:30 p.m. When she stopped, she discovered her brother slumped across the seat.

He had been shot multiple times in the left side of his back and his neck. He was taken to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:00 PM | Comments (8)


Phillip Adams writes:

I have the nerve to sermonise and criticise, patronise and pontificate.

He sure does. Phillip doesn’t have the bravery to admit he was wrong about a certain plastic turkey, however. Neither does Alan Ramsey, freshly returned to the Sydney Morning Herald’s op-ed pages. And these people wonder why they have no credibility.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:17 PM | Comments (11)


Howard Dean is losing, but his campaign staff are cashed-up winners:

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean lived up to his slogan "people-powered Howard" last year, making campaign staff and consultants one of his biggest expenses as he spent all but about $8.5 million of the record $41 million he raised.

Dean spent more than $6.5 million on staff salaries and related expenses, and more than $2 million on consultants. Ads were another big cost, accounting for at least $7 million, and he spent at least $4.5 million on direct mail, campaign finance reports showed Saturday.

Ex-Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi is possibly the biggest winner, apparently collecting a 15% commission on Dean advertising buys. Too bad Howard himself is now almost out of money:

Last week, sources close to the campaign said Dean was down to about $5 million in cash after bills were paid. Dean is withholding staff salaries, declining to advertise in the seven states holding primaries on Tuesday, and planning to cut or shuffle staff as he decides which states to compete in.

He’s previously done well in a State of Rage, and subsequently in various States of Denial. My advice, offered free: compete in a State of Poverty. Oh, wait; he already is.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:14 PM | Comments (15)


Well, gassed, actually:

A program made by Britain's BBC says North Korea is killing political prisoners in experimental gas chambers and testing new chemical weapons on women and children.

Titled "Access to Evil" and being aired on Sunday, the program features an official North Korean document that says political prisoners are used to test new chemical weapons.

Kind of puts claims of “dissent crushing” in the US, Australia, and England into a different perspective, doesn’t it?

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:45 PM | Comments (21)


The ABC is planning a $100 million theme park in Melbourne. Possibly it will have carnival-style rides, such as the Global Warmer of Ultimate Man-Created Death, in which patrons will be subject to imperceptible temperature increases over a 2000-year period. Brace yourself for the Cultural Imperialiser, where your wholesome Australian values will be slyly undermined by a dominant American paradigm. Enter a world of fantasy in the ABC’s hypnotic Iraq War Zone, featuring vivid recreations of the Stalingrad-like seige of Baghdad and Saddam’s brilliant triumph against the invaders!

What to call such a theme park? Reader Kev Metcalfe suggests Commie World or Gilligan’s Island. I lean towards PilgerWorld, as originally conceived by Mark Steyn:

Thrill to the amazing 'Quagmiratron' as a high-tech digital state-of-the-art rollercoaster of blundering Marines comes rocketing down into a big pit of icky goo and gets stuck there for the entire afternoon while know-it-all Guardian columnists hector them on their lack of an 'Exit Strategy'!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:43 PM | Comments (14)


Supermodel Klum pregnant, reports AFP, whose month-old story is picked up by News Ltd. We simply cannot trust the media any longer to keep us updated on vital supermodel antics.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:16 PM | Comments (4)