March 31, 2004


Crank up the volume!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:17 PM | Comments (21)


In comments at The Daily Ablution:

Did anybody catch Robert Fisk inadvertently fisk himself on the BBC programme about Osama bin Laden last night? He was describing how he took bin Laden's picture in Sudan, with words to the effect of how his subject stood in the road in flowing white robes. Instantly Fisk's picture comes up with bin Laden standing in the road in flowing brown robes.

Whatever their colour, those robes can’t conceal a genuine man of cats:

The British journalist Robert Fisk was invited to his mountain lair.

After a long, cold journey he was taken to a tent. Osama entered, "like a cat," Fisk said, "A very, very lithe muscular man."

Well, he has to be, to crawl through that little kitty door.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 PM | Comments (18)


Mark Latham’s Zapatero plan is in trouble:

Australia's intelligence agencies have been hauled into the furious political debate over Labor's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, appearing to dispute Mark Latham's claim that he had received lengthy briefings on the issue before the decision.

With both sides tossing insults over the Labor policy, the Department of Defence intelligence chief and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service hastily wrote letters that bolstered the Prime Minister's attack on the Labor plan.

Hilariously, Latham is trying to brazen his way out of it:

Labor leader Mark Latham yesterday accused Prime Minister John Howard of keeping Australian troops in Iraq for political gain and of surrendering policy-making to al-Qaeda.

Oh, please. Latham made this an election issue, as Paul Kelly identified days ago:

Mark Latham has taken his most important decision as Opposition Leader – to re-establish Iraq as an election issue by saying he wants to bring our forces home by Christmas.

Now Latham is demanding an apology:

Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham has made a personal explanation to Parliament to insist he did have lengthy intelligence briefings on Iraq from Australia's intelligence agencies and accused the Prime Minister of misrepresenting his position.

"My briefing with ASIS on the 11th of February included substantial security matters relevant to Iraq - these are the facts," Mr Latham said.

Mr Latham told Parliament that in January he had a lengthy meeting with the Deputy Secretary of the Australian Intelligence and Security (ASIS) in the Department of Defence, and was also briefed by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIO).

"The meeting was scheduled to go from 5:00pm to 5.45pm, and my recollection was that it went longer than that," Mr Latham said.

Laborites wish they'd been told:

Labor MPs are questioning leader Mark Latham's lack of consultation on big policy announcements.

The discontent has appeared following Mr Latham's announcement last week that a Labor government would bring troops in Iraq home by Christmas.

However, it also emerged yesterday in relation to the announcement that Labor would abolish the Aboriginal national body, ATSIC.

At a scheduled Caucus meeting yesterday Mr Latham was told he had not run the announcement past concerned MPs until just before it was made.

But the major issue of unilateral policy statements centred on his pledge to bring troops back.

Senior frontbenchers have not been able to confirm that the decision, and its specific timetable, had been discussed by shadow cabinet.

I completely agree with this revolted observer:

When I saw Latham say we had to bring our 850 troops home after June 30 “to defend Australia” I was disgusted. Pure populism it was, and I thought Australians would see through it big time, which they have.

It was painful to see Latham’s foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd on Lateline last night having to dodge and weave to avoid stating the obvious – that he did not agree with Latham’s hard and fast timetable for exit. Latham has neutralised Kevin Rudd with this decision, damaging one of his best assets on national security.

Is Latham really saying the danger to Australia is so acute that we need 850 troops to join the 51,0000 troops stationed in Australia? That’s scare mongering at its worst.

As Howard rightly said speaking to his motion in the House of Representatives today that troops should not be withdrawn before the job is done, that would mean hauling back our troops from East Timor and the Solomons too.

Damn straight. Meanwhile, Rob Corr wants us to do it for the children.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 PM | Comments (48)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Simon Crean, Mark Latham, John Pilger, Andrew Gilligan, Saddam Hussein, Will Saunders, Dave Burgess, Peter Lowy, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, John Edwards, John Kerry, George W. Bush, Janine Lowy, Alan Ramsey, John Howard, Paul Keating, and John B. Howard.

Also in The Bulletin is Diana Bagnall’s investigation of Australian anti-Semitism:

In 2003 the number of anti-Semitic incidents – including physical violence and property damage, abusive calls and email, and graffiti – logged by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry reached 481, the highest level recorded and more than twice the average recorded over the previous 12 years. Few Australians in mainland states, for example, are probably aware that over the new year, someone used weedkiller to burn a swastika and the words "Kill the Jews" into the lawn of Parliament House in Hobart. Swastikas are regularly sprayed around university campuses, where anti-Israel sentiment runs high.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:50 AM | Comments (37)


Der Spiegel’s interview with new Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi begins awkwardly:

You are following in the footsteps of murdered Sheikh Ahmed Yassin at a critical time ...

(Via Erik at Wax Tadpole)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:25 AM | Comments (20)


In the letters pages of The Age, Australian John Stewart applauds Ireland’s smoking ban:

Well done to the Government of the Republic of Ireland who had the political courage to impose a smoking ban on all workplaces as of last Monday - including pubs and clubs.

Having spent some time in Ireland, and being aware of the almost ubiquitous pub culture there, I find it somewhat amazing that they have been able to do it without a massive backlash from patrons and publicans alike.

The backlash is already beginning:

"I won't be enforcing it, and I won't be telling my staff to enforce it, simple as that," pub owner Danny Healy-Rae said of the ban, which takes effect Monday. The law applies to any enclosed workspace: more than 10,000 pubs, as well as billiard halls, private clubs, home offices, even a lone trucker's cab.

And also politically:

One of Waterford's most famous and busiest pubs is calling on its customers not to vote Fianna Fáil in the local elections in protest at the smoking ban.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:15 AM | Comments (22)


An Italian anti-burger activist experiences the rare phenomenon of drive-thru detonation:

An apparent attempt to blow up a McDonald's drive-in restaurant in northern Italy was foiled on Sunday but the suspected terrorist died when his car exploded with him strapped inside.

Witnesses said a man, later identified as Moustafa Chaouki, a native of Casablanca, drove his Fiat Tempra into the queue of cars waiting at the restaurant in Brescia, 100km east of Milan, at 10 pm. His car contained four cylinders of kitchen gas, each with a capacity of more than 70 litres.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:41 AM | Comments (33)


Excellent Brit blogger Natalie Solent confesses her shameful academic dishonesty:

My main motive for cheating was lunch.

The London Sun will soon learn of this, causing Solent to be known UK-wide as the ‘Eater Cheater’. Subsequently we’ll see headlines like NOSHING NAT’S BUNNY BRUTALITY!

Dog-ownership reveals more joys each day. Our teeny dog Laptop is best pals with an enormous, friendly, enormous, bouncy, adorable, seriously enormous Retriever puppymonster who, in line with this blog's strict policy of total anonymity for companion animals, we shall call Dog X (not his real name). Dog X is the very soul of benevolence and charitable endeavour: he knows you want dead rabbits and he does his best to bring you them.

For lunch!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:18 AM | Comments (6)


A bunch of TV ads might be all Bush needs to counter the Clarke controversy:

A week of hearings on Capitol Hill and criticism from a former counterterrorism aide have eroded President Bush's poll standing on fighting terrorism. But that's nothing compared to the damage that Bush's campaign ads may have done to Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Kerry has a new slogan to replace I Don’t Fall Down, which didn’t trial well among Secret Service focus groups in Idaho. He’s now going with I Don’t Shake:

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who will undergo minor shoulder surgery on Wednesday, faces a politician's worst nightmare while recovering -- no shaking hands.

"I think initially we'll have him avoid handshaking," said Dr. Bertram Zarins, who will perform the outpatient surgery at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital.

"But as he feels the strength improving, and when he tries to shake a hand if it doesn't hurt, then I think it's alright for him to do it," he said in a conference call with reporters.

Looks like another Purple Heart for the man who won Vietnam.

UPDATE. Christopher Hitchens writes:

To listen to Clarke now, you could almost imagine that the invasion of Afghanistan and eviction of the Taliban—the actual first response of the administration to Sept. 11—had not taken place. To listen to Clarke, also, you would suppose that any Iraqi connection to terrorism was sucked straight out of Rumsfeld's or Wolfowitz's thumb.

One theory that does collapse completely is that of administration foreknowledge—the Bush people were evidently in no shape to take any quick advantage of the events and seemingly hadn't bothered to plant even one Iraqi among the mainly Saudi hijackers. But in my experience, dud theories die only to be replaced by new and even dumber ones. The current reigning favorite is that fighting al-Qaida in Iraq is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:51 AM | Comments (38)


Alistair Cooke, who retired only weeks ago, has died at 95.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn posts a 1996 Cooke profile, and Scott Burgess remembers a favourite Cooke line:

Nothing dies harder among the intelligentsia, among writers especially, than the quiet notion that they have a superior understanding of the art of politics.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:52 AM | Comments (19)

March 30, 2004


Eight-cylinder engines are a powerful force for good. Remember the 1980s, when V8s were unfashionable with local manufacturers? Remember how society suffered? Remember the hair? The music? All these things are connected, people. You can’t base a society around sixes and fours without certain unpleasant consequences.

Times have changed. Holden, unlike Ford, never completely banished the V8 from its range, and now offers V8s in almost everything except the micro-sized Barina -- and mentioning that has probably inspired Holden’s next concept car.

Among various alarmist folks, however, the V8 will always cause, well, alarm (broadcaster Derryn Hinch once urged a V8 ban, apparently unaware that the Rolls-Royce he then owned was powered by, yes, a V8). So a market niche exists for what we might call the polite V8; something combining rugby league strength with a rugby union accent.

Enter the Holden Calais, pitched at the BMW-aspiring executive market. Equipped with the optional 5.7 litre 235kW V8, the Calais is tuned to conceal muscle; a single exhaust outlet deliberately mutes any tell-tale eight-cylinder rumble, in keeping with the car’s refined, non-winged, spoilerless appearance. Not that the Calais is without visual impact, an opinion supported by a young Albury drive-through bottle shop attendant I’ll call Dave:

Dave: “Mate, in a car like that, you should do some laps of Dean Street. See if you can pick up.”

Me: “You think so? But I’m almost 40 years old!”

Dave: “Doesn’t matter, mate. Let the car do the talking.”

Thanks, Dave. The Calais is more of a whisperer -- you’ll rarely wander above 2000 rpm under normal driving conditions -- but it carries a big stick. It’ll righteously stomp most anything encountered on even the briefest Hume Highway overtaking zone. Aggressive freeway driving tends to cover the lameness of the ageing four-speed auto, too, which is calibrated (in power mode) to change up at around 6000 rpm. Around town it gets a little fussy, hovering over changes and making those curious dual-clunk downshifts Commodore owners have learned to ignore.

No such complaints about the handling. The previous Calais was criticised by some as a “yank it and bank it” device; that is to say, it was better manouvered by force rather than finesse. The current machine, riding on wider tyres, and with suspension revisions all over the place, responds best to fingertip-level inputs. Gone is that awkward feeling in previous models that the car must first be “settled” into high-speed corners before proceeding.

Look, we’re talking about a $55,000-plus luxo-sport unit here, but the handling is so good, the power steering so direct, and the torque so abundant you feel you’d be easily able to steer it with your right foot, speedway-style, were it not for an overly-intrusive traction control. When activated it kicks back hard through the accelerator. Excuse me, but the driver is meant to be pushing you, Mr Grouchy Pedal. Absent any means of overriding power cuts to the rear wheels, genial understeer prevails.

Brakes the size of Bert Newton’s face make sure all this energy is easily contained. Trying to find the point at which fade begins is a fool’s errand, so I tried, several times, and couldn’t locate it. Pedal feel isn’t great, but remains unvarying.

So much for the sport side of the equation. The luxo half is where most sales will be made. Ride is brilliant, masking most of the lateral thump usually associated with low-profile wheelware. Electronically-adjustable front seats can be configured to suit all but those whose tax returns list main source of income as sideshow attraction. Standard equipment includes just about everything. Finish and fit is summarised by the German-quality sound that accompanies door closure.

Speaking of sound, that V8 roar can still be enjoyed if the windows are down and the revs are high. Think of it as an aural antidote to the ‘80s.

(Originally published in the Sunday Telegraph, March 28. Next up: the Chrysler Crossfire)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:57 PM | Comments (28)


No posts this afternoon. The ABC is sending around a camera crew for a blogger story they're putting together, so I'm busy hiding all the Hitler statues and extinguishing that burning cross in the yard. The JAIL PUBLIC BROADCASTERS banner out front better come down, too.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:37 PM | Comments (35)


Bernie Slattery reports:

The Australian wasted some space this morning correcting a quote it attributed to National Party Senator Sandy McDonald saying "Syria is a country that has been a bastard state for nearly 40 years.''

It should have read "Syria is a country that has been a Baathist state for nearly 40 years.''

As Bernie says: “Wish they'd explain the difference.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 PM | Comments (10)


John Howard's WSJ opinion piece is now available to non-subscribers:

In the wake of the indiscriminate slaughter of almost 200 commuters in Madrid, global commentary seems as much focused on the political implications for Western governments as on the perpetrators.

It will be doubly tragic if mass murder is rewarded with even the perception that our resolve has weakened. At the very least the victims--those killed and injured--deserve an absolute assurance that this outrage will make all of us more determined to stand together against terror. Now is not the time for us to be diverted from this global mission.

Words are weapons in the information age and there is a need for vigilance to ensure we are not signaling weakness in the face of this ongoing threat. There can be no excusing the inexcusable. The messages we send, whether as leaders of governments or leaders of opinion, must be that we will stay the course and finish the job.

That “stay the course” idea seems to have some appeal.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 PM | Comments (14)


A couple of years ago, on James O’Loghlin’s ABC program, I said a whole bunch of unpleasant things about the UN. Fellow guest Keith Suter, a past president of the United Nations Association of Australia, was alarmed; in particular, the idea that we should get out of the UN struck him as ridiculous.

Turns out I wasn’t unpleasant enough about this gang of oil-drenched, child-starving degenerates.

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


Doug Payton previews humankind’s salvation:

Today is the first day for the official liberal talk radio network, "Air America". The anchor for this network is Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor". I guess that there wasn't any real good way to spoof the title of "The Rush Limbaugh Show", so he went with O'Reilly's. And that sounds to me like he's already set the tone for his show; comedy, parody, attack, and, oh yeah, issues (maybe). As I said over a year ago, this should tell you all you need to know about how this crew is going to go about their business; they'll attack ideas with comedy, where complex ideas are oversimplified and you'll be too busy laughing to notice the errors. Franken himself said, "I think the audience isn't there for a liberal Rush, because I think liberals don't want to hear that kind of demagoguery." This from a guy who wrote a book titled, "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot".

Doug’s prediction: “Franken's show is gone in 2 years.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:40 AM | Comments (47)


Shaun Carney in today’s Melbourne Age:

A sensational new book by America's former anti-terrorism chief Richard Clarke suggests that the Bush White House allowed itself to be consumed by its obsession with Saddam at the expense of overseeing a co-ordinated global response to terrorism.

The Clarke story in Australia is mostly the story of Clarke’s book; few revelations of his contradictory paper trail have been reported. Here’s one example, from an interview previously noted by several bloggers: in March 2002, Richard Clarke told PBS:

On the day of Sept. 11, then the day or two following, we had a very open mind. CIA and FBI were asked, "See if it's Hezbollah. See if it's Hamas. Don't assume it's Al Qaeda. Don't just assume it's Al Qaeda." Frankly, there was absolutely not a shred of evidence that it was anybody else. The evidence that it was Al Qaeda began just to be massive within days after the attack.

Clarke’s story has changed; in his interview with 60 Minutes, “see if it's Hezbollah, see if it's Hamas” became “Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.” And, as Time magazine pointed out, Clarke’s recollection then evolved to demands for: "Iraq, a memo on Iraq and al-Qaida, a memo on Iraq and the attacks."

Also from the PBS interview, this exchange:

Interviewer: A lot of people looked at Sept. 11, and said "Massive intelligence failure. Haven't seen an intelligence failure like this since Pearl Harbor." What's your opinion on that allegation?

Clarke: I think it's a cheap shot.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:23 AM | Comments (24)


Robert Fisk reports, in his fashion:

Exactly a year after the Anglo-American armies invaded Iraq, I found five young men some days ago busy smashing up what was left of a Saddam statue in this little dusty border village. The torso and head of the dictator had long disappeared from his plinth at the frontier station but his legs and one arm and a battery of monumental missiles still lay on the ground in gleaming steel. Two American attack helicopters were racing up the border - still trying to find Donald Rumsfeld's Al Qaeda hordes as they supposedly swarm into Iraq - but what caught my eye were the heads of the five young men so assiduously hammering and sawing and hacking at the remains of Saddam's statue. Four of them were wearing black face masks, the fifth had a black hood over his head.

A year after we overthrew Saddam, Iraqis now have to hide their identity when they attack his image. What does that tell us about "new Iraq"?

What does it tell you about old Iraq that Saddam’s image was never attacked at all? (Another question for Fisk: if these anti-Saddam youngsters were so scared of reprisals, why were they “assiduously hammering and sawing and hacking” at an already-destroyed statue, in broad daylight, masks or not?)

If you are in Iraq, in Baghdad, driving its dangerous roads, the evidence of collapse and failure is everywhere ...When I drive these highways I now wear a "kuffiah" and "thobe" on my head. My driver wears Western trousers and shirt but I am in Arab clothes to avoid being attacked ... What does that tell us about Iraq a year after its "liberation"?

It tells us that Robert Fisk is the guy in the kuffiah and thobe riding alongside someone wearing Western trousers and shirt.

How do we explain now the armies of truculent, often ill-disciplined mercenaries now roaming Iraq on behalf of the Anglo-American occupation authorities? Many thousands of them British, some are well-trained, many are not ... When I pleaded with one British gunman in sunglasses last week to at least put a shirt over his gun to conceal it when walking in and out of our hotel, he pointed a finger at me.

"Listen mate," he shouted. "If I see someone with a gun come to shoot you, I am going to walk right past and do nothing."

Bet he was among the well-trained ones.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:04 AM | Comments (25)


Ron Rosenbaum kisses the crazy Left goodbye:

It’s a goodbye that’s been brewing ever since the Really Big Idiocy, the one I encountered barely a month after Sept. 11, from a more illustrious figure on the Left, an academic Left paragon.

It’s also a long goodbye, every word of which is worth reading.

(Via reader Ted M.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:44 AM | Comments (23)

March 29, 2004


Old Hook-Hand might be in the market for some additional limb hardware:

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the fugitive leader of the Taliban, was wounded in a U.S. bombing raid earlier this month that killed four of his bodyguards, Deutsche Presse-Agentur said, citing a newspaper report in Pakistan.

Omar was injured in the legs and left side of his body and won't be able to move about for two months, DPA said, citing an interview in the Urdu language daily newspaper, Ausaf, with Jabbar Aziz, a doctor. The report said the raid took place in the southern Afghan province of Zabul.

Stand by for more complaints about targeting the infirm.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:41 PM | Comments (11)


Chomsky Fisks Monbiot.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:00 PM | Comments (23)


According to captured terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Heathrow airport was next on al-Qaeda’s list:

Al-Qaeda terrorist network leader Osama bin Laden instructed his operations chief to prepare a strike on London's Heathrow airport soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, it was reported yesterday.

In a dispatch from Kabul, Britain's The Sunday Times newspaper said it had seen transcripts of the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the most senior al-Qaeda operative to be captured in the US-led war on terrorism.

Mohammed, 37, who was seized in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March last year, stated that he met bin Laden in the Afghan capital Kabul several days after the September 11 attacks.

"It was at this time we discussed the Heathrow operation," he was quoted as saying in the transcript.

"Osama declared (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair our principal enemy and London our target," he said.

That all seems reasonably straightforward. Now look at how the story is spun by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Fray, under the headline Bin Laden's British payback target: Heathrow Airport:

Osama bin Laden ordered the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks to organise a massive strike on Heathrow Airport to punish Tony Blair for his support of the US, it has been revealed.

In The Age’s version of Fray’s story, Blair is to be punished for his close support of the United States. What “support” is Fray talking about? This planned Heathrow attack was apparently discussed prior to any British military commitment to the war on terror; only days after September 11, in fact. The Sunday Times piece upon which Fray’s article is based mentions nothing about US-related payback:

Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader, ordered a devastating attack on Heathrow to punish Tony Blair, calling the prime minister his “principal enemy”, a senior lieutenant has revealed. He told his operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to prepare the strike on the airport at a meeting in Kabul soon after the attacks on America in September 2001.

Fray appears to have added the payback notion in order to wed this story to domestic debate on Australia’s ties to the US and our involvement in Iraq. Shameless, no?

Letters to the SMH here. Letters to The Age here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 PM | Comments (30)


You think Australian cricketers are tough on their opponents? Just ask former Indian Test player Atul Wassan about the Pakistanis:

Interviewer: Have you ever faced the famous Pak sledging?

Wassan: Yeah. They are brash and bullheaded. Comments like, "I will murder you" are very common. Being a thorough Punjabi, I have given it right back to them. One of my famous tiffs was with Martin Crowe and Mark Greatbatch of New Zealand. However, I would prefer not to disclose what kind of words were exchanged.

Wassan also has strong opinions about Muttiah Murilitharan, who has just been cited for chucking:

Murali was reported by match referee Chris Broad during the final day of the third Test, which Australia won by 121 to take an historic 3-0 clean sweep of the series.

Reading from a written statement Broad said his report relates only to Murali's new delivery, the "doosra", which turns away from the right-handed batsman.

"The concern is that this ball may be delivered with an action that is not in accordance with the laws of the game," Broad said.

"Accordingly I have submitted this report for further investigation.

"In making this report I would like to emphasis it relates to this new delivery only."

Murilitharan’s been sending down this garbage during the whole series, and they only report him when it’s over. Fun backyard experiment for the cricket-aware: try getting something (a tennis ball, say) to break left using an offspinner’s action. It’s surprisingly easy ... if you throw it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:51 AM | Comments (19)


• John Kerry meets the workers.

• The spokesman for pro-logging group Timber Communities Australia is one of those guys with job-appropriate surnames.

• Triple J’s Steve Cannane poses a question:

The Australian record industry has just had its best year ever. But it doesn't want you to know about it. This month ARIA announced its sales figures for last year. In its press release, it talked about Delta, it talked about falling CD singles sales, it talked about the rise in DVD sales, but at no stage did it tell us it was the industry's best year ever. Why bury the good news?

• And Imre Salusinszky reports directly from the the war that nobody can pronounce:

The renewed outbreak of violence between Kosovo's Albanian Muslim majority and its ethnic Serb minority has shattered the fragile peace of people who can't follow the politics of the Balkans.

The re-emergence after five years of Europe's main Christian-Muslim conflict has also reignited fears of ethnic cleansing and of people in English-speaking countries having to try and pronounce the names of cities such as Srbica, Gorazde and Kragujevac.

But the biggest danger in a collapse of Kosovo's delicate ethnic balance would a "domino effect" by which people in southern Kosovo would be forced to leave their homes, and then people in London, New York and even Sydney would be forced to pretend at dinner parties that they had the faintest idea of what these primitive peoples were actually arguing about.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 AM | Comments (8)

March 28, 2004


Her injustice antennae twitching furiously, Kerry Nettle denounces the shameful Australian government:

The Australian Government's failure to condemn Israel's assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was shameful and out of step with international opinion, a rally in Sydney was told today.

Greens senator Kerry Nettle told the rally the federal government had failed its international duty by not immediately condemning Israel's attacks.

"It's a shameful act that the prime minister did not condemn these acts," Senator Nettle said.

Two hundred people enjoyed Nettle’s Hyde Park speech before being returned to their wards.

UPDATE. Alan Dershowitz thinks the likes of Nettle can go to hell:

Last week's targeted killing of the wheelchair-bound head of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, by the Israel Defence Forces was a moral and lawful instance of pre-emptive self-defence.

Yassin was a combatant under any reasonable definition of that term, and combatants - including leaders - are appropriate military targets during a war of the kind Hamas has declared against Israel.

From his wheelchair, this blind bigot gave advance approval for acts of terrorism directed against Israeli civilians and Jews. Most recently, when Israel killed three Hamas militants who were on their way to launching an attack against Israelis, the Hamas website carried the following acknowledgement: "The three martyrs were on a holy mission when the Zionist US-made helicopters fired two missiles toward their vehicle."

Yet Hamas condemned the Israeli action that prevented an act of terrorism against innocent civilians. What else is a democracy supposed to do: wait until the terrorists strike?

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:09 PM | Comments (48)


John Kerry endures some gruelling MoDo analysis:

I wasn't sure how to ask John Kerry, so I just blurted it out: "Is there anything we need to know about your relationship with your father?"

I didn't think the country could take another vertiginous ride on the Oedipal tilt-a-whirl. It's hard not to see the Bush unilateral foreign policy — blowing off allies and the U.N. to rewrite the ending of a gulf war his father felt had ended appropriately — as the ultimate act of adolescent rebellion.

"I know what you're saying," Mr. Kerry murmured.

He does? Meanwhile, Margo Kingston brings Sydney Sun-Herald readers up to date on the Richard Clarke controversy:

Bush's former top counter-intelligence man Dick Clarke wrote in a book released last week that Bush was more interested in Iraq than al-Qaeda, even on September 12, 2001, and saw September 11 as cover to get away with invading Iraq.

Bush "launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide", Clarke wrote. "Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups [with] a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country."

You get the feeling Margo hasn’t followed subsequent developments in this story very closely. Luckily for us, Mark Steyn has.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:03 PM | Comments (17)


I stand to be corrected on this, but Noam Chomsky seems to be suggesting that coverage of US deaths in Iraq is designed to somehow increase support for the Illegal Unilateral Invasion:

There's a lot of focus on the American death toll but personally I think that's partly propaganda exaggeration. Polls have demonstrated time and time again that Americans are willing to accept a high death toll - although they don't like it, they're willing to accept it - if they think it's a just cause.

Beats me. Of course, when Cambodia was being erased by the Khmer Rouge, Noam had another body-count theory:

Allegations of genocide are being used to whitewash Western imperialism, to distract attention from the `institutionalized violence' of the expanding system of subfascism and to lay the ideological basis for further intervention and oppression.

Those pesky “allegations”. They haunted Pol Pot to the grave.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:01 PM | Comments (6)


Got mad computer skillz and so forth? Then become a spy:

ASIO is to recruit more than 150 extra spies to bolster Australia's defences against the growing threat of Islamic terrorism.

The new vacancies will include general intelligence officers, surveillance officers, engineers and IT specialists. The agency is also keen to recruit linguists fluent in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, Pashtu and Urdu.

Computer experts will be required to "map" terrorist activities and to cross-reference data on terrorist suspects in Australia and overseas. All applicants should be self-starters and highly motivated, according to ASIO.

Hey, EvilPundit! Job for you!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:09 AM | Comments (12)


All hope is lost, reports tragic Terry Lane:

The leftish magazine Overland turns 50 this week. When Stephen Murray-Smith started the magazine, we still thought that argument could persuade and even change. But this week in his anniversary lecture and article, writer Barry Hill despairs: "The point is, everyone knows about it, and most of us feel - realistically - that we can do nothing as the Iron Heel of Corporate America treads where it wants." Exactly.

Argument can persuade and change, Terry. Just not your argument.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 AM | Comments (26)


Some years ago I met a woman whose boyfriend had been killed in a motorcycle accident. At his funeral, she was surprised -- well, a little more than surprised -- when his four other girlfriends turned up.

Sounds like murdered Melbourne criminal Andrew "Benji" Veniamin had the same sort of deal happening:

"Our plans for the future will be sadly missed, but you'll always remain in my heart," KK wrote in the Herald Sun's death notices.

"You left me, the best part of you, to cherish and to love our daughter," Nataline Falzon wrote.

And Cherie is hurting: "I ... wish you were still in my arms."

Bree declared her love for Veniamin, while "The Girls", Karlie and Tiffany said they would miss the fun times they shared.

Rena said Veniamin's name was engraved in her heart in letters of gold: "You're the sweetest person that has touched my heart."

Veniamin’s touching evidently wasn’t restricted to Rena. Or her heart.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 AM | Comments (15)


The Age’s Roger Franklin explores the UN -- a bastard hive of turkey thieves and ham bandits who may have pocketed $11 billion worth of Iraqi oil for food money.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:29 AM | Comments (4)


French lawyer Jacques Verges has been chasing this particular ambulance since December:

A French lawyer who made his reputation defending some of the world's most notorious figures says he will take on Saddam Hussein as his latest client.

Mr Verges says the request came in a letter from Saddam Hussein's nephew, Ali Barzan al-Takriti.

Good work, kid. You don’t like your Unkie Saddam? Check this lawyer’s list of former clients, and see how many of them aren’t currently dodging the big tattooed guy in the showers.

(Via reader Kevin N.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (10)


The Reuters headline:

At least 15 die as US battles insurgents in Iraq

And the story below the Reuters headline:

Running battles between US troops and insurgents in the Iraqi flashpoint town of Falluja have killed a US Marine, an Iraqi cameraman and at least six other civilians.

As reader CJ points out, that’s eight.

UPDATE. Scott Burgess corrects me. I was wrong. The additional fatalities -- from a separate incident in Tikrit -- are mentioned deeper in the piece.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:31 AM | Comments (11)

March 27, 2004


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough reports from Gaza City:

It's Wednesday night, and more daring than the military march-past is the presence in the front row of two marked men - Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the 56-year-old pediatrician who has stepped into Yassin's shoes as leader of Hamas in Gaza, and his deputy, Mahmoud Zahar, also a doctor.

He stepped into Yassin’s shoes? That’s more than Yassin himself ever managed. McGeough’s dependence on cliche is excessive, though not always so comical; in this one piece we’ve got crowds going wild, people melting away into the night, and spectators hanging from the rafters. Cannons are loose. Doubts are grave. Effects are knocked-on. Rich seams are mined, soul-searching sparked, reveries emerged from. Baghdad is eerily quiet; on tenterhooks, in fact.

Grief? There are outpourings of it. Futures, naturally, are bleak. A lull in proceedings is grist to McGeough’s mill. His appetite for this crap is insatiable. SMH columnist Mike Carlton loves it, however:

McGeough's gifts as a prose stylist are matched with peerless skills as a reporter.

You think so, Mike? The problem with cliches is that they’re so old hat.

UPDATE. Here’s a non-cliche that should catch on: fearbiter.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 PM | Comments (20)


Professor John Quiggin’s site attracts fewer than 300 unique readers per day, yet it’s still more popular than his column in the Australian Financial Review:

It's puzzling to me that, although the stats say the blog has far fewer readers than the Fin Review (where I've been writing for ten years) my daily experience is the opposite. Far more people in my circle of friends and acquaintances seem to be aware of the blog than have read the column.

It's possibly unwise of Quiggin to admit this. Editors at the Fin Review might ask why they’re running a column that nobody, including the author’s friends, can be arsed reading.

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


A new poll is up at left. I expected greater early support for the SNURB T-104 Hell Brick, but you know how fussy people are about ordnance these days.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 AM | Comments (32)


Brendan O’Neill, who just knows we hardline anti-terrorist types lust for massive random bomb attacks, also knows that polls reflecting post-war Iraqi happiness aren’t to be trusted. The idea that Iraqi lives may have been improved by Saddam’s removal seems to be difficult for Brendan to accept.

It’s kind of obvious that Brendan, although he doesn't like to admit it out loud, would secretly, guiltily welcome a disaster in Iraq as an opportunity to berate his opponents and as a reminder of his own moral indefatigability. Nice.

(Via Rob at SemiSkimmed)

UPDATE. Mark Steyn offers an alternative view:

I don’t think it’s possible for anyone who looks at Iraq honestly to see it as anything other than a success story. Not perfect by any means, but a year after the war was launched the glass is at least five-eighths full, and by any objective measure Iraq is immensely improved. If you belong to Not In Our Name or Environmental Choreographers Against Genocide or Spaniards For A Quiet Life or Former Tory Cabinet Ministers United For A Saddamite Restoration, you can dispute that assessment. But in doing so you’re at odds with the Iraqi people.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 AM | Comments (17)


"I know what argument is more likely to resonate with Australian voters," writes Sydney Morning Herald sourboy Alan Ramsey. That’s a big call, especially from someone who doesn’t know birdflesh from plastic or Christmas from Thanksgiving.

Ramsey also writes of "the angst in Washington, where Bush - in an election year going as badly for him as it is for Howard in this country - is under immense pressure on the economy as well as over his Administration's deceit and dissembling over the invasion of Iraq, the supposed war on terrorism and the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington of 2001."

Wonder if Ramsey is up for a bet on Bush’s re-election?

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip probes Alan Ramsey and his SMH cellmate Mike Carlton. Go read it!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:27 AM | Comments (15)


Richard Clarke cheerleader Tim Dunlop wrote this one year ago:

In the direct aftermath of 911, a number of members of of the bin Laden family were helped out of the country by the US Administration in planes chartered by the Saudi goverment. Barely a question asked, and security guaranteed.

So it may be of interest to Dunlop and the rest of the Bush-hating Clarke wishers to learn just who was responsible:

It was Clarke who personally authorized the evacuation by private plane of dozens of Saudi citizens, including many members of Osama bin Laden's own family, in the days immediately following Sept. 11.


Posted by Tim Blair at 01:24 AM | Comments (21)


Raines trashes the Times:

Howell Raines, the former editor of the New York Times, has unleashed a ferocious assault on the newspaper he worked at for 25 years, describing a newsroom characterised by conflict, "lethargy and smug complacency".

In a lengthy article in the next edition of Atlantic Monthly, Mr Raines is unsparing in his criticism. "The tendency towards mañana journalism can infect newcomers as if it were carried in the air ducts, like Legionnaires' disease," he says. "Thus the pernicious world view - 'it's not news until we say it's news' - gets inculcated with amazing speed." He repeatedly professes his affection for the newspaper that he ran briefly before being fired last year after a reporter, Jayson Blair, was found to have invented or copied elements of at least three-dozen stories.

He maintains, however, that the newspaper needs substantive reform to get off "its glide path toward irrelevance". He writes: "I felt on the day I became executive editor and on the day I drove away from West Forty-third Street for the last time that the Times badly needs to raise the level of its journalism and to do so quickly in order to survive."

Get a blog, Howell!

UPDATE. Noting Raines’ use of the phrase “manana journalism”, reader Ken Summers asks: “Who’d have thought that liberal extraordinaire Raines would casually throw out such a racial slur?” Hey, he’s only following Arthur Sulzberger’s example.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:41 AM | Comments (10)

March 26, 2004


Judy Davis read what the ABC described as a stirring anti-war poem during last week's Ba'ath Party rally in Sydney. Examined more closely, the piece Davis chose (written by Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani) could easily be taken as an anti-Saddam call to arms:

If I knew I'd come to no harm,
And could see the Sultan,
This is what i would say:
Your wild dogs have torn my clothes
Your spies hound me
Their eyes hound me
Their noses hound me
Their feet hound me
They hound me like Fate
Interrogate my wife
And take down the name of my friends.
When I came close to your walls
and talked about my pains,
Your soldiers beat me with their boots,
Forced me to eat my shoes.
You lost two wars,
Half of our people are without tongues,
What's the use of a people without tongues?
Half of our people
Are trapped like ants and rats
Between walls.'
If I knew I'd come to no harm
I'd tell him:
'You lost two wars
You lost touch with children.'

The Sultan is no longer in power, the people no longer live without tongues, wives aren’t interrogated, and friends’ names aren’t taken down by spies. Well read, Judy! Listen to her damn the tyrant here.

And, if you can stand it, you may also listen to John Pilger's strange nuclear theories. One highlight: his sneering mention of "the ABC's soft Media Watch program".

UPDATE. A bunch of pro-American counter-demonstrators appeared at the Ba’ath Fest in Melbourne -- and several of them appeared to be of Middle Eastern appearance. Wonder if anybody interviewed them? Could be a story there.

Naturally, the friends of democracy didn’t approve, and removed the offending pro-liberation banner. (Check this sign carried by one of the pro-libs: "Make Love After War".)

UPDATE II. The crushing of dissent continues! Actually, it’s more like the punching of dissent. Another report on the same incident here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:13 PM | Comments (12)


• A stupid Michael Moore joke (scroll down a little) is taken seriously in Bulgaria and Spain:

Bulgarians who worked at the World Trade Center in New York City received a warning not to got to work on September 11, 2001, when terrorists rammed hijacked passenger jets into the twin towers, bestseller author Michael Moore writes in his latest book "Dude Where's My Country?"

• The New York Times thinks the Victorian countryside qualifies as remote Australian outback.

• Noam Chomsky has ditched comments at his new blog following ferocious right-wing joke attacks.

• It takes a hyper-educated doctor of philosophy to point out society’s complex realities:

Homelessness is a visible indication of the existence of poverty in Australia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:35 PM | Comments (29)


Colleen Redman keeps the legend alive:

I doubt that many people realize that the turkey used in another photo-op, when Bush was in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, was a fake. In reality it was 6 a.m. and the soldiers ate, not the Norman Rockwell-looking (fake) turkey that was presented, but from cafeteria style steam trays.

It’s nearly April, and Colleen is still horking up conspiracy theories that were dashed before Christmas. What’s that phrase the Left used to use? “Move on?” Something like that, anyway.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:07 PM | Comments (37)


When it comes to Richard Clarke, Tim Dunlop is wearing rose-coloured glasses over rose-coloured contact lenses stuck to eyeballs treated with rose-coloured lasers:

... the guy oozed integrity yesterday, highlighted by the fact of his apology to the families for not stopping the 9/11 attacks. People might like to suggest (though I haven't seen it done yet) that he was insincere or just being politically astute, but I doubt very much that you can fake something like that. To attack the sincerity of the apology is just going to leave the attackers looking more desperate and petty than they already do ... "the White House's Clarke problem" (love that expression) ain't going to go away.

Man. After a dose like that, you need Jeff Jarvis for the antidote.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:28 PM | Comments (25)


"Australia tops honest companies list," reports the ABC:

Australian companies are seen as the least likely in the world to offer bribes when operating offshore.

Advocacy group Transparency International has surveyed 800 business experts in 15 developing nations to give Australian firms the cleanest bill of health, ahead of companies from Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

Nice story, huh? Now take a look at the way it was originally presented just a few hours ago.

(As spotted by super-wily Zem, of

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:40 AM | Comments (8)


Evan Coyne Maloney is kind of like a right-wing Michael Moore, except friendlier, slimmer, and funnier. And he gives away ketchup and waffles instead of eating them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:13 AM | Comments (29)


George Monbiot is shocked:

The survey the BBC conducted recently in Iraq is shocking to those of us who opposed the war. Most respondents say life is now better than it was before the invasion. Those who thought the United States was wrong to attack are outnumbered by those who thought it was right.

We know that the Bush and Blair governments lied about their motives for war. We know that humanitarianism was used as a cover for imperialism. We know that thousands of civilians were killed. But we do neither ourselves nor the Iraqis any favours by using them to ventriloquise our disgust. We can say without contradiction that the war should not have happened and that it has been of benefit to the Iraqi people by ridding them of one of the world's most abhorrent dictators.

Well, George can say that without contradiction. Normal people may find it a little difficult. Read on as George, having almost realised something, stumbles towards the inevitable inconclusive conclusion.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:08 AM | Comments (31)

March 25, 2004


Noam Chomsky is Turning the Tide at his brand new blog. Three posts so far; no links. Here’s a sample of online Noamish wisdom:

People in the more civilized sectors of the world (what we call "the third world," or the "developing countries") often burst out laughing when they witness an election in which the choices are two men from very wealthy families with plenty of clout in the very narrow political system, who went to the same elite university and even joined the same secret society to be socialized into the manners and attitudes of the rulers, and who are able to participate in the election because they have massive funding from highly concentrated sectors of unaccountable power that cast over society the shadow called "politics," as John Dewey put it.

Boring! Much livelier copy is available from Noam’s commenters:

My old friend Noam! On behalf of all the terrorists, genocidal dictators and child abusers who you have dedicated your life to supporting: Welcome to the Blogosphere!

But beware, there is true democracy here. Only a man like you can put it down. Help us. Post your wonderful speeches.


Posted by Yasser at March 24, 2004 10:22 PM

(Via reader David)

UPDATE. It ain’t easy being Noam. Just ask reader Noam Rotenberg:

Please continue to mock, insult and fisk Noam Chomsky. Or to use his nonsense, please deconstruct his presuppositions, oil geopolitics, paradigms, hegemony ... yada yada yada.

But would you be so kind as to consider referring to him as Chomsky instead of by his first name? Please note my first name. All my life, after I introduce myself, people first say "Noah? Like the Ark?", and then once they're corrected, they say "Ah, like Chomsky". One insensitive friend even calls me 'Chomsky'. Imagine how that makes me feel! You used the term 'Noamish wisdom'. Hey, I visit your blog, and Damien's and Glenn's and Charles' almost daily, so I'd like to claim the term 'Noamish wisdom' for myself.

OK, so I'm not really that thin-skinned, but how many famous Noams are there in the world? There was a Noam who used to direct Barney Miller episodes, but that underrated show (with a cool theme song) is pretty much forgotten. Besides, he also directed Mr Belvedere. So, how about we make people with the surname Chomsky tainted by association instead of innocent people with the name Noam?

After all, those Chomskys are probably related to him. Unless you go all the way back to Exodus, I most certainly am not.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:19 PM | Comments (58)


A spokesman for that snowboarding swearmouth from Massachusetts employs a familiar-sounding Kerry defence:

The Sen. John Kerry team seems more than a mite embarrassed the presidential wannabe cursed out a Secret Service agent as "that son of a bitch" after colliding with him while snowboarding last week. Asked if that's appropriate language, Kerry's spokesman, Michael Meehan, tried to wriggle out of answering on Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes." Quoth Meehan: "I don't know. I wasn't there ... it's a hypothetical I'm not interested in ... I wasn't there. Were you?" Nope, but the report of Kerry's trash talk came from the ABC News field producer who was there and appeared in the New York Times (though with the expletive deleted).

Unless you were actually there -- either in Vietnam, or on the deadly stumble-slopes of snowy Idaho -- you really can't understand the horrors John Kerry has known. By the way, how come the NYT deleted Kerry’s expletive? It’s not as though the phrase is banned in the Times’ pages.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:23 PM | Comments (13)


Behind the curve on all this Richard Clarke business? Instapundit has a whole lot of Clarke links, while Tim Dunlop is summarising Clarke’s book, chapter by chapter.

In non-Clarke news, Damien Penny explores the limits of Canadian multiculturalism and David Kaspar reports on Germany’s state-funded Lederhosen crisis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:58 AM | Comments (7)


Palestinian terrorists send a teenager to die -- and Israeli soldiers save his life:

A 16-year-old Palestinian youth with a suicide bomb vest strapped to his body was caught at a crowded West Bank checkpoint today.

Soldiers, taking cover behind concrete barriers, sent a yellow army robot to bring scissors to the teenager so he could cut off the vest and then made him strip to his underwear to ensure he was unarmed before detaining him.

The incident began about 4pm when soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus received intelligence a bomber was in the checkpoint. They immediately shut down the crossing and began searching the hundreds of people gathered there, the military said.

"We saw that he had something under his shirt," said Lt Tamir Milrad.

"He told us he didn't want to die. He didn't want to blow up," Milrad said.

The kid’s brother told reporters: "He doesn't know anything, and he has the intelligence of a 12-year-old." Really? Compared to his explodey elders, he’s a genius.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:35 AM | Comments (37)


Tim Dunlop is too busy to write this week’s Webdiary Blogjam, so I’m forced to stand in for him. Blogjam will therefore be presented in lowbrow tabloid gossip-column style:

Word on the street has it that the reason Gary Sauer-Thompson is always on the road and catching planes is because he’s a staffer for Senator Meg Lees. Why so secretive about this, Gary? Are those wedding bells I hear? ... Spotted explaining trade basics on commercial TV last week was economics blabbermouth Professor John Quiggin, who also won a major prize of some type ... Laughing at carrot-headed leftoids is illegal, right? Bernie Slattery hasn’t heard ... Blues god Christopher “Blind Lemon” Sheil could really use an updated road map the next time he’s in Mississippi ... What is it with Gianna and men? Recently knocked up by some litigious dude, it turns out she used to date a lowly junkie ... Western Australia’s Robert Corr is very angry with Germaine Greer. What else would you expect from a corrupt Howard supporter? ... Bob Brown isn’t really a big-deal Man of Principle, at least according to Gareth Parker ... Want to attract Professor Bunyip’s eye? Then just drape an empty wine cask over your head ... Niall is still an idiot ... Sam Ward drunkenly spills the beans on the latest Australian football scandal ... Hey! Could those rumours about Geoff Honnor being gay possibly be true? ... And the Wogblogger has a long-distance election prediction.

More next week, from Blogjam Central!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:53 AM | Comments (24)


The Gulf Daily News reports:

Veiled women are protecting more than their modesty - they are also less prone to nose and throat cancers because their veils screen out viruses, a Canadian doctor said.

Professor Kamal Malaker said women in Saudi Arabia suffered a low rate of the Epstein Barr Virus which causes nasopharyngeal cancer.

Which nicely balances out the danger of honour killings.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 AM | Comments (27)


Some people don’t need a giant puppet or a sign to make their point:

Jose Perez, a 39-year-old Gulf War veteran, dealt with protesters on Saturday about as effectively as anyone can. He was in Fayetteville, N.C., home of Fort Bragg, to counter-demonstrate against antiwar protesters.

"Here's the thing. We're right and they're wrong," Perez said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 AM | Comments (7)


During all the who-knew-what-when controversy about Osama bin Laden’s September 11 plans, is anyone going to remember this?

"There were a very large number of women and children in that compound and it's almost like he was daring me to kill them," Clinton said. "I felt it would hurt America's interests if we killed a lot of Afghani women and children and didn't even get him."

”Him” being OBL his bad self. A more recent terrorist theory is dealt with by Jose Maria Aznar:

In the hours that followed the attacks, our investigation focused on one obvious suspect, the Basque terrorist group ETA. It was a reasonable inference to make, and those who say otherwise are being either naive or dishonest. History has left us with clear evidence of ETA's sinister habit of killing during election campaigns. The terrorists always attempt to soak our democracy in blood on the days when we Spaniards go to the polls to reaffirm our liberties.

ETA has committed more than 800 murders, among other crimes, over three decades, and has sought always to weaken and divide our democracy, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. A few days earlier, the group had tried to carry out an attack with 500 kilograms of explosives, one that failed only due to the intervention of the Guardia Civil, the national police. Those detained in this failed attack had a map that highlighted the zone of the Henares Pathway, through which run the trains that were targeted on March 11. And it was ETA that, on Christmas Eve, attempted another slaughter at Madrid's Chamartin station, also thwarted by our National Police. And to continue the ghoulish catalog, the same terrorist group brought two vans loaded with more than 1µ tons of explosives to Madrid in December 1999. Once again, our security forces foiled what would have been mass murder.

My government was not alone in attributing the March 11 attacks to ETA. In the first few hours, the president of the Basque Autonomous Region, the secretary general of the Socialist Party, the general coordinator of the United Left and the secretary general of Catalonia's Esquerra Republicana, among others, did likewise.

This isn’t what we’re hearing outside of Spain. Also, David Kaspar reports that German opposition to the war hasn’t secured Islamic friendliness:

German President Johannes Rau has cancelled a stopover in Djibouti on the last phase of his east African tour after German security services warned him of an alleged assassination plot by Islamists. Instead, he's flying back to Germany, direct from Tanzania. Rau's office said German intelligence agencies had a tipoff that terrorists had wanted to target Rau as a representative of a Western nation.

We’re all targets.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:38 AM | Comments (19)

March 24, 2004


Sydney readers of a wheel-minded nature should grab a copy of this weekend’s Sunday Telegraph, for my full review of Holden’s way-impressive Calais. I’ll post the review here after publication.

Next month’s reviews include the swoopy Chrysler Crossfire and, to celebrate Earth Day, the V10 Volkswagen Touareg.

These and future reviews will involve a whole bunch more online stuff, including pics.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:59 PM | Comments (19)


Please congratulate Mr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi on his wonderful election victory. And make it quick, before anything, like, happens to him:

A Hamas hardliner who has pushed for accelerating attacks on Israel and ruled out all compromise is the new leader of the Islamic militant group in Gaza following Israel's assassination of the group's founder.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a 54-year-old paediatrician, told tens of thousands of cheering Hamas supporters at a Gaza City soccer stadium today that he was chosen in secret elections.

In his acceptance speech, Rantisi made his priorities clear.

"My people, we must unify under the umbrella of resistance," he said, and exhorted the Hamas military wing to "teach this Zionist occupation a lesson".

That “umbrella of resistance” didn’t help his predecessor much. Maybe Rantisi should try a brolly of defiance or an IDF-proof parasol.

UPDATE. Mark Latham obviously expects more of the same from our Hamassian buddies:

I don't support the things Hamas has done in the future.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 PM | Comments (35)


Is anyone able to supply the full text of this? Or a link to the entire article?

Yes, I believe it was a just war
By Andrew Gilligan, Evening Standard

UPDATE. EURSOC supplies several extracts from the Gilligan piece. (Thanks to Bargarz for pointing this out). EURSOC begins by quoting Gilligan:

"One year on (since the war began), however the most important fact is that nobody’s worst fears on that wakeful night have come true. The vast majority of us, Iraqis, journalists, and Tony Blair alike, survived. Fedayeen guerrillas struck the coalition with small numbers, but there was virtually no real fighting with Saddam’s regular forces. The bombing of Baghdad looked scary on TV, but it didn’t even begin to approach the daily tonnage dropped on, say, Hanoi during Vietnam, London or any German city during the second world war.

"'Shock and awe' lasted an hour and a half, rather than the promised three days. And with only a few ghastly exceptions, the targeting, in the capital at least, was very precise. Colleagues who arrived after the war was over kept asking us where all the destroyed buildings were.

"There never was a military stalemate, a refugee crisis, a hundred thousand civilian dead …"

He goes on: "That old doom-mongers favourite, the revolt of the 'Arab street' across the Middle East, has remained as much of a mirage as any weapon of mass destruction."

Gilligan is largely critical of Blair’s reasons for going to war, rather than the war itself. "Right war, wrong reasons" he says:

"More than anything else, what discredited the war was the rush to conflict, the need to claim Iraq as a pressing danger. From this need stemmed all the Government’s most famous tabloid half-truths and non-truths. No one I know ever doubted that Sadam had WMD, or could rebuild them quickly. It was a perfectly fair inference to draw from his behaviour, even, if it now seems to have been wrong. But no expert, spook, or politician I ever met, apart from a few New Labour androids, believed Iraq’s WMD were a threat 'current and serious' enough to require military action in March 2003."

And via Melanie Phillips, news that anti-war Guardian columnist Andrew Anthony is now opposed to anti-war protesters:

I say this as someone who 12 months ago was probably 60% against the war, at least in the manner in which it was launched. Since then my doubt has remained roughly constant. What has changed is the doubt I have about the anti-war protesters. That is now running at record high levels ...

The response of some in the Stop the War coalition to the Atocha atrocity is reminiscent of the Eloi in HG Wells The Time Machine, who assumed a position of abject defeatism when attacked by the Morlocks, thinking it better not to get involved. The statement, however, that almost makes me want to campaign for George Bush's re-election was published in last week's New Statesman. It reads: "The current threat of attacks in countries whose governments have close alliances with Washington is the latest stage in a long struggle against the empires of the west, their rapacious crusades and domination. The motivation of those who plant bombs in railway carriages derives directly from this truth."

No, that wasn't the latest tape message from Bin Laden, that was written by John Pilger.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:48 PM | Comments (25)


You know those homeless Vietnam veterans you’re always reading about? John Kerry isn’t one of them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:07 PM | Comments (9)


The ABC has finally driven Israel into the sea.

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


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Tony Jones, John Howard, Peter Wilkins, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Elliott, Mark Latham, Bob Brown, Nick Sherry, Geoff Walden, Catharine Lumby, and Wally Potato.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:49 AM | Comments (43)


For the benefit of all who never met him, the BBC presents Sheikh Yassin: Life in pictures:

1: Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, assassinated by Israel, was an inspiration to disillusioned young Palestinians and a hate figure for Israel. Hamas is one of the largest and most militant Palestinian groups fighting Israeli occupation.

No kidding.

2: He devoted his early life to Islamic scholarship and was considered by supporters primarily as a religious figure.

Honour Allah, and attach the detonator here, next to the primary Semtex load!

3: He was welcomed by Yasser Arafat when he was released from prison in 1997, in exchange for two Israeli agents held by Jordan after a botched mission to kill a Hamas member.

The Israelis seem to have fixed that “botching” problem.

4: He became an increasingly powerful figure, and Hamas attacks, in which scores of Israelis have been killed, posed a major obstacle to peace negotiations.

You really think so?

5: Sheikh Yassin opposed the Oslo peace process and refused to recognise the state of Israel, advocating resistance rather than talks.

Surprise me.

6: Scores of Palestinians were inspired by his message to give up their lives, and became suicide bombers.

Scores more Israelis died. Their level of inspiration isn’t recorded.

7: Sheikh Yassin said all suicide bombings - the latest of which came eight days ago in Ashdod - were a "response to Israeli crimes".

Such as “being Israeli”.

8: His hatred of the United States was also well known.

You don’t say.

9: Hamas support was boosted by its charitable activities and support for Palestinians suffering economic hardship.

Well, someone’s got to help out when the breadwinner is spread all over a bus somewhere.

(Via LGF)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:48 AM | Comments (30)


The NYT’s Judith Miller was accused last June of being a Bush propaganda operative. Antony Loewenstein, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Webdiary, today further explores Miller’s and the NYT’s role in promoting war on Iraq.

Er ... yeah.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:42 AM | Comments (10)


”It doesn't take an awful lot of courage to murder a paraplegic in a wheelchair,” writes Robert Fisk. “But it takes only a few moments to absorb the implications of the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin yesterday.” Actually, Robert, old man Yassin was apparently a quadriplegic, so it took twice as much courage to off the bastard. Fisk continues, in his way:

Yes, he enthusiastically endorsed suicide bombings - including the murder of Israeli children. Yes, if you live by the sword, you die by the sword, in a wheelchair or not. But something went wrong with the narrative of the news story yesterday, and something infinitely more dangerous - another sinister precedent - was set for our brave new world.

Several obfuscatory paragraphs follow, in which Fisk rambles about Yassin’s earlier jail time, and Yassin being freed as the result of a deal between Israel and the Palestinians (years ago, before matters were at their current level of import). Eventually -- having touched on, and then moved quickly away from, Yassin’s lust for the death of Israeli children -- Fisk makes his point:

Yet another Arab had been assassinated. The Americans want to kill Bin Laden. They want to kill Mullah Omar. They killed Saddam's sons. Just as they killed three al-Qaeda men in Yemen.

The Israelis repeatedly threaten to murder Yasser Arafat. It's getting to be a habit.

Fisk seems puzzled. Why would anybody want to kill Osama bin Laden?

No one has begun to work out the implications of all this. For years, there has been an unwritten rule in the cruel war of government-versus-guerrilla. You can kill the men on the street, the bomb-makers and gunmen, but the leadership was allowed to survive.

Now all has changed utterly. Anyone who advocates violence - even if they are palpably incapable of committing it - are now on a death list.

Poor Yassin, all crippled up and everything. Poor Osama, what with his dialysis issues and advanced decomposition. Leave the infirm murder advocates to advocate murder in peace!

So who can be surprised if the rules are broken by the other side?

Cute. Our fault again. Okay.

The top guys are now in the firing line. Let us not say we didn't know.

I’m not sure what that means, but I think I want to know about terrorist top guys being in the firing line. Repeatedly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:23 AM | Comments (33)


According to Vanity Fair, all the best blogger jokes these days are coming from lefty sites.

Not sure if this place was among those surveyed; take a look, anyway. Or check out notoriously humourless right-winger Frank J. interviewing John Derbyshire.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:10 AM | Comments (17)

March 23, 2004


Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean, but only donated $1,000 to Dean's campaign -- half the amount permitted.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:07 PM | Comments (19)


Mark Steyn on shield mastery:

A neighbour of mine refuses to let her boy play with "militaristic" toys. So when a friend gave the l'il tyke a plastic sword and shield, mom mulled it over and then took away the former and allowed him to keep the latter. And for a while, on my drive down to town, I'd pass Junior in the yard playing with his shield, mastering the art of cowering more effectively against unseen blows.

That's how the "peace" crowd thinks the West should fight terrorism: eschew the sword, but keep the shield if you absolutely have to.

Count the Dissident Frogman and Merde in France among the sword-carriers. More on that atomised Hamas spiritual leader: Hanan Ashrawi says that most basic tenets of international law have been violated, and asks: "What happens to due process, presumption of innocence?"

Good question. I wonder what process was followed in the case of Abdallah Quran?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:55 PM | Comments (62)


Why do terrorists do the awful things they do? According to Bishop Desmond Tutu, it’s because they are frustrated free traders:

The developed world has massive, massive agricultural subsidies that ensure that farmers in those rich countries can produce their stuff cheaply. And there are high tariffs that prevent the developing country from being able to sell their goods. And so you say, these guys are playing a game and they make the rules for the game and they are the referees in this games. It is so lopsided that anyone seeking to be a normal person realizes that the odds are stacked against us so horrendously that people will say, I am ready to do anything to get out of this trap.

As James Taranto notes:

We sympathize with Tutu's criticism of Western trade policies, but if he thinks Osama bin Laden and his followers are agitating for free trade, he's nuts.

True, but it’s entertaining to consider Tutu’s notion that the likes of Australian film stars might be a root cause of terrorism.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:00 AM | Comments (83)


Nine News is reporting that Labor’s Mark Latham has “joined other world leaders” in condemning the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Latham’s comments are yet to hit the wires. Here’s a piece on global reaction to the happiest day in Yassin’s life, which the Bush administration isn't very happy about. NRO’s Joel Rosenberg writes:

Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin was the Osama bin Laden of Palestinian terrorism. By assassinating Yassin, the Israelis just applied the Bush Doctrine to one of the most deadly terrorist leaders on the planet. In the winner-take-all war on terror, countries are either with us or against us. They either take decisive action — even preemptive military action — to bring terrorists to justice, or they are guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy.

Israel's side is clear.

You'd think, therefore, that the Bush administration — fresh off of losing Spain as a major ally in the war against radical Islam — would be grateful and publicly praise our only democratic ally in the Middle East as a true partner for peace.

Think again.

The Bush administration's initial reaction to Israel's act of self-defense has been mealy-mouthed, pathetic, and morally offensive.

Agreed. Meanwhile, if you prefer your moral confusion to be pitched at truly ceiling-busting levels, there’s always Yvonne Ridley:

I had the privilege recently of meeting some brothers who fought in Afghanistan against America and Britain. No doubt if the authorities knew their identity they would be wearing orange jump suits by now, squatting in cages in Guantanamo Bay.

One thing that struck me about these brothers was how principled they were ... going on jihad for ideals almost forgotten in a selfish world corrupted by greed and power. The driving force that led them into battle in the mountains and caves of Tora Bora was no different to that which propelled 2800 men AND women from the United States to fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

As far as I’m aware, neither side in the Spanish Civil War was fighting for the right to prevent women living as human beings.

(Via Angela Bell)

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:17 AM | Comments (57)


Attention, Indymedia revolutionaries! You now have a new dead hero:

Iraqi leaders condemned the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom they hailed as a "Palestinian Che Guevara".

They're right; the resemblance is uncanny.

"Put me on your bedroom wall, infidel western teen!"

Yassin’s got all of Che’s qualities -- wild beard, fashionable headgear, no pulse -- plus additional groovy wheelchair charisma! No wonder artists adore him.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:56 AM | Comments (44)


Enter ritzy US zip codes in the Fundrace search engine and all manner of celebrity donations are revealed. Here are some standouts; hit the links to see how much cash they horked up for their respective candidates:


Kelsey Grammer

Mary Hart

Don Ohlmeyer

Dino de Laurentiis

Paula Prentiss

Darrell Waltrip

Arnold Palmer

Pat Boone


Charlize Theron

Sidney Sheldon

Daniel Stern

Ellen Barkin

Jennifer Garner


Paul Reiser

Leonard Nimoy

Glenn Frey

Helen Hunt

Rhea Perlman

Vidal Sassoon

Buck Henry


Mike Myers

Ben Harper

Kris Kristofferson


Ted Danson

Johnnie Cochran

Ali MacGraw


Morgan Fairchild

Melissa Gilbert

Dick Martin

Jane Kaczmarek

Judith Light

Aaron Sorkin


Casey Kasem

Bonnie Raitt

Michelle Shocked


Debra Messing


Don King

Earlier celeb-hunting here.

UPDATE. Apparently CNN doesn’t know how to use the complicated cyberinterwebnet searching technology.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:48 AM | Comments (80)


We already know Phillip Adams can rewrite the past, but were you also aware that he can predict the future? Here’s Phil last April:

Make no mistake, if the US can't find those chemical weapons in Iraq, it'll smuggle some in and plant them.

And here’s Sunday’s Gulf Daily News:

US forces have been shipping parts of missiles, chemical and germ warfare agents and nuclear weapons into southern Iraq, according to an exclusive report in our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej. Quoting Iraqi Transportation Ministry sources, the report said US forces offloaded this equipment from US cargo ships at the port of Umm Qasr, near Basra, during Ashoora.

It said riots in the area, coupled with major explosions that killed and injured a large number of Iraqi people including a prominent religious scholar, had enabled the parts to be offloaded while the attention of the Iraqi people was elsewhere.

Akhbar Al Khaleej said the US, in co-ordination with British forces stationed in large numbers in the south of Iraq, had imposed stiff security measures around the port to ensure the unloading could be done in secret in the dead of night.

As foretold in Phillipular prophesy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:39 AM | Comments (10)


Can’t get enough of those fabulous protest pictures? Me neither! Here’s a stunning example out of San Francisco, from this collection.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:33 AM | Comments (6)


Scott Elliott has established a memorial fund in the name of his parents, murdered last week in Iraq. Hit the link for more details. The address to donate:

The Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Fund
c/o The International Mission Board
P.O. Box 6767
Richmond, VA  23230

Make out any checks/cheques to "The International Mission Board" with "Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Fund" or "Elliott Fund" prominent. All donations will support missionaries and their work. Reader Fidens has already pledged $50:

I will donate AU$50 to the charity of your choice as a prize for the most tortured, nauseating prose submitted by one of your readers (50 words, minimum). [Tim] will be the judge. We have a benchmark, now we just need the will, the stomach, and our eyeballs back in our sockets.

Post your mockworthy literary finds in comments.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:39 AM | Comments (2)


James Lileks on those creepy peace demonstrations:

The Movement to Reinstall Saddam commemorated the first anniversary of the Iraq campaign by expressing their outrage at the loss of an ally in the war against America. These people are the fringe of the left; yes. They are the Klan without the sheets. Worse: they don’t have the inbred moonshine-addled mah-pappy-hated-nigras-an-I-hate-‘em-too dense-as-a-neutron-star stupidity of your average Kluxer. They didn’t come to this level of stupidity naturally. They had to work at it. I’m sure you’ll find in these pictures people who have cool jobs in San Francisco, people who get grants, write code, run the coffee-frother at a funky bookstore, and have no problem marching alongside someone who spells Israel with swastika instead of an S.

Read entire screed. In Sydney, Professor Bunyip is upset that he missed out on all the fun. Check the pics at Tex’s place, Professor! In other blog news:

• Instapundit is back.

• And Alan Anderson presents his fine range of Osama-themed election t-shirts.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:09 AM | Comments (20)

March 22, 2004


Check eBay in coming weeks for a bargain-priced secondhand wheelchair, with slight missile damage:

Israeli forces killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the violent Islamic Hamas movement early today, witnesses and Hamas leaders said.

The move is likely to escalate more than three years of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

Israeli helicopters fired missiles at the wheelchair-bound Hamas leader as he left a mosque near his house at daybreak today, residents said, and Hamas officials and witnesses said he was killed.

Meryl Yourish has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:32 PM | Comments (63)


More images from the weekend’s global spaz gatherings:

• Hooray for NYC’s improved skyline.

• A mime is lowered feet-first into a mime-shredder.

• Remember what happens to anyone bold enough to speak out.

• Here’s an unusual costume choice for someone wanting to stop war.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:25 PM | Comments (21)


“Hope survives and renewal is possible,” Margo Kingston once wrote. A sign of this renewed hope was the cancellation of a car advertisement Margo felt was insensitive:

Honda thought it was funny to send up suicide in its latest ads, but the public didn't and Honda pulled them.

The ad in question showed a car deciding to kill itself. How awful! But if you think it's funny to suggest that the Howard government murders schoolchildren, Margo doesn’t complain at all. In fact, she'll supply a link so everybody can enjoy the wonderful joke.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 PM | Comments (8)


Phillip Adams recalls the glory days of the mid-70s, when he’d lounge about in Cannes waiting for brilliant movie plots to enter his mind years before they occurred to anybody else:

Sipping coffee on the Croisette, watching the paparazzi swarm at the merest hint of a suggestion that Clint Eastwood might be about to emerge from his suite at The Carlton, I came up with a bittersweet idea. A devious Australian would announce a film starring Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Robert Redford, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Shirley MacLaine and Julie Andrews – and sell it to international distributors on a hit-and-run visit to the world’s most powerful film festival. Only when he’d laughed all the way to the Bank of New South Wales would the truth emerge. That his megastars were merely Australian namesakes picked from capital city phone books. In other words, it would be a scam movie, the sort of thing that, down the track, Mel Brooks would do for Broadway with The Producers.

Down the track? The Producers first screened in 1968, several years prior to Phil’s Cannes inspiration. Anticipate the usual apology and correction tomorrow.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:39 AM | Comments (22)


An esteemed visitor is here in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The US and the West must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end, says an Islamic cleric invited to Sydney by Premier Bob Carr.

Well, there were those poor guys who somehow got killed when the jets they were aboard on September 11 all crashed.

New York-based Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who impressed Mr Carr at an international conference last year, arrives in Sydney today for two weeks of meetings and public talks.

What might he be planning to say?

Speaking from his New York mosque, Imam Feisal said the West had to understand the terrorists' point of view.

Go. To. Hell.

In a move likely to cause controversy with church leaders, Imam Feisal said it was Christians who started mass attacks on civilians.

"The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets."

The Sydney Morning Herald thinks that only church leaders will be offended by this?

Imam Feisal said the bombing in Madrid had made his message more urgent. He said there was an endless supply of angry young Muslim rebels prepared to die for their cause and there was no sign of the attacks ending unless there was a fundamental change in the world.

Now that you ask, Feisal, no, we won’t be converting to Islam.

Imam Feisal, who argues for a Western style of Islam that promotes democracy and tolerance, said there could be little progress until the US acknowledged backing dictators and the US President gave an "America Culpa" speech to the Muslim world.

Imam Pilger is going to be a big hit with the local hate-US crowd.

His major talks will be at noon on April 1 at St Mary's Cathedral with Cardinal George Pell and Mr Carr, and a public lecture at 6pm at the Wesley Centre in Pitt Street.

Do these guys know just who they’re getting involved with?

(Via reader David)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:34 AM | Comments (75)


The Command Post has a translation of the intelligence documents declassified last Friday by the Spanish government (originals in Spanish, pdf version).

The papers prove that the initial allegation that ETA was the likely author of the attacks was not only supported by the consensus of Spain's intel community (and foreign terrorism experts), but that the Interior minister and other officials supplied all relevant information to the public as soon as new clues emerged, including the possible implication of the al-Qaeda network.

Other updates:

• NPR radio presents a short interview with Victor de la Serna (3-minute audio) of the Madrid newspaper El Mundo about the relevance of the declassified papers.

• Don't miss this translation (by John Chappell from Iberian Notes) of an article by Borja Gracia, Spanish political analyst, debunking accusations that Aznar's government misled the country about this, and how its opponents, with an agit-prop campaign in the PSOE-linked media, spun their way to the ballots.

• Another don't-miss: this superb column by André Glucksmann, the French liberal philosopher (no, serious, go read it. It's worth every pixel).

• The results from absentee ballots (cast up to March 7 -- four days prior to the terrorist attacks, and which historically lean slightly to the left) give the Popular Party a sweeping 13-point lead over the Socialist party who finally took the victory (link is in Spanish; nothing found in English).

[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]

UPDATE: Link to NPR interview with V. de la Serna corrected. Note: it's a real audio download; the text page seems to have disappeared. Thanks to commenter Douglas for the alert.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 AM | Comments (22)


Now that I’m running advertisements for Time Warner, this site is clearly due for a rate increase. Book your ads before Wednesday to avoid rampant capitalist exploitation. There’s a big audience here, according to an Australian Financial Review piece noticed by fellow blogger John Quiggin:

Blair and Quiggin represent two strands of commentary blogging. Blair is tabloid and provocative, something more akin to a blogging shock jock, while Quiggin, though not dull, tends to stick more strictly to his academic and policy orientations.

Blair's audience is much larger than Quiggin's. Audiences online, like those for traditional media, are attracted in greater numbers to provocative, even outlandish, viewpoints.

If that were true, why aren’t the likes of outlandish plastic turkey theorists Phillip Adams and Alan Ramsey more popular? Those two broadsheet shock jocks have been alienating readers for years. Speaking of ads: please, if you haven’t already, click on the Spirit of America ad at left. Good causes don’t come much gooder.

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


The Associated Press describes it as an assault. The Guardian headline describes it as Harsh Bush Criticism. So what exactly has terrible George W. Bush been saying about his saintly, snow-challenged opponent? Readers of gentle disposition may wish to avert their eyes:

On the foreign aid, Bush mocked Kerry's awkward explanation that "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Bush read aloud the quote, then declared: "That sure clears things up, doesn't it?"

"His answers aren't always clear but the voters will have a very clear choice in this campaign."

As for Kerry's claim that foreign leaders would prefer a Kerry White House, the president told the crowd, "That's OK, I'm not too worried, because I'm going to keep my campaign right here in America."

That’s an assault? Bush also noted that Senator Kerry had voted over 350 times for higher taxes. This rampant use of facts is clearly harsh.

Mark Steyn reviews the latest clumsiness from Keystone Kerry, and ABC’s The Note has more on Kerry’s harsh assault on his Secret Service agent:

As Senator John Kerry carved his Burton snowboard down a green rated Upper College run, another skier interrupted his stride, colliding with the presumptive Democratic nominee at 9,010 feet.

The slope-cade of two Ski Patrollers, several Secret Service agents, two journalists, one camera and one Kerry aide suddenly came to a halt. The Massachusetts Senator lay on the ground, removed his Smith sunglasses, and surveyed the damage.

Assured that the ABC News camera accompanying the entourage had not captured Kerry's fall, the Senator glared at your sloping Noter and assured, "I don't fall down. That son of a bitch ran into me."

Kerry aides now say he made the remark in jest. But where are all the photographs of Kerry’s snow blunders? The National Review’s Robert Moran recalls:

In 1996, the Los Angeles Times wrote that Dole's fall was a "visual metaphor for a presidential bid that has stumbled." Given Kerry's week, couldn't the same thing be said of Kerry's campaign?

No! It can’t be said! John Kerry is a helluva athlete! He weathers all the attention from skiers with good humor! He stops for photos and signs autographs on whatever is available! Do not be harsh with him!

Mentions of Kerry’s Secret Service outburst have been stunningly few. And this hasn’t been reported at all.

UPDATE. Under the headine “Campaign trail gets personal”, the Melbourne Herald Sun’s Phillip Coorey writes:

US President George W. Bush used his first mass campaign rally to go for the throat of his Democrat rival John Kerry, labelling him a chronic raiser of taxes and mocking Senator Kerry's claim that foreign leaders wanted Mr Bush out of the White House.

Yep. Really “personal”, Phil.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:32 AM | Comments (14)


Grant McCool -- employed by Reuters, just like Opheera McDoom -- is McExcited about the anti-war protests:

More than a million antiwar protesters have poured into the streets of cities around the globe on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to demand the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops.

From Sydney to Tokyo, from Santiago, Chile, to Madrid, London, New York and San Francisco, demonstrators condemned U.S. policy in Iraq and said they did not believe Iraqis are better off or the world safer because of the war.

Journalists estimated that at least a million people streamed through Rome, in probably the biggest single protest.

As Roger L. Simon points out, other estimates of the Rome march were considerably lower. Contributor J.F. Beck recommends, with good reason, that you read all the way through to the final line of this Perth Sunday Times report on protests in the the Western Australian capital:

The Perth peace rally on the Perth Esplanade turned briefly into a war of words when protesters turned up the heat on convicted racist Jack van Tongeren.

When one speaker realised Mr van Tongeren was present, she encouraged people to tell him to go home.

Almost the entire crowd turned and began chanting "Piss off Jack" and "Go home racist scum".

One protester approached Mr van Tongeren in front of the media and told him he was a nazi and had no place at a peace protest.

"You spread hatred and you have got no solidarity with the working man," the protester said.

Mr van Tongeren was released from prison in September 2002, after serving 12 years of an 18-year prison sentence for a race-hate campaign that included firebombing Chinese restaurants.

Asked why he would attend a peace rally, Mr van Tongeren told The Sunday Times he and the peace movement had a lot in common.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:43 AM | Comments (25)

March 21, 2004


Australia’s largest Indymedia franchise reports:

Govt lauds war as Australians rally for peace

Thousands of people across the nation have joined in anti-war protests to mark 12 months since the start of the invasion of Iraq.

In Sydney, former intelligence analyst turned Greens political candidate Andrew Wilkie addressed a rally of about 2,000 people.

That’s 0.047% of Sydney’s population. Australians rally for peace! Meanwhile, 71,800 turned up in Adelaide to watch a motor race.

Journalist John Pilger told the rally thousands of American soldiers are sick or dying due to uranium-tipped bombs dropped on Iraqi cities.

"By every meaning of the word terrorism the invasion of Iraq was a massive act of terrorism," Mr Pilger said.

By any meaning of the word, how can Pilger be described as a journalist?

UPDATE. Too bad this guy wasn’t in town for the weekend. (Via EvilPundit.) Oh, and here’s more Pilger in The Age.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:57 PM | Comments (58)


Who admires the French for their anti-war stance? Not anybody in Iraq, as this translation of a Le Monde investigation reveals:

French policy is still vigorously criticized by Iraqis. Contrary to the common perception among Europeans, the fact of having opposed the American occupation has absolutely not increased Europe’s popularity, or that of any country, among Iraqis ...

It’s virtually impossible, save among defunct Baathis leaders, to find anyone who supports Paris’ stance on the crisis. No more in the local market than anywhere else: “I want the American invaders out as quickly as possible, but I’m happy that they got rid of the bloodthirsty Saddam for us!” affirmed Hamid, a Shiite fabric salesman. “I’m disappointed, me, an admirer of General de Gaulle and Victor Hugo, that Chirac did nothing to help the Iraqi people.” “We’d like to be friends with the French,” added his friend Majid, “but they supported Chirac who himself defended Saddam right ‘til the end. I’ve never understood why. It’s utterly bizarre ...”

Read the whole thing. Translation via Andrew Coulson, whose entire site is terrific.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:25 AM | Comments (29)


Oh my God! It’s true what they say!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:12 AM | Comments (25)


The Bush and Kerry camps have both been sweating over this. Sweating like you would not believe. Understandably, because this is the one decision that could deliver the presidency to either candidate in an instant. Forget Iraq, unemployment, gay marriage, and flip-flopping; in the end, as always, it comes down to this:

Which man will earn Noam Chomsky’s endorsement?

The great Noam has considered the merits and faults of the Democrat and the Republican; he’s pored over speeches and policy announcements; two goats were executed by trained MIT goat assassins and their entrails examined by specialists from MIT’s Omen Analysis group. And now, at last, we have an announcement:

Noam Chomsky, the political theorist and leftwing guru, yesterday gave his reluctant endorsement to the Democratic party's presidential contender, John Kerry, calling him "Bush-lite", but a "fraction" better than his rival.

Professor Chomsky - a linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a renowned chronicler of American foreign policy - said there were "small differences" between Senator Kerry and the Republican president. But, in an interview on the Guardian's politics website, he added that those small differences "can translate into large outcomes".

He describes the choice facing US voters in November as "the choice between two factions of the business party". But the Bush administration was so "cruel and savage", it was important to replace it.

There you have it. Bush has dodged the Chomsky bullet and is now assured of victory.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:10 AM | Comments (20)


The New York Times reports:

A year ago, it would have been inconceivable for a citizen of Syria, run by the Baath Party of President Bashar al-Assad, to make a documentary film with the working title, "Fifteen Reasons Why I Hate the Baath."

Yet watching the overthrow of Saddam Hussein across the border in Iraq prompted Omar Amiralay to do just that. "It gave me the courage to do it," he said.

"When you see one of the two Baath parties broken, collapsing, you can only hope that it will be the turn of the Syrian Baath next," he added.

Via Jack Strocchi, who writes: "If this goes anywhere, then the war will have been a strategic success." Well, it's only been a year ... and we've already seen Libya 'fess up all its mega-weapon plans, while the anti-mullah mood in Iran is percolating nicely. Add Syrian defiance, and we're looking at some serious progress.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:34 AM | Comments (13)


Not all Europeans are spooked by terrorism:

Michael Schumacher insisted Formula One must not bow to the threat of terrorism and has no qualms about travelling to Bahrain next month.

The British Foreign Office warns that Bahrain faces a "high risk of terrorism" particularly in places where westerners might gather.

But Schumacher believes the global threat of terrorism means Bahrain is no more dangerous a venue for Formula One to visit than anywhere else, perhaps less so.

"If you look in history how many times and where attacks have been - it can be any time, any place," he said today. "What do you do? Are we safe here now (in Kuala Lumpur)?

"You must do whatever you feel you have to do and whatever you feel is right to do."

Well said. Meanwhile, on the track:

Australian Mark Webber has qualified on the front row of the grid for today's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix, alongside world champion Michael Schumacher.

It is the first time in 23 years an Australian has made the front row of a Formula One grid - since Alan Jones in the 1981 Las Vegas GP.

Jones walked that race. Adding to the fun in Malaysia, there’s an election:

Malaysians vote on Sunday in elections focused on a struggle between modern and fundamentalist Islam in one of the Muslim world’s most developed states.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is riding to a virtually guaranteed victory on a resurgent economy and a stock market,  which reached 46 month highs ahead of the vote.

Abdullah has painted the election as one between “progressive” Islam and backward conservatism, but the votes of the poor may be swayed more by the perception that only the rich get richer than by ideological debates.

Could end up as close as the election in Taiwan.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:55 AM | Comments (0)


ABC radio reported yesterday that actress Judy Davis delivered a “stirring anti-war poem” at a Sydney demonstration opposed to the the war. For the sake of balance, Davis appeared alongside John Pilger, who is, as Glenn Reynolds notes, not anti-war -- just on the other side.

"There once was a neo-con Zionist from Nantucket ... "

LGF earlier posted the finest image to emerge from Saturday’s global anti-whatever demonstrations. Then Silent Running set a new standard with this marvel -- an anti-war protester who demands “Nth Korea’s right to nukes” and “Racist Australian imperialist troops out of the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Iraq.” As SR notes:

Too late about the Solomons. The troops are already home. It's just police there now, and not all are Australian. They come from New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands. And they were invited in by the country's parliament.

Dumb peaceniks. Join Charles in a toast to Australian goodness! A toast as well to blogger Galen, who identifies the sinister force that turned him into a conservative:

When asked about my changed political views during debates with family members, I simply blame them on Robert Fisk.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:26 AM | Comments (14)


Michael Leunig and Steve Bell continue to duke it out for the title of Worst Cartoonist in the Commonwealth. Go Mike! Beat the hairy Limey!

(Via ilibcc and reader Patrick B.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:32 AM | Comments (8)


Slate’s Wendell Steavenson locates a fine collection of central Baghdad graffiti. Some personal favourites follow; hit the link for many, many more, from all sectors of the graffiti-Iraqi community:

And written underneath:


And underneath is written:



And underneath is written:


And underneath is written:









The formality of that final entry is especially charming. And I’m not sure why, but “man of cats” is devastating. An earlier Baghdad graffiti report is linked here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:02 AM | Comments (19)

March 20, 2004


Join in the educational fun as the geniuses at Democratic Underground discover the horrible truth about campaign donations.

(Via reader Greg T.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:31 PM | Comments (42)


Reuters reports:

Some 100 Bahraini Islamists shouting "God is Greatest" stormed a French restaurant serving alcohol in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state and threatened diners with knives, witnesses said on Thursday.

"Abound 100 young men, shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), came to the restaurant carrying knives and shouted at the customers: Why do you drink?," Jahanshah Bakhtiar, owner of La Terrasse Restaurant, told Reuters.

"They were acting as if they had the right ideas and people should obey them," he said.

People didn’t.

One diner managed to wrest a knife away from the Islamists and stabbed one with it, causing him severe injuries, a witness said.

Note: the diners were outnumbered 100 to 40. Meanwhile, reel in astonishment at this:

Palestinians worry that Israeli withdrawal could lead to anarchy

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Many Palestinians here are brooding about the prospect of a sudden Israeli withdrawal, even though they have fought for the removal of Jewish settlers and soldiers for years.

Armed militant organizations such as Hamas built their empires on resistance to Israel, attracting legions of youths willing to die in often-futile attacks aimed at forcing Israelis out of the Gaza Strip, which Israel seized from Egypt in 1967.

But now that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears poised to leave this 139-square-mile rectangle and its scattered Jewish settlements, which are difficult and expensive to defend, many Gaza residents are uncomfortable with the prospect and deeply suspicious of Israeli intentions.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck and Sgt Stryker)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:17 PM | Comments (31)


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Mike Carlton applies his forensic journalistic talents to the war’s anniversary:

And so we enter the second year of the Iraq war with the death and carnage more appalling than ever, the al-Qaeda killers as rampant as ever, and no end in sight. Let alone any sort of victory.

It is more than a grim anniversary. It is a disaster. The US President, George Bush, prattles inanely about peace and freedom, but it is a mirage pursued at the cost, so far, of more than 570 American lives, and heaven knows how many Iraqi lives.

Who to blame for this? Carlton cites a vast alliance, with one group prominent:

Bush is ignorant and floundering, a silver-spoon ideologue whose presidency was rigged for him by the hard-right establishment of the Republican Party. He is advised - if that is the word - by a ghastly camarilla of fundamentalist Christian bigots, Zionist zealots who often appear to owe more allegiance to Israel than to the United States, number-crunchers, spin doctors, academic fantasists, touts, urgers, corporate boondogglers and war profiteers.

Mark Steyn has a more realistic assessment, although, to be fair, so does anybody not urgently in need of confinement. Elsewhere in the SMH, Julia Baird -- in between describing coalition nations as “big fat targets” and Iraq as “a mess” -- reviews blogdom’s influence:

Bloggers are anarchic. In their mad jumble of jarring opinions, they symbolise the growing cynicism towards journalists, politicians, one another and any symbols of authority known to warp the truth. In Dowd’s case it was a lazy insult. In others, it has been a more corrupt distortion of intelligence.

Paul Wolfowitz also reviews the influence of bloggers since Saddam began his farewell tour. Finally, the observational skills of the SMH’s man in Baghdad, Paul McGeough, may be open to question after this report:

As the Herald's driver waited to make a U-turn in the city, a girl of about six crossed three fast-moving lanes to beg at the car window. It was not till we had gone through the turn and started to speed away that we realised the child was still hanging from the side of the car.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:36 AM | Comments (27)


European appeasement is spreading everywhere, writes Denis Boyles:

Last night, British TV personality Jeremy Clarkson embarrassed himself when he practically grabbed his skirt and jumped on his chair in front of a cheering BBC "Question Time" audience. "People say we should stand firm!" he shrieked. "Well, I don't want to stand firm! I don't want to be blown up!" Chill, Jeremy. It's just al Qaeda, not a mouse.

Boyles -- excuse me for a second; still laughing at that big nancy Clarkson; okay -- Boyles also reports this exchange between BBC host John Humphrys and Leader of the House of Commons Peter Hain:

Peter Hain: The main enemy for these extremists is not really democratic countries like Britain, it is their own Muslim men and women... [fades out under Humphrys's interruption]

John Humphrys: Well, that actually isn't true, is it ... if you look at all the main attacks there have been since we invaded Iraq, every single one of them has been aimed at either a Western or an Israeli target.

PH: Well, I don't see synagogues in Istanbul as being a Western target.

JH: Well, there is... they're Jews [laughs]; they're not Muslims.

So that’s all just fine then.

(Via reader Lisa F.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:01 AM | Comments (19)


Now he’s literally performing backflips:

Mr. Kerry awoke determined to hit the slopes of Mount Baldy.

The image-conscious candidate and his aides prevailed upon reporters and photographers to let him have a first run down the mountain solo, except for two agents and Marvin Nicholson, his omnipresent right-hand man.

His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis — just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, "I don't fall down," then used an expletive to describe the agent who "knocked me over."

Possibly the expletive was the same used by George W. Bush to describe New York Times reporter Adam Clymer in 2000.

"Outta my way, assholes!"

This character-revealing Kerry episode is recounted fully 650 words into the NYT’s report (headline: “Amid Natural Splendor in Idaho, a Weary Kerry Gets Away From It All”). Observe, in coming days, how the media treats Kerry’s remarks about the Secret Service agent. Contrast this with treatment of Bush’s comment. Draw own conclusions.

UPDATE. The Boston Globe reports no expletives, and describes Kerry as a skilled snowboarder and skier:

Only once, on the Upper College trail, a green (or easy) course, did Kerry fall, when a member of his Secret Service detail collided with him.

It’s all the Secret Service guy’s fault. The Globe’s report is rescued by this delicious image:

There were some hecklers, too, such as a few children who murmured, "George Bush, George Bush" when Kerry walked by.

He may have won the support of anonymous foreign leaders, but Kerry has lost the crucial Children of the Corn demographic.

UPDATE II. Drudge reports:

Dem presidential candidate John Kerry called his secret service agent a "son of a bitch" after the agent inadvertently moved into his path during a ski mishap in Idaho, sending Kerry falling into the snow.

When asked a moment later about the incident by a reporter on the ski run, Kerry said sharply, "I don't fall down," the "son of a bitch knocked me over."

The Secret Service agent in question has complained about Kerry's treatment, top sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

UPDATE III. Dave Barry mentions a previous Kerry snow incident, Hugh Hewitt weighs in, and the Arizona Republic’s Phil Boas writes:

Not much unites Americans in these polarized days of talk radio and cable screaming heads, but we do share one thing in common and have since the birth of our Republic.

We hate snobs.

Americans aren't going to elect John Kerry and his "vast palette of cultural preferences," and we're certainly not going to elect a man who electrifies Maureen Dowd.

So when I read today that Kerry cussed out his secret service agent for making him fall on the ski slopes, I just found it hard to work up any interest. One more Brahmin eruption. Yawn.

This thing is over.

(Via hyperalert reader Sean S.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:49 AM | Comments (47)


The Great D.C. School Search of 2004 is on:

Every school in D.C. is being searched for bombs after an Internet bomb threat was received.

"We're going to go to every school that exists within Washington, D.C.," Metropolitan Police spokesman Joe Gentile tells WTOP.

Gentile says the e-mail threat was received before 6 a.m., and indicated that five bombs were located at five D.C. schools. He says the e-mail did not designate what schools or even what type of schools were involved.

UPDATE. D.C. parent Tim Dunlop, who dropped his son off at school just before the threat was announced, reports a subsequent all-clear.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:18 AM | Comments (9)


Tainan suffers a Dallas moment:

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were shot today while campaigning on the last day before the presidential election, but their injuries were not life-threatening, a senior official said.

Chiou I-jen, secretary-general in the Presidential Office, said the president was shot in the stomach and the vice president was hit in the right knee while their motorcade was cruising the streets in the southern city of Tainan.

The pair were in a convertible. No news yet on the proximity of knolls or book depositories, but we do have a magic bullet:

Vice-President Annette Lu was wounded in the knee and it is believed the bullet then struck the President.

I bet someone named Lee was involved.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:05 AM | Comments (7)

March 19, 2004


AFP gets it right:

Australian anti-war militants will mark the first anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq by joining a global protest against its occupation by the United States and its allies, organisers said.

Meanwhile, the BBC has good news from Iraq:

An economic boom in the southern Iraqi town has meant an increase in the sale of electrical appliances such as fridges and air conditioning systems.

But this good news is actually bad news. Or at least potentially bad news, if the BBC’s prediction is accurate. Here’s the lede:

There are fears of a repeat of unrest in British-controlled Basra this year because the power grid will again be unable to cope despite a $127m (£69m) project to upgrade it.

Damn this occupation! All it brings is misery.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:44 PM | Comments (18)


A former foreign leader lends his support to the Kerry campaign:

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad endorsed Democratic contender John Kerry in the U.S. presidential race Thursday, saying he would keep the world safer than President Bush.

"I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world," Mahathir, who retired in October after 22 years in power, told The Associated Press in an interview.

"But in the U.S., the Jewish lobby is very strong, and any American who wants to become president cannot change the policy toward Palestine radically," he said.

There he goes again about those devious Jews. Kerry has told Mahathir to go to hell.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:34 PM | Comments (15)


Melbourne Age feature writer and author Murray Mottram, missing since Monday, has been found dead in an outer-Melbourne suburb. It is understood he committed suicide.

All sympathy to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:26 PM | Comments (4)


The ABC’s Tony Jones proudly boasts:

We were the first to quiz the Prime Minister, in June last year, on why, after an endless string of suicide bombings in Israel, Hamas had not been declared a terrorist organisation by his Government.

Tony should quiz his bosses. According to ABC guidelines, Hamas must not be described as a terrorist organisation -- even after an endless string of suicide bombings in Israel.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:15 PM | Comments (9)


The Corner’s Rick Brookhiser has created the greatest rift in Americo-Australian relations since we severed diplomatic ties over a Simpsons episode:

Overheard in a store in New Paltz, New York (yes, that New Paltz). A man with a chin beard, purple sweater and an Australian or lower-class English accent, ordering shellfish.

That's a bloody outrage, it is! I’ll take this all the way to the Prime Minister. Our troops will be out of Iraq by dawn.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:03 PM | Comments (25)


Fleet Street Blog reviews the British press awards:

Interesting that the Indie won paper of the year. What they did in switching from broadsheet to tabloid was brave and deserved recognition - even if there was no other place for the paper to go other than closure. But it overlooks one key point - it's still not a very good paper.

It's more expensive than The Times but count the number of news pages - there are twice as many in the Murdoch paper.

The Indie feels thin, it hasn't worked out how to use pics in the new format and it looks grey.

There will be a few really good pieces every day - but the rest of it reads like Metro. Except for Robert Fisk's stuff which reads like the rantings of a ********. Which they are.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:23 PM | Comments (5)


Ayman al-Zawahiri is currently the focus of considerable attention:

Pakistani troops are preparing an assault on a brigade of al-Qaeda militants believed to be protecting Osama bin-Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Up to 200 al-Qaeda fighters have been surrounded by the Pakistani army in an overnight gunbattle that stretched across a 30km area on the Afghan border.

The troops have been backed by helicopter gunships but there are reports they are planning an air assault at daybreak in the region, around 12.30pm AEDT.

"We are pounding the area with mortars and artillery to soften the stiff resistance before making a final push in the next few hours," a security official said.

If they take him alive, maybe we could get some answers:

When we ask al-Qaida and its henchmen why they hate us, their story keeps changing.

In 1998, Osama bin Laden ordered all Muslims to wage war on the allies of America, which had sinned by having bases in Saudi Arabia and backing the Jews of Israel.

In 2001, he condemned us because we'd sent "Crusader Australian forces ... to separate East Timor, which is part of the Islamic world".

In 2002, the chief plotter of the Bali bombing, Imam Samudra, said that while he'd killed 88 of us because of East Timor, he'd also expected his victims to be Americans instead -- but "Australians, Americans, whatever -- they are all white people".

In 2003, Bali bomber Amrozi said what was evil about Australians was that "they take our people to bars".

And now bin Laden says he hates us because we've since freed Afghanistan and toppled Saddam.

It’s almost as if they just, you know, hate us.

UPDATE. Hit the archives and scroll down for lotsa extra recent posts and a feast of lively comments.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:00 PM | Comments (29)


The French are suddenly all jumpy for some reason:

A French artist allegedly traumatized by last week's Spain bombings was convicted of trying to run over a pedestrian he mistook for Osama bin Laden and ordered to pay the man $615.

The 35-year-old, identified as Pierre, was sentenced Tuesday by a court in this southern France city to a three-month suspended prison term. The man he tried to run over was unharmed.

Pierre's lawyer, David Mendel, said his client was the "victim of a hallucination" while driving Monday through Montpellier's historic center.

The victim, a man in his 30s, was able to run from the oncoming car, which crashed along the side of a street.

For the benefit of French motorists, here is Osama in his latest disguise. Remain vigilant! The above is via contributor J.F. Beck, who is sometimes mistaken for Professor Bunyip, who himself is sometimes mistaken for Imre Salusinszky. In other mistaken identity developments:

A 35 year old man in Florida shot his Domino's Pizza Delivery guy because, apparently, he looked like a vampire.

Timothy White, 35, who was described by friends as a born-again Christian with an unusual preoccupation with zombies and vampires, was arrested outside of a church after Friday's shooting.

It’s unusual to be preoccupied with zombies?

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:11 AM | Comments (26)


She’s hip, she’s with it, she’s now! Maureen Dowd hits us with her latest anti-Bush pop culture reference -- to a TV program that ended three years before Bush was elected. And she gets it wrong, besides:

During a photo-op with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands on Tuesday, Mr. Bush did his "Beavis and Butthead" snigger as a Dutch reporter noted that most of his countrymen want to withdraw Dutch troops from Iraq because they think the conflict "has little to do with the war against terrorism, and may actually encourage terrorism."

Thing is, Beavis and Butthead had entirely distinct and separate sniggers. Performing both simultaneously would rupture a person’s snigger glands. So, which is it, Maureen? Is Bush a high-pitched Beavis man, or does he tend towards the deeper Butthead style?

And which is most like the sound you usually hear when you walk down the street?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 AM | Comments (23)


Award-winning Queensland journalist Wayne Sanderson hectored me via email all yesterday with demands that I apologise for the latest Bulletin column. He also challenged me to run the following as a stand-alone item (Wayne refuses to post in comments). Seeing as appeasement is all the rage these days, heeeeeeere’s Wayne:

Your blog host, ex-ABC hack Tim Blair, has limboed down, way down under even his depressingly low standards with his Bulletin comments on the Spanish election.

(Let's pause a moment on that ABC thing - Tim was dropped from Radio National for lack of ability. Now, how bad do you have to be to get flicked out of that sheltered workshop? And hasn't he been howling the ABC house down ever since his lost his spot on that welfare media gravy train.)

But I digress. Back on planet Tim, things have gotten weirder than a month of Margo Kingston columns. According to Tim, the US had a hand in doing down the former Spanish government. Stay with us now, while Tim joins up the dots. First, he attacks the UN resolution condemning ETA for the Madrid bombings, implying that this helped fuel resentment against the Aznar Government. That'd be the resolution passed by the Security Council, the body with the US as a veto-wielding permanent member. So let's see, George Bush helped bring down his Spanish ally with the help of Sammy bin Laden's hit men. Beat that for conspiracy of the decade all you Elder of Zion, Illuminati, Crop Circling, Nexus-reading freakoids!

But Tim knows this is true because Tim knows all. Tim is everywhere. Tim is omniscient. Tim sees inside the minds of the Spanish people - all 40 million of them. Mere mortal pollsters will tell you that most punters do not make up their minds on voting intentions until the last 24 hours of the campaign, but Tim knows they were going to vote for Aznar until the atrocity, and then knows that they changed their minds because they were scared of Sammy's thugs. And he knows this is bad and wrong and cowardly, even though it's democracy at work and democracy is what Tim and his beloved mate George W. are fighting the dastardly towel-heads over. But no, Tim is not hypocritical. It is just that Tim moves in mysterious ways. Tim IS God.

And so Tim smites this grieving nation, even as they bury their dead, but not in any opportunistic liberal lefty type, 'score political points anyway you can get 'em' way, you understand. It might look like that, but only if you forget that Tim IS God and that Supreme Beings do strange stuff.

I worry about Tim, and not just because of this God complex he's developed of late. I worry about Tim should he ever visit Spain. Some folk I know from that bull-fighting, machismo motivated part of the world want to speak with Tim about courage and appeasement. And stuff. You go get 'em Tim. Coupla bolts of lightning, the odd plague of Biblical proportions and lots of rain (on the plain and anywhere else you God damn like) for a good old fashioned Old Testament flood should teach them to live right and fly straight.

This site may have just found its official ombudsman. Should we run a Weekly Wayne?

UPDATE. Under the name Colin Columnist, Sanderson continues grasping for a point at (Via email, Wayne at first denied he had anything to do with this; later he admitted that, well, yes, he was responsible for the sections about me. The rest of the column, he claims, was written by some other idiot.) And, thanks to Tom in comments, here’s Wayne’s sickening response to September 11.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:51 AM | Comments (76)


Folks are optimistic in Iraq, reports David Kaspar. Not so happy in Germany, though. Maybe they should emigrate.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:34 AM | Comments (1)


When last we heard from Robert Bosler, he was demanding intimacy with the newly-installed Labor leader. Now Margo Kingston’s artistic friend wants to take us on a 4,916-word journey to Dickheadville:

Through the length of just these words we are going on a journey. It’s a journey that will peel back the madding rush of everyday life and we'll be able to see into the deep groundswell of thought and feeling that is moving our nation forward.

As you do so, you'll be aware that you'll be looking into the minds and hearts of Australians moving surely in a clear direction. You will see some people are well aware of where they are going, while others may be less aware, but walking that way nonetheless, looking more at what is beside them than what lays ahead.

This is the world of vision. It’s also the world of the strategists who seek to dive in and return with a treasure of insight which will set the bearing on the compass of their political party towards where the groundswell of people are moving.

We’re going into those depths now. But before we do, a word of warning. It is often scary. Please take that seriously. It can be very, very frightening. We will discover things that we never before knew; and the fear we feel will come from discovering that what we find in there had been living there a long time, and that it is not going to go away.

It can also be thrilling, ecstatically. How much fear you have will depend on how much you resist what you see. Let’s go in and look.

I’d love to, but I seem to have gouged out my eyes. The sighted among us may post in comments their favourite wank lines from this festival of toss.

UPDATE. Charles Simmins exposes me as a serial eye-gouger. Well, I do wear glasses, so I am four-eyed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:04 AM | Comments (38)


Mark Latham has endured an entire day scoping out trees with charismatic Green senator Bob Brown. According to The Australian’s Matt Price, it sounds like the Labor leader barely avoided falling asleep:

Mark Latham and Bob Brown, the oddest of political couples, emerged from the impressive "cave tree" - a kingsize eucalypt towering 70m above the ground.

Brown, the high priest of environmentalism, was speaking in hushed tones, patting the ancient bark and tutoring the greenhorn Labor leader about ecology, botany and Aboriginal mythology ...

Not that Latham seemed to notice. "It's an old tree that's been hollowed out," he noted when asked if he had been moved. "A good experience."

Latham maintained this low-key, almost underwhelmed air for most of the day. Brown enthused over the pristine stillness of the Styx River, and the pair stood on a log and cupped their hands to sip water like a couple of boy scouts.

"Fresh water, can't beat it," was Latham's terse verdict.

On to a section of recently cleared old-growth forest, full of giant stumps, fallen towers and bulldozer tracks. While Brown mourned, Latham was moved to concede: "There's a bit of debris here."

Latham’s enthusiasm convinced Brown to endorse him as the next Prime Minister.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:36 AM | Comments (13)


This report may be slightly sexed-up:

Security bosses fear al-Qaeda are plotting to attack the BBC.

An alert was sparked when a Moroccan posing as a newspaper photographer was seen taking pictures of the TV Centre in White City, West London.

When he was challenged, he gave false details — and fled in a car driven by another Arabic looking man.

Security has been stepped up at all BBC buildings since the incident on Sunday.

I wonder if security would have been stepped up if a Norwegian had been taking photographs. Why does the BBC single out the swarthy? This obvious racism should be investigated. Meanwhile, as usual, LackeyWorld™ attracts the standard Islamoid attention:

A statement attributed to al-Qaeda has threatened "America's lackeys" with attacks similar to those in Madrid last week, singling out Japan, Italy, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Pakistan, an Arab daily reported today.

"To America's lackeys we say: a lackey of America has destroyed his future by allying himself with the tyrant of the century," said the text signed by Abu-Hafs al-Masri/al-Qaeda Brigades received by al-Qods al-Arabi newspaper.

"Learn your lesson, you lackeys of America, the brigades of death are at your gates," it warned.

Lackey us! Thanks for the warning, Abu-Hafs al-Masri/al-Qaeda people, but it really wasn’t necessary. Your brigades of death have been around long enough for some of us to get the message. Like Victor Davis Hanson, for example:

We overlooked 25 years of continued terrorist assaults from November 1979 in Teheran to the USS Cole, in part because multiculturalism and cultural relativism were so entrenched that we dared not condemn as evil and wrong those creepy people who believed in gender apartheid, fundamentalism, autocracy, anti-intellectualism, and anti-Semitism, but instead romanticized or at least ignored them.

The rest of the Hanson interview is recommended. One more extract:

The President has raised domestic spending by 8% per annum, lavished funds on health care and education, offered near amnesty to illegal immigrants from Mexico, appointed a plethora of minority judges, cabinet officials, and administrators, and committed more AIDs relief funds than all prior administrations put together-and is still  hated by our Left, simply because his demeanor, accent, religion, and even appearance don't validate the aristocratic Left's rhetoric about sex, class, gender, and the other. It really is a make-believe world in which a Barbra Streisand, Gore Vidal, or Arianna Huffington cheaply sound off from their estates about some purported cosmic evil fostered by poor deluded Americans hooked on K-Mart and NASCAR.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:20 AM | Comments (13)


Iberian Notes is running brief biographies of some of the victims from the Madrid attacks.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:54 AM | Comments (6)

March 18, 2004


The President v David Hicks, director Curtis Levy’s taxpayer-funded ($433,000) celebration of the al-Qaeda boy from ad-Elaide, airs tonight on terror-tolerant SBS. Imre Salusinszky provides a preview:

What is most disturbing, and raises most unanswered questions, is just where this film stands on Hicks's virulent anti-Semitism.

In his letters to his family, Hicks tells them his training in Pakistan and Afghanistan is designed to ensure "the Western-Jewish domination is finished, so we live under Muslim law again". He denounces the plots of the Jews to divide Muslims and make them think poorly of Osama bin Laden.

After reading aloud a letter from his son warning him to ignore "the Jews' propaganda war machine", Terry Hicks smiles affectionately and says: "I think David's told me off in his way there."

Given that this film is unashamedly advocating for David Hicks, and that in promoting it Levy has said it exists to counter the "demonisation" of Hicks, shouldn't the film-maker have given us a hint about what he thinks of these racist comments, or pressed Terry Hicks to do so? Once upon a time, we would not have wondered where those on the Left stood on such a question.

But in an era when virulent anti-Semitism erupts daily on such "progressive" websites as, or when John Pilger can claim without embarrassment that the "Jewish establishment" will never allow the true causes of September 11 to be known, all bets, and all assumptions, are off.

Nor were my qualms settled by an interview with Levy on the World Socialist website, where he describes Hicks's racism as "innocent". He also says of Hicks, "I don't see him as undesirable or anything remotely like that", and adds that "the so-called war on terror has been invented by the US to deal with all sorts of movements that America doesn't agree with".

We’ll all enjoy watching this. We may as well; we’ve already paid for it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:53 PM | Comments (27)


I’m not actually writing this post. My slave boy Trang is. Write faster, Trang, or I’ll take away your calipers! And don’t get any ideas about joining any unions, either:

American unions have attacked the proposed US-Australia free trade agreement as unacceptable and likely to cost US jobs in official reports to Congress, which will decide whether the deal goes ahead.

An alleged lack of protection for child workers, restrictions on workers' rights to choose their union and limits on workers' ability to bargain collectively also were cited as examples of Australia's "imbalanced, inadequate" labour laws.

Teamsters Union president James Hoffa ... claimed that the FTA's language "is insufficient to ensure that core labour standards will be respected in Australia".

Australia, while it had a vibrant labour movement, "has an imbalanced, inadequate system of labour laws that fail to fully protect workers' core rights", he said.

Careful, James. Don’t anger us. You don’t want to end up in Australian meat pies like your daddy. Remember, our powerful and secretive forces have already deep-sixed the anti-Australian Edwards campaign.

Trang! Close the damn tag! Close it or I’ll ...

Stupid slave boy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:22 PM | Comments (19)


Reuters correspondent Opheera McDoom (seriously) reports:

A group claiming to have links with al Qaeda said on Wednesday it was calling a truce in its Spanish operations to see if the new Madrid government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, a pan-Arab newspaper said.

In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed 201 people, also urged its European units to stop all operations.

"Because of this decision, the leadership has decided to stop all operations within the Spanish territories ... until we know the intentions of the new government that has promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq," the statement said.

As the commenters here note, a certain skepticism is called for regarding the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades. John Kerry may be disappointed, however, that this bunch of “foreign leaders” don’t want him elected:

The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:10 PM | Comments (52)


The parents of Scott Elliott, who runs the excellent Election Projection site, have been murdered in Iraq. Larry T. Elliott and Jean Dover Elliott were working on humanitarian relief projects in Iraq for the Baptist Church. Killed in the same attack was David McDonnall; David's wife Carrie is presently in hospital, critically ill.

Florida Cracker, where I first learned of Scott’s site, has further details. Also, more here and here.

Scott, you have many, many friends all around the world. Some of us you haven’t met, but we know you through your site. And the thoughts of all of us are with you now.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:26 AM | Comments (27)


Another reason to vote Labor:

The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, has backed continued clear-felling of Tasmania's old growth forests, angering environmentalists who hoped that a federal Labor government would intervene to end such bitterly disputed logging.

If he wants my vote, John Howard will have to top this with a pledge to carve up even more stupid trees. Over to you, John! Miranda Devine reports on another potential election issue:

Howard-haters think they're on a winner, salivating at the prospect of the same electoral backlash hitting the Federal Government as toppled the conservative Spanish government of Jose Maria Aznar, drawing parallels between the eight-year reigns and American sympathies of both prime ministers. "Early election, please," they say.

Score one for Islamic terrorists and their odd bedfellows, the left-liberal "progressives" in the West.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:06 AM | Comments (17)


Is terrorism ever justified? Bad enough that Australia’s tax-supported SBS network should think of asking the question; even worse that these are the answers:

No: 58%
Maybe: 4%
Unsure: 2%
Yes: 35%

SBS should run more polls on this subject. Is terrorism against SBS ever justified? Which SBS presenter should be targeted by suicide bombers? What is the best place to locate a bomb within SBS headquarters?

(Via reader Dylan K.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:55 AM | Comments (36)


Direct from central London, Abu Muwahhid delivers Islamic chatter that matters:

This Saturday's LIVE talk on Paltalk will discuss one of the greatest forgotten obligations in Islaam - Hating false religions. Allaah (swt) orders the believers to hate all other religions, way of lives, creeds, doctrines and beliefs that contradict with Islaam, and one cannot be Muslim without to declare animosity and hatred towards kufr, bid'ah, shirk and nifaaq (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Democracy, Freedom etc.).

Tune in, tolerance fans, at 6pm GMT this Saturday. Don’t be late for the hate! Brought to you by the friendly folk at

(Via contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:43 AM | Comments (15)


You can’t listen to classic hits radio for more than fifteen minutes without hearing a song from The Tables, a famous 60s band starring dead Jim Morrison. Did you know that Jim Morrison got the name for his band from an old poem by William Blake? It’s true! Here are the words:

If the tables of perception were cleansed
All things would appear much neater in this rented dump

I’m reminded of Jim Morrison and his musical friends by Sam Guthrie, Margo Kingston’s new Webdiary project. Sam, according to Margo, has a masters degree in Political Science and International Relations. He also has a doctorate in retarded metaphors:

The tables of perception have been turned, and those who have fixed there colours to the mast of tunnel vision will be blown away by the resurgence of UN multilateralism: the only Coalition with diversity of opinion enough to keep us safe, and win this war.

This so impressed the Sydney Morning Herald that Sam’s crap is currently promoted off the main SMH website. Go they’re ... I mean their ... no, wait ... there and see. Tim Dunlop’s weekly Webdiary blog round-up is, by way of contrast, crisply-written and way-readable, even though it’s dominated by leftoids. (Question: Does Margo pay him for this? Her Webdiary gig earns Margo a six-figure salary; if Tim writes a Webdiary piece every single week, shouldn’t he be entitled to a fraction of the action? Is Margo exploiting the workers?)

Anyway, one blogger has made it her bloggy ambition to get a Blogjam mention. Bring on Wogdiary!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:28 AM | Comments (11)


Cornell’s Elliott Marc Davis has begun an anti-Pilger movement:

"Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professor Legitimates and Supports the Murder of Coalition Troops in Iraq." This is what last Thursday's Cornell Daily Sun headline should have read. But alas, the most important and relevant Cornell-related news of the week was ignored by The Sun and the media at large.

Just last Wednesday, Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professor John Pilger told Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewer Tony Jones that he hopes for a U.S. defeat in Iraq, because he's afraid that a victory in Iraq would prompt similar U.S. invasions of other countries, such as Iran, North Korea, and even China. So basically, Pilger would like the Iraqi people -- a majority of whom state that things are better now than before the war -- to get screwed because a U.S. victory wouldn't suit his own political agenda.

Instead of reporting on Pilger's interview last week, The Sun ran a cheery article about how great it is to give money to Cornell. Cornell Trustee John Alexander '74 called on graduating seniors, many of whom have no jobs and huge loan payments, to "give until it feels good."

But before making any donations, Cornell seniors and alumni should take a moment and reflect on where their dollars are headed. There is no shame in saying that you would like to donate to the school, but simply cannot support an institution that provides a home for someone who legitimates the murder of American servicepeople in Iraq.

At least one Cornell alum has already decided to hang on to his money.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:04 AM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2004


Possibly emboldened by recent events -- only a theory! -- terrorists are now testing French resolve:

France had received threats of a possible attack by a radical Islamic group that warns the Government's law banning headscarves from public schools makes it an "enemy of Islam", judicial sources said.

The shadowy group identified itself as the "Servants of Allah the Powerful and Wise" in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and sent to several newspapers, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

"A heavy offensive will take place on the grounds of the allies of Satan and we are going to plunge France into terror and remorse," the letter stated, according to Le Parisien newspaper, which received a copy.

The letter, which threatened France and its overseas interests, was signed by "Commando Movsar Barayev", the ministry said, an apparent reference to the Chechen rebel of the same name and alleged leader of a deadly hostage-taking raid on a Moscow theatre in October.

France’s overseas interests are currently in US custody. The article continues:

France's tough opposition to the war in Iraq was initially seen as having won Paris favour in the Muslim world, but that faded with France's plan to ban Islamic headscarves and other religious apparel in schools.

"With this headscarf law, you have participated in an unjust aggression," said the letter, which was written in French under an Arabic-language letterhead.

"You have decided on your own to put yourself on the list of Islam's worst enemies."

Welcome aboard, le mates! France can’t say it wasn’t warned. Not that any additional warning was required:

Intelligence sources say it would be surprising, given the nature of the loose international networks of al-Qaida supporters, if there were not some links between those suspected of being behind the Madrid bombings and individuals in Britain.

Some of those may be of Algerian background, former members of the Armed Islamic Group responsible for attacks on the Paris underground nine years ago.

Wake-up juice seems to be flowing through the rest of Europe, too. David Kaspar translates a piece from Germany’s left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau:

The strategy of the terror war speculates not without good reason on the moral impotence of western Europe. The announcement of designated Minister President Zapatero that he will pull Spanish troops out of Iraq can be celebrated by the assassins as a (wohlfeilen) victory. Even if one would like to view the pull-out as justified by international law, it amounts to a capitulation in the present context that enjoys wide popularity. Post-heroic societies have only very little with which they can fight terror. Their governments fear nothing more than the return home of dead soldiers. They are incapable of being offensive. In times of danger, they retreat within themselves. They can bear no losses, have no mission, indeed, not even a consciousness that they have something to defend. So they are easy to blackmail. A well-aimed bombing is enough to get them to retreat.

Doug Payton has more, and Instapundit has a whole bunch of Euro updates.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:31 PM | Comments (27)


Former Reagan staffer Doug Bandow thinks Bali was bombed in response to Australia’s Iraq involvement:

Turning Iraq into an unstable allied protectorate garrisoned by the US and allied states created both a new battleground with, and a new grievance for, terrorists. Blow-back to America's friends as well as the US seemed inevitable.

Australia was the first target, with the Bali bombing.

Bernard Slattery provides Doug with a useful timeline, which runs like this:

• First there was East Timor
• Then there was the Bali bombing
• And then there was the war in Iraq

Why do the blowback believers keep ignoring East Timor? It's as though the liberation of that country never happened.

Meanwhile, over at, Dr Kamal Mirawdeli takes on the Great Robert:

In today’s Independent (15/03/2004) there is nothing about Qamishli carnage where Syrian Arab Baathists are indulged in killing Kurds.

Reliable Kurdish sources indicate that 94 people have been killed so far in Syrian government’s violent measures to quell the Kurdish uprising in Qamishly and other Syrian-occupied western Kurdistan.

The great Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk must not have heard of it.

Good piece. Read on.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:21 PM | Comments (14)


John Kerry’s mythological gang of foreign leaders may have their dreams ruined by Ralph Nader:

A new poll suggested yesterday that Ralph Nader's independent presidential bid represented a serious threat to the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry.

The New York Times and CBS News poll revealed a tight two-man race for the White House between President George Bush and Mr Kerry. Mr Bush had a narrow lead of 46% over Mr Kerry's 43% - within the poll's margin of error.

But when Americans were asked about a three-man race including Mr Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist attracted 7% support, mostly at the expense of the Democrat. In that contest, Mr Bush led Mr Kerry by 46% to 38%.


Posted by Tim Blair at 01:24 PM | Comments (40)


Osama bin Laden is more intellectual and more knowledgable than John Howard. Who says so? “Renowned international peace scholar” Johan Galtung, who appeared on Monday’s Late Night Live with Phillip Adams. Professor Bunyip has all the highlights, including Galtung’s claim that the Bali bombing was brought about by Australian pedophiles. Read and be amazed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:40 PM | Comments (21)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Mark Latham, Kerry O'Keefe, John Howard, Ray Martin, Pedro the Ignorant, Muttiah Murilitharan, Archbishop George Pell, Reverend Dr Peter Carnley, George W. Bush, Simon Jenkins, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill, Hans Blix, John Kerry, and Yvonne Ridley.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:10 PM | Comments (15)


Attention, John Kerry! eBay has the solution to all your imaginary foreign leader needs!

Also via the WSJ’s Best of the Web, this brilliant John Kerry reply to a question from Humane USA; watch as the master campaigner uses the issue of pet ownership to remind us that he apparently once served in a war somewhere, and also that he is massively cultured:

Q: Do you have any pets that have made an impact on you personally?

A: I have always had pets in my life and there are a few that I remember very fondly. When I was serving on a swiftboat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called VC. We all took care of him, and he stayed with us and loved riding on the swiftboat deck. I think he provided all of us with a link to home and a few moments of peace and tranquility during a dangerous time. One day as our swiftboat was heading up a river, a mine exploded hard under our boat. After picking ourselves up, we discovered VC was MIA. Several minutes of frantic search followed after which we thought we'd lost him. We were relieved when another boat called asking if we were missing a dog. It turns out VC was catapulted from the deck of our boat and landed confused, but unhurt, on the deck of another boat in our patrol. I also fondly remember a parakeet in college, Dodi Faustus. Dodi was a smart bird who learned a few words of French and Italian, but not smart enough to avoid having to be rescued from a tree once. My daughters and I had a Golden Retriever named Winston. Today, Teresa and I have a German Shepherd named Cym and a yellow parakeet.

Kerry’s crewmates named their dog VC?

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:23 AM | Comments (54)


The Melbourne Age’s Terry Lane suggests:

Why don't we introduce choice into war spending? Let those of us who want to spend billions on killing machines exercise their choice by taking out private defence insurance? And the rest of us can get by on the public scheme, which just involves being nice to our neighbours.

Great idea! And we could also introduce choice into ABC spending! (Lane is a long-time ABC radio host). Let those of us who want to spend millions on being bored to death by elderly lefties exercise their choice by sending voluntary donations to the national public broadcaster. And the rest of us, who don’t watch, need, or give a damn about the ABC, can spend our money on whatever the hell we want, because it’s our money.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:54 AM | Comments (51)


Israelly Cool is hot on the trail of a mystery celebrity spy with an Aussie link, semi-outed by DEBKA:

In just a few weeks, X will step into the daylight and "blow" the extraordinary cover under which he lived and operated in secret for half a century as a spy for two masters, the American CIA and the Israeli Mossad. He does not promise to tell quite all, but he will lay bare for the first time some of the hair-raising exploits in which he took a hand.

At the early age of 16, Mossad headhunters spotted X’s potential as a high-flying media star and began the long process of grooming him for the task of moving with ease around the most powerful circles of international influence. After five years of basic studies, he spent another five at the Mossad "Academy" being exhaustively tutored for his role as future super-spy, a career on which he embarked in the early 1950s.

The stylish charmer stepped naturally into his new role.

On June 2, 1954, X arrived in Alexandria on his first mission. In the guise of an Australian reporter working on a picture series for international newspapers, he gained access to the Egyptian Navy’s flagship Domiat. His real assignment was to discover if the naval radar the Soviet Union had recently sold for use against the Israeli fleet had already been fitted on Egyptian battleships.

Who could it be? Not me, that's for sure. I'm merely the seventh agent of blog.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:37 AM | Comments (28)


Via Spinsanity, here’s Rich Lowry making fun of funny guy Al Franken and his funny claims:

Let's take one of the most egregious examples -- his assertion that Bill Clinton had an anti-al Qaeda war plan upon leaving office that was turned over to George Bush, but studiously ignored. As Franken puts it, "Bill Clinton's far-reaching plan to eliminate al Qaeda root and branch was completed only a few weeks before the inauguration of George W. Bush." Franken elaborates on this theme at length in his War on Terror chapter called "Operation Ignore." I know from talking with Franken that this is one of the chapters of which he is proudest. But it is based on a mistake, or, as he might put it, "a dishonest, brazen, f---ing lying lie."

There was no Clinton plan to take out al Qaeda before he left office. How do I know? I'd like to credit my exhaustive reporting. But actually Sandy Berger said so in testimony before Congress on September 19, 2002. According to Berger, "there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. And the reports of that are just incorrect."

Franken is Michael Moore in a tailored suit.

(Spotted by contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:24 AM | Comments (26)


British journalism teacher Brendan O'Neill is angry about this site, the people who comment here, and this line in particular:

'Welcome to reality', was Australian journalist Tim Blair's response to the bombings.

Actually, I wrote that in response to this extract from Le Monde:

If she did not know it yet, she knows it now: Europe is part of the battlefield of hyper-terrorism ... Nothing, evidently, no cause, no context, no supposedly political objective, justifies this kind of [large scale] terrorism ... If the trail back to Al-Qaida is confirmed, Europeans should rethink the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, as did the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Whatever. More interesting is O’Neill’s analysis of those of us who Are Against Terrorism:

They are opposed to mass murder, to nihilistic bombings, to the killing of 200 innocents as they travelled to work on a Thursday morning. This is the morality of the lowest common denominator, an empty political vision defined in response to empty terrorist acts. To paraphrase Tony Blair: 'It is as pathetic as the terrorists are opportunistic.'

Opposing mass murder is the morality of the lowest common denominator? Brendan must be one of those sophisticated folks able to rise above such base concerns. He continues:

And where does defining your worldview through terrorism get you? It gets you to a place where, although you don't like to admit it out loud, you secretly, guiltily welcome massacres like that in Madrid, as an opportunity to berate your opponents and as a reminder of your own moral indefatigability.

Brendan’s psychological insight is so profound that I doubt he'll be swayed by any denial. Earlier I posted a note at Brendan’s site; commenter Shahid replied:

The same old Bush/Blair line: Nothing justifies terrorism; meaning nothing justifies retaliating for injustice; cruelty; occupation;humiliation; etc etc. What bulloney.

I recall that in the U.S. a homeowner in the south shot and killed a Japanese student who knocked on his door for nothing more sinister, than wanting directions to some place. The reason: he felt threatened and didn't recognise the guy.

There in the M.E. you have this rich Palm Beach Jew who doesn't look the least bit middle eastern, flying over to Jerusalem, kicking out the Palestinian from his home, because according to him 3000 years ago his granduncle had left the place. When the poor guy retaliates, the civilized world says: that's terrorism.

As Brendan remarks: “Comments often read like a less mediated, more uncouth interpretation of what the author him or herself thinks.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:18 AM | Comments (47)

March 16, 2004


Spain’s newly-elected José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero reveals himself to be one of the foreign leaders supporting John Kerry:

"I think Kerry will win. I want Kerry to win."

Oops .. he actually said that before he became leader, so I guess it doesn’t count. Maybe he’s only a more leader. Zapatero has also vowed “no more deaths for oil” and yesterday said he would make good his promise to girl it on Iraq:

Calling the war in Iraq a "disaster," Spain's prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Monday pledged to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq if the United Nations is not given political control of the country currently run by an American-led administration.

The coalition says it can cope.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:43 PM | Comments (18)


• The impeccably formal Natalie Solent issues an invitation.

• The understandably depressed Professor Bunyip ponders a recent election:

The highest moral station to which Spain can now aspire -- and it is a miserable ambition -- will be to make Greece its model. Greece, where authorities made a point not to apprehend Palestinian terrorists, and if they did, if the offence was so egregious that there was no alternative but to slap on the cuffs, where the accused were gently treated, mildly sentenced, and then set free as quietly and quickly as possible. Now the Greeks are preparing to host the Olympics and living in dread of a terrorist assault. Fat lot of good being so pliable did them.

• The pro-development Sam Ward demands yet more development: “I hope they build so many skyscrapers I can't even see the sun.

• And the cash-delivering BlogAds are working!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:06 PM | Comments (4)


Iraq-bound jihadologists didn’t get the welcome they were expecting:

Ahmed Abdel Razzaq went to Iraq to fight the Americans and die a martyr. He ended up in a U.S. prison camp after the Iraqis he went to defend captured and sold him for $100.

"I went to be a martyr in God's name," said Razzaq, from poor north Lebanon, where Sunni Muslim militancy runs deep.

"I went to jihad (holy war) for the Iraqis but they are all traitors; the people, the army, the Kurds. They say Saddam was bad, but the Iraqis deserve 10 Saddams."

Motivated by religious zeal or Arab nationalism, busloads of Arab volunteers crossed Syria to go to Iraq before and during the war.

Those who got home alive describe being abandoned by Iraqi minders as U.S. forces reached Baghdad, or escaping Iraqis hostile to interference as the Baath government crumbled into chaos.

John Pilger would approve. No meddling in Iraq! Let the Iraqis decide!

UPDATE. Only one year after liberation, things are looking up:

An opinion poll suggests most Iraqis feel their lives have improved since the war in Iraq began about a year ago.

The survey, carried out for the BBC and other broadcasters, also suggests many are optimistic about the next 12 months and opposed to violence.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:52 PM | Comments (18)


Mark Steyn on election-eve terrorism:

If it works in Spain, why not in Australia, Britain, Italy, Poland? In his 1996 "Declaration of War Against the Americans", Bin Laden cited Washington's feebleness in the face of the 1992 Aden hotel bombings and the Black Hawk Down business in Somalia in 1993: "You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew," he wrote. "The extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear." To the jihadis' way of thinking, on Thursday, the Spaniards were disgraced by Allah; on Sunday, they withdrew. The extent of their impotence and weaknesses is very clear.

Or, as Simon Jenkins put it in a hilariously mistimed cover story for last Thursday's Spectator arguing that this terrorism business is a lot of twaddle got up by Blair and Bush: "Bombs kill and panic the panicky. But they do not undermine civilised society unless that society wants to be undermined." And there's no chance of that happening, right?

I hope we don't have another chance to find out.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:27 PM | Comments (134)


The Indepundit reports the death of Bob Zangas, US Marine Corps reservist and blogger:

Bob Zangas was killed last Wednesday in an ambush south of Baghdad. He was a Marine Corps Reservist working in a civilian capacity for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The final entry at Bob's site contains several photographs, made heartbreaking by this news.

UPDATE. More information at Buzzmachine.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 PM | Comments (6)


Did John Kerry say "foreign leaders" or "more leaders"? The reporter who first published the line now says he made a mistake:

"I mistranscribed a key word," explains Patrick Healy, a political reporter for the BOSTON GLOBE who covered the event in a pool capacity. "Listening to the audio recorder now, in the quiet of my house, I hear 'more leaders' and I am certain that 'more leaders' is what Senator Kerry said."

As Instapundit notes, this doesn’t explain subsequent Kerry statements. In any case, instead of relying on the journalist’s revision, the Boston Globe should put the tape online. Let John Kerry be heard!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:49 PM | Comments (35)


"Iraq war opponents march to White House," reports CNN:

More than 60 people gathered Monday in Washington for a march to the White House, calling for an end to U.S. military action in Iraq.

The protest, the second day of a two-day demonstration against the Bush administration, drew mostly peace activists, along with a few relatives of U.S. troops, organizers said.

Plus a couple of CNN reporters. And a cat. The report, incidentally, contains around six times as many words as there were protesters.

(Via reader Kim H., who writes: "Read it and ask yourself: Is this CNN -- or Scrappleface?")

UPDATE. The White House Sixty are revealed!

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:38 AM | Comments (26)


"The key element of the case against Blair, Aznar and Howard is not that they've stepped to the forefront of the war against terrorism when prudence would have dictated leaving the Americans to fight it by themselves," writes Australian economist John Quiggin. "Rather it's that they've aided and abetted the Bush administration in its decision to use the war against terrorism as a pretext for settling old and unrelated scores."

Scores don’t come much older than fundamentalist Islam’s Andalusian problem, dating back to 1492. Yesterday Mark Steyn reminded us of Osama bin Laden’s mention of Andalusia in one of his pre-internment videos. Less than a month after September 11, Slate’s Chris Suellentrop explained:

The "tragedy of Andalusia" refers to the conquering in 1492 of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. It was a central moment in the Islamic empire's quest for political and military power: Muslim expansion was not just checked; it was reversed. If Bin Laden truly wants to restore the original geographic dimensions of the caliphate, he may eventually look toward Spain.

Crazy Sammy is presently looking at, depending on your religion, or your interpretation of the Koran:

a) dirt;
b) the next black-eyed virgin assigned to his martyr’s pad in Paradise;
c) Satan’s finest urine-soaked steak knives carving their way through his abdomen; or
d) a bunch of white raisins.

Other Islamofundy types, like Shaykh Safar ibn 'Abd al-Rahmaan al-Hawali, keep talking up the Andalusian cause:

We are still weeping for the loss of Andalusia and we still remember what Ferdinand and Isabella did to our religion, our civilization and our honor there. We still dream of taking it back.

(That link lifted from Tacitus, who has much more on the subject.) But, hey, why all this history-dredging and cause-searching? It’s all rendered kind of moot by the oft-evidenced desire on the part of our jet-crashing, Buddhist statue-wrecking, gay-crushing, Bali-bombing friends to kill all who are not they. The attacks in Madrid hit an area dominated by supporters of the anti-war Socialists:

In El Pozo, where one of the trains exploded, the Socialist Party was expecting its usual landslide victory. Many in the neighbourhood had lost friends or family in the explosion.

Which is only what you’d expect from adherants to bin Laden’s theory that the world is divided into camps "of belief and the disbelief." If the Left is going to keep citing "causes" of terrorism other than Islamic extremism -- and, in Quiggin's case, urging a "prudent" means of avoiding same (ie, doing nothing) -- it must one day cite East Timor. Presumably it would have been prudent to leave East Timor to Indonesia. Yet I’m still to read even one leftist commentary regretting our involvement in East Timor’s liberation.

There I go again, always with the causes. Insofar as Spain remains a target of Islamicist hatred, the election of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero doesn’t change much (except to encourage election-eve bomb blasts elsewhere); a fact the new leader seemed to acknowledge in his victory speech:

The first people to be cared for, he said, were the families of the dead, those still missing relatives and those still battling for their lives or recovering from ghastly, life-changing injuries in hospital. But the main task, he said, was to fight terrorism wherever it raises its ugly head.

Good. Except you hope he'll be taking a stronger line than this:

When asked what he would do if confronted by the leader of Eta in the street, Mr Zapatero replied: "I would not look him in the face."

That'll teach him. Still, that was before the Madrid attacks. At this remove, I'm idiotically optimistic about a Zapatero change of heart now he’s in power. About the attacks, one of the creepier comments yesterday appeared at Road to Surfdom, from someone called Nabakov:

I guess all the warbloggers want their flowers and sympathy back now.

A fellow pro-war monster heartlessly called me yesterday to organise a cruel auction, the proceeds of which will be brutally donated to victims of the Madrid bombings (details soon). A change of government alters in no way any rational person’s feelings for those victims. Spain and Australia are blood allies; as that old man outside Atocha station said on the day his country was devastated, "We’re all in this together."

Exactly. And that's why leaving America to fight this war by itself would be "prudent" to the point of shame.

UPDATE. The Australian Registry of Sublegible Educators meets to discuss matters.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:09 AM | Comments (94)


Greg Sheridan in today’s Australian:

Political observers in the US have been wondering whether the Bush administration would produce an October surprise in the run-up to the November election.

In the light of the Spanish election result, it is much more likely that it will be al-Qa'ida producing such a surprise.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:48 AM | Comments (15)


Agnes Mack of Chatswood writes to the Melbourne Age:

It now seems that all those poor people in Madrid lost their lives because of their Government's participation in the war on Iraq.

I’m sure her heart’s in the right place. Where Agnes's head is, I wouldn’t like to speculate. Another letter, from Rockdale’s Ian Fraser, is less arse-bound:

Any nation's foreign policy should not be based on what a bunch of violent Islamic terrorists agree with, but rather on what is right and wrong. Were we wrong to have had a foreign policy that supported independence for East Timor? I am sure that there are those who would say "yes" - because it put us on the list of states the Islamic terrorists hate.

As ever, I'd love to hear from any former East Timor-boosting lefties who now oppose that country's liberation due to "blowback".

UPDATE. It’s a regular blowback festival at The Australian:

The conservative Government of Spain has now been dispatched for its involvement with the US in the Iraq war. Tragically, it took the death of so many people to awaken the citizens to what that Government had exposed them to through its blind acceptance of US foreign policy.

I hope the people of Australia will not have to suffer a similar cathartic experience to enable us to see the folly of John Howard's ongoing sycophantic acquiescence to George Bush's war plans.
Greg Story
Stafford, Qld

The Spanish election result is the first of three rebuffs this year for governments that supported the Bush administration so strongly in going to war against Iraq.

Howard will lose to Latham in Australia. Tony Blair, his reputation in tatters, will be replaced by Gordon Brown in Britain. And George Bush himself will be defeated by Democratic candidate John Kerry in November.

Tragically, the people of Madrid have suffered for their Government's foreign policy disaster. The link between what was seen as a war against all Muslims and the shocking terrorist attack in Madrid is inescapable.
Vincent Matthews
Forestville, NSW

It now appears that because of their Government's actions the Spanish people suffered the tragedy of the Madrid bombing ... Hopefully the Australian people, the majority of whom opposed the Iraq war without UN approval, will later this year throw out the Howard Government and elect Mark Latham as prime minister.
Rod Holesgrove
O'Connor, ACT

One down (Jose Maria Aznar), four to go (Bush, Blair – aka Bliar – Howard and Berlusconi). The blood of Iraqis and of Spaniards going about their daily business is on their hands. The lies and false reasons for war are coming home to roost.
Ludek Rosendorf
Ridgeway, Tas

After reading these, I'm inclined to move to Spain.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:13 AM | Comments (37)


Having interviewed the entire Spanish electorate, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher files this report:

The Spanish voters removed their government yesterday not for failing to prevent a terrorist attack but because it was seen to be exploiting the train bombings for political purposes.

Man. I get better stuff than this from trolls.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:52 AM | Comments (14)


Remember Dale Ungerer, the Iowa retiree who earned a “Please sit down!” from Howard Dean? Now John Kerry has met his own town hall nemesis, who wanted to know more about these anti-Bush foreign leaders we keep hearing about:

The Massachusetts senator also was challenged by Cedrick Brown, owner of a small business in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a registered Republican who demanded at a town hall meeting to know who the leaders were.

"I'm talking about our allies, I'm talking about people who were our friends nine months ago," Kerry told Brown. "I'm talking about people who ought to be on our side on Iraq and aren't because this administration has pushed them away."

So name them, Mr Extender Face. The Wall Street Journal chases the story:

Last Monday in Florida, the Senator told reporters that, "I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly. But, boy, they look at you and say: 'You've got to win this. You've got to beat this guy. We need a new policy.' Things like that."

This sure sounds like news worth pursuing. Who are these foreign leaders, and what is Mr. Kerry privately saying that makes them so enthusiastic about his candidacy? What "new policy" is he sharing with them that he isn't sharing with Americans?

Mr. Kerry doesn't seem eager to fill in those blanks.

First, he’d need something to fill them with. By the way, Kerry would prefer it if the sniping were to end, please. On matters topical, Andrew from Pathetic Earthlings wonders:

I can only assume that, in the eyes of John Kerry, Spain will stop being a member of a fraudulent coalition and start being a bellweather of international opinion.

UPDATE. The latest Election Projection has Kerry stomping home by 44 electoral college votes! The foreign leaders -- they will be pleased.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (15)


Easter just isn’t Easter without yummy mozzarella rabbits! (Via Dr. Alice, who prescribes these for all your cheesy needs). Also crucial to Easter, and other Holy Times: Fatburger, now spreading all over the US. But not to Australia, which is why I get to the US at least once a year. Seriously. It’s 90% Fatburger, maybe 10% politics and other stuff.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:03 AM | Comments (9)

March 15, 2004


John at Iberian Notes:

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be the next Prime Minister, and one of the first things he will do is pull Spain out of the Coalition. Spain will join the Paris-Berlin axis. I assume Spanish troops will soon be leaving Iraq.

A victory for appeasement. A victory for cowardice. The Spanish people demonstrated today that they have no courage.

Golan from HispaLibertas:

What a sad day for this country. I am out of here.

Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas:

From now on, the bad guys know they can win, and how to do it.

The Corner’s Rod Dreher:

The election results are terrible news. It shows that the Europeans are willing to be cowed by terror into voting for appeasers. Message to terrorists: commit terrorism on the eve of elections, say you're doing it to punish the government for standing by the United States, and you can drive a wedge between Western allies.

David Ross:

Mr Anzar loudly leapt to the conclusion it was ETA, at the very onset of the investigation. Evidence soon mounted that this was done by al-Qaida sympathisers, starting with public announcements from the terrorists themselves. Aznar simply couldn't hide it all, much as he tried at the beginning; when the arrests finally did come, they came too late. Aznar is guilty of manipulating a tragedy for political advantage. And if I may say so, he did it in the most clumsy manner I have seen in years.

Christopher Sheil:

How would I know from way over here, but I guess voters figured the former government's policy on the war on terror wasn't going real well.

Jeff Jarvis:

I wonder whether the ruling Conservatives' insistence on blaming ETA even in the face of evidence pointing to Islamofascists also contributed to their defeat. In any case, it's a damned shame that terrorists can have an impact on the election and can help bring in the side they apparently wanted.

Glenn Reynolds:

Terrorists have succeeded in toppling the Spanish government ... The Spanish electorate has made a very shorsighted and cowardly decision, and the world may suffer as a result.

Damian Penny:

I really fear we'll see an attack on the scale of 9/11 in the United States before the Presidential election. If the people of the West are going to blame their leaders for terror instead of the people actually committing the attacks, why wouldn't Al-Qaida try it again?

Via email, from Iraq-based US soldier Diggs:

I'm sorry to see that the civilians have surrendered so easily; the Spanish soldiers I have met over here seem to be made of much sterner stuff.

Meryl Yourish:

Yes, I'm worried. Yes, I think that Al Qaeda will consider this a victory to be imitated. But I still have confidence in our own intelligence services, and in our military. Naivete? Perhaps. I prefer to call it optimism.

John Quiggin:

The government's rush to the judgement (seen as politically more favorable) that ETA was responsible was criticised by many, and contrasted with the refusal of the Socialist leadership to score political points.

Bernie Slattery:

The saddest upshot is that a socialist regime in Spain will make it so much easier for the next terrorist attack. And there will be one. Remember, it was only a few weeks ago that a committed anti-terrorist government foiled a bomb attack by Basque terrorists. Reckon they won't try again, now that it will be that much easier?

Aaron at FreeWillBlog:

Congratulations to Spain for saying "yes" to mass murder. You've successfully delivered your message that murdering hundreds of innocents is an acceptable way to achieve your political goals. The content of Spanish discourse is now totally subject to the will of Islamic radicalism. "Do as we wish you to do, vote as we wish you to vote, and speak as we wish you to speak, or we'll kill your family."

Merde in France:

The Left is now the messenger boy of Islamofascism.

Andrew Sullivan:

If the appeasement brigade really do believe that the war to depose Saddam is and was utterly unconnected with the war against al Qaeda, then why on earth would al Qaeda respond by targeting Spain? If the two issues are completely unrelated, why has al Qaeda made the connection?

Christopher Sheil, again:

Al-Qaeda has obviously been having a major influence on politics and elections since at least s11. What seems new about Spain is that this influence has now resulted in a swing to the left.

Andrew Norton from Catallaxy Files:

An attack in Australia just prior to the 2004 federal election would make a lot of sense to Al Qaeda strategists. It isn't clear that they have the capacity to carry out such an attack. But the rationale for it is a lot clearer than it was a week ago.

A supposed member of al-Qaeda, in a video message claiming responsibility for the Madrid attacks:

You love life and we love death.

More quotes to come. Meanwhile, AP reports:

One of the three Moroccans arrested in the Madrid train bombings was a follower of a suspected al-Qaida member jailed in Spain for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press. It was the latest suggestion that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group may have been involved in the bombings.

A Sept. 17, 2003 indictment calls Jamal Zougam — arrested in Thursday's attacks — a "follower" of Imad Yarkas, the alleged leader of Spain's al-Qaida cell who was jailed for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Yarkas, whose alias is Abu Dahdah, remains in Spanish custody.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:20 AM | Comments (142)


Mark Steyn in today’s Australian:

"The bombs dropped on Baghdad exploded in Madrid!" declared one "peace" protester in Spain. Or as Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty put it, somewhat less vividly: "If this turns out to be Islamic extremists . . . it is more likely to be linked to the position that Spain and other allies took on issues such as Iraq."

By "other allies", he means you – yes, you, reading this on the bus to work in Australia. You may not have supported the war, or ever voted for John Howard, but you're now a target. In other words, this is "blowback". This is what you get when you side with the swaggering Texas gunslinger and his neocon Zionist sidekicks.

Steyn has three responses to Keelty, and a conclusion you may find yourself shouting at the next appeasement rabbit to cross your path. Meanwhile, the Dutch are wishing and hoping that their low profile will grant them safety:

In the wake of the devastating bomb attacks in Madrid on Thursday, a Dutch terrorist expert has played down fears that the Netherlands could also be targeted.

Edwin Bakker, of the Clingendael Institute, told newspaper De Volkskrant that the Netherlands was relatively low down on the list of countries that faced the "wrath of Islam".

"Spain's support for the US is far more overt. Spain was prominent in the build up to the war in Iraq, while the Netherlands was not," Bakker said.

Bakker can step as lightly as he wants in those felt-soled peace clogs of his. Islamist killers would be as happy to blast him to death as they would anyone not screaming their support for extreme Muslim lunacy. Incidentally, this week marks the first anniversary of the beginning of the war to remove Saddam Hussein; anticipate many “shock and awe”-related headlines.

It’s also Fabio’s birthday.

(By the way, go here for updates and comments on Spain’s election.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:04 AM | Comments (41)


The Sydney Morning Herald spins like crazy for Taliban Dundee:

The Australian Guantanamo Bay captive David Hicks occupied himself in jail by killing mice, it has been reported.

Mr Hicks, 28, who is awaiting a US military commission, reportedly went to desperate measures to maintain his sanity.

The word “Taliban” appears nowhere in the SMH’s report. Nor do the details of exactly how Hicks dealt with those mice. Here’s an earlier piece on the heroic mouse-torturer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 AM | Comments (17)


The McKinney Courier-Gazette reports a Texan custody battle with an Australian twist:

The reunion of Tim Richard and his daughter is a step closer to reality.

The McKinney man and his 5-year-old daughter have been separated since the child's mother fled to Australia with the girl six months ago.

Since his ex-wife and child left the U.S., Richard has diligently worked through the legal systems of both countries - filing countless legal doucuments and filling out numerous government forms - in hopes of locating and eventually being reunited with his daughter.

Recently, Richard was notified by U.S. state department officials that authorities in Australia had located Michelle Desley Richard in Queensland.

A quick search of the Brisbane Courier-Mail doesn’t turn up any local coverage. More background here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:56 AM | Comments (5)


I wonder if Cheryl Kernot speaks Spanish ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:54 AM | Comments (1)


George W. Bush says:

"These tired, old policies of tax and spend, and economic isolationism, are a recipe for economic disaster."

And an AFP or News Ltd headline writer hears:

Bush labels Kerry a 'disaster'

On the subject of Texans, it turns out -- according to the San Antonio Express-News -- that Texas isn’t such a death-dealing kill-state after all:

A new study softens Texas' image as the nation's death penalty capital, finding the state doles out death sentences less often than even Oregon, a state better known for approving assisted suicide than for demanding capital punishment.

Figures in this month's Journal of Empirical Legal Studies show Texas imposed death penalties in 2 percent of murder cases that had an arrest — just below the national average and slightly behind Oregon, which ranked No. 15 among the 31 states with more than 10 inmates on death row.

By comparing death sentences with solved murder cases between 1977 and 1999, the study highlights what's known by close observers but rarely penetrates public perception.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:10 AM | Comments (5)


In a Guardian roundup of opinion on the war, playwright John Mortimer observes:

This conflict has been the biggest foreign policy mistake since the Second World War. Saddam kept the Shias and Sunnis from killing each other. Now they're doing so again.

Saddam’s means of achieving this -- killing Iraqis before they could kill other Iraqis -- may have been a little questionable. So is the Guardian’s editorial on Madrid, which asks:

Are those who perpetrated the commuter train bombings to be hunted down and smoked out of their lairs ...?


... and if they were, are we confident that we would prevent the next attack, and the one after that?

Well, we could be reasonably confident of preventing any further attacks from the smoked-our former lair-dwellers, for a start.

An international conference, to bridge the divide between Muslim and Christian communities, should be one first step ...

... towards the most pointless response to terrorism since those human shields rode their bus to Baghdad.

We need to take the fight against terror out of America's hands. We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response. Europe should seize the moment that America failed to grasp.

What, by holding religious conferences? Actually, it does sound pretty scary; imagine listening to Desmond Tutu or Rowan Williams for more than 15 minutes. No wonder we’re so hated.

UPDATE. More on this from EURSOC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:05 AM | Comments (32)

March 14, 2004


The polls are now open in Spain. Post any news, updates, predictions or results in comments.

UPDATE. The Age reports:

One of the first to vote yesterday morning was 92-year-old civil war veteran Luis Martinez-Gile, who said he was voting for the ruling Popular Party. Like other Madrid residents, he was still obviously upset. "I don't know what kind of people could have walked on to these trains and put those bombs there to kill so many ordinary people," he said. "Why?

"They should hang them by their feet until they die."

Mr Martinez-Gile said he was proud of the fact that he had never killed anybody during his time with the pro-Franco Basque militia, the Requetes. "I couldn't kill a chicken. I don't know what is in the minds of these people."

Reuters, naturally, is concerned about the possibility of a Spanish prejudice revival:

Proof that al-Qaeda or other Islamic militants carried out the Madrid bombings would create a nightmare for Muslim residents of Madrid, who fear it could fuel a new wave of animosity towards them.

If Muslim extremists planted the bombs, the prejudices of old Spain - isolated under a dictatorship for almost 40 years until 1975 and relatively unused to immigrant residents until recently - could surface.

Note the assumed existence of dormant prejudices. Reuters knows what you’re thinking, Spaniards!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:31 PM | Comments (63)

Al Qaeda video claims Madrid Attacks

Angel Acebes, Spanish Interior Minister has just announced that the police has a video of an arab man claiming the attacks in the name of Al Qaeda.

UPDATE I: Here's a link.

UPDATE II: (This is a translation of a post I have just written in HispaLibertas)

My fellow countrymen, all of you: This is a crucial moment for our nation. No, I am not speaking about the elections that we hold tomorrow. Whoever wins tomorrow and becomes the next President, this is the time to show courage and to give battle. In the uncertain moments of this strange century, we must give the best of ourselves. We have to win this confrontation between civilization and barbarism, for these are the true alternatives we have to choose from. It's not the moment to be weak or to waste efforts in our divisions. We will not surrender, we will rise to this challenge and we will combat our enemies. This is not a war we started. But we must end it. And we will prevail.

[Posted by Golan from HispaLibertas]

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:05 AM | Comments (46)


Andrew Bolt on Yvonne Ridley, and much else besides:

You may have heard her on Jon Faine's show on ABC 774. She's the British journalist who converted to Islam and worked for the extremist al Jazeera Islamic news service.

What you didn't hear on the show, however, is that Ridley reportedly told a Belfast meeting of the Islamic Students Association in January there was no innocent Israeli when it came to suicide bombings. Not even children.

"There are no innocents in this war," she raged, because children could grow up to be Israeli soldiers. And talk of "suicide bombers" was "insulting":

"Let's call suicide bombers by their proper name, which is martyrs."

Let’s call Yvonne by her proper name, which is .... oh, I’d better not. This is a family site, with high standards. Despite that, I am forced to once again use the dread noun “Pilger”, but only because Bolt himself mentions the toxic fucking communist knob-wipe:

This apologist for terrorists -- this moral pygmy -- is not only welcomed into an ABC studio and promoted by SBS, but is honoured with an exhibition by the Melbourne Museum. All paid for by you.

Read the whole column.

UPDATE. Some pre-war Ridley ridiculousness.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:16 AM | Comments (39)


Midway through this profile of Mark Latham, the Labor leader’s ex-wife Gabrielle Gwyther makes some troubling claims:

She was traumatised by the marriage breakup in 1997 - she says she adored him and that it was his relationship with the woman who is now his wife, former Liberal Party staffer Janine Lacy, that ended the marriage.

"He's not particularly good at political manoeuvering, but there is a trajectory there that has propelled him where others would not be propelled. There's something about him; he has such a belief in himself." She sensed it on the night she met him in the mid 1980s at a going-away dinner for mutual friends. He dropped to the dance floor and began doing push-ups, as if gripped by some crazy-male urge to impress.

She is also bewildered by the anger in his character that spilled out publicly when he broke the arm of a taxi driver three years ago.

A taxi driver prepares to attack. Look out, Mark!

"Where does this anger come from?" says Gwyther. "It's just below the surface and it's scary to live with, I must say. The thing is, with this kind of anger you never know what's going to set him off. Even something as trivial as not buying the right food could set him off." She stresses the anger was verbal, not physical, but she found it intimidating nonetheless. "I was a bit scared of him, really." Latham says: "I don't regard myself as an angry person."

Gwyther also saw an extreme intensity. She wondered about his fascination with the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, which he watched again and again, so much so that she bought him a copy of the video. His favourite character was Kurtz, the renegade American colonel whose brutality and madness mirrors the evil of the Vietnam war.

Back away slowly. Don’t make eye contact.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:13 AM | Comments (18)


This brilliant post from Michele at A Small Victory includes a link to one of few cartoonists more revolting than The Age’s Michael Leunig. One important difference: Latuff, the chucklehead linked by Michele, is published by such sewers as Indymedia. Leunig runs in a prestigious Melbourne broadsheet.

UPDATE. Age readers reject Leunig:

I recall a very pleasant five days with my family on holidays in Madrid some two years ago. I recall riding the train system and in particular transiting through Atocha railway station.

I cried when I saw the news reports of the terrorist bombings in Madrid.

Then I got angrier and angrier at the Leunig cartoons of the past two Fridays. The subtle and perverse idea of the moral equivalence of terrorist bombers and that of states attempting to defend themselves only serves as a justification, albeit small, to those in our community and overseas who support these terrorists.

And another:

Michael Leunig has built over the years his reputation for cartoons where his little simple-minded battlers touch us with pathos and pseudo-spiritual wisdom. However, for the last two or so years, Leunig has been using The Age as a platform to present a disturbing political world view. The charming little battler is still there but the message has changed.

We are to believe that American might and amorality brought about September 11 and other anti-US terrorist acts; that Israel is responsible for the mutilated bodies in civilian buses. No doubt the Spanish Government is responsible for the hundreds dead in the Spanish trains (for siding with the US?) - and, if Leunig had the courage to state it, Australia is responsible for the dead in Bali.

Leunig's cartoons somehow serve as a justification or rationalisation for the acts of terror. Evil are the cynical Western democracies; the victims are the misunderstood suicide bombers and al-Qaeda fighters.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:59 AM | Comments (4)


Norway’s Bjorn Staerk neatly summarises what we might call Europe’s pre-Madrid view of terrorism:

Everyone will claim to stand united against terrorism. Everyone always does. But there's "yes we stand united against terrorism in all forms" and then there's "yes we stand united against terrorism in all forms, but what are we doing in Iraq anyway, and haven't we brought this on ourselves by aligning ourselves with the insane policies of the Bush administration?"

The post-Madrid view could be a little different:

Will we settle for the usual condemnations of terrorism, then continue as before, apologizing for, understanding and downplaying the threat of Islamic terrorism, while we reserve our true outrage for the Americans and Israelis, or will we update our maps to reflect the post-9/11 terrain? Words of sympathy are not enough. Al-Qaeda counts on sympathy to increase our fear that we're next in line. Anger is actually more appropriate. It's the ingredient we've been missing these last years, for while we always condemn terrorists attacks and show sympathy for their victims, we never really get angry with the monsters who are behind it. I noticed that prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik described yesterday's attack as an example of "evil" on TV2, using a word (ondskap) that is quite strong, (big-E evil). That may be a good sign, and I'll be watching for more.

As will we all. I wonder what John Kerry’s foreign mystery leaders think about all this.

(Via contributor and unknown foreign leader J.F. Beck)

UPDATE. France gets it. From Le Monde, via Sullivan:

"If she did not know it yet, she knows it now: Europe is part of the battlefield of hyper-terrorism ... Nothing, evidently, no cause, no context, no supposedly political objective, justifies this kind of [large scale] terrorism ... If the trail back to Al-Qaida is confirmed, Europeans should rethink the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, as did the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001."

Welcome to reality.

UPDATE. Hey, you! HIT THE ARCHIVES and scroll down for any items you may have missed over the weekend.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:56 AM | Comments (55)


Via Novacastria, news that the long-awaited David Hicks documentary (thank you, taxpayers) will screen on SBS (thank you, taxpayers) this Thursday. We may actually have gotten our money’s worth; the film apparently exposes the Aussie Taliban member as a stooge and a ghoul. Lefty Stephen Romei, formerly a Hicks supporter, found his view changed. Here’s his preview:

After watching this program Hicks, the man, leaves me cold. It will sound silly, but it repulses me to learn, from a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, that Hicks passes the time by catching mice and hanging them.

(Possibly unfair observation: if Mohamed Atta and his friends had attacked the Cuddly Wuddly Super-Cute Kitty Breeding Facility instead of the World Trade Center, the left would have demanded immediate nuclear assaults on the entire Middle East.)

Suffice it to say that Hicks comes across as a fully fledged member of the Taliban, with all the intolerance that entails.

Here's one example, from a letter dispatched from the terrorist training grounds of Afghanistan in August 2000: "If I do meet fate this is called martyrdom . . . the highest position in heaven is to go fighting in the way of God against the friends of Satan."

A highlight is the interview with the war-weary Northern Alliance commander who held Hicks before he was handed over to the US. Why, he asks, would a young man from a developed society "come here and join hands with the Taliban and announce that women have no right to go outside".

Answer: because he’s an idiot. Clare Kermond’s preview in The Age is much more Hicks-friendly:

In Afghanistan David became a member of the Taliban, writing home to tell his family how "close to perfect" life was there, with the country run according to strict Islamic law.

Whatever personal quest led David Hicks to pursue his Islamic studies overseas and throw himself into the struggles of Muslim people through the Kosovo Liberation Army, and later the Taliban, it's clear that the world changed while he was away.

See? It was all the world’s fault.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:13 AM | Comments (11)

March 13, 2004


“Hollywood disaster film set to turn heat on Bush,” hopes The Guardian. “Movie depicting horrors of global warming could boost votes for Democrat challenger.”

Well, it could, in the same way that John Kerry could one day take a stance on something and stick to it for more than two weeks. Possible, but wildly unlikely. In copy, The Guardian repeats its Big Lie:

The Pentagon even got in on the act, releasing a study last month that suggested that one outcome of global warming could be the rise of mass civil unrest. In one scenario, drought, famine and rioting erupt across the world, spurred on by climate change. As countries face dwindling food supplies and scarce natural resources, conflict becomes the norm.

"Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," says the Pentagon study. "Once again, warfare would define human life."

Once again: the study was commissioned for, not done by, the Pentagon. The Guardian doesn’t even care these days, if it ever did. Neither does IndyMedia, whose Sydney site today posted this piece: Judaism, the worlds Most Evil religion.

Thanks to reader John P (“you do a good job of pissing me off at least once a day, but you're one of the best bloggers out there”) for the link. Only once a day? An improvement is promised. In John Kerry news, David Brooks salutes the King of Fog:

The 1990's were a confusing decade. The certainties of the cold war were gone and new threats appeared. It fell to one man, John Kerry, the Human Nebula, to bring fog out of the darkness, opacity out of the confusion, bewilderment out of the void.

Kerry established himself early as the senator most likely to pierce through the superficial clarity and embrace the miasma. The gulf war had just ended. It was time to look back for lessons learned. "There are those trying to say somehow that Democrats should be admitting they were wrong" in opposing the gulf war resolution, Kerry noted in one Senate floor speech. But he added, "There is not a right or wrong here. There was a correctness in the president's judgment about timing. But that does not mean there was an incorrectness in the judgment other people made about timing."

Everybody gets a prize! Hey, check it out: Kerry’s straight-ahead, two-fisted tough talk has won him an enviable poll advantage.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:38 PM | Comments (16)


Who is responsible for the Madrid attacks? According to Glenn Condell, I am:

I wonder if the eager, spiteful nature of your riposte might have something to do with an awareness of your minor, but by no means negligible part in the propaganda wing of the crime that may well have caused Madrid.

Guess that screws any chance I had of getting into the University of Sydney. Meanwhile, in a truly blog-quaking development, Mark Steyn-hating Australian academic John Quiggin has reached near-identical conclusions on the nature of terrorism as his war-lusting right-wing foe. Here’s Steyn:

Does it make any difference [who committed the Madrid attacks]? No ... Every victory for an individual terrorist is also a victory for the phenomenon ... it brings together ideologically incompatible organizations all over the world: ETA, for example, are known to have traveled to Afghanistan when it served as Terrorism Central for bin Laden and others.

Likewise, if you take a "war on terror" seriously, then a vile act by one group necessarily taints another. Say I'm right, say that the 3/11 massacre was committed by Islamists. And say that six months down the ride ETA commit one of their more modestly scaled atrocities. It's no longer possible to draw a distinction, any more than it would be if the Real IRA committed some small-scale demolition of an Ulster pub. Once you join the club, your precise status within it is irrelevant: we know you for what you are. That's why one cannot distinguish between al-Qa'eda and Hamas, as so many European nuance-fetishists try to do.

And here’s Quiggin:

I don't think it's necessary to come to a conclusive finding as to who set up which bombs. All groups and individuals that embrace terrorism as a method share the guilt of, and responsibility for, these crimes. Both in practical and symbolic terms, terrorist acts by one group provide assistance and support to all those who follow in their footsteps. The observation of apparent links between groups that seemingly have nothing in common in political terms (the IRA and FARC, for example) illustrates the point.

Next: Quiggin demands the privatisation of the ABC, stocks his remote country estate with rifles, and begins a second career as a film critic. Finally, in other political-reversal news, I’m down $40 after Robert Corr made good his pledge to humiliate himself for the greater good. Vote Howard!

UPDATE. A Glenn Condell classic from 2003: “They don't hate us for who we are ... they hate us for what we do. You would too if you had the wit and imagination to place yourself in someone else's shoes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:48 PM | Comments (28)


After the Bali attacks, the Sydney Morning Herald expected Australians to become timid and frightened:

The mood is subdued. When people talk, even light-heartedly, about bracing themselves for a Harbour Bridge crossing, it is a sign that something has clicked in the city psyche. Summer crowds - at the cricket, at concerts and malls - now look like places to be avoided.

The hell with that. As the SMH conceded a few months later:

Far from shunning large public gatherings because of the threat of terrorist attack, Australians are flocking to events in record numbers.

You think the Spanish are intimidated after Thursday’s attacks? You think they’re hiding and scared? No way:

More than eight million people took to Spain's streets in an unprecedented show of grief and fury at bomb attacks the day before on Madrid commuter trains that killed 199 people, police said.

Well done, terrorists. You’ve successfully not terrified anybody.

UPDATE. Other images here and here. Iowahawk puts the news in perspective. And Instapundit has much more.

UPDATE II. Look at these faces, from photographs taken by Mario Carbonell.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (23)


Former Guatanamo Bay resident Jamal al-Harith (an ex-boypal of Labor Senator Peter Cook’s daughter, weirdly enough) tells the Daily Mirror of the horrors he endured (in Gitmo, that is ... not with the Cook girl):

Jamal al-Harith, 37, who arrived home three days ago after two years of confinement, is the first detainee to lift the lid on the US regime in Cuba's Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta.

Medical treatment was sparse and brutal and amputations of limbs were more drastic than required, claimed Jamal.

A diet of foul water and food up to 10 years out-of-date left inmates malnourished.

And somehow fatter than ever.

But Jamal's most shocking disclosure centred on the use of vice girls to torment the most religiously devout detainees.

Prisoners who had never seen an "unveiled" woman before would be forced to watch as the hookers touched their own naked bodies.

The men would return distraught. One said an American girl had smeared menstrual blood across his face in an act of humiliation.

This didn’t happen to Jamal, of course. He only heard about it:

Jamal said: "I knew of this happening about 10 times. It always seemed to be those who were very young or known to be particularly religious who would be taken away.

"I would joke with the other British lads, 'Bring them to us - we'll have them'. It made us laugh. But the Americans obviously knew we wouldn't be shocked by seeing Western women, so they didn't bother.”

It all sounds so very ... believable.

”After a while, we stopped asking for human rights - we wanted animal rights. In Camp X-Ray my cage was right next to a kennel housing an Alsatian dog.

"He had a wooden house with air conditioning and green grass to exercise on. I said to the guards, 'I want his rights' and they replied, 'That dog is member of the US army'.

The cruelty never ceased:

"You could sometimes see the guards tampering with the shower heads to make water squirt all over the inmate's clothes if he had put them up to protect his privacy."

I’m pretty sure a whole chapter of the Geneva Convention is dedicated to shower-head meddling.

He added: "Some people were given pizzas, ice-cream and McDonald's, but they didn't offer them to me. I guess they knew bribery would work with some and not with others."

Tough guy! The Mirror's continuing Gitmo comedy items provide valuable entertainment in these troubled times.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:45 PM | Comments (29)


Several Sydney students have failed to observe the customary 20-year waiting period:

Allegations that a senior academic had sex with his students in return for giving out better grades are being investigated by the University of Western Sydney.

Five students at the university claim they had sexual relations with the lecturer over a period of up to three months in exchange for "academic favours".

Maybe it’s just part of the university’s restructured pay deal:

Academic staff at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) have held the first of a series of planned stop work meetings today to protest against the university's four year pay offer.

The National Tertiary Education Union says the 16 per cent pay rise over the next four years is not in line with what other universities are offering staff.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:11 PM | Comments (5)


Alan Ramsey has been making a lot of election predictions lately. Christopher Pearson reminds us to ignore them:

Anyone tempted to take Ramsey's view of Howard's future at face value should realise that he has made confidently mistaken predictions before. The most famous was his certainty that Paul Keating would lose the federal election in 1993, a week before he won it: "Hewson has only to keep his head to win comfortably. Whatever ground it makes up elsewhere, Labor is going to lose the election in Queensland, South Australia and over in Perth. Ten years and a million people are insurmountable. I don't believe it will be close at all."

Plastic Christmas turkeys are a different matter. Ramsey believes in them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)


Hello friends. We are two bloggers from Spain and first of all, we would like to thank Tim for his extremely kind invitation to post our thoughts and information on the developments surrounding yesterday’s atrocity in Madrid.

As you already know, yesterday was a black day here in Spain. Some bastards planted 13 backpacks full of dynamite aboard several commuting trains in Madrid, programmed to explode simultaneously around 8:00 am (rush hour). They killed 199 people and wounded 1462 (dozens of whom are in a very critical situation).

The images and testimonies that we’ve been watching are absolutely heart wrecking. Last night some of the people who were working in the mass morgue that was improvised in a convention center needed medical sedation because they couldn’t cope with what they were watching: dozens of people inside black plastic bags whose mobile phones kept ringing all the time. Several children in a school nearby one of the explosions were waiting for their parents to take them home. Their parents never came.

A woman who survived the blast has lost her husband, her two sons, and her grandsons. The radio reported this morning that she was so overwhelmed with the loss that she later tried to kill herself. In one of the destroyed trains they rescued a seven month old baby. They haven’t been able to find his parents and he has just died while in the ICU. The attack has killed people from eleven different nationalities.

From the first moment, everybody here pointed to ETA as the culprits. That Basque terrorist group has been killing Spaniards for more than 30 years, claiming more than 800 lives (not counting these last attacks). And they have been trying to hit Madrid with a big one for some time. In February two terrorists were arrested carrying half a ton of explosives to Madrid. On Christmas Eve they tried an operation identical to what happened yesterday. The attack was thwarted when Spanish police arrested two ETA terrorists with backpacks full of explosives aboard trains en route to Madrid.

Later in the day some news pointed to Al Qaeda or other Islamic terrorists as possible authors of the massacre. There’s not enough elements to dismiss this possibility, though some of the allegations sound more like a disinformation campaign than anything else.

ETA was, and still is the most probable perpetrator of the monstrosity that happened yesterday in Madrid. John Chappell at IberianNotes says why.

Whoever did this, we are going to know soon. Maybe it will take only some hours; maybe it will take days, weeks or even more. The problem is that everybody seems to be in a hurry about it. Why? We don’t particularly see any significant difference if this was done by Al Qaeda or ETA. Two hundred people have been killed. We really hoped that the world has learned that terrorism is terrorism, regardless the “root causes” or “motives” that inspire it. Prime Minister Aznar just said “beyond this initial speculation, no society can accept that there may be explainable and unexplainable terrorisms. There are no nuances between religious and ethnic fanaticism, only nuances in their excuses. This is what we are confronting”.

However, with a general election on Sunday, the political crossfire has already started. Only a day after the attacks. Too many in the anti-war crowd (and that’s a damn big crowd here) are openly wishing that this has been done by Al Qaeda because in their sick minds that would allow them to blame PM Aznar as ultimately responsible of the attacks after aligning Spain with the U.S. in the war against terrorism, against their wishes.

Some top officials in the Socialist Party, currently in the opposition and who hope to win in next Sunday’s elections, are on record saying the government is hiding information about the terrorist acts and even that “the Partido Popular government is under suspicion”. This is really sickening. And it’s even more sickening to think that it may not cause a backlash, as would normally happen in a healthy society.

We will be posting the new developments as they come. Thanks for your support, our friends all over the world.

[Posted by Golan and Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]

UPDATE. Greyhawk sends a link our way, and notes:

Consider this: An American in Europe just recommended his predominantly American readership visit an Australian's website to read a post from some citizens of Spain. The world is smaller and smaller, and is shrinking due to the many benefits of civilization.

And that small and civilized world is united in support of the people of Spain.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:58 AM | Comments (102)


Sydney Morning Herald environment reporter Stephanie Peatling presents today’s Super Logic Challenge:

The Federal Opposition has pounced on community hatred of plastic bags, agreeing to ban them as it beefs up its environmental credentials before the election later this year ...

Australia has been struggling for some time with its 6.9-billion-bag-a-year habit.

That’s how much the community hates plastic bags. Imagine how many we’d use if we liked them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:37 AM | Comments (17)

March 12, 2004


Sabine Herold is using the crazy Left’s shock tactics against the crazy Left, as Merde in France reports.

John Kerry remains silent on just who these “foreign leaders” were who told him they wanted Bush to lose, or how much he’d had to drink when he hallucinated them.

Angelina Jolie and Neil Bush really should hook up sometime.

Phillip Adams may have filed his final column. The gunmen are closing in:

Reports a live dinosaur had been sighted on a volcanic island of Papua New Guinea prompted the deployment of heavily-armed police in search of the mystery creature.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:29 PM | Comments (10)


Franco and Golan from the Spanish site HispaLibertas will shortly be posting here, in English, on developments following the Madrid bombing. It’s an honour to host them.

The death toll in Madrid has increased to 198; Foreign Minister Ana Palacio says the attack looks increasingly like the work of ETA.

UPDATE. Via Road to Surfdom, a piece from travelling Australian musician Sophia. She quotes her Spanish friend Dani:

He was so shocked and so angry. This is war, he said. Those fucking terrorists. Fucking ETA, or Fucking Arabs. We should kill them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:01 PM | Comments (7)


Mark Steyn is inclined to blame al-Qaeda. So is Ali in Iraq. As you'd expect, several at Democratic Underground think the US may be responsible.

And Dr Carrie Hamilton, a London-based ETA expert, says that if al-Qaeda is behind the attacks, it’s bad news for Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s re-election:

The truth of the matter is that the Government will possibly benefit if this turns out to have been an ETA bomb, and it will certainly suffer if it turns out to be a retaliation for Spain's participation in the war in Iraq, last year.

So it's frankly not surprising that they are going with the ETA line because it is the obvious first line, but it also would be much easier for the Spanish Government – as tragic as the situation is – to deal with it politically if it were an ETA bomb than if it were an al-Qaeda or some other bomb in retaliation for the Iraq situation.

This argument -- that Aznar’s support in the war against terror would harm him politically -- is a crock, as was revealed last year:

Indeed, Aznar's ruling party held its ground in May municipal elections -- trumping slumping popularity polls, and expectations of a resounding, anti-war backlash.

And in the most recent polls, published the day before the attacks, Aznar held a useful lead:

Polls released this week showed the ruling Popular Party winning by five or six percentage points and probably retaining its majority, although just barely, in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies. It needs 176 seats. In the last legislature it held a record 183.

If it doesn't win an outright majority, it is likely to seek support from a small regional party in the Canary Islands.

Aznar cemented his image as a loyal ally of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair when he held a summit with them in the Azores Islands on the eve of the Iraq war.

At one time, Spanish commentators predicted the association would severely tarnish him.

Commentators the world over seem to believe the same thing about anyone who sides with the US against terrorism. It must be some kind of uniform global standard.

UPDATE. Only a few days ago ...

The United Nation's former chief weapons inspector in Iraq suggested Sunday the United States and Britain have exaggerated the threat of terrorism.

Blix urged caution over the doctrine of preemptive strikes. Appearing on BBC1's "Breakfast with Frost," Blix said the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq had been wrong, but the United States and United Kingdom had acted like "witch-hunters," preferring to believe their fears rather than the evidence presented to them."

"I think we still over-estimate the danger of terror," he said.

Tell it to the Spanish, Hans. Specifically, tell it to these gals. Too bad the terrorists didn’t read their sign.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:21 PM | Comments (24)


Attapattu is out; Sri Lanka currently 2/47.

Australia can win this.

UPDATE: 3/56. Warne has two wickets for 15 from seven overs.

UPDATE: 5/56! Warne 3/15, MacGill 1/17, Kasprowicz 1/13.

UPDATE: Australia wins by 197 runs after trailling by 161 after the first innings. Warne 5/43 (10 wickets for the match, taking him to a career total of 501), MacGill 4/74.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 PM | Comments (14)


The ABC’s Philip Williams reports from outside Madrid’s Atocha station:

An old man came up recently and lit the candles and said 'this is for the victims of all terrorism, we're all in this together'.

Absolutely. Here’s a list of Spanish embassy and consular contacts in Australia and the South Pacific, should you want to show your sympathy and support. Instapundit has a similar list for US readers, and Damian Penny has a contact e-mail for the embassy in Canada.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (10)


Well, I guess this makes it official:

The United Nations Security Council voted late yesterday to blame Basque militants from the ETA group for the attacks.

The UN may have acted in haste:

The Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said Thursday that it had received a claim of responsibility for the Madrid train bombings issued in the name of al-Qaida.

The five-page e-mail claim, signed by the shadowy Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, was received at the paper's London offices. It said the brigade's "death squad" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain."

"This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said.

Not that this claim is instantly believeable, either:

The claim by the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri could not immediately be given full credence. Its claim last year to have been responsible for the widespread power blackout in the Northeast and Canada last Aug. 14 was discredited.

The death toll is now 192, with more than 1200 injured, 44 of them critically.

UPDATE. Juan Ramón Rallo writes:

To the international mass media, ETA is not a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group but a "Basque separatist group". The magnitude of the 3-11 attack has not changed their narrow sighted style.

This is particularly poignant in the case of the US media. After Spain's support of the American war in Iraq, the coverage by American media is still worthy of a band of ignorants who keep scorning this Spanish bleeding tragedy.

Thus, to try to stop such indecency, I have sent the following brief email to Fox News and CNN. Let's fill their inboxes with our anti-collaborationist clamour!

Juan’s email follows:

I want to express you my most strongest complaint for your horrible coverage of the massacre in Madrid. You name ETA "Basque separatists group". That's awfull and infamous. ETA is a terrorist group, as it is recognized as such by all international institutions and developed nations, among them,the USA.

Do you think we should call Al-Qaeda "the resistance"? Has Spain been with the USA and UK in its struggle against international terrorism to deserve that kind of insult?

I am very disappointed by this dishonest style. It is just miserable.

Juan Ramón Rallo
From Spain

(Via Samizdata)

UPDATE II. Kevin Drum asks:

If it does turn out to be al-Qaeda, I wonder how that will change things? It's been something of an article of faith in America that if 9/11 had happened in Europe there wouldn't have been so much resistance there to the Iraq war. These train bombings aren't 9/11, of course, but they're plenty bad. Will it affect European opinion much about America's approach to fighting terrorism?

UPDATE III. Iberian Notes is all over this. Bookmark it. And check out EURSOC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 PM | Comments (40)


On Australia’s Lateline program, Paul Krugman speaks his mind:

There was actually a kind of revealing moment recently - Bush gave an interview, was more or less dragooned into an interview on Meet The Press and the interviewer said: "Well, what if you lose the election?" And he said: "I'm not going to lose the election."

And the interviewer said: "But what if you do lose?" He said: "I'm not going lose the election." The possibility that they just would not regard it as a legitimate thing if someone else were to take power.

Krugman looked almost as paranoid as he sounded. Here’s the actual exchange between George W. Bush and Meet the Press host Tim Russert:

Russert: Are you prepared to lose?

President Bush: No, I'm not going to lose.

Russert: If you did, what would you do?

President Bush: Well, I don't plan on losing. I’ve got a vision for what I want to do for the country. See, I know exactly where I want to lead. I want to lead us — I want to lead this world toward more peace and freedom. I want to lead this great country to work with others to change the world in positive ways, particularly as we fight the war on terror, and we got changing times here in America, too.

What did Krugman expect Bush to say? “I am fully prepared to lose, and if I do, I expect I’ll be sent into exile on the island of Elba”? Among Krugman’s other terrified comments:

The vast right-wing conspiracy isn't a theory, it's quite clearly visible to anyone who takes a little care to do his home work.

Quite a few people as part of the Republican movement have said that God chose Bush to be President. I don't know whether they would accept the idea that mere mortal men should choose for him not to be President for another four years.

I guess we’ll find out when “they” cancel the election and install Bush as God's official President-for-life. Krugman is insane.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:49 AM | Comments (97)


The Arab News reports:

Malaysia’s constitution should be amended to ensure that only a Muslim can become prime minister of the multiracial country, the main opposition party said yesterday.

Islamic Party (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang, who is leading a challenge to the government in elections due on March 21, said that under the present secular constitution “the prime minister could be anyone”.

What a terrifying possibility.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck, who, under this site’s present secular constitution, could be anyone)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 AM | Comments (14)

March 11, 2004


Even John Kerry’s taste in poetry tends towards the indecisive and uncertain:

There was Kerry flying from Boston to New Orleans on Friday, sipping tea for his hoarse throat and reeling off T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

"There are so many great lines in it," he said. "'Do I dare to eat a peach?' 'Should I wear my trousers rolled?'”

Do I like Israel’s security fence or don’t I? Should the US be divided over who served in Vietnam? Is unilateral miltary intervention a good thing or a bad thing? The poetry revelation is from Maureen Dowd’s useless Sunday column, wherein she notes:

When I gave George W. Bush a culture quiz in 2000, he gamely struggled to come up with one answer in each category, calling baseball his favorite "cultural experience."

T. S. Eliot himself may have been of similar mind. Still, as James Lileks reminds us, Kerry does have his supporters -- most of them unidentified and overseas:

Why does he think the Unnamed Foreign Leaders like him best -- because they have America's best interests at heart? They want to mire the United States in the tarpit of the United Nations again, and Kerry looks like the man to wade right in.

Europe can't fight its way out of a paper bag, because it spends half its money propping up its paper bag industry, and the other half on bureaucracies regulating the strength and thickness of paper bags. Europe can only be the equal of American power with the willing cooperation of a president who stays up late at night wondering whether chain-smoking leftists in cafes on another continent might greet his next state visit with giant mocking puppets.

They wouldn’t have mocked an earlier version of Kerry, lest he strafe those puppets with machine-gun fire and burn down their villages. Via, here’s video of Kerry on NBC’s Meet the Press in April, 1971. Transcript:

Crosby Noyes: Mr. Kerry, you said at one time or another that you think that our policies in Vietnam are tantamount to genocide and that the responsibility lies at all chains of command over there. Do you consider that you personally as a Naval officer committed atrocities in Vietnam or crimes punishable by law in this country?

John Kerry: There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed, in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written, well-established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free fire zones, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

Today’s war hero previously described himself as a war criminal. Yet another flip-flop.

UPDATE. From the Washington Post’s editorial:

Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said last week that he would have saved Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from forced exile. "I would have been prepared to send troops immediately, period," Mr. Kerry said in an interview with the New York Times. Purposeful and decisive, no doubt, and useful as a riposte to Republican portrayals of him as a waffler. But on Feb. 24, when Mr. Aristide's fate still hung in the balance, Mr. Kerry did not sound quite so decisive.

There’s a shock.

UPDATE II. Hal G. P. Colebatch, who knows his poetry, finds a tiny weeny flaw in Kerry’s reading:

There is no such line as "Shall I wear my trousers rolled?" in "the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock."

The references to trousers are "I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled" and "shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach. I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach/I have hear the mermaids singing, each to each./I do not think that they will sing to me ..."

It seems Kerry is even less decisive than Prufrock, who at least knew he was going to roll his trousers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:38 PM | Comments (26)


Mahmood -- take his challenging quiz! -- explains Bahrain, which sounds more tolerant than some European countries:

It might interest you to know however that Bahrain is the only country in the Arabian Gulf which has an indiginous Jewish population. They are a few for sure, but they have been living here for tens if not hundreds of years. They are full integrated within the society and some their businesses are right in the center of town. They do not suffer any intimidations, nor anti-semitisms. Likewise we also have christian and hindu Bahrainis and they too live in peace.

Bahrain has been and will continue to be a religious tolerant country. For instance the Jews do have their own Synagogue, the varioua sects of Christianity have their own churches and even a couple of cathedrals, and the hindus have their temples.

More important than the religious aspect however, Bahrain has the only Jewish MP in our parliament as well as the only lady Christian MP. This is the Bahraini parliament I'm talking about. This is a first in the Gulf. So you will see that we live quite happily together. To us, it is being a Bahraini first and its completely up to you to worship whichever god you choose.

I’ve got to visit Bahrain one day.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:25 PM | Comments (14)


All that bitching and howling and crying from the Thespian-Australian community seems to have paid off:

The fine print of the US-Australian free trade agreement has yielded one surprise – Australian subscription television providers may be forced to double their investment in Australian drama.

Present regulations demand that 10 per cent of pay-TV programming investment must be in Australian drama production, whereas the FTA foreshadows that rising to 20 per cent.

This is a significant concession to the Australian film and TV production lobby, which fought to prevent an erosion of support measures designed to allow Australians to see and hear Australian stories in cinemas and on TV.

Culture by legislation. Great.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:48 AM | Comments (32)


Chief Wiggles’ site reports the delivery of your PayPal donations to the Cawley Children Memorial Fund. Much thanks to Plunge at the Chief’s site, who rounded the final figure up to $US500, and thanks also to the many readers who sent donations to the fund by mail.

In other goodness news, Robert Corr urges Perth readers to drop by the Hyde Park Hotel tomorrow night for a concert to raise funds for Iranian earthquake victims. It’s a good cause, so I pledge a donation for every photograph e-mailed to me from the event that depicts Rob waving a “Vote Howard” sign, having a drink tipped over his head, being arrested, or enduring any other form of humiliation.

UPDATE. Rob accepts the challenge!

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:46 AM | Comments (12)


John Pilger’s moral illness is revealed anew during an interview with the ABC’s Tony Jones. Hit the link for the full transcript. An abbreviated version follows:

TONY JONES: John Pilger, do you still maintain that the world depends on what you call "the Iraqi resistance" to inflict a military defeat on the coalition forces?

JOHN PILGER: Well, certainly, historically, we've always depended on resistances to get rid of occupiers, to get rid of invaders. And what we have in Iraq now is I suppose the equivalent of a kind of Vichy Government being set up. And a resistance is always atrocious, it's always bloody. It always involves terrorism.

You can imagine if Australia was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War the kind of resistance there would have been, and so on. We've seen that all over the world. Now, I think the situation in Iraq is so dire that unless the United States is defeated there that we're likely to see an attack on Iran, we're likely to see an attack on North Korea and all the way down the road it could be even an attack on China within a decade, so I think what happens in Iraq now is incredibly important.

TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?

JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they're legitimate targets. They're illegally occupying a country. And I would have thought from an Iraqi's point of view they are legitimate targets, they'd have to be, sure.

TONY JONES: So Australian troops you would regard in Iraq as legitimate targets?

JOHN PILGER: Excuse me but, really, that's an unbecoming question. I've just said that any foreign occupier of a country, military occupier, be they Germans in France, Americans in Vietnam, the French in Algeria, wherever, the Americans in Latin America, I would have thought, from the point of view of the local people - and as I mentioned, be they Australians in Australia - if Australia had been invaded and occupied by the Japanese, then the occupying forces, from the point of view of the people of that country, are legitimate targets.

TONY JONES: Do you acknowledge that huge human rights abuses, not perhaps on the same scale as Pol Pot, but quite close to it, happened under Saddam Hussein's regime ...

JOHN PILGER: Absolutely.

TONY JONES: But just let me finish that question. Can there not be a moral case made for deposing the dictator who was killing hundreds and thousands of his opponents?

JOHN PILGER: Absolutely. By the Iraqi people.

So Pilger would support the same outcome -- Saddam’s removal -- if only it had been achieved by different means. Means that involved people unable to achieve it, on account of them all being murdered. And Pilger is a hero to the oppressed ...

UPDATE. The deputy Prime Minister weighs in.

UPDATE II. We shouldn’t forget this Pilgerite swill from Saddamargo Kingston last year:

For God sake, it's their country, and they're facing overwhelming force! The US is INVADING Iraq, to take it over - their bodies are in some cases the only effective weapon they've got.

And as I've said before, if Australia is attacked, it's no longer terrorism. We have invaded Iraq. Iraq, or its new allies, have every right to attack back.

UPDATE III. Two "legitimate targets" and their Iraqi "collaborator" have been killed:

Gunmen shot to death two Americans and their Iraqi translator south of Baghdad, and the Polish military said Wednesday that the attackers were disguised as police and stopped the car at a roadblock.

The American victims were the first U.S. civilians from the occupation authority to be killed in Iraq.

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports one of the Americans killed in the ambush was Fern Holland, 33, program manager for women's initiatives in Iraq.

Holland was working with Iraqi women on the newly developed Iraqi constitution and was leading women's rights efforts in the part of the country where she was killed.

UPDATE IV. Paolo from Italy, whose uncle was freed from Buchenwald by Allied soldiers, declares: “Vaffanculo to the John Pilger men of every country.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:46 AM | Comments (119)


A few weeks ago, Labor leader Mark Latham held forth on the subject of boys and education:

The decline of personal and social relationships was affecting boys most, he said.

Boys were leaving school earlier with lower literacy levels, and they were disproportionately more likely to be victims of drug overdoses, road trauma and youth suicide, he said.

So the government moved to do something about it:

Yesterday, the Government introduced amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act to allow schools to offer teacher training scholarships to males only. The stated aim was to overcome the chronic gender imbalance in our schools.

And Labor’s reaction?

Even before the amendments hit the Parliament, they were in trouble. Labor and the minor parties said they would vote them down.

Pathetic. Still, there’s a silver lining within this sucky cloud. The issue has inspired Margo Kingston to write one of her worst intros ever:

Ah, the Zeitgeist! Everywhere you look the rules change before your eyes as new patterns seem to emerge then mutate. I'm still getting my head around ...

Etc, etc. You’d rather read a doctor’s report on the inoperable nature of your penile cancer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:52 AM | Comments (23)


Via Gnu Hunter, gnus ... er, news that Australia’s Muslims have had it up to here with their wayward Mufti. Here’s Sheikh Fehmi Naji:

Most of the time, he goes overboard in his statements, and sometimes there are a lot of contradictions and outrageous declarations, and because of that, not every Imam agrees with him, not many Muslims in Australia would agree with him as well.

Because this is not proper, particularly in the status of multiculturalism we live in, in Australia, and we have to know exactly what we are saying, and if it is within our structure here and everything is according to the real truth.

The “real truth” ... why, that’s just some kind of crazy Western concept.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:50 AM | Comments (3)


Having already stormed the US, Holden’s Monaro is now invading the UK.

Hold out for the 380bhp version.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:45 AM | Comments (8)


Add John Benaud to Tony the Teacher’s list of Muralitharan doubters:

Articulate and with decades of experience in the game, Benaud offers an opinion on just about any topic without fear of being reprimanded or causing a public relations disaster.

So while you won't hear any of the Australian Test team call Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan a "chucker" (Adam Gilchrist did and was crucified), Benaud doesn't hold back.

He was in a relaxed mood at No 1 Oval yesterday before the start of the Dubbo versus Australian Old Collegians team, and the question, "Do you think Murali's a chucker," brought a smile to his face.

He looked over the field and said, "I think he does. I've noticed that he's gone from a bent-armed bowler to a rubber-wristed one.

"I've got no doubts that his action is completely illegal."

He’s right. Just watch the man "bowl".

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:36 AM | Comments (21)

March 10, 2004


Sweeping individual puddles of sick into one massed pond is disgusting, but not impossible: will announce this week a series of ambitious editorial initiatives, including the opening of a new Washington D.C. news bureau as well as strategic partnerships with, The Guardian of London and the new progressive radio network, Air America, MediaChannel has learned from a memo sent to Salon board members.

Also involved: Sidney Blumenthal. And Al Franken. Sounds like another Respect Party.

(Via Matt Welch)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:07 PM | Comments (19)


Dick Cheney describes his role in the current administration:

I would say that I am a dark, insidious force pushing Bush toward war and confrontation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:02 PM | Comments (15)


The Guardian’s global scorecard for both presidential candidates gives Spain, Italy, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan to Bush; rates Britain, Russia, Israel, and Iraq as “neutral/unknown”; and delivers the following to John Kerry:

Entire Arab world
Most of Latin America

Anybody who wins the trust of the entire Arab world must be doing something right ... right? Meanwhile, Bush is seeing just how the planet reacts to his brutish unilateralism. Remember these arrogant pre-war remarks?

So clearly the allies may not like it, and I think that's our great concern -- where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity, but in a sense, they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq.

And, further offending the international community, he told the UN to go to hell:

The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by Mr. Butler. So furthermore, I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests.

Weird thing is, Bush didn’t say any of this. John Kerry did.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:00 PM | Comments (29)


Good news from Iraq:

Abu Abbas, the Palestinian who led the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in which a wheelchair-bound American hostage was killed, has died in US custody, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

"Initial reports indicate he died of natural causes," said Bryan Whitman, the Pentagon spokesman. "Medical efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and autopsy will be performed."

In certain cases, like Abu’s, it would be fun to perform autopsies before death. Meanwhile, in Tikrit:

The tension that pervaded the town six months ago has lifted. The aggressive American patrolling seen last summer and autumn has been scaled down. There are joint US military and Iraqi army checkpoints in and out of the town and the centre is under the control of the local police.

The best line comes from Tikrit barber Amar: "I'm happy and I thank God, the Prophet and the Americans for that."

As observed in comments, the Democratic Underground pogs are going nuts about Abu. So is the PLF:

The Palestinian Liberation Front has accused the United of the "assassination" of its leader Abu Abbas, who the Pentagon said had died of natural causes in US custody.

"We hold the US administration responsible for the assassination of Abu Abbas, the Arab Palestinian national leader," Nazem Yussef, PLF representative in Lebanon, told AFP.

"They had stopped giving him medicines for 10 days at the detention centre in Iraq, and he had been suffering from heart problems and blood pressure," Mr Yussef said.

Contributor J. F. Beck notes: “Well, he ain't suffering blood pressure now.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:54 PM | Comments (13)


Stick to the healthier McDonald’s alternative.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:52 PM | Comments (8)


Is the silver-tongued senator from Massachusetts a fake turkey believer? Reader Bart N. writes: "I don’t know if you have seen this yet, but on John Kerry’s web-site he mentions the ‘fake’ turkey incident." To be fair, Kerry isn’t directly quoted:

John then spoke about the Medicare Bill recently signed by the president that effectively forces people into expensive HMO plans and prevents Medicare from using its formidable consumer base to drive the bulk purchase of expensive prescription drugs down. He also spoke about the recent Bush Thanksgiving visit to our military inIraq, carrying a platter laden down with a fake turkey, smiling for a photo op.

Hmmm. James Lileks asks:

I’d love to know if Kerry said it was a fake turkey, or whether that’s the author’s addition.

My money’s on Kerry. In December, the silver-tongued senator (!!!) released this text of a speech to the Associated Press:

"On issue after issue, George Bush has given America a raw deal, and everyone in this room knows it. George Bush goes to Baghdad to carry around a fake Thanksgiving turkey while he cuts support for our troops and 40,000 veterans are left on a hospital waiting list."

That’s an interesting line from someone who claims Republicans are "going to do everything possible to tear down my character and Teresa. That's the way they operate."

Ol’ Silver Mouth seems to be doing a perfectly good job of that himself. Meanwhile Jay Ambrose has more on Kerry’s Haitian warlust, earlier mentioned here:

So now -- based on what he said in criticizing President Bush -- we know that Sen. John Kerry would put the lives of U.S. troops at risk in a civil war to save a tyrannical, corrupt, incompetent regime in Haiti.

Where exactly is Kerry coming from? Is this the same presidential candidate who refused to vote for funds supporting the U.S. presence in Iraq and who to this day does not seem entirely clear on the importance of the war there to U.S. security? Is this the same man who made a virtual career in his younger days of denouncing U.S. intervention in Vietnam?

Aristide must be another of Kerry’s foreign government friends. In other flip-flop news, Bill Herbert pursues the evolving views of Robert Fisk.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn describes Kerry’s observation that Bush should have sent troops to help Aristide as "the most stupid of his campaign".

UPDATE II. A veteran comments about Kerry’s hospital waiting lists.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:35 PM | Comments (24)


Mentioned in this week’s Grand Prix-flavoured Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are John Howard, George W. Bush, Save Albert Park, Mark Webber, Muslim Ferrari supporters, Ron Tandberg, Greg Baum, and Michael Schumacher.

Iowahawk will not be happy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:37 AM | Comments (3)


Is Al Jazeera less biased than the Sydney Morning Herald? Professor Bunyip says yes.

UPDATE. Bunyip says no!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:02 AM | Comments (12)


Already fired once for plagiarism, Khalil Abdullah is fired again:

A smaller-scale version of the Jayson Blair tale has hit a Georgia newspaper.

The Macon Telegraph fired reporter Khalil Abdullah for copying parts of news stories from other publications, the newspaper said.

Abdullah, 31, was already on his second chance. He was fired from The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram for similar actions several years ago, but Macon editors thought he had learned his lesson, according to the Telegraph.

Serial copier Abdullah seems accepting of his fate:

"I don't think that I'll ever try to work in newspapers again," he said. "I've always enjoyed writing, but at this time I don't see myself working in newspapers."

If he’d really enjoyed writing, as opposed to stealing, he wouldn’t have been fired.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 AM | Comments (8)


The Guardian is actually proud that its idiotic Pentagon beat-up attracted a lot of attention:

The page loaded 456,671 times was a story, originally published by the Observer, about a secret Pentagon report which warned the Bush administration that global warming could destroy the American way of life as they knew it.

More lies; it wasn’t a Pentagon report. But let The Guardian enjoy its hit-filled day of glory:

It also predicted that Britain would become the new Siberia, but that probably wasn't the reason the story, reporting the contents of the Pentagon's work, became so popular. It became popular because in a week when the president pushed himself further to the right with his plans to amend the US constitution to outlaw gay marriage, an article that showed his conservative instincts on the environment to have been badly misjudged played very well with liberals.

You could tell this because every liberal with a weblog linked to the story, and when a story is trawled by the blogs traffic goes up; exponentially. Jane Perrone, Guardian Unlimited's weblog editor explains. "The key to a story's popularity amongst bloggers is if it's picked up by one of the dozen or so big hitters. These celebrity bloggers include Glenn Reynolds, Joshua Micah Marshall and Doc Searls."

Here’s Instapundit’s link. Note the, er, admiring tone. A large part of this story’s “popularity” was due to the blatant misreporting evident on even a casual reading; many linked to it as an example of The Guardian's stupidity. As Bill Herbert points out, “the paper's most popular piece is the one that got virtually every aspect of the story dead wrong.”

Lefty bloggers seem not to be bothered by this.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:18 AM | Comments (13)


Abu Bakar Bashir, the plank-toothed folk dancer believed to be spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, has some interesting theories:

Speaking from an Indonesian jail, where he is serving a forgery sentence, Abu Bakar Bashir claimed America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was behind the Bali bombings that killed 88 Australians.

In the interview, which aired on SBS television tonight, Bashir said terrorists were those who did not show their true intentions.

Bashir said Americans, Europeans and Jews were all intent on undermining Islam for their own purposes.

Those purposes being “staying alive” and “not being annihilated by psychotic fundamentalists”. Selfish Euro-US-Jews!

He said the September 11 terror attacks on the US were part of a holy war against America.

It was wrong to call those responsible for the attacks terrorists.

"I say to Muslims that to call them terrorists is a big sin," he said.

"People who call them terrorists are sinners. They're Mujahideen defending Islam."

It's comforting to learn that Batshit will soon be free:

Indonesia's best-known militant cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, will be released from prison on April 4, after the Supreme Court cut his three-year sentence in half, a court official said Tuesday.

He'll be out just in time for the International Day of Dance! Spin that skirt, Abu.

UPDATE. No such luck for John Allen Muhammad.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:36 AM | Comments (5)


Remember Michael Moore’s comment that the September 11 passengers were too reserved and timid to fight their attackers? Turns out the fat bastard is wrong again:

The widow of a Gulf War veteran aboard doomed United Airline Flight 175 revealed for the first time yesterday that passengers tried to stop hijackers from crashing the plane into one of the Trade Center towers.

"I might have to hang up quickly, we're going to try to do something about this," Brian Sweeney reportedly said in a cell phone call to his mother.

"Okay," Louise Sweeney said. "Do what you have to do."

Moore is probably too busy at his new job to find time for an apology.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 AM | Comments (15)


Who could ever have predicted this?

John Kerry says he no longer considers Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to be a statesman, but rather "an outlaw to the peace process" in the Middle East who has been rightly shuffled aside.

In a 1997 book, Kerry described "Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman." But in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday he said he no longer views Arafat favorably.

Presumably Arafat isn’t among the foreign leaders Kerry has been hallucinat ... er, talking to recently:

John Kerry claimed yesterday that certain "foreign leaders" have told him that they're rooting for him to defeat President Bush.

"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that," Kerry told a crowd while campaigning in Hollywood, Fla.

Oh, sure they did:

The Kerry campaign, however, has been unable to provide the names of any foreign leaders he's met in the last twelve months.

Another line from the above-linked NY Post piece: “Kerry also predicted Republicans would try to "tear down" his reputation.” Not likely. If anything, Republicans are going to build it up.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:00 AM | Comments (20)

March 09, 2004


Having already caved to the anti-bacon lobby, McDonald’s now yields to beef-opposers. As Colby Cosh writes: “There hasn't been a slow-motion corporate disaster like this since New Coke.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:40 AM | Comments (18)


• Tim Dunlop files an insider’s account of this year’s Gridiron Club roast. Robert Novak was an apparent flop.

• The Wogblogger, presently posting at a record rate, demands that her culture be recognised: “I am Italian. MY culture is different. I should not be punished for speeding.”

• Sheila O’Malley, whose fine writing deserves much wider notice, confesses her Little House on the Prairie addiction.

• New mother Gianna is considering her blogging future following a dispute with her ex. It isn’t a pretty story, and it’s now reached the point of legal threats.

• Charles Austin bids us goodbye. Only temporarily, I hope.

• A Sullivan reader reminds us to heed John Kerry, and “understand the higher modalities of the situation.” Jim Treacher seeks out other Kerry modalities.

• Dr Alice writes movingly of a close friend’s suicide.

• Imagine life as Phillip Adams. Professor Bunyip enters this unholy zone.

• And Vietnamese driver victim Niall Cook, who lately attempted to secure his site from any unwanted attention, has relented. Complete Niall posts are again available to the seven or eight people who want to read them.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:35 AM | Comments (25)

March 08, 2004


Bahrain will shortly host its first Formula One race. But member of parliament Jassim al-Saeed is worried that certain world-dominating foreign types might turn up and ruin everything:

He warned Formula One organisers to make sure no Israelis attend the event. "If this happens we will confront it. We will pick up our pens and start writing until we stop it," he said.

What's he going to write? What point would he have to make besides "Jews are here -- this is bad"?

(Via new blogroll addition Israelly Cool. Also added: Minnesota’s excellent Fraters Libertas.)

UPDATE. Mahmood, as always, provides excellent commentary.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:39 PM | Comments (27)


Uli Schmetzer defends his faked-up use of the perfect quote:

You have assured the guy you are not going to quote him. But what he says absolutely reflects reality and is in the interests of your reading public. What do you do? Do you forget the quote? Do you tag it onto an anonymous source (an option that means it won’t see print these days)? Or do you break your code of ethics and change the name?

I felt in my case I acted in the interest of the readers to know there is a segment of the Australian public with this kind of opinion about natives, a fact that nearly all Australians, like myself, are aware of, though few have the courage to say so in public. I cited the quote but refused to use the author's name as this could have ruined his public career.

These are the decisions which journalists wrestle with day after day, in war zones, dictatorships and just plain difficult situations out there in the real world.

It's a very different world from the one inhabited by Mr. Wycliff who pontificates on the rights and wrongs from his ivory tower on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Excuse me, but Uli Schmetzer is full of shit. In his original piece, he didn’t use “Graham Thorn’s” quote to indicate the beliefs of a “segment of the Australian public”. He used it to support his line that “the outlook of white Australians seldom is sympathetic” towards Aborigines; the opinion of “Thorn” was presented as typical.

It isn’t.

(To read how the Schmetzer saga evolved, go here, here, here, here and here.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:37 PM | Comments (22)


Joan Collins -- a woman of admirable views -- relates a tale of airline security madness:

A well-known woman was about to walk through the X-ray machine holding her 18-month-old infant when she was stopped by a brusque security guard. ‘Can he walk?’ he inquired of the infant.

‘He’s just learning,’ she replied.

‘If he can walk then he’s got to walk across by himself — that’s the rules,’ he stated with the authority of a Gestapo commandant. ‘Put him down.’

‘But he doesn’t like walking,’ protested the poor woman, as the baby was wrenched from her arms and stood on its feet. Bedlam ensued — the poor little chap started bawling his brave little lungs out as the frantic mother was rushed through the sensor to encourage him to follow her, which he steadfastly refused to do, unable to comprehend why he’d been so unceremoniously dumped on the floor. In protest he plonked himself down on the ground, still screaming, while a gaggle of adults, including the security guards, tried to coax him through. In spite of his mother’s continued protestations that he was not ready for this terrifying toddler trial, the officials insisted and after several minutes of cajoling the distraught infant managed to cross the barrier on his own, after which point he had to be thoroughly body-searched because the rivets in his little jeans had set the sensors off. Meanwhile, several turbaned gentlemen were allowed through without the barest flicker of the fairy wand, much less the request to remove their headgear.

Stupid airports.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:14 PM | Comments (27)


Greece is liberated:

Greek conservatives ended a decade of socialist rule with a resounding election victory today which handed new Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the challenging job of overseeing this year's Olympic Games.

After exit polls indicated a win of around five percentage points for the New Democracy party of Karamanlis, socialist leader George Papandreou conceded defeat.

Given the new PM’s background -- he was educated in the US -- this might also signal a decline in Greek anti-Americanism.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:00 PM | Comments (15)

March 07, 2004


Guantanamo Bay: hellish outpost of the imperial Bush war machine, or the best holiday destination this side of Disneyland? Teenage former inmates, now returned to Afghanistan, offer their opinions:

The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

As The Guardian’s James Astill notes:

This might seem to jar with the prevailing opinion of Guantanamo among human rights groups.

Human rights groups were wrong? What kind of crazy world are we living in?

(Via Meyer Raphael)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:23 PM | Comments (84)


Super grand mega hyper ultra Mufti, the esteemed Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, could soon be busted down to mere terror-appeasing loser status:

Australia’s Muslim body may discuss stripping Grand Mufti Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly of his title at its next Congress meeting over comments he allegedly made about terrorism.

The mufti has come under fire for comments he allegedly made during a sermon in Lebanon in which he made reference to the Arab martyrs and the September 11 attacks in New York as "God's work against oppressors". The chief executive officer of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Amjad Mehboob, said today the matter may come up at their next meeting on April 17. "The matter could come up for discussion...," he said. "It would be up to the members of our community to decide that." Mr Mehboob said he would also be speaking to the mufti during the week.

Maybe we shouldn’t be getting our hopes up. According to Mehboob:

But he said it was most likely the mufti had been misinterpreted.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:13 PM | Comments (15)


How to mesh this this crowd

Drizzling rain did not dampen the spirit of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras last night with up to 300,000 spectators lining the streets for the annual celebration.

With this claim, from Mardi Gras parade leader Monica Hingston, the lesbian cousin of Archbishop Cardinal George Pell …

"We are such a hidden group in society."

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:04 PM | Comments (29)


People complain about Michael Schumacher’s domination of Formula One, but decades from now they’ll all be telling their awed grandchildren about watching Schumacher demolish the entire field in Australia in 2004. It was a brilliant drive, and defied pre-season opinion -- which had Ferrari struggling to maintain their advantage. Maintain? It’s been increased, massively. Early in the race, somebody near by me checked his stopwatch (he was timing Schumacher) and said: “That can’t be right.” But it was; on his first flying lap, Schumacher had broken the lap record. Just after the midway point, he turned a lap faster than he’d managed in qualifying. The field will close in as the season continues, but who now would bet against a seventh Schumacher world title? Not me … and I earlier picked Raikkonen to win.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:55 PM | Comments (13)

March 05, 2004


No posts tonight. More posts tomorrow, after qualifying at Albert Park. In the meantime, please investigate the list of bloggers at left.

Notable event of the day: an elderly Subaru diving towards the overtaking lane on the Hume Highway ... at 80 kmh, for no reason, in the midst of traffic travelling perhaps 30 kmh faster. Once the tyre smoke cleared, several anti-war bumper stickers were visible on the Subaru's rear.

One of them read, and I am not making this up:

Arms Are For Hugging

As several drivers reminded the Subaru's pilot, via unusually expressive sign language: Eyes Are For Looking. Also, Brains Are For Using. One motorcyclist, whose evasive skills probably saved his life, seemed to be of the view that Fists Are For Beating.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:17 PM | Comments (50)


The Chicago Tribune's Uli Schmetzer might be the new Jayson Blair:

After revealing a free-lancer and former foreign correspondent had made up elements of a news story, the Chicago Tribune will conduct a review of the reporter's articles going back three years, its public editor said.

The Tribune said Wednesday free-lance writer Uli Schmetzer admitted fabricating the name and occupation of a man quoted in a Feb. 24 story filed from Australia. Now, Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff and Customer Service Editor Margaret Holt will scrutinize three years of Schmetzer's work, Wycliff said. That encompasses 286 Tribune stories, according to the Lexis-Nexis database.

"We're going to read the stories and see what looks odd -- if anything -- and where might quotes seem too perfect," Wycliff said.

Seems to me the Tribune might have had its eye on Schmetzer for some time. Media Life and The Australian have more. Tomorrow, I promise: no more Uli.

UPDATE. There's too much Uli for me to ignore! In latest news, Uli is outraged. Kind of like Australia was to read that we're a nation of Aborigine-hating monsters. He says he was only protecting his source. Plus there's more from Don Wycliff and a piece in the SMH. Here's a Wycliff extract:

It could be that technology already is providing us a kind of ultimate check in the form of the Internet. In the past, national and foreign correspondents could roam the country or the world writing stories about people who would never see their work. In the Internet age, there are fewer and fewer places where the Chicago Tribune--or the Waxahachie Daily Light, for that matter--cannot be accessed and read critically by people about whom we write. And that is a very good thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 AM | Comments (31)


Margooo Kingstooon writes:

I followed the Democratic primary in the US on the web, and was very disappointed when Howard Dean bowed out. His 'Take back America' campaign hit the spot with me, and at least his outspokenness on the Iraq war and the takeover of the US government by crony capitalism energised liberal voters and caught on with the other candidates. He's now planning a transformation of his huge internet support base into a grassrooots activist movement.

She only followed a single primary? Which one?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:35 AM | Comments (37)


Who doesn’t like big V8s? Only commies, probably. The Holden Calais I’m currently ruining contains 5.7 litres of V8, which, although it produces about 315 horsepower, is in a surprisingly mild (redline: 5500 rpm) state of tune; racing versions of the same engine churn out a reliable 600 horses plus. If this engine generated the same specific output as a Honda S2000’s, we’d be looking at horsepower in the region of 680.

So. This is no flame-spitting, venomous fright mobile. As well, given that an engine of this size, in moderate tune, has a whole ton of reciprocating mass to get moving before progress commences ... response is turbine- rather than turbo-like.

But in its element -- wide open highways -- nothing can live with it. This is one of the finest long-drive cars you can imagine. It eats road. Acceleration between 80kmh (50mph) and 140kmh (85mph) is astonishing; at which speeds the shortcomings of the aging 4-speed auto slide away a little. At light throttle loads it hovers over changes, makes weird dual-clunk downshifts, and generally acts like an idiot. When you work it, it works.

Handling is excellent. I thought I’d found a flaw early in the drive; excessive low-speed understeer. But I was tricked by the variably-geared steering, which simply required more lock around 60-70 kmh than I’d anticipated. Stupid me, thinking I might be able to out-drive something on tyres so wide they could mash the Vatican. Oh, and the ride: firm yet compliant, communicative yet never intrusive. You end up aiming at bumps just to experience how well they are dealt with.

Damn thing is so good I spent much of the drive hunting for petty faults I could bitch about. Does the indicator stalk really need that much travel? Why aren’t these cup holders perfectly calibrated for 600ml Coke bottles? Does the rear-vision mirror always display those flashing blue lights?

Actually, I do have one serious complaint. I’m sure the Blaupunkt people are justly proud of their fine car sound systems, which deliver precise and sharp notes across the entire range, but HELLO VOLUME? Volume, where are you? Crank this baby up to peak noise and, for God’s sake, you can still hold a conversation. I like my driving music loud -- so loud that, in perfect circumstances, bloody fragments of inner ear are sprayed all over the interior. And that’s just when I’m listening to Nora Jones.

You know, if I ever listened to Nora Jones. I consulted the sound system guide -- that’s another thing I hate; sound systems shouldn’t need a book -- and couldn’t find any way to boost things to an acceptable level. Which was sad, because I was playing Jet (the best combination of AC/DC and Daddy Cool yet) and the windscreen wasn’t fractured at all.

More tomorrow.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:18 AM | Comments (65)

March 04, 2004


No posts from me until later today. I'm driving to Melbourne at a socially-responsible speed, in a tiny, photosynthesis-powered eco-trolley. By nightfall I expect to be in Liverpool -- then, tomorrow, it's an all-day haul to Yass!

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:59 AM | Comments (7)


The Chicago Tribune doesn’t mess around. Only days after being alerted to correspondent Uli Schmetzer’s dubious reporting from Australia, here is the Tribune’s response:

In a Feb. 24 article from Australia about rioting after the death of an Aborigine boy, the following quote was attributed to a Graham Thorn, identified as a psychiatrist: "These people always complain. 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."

Following an e-mail complaint from a reader in Australia, Tribune editors questioned Uli Schmetzer, the freelance writer of the story. Schmetzer, who served for 16 years as a Tribune foreign correspondent before retiring from the staff two years ago, admitted that both the name and the occupation of the speaker were made up. He maintains that the quotation was uttered by an Australian man of his acquaintance.

Fabrication of any sort in a news story is a violation of the fundamental ethical principles of journalism and simply is not tolerated at the Chicago Tribune. Accordingly, Schmetzer has been terminated as a contract writer with the newspaper.

The Tribune apologizes to our readers for this breach of trust.

The Tribune’s Don Wycliff, who pursued this matter on the basis of a single e-mail he could easily have ignored, deserves congratulations. Other ombudsmen should take note. Memo to foreign correspondents: don’t fabricate quotes for your audience back home. You’re being watched.

UPDATE. The OmbudsGod, Editor and Publisher, and the Illinois Leader have follow-ups.

UPDATE II. Associated Press interviews Don Wycliff:

Wycliff said Schmetzer initially claimed he had changed the name at the request of his source, who didn't want to be flooded by e-mails and angry phone calls from his countrymen. Later, he told editors that wasn't true, the newspaper said.

"I don't think we ever really got a clear explanation of why," Wycliff said. "He was just rueful and regretful and kept saying it was an act of stupidity."

And here’s a piece by Don himself.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:19 AM | Comments (45)


Imre Salusinszky on Naomi Wolf’s claim that Yale professor Harold Bloom’s "heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh":

Well, he told her it was his hand – thank God for candlelight!

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


The Arab News reports an economic downturn in Jeddah:

The Anti-Begging Department has been forced to terminate the contracts of 16 employees, Al-Bilad Arabic newspaper reported. A number of the men told the paper this made it impossible for them to provide for their families and could force them to turn to begging.

At least they know the drill. Maybe they should follow the entrepreneurial lead of Muhammad Salman:

Nineteen-year-old Muhammad Salman has established the Kingdom’s first sheep laundry near Jeddah’s central sheep market after all attempts to find a job failed.

“I believe this is an honorable job. There is nothing to be ashamed of,” he told Al-Madinah Arabic daily.

Read the rest of the article. Muhammad is, er, cleaning up.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:15 AM | Comments (14)


In possibly the single most pointless act in the history of everything, has gone on strike in sympathy with lazy Australian teachers. Alan Anderson and Bernard Slattery are still working, however. Scabs!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:11 AM | Comments (2)

March 03, 2004


Apparently they really dig on some thigh meat. Not for the squeamy. In other not-for-the-weak news:

• Professor Bunyip deals with Margo Kingston’s latest psychotic episode. (Yesterday’s long-awaited Margo return is covered here.) Also via the Prof: Mark Webber speaks truth to politicians.

• Jim Treacher is treachering up a storm. Go visit.

• And Mark Latham reveals that he "first did it" at a "mate's place in inner Sydney. I was at Sydney University." He’s sounding more like his blog every day.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:59 PM | Comments (20)


The Wall Street Journal cites every possible negative in its description of Democrat candidate John Kerry:

His first cousin is a French mayor. His father was a diplomat. He spent school years in Switzerland, among other countries, and now and then vacationed in Brittany ... He thinks the death-penalty is bad and thinks the Kyoto Protocol, intended to protect the global climate, is good.

Oops! My mistake. That’s actually from Germany’s Financial Times, where these Kerry traits are considered positives. And they didn't even get around to mentioning Kerry’s main campaign platform.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:24 PM | Comments (16)


Thanks to the latest EU law, Formula One boss Max Mosley is leaving London:

FIA president Max Mosley has revealed that he is to move to Monaco to avoid any possible problems following the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant, a new piece of EU legislation that could mean he could be imprisoned without trial if a driver was killed or seriously injured at a grand prix in Europe.

"As long as I am president of the FIA I will have to live in Monaco for my own safety and to avoid a law which is not sensible when applied to Formula One.

"If some local policy authority wants a scapegoat for an accident at a circuit they could easily come after me or Charlie Whiting [F1's racing director]. They can come after you in your own home - but not if I am in Monaco."

Wasn’t the EU meant to bring Europe together?

(Via Chris Howell)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:09 PM | Comments (6)


Last night I sent $US470 of your money to the trusted website of Chief Wiggles, where a bank cheque was swiftly arranged for the Cawley Children Memorial Fund. Much easier than me sending a cheque from Australia, what with currency conversions, delays processing international cheques, people giggling at the spelling of "cheque", and so on.

Much thanks to everybody who contributed. I think I’ve contacted each donor individually; if I’ve somehow missed you, please send me a furious e-mail and I’ll feel the burning shame of the bad donor-thanker.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)


Mark Steyn is once again available to Canadian readers. To celebrate, Mark’s mailbag publishes one of the great hate e-mails of all time:

A friend told me your site was great. I read through your pages and realized that even though I'd wasted thirty-five minutes of my life reading your pablum, it was a far cry from the years you've wasted writing it.

I've always felt journalists were little more than parasites. People incapable of achievement, latching on to those who have achieved. Yourself for example--you've built a career by reporting on the accomplishments of people smarter and more successful than yourself. Smooth ride, those coattails.

I hope that during one of your commutes between Quebec and Vermont, you have one of those fantastically horrific car crashes that make all the headlines. You know the type: where you are decapitated and the head is never found. At least this way you will be famous for doing something yourself, rather than reporting about some other person who has done something worth noting.

Barring a stupendously grusome decapitation, at your age, statistically speaking, you should be dead in seven to nine years. When you die, please have the misses send me an invite to the funeral, so that I might dance on your grave.

My hate mail is never this good.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:51 PM | Comments (14)


Want bacon with your Kentucky Fried Chicken? At certain stores in Melbourne, you can’t order it:

Four KFC restaurants have taken bacon off the menu in favour of Muslim-friendly products.

The Endeavour Hills, Fawkner, Keilor Downs and Flemington KFC outlets have all dumped bacon from fillet burgers.

At Endeavour Hills, "sold-out" stickers have been placed over bacon products on its drive-through menu.

”Sell-out” is more like it. What would the Colonel say? Human rights co-ordinator for the Islamic Council of Victoria, Bilal Cleland, isn’t swayed by KFC's pandering:

"We hope that people are not taken in by this scheme. Just because you take the bacon out of the burgers doesn't make the food halal," he said.

"There has to be authentic certification that the food is halal and I haven't seen any evidence of that."

He said that all the meat, including chicken, must be certified as halal before it was acceptable to Muslims.

Wait until he finds out what’s in those eleven secret herbs and spices.

(Via Little Green Footballs)

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:35 PM | Comments (41)


The Chicago Tribune’s Don Wycliff solves the Uli Schmetzer quote mystery:

Dear Mr. Blair,

It grieves me to have to say that your suspicion was justified. It turns out that, while there really is a psychiatrist and he did make that remark (representing his own views and, Uli Schmetzer says, those of most white Australians), his name was made up to protect his identity and spare him the anger of his fellow countrymen. Schmetzer says the man, a personal acquaintance of his who lives in a place called Geelong, Victoria, asked him to use his mother's maiden name as his last name if Schmetzer used his quote. Of course, that is strictly forbidden--a violation of the most fundamental rule of journalism.

His editors had no reason to question the name, so they didn't and it went into the paper as written by the correspondent.

We will be publishing a correction of this in tomorrow's paper. I don't know at this point what sort of discipline will be levied on Mr. Schmetzer. But I would like to thank you for having the persistence and the faith in us to keep plugging away until you got someone's attention.

Warm regards,

Don Wycliff
Public Editor

Next: we seek clarification on Schmetzer’s claim that Australians carpet their homes with kangaroo fur ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:06 AM | Comments (43)


Ryan Pitts writes:

Just a response to your post on CNN coverage of unemployment figures between 1996 and 2001. I think you are mistaken. Here's why:

Looking at the stories you linked in that post, it is true that the writer described the rate differently in 2001 than the writer did in 1996. However, so did economic analysts, the Fed and the White House itself. In 1996, the 5.6% rate was resoundly received as good news. Five years later, these groups did not see the rate in the same light. In fact, in the 2001 story you linked, the Bush White House says "Today's numbers are not good news."

It may be that people are looking at things irrationally, but it's much more likely that unemployment rates are always viewed in the context of the previous few years. By everyone, not just the media. (Just look at the difference in the actions the Fed considered taking in 1996 vs. 2001. They're in the stories you linked, as well.) So ultimately, I can't figure out how it's media bias when all these sources reacted differently to the similar unemployment rates, five years apart. To this end, I've compiled a comparison here.

Take a look.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:52 AM | Comments (7)


The Australian’s Strewth column has the latest on the SMH Summers sex scandal:

Old editors came popping out of the woodwork yesterday after Strewth wondered just whom leading feminist Anne Summers was hinting at in her Sydney Morning Herald article about a now "rich and famous" ex-editor who 20 years ago sexually harassed a female staffer. We were first taken to task by a very jovial Paddy McGuinness for "forgetting the Financial Review" - a journal he edited at the crucial time. And at News Ltd we missed Peter Wylie and Roy Miller. Widening the scope also added the former editor of The Bulletin, Trevor Kennedy. But perhaps of more interest was the change between editions of Summers's article. We quoted the original - but, by the final edition, the time scale changed to a vague "many years ago" and the harasser was no longer "a rich, powerful and famous man" but simply "a man of some influence". Strewth is still waiting for Summers to clear the innocent.

I wonder what the woman who made the accusation twenty years ago thinks about Summers going public with this. Is the woman being exploited? Was permission sought?

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:46 AM | Comments (5)


Mark Latham wins in Australia! Some yet-to-be-selected Democrat wins in the US!

Hey, they could be accurate. Of the two, Latham is the more likely. Then again, polls lately have tended to mislead.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:54 AM | Comments (27)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Tony Blair, Clare Short, Kofi Annan, Saddam Hussein, Don Bramich, Stumpy the lobster, John Simplot, Peter King, Malcolm Turnbull's dog, Malcolm Turnbull, Ian Hughes, and Merv Hughes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:46 AM | Comments (7)


Up to 150 people have been murdered in attacks on Shi’ite shrines in Iraq. Thaer al-Shimri, a member of the Shi'ite Al-Dawa party, wonders: "How is it possible that any man let alone a Muslim man does this on the day of al-Hussein. Today war has been launched on Islam."

In one northern Baghdad attack:

Four suicide attackers blew themselves up at the Shi'ite mosque, security guards said.

"There were four suicide attackers. One blew himself up at the entrance of the mosque, the other in the heart of the building, and the other two at a side entrance," said Diya Ismail, one of the guards. He said he found a hand still clutching an unexploded grenade.

If fundamentalists can’t kill infidel westerners overseas, they kill Muslims in the Middle East. Anyone care to suggest a “root cause” that these Muslims should blame for their deaths? What have the Shi’ites done to make Islamic suicide killers hate them so?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:12 AM | Comments (38)


AIEEEEEEE! Margo’s back!” writes Kingston fan Nemesis. “And she’s loony as ever! Yeeee-ha!

Well, just hold on there a second, li’l Nemmy. Us experienced Margo wranglers know better than to judge the quality of Margo’s madness before it’s met federally-approved Margo madness standards. She’s been away from Webdiary for a long time, “writing” a book; her talents for logical disconnection, explosive exaggeration, and hilarious fact-bungling may have atrophied. Now, let the examination commence:

OK, the book's done - Not happy, John, defending Australia's democracy - and Webdiary is open for business for 2004.

Question: If Webdiary was a business, what would it sell?
a) scraps of dog meat
b) DIY welt kits
c) autographed non-celebrity stools

First correct answer wins a copy of Margo’s book. What does that title mean, exactly -- isn't Margo happy defending Australia’s democracy? So quit, already! And why no caps, or a colon following “John”? The book, by the way, was originally scheduled for sale in April; it’s since been shunted back to June. According to Penguin’s tragic summary:

What Mike Moore does for the US, Margo Kingston does for Australia. Her new book is a gutsy, anecdotal read with a deadly serious purpose: to show why Australia has reached the point where Howard's 'Anglo-fascist' agenda seems unstoppable.

Margo wants to be Mike Moore!

The latest evidence of the real reasons for war came via US defence department whistleblower Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who used to work next to the US government's propaganda intelligence service the Office of Special Plans, set up to get around the professional intelligence agencies who wouldn't cooperate with Bush's scam. She says there were three reasons - to ensure American multinationals got a slice of the Iraq action, to move US bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, and to reverse Saddam's decision that his oil sales to be made in Euros, not $US dollars.

Possibly so he could more easily transfer funds to his European pals.

The Parliaments of all three countries have fought mightily to get the truth behind the war, although in comparison with Britain and the United States Australia has proved to have far less robust parliamentary accountability mechanisms, which are in urgent need of strengthening.

The US has a Parliament?

Looking back, knowing what we now know, we can see clearly the madness of Bush and the unforgivable decisions of Blair and Howard to go along with him. We now know that containment of Saddam's WMD plans had worked; as US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in February 2001, "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to WMDs". We know that he had no link to September 11 or to Al Qaeda, while Saudi Arabia had financial and personnel links at the highest levels. We know that British intelligence warned that invading Iraq without UN sanction would INCREASE the risk of terrorism and INCREASE the chance of any WMDs Saddam had falling into terrorist hands.

The last time Margo launched into capitals it was to announce: “As predicted by everyone except the Yanks, it appears, it's supposed be a LONG war, requiring PATIENCE and INTELLIGENCE.” She was talking about the war in Afghanistan, which ended a short time after this outburst.

We know that Bush ignored warnings from the cIA and many other experts that democracy would not be possible in the short term in a nation with no experience of democratic freedom and a culture alien to Western style norms.

”cIA”? It’s tough holding down that shift key when the tremors kick in.

We know that Bush also ignored expert warnings that a very large occupation force would be required and that billions would need to be spent on reconstruction by the American people, and instead lied to his people that the cost would be minimal.

Here’s what Bush actually said: “We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.”

Bush abused his people's panic and fear after September 11 to get a war he and his neo-conservative advisers wanted under cover of the war on terror. There was dissent at the highest levels of government and from former Republican national security advisers, and the American people were loath to agree without the support of the United Nations. A poll at the time showed they trusted Tony Blair more than any other advocate for war. What if Blair and Howard had had the guts to say no, for America's sake.

What if they’d said no? Margo’s best-case scenario: Saddam Hussein would still rule Iraq.

Blair and Bush thought they had to say yes or the current American administration would stop being their friend. In doing so, they failed the test of true friendship with the American people.

Bush had to say yes to his own government or they’d stop being his friend?

For when you look at the results of this debacle, it is the American people who have and will suffer. Essential services are at breaking point, and will run down further as Americans try to pay for this war, currently costing $1 billion a week. American soldiers have lost their lives. And America is distrusted around the world.

Unlike the beloved French, for example. Care to supply any examples of essential services in the US breaking down, Margo? No? Okay.

For the Anglo-democratic system to survive and regenerate, it is imperative that Bush, Blair and Howard lose office and that their successors act urgently to ensure that the professional pride and dedication to truth of its public service is restored and the trust between leaders and citizens repaired.

In Margo’s world, Saddam is entitled to remain in power -- but Bush, Blair, and Howard must go. Welcome back, Margo! You’ve still got it!

UPDATE: Tim Dunlop has a Margo plan that will expose Webdiary readers to a whole planet of blogs. All hail our leader!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:48 AM | Comments (52)


I’ll be in Melbourne this weekend for the Australian Grand Prix. Purely for reporting purposes, obviously. Thanks to the kind folks at General Motors, I’ve got a new Holden Calais for the drive south -- 5.7 litre Chevrolet-derived V8, 315 horsepower, and enough torque to cinch together tectonic plates. Look for reviews here in a couple of days and subsequently in the Sunday Telegraph. And in court, if I choose to ignore cruise control. Given current speeding enforcement policy in Victoria, maybe I should detach seven plug leads ...

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


Four Palestinians rape and murder another Palestinian. Reuters identifies those responsible:

Palestinians Monday demanded the execution of four men for the rape and murder of a Gaza girl of 16, a rare sex crime that has deepened fears of a slide into lawlessness accelerated by the conflict with Israel.

The Gnu Hunter has other news in the culture/rape realm; no blame here for those cunning Jews, however.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:36 AM | Comments (9)

March 02, 2004


Drive the ladies wild with that musky Tora Bora dirt grave aroma! Worn and recommended by celebrity journalist Robert Fisk: "A few drops of Eau De Osama, and they won't able to keep their hands off you!" Available now at the finest Lahore perfumiers, or anywhere else licensed to sell bottled cat urine.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:37 PM | Comments (20)


So who was that mystery harasser accused yesterday by Anne Summers? Seems the Sydney Morning Herald’s lawyers thought she’d come just a leetle too close to identifying him in her original story:

Twenty years ago, my journalistic colleague left the industry rather than continue to endure the humiliation. Her harasser, while no longer an editor, is today a rich, powerful and famous man.

By the time the second edition of the print SMH was on sale, the story had been changed in a few tiny, crucial ways. Lawyers will do that. Here’s how the piece ran in those later copies:

All those years ago, my journalistic colleague left the industry rather than continue to endure the humiliation. Her harasser, while no longer a journalist, remains a man of some influence.

Helpfully, for anybody wanting to sue Summers and the SMH, the online version remains as it was. Step lively, defamation experts! Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune’s Don Wycliff has been in touch to say that Uli Schmetzer’s strange quote from “Australian psychiatrist Graham Thorn” is under investigation. Phone calls yesterday to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the medical practitioners board failed to turn up a psychiatrist by that name. What’s the story, Uli?

UPDATE. The Australian lists the accused:

In the early 1980s there were not that many editors. News Limited had Warren Beeby, Les Hollings, Larry Lamb, Alan Farrelly, Adrian Begg, Geoff Hussey, Martin Beesley, Les Hoffman, Owen Thompson, Brian Hogben and Martin Dougherty. The Fairfax group had Chris Anderson, Eric Beecher, John Alexander, David Hickey and Andrew Clark. As a number of the above are dead and few are rich and famous, the field narrows. Strewth wonders if Summers, who in the mid-1990s battled against rumours she, as an editor, had sexually harassed a bloke at a Christmas party, will clear the innocent.

Les Hollings, Larry Lamb, Owen taught-me-everything-I-know Thomson and Brian Hogben are deceased. Small list, ain’t it?

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:55 AM | Comments (16)


Look, it’s really, really, really sad that a murderer who murdered thousands isn’t around to murder people any more, and I feel deeply sorry for everyone who wishes Saddam Hussein was still in power so the murdering could continue, but all the wishing in the world won’t put him back in charge, you know? The Saddam era (at least we still have our memories) is, alas, over.

So do what you have to do -- demand a few more inquiries, march against the injustice of it all, place a candlelit shrine to Saddam in your breakfast nook -- and then move on. Don’t slump around in despair. Make something of your lives! Uday and Qusay would have wanted it that way. You don’t want to disappoint little Uday and Qusay, do you?

Besides, even without Saddam in power, the world isn’t such a bad place. Castro is still killing people. So is Mugabe. So is Kim Jong-il. See? I bet you’re feeling better already.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:21 AM | Comments (133)


What kind of crazy game is Media Watch playing now? The program’s analysis of the deeply Gilliganish Mark Forbes-Frank Lewincamp dispute is mystifying.

Host David Marr first rebukes The Age for lying -- “Fudging is OK to protect the identity of a source. Lying is not. The paper lied” -- before plunging into a long defence of the paper’s right to publish what Forbes had allegedly learned, given that Lewincamp’s comments had been made under the Chatham House rule:

Mark Forbes clearly pushed the Chatham House rule to the limit, but he didn't break it.

Media Watch completely ignores an additional requirement apparently demanded of Forbes and other students attending Lewincamp’s seminar. As Lewincamp told a Senate hearing:

There was a further injunction given clearly to the students, including Mr Forbes, both before and after my presentation that there be no attribution, citing or disclosure of any information in the speech.

Which tends to make any chatter about the Chatham House rule kind of irrelevant. What part of “no attribution, citing or disclosure of any information” doesn’t Media Watch understand? In any case, Marr believes the bigger story has been missed:

Lewincamp's denial and the ethical controversy clouded what remained a good and important story. More attention should have been paid by the media to what Lewincamp had not denied.

Among Lewincamp’s non-denials, according to Marr, was his failure to backtrack publicly from this verdict:

Asked if the magnitude of the Iraqi threat justified its invasion, the official said: ‘No.’

No public backtracking, eh? The official -- Lewincamp -- later told the Senate hearing:

I have never said the Bush Administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated.

Sounds plenty backtrackish to me -- even if it doesn’t precisely address the quote at issue (Lewincamp didn’t specifically rebut any quote attributed to him by Forbes). Media Watch has a whole week to assemble its weeny 15-minute show; one can only assume that evidence-dodging of this type is deliberate, rather than the result of blunderfingered dumbness.

(For more on the Forbes debacle, please visit Professor Bunyip and Bernie Slattery)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:06 AM | Comments (3)

March 01, 2004


The candidate who wouldn't "support the president to proceed unilaterally" against Iraq has transformed into a Haitian hawk:

Kerry (D-Mass.) said he would have sent troops to Haiti even without international support to quell the revolt against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"President Kerry would never have allowed that to get where it is," Kerry said, though he added he's not "a big Aristide fan."

A Kerry administration would have given the rebels a 48-hour ultimatum to come up with a peaceful agreement - "otherwise, we're coming in," he said.

"I would intervene with the international community, and absent an international force, I'd do it unilaterally," he said, adding the most important thing was to protect democracy.

You’d think all that Botox would’ve frozen a few thoughts in place; instead, they flop around inside Kerry’s head like dying bats. He’s quite the inspirational speaker, too, as James Lileks points out. How’s this for a line to rally the nation:

God has been on our side through most of our existence.

That’s the southern vote sewn up.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn on the nuancy boy:

If you've gone over to the forces of nuance, Kerry's your guy - or your nuancy boy. He's got nuances coming out of his nuances. As the New York Times put it in its endorsement of the Senator: "What his critics see as an inability to take strong, clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that life is not simple. He understands the nuances."

That may be the most lethal endorsement since Al Gore leapt on the Howard Dean bandwagon and sent it careering into the ravine.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 PM | Comments (34)


Well, well, well. The old flee-to-the-US-and-impersonate-a-geologist trick.

Clever, Kingston. But not clever enough!

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


To celebrate today’s Oscar Madison awards in Hollywood, here’s a piece on comical, hysterical, spherical Michael Moore:

Perhaps nothing irritates Moore more than criticism of his lifestyle.

He's been known to refer to his house on 10 acres of Torch Lake frontage as a cabin, as if it were a place with four walls, a roof, an outhouse and a stack of cordwood to beat back the chill in winter.

Technically, it is a log cabin. Two stories. According to Antrim County records, the home is worth $1.2 million.

Former Moore pal Ben Hamper -- "I'm just another person he's outgrown" -- has an interesting theory about Moore’s capacity for denial:

At an appearance at Michigan State University in late January, Moore took questions after his two-hour talk. A student asked if rumors about him building on a wetland Up North were true.

Silence. Then: "Don't know what you're talking about."

According to state records, Moore partially filled in a wetland to improve his beach. He quickly fixed the problem and wasn't fined.

Why deny it?

"A pathological need to be right," Hamper said.

That need is so rarely satisfied.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:09 PM | Comments (22)


Time magazine’s Richard Corliss, on artistic freedom:

Liberals—and being a member of the media, I of course count myself among them—can be a pretty funny bunch. When we are sympathetic to a controversial work of pop culture, we invoke the artist’s right to create in an climate of total freedom, whatever feelings of outrage the work may stoke among the ignorati. (That is: other people.) When we disapprove, we talk about his responsibility to the sensitivities and sensibilities of good people. (That is: us.)

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:38 AM | Comments (16)


Anne Summers pulls a Naomi Wolf in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Twenty years ago, when I was living in Canberra, a journalist colleague visited me at home one Saturday afternoon. With her husband sitting beside her, holding her hand, she tearfully recounted how her editor in Sydney was sexually harassing her. She had come to me for advice because I had published a book about women and was known as a feminist.

What could she do? What should she do? Do nothing, I counselled. It will hurt you more than it will hurt him if you take any action. I cringed from the shock and contempt I saw in both her and her husband's eyes. They had expected more of me.

Twenty years ago, my journalistic colleague left the industry rather than continue to endure the humiliation. Her harasser, while no longer an editor, is today a rich, powerful and famous man. But no one will ever know now what he did.

Or, more accurately, what he is alleged to have done, which Summers doesn’t identify. The pool of Sydney-based editors from the mid-80s is quite small; the number who’ve since become rich, powerful and famous is smaller still. This could develop into something interesting.

UPDATE. Summers treats allegations against this former editor as fact. She was furious when similar rumours circulated about her in the mid-90s, when Summers herself was a Sydney editor:

Reports of allegations of sexual harassment of a rather unusual nature surfaced at “The Good Weekend”, the magazine insert of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, in July. The issue led to a falling out between Anne Summers, the magazine’s editor, and her deputy, Deborah Tarrant. After Summers sacked Tarrant on July 7, citing lack of support and failure to keep Summers informed of rumors circulating about her, most of the magazine staff signed a letter seeking Tarrant’s reinstatement and a series of staff meetings insisted she be reinstated or offered a comparable job within the Fairfax organisation. On July 27 Summers went public in the SMH, using her own newspaper’s editorial columns in a rather questionable way to put her case against the rumors, that she was to be the subject of a sexual harassment case by a male photographer attached to the magazine over an incident at a party. Tarrant eventually left the company in August after reaching a financial settlement, reported to be more than $100,000, that included a confidentiality clause.

Scroll down here to read Summers’ account of the rumours.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:23 AM | Comments (31)