Arthur Chrenkoff presents a massive haul of good news from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, what do you say to Phyllis Bennis when the addled old mossback starts jabbering about Iraqis being better off before liberation? You say exactly what Frank Gaffney said:
You're crazy, Phyllis, you're just absolutely bonkers.
Prime Minister John Howard says Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham should support Australia's free trade deal with the United States now that the US's Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, has backed it.
Mr Howard has welcomed Senator Kerry's decision.
"We now have both sides of politics in the United States backing this agreement," he said.
"Isn't it a pity we don't have both sides of politics in Australia showing the same level of bipartisanship.
"Now that Mr Kerry has come on board, perhaps the Labor Party will finally get off the fence and finally take a decision in the Australian national interest."
Tariff junkie Pat Buchanan is supersizing himself:
Is Patrick Buchanan the new Michael Moore? One might wonder, to judge by a letter from the conservative columnist that St. Martin's, the publisher of his upcoming book, is circulating to booksellers this week. Buchanan promises his book will show how, "A cabal of neoconservatives inside and outside the administration hijacked U.S. foreign policy, beat the drums for war in Iraq, and may have ignited a 'war of civilizations' with the Islamic world that could last a generation."
The mostly-ignored isolationist apparently pulled in a half-million dollar advance for his cabal-hyping crank-a-thon. It might be time to introduce Hillary Clinton's anti-wealth strategy:
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Fine John Spooner cartoon in today’s Melbourne Age. And the accompanying article, by Tony Parkinson, isn’t bad either:
The leftist intelligentsia has persisted throughout with the absurd fantasy that the violence and bloodshed in Iraq in fact signifies widespread popular resistance to American power.
It's as if they have forgotten the lessons of the Cold War when, in the name of anti-Western ideology, many on the left became trapped in the odious embrace of dictators, averted their eyes to the murder of innocents, and sought to rationalise the crushing of dissent as a necessary evil on the path to creating a superior alternative social model. In fact, all they were doing all along was accommodating totalitarian thugs.
Claudia Rosett, who deserves a Pulitzer for her ceaseless work exposing the UN, observes a crucial difference between that organisation and the US:
"Let freedom reign," wrote President Bush as Iraq regained sovereignty Monday.
"Today, the secretary-general welcomes the state of Iraq back into the family of independent and sovereign nations," said a United Nations statement.
In the gap between those two statements, you can see the world of difference that lies between the U.S. and the U.N. in approaching the worst troubles of our time. For America, and Mr. Bush, the struggles now upon us are basically about freedom, and rule of, by and for the people. For the U.N., and Mr. Annan, it is all about paternalism, consensus, family. And I'm sorry to say that the family that springs first to mind has a lot less to do with Gramps, Grandma and the kids than with the Mafia clan of TV fiction fame, the Sopranos. And not just because both families claim tax-free status for their rackets.
Evan Coyne Maloney’s latest. A network should hire him during the conventions.
The problem for many gallery members is that Kingston rarely works from Parliament House. She is Sydney-based and turns up only occasionally when Parliament is sitting. Some of her Fairfax colleagues are not impressed she is standing, even though she has a gallery pass and is entitled to. Which has sparked some inventive electioneering. The brochure pictured was accompanied by a quote from Not Happy John: "I'm now an outsider to the goings on at the physical and symbolic heart of our democracy – Parliament House, Canberra. I left the place I loved and despised in equal parts more than three years ago, after 12 years of breathing its air, thinking about its thoughts, chatting to its players, questioning its decisions, investigating its secrets. Hating it. Loving it." The kicker to the brochure is "Defend your democracy – don't vote an outsider on to the Press Gallery Committee." The other rather witty slogan is an appropriation of the words uttered by Howard and turned on Kingston herself, "We decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they come".
Australian readers should take a look at the print edition, which has photographs of the trio and an alternative Arabic-script column heading supplied by Ali; according to Bulletin fact-checkers, it translates as "big trouble all the time".
Also in The Bulletin: Patrick Carlyon reviews Margo Kingston.
Goth-talk makes me anxious and afraid. No more posts for several hours. Maybe a day or two.
Way to go, John Kerry:
The US Congress is set to ratify the free trade agreement with Australia, after Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry declared his support for the deal.
Senator Kerry, who had earlier refused to take a stand on an issue dividing Democrat legislators, finally came out in favour of the agreement in a statement that was printed in the US Senate record.
"Australia is an important ally, and we must do all we can to ensure a healthy and vibrant relationship between our two nations," he said. "The United States has a trade surplus with Australia, and this agreement will boost our exports still further by eliminating Australian tariffs on our manufactured goods and on key agricultural exports."
Kerry had earlier wavered on this (well, it's his way). Still, he never outright opposed the free trade deal, unlike various US unions and possible VP candidate John Edwards.
In other large news, Imre Salusinszky reports that he lost 2.5 kilograms after a week of eating McDonald’s. Imre compares his dieting experiment to that undertaken by Morgan Spurlock:
He gained 5 per cent of his body-weight in the first week, going from 84kg to 88kg. I lost 3 per cent of mine, going from 80kg to 77.5kg. His cholesterol went through the roof; mine dipped to an all-time low of 3.7 millimoles per litre.
And the best news of all?
There's a Ronald McDonald Weight Management Clinic right around the corner.
UPDATE. In yet more large news, behold this quote on the subject of Michael Moore’s election influence:
"We haven’t seen anything like this before," said political scientist Thad Beyle of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "I can’t recall anything this large" coming out during an election year.
(Via reader Jeff Jackson)
• Michele Catalano rounds up Iraqi blogger opinion on the handover.
• "The United Nations may indeed be the answer, as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy insist it is," writes Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu. "But only if the question is 'what is the most morally corrupt international organization in the world?'"
• A three-year-old English boy has been denied a place at an English nursery -- because English is his first language.
• Beware of the push-up bra bandits.
• Professor Bunyip offers an Orwell tutorial to the SMH’s Julia Baird.
• Are we headed for the Dark Ages? Read this excellent essay and consider.
• Fix that hangover! Eat a cactus!
• When did Andrea Harris’s political conversion begin? When she realised that being a liberal today means being a constant complainer.
Reader Ayad writes:
I hope you had the chance to see the movie Fahrenheit911.
If you did not, please go see it. I will pay for you and your family.
I only had to read a few of your so called views; I think you are an idiot, Oh! An ignorant idiot. Just like most of your friends at Fox news.
My name is Ayad, I live inOhio. Please email me so I can pay for you and your family to see Fahrenheit911.
If you did see it, then I hope your now more INFORMED>>>>
I can understand the point of being Michael Moore: there's a lot of money in it. What's harder to figure out is the point of being a devoted follower of Michael Moore. Apparently, the sophisticated, cynical intellectual class is so naïve it'll fall for any old hooey peddled by a preening opportunist burlesque act.
UPDATE II. "It's been extremely difficult to get a full transcript of the Michael Moore movie," complains Andrew Sullivan. "So here's a thought: why doesn't some enterprising blogger take a tape recorder to a screening, transcribe the narrative, and post it? Then it's a fiskathon." In Malaysia on the weekend I hit every pirate DVD outlet I saw (there were lots) in the hope of buying an illegal Fahrenheit 911 copy (no profits for you, Mikey!). One store knew of a pirate version, but claimed it was of such poor quality it couldn’t be sold.
Maybe it was the director’s cut.
Here’s the ABC’s Eleanor Hall in February 2003:
Well, if Australia does go to war against Iraq, there's little doubt at least some of the men and women now on their way to the Gulf will be injured or killed.
Isn't she lovely? And completely wrong. Yesterday, during an interview with Brigadier Peter Hutchinson, Eleanor sought to explain the failure of her prediction:
Now, despite the increasing violence recently and the violence that you say you'll see in the next month or so, there've been no Australian casualities so far. To what do you attribute that? Is it simply that we don't have a very large force in the country?
Hey, Eleanor; you knew our troop numbers last year. Back then, there was "little doubt" we'd committed sufficient troops to offer an impressive chance of death and pain. Hutchinson, Commander of the Australian forces in the Middle East, gently attempted to correct the hostile, imbalanced woman, only to face this follow-up question:
Why, then, are you so certain that there will be no casualties?
Read the entire transcript. Hutchinson never indicates any such certainty. Unlike Eleanor Hall, who months prior to conflict saw "little doubt" of looming Australian losses.
People are too polite to reporters.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Damn, you, Osama! Damn you for helping the bad people! Phillip Adams is way furious:
Before September 11, there was unrest in the Bush team. Take Donald Rumsfeld. The White House was energetically undermining him. The Washington Post was one of many papers receiving leaks and backgrounders from the White House, including names of the candidates most likely to replace him. Rumsfeld knew he was for the chop and told his confidantes that only a major terrorist attack could save him.
The precise source of Phil’s claim -- well, it’s a little stronger than a claim -- isn’t identified. Begin hunting!
The same attack saved his boss. Bin Laden gave Bush the biggest boost of his career. After all, Bill Clinton's buoyant economy was going down the toilet.
The greatest tragedy of September 11: it helped George W. Bush.
What was bin Laden's thinking? It wasn't hard to anticipate Bush's response – that he'd launch a war against terror that would be seen as anti-Islamic. That he'd introduce draconian laws to dramatically reduce the freedoms of Americans.
For the love of God, after nearly three years of this could somebody please provide one example -- one solitary, factual example -- of these alleged "reduced freedoms"? To close out his column, Adams resorts to not giving a damn:
In objective terms, September 11 was infinitesimal. For the mighty US to lose a couple of large skyscrapers in a nation with cities as full of these perpendicularities as a jungle is of trees, would hardly destroy its prospects ...
Even a Cessna colliding with the Statue of Liberty would be more than enough to defeat John Kerry. Just as a few Australians coming under fire in Baghdad may be more than enough to defeat Mark Latham.
Note how casual is Phillip’s turn of phrase: "A few Australians coming under fire." This from a man who works himself into a rage over inaccurate hat allegations.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough demonstrates that he can file a news report while simultaneously munching on several lemons:
Iraqis retook control of their country in a furtive Baghdad ceremony yesterday intended to wrong-foot any insurgency plans to disrupt a formal handover that was to take place tomorrow.
Excuse me ... they retook control? When were Iraqis in control of their country in the first place?
As word of the secret ceremony spread across Baghdad, it was celebrated with sporadic, traditional gunfire - but nothing like the volleys that greeted the fall of Baghdad last year or the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Possibly because the ceremony was, you know, secret.
Despite huge uncertainties, Mr Allawi insisted that Iraqis were capable of running their country and should be allowed to do so.
Despite huge uncertainties, Paul McGeough insists that he is capable of writing balanced copy and should be allowed to do so. That was his news report; here’s McGeough's comment piece:
Its legitimacy is in doubt, its sovereignty is qualified and security is the most daunting issue it faces.
As opposed to Saddam’s era.
UPDATE. Mark Latham believes the future of Iraq depends upon the UN’s awesome power:
"If elected later this year, Labor will work closely with the United Nations and the interim Iraqi Government for the reconstruction of the country and the delivery of substantial humanitarian assistance," Mr Latham said.
The shift was consistent with the UN's resolution calling for strong assistance for Iraq's reconstruction, he said.
That "strong assistance" will have to wait until Iraq is safe for the UN to enter.
Compare and contrast: post-war Germany and post-war Iraq.
You’ve all read about Barbra Streisand’s innovative revision of People, performed at a John Kerry benefit last week. Highlights:
I MEAN G - O - P - EOPLE -
WHO'D BELIEVE THERE'S SUCH PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD?
THEY'RE DIVIDING THE PLANET'S OIL
ACCORDING TO RICHARD "POIL"
AND THEY'RE ALL JUST TRAINEES
Sensational, isn’t it? And there’s more:
THEY'RE LYING -
WHILE THE GLOBE IS FRYING -
AND THE FISHES ARE DYING IN THE WORLD.
Misty water-coloured memoreeeeeees, of the way we ... fished. Your challenge: rewrite another Streisand tune to better reflect this global fish tragedy.
Send in the Clownfish? Nobody Makes a Bass at Me? I’m Always Chasing Rainbow Trout? The possibilities are terrifying.
Aware that his polling improves in inverse proportion to his public appearances, John Kerry -- as Mark Steyn wrote, "such a terrible candidate people like him more the less they see of him" -- is laying the groundwork for a political masterstroke:
Senator John F. Kerry last night canceled a planned speech today to the US Conference of Mayors in Boston, saying that he would not cross picket lines erected by workers engaged in a contract dispute with the city.
"I don't cross picket lines," Kerry said last night, shortly after attending Mass at St. Vincent's Waterfront Chapel. "I never have."
The statement leaves open the question of what he will do if the contracts are not settled before next month's Democratic National Convention.
He’ll refuse to cross the line and he won’t appear! A relieved electorate thereafter sweeps the silent, unseen horse-American to power.
UPDATE. Jim Geraghty provides a form guide to John Kerry’s potential VPs. Who may have to speak in Kerry’s absence.
UPDATE II. Bush is ahead in the polls for the first time in months. Kerry will have to start doing nothing if he wants to catch up.
"What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us," says Ibrahim al-Idrissi, president of Iraq’s Association for Free Prisoners:
If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:
"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."
Read on. If you’re prepared.
(Via reader Garth Godsman)
UPDATE. It should be noted, in the interest of fairness, that Saddam’s Iraq wasn’t dangerous for everybody:
This past April, Pilger wrote about a journey he took four years previously through Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The film-maker related how he travelled from the hills of the Kurdish north, to the Shia south, remarking: "I have seldom felt as safe in any country."
UPDATE II. Tariq Ali would like to remind everybody:
An alert, intelligent and vigilant citizenry needs to make sure its leaders do not get away with murder.
Leading US consumer advocate Ralph Nader on leading US consumer Michael Moore:
I've been at him for years, saying 'you've got to lose weight.' Now, he's doubled. Private exhortations aren't working. It's extremely serious. He's over 300 pounds. He's like a giant beach ball.
Yet, in his promotional material, Moore seems to be shedding mass like an earthbound meteorite. Nader should investigate. Is this corporate-financed millionaire lying?
UPDATE. The Age’s Caroline Overington:
Moore loathes many of his fellow Americans. Of course, he never says so in America. But, in an interview with The Mirror in London, he described his fellow citizens as "possibly the dumbest people on the planet".
According to The New York Times, Moore - who is travelling the globe, promoting his film Fahrenheit 9/11 - recently told an audience in Germany that Americans always had a "big (expletive) grin on our face all the time, because our brains aren't loaded down".
Call in sick, skip work, skip school, skip Springer, and then devote the next 12 hours to dragging as many people as you can out of their homes and getting them to the polls.
On Tuesday, go down to the local candidate's office and volunteer to do whatever is needed: give a ride to the polls for senior citizens who can't get there, make last minute phone calls to probable voters who may have forgotten to vote, pass out handbills on street corners, do cartwheels in the middle of the mall -- you name it, I am sure it will work.
I know that for many of you this will be a new thing. Give it a shot. I promise you, at the end of the day on Tuesday, if we succeed, you will never again doubt the power of just one individual who decides that she or he can make a difference.
Two days ahead of schedule, Iraq has its own government:
The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government Monday, speeding up the move by two days in an apparent bid to surprise insurgents who may have tried to sabotage the step toward self rule.
Legal documents handing over sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in a small ceremony attended by about a half dozen Iraqi and coalition officials in the heavily guarded Green Zone.
Interviewed on Australian television a few minutes ago, New York Times foreign correspondent John Burns said the hastened handover “could be a surprise of a more pleasant nature.”
UPDATE. In other pleasant news:
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man believed to be leading the resistance in Iraq, has been captured, the US military said Monday.
Al Zarqawi was America's most wanted man in Iraq.
He is believed to have been behind a number of kidnappings and beheadings.
Reports indicated he had been captured in the town of Hilla, south of Baghdad. The area is under the responsibility of Polish forces.
Reuters says the reports are so far unconfirmed.
UPDATE II. Now the reports are being denied:
"It's not true, the reports are not true," Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. military in Iraq, told Reuters by telephone. "We've heard the reports about it, but they are not true."
I’m back! Or, as they say in Malaysia: "Pakaranang sunalirokrang sebang satang bandarang yang mempunang persaingang hebatdalamang pasarang keranang dipasarkang pengang kutamang antarabang pekerjanyang yangakangmang mahirdang kerjayang berpelajaran kualiti kehidupannyang persimpang kedudukannyang kemudahang mengkagumkang!"
The language is pretty easy to pick up. It helps if you’re already fluent in Two-Stroke Moped ("yang yang yaaaaang mingmingming yaaaaaang"). Or you can just use English, since everybody else does. There are three English-language dailies, including the aggressive, very readable Star, which contains the best coverage of the sensational Noritta Samsudin murder trial.
Everybody is talking about it (well, when they’re not talking about the Euro 2004 football tournament). Most expect Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman to be found guilty, but after meeting a lawyer who’s been following the case, I’m not so sure; the prosecution has apparently made several procedural blunders. No jury is involved, so the final decision comes down to Justice Abdull Hamid Embong. "Is he a hanging judge?" I asked my lawyer friend. "We don’t know yet," he answered. "He's only a recent appointee." Update to come on Thursday.
Important Malaysian travel advice: If you ask for a glass of Scotch, you will be looked upon like the ignorant gweilo that you are. "We don’t have any of this 'Scotch'," said a bewildered barman at one of Kuala Lumpur’s many fashionable clubs. He was standing in front of a wall full of the stuff at the time. If you want Scotch, you have to ask for it by brand. Oh, and if you ask for a martini, you may be handed a combination of Seven-Up and vermouth.
All of which is helpful prior to stepping out in Kuala Lumpur traffic. "This city doesn’t seem to have many pedestrian crossings," noted one of my colleagues, dodging a moped swarm. On the contrary; Kuala Lumpur has an infinite number of pedestrian crossings. They’re wherever pedestrians care to cross.
Which is everywhere, Malaysians not being inclined to obsessive rule-following. Regulation-bound westerners will find the place liberating. And the people? More smiles per city block than you can count.
More later. Must recover now from minor bruising/trauma/fractures suffered during a visit to Cosmo’s World.
While I'm away, you may comment at this post on issues of international concern, local importance, domestic irrelevance, personal trivia, or stuff. Any comments that address subjects outside of these strict guidelines will be instantly deleted.
In other major political developments, John Kerry has named his Presidential co-hamster:
In Aspen, Kerry invited writer Hunter S. Thompson to ride in his motorcade and brought three copies of Thompson's book about the 1972 presidential race, "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail" for autographs.
"Just to put your minds all at ease, I have four words for you that I know will relieve you greatly," Kerry told the crowd of donors. "How does this sound -- Vice President Hunter Thompson."
Four words that would relieve us even more: "Former candidate John Kerry."
• Miranda Devine on the murder of Kim Sun-il: "What will Richard Neville and his fellow conspiracy theorists say about this latest terrorist atrocity? Was it actually another plot by 'high-level US Government operatives' to distract attention from their own evil deeds?"
• Scroll down for the latest American atrocities in Iraq.
• From Mark Steyn’s review of high school movie Mean Girls: "Cady is played by Lindsay Lohan, best known for Freaky Friday, in which she played a hip young thing who wakes up in a 40-year old’s body. Ashton Kutcher’s no stranger to that predicament ... "
• "He likes people, in spite of whatever people might think." -- Teresa Heinz Kerry on her husband.
• Greg Hywood sticks it to the NGOs: "Your money is not just being spent to save dolphins; your name is being used to support the political agenda of everything on that donor organisation's list of priorities."
• Why isn't Australia’s Muslim history more widely known? Why? Why?
• Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal candidate for Wentworth, has a blog. I’ve never liked Turnbull, and once narrowly missed a chance to drive over his dog, but hey, he’s blogging. Which is good. (Via reader George C.)
• Silvio Berlusconi for President of the EU!
• "Who's your buddy, who's your pal?" writes reader Beege, re this story: "Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced a limited amnesty for Muslim militants who turn themselves in within 30 days, saying they will not face the death penalty and will only be prosecuted if they committed acts that hurt others."
• Here's a shock: "Obese men with erectile dysfunction can improve their sex life through exercise and by shedding kilograms, according to a study due out tomorrow."
• The Age’s Malcolm Maiden examines News Ltd’s US relocation: "Standard & Poor's decision to drop News Corporation shares from the Australian Stock Exchange's share indices if it relocates to America and gains admission to the premier US index, the S&P 500, sets the stage for a fight over commercial logic and self interest."
• Where's Robin Williams?
• John Singleton plans to launch One Nation TV: "Concerned about the erosion of Australian culture, ad man John Singleton is prepared to write a 'very big cheque' for a fourth commercial TV network which would show only local programs."
• Who needs balance? Not the ABC, blathers Brian Walters: "The Government's involvement in the war in Iraq was highly questionable. Where appropriate, it is for the media, including the ABC, to question such matters. The Government has access to the media and can voice its opinion. It should not try to stifle the opinions of others by requiring them to walk the non-existent tightrope of 'balance'."
Got a call from The Australian earlier this week. Would I like to go to Malaysia for a few days, stay at these hotels, and have multiple LUNCHES (with EXPENSIVE WINE) for a tourism promotion they’re planning? And would I like to be paid to do this?
Yes. Yes, I would.
So I’ll be away from tomorrow until Monday. While I’m, er, you know, working.
(Note to the burglar-Australian community: during my absence, the house will be guarded by an authentic Italian. Who, in the manner of her kind, carries knives.)
Bill Clinton's autobiography - My Life - has been raising eyebrows in New Zealand amid rumblings the former US president has been less than truthful about the mountainous origins of his wife's name.
Clinton's claim that Hillary was named in honour of Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who conquered Mount Everest, has created more New Zealand interest than the former president's relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The story has a fundamental problem: Edmund Hillary reached Everest's peak on May 29, 1953, nearly seven years after the infant Hillary arrived in the world.
Aug. 19, 1946. "I was born today. The nurse was hot!"
I'm beginning to almost like the ABC's new Iraq correspondent, Matt Brown.
I'm sure I heard some good news from him the other day, and he doesn't back away from words like terrorist.
Germaine Greer finds a sound reason for Muslim women-driving bans:
I get a bit worried about certain heavily veiled ladies driving because they have no peripheral vision at all. You can understand why in some countries they are not allowed to drive.
Ah. It’s a safety thing.
Reader Sean Starke is quoted in this USA Today piece on computer wargamers:
"It's like playing a pickup game of basketball," says Sean Starke, 40, of Middletown, N.J., a member of the 60 or so members of Dads Playing SOCOM, a group of adults who play Sony's SOCOM II: Navy Seals games online.
He often allows his 10-year-old daughter to play the game on PlayStation 2 with him. "It's obvious that it's a game. I don't really have fears of her Columbining."
Sean means that his daughter is unlikely to go on a killing spree, not that she’ll direct a crap documentary. He writes: "I think it's important that my daughter know the difference between an M14 and an M16."
Speaking of Columbine ...
The company distributing filmmaker Michael Moore's Bush-bashing movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" says it won't reject an offer of help from Middle East terrorist organization Hezbollah.
When Chicago police officer Maurice Burks' radar gun registered 160 mph on Wednesday, his first reaction was disbelief, but a check of his gun revealed it was working. Burks gave chase to a speeding motorcyclist along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, but was unable to keep up. Police then contacted a Honda motorcycle dealership to find out if the bike could actually be going that fast, and were told its top speed was 165. The rider, Daemond Rogan, 32, was finally stopped when he doubled back on a street. He was ticketed for speeding in a 40 mph zone, which carries a $300 to $500 fine.
That was three years ago. This week Daemond received a letter informing him that he’s again eligible for a driver’s licence. Go, man!
Reversing its earlier pro-backflip policy, Labor vows: no more backflips.
UPDATE. Paddy McGuinness predicts a post-election Labor flip:
We can trust Latham to allow his more rational side to emerge again if he should win power. After all, the Hawke and to a lesser extent the Keating governments were able to implement sensible economic policies despite the demands of their own supporters.
The BBC reports from within occupied America:
"I don't know what's happening to this country," said Ihab Tabir, a Brooklyn immigration lawyer who is originally from Jordan.
"If you say anything against what is happening in Iraq for example, you can be arrested.
"You can't speak openly on the street anymore. I tell you, everyone is afraid."
Foolishly, the BBC published this dissident’s name. His bones, bleached by the sun, were later discovered near the main Central Park killing pit.
If all you read is the Guardian, and if the only people you talk to are fellow Guardian readers, then you may have little idea of how relentless and widespread this kind of journalism-with-attitude has become.
No "attitude journalism" at The Guardian? It is to laugh.
UPDATE II. Plenty of attitude journalism at The Age. Check this headline:
Bakhtiari children give up fight for freedom
Morrissey fans will be depressed. Well, more depressed:
The Lollapalooza music festival tour has been canceled because of poor ticket sales, according to its Web site.
The tour, featuring Morrissey, Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips, had been set to begin July 14 in Auburn, Wash., and continue through August, including stops in Toronto, New York, Atlanta and Dallas.
Tour organizers and concert promoters "faced with several million dollars of losses, made the very tough decision to pull the tour," the Web site said Tuesday.
Associated Press reports:
An Iraqi militant group has beheaded its South Korean hostage, Al-Jazeera television reported Tuesday, just hours after a go-between said the execution had been delayed and there were negotiations for the man's release.
The South Korean foreign ministry issued a statement confirming that Kim Sun-il had been killed but did not say he was beheaded.
South Korea's president strongly condemned the beheading of a South Korean hostage in Iraq but remained determined to send more troops, saying they were needed to help rebuild the country.
President Roh Moo-hyun rejected the kidnappers' claim that South Korea's plan to send 3,000 additional troops to Iraq would hurt Iraqis. The captors killed Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old South Korean working in Iraq, after Seoul rejected their demand to cancel the South Korean deployment.
U.S. forces launched an airstrike targeting militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his group beheaded a South Korean who had pleaded "I don't want to die" in a heart-wrenching videotape.
I'm too busy to post, what with my frantic loping-around-the-house schedule and all. (Actually, I've got a ton of work to finish. Loping time is limited.) Meanwhile, readers are invited to hammer on any articles from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Don’t leave the News Ltd papers out of it! Attack!
And here, beat up on Melbourne's The Age.
This week’s Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions John Howard, Mark Latham, Noam Chomsky, Wayne Carey, the host of Media Watch, Amway, Hezbollah, Ruud Lubbers, Merlin Luck, Mohammad Rafique, Robert Mugabe, Neil Mann, Richard Stremski, Margo Kingston, Jon Faine, Terry Lane, Wayne Sanderson, and Phillip Adams.
Labor appeasement spokesman Kevin Rudd wants out of the war against terror:
Howard argued from the outset that the Iraq war was necessary to reduce the overall threat of terrorism to Australia. Barely a week before major hostilities in Iraq began, he argued: "I see disarming Iraq as being part of the wider war against terrorism."
And everybody, repeat everybody, knew the "war against terrorism" meant the "war against al-Qa'ida," as Howard deliberately conflated the two.
The Prime Minister's problem is that this entire argument came apart last week when the September 11 inquiry concluded there was "no credible evidence" that Iraq was involved with al-Qa'ida's September 11 attacks on the US.
Howard spoke of Iraq in the context of a "wider war" against terrorism. Rudd seeks to undermine him by narrowing Iraq's role to a possible involvement in September 11 -- which nobody asserted in the first place. Rudd, you get the feeling, doesn’t read much beyond headlines.
Here in our own region, the Howard Government has had even greater difficultly sustaining the political fiction that the Government's participation in the Iraq war has had no impact on the JI threat.
The head of Indonesia's intelligence service Ahmad Hendropriyono confirmed only last month that the Iraq war has further stimulated JI activity in Indonesia. Tracking down JI is Hendropriyono's main job. You would think he would know what JI is up to.
And you’d think the Rudd would know that the Bali attack preceded our involvement in Iraq. Terrorists wanted us dead before Iraq, and they want us dead now. This is because they are terrorists.
The Iraq war and our involvement in it makes it easier for JI to recruit in Indonesia – just as it also contributes to the increasing Middle Easternisation of Islamic politics in South-East Asia. And for Australia, lying next door to the largest Islamic country in the world, it is not helpful for our national security.
We certainly will be lying if Rudd has his way. Face-down and pleading; not exactly a position of strength. Rudd deserves to be run out of Parliament for these achingly empty lines:
This is John Howard at his Orwellian worst. Trying desperately to convince people that black is white – and that white is black.
When he's got nothing to say, Kevin says it twice.
Popular commenting identity Andjam joins the world of blog. Go visit -- and leave a comment.
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
He’s only getting warmed up. Another 4,000 words follow.
(Via reader Brain Dalton)
Phillip Adams is angry at being the target of a venomous fiction:
Like any right-minded reader, I was outraged by a letter to the editor published in The Weekend Australian. From a Michael Galak of Melbourne, it described the treasonable behaviour of that left-wing loony, Phillip Adams.
"Aah, the ABC!" he wrote. "I won't forget Phillip Adams coming on to one of the TV talk shows, wearing a green Mao cap with the big red star on it. It was just before Tiananmen. We had just fled from the USSR. To see that symbol of hate-filled propaganda worn by a man who should have known better was a painful reminder of an incurable fascination of publicly financed intelligentsia with totalitarianism."
I could see why Galak was angry. But I was even angrier. Why? Because his letter is a fabrication. It is utterly, totally, entirely and slanderously untrue.
Now Phillip knows how Charles Krauthammer feels. Speaking of utterly, totally, entirely and slanderously untrue, check this pre-emptive strike from Phil the Aggrieved:
This story will be recycled on hate pages and will be repeated as gospel in the columns of Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Terry McCrann.
I doubt it, Phillip. Not while we’ve still got your plastic turkey to kick around.
UPDATE. Adams writes: "I've always appeared bare headed, never worn a cap or, for that matter, any other form of headgear." Really? Here’s Phillip in an old byline shot. The hat-wearing freak.
Muttiah Muralitharan won’t be joining his Sri Lankan team mates during their upcoming tour of Australia. He’ll be in America instead.
Public transport is disgusting. It’s also inefficient:
Encouraging travellers to switch from cars and airlines to inter-city trains brings no benefits for the environment, new research has concluded.
Challenging assumptions about railways' green superiority, the study finds that the weight and fuel requirements of trains have increased to the point where rail could become the least energy-efficient form of transport.
The UK Daily Telegraph editorialises: "Save the planet. Jump into your car." To that end, Toyota is supplying me with a freaky petrol/electric hybrid Prius for a couple of days. Due to religious reasons (I’m an orthodox fossil fuelite) I’ve never before driven such a thing. I hope Pope Mario never finds out. Review next week.
UPDATE. I should point out that PR for National Tree Day, which Toyota supports, contacted me to organise this test. Kudos to them for blog-awareness.
Canadians have tasted US economic imperialism -- and they like it:
Recently, Budweiser -- America's "King of Beers" -- usurped the Canadian lager throne, outselling both Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue in this country for the first time ever.
Perhaps Michael Moore’s recent appearance in Toronto will remind Canadians of American beer’s embiggening effects and scare them away from US products.
David Horowitz asks a simple question:
As wars go, the conflict in Iraq was (and is) as good as it gets. A three week military campaign with minimal casualties, 25 million people liberated from one of the most sadistic tyrants of modern times, the establishment of a military and intelligence base in the heart of the terrorist world. What well-meaning person could oppose this?
On a related topic, this from James Lileks:
I ask my Democrat friends what they’d rather see happen – Bush reelected and bin Laden caught, or Bush defeated and bin Laden still in the wind. They’re all honest: they’d rather see Bush defeated.
Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore aims to chill debate by issuing defamation suits:
"We want the word out," says Mr. Moore, who says he should have responded more quickly to allegations of inaccuracy in his Oscar-winning 2002 anti-gun documentary, "Bowling for Columbine." "Any attempts to libel me will be met by force," he said, not an ounce of humor in his familiar voice. "The most important thing we have is truth on our side. If they persist in telling lies, knowingly telling a lie with malice, then I'll take them to court."
Whatever you say, Actual Weight 911lbs. As Jeff Jarvis comments: "It's hard for such a big man to jump a shark, but he did."
[Bill Clinton] was so clumsy he broke his leg trying to jump a skipping rope wearing cowboy boots, and only managed to overcome his fears of riding a bicycle without stabilisers while at Oxford University.
How come John Howard’s poll numbers against Mark Latham are improving? According to the SMH, it’s because his ruthless personal attacks are beginning to find their mark:
The Government's campaign sought to undermine Latham personally by calling into question his experience and his ability to manage the economy and alliance with America.
Watson yesterday labelled Mark Latham "pathetic" for allegedly borrowing from speeches by former US president Bill Clinton.
"Why in the hell would you get up and make your statement, when you've been Leader of the Opposition for six months, and knock off a speech from Bill Clinton," Watson said.
If enough people turn up at Gleebooks (49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe) tomorrow, we can bankrupt Margo:
G'day Webdiarists. No Webdiary this week - I'm travelling and chatting on radio to launch my book, "Not happy John! Defending our democracy". Here's my current itinerary, subject to change. I hope I can meet some of you at the launches and that you can tune in to an interview. The launches are all free except Gleebooks in Sydney - $7 to hear my hero Tony Fitgerald launch it. Please introduce yourself and I'll refund the money.
You’d think she’d be able to spell her hero’s name correctly. More about Margo and her national unhappiness tour in my Bulletin column later this week.
UPDATE. Comment of the week comes from Harry Heidelberg, who has contributed a chapter to Margo’s "book":
Margo is the sun and you guys are just planets or moons orbiting planets. In the end though, the overriding orbit is around the sun. There is a world of information and commentary out there but in here I see a strong focus on Margo. That says a lot. It says she is articulating views you find simply impossible to ignore. Margo reminds me of the Erasmus of Rotterdam during his "Basel years". The Erasmus was the "wandering scholar" and exceptionally cool to boot. He would look at the sectarian world before him and call it as he saw it. His clarity and strength of purpose was scary to the prejudiced and the ignorant. Why did he prosper in the Swiss city on a bend in the Rhine? Basel was a free and open city where intellectuals could find refuge. In the end it is up to you guys to either orbit the sun as you do now, or engage properly and create your own virtual Basel. A good starting point would be to read Margo's latest book, "Not Happy John". It's published on Monday 21 June. Together, we can take back Australia.
Margo reminds him of the Erasmus of Rotterdam during his "Basel years"? Reader Donna V. replies:
Margo reminds me a lot of Crazy Aunt Mabel of Cedar Rapids during her menopause years.
Australian readers: tune in to Michael Duffy’s Radio National Program at 4pm AEST to hear me, Greg Hywood, and Jon Faine talk about bias, culture wars, and associated stuff. Or, if you have something better to do, don’t.
• Ken Summers on the finest man he ever knew. Recommended.
• He voted for it, and now he's against it. Discussing new qualifying rules, Formula One team boss David Richards pulls a John Kerry: "The team boss told a news conference at the US Grand Prix on Friday that, despite voting for a change scheduled for introduction next month, he did not believe it was the right thing to do."
• Bill Clinton's autobiography doesn't impress The New York Times. The Guardian reports that Clinton suffered childhood Mooreism: "He says he was a 'fat band boy' at his junior high school and painfully recounts how one Easter he was the only child not to be successful on an egg hunt. He was simply too fat to outrun other children." And from Mark Steyn: "The Clintons' Democratic Party was great for the Clintons but disastrous for the Democratic Party: during the 1990s, they lost the House and the Senate and a ton of governorships and state legislatures, and eventually, with nothing else left to lose, they lost the presidency. Clinton's heat left the party so parched for talent they had no successful governors to run for president and were forced to turn to a stiff hack weathervane senator."
• Nothing online about it yet, but Bali bomb survivor Jason McCartney was apparently attacked yesterday by a snake -- a very large snake -- at a Canberra zoo. The angry creature clamped McCartney’s head. Aside from a few puncture wounds, McCartney is okay.
• The Rump Parliament comments thread is destined to one day take its place in the comments thread hall of fame.
• Iowahawk Labs is beta-testing its new Andrew Sullivan MemeCrawler 1.0.
• Where were you when ... ? Sheila O’Malley tells all.
Polls schmolls. The most accurate guide to Australian elections may be gambling agency Centrebet, which claims that its odds have successfully predicted every Federal election winner since 1993. In the last election, for example:
Following the Tampa incident ... the punters reacted before the polls, and Howard has been all the rage, attracting two bets of $10,000 amid other large wagers.
Election gamblers now sense the arrival of another Tampa:
Centrebet has Mr Howard as favourite to win. The Coalition is paying $1.65, Labor $2.10. Gerard Duffy of Centrebet said backing for the Coalition to win had shot up after Mark Latham brought in Peter Garrett.
"One punter put $10,000 on the Coalition the moment he heard Garrett had joined Labor," Mr Duffy said.
UPDATE. Poll latest:
Voter support for the Prime Minister and the Government has bounced back, with the Coalition's primary vote now ahead of Labor's, by one point, for the first time since Mark Latham took the ALP leadership, the latest Herald Poll shows.
UPDATE II. Poll latest latest:
Overall, 14 per cent of voters polled by ACNielsen said Mr Garrett's decision to join Labor had made them more likely to vote for the party, while 18 per cent were less inclined.
UPDATE III. And from Paul Sheehan:
Whether Australians believe Mark Latham is the person to confront medievalism, or has already flinched in the face of it, may determine the coming federal election.
UPDATE IV. Now it swings the other way:
The chances of an August 7 election have dimmed, as Mark Latham and Labor have recovered from a big post-budget drop in support to hold a razor-thin election-winning edge.
After recruiting former rock star Peter Garrett, the ALP has neutralised a 10-point deficit on primary votes.
"Wrong about everything." - Tim Blair
Trouble is, I haven’t written that yet. So, to make things official: that site is wrong about everything. Except Dick Cheney. Meanwhile, New York reader Daniel Aronstein asks:
If Kerry couldn't even talk McCain into something good -- like having what looks like (according to all polls) a better than 50:50 chance at being the second-most powerful person in the world -- how does he expect us to believe he could talk Chirac, or Schroeder, or Zapatero (and whatever Third World tyrants happen to be on the UN Security Council at the time) into something even bigger ... like going to war?
UPDATE. Robert Corr notes in comments that the "I can't wait to vote" line, repeated in every post at the same-named site, is a blatant Google-luring ploy. So far, it ain’t working; currently turning up at number one is this.
Germaine Greer calmly analyses Australia’s many problems:
The country I love has been crazily devastated by whitefellas who knock down its mountains, grind up its trees, divert its watercourses, build high-rises on its flood plains, creating an endless nightmare of suburbia from which our kids try to escape by sticking needles in their arms. It is obvious to anyone that Australia's "sophisticated recreational lifestyle" comes at a huge cost in terms of non-renewable resources. The senescent bush along the densely populated foreshores will one day explode in firestorms that will wipe out the insurance market and bring the whole shonky economy to its knees.
A good deal of energy has been expended on diagnosing the malaise that leads to high levels of alcoholism, addiction and crimes of violence in Aboriginal society. Whitefella spiritual desolation is seldom admitted, let alone discussed. Problem drinking affected whitefellas long before it made devastating inroads into Aboriginal society, and continues to wreak havoc today. It is one of a galaxy of self-destructive behaviours making a continuum with suicide, drug abuse, reckless driving and self-harming, all of which are rife in the "lucky" country.
So how can we stop this nation of junkies "knocking down mountains" with their "reckless driving"? Germaine has the solution:
The way out of the predicament in which we find ourselves, I suggest - guilty inheritors of a land usurped by our deluded, desperate forefathers - is the simple admission that ours is an Aboriginal country. All of it. Every single bit. Try saying it to yourself in the mirror. "I live in an Aboriginal country."
Germaine Greer lives in England.
Three chilling photographs on an Islamist Web site appear to show the beheaded body of American hostage Paul Johnson, who was kidnapped a week ago by Islamic militants connected with al Qaeda.
UPDATE. The Independent’s Andrew Gumbel looks on the bright side:
Is this the horror that will finally undo George Bush's presidency?
UPDATE II. Got them:
Saudi Arabia announced it had dealt a body blow to Al-Qaeda gunmen who have terrorized Western residents of the kingdom, by killing their alleged chief Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin and three comrades as well as arresting 12 others.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough drags his newspaper ever closer to Indymedia:
Would Americans ordinarily tolerate a president who lies and exaggerates? A leader who uses fear to manipulate his people to his own ends? A president whose staff blow the deep cover of a CIA agent as political payback? A president whose Administration channels billions of dollars to crony corporations on false pretexts? A president who deems torture acceptable?
Would they accept a president who seems to agree with his advisers that he is above the law?
The commentator William Rivers Pitt poses them all before concluding: "The time has come, bluntly, to get over September 11; to move beyond it; to extract ourselves from this bunker mentality which blinds us while placing us in moral peril. It happened and it will never be forgotten, but we have reached a place where fear and obeisance can no longer be tolerated."
Yeah. Let’s get over it. That'll fix everything. And in the SMH’s sister publication, former Monty Python fifth-wheel Terry Jones writes:
I currently have a lot of my son's friends locked up in the garage, and I'm applying electrical charges to their genitals and sexually humiliating them in order to get them to tell me where my son goes after choir practice ... After all, I'll only be doing what the US Administration has been condoning since September 11.
Australia isn’t just rich. We rock in many ways:
Every Australian creates 27.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, making the nation the worst creator of greenhouse gases per head among developed countries, according to a new report.
Just try to catch up, Japan! Also:
Australia was party to spying on the United Nations, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to assist the lobbying campaign for launching the war against Iraq.
There’s only twenty million of us, yet look at how we rule! The UN is our chew-toy. Speaking of the UN:
The UN secretary general has urged the Security Council not to renew an exemption from prosecution for US troops on UN peacekeeping duties.
Kofi Annan said the exemption, passed for two years running and due to expire on 30 June, would discredit the UN's claim to represent the rule of law.
Can't have that. Oh, no. That wouldn't do at all.
Remember all those television advertisements featuring Muslim clerics apologising for the 9/11 attacks on the US? What? You don’t? Surely you recall all the Islamic ads apologising for the Bali bombings committed "in their name"? No? Well, at least some people are prepared to say sorry for recent atrocities:
This week, a simple 30-second advertisement expressing disapproval of the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has aired on Arab television — and it has touched the heart of at least some skeptical viewers.
The ad, paid for by the organization FaithfulAmerica.org with funding from the private contributions of U.S. citizens, has been broadcast on two of the most popular Arab satellite channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.
The advertisement shows close-ups of a Presbyterian minister, a Muslim iman, a Catholic nun and a Jewish rabbi as they deliver the following message:
"A salaam aleikum [peace be upon you], As Americans of faith, we express our deep sorrow at abuses committed in Iraqi prisons. We stand in solidarity with all those in Iraq and everywhere who demand justice and human dignity. We condemn the sinful and systemic abuses committed in our name, and pledge to work and right these wrongs."
Happy anniversary, Mr Senator:
The opening night of next month's Democratic convention in Boston is set to feature an emotional party tribute to hometown hero Ted Kennedy, who has served in office longer than every other senator but one.
Guess no one at the Democratic National Committee took a close look at the calendar: That July 26 salute to Teddy just happens to coincide with ... the 35th anniversary of Chappaquiddick.
Fact: Theobromine, a substance contained in chocolate and cocoa, is poisonous to hamsters.
Fact: John Kerry is able to consume chocolate chip cookies without fatal consequences.
This announcement was brought to you by the Federal Hamster Diet Authority.
James Lileks requests your goat-getting views:
What gets your goat? What small petty thing drives you crazy? Send it in to email@example.com.
• Anything regarding cell phones and big vehicles; that is so tired.
• Anything regarding the position of the toilet seat and its relation to gender.
Okay. Here are three small, petty, guaranteed goat-grabbers:
1. The way Muppets "walk". All that bouncing up and down. Nobody walks like that!
2. Too-tight magazine binding, so you can’t read the column closest to the centre margin when you fold the thing over.
3. "World music".
The Kyoto Protocol is struggling to take hold. Mostly in Kyoto:
Seven years after hosting the Kyoto Protocol conference and pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent by 2012, Japan finds itself in the embarrassing position of having increased levels of emissions and being uncertain over what to do about it.
Step one: don’t hold any more Kyoto Protocol conferences.
"I stood up to it and beat it back," says Bill Clinton. "I don't see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate."
Man really needs to work on his interview technique.
Mark Steyn on the old-timey media view of Ronald Reagan:
What was shameful and pathetic back then was Reagan refusing to string along like everyone else. The ‘evil empire’ speech horrified the New York Times’s world affairs grandee, Anthony Lewis. ‘Primitive,’ he sniffed. ‘That is the only word for it.’
'Accurate' is another. Steyn has lately come to the attention of the Boston Phoenix’s Dan Kennedy, who is offended by the idea of an intelligent, sharp-writing conservative. Kennedy quotes an expert:
"He’s kind of a glib guy, and he’s a better writer than most of them. And that gets you a long way on that side," says Joe Conason, a liberal columnist for the New York Observer and Salon. "I mean, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter can’t write. The thing he shares with the rest of them, obviously, is that he has no idea of limits or boundaries or decency."
Ever read any Conason? Helium-weight ideas burdened by depleted-uranium prose. He is to judging writing as Kennedy is to criticising accuracy. Check this:
Steyn lumped the Globe in with the London Mirror, whose editor was forced out after it was revealed that his paper had actually faked photos of British troops abusing Iraqi prisoners.
The Mirror published the fake photographs; it didn’t actually fake them. Stupid Dan. In other media disputes, the Andrew Sullivan - Jonah Goldberg conflict ain’t pretty. I read (and enjoy) both of them, and can’t pick a clear winner here; being pro-gay marriage, I’m usually inclined to support Sullivan, but I can’t agree that Bush’s opposition to gay marriage should be a deal-breaker -- the same way John Howard’s failure to completely embrace free trade isn’t a deal-breaker with me, a free-trade absolutist.
I’d probably think differently if Howard opposed marriage between free-traders. In any case, broader issues currently at play (war, etc) move social concerns like same-sex marriage to a lower place on my list of priorities than might be so otherwise.
Anglican Bishop Tom Frame supported the invasion of Iraq. Not any more:
As the only Anglican bishop to have publicly endorsed the Australian Government's case for war, I now concede that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. It did not pose a threat to either its nearer neighbours or the United States and its allies. It did not host or give material support to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups ...
The calculated humiliation of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad over the past six months has damaged the Bush Administration's attempts to portray the US Army as a liberating force. What is worse, men and women from a nation claiming to be civilised have shown they are just as capable of the barbarism that characterised Saddam's Baathist regime ...
Looking back on the events of the past 18 months I continue to seek God's forgiveness for my complicity in creating a world in which this sort of action was ever considered by anyone to be necessary.
With the greatest of respect, Mr God-Talking Man, you’re as full of it as a dysentry ward toilet. The prison abuses you complain of mostly took place during a single day, and were being investigated back in January; and if you want to talk about an equality of barbarism, consider Saddam’s mass graves.
As for WMD ... Saddam had manufactured them. He’d used them. He’d explored ways of further using them. He concealed from the UN what evidence there was of them. He’d liked to have made a whole bunch more of them.
And now he can’t. Thank God.
UPDATE. If you doubt for a second the forces that wish to return Iraq to its previous tyrannical state:
At least 32 people have been killed and another 120 wounded when a car bomb exploded at the gates of a recruitment centre for the new Iraqi army in Baghdad this morning, medical officials said.
"They attacked the Iraqi army recruiting centre with a car bomb, we are trying to rescue people," said first lieutenant Saad Idan.
"It is an attack on the Iraqi army," he added.
Fear our wealth, lesser nations:
Australia has entered the world's top ten nations in a new ranking of individual wealth.
In your face, 11th- and 12-placed Britain and Canada! Of course, the key to this report is that it’s based on individual wealth, a clearly inappropriate measure since it fails to deal with the dreaded gap between rich and poor.
I’ve never understood all this concern about the gap. What benefits does a small gap bring? If you are poor, how are your circumstances improved by everybody else also being poor?
Besides which, if the gap is crucial, it isn’t poor Australians who need it made smaller. Moguls suffer massive wealth gappage. The gap between the poorest Australian and transport czar Greg Poche is only $700 million; but the gap between Poche and Kerry Packer is a massive $5.8 billion.
It’s all so terribly unfair.
Hugh Hewitt wonders at the possibilities of political backstab blogging:
Get it started and growing as a pro candidate X blog. Build an audience via tried and true techniques --including the purchase of blog-ads-- and then, late in a campaign, have the blog turn on candidate X. If any of the high profile lefties at work today--the Daily Kos or Atrios, for example--were to suddenly turn on Kerry, citing implausibility fatigue, for example--that would be news and a blow to Kerry. Could Kos really be working for Rove? The costs of starting a blog are so low that the mischief potential is quite high.
The ideal time to start would be about one month after the next election; a ploy like this would only work if you played a long game. Speaking of turnarounds:
Popular Republican Sen. John McCain is hitting the campaign trail to boost President Bush tomorrow — just days after spurning a personal plea from Democrat John Kerry to be his vice presidential running mate.
What a disgrace is John McCain! Why, his Bush-like defiance of pollsters convinces me that John Kerry is the only man fit to lead the US. Vote for Kerry! Down with the Bush/McCain machine of deception!
Labor’s latest election slogan: No Fat Kids!
All junk food advertising would be banned from children's television under a crackdown on obesity by a Labor government.
Latham has gyrated wildly on Iraq, from crude anti-Americanism in his pre-leadership phase, through the amazing star-spangled banner press conference, to the all troops out by Christmas policy on the run, to the new policy that would likely leave more than half the troops in the Iraq theatre.
All those gyrations and on-the-run policies should slenderise Latham nicely. And Democrats and Greens might work up a sweat over the latest foreign intrusion into Australian domestic politics:
Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan yesterday issued a warning to Prime Minister John Howard to be careful about what he said.
"He can say what he wants," Muralitharan said from his Colombo home. "He is the head of state and he has opinions. But he has to be very careful of what he says."
Bob Brown will be outraged.
UPDATE. Reader Stephen W. writes: "By the way, Murali seems to know as much about the Australian Constitution as he does about 'bowling': Howard's 'head of state,' is he?"
Fidel Castro, proto-spammer:
In 1940, 12-year-old Cuban boy Fidel Castro wrote to US President Franklin Roosevelt to request a $10 note.
In an impeccable hand, young Fidel signs the letter to President Roosevelt: "Your friend".
"Never I have not seen a ten dollars bill green American and I would like to have one of them," the future Cuban leader wrote.
Oh, great. Twenty years from now we’ll be dealing with hundreds of Nigerian communists.
A leading UN official has warned US manufacturer Caterpillar that it may be complicit in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza.
The company supplies armoured bulldozers to the Israeli army that are used to demolish Palestinian homes.
Human rights official Jean Ziegler expressed "deep concern" over the sales, in a letter to Caterpillar.
Human lives had also been lost during the demolitions, Ziegler wrote, including that of American peace activist Rachel Corrie.
Via J.F. Beck, who writes: "What about the pens used to sign the demolition orders?"
• Why does Peter Garrett shave his head? Professor Bunyip has the answer.
• Yes or no? Take this Herald Sun poll.
• Caz on becoming an Australian.
• Acknowledging the disease that killed him, the ABC decided to forget all about Ronald Reagan.
• "I’m running for President because ... " Doug Payton works through John Kerry’s reasons.
• Fight the Wright! Jim Treacher isn’t done with Micah Wright just yet.
• Andrew Bolt compares the new, mature Peter Garrett with Garrett in "his immature period, the day before he joined Labor."
• The Liberal Party may soon have its own bald celebrity politician.
• Harry Hutton: "People who like football should be rounded up, put in boxes and bulldozed into the sea."
• Also via Bolt, modern wisdom from a TV youngster:
In Berlin there used to be, like, a communist country and there used to be a big wall between East Berlin and West Berlin, where, like, the people on the West, I suppose, couldn't come to the East, or was it the other way around, because the East was where the rich people lived and the West was where the poor people lived.
The Sydney Morning Herald reveals:
A stream of regular reports to Canberra detailed concerns, including from the United Nations, about US forces mistreating and abusing Iraqi prisoners as far back as June last year.
Reports of mistreatment and abuse were streaming in from Iraq a lot earlier than June 2003. Never made the front pages, though. The peacenik left told us back then that we shouldn’t do anything about them.
Department of Homeland Security employee Kimberley Palmese sent several angry emails to all on the loop’s list ("stop NOW!") a few hours ago, apparently unaware that computer viruses can’t read. "Some Homeland Security," replied sarcastic James Pace, of anti-free trade group Rescue American Jobs. How widespread is this creepy virus? It’s just hooked into a whole slab of CNN senior staffers, including Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn. We’re virally connected! House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s auto-reply, by the way, is programmed to deceive:
Thank you very much for contacting my office about an issue that I know concerns you greatly. Please know that I have acknowledged and registered your opinion, and greatly appreciate hearing your views.
A sequence of code thanks you for your swift response, Mr Speaker. Nancy Pelosi’s robot is just as bogus:
Thank you for contacting my office. Your comments and views are important to me.
More spam worm news shortly. Soon it will be contacting the dead.
UPDATE. Latest to join The Loop of the Gods is James Taranto, who writes: "This list changed my life. I used to be so lonely, but no more!"
The Loop has powers. Powers that bind. Deborah Harris, of Idaho’s Albertson College, hails her new Loopmates: "Gosh, I somehow feel like we're all friends ..."
John "Bonne" Kerry meets Jon Bon Jovi:
This week the rock star Jon Bon Jovi hosted a fundraiser for Mr Kerry at his New Jersey home at which 300 guests raised more than $1 million (£540,000) for the Kerry campaign. Mr Kerry, underlining the importance and financial muscle of the celebrity endorsement, flew in by helicopter for the event.
Hey, maybe that chopper could help him attend Senate hearings. Just an idea. (Kerry’s non-attendance excuse is a blinder: ''I'm running to provide responsible leadership, and I intend to continue to do that.") Back at the Bon Jovi party, Jon B. explains all those accusations of leftoid non-patriotism we keep hearing about:
"I’ve had people drive by my home and shout things out," he said. "And I think that they question my patriotism because I decided to stand up and have a voice. And I stood up to have a voice because I think that’s the most American thing that you can do."
Which is exactly what those loud drivers were doing. Stand up and let Jon Bon Jovi hear your voice, motorists of New Jersey! It’s the most American thing you can do!
Three Saudi women have taken the first step towards receiving their driving licences:
Three Saudi sisters have recently undergone sex change operations and two more sisters are awaiting similar surgery in the Saudi city of Jeddah, Okaz newspaper said today.
Liberation at last.
UPDATE. Trudy Harris in The Australian:
While driving to work last week, Maha Abdo broke one of the golden rules for Muslim women.
Yes: driving to work. In Saudi Arabia, at any rate. Harris’s piece is pegged to the release of a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) report into the views and experiences of Australian Arabs and Muslims, which outlines this nation’s usual wicked intolerance. Unhelpfully, the report is titled "Isma", Arabic for "listen", which might come off as a little intolerant itself. The Gnu Hunter has more.
"In an ideal world," writes Emma Tom, "changes in political direction wouldn't be seen as intrinsically good or bad – they'd be assessed contextually on a case by case basis. But in the real world, Garrett is unlikely to be afforded this courtesy."
It’s an injustice, it is! Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Peter Garrett (x 17), Mark Latham, Cheryl Kernot, Paul Keating, Gary Johns, Nick Prassas, Mark French, Anthony Martin, Seen Lee, John Birmingham, Jackie Stewart, Mark Webber, George W. Bush, Carmen Lawrence, Arthur Chrenkoff, and John Howard.
Also in The Bulletin: Tony Wright says the Garrett installation looks "designed to be the moment the ALP under Latham became Australia's version of Tony Blair's New Labour during its golden period."
Available on June 29: Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man, by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke. Starting with the title, this promises to contain more facts than Moore has cited in his entire career. I'm a contributor, along with Anthony Zoubek, Andrew Sullivan, Kay Hymowitz, and Peter Ross Range. Order your copy now.
The Herald Sun reports:
Islamic groups say [Australian] anti-terrorism laws discriminate against Muslims and should be scrapped.
Take a look. The discrimination is blatant.
"Reagan fascinated Kerry," says a pal. Kerry thinks there are Reagan traits Democrats should adopt. "Kerry sees in Reagan," says his friend, "the qualities too many Democrats have been foolishly embarrassed by: a toughness, confidence, and discipline Kerry would like to see emulated."
Using a caged hamster compared to CO2 as bait in a CDC light-trap with only intermittent fan suction, the hamster attracted less mosquitoes than CO2 emitted at a rate of 225 g/h on days 1 and 2, whereas on days 3 and 4 the smell from the hamster's cage became significantly more attractive than this rate of CO2 for all species of mosquitoes.
My emphasis added. As far as I'm concerned, that’s the final word on the eternal CO2/caged hamster mosquito-attraction debate. And let’s have no pathetic hair-splitting over "intermittent fan suction"; you hamster partisans know as well as I do that CO2 is the superior first- and second-day mosquito lure.
There. I’ve said it. Let the flame wars and the de-linking begin.
"You've been de-bookmarked. Communist."
"So what if hamsters don't perform as well on days 1 and 2? Where are the R&D funds to address this issue and make first day hamsters viable?"
"YOU BASTARD!!! I'LL NEVER READ YOUR BLOG AGAIN!!!"
Cuba's goon-run media is attempting to incite the happy, healthy, completely-literate populace:
The Cuban government and state-controlled press have disseminated the same bogus GI gang-rape photos that WorldNetDaily reported originated on porn sites.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba has published eight of the gang-rape porn photos under the heading, "Accusing Photos." A link on the Ministry's main page, called "The photos that the US does not want to be seen," ("Las Fotos que EE.UU no quiere que se vean") takes readers to a page that presents real photos of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse along with the eight fake rape photos, plus three fake photos of abuse by British soldiers which were published but then retracted by the Daily Mirror.
Via non-fake contributor J.F. Beck. In Miami, only a few miles from Castro’s paradise, Dave Barry continues to taunt the Australian street.
God, how he will pay.
Not even its own staff trust the UN:
A recent poll of 6,086 employees and managers released on the U.N. Web site revealed that the staff has little faith in the world body leadership's commitment to ethics and integrity and that most believe that when allegations of wrongdoing surface, they are not properly handled.
That’s from the New York Post, which has some ethics issues of its own:
The Bonanno crime family conspired with a corrupt New York Post executive to help a carting company win a garbage disposal contract with the newspaper, a former capo testified yesterday.
Hey, at least we’re getting some actual testimony in this "cash for trash" scandal. Still nothing on oil for food.
Why so few posts from me yesterday? Because I was at LUNCH, for hours, drinking EXPENSIVE WINE. Looks like Margo enjoyed a similarly disabling experience. Check out her analysis of a John Howard "peech", and this cogent assessment of current global realities:
The world’s oil is running out and oil is destroying the world we live in, environmentally and in the Middle East.
Oil is destroying the world? We’d better burn it, then. In this.
"Let's go back to 1972," writes Phillip Adams, "when many who voted for Whitlam did so with far greater exhilaration than those who might have granted a second term to Fraser."
Fraser? He means William McMahon. Fraser served three terms from 1975 to 1983. The Age’s Tim Ferguson is also confused, claiming that Big Brother evictee Merlin’s bold refugee stand was "the bravest individual act of protest we have seen on Australian 'reality' television". Except that his protest was against a circumstance that doesn’t exist. Brave? Well, that’s one word for it.
The rest of Ferguson’s piece is unbelievably smug and dickheaded.
My e-mail address has been captured in some type of monster spam loop involving hundreds of other addresses. No big deal; the emails arrive, and get deleted. But where some see minor inconvenience, fellow spam listee "Ginger" sees opportunity:
An odd circumstance just dawned on me, and I would be remiss if I did not take advantage of it immediately. I am sitting here unemployed, desperately searching every resource available, looking for a job. After exhausting all the local publication possibilities, I have resorted to searching the internet for job opportunities.
Now that search is being interrupted by hundreds of spam emails. The emails appear to be coming from some rather well known organizations, government offices, and political affiliations. I must apologize to you all now, because I am about to engage in a little old fashioned American ingenuity. I need a job. Inadvertently, I have access to some potentially well placed people who might have openings.
Following is a copy of my resume. I have omitted personal information. I assume you will have my email address, due to the nature of this spam spoof loop. I will respond individually and privately to any serious inquiry.
Ginger’s resume reveals considerable, and impressive, experience in the field of truck fleet management. Got a job for someone with initiative? Contact Ginger here.
Frightening? It all depends on your point of view:
A leader of militants in Iraq has purportedly written to Osama bin Laden saying his fighters are being squeezed by U.S.-led coalition troops, according to a statement posted Monday on Islamic Web sites.
It was not possible to authenticate the statement allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose insurgent group claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheading of American Nicholas Berg.
"The space of movement is starting to get smaller," it said. "The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening."
The statement says the militant movement in Iraq is racing against time to form battalions that can take control of the country "four months before the formation of the promised Iraqi government, hoping to spoil their plan."
If the militants fail to take over Iraq, "we will have to leave for another land to uphold the (Islamic) banner, or until God chooses us as martyrs," the statement says.
France is nice this time of year.
UPDATE. Lt. Smash investigates:
The purported letter from Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden that was recently posted on an Islamic web site is a virtual copy of the infamous “Zarqawi Memo” that was intercepted by Coalition forces back in February.
Confused by the friendliness between George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the New York Times aims for a new typo record in a single article:
AMr. Kerry will make a fund-raising appearance tonight in New Jersey ...
... at Yale, a school the Clinton's also attended and where they met ...
He referred to one portrait of Theodore Roosevelt in the Cabinet Room: "I used to look at all the time ..."
She said that like her husband, who looked often at the portraits of past president ...
(Via reader Molly R., who spotted at least one extra typo. Locate it, and win* an editing job at the NYT!)
*Offer not valid for residents or citizens
Who makes the best tool kits? DeWalt? Sidchrome? Craftsman? I’m after something midsize: 50-100 pieces, for general house work. And maybe some light dentistry.
UPDATE. Craftsman wins it! Much thanks for the expert advice, including Habib’s impressive weed-whacker improvement tip.
Peter Garrett, man of the people:
Looking a bit lost on his first visit to a racetrack ...
Garrett is 51 ... and he’s never been to a racetrack? Mark Latham usually reviles those who look down their noses at working class pastimes like horse racing; now he’s ramming the anti-worker into Parliament. (Garrett also has no fondness for football.) Gerard Henderson has more on Garrett’s rapidly-evolving views:
Garrett says he does not believe Pine Gap should be closed in view of the intelligence that it gathers and the threat of terrorism. Yet six months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, he wrote that US military bases on Australian soil further link us into global war plans and, since then, all things nuclear are potential terrorist threats. The evidence shows that Garrett has changed his position not on account of terrorism but to make his views more amenable to mainstream politics.
William Safire on the UN’s oil-for-everything-but-food scandal:
Two BNP Paribas sources tell me this: in a storage facility in Lower Manhattan, the bank had a large room containing some 5,000 oil-for-food file folders.
Each folder contained a copy of the bank's letter of credit authorized by a U.N. official to pay a contractor for its shipment; a Notice of Arrival monitored by Cotecna at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr if by ship, or the Jordanian border crossing of Trebil if by truck; and a description of the contract. The original paperwork went to the Rafidain bank in Amman, Jordan; copies of the damning documents are stored by BNP Paribas in New Jersey.
Though the U.N. purchases were supposedly to supply desperate Iraqis with food or medicine, most of this evidence deals with items like construction equipment from Russia, hundreds of Mercedes-Benz limousines from Germany and thousands of bottles of perfume from France.
Those Iraqis may have been poor and sick, but at least they smelled okay. Meanwhile ungrateful Palestinians in Jenin have shot up a UN office because their new UN-constructed homes are too small:
One of the gunmen complained that the 500-square-foot apartment he had been given was too small for he and his wife. "When we have children this apartment will be too small," he reportedly told the UN staff.
The Palestinian population explosion is causing all sorts of problems.
• George Galloway failed to win a seat in the European parliament and his Respect Party claimed just 4.79% of the vote. Nevertheless, Galloway claims his little gang of losers is "the coming power in the land".
• Tragic Micah Wright. He's all confused, as usual.
• Time magazine on blogs and blogging.
• InstaPundit (mentioned in the above piece, natch) has returned from harvesting the seas and is posting even as we speak.
• British Prozac antidote Morrissey has discovered a way to rebuild his profile.
• "Remember Air America?" writes Mark Steyn. "The brilliant pre-publicity campaign marred only by an ill-advised decision to actually launch the product?"
• Kinky Friedman for Governor of Texas!
• Webdiary reader P. Doyle asks: "Is the Sydney Morning Herald immune to embarrassment?"
• John Derbyshire salutes drunken doctors.
Televisual Affairs correspondent Anthony Leach takes aim at the raging Merlin Luck controversy, beginning with reaction to this comment from Greens refugee spokesgal Pamela Curr: "It is fantastic somebody on commercial television had the guts to talk about what is really happening in Australia." Anthony writes:
I like the phrase "what's really happening in Australia." Because what's really happening is that there are no refugees in Australia's immigration detention centres. There hasn't been an illegal vessel for more than two years. The only people who are in the centres choose to be there by refusing the Australian Government's offer of assistance to transport them back to their homelands.
They have, with the assistance of Legal Aid, gone through the various courts and immigration tribunals and have been found NOT to be refugees in accordance with UN guidelines. That's what's actually happening.
National Director of refugee action group A Just Australia, Howard Glenn, said: "I have sent him an e-mail saying if he wants to continue the protest, we will help him out."
Help him out? How? By paying him? He'll need some money because his actions would have breached his contracts with Southern Star and Network Ten. No prizes for you Merlin, you idiot!
The kindly Network Ten has taken pity on Merlin, and allowed the rule-breaking squarehead to keep his prizes. I think he’s donating the car to charity, as per host Gretel Killeen’s suggestion. We now await Merlin's debut in the op-ed pages of the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age.
Sen. John F. Kerry has apparently never heard that nobody walks in Los Angeles.
In town for his daughter's film school graduation Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had a hankering for what aides described as a "quiet stroll" through the neighborhood around his Westwood hotel.
As Kerry headed back to his hotel, he passed a couple of medical students wearing white jackets. One stared in apparent disbelief. "That's John Kerry," the man said. The woman with him asked: "Who's John Kerry?"
Meanwhile, in other caged hamster developments:
If you tease a caged hamster, handle it badly, or poke your fingers into its cage, it may nip you. Usually the bite is so quick and small that the shock hurts more than the wound.
Ouch! Purple heart!
Margo Kingston revisits Cathy Freeman’s Olympic victory, and concludes:
That's why she won buy miles.
John Howard knows how high he’s raised the stakes with his devil’s deal to put the Alliance on the table to save his career.
Party president Catherine Judd made the announcement Sunday, saying the selection process had been "long and robust."
Candidates for the position, which was opened by the resignation of long-time leader Richard Prebble, stood for a general referendum balloting of members and then were evaluated by the caucus.
I'm sure blogging was quite influential in winning over voters. It let them know Rodney Hide more personally and it showed he could campaign in novel ways. ACT, which is polling under the threshold lately, needs someone who is able to attract new voters.
The next step is: will he become minister of Finance? The elections are about a year away and it is likely the current socialist government will fail to get a majority. This would open the door for National (I couldn't describe what they stand for, sort of right of center socialists, but with some economic liberals in there as well) and ACT to form the new government. Because of his background and the party’s focus, Rodney Hide could well become Minister of Finance.
Hide’s central belief -- "Politicians need to tax less and spend more wisely" -- would seem to qualify him for the job.
Demonic BusHitler conservatives are conspiring to re-elect John Howard, claims Labor president Carmen Lawrence:
Party federal president Carmen Lawrence said she believed the administration of President George W. Bush was trying to help conservative Prime Minister John Howard win another term in national elections expected to be held in October or November.
"The US conservative administration is supporting the Australian conservative administration," Lawrence told Channel Nine.
The campaign of the Democratic candidate for the US presidency, John Kerry, has for the first time rejected Mark Latham's plan to recall Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas, leaving the Labor leader without support for the policy in America's political mainstream.
James Rubin, a foreign policy adviser to Senator Kerry, told the Herald in Washington: "John Kerry has been very clear that regardless of what you think about how we got here, here we are. And failure is not an option in Iraq. And the prospect of success in Iraq will be improved by maintaining a substantial contribution from friends and allies, including Australia.
"When the Spanish Government announced its intention to pull out, he was critical of that. So he would be critical of any government's failure to recognise the stakes in Iraq, the need to succeed there, no matter how sympathetic he might be to concerns about how America got to this point."
Kerry for Howard! Scary.
Midnight Oil manager Gary Morris inspired Peter Garrett’s conversion to Christianity, according to music industry talk. So who first inspired Morris -- and, by extension, the Midnight Oil frontman?
Given Garrett’s opposition to conservative Americans, you may be surprised.
UPDATE. Malcolm Farr:
It is said the Nationals were so impressed by Mark Latham's recruitment of Peter Garrett they decided to get their own star candidate.
But they didn't know who.
So John Anderson ordered a crack dirty-tricks team to break into Latham's home, go through his CDs and report back on the Australian recordings he liked most.
Which is why Rodney Rude will head the Nats' Senate ticket at the next election.
And Imre Salusinszky:
Personally I'm supportive of a political career for Garrett, mainly because I see it as our best hope that he will never try to sing again.
Mark Steyn on the anti-Reagan media:
If anything is laid to rest with him at the end of this remarkable week, it ought to be the lazy condescension of the elites. That's all but indestructible, alas. Last Monday, the Washington Post and many other papers carried an Associated Press story by Adam Geller on Reagan's economic legacy which began, ''He had almost no schooling in economics ...'' Actually, that's one of the few things he did have schooling in: In 1932, he earned a bachelor's degree in social science and economics from Eureka College. I guess a certificate from Eureka just doesn't impress these reporters the way Bush's Yale Business School diploma impresses them.
In fact, it seems that the elites may be having second thoughts, albeit a couple of decades too late. Take this chat between CNN's Bernard Shaw and Wolf Blitzer, from Friday's broadcast:
Shaw: "Can I say something that touches at a very sensitive issue?"
Blitzer: "Of course."
Shaw: "The news media, and how we failed to thoroughly cover and communicate the very essences we're talking about, possessed by Ronald Reagan. What I've been reading and what I've been hearing, I did not get during his two terms in office. Or did I miss something?"
Blitzer: "I think you're on to something, Bernie."
Shaw: "I think we failed our viewers, listeners, and readers to an appreciable extent. I can't quantify it, but I'll, I'll put it there. Because I certainly missed a lot."
Blitzer: "I think you're absolutely right, Bernie. We've learned a lot more about this presidency in the years that have followed Ronald Reagan's two terms in office. And I suspect as more of his diaries, more of his papers, more of his speeches, more information is released by the presidential library in Simi Valley, we'll learn even a great deal more."
Yay for learning.
UPDATE. John Howard admits that he, too, got Reagan wrong:
I was wrong about Ronald Reagan. Back in 1980 when the Republican primaries were being held I wanted George Bush (who later became 41st president) to win. My view reflected much of the conventional wisdom at the time. Reagan was a movie star. It was too old at the age of 69 to be commencing a presidential career. He did not seem to have the same background in national political responsibility as his Republican primary rival Bush.
Subsequent events proved me and many others completely wrong.
The New York Times coins a metaphor for the ages:
Like a caged hamster, Senator John Kerry is restless on the road. He pokes at the perimeter of the campaign bubble that envelops him, constantly trying to break out for a walk around the block, a restaurant dinner, the latest movie.
Or some fresh sawdust. And some hamster infants to eat.
Comparison to the greats of modern journalism seems to annoy Robert Fisk:
McNaught: You’ve been bracketed with John Pilger.
Fisk: I don’t want to be bracketed with John Pilger ...
McNaught: Noam Chomsky …
Fisk: Nor poor old Noam, I know Noam very well.
McNaught: Michael Moore … Are you happy to be in that club?
Fisk: I’m not in a club with anyone. I know Pilger, Chomsky quite well. I don’t practise that sort of journalism -- at least I hope I don’t.
Fisk quickly explained that he thinks the Australian is "admirable" and wouldn’t want to be seen "disparaging" him. But what did he mean about "that sort of journalism"? Meanwhile, Mike Moore is so confident about the accuracy of his latest film that he’s hired a team of spin doctors to defend it:
To counteract efforts challenging "Fahrenheit 9/11," he has hired Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, two former political advisers to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, to establish a "war room" that will immediately support any claims made in the movie that come under attack.
The group, he said, will be staffed by six to seven people and will operate 24 hours a day, monitoring newscasts and scanning newspapers, magazines and other publications for statements made discrediting the movie.
"You come at me with anything, we come back with the truth," Moore said.
Six or seven people scanning the press every hour of every day? The man clearly can't tolerate dissent.
New blogger "Jack Hynes" -- his work demands a pseudonym -- has thoughts on George W. Bush’s next move:
My guess is that about October 1, or at any event after the Olympics, he will stick Saddam on trial.
It will be toenail curling stuff. Having spent much of the last ten years reading the relevant reports, and indeed having taken evidence from real political prisoners from the Middle East, I can safely say that when the trials of the Baathists starts, Lyndee England and her mates will become footnotes in history.
The Americans and the Iraqis will be able to call weeks and weeks of revelations of real torture, note, not sexual humiliation but real torture, castration, death, rape, the knock on the door, the grabbing off the street, the disappearances, the killing of children, life under real tyranny, etc.
Bush and Howard will then invite the opponents of the war to ‘remind me again, why we should have left this bloke in power’.
Let’s hope poor Saddam isn’t too traumatised to give evidence.
More kidnapping and murder in Saudi Arabia:
A purported al-Qaida statement yesterday claimed the terror group had kidnapped one American man in the Saudi capital and killed another American. It threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners.
Could be worse. They could treat him as Ba’athists treated Iraqi prisoners.
Security in Saudi seems close to non-existent. Remember this line, from a Khobar insider?
Saudi guards were probably asleep as usual.
Only hours before the latest kidnapping, the UK Telegraph published a piece noting general ineptitude:
The white saloon, its boot wide open, sits on a Riyadh highway in front of an American-owned hotel for two days. The hotel security staff gaze at it but take no action. The occupants of a police car drive by and ignore it.
In a city where nerves are on edge, it is a frightening spectacle - a suspect vehicle that the security forces haven't towed away. It confirms the fear of expatriates that Saudi security remains too lax to cope with the threat from Muslim fanatics determined to drive all infidels out of the kingdom.
"We're told that the penny has dropped, that the security forces are fully ready to protect us," says one British expatriate. "When you see things like this, you know something's going to happen again, soon."
And it did. The London Times (no link available) has almost unbelievable information on the murder of Simon Cumbers:
Simon Cumbers, the BBC cameraman, was chased for almost a mile on foot through the al-Suwaidi suburb of Riyadh before being killed with a shot to his head, according to police. Saudi officers investigating the attack have been told that Cumbers fled clutching his camera after seeing Frank Gardner, his colleague, cut down in a burst of gunfire.
The gunmen, who have yet to be identified, showed no mercy when they caught up with him minutes later.
Where were the cops?
How many supporters of the government will change their vote because Peter Garrett has joined the Labor Party? Barely any, I’d guess, unless conservative voters secretly yearn to support a standard-issue enviro-leftist made wealthy through an ability to sing while suffering grand mal seizures.
Yet delusional Michael Leunig imagines that the government is terrified by Garrett’s ALP membership. On the contrary; Garrett is a gift, as his continued stumbling over the vote-enrolment issue demonstrates. Meanwhile, inspired by Garrett’s Pine Gap backflip, Mark Latham is now reconsidering his position on withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq:
A Labor government would consider leaving troops in Iraq to protect diplomats, federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.
Mr Latham has previously outlined a timetable for Australia's withdrawal from Iraq under a Labor government, saying he hopes to bring soldiers back by Christmas.
UPDATE. We may have another Garrett backflip. Maybe even a double-backflip. Here he offers his opinion on sales of public property:
The selling off of any public property - whether its Telstra, a water board, a part of a forest, a part of the coast, a part of Australia's natural or financial heritage - really bothers me.
So you’d expect Garrett not to purchase any public property, right? Liz Tickner reports in today’s West Australian:
The singer and conservationist lives in Mittagong, in NSW's Southern Highlands, in historic Rowe Cottage, the former boys' home he bought for $425,000 in 1995.
Mr Garrett has refurbished the property and, coupled with soaring property prices in the highlands, it could be worth $1.8 million to $2 million.
And from whom did Garrett buy this historic cottage? From the NSW Department of Community Services, which offloaded the formerly publicly-owned site as part of a widespread sale of assets by the department during the mid-’90s:
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The first point is that the full value of the sales of assets is retained and not lost, either partially or wholly. The agency retains the full value. I am advised that the total figure is an estimate at this stage. However, subject to completion of sales, approximately $5 million will be realised from the disposal of various properties, depending on the outcome of the sales - that is always tinged with some uncertainty. Some of the principal properties involved are Lark Hill and Rath at Campbelltown, estimated to produce $2.6 million; Collier Street, Redhead, near Newcastle, $185,000; Rowe Cottage at Mittagong, a transaction that has been settled and has produced $487,000; Warne Street, Wellington, $230,000; a portion of Renwick at Mittagong, a transaction which has also been settled and has produced $700,000; Jones Street, Moree, also a settled transaction which has produced $34,000; Oriana Street, Coffs Harbour, not a completed transaction but estimated to produce $240,000; and the final major item is Ironbank Road Muswellbrook, estimated to secure $215,000. The larger properties have not been included because it is not anticipated they will result in a sale in this current financial year.
Having secured his ex-government highlands property, Garrett apparently opposes anybody else doing the same:
One estate agent said that a NSW Government proposal to rezone surplus Department of Community Services land across the road from Rowe Cottage into residential blocks could reduce the value of his rural retreat.
Not surprisingly, Mr Garrett is a vocal opponent of the Carr Labor Government's rezoning proposal.
It really bothers him.
UPDATE II. Mark Latham on Labor's culture:
Labor's culture is deeper and more durable than that of other parties. We demand from our members a long and testing apprenticeship before they can run for public office. There is no walk-in, walk-out way of serving working people. It takes a lifelong commitment.
• Drink, bloggers, drink! Alan Anderson has all the details. See you at 8pm.
• Check out Arthur Chrenkoff’s latest round-up of good news from Iraq.
• Michael Moore’s rancid propaganda receives a mixed review after its Hollywood debut.
• Islamic terrorists want to attack France. Why? It's a mystery.
• Alzheimer's Association official Jeanne Dubow says Ronald Reagan will be remembered.
• Nobutaka Watanabe, one of the Japanese peace activists recently held captive in Iraq, has sued his own government, claiming its policies provoked the kidnapping.
• Maureen Dowd declares: "Whether he is right or wrong, George W. Bush is a bummer." Similarly open-minded is Australian political genius Peter Garrett: "I don't agree with the policies of Republican presidents."
• Fox News drew level with CNN a couple of years ago. Since then ... well, take a look.
Peter Garrett has campaigned against Pine Gap for more than twenty years:
In 1986, Peter Garrett became the first civilian to be allowed through the front gates of the American Intelligence installation at Pine Gap. He delivered a notice from the people of Australia saying that they intended to terminate the U.S. Government's lease on the site.
Overnight, Garrett has changed his mind:
He now believes it is an essential part of Australia's security infrastructure.
UPDATE. Evil Pundit celebrates Peter’s conversion.
UPDATE II. Tim Dunlop maintains Webdiary’s tradition of accuracy:
And then there was the righterwing reaction. Tim Blair went into convulsions of confected "battler" outrage, objecting strenuously to the concept of a self-made millionaire with something like a conscience and no hair having any role whatsoever in our democracy.
Considering Garrett’s voting record, he’s the one avoiding a democratic role. Anyway, here's Webdiary's code of ethics:
I will correct errors of fact on Webdiary as soon as possible after they are brought to my attention and will disclose and explain any inadvertent breach of my ethical duties on Webdiary at the first available opportunity.
Let's see how long it takes.
If her US voting intentions are any guide, John Howard should parachute Rachel Hunter into the celebrity-driven Kingsford Smith election:
The New Zealander model - based in Los Angeles - is not eligible to vote in America's Presidential elections but is a fierce Republican and desperately wants to support her idol, Bush Junior.
Hunter explains, "If I could, I would vote for Bush. He has done what needed to be done because if Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden had their way, none of us would be around in 10 years.
"Clinton had a lot of tea parties with celebrities, but [right after] his term, somebody flew two planes into the Twin Towers. What do you want - somebody who keeps your children safe or somebody who throws nice tea parties?"
Environmentalist and former rock star Peter Garrett today rejected claims he had not voted in elections for 10 years, saying he had cast his vote but was not aware he was not on electoral rolls.
The former Midnight Oil frontman confirmed today he would stand for Labor preselection for the Sydney federal seat of Kingsford Smith, saying he had accepted Labor leader Mark Latham's invitation to join the party.
Latham adds a chilling comment:
I'd be surprised that if at some time in the future Peter wasn't a frontline minister in a Labor government.
Who will you vote for in the upcoming Australian federal election ... and why? US readers are also invited to comment.
Attention, fellow Australians! It is vital that you attend immediately to matters of national importance:
Opposition Leader Mark Latham has told Labor that it is "a matter of national importance to our party" that Peter Garrett be fast-tracked into the seat of Kingsford Smith.
The former Midnight Oil lead singer yesterday quit as president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and applied formally to join the ALP, so finally confirming his political intentions.
Quickly! No time is to be lost! Unless you support this initiative, a dull-thinking, argument-losing millionaire greenoid may miss his chance to feast on your taxes! Funny, incidentally, that Latham should insist on fast-tracking Garrett into Parliament, given Garrett's glacial voting record:
Peter Garrett has been a serial vote-dodger for almost a decade, according to Australian Electoral Commission records.
The revelation is a huge embarrassment to Opposition Leader Mark Latham, who has put his leadership on the line to preselect the Midnight Oil lead singer for a safe Sydney seat and install him in federal Parliament.
Meanwhile, Piers Akerman reminds us of Mark Latham’s pledge to:
"Commit myself to this great national purpose: reinventing and revitalising our democracy, opening up greater public participation, cleaning out the excesses of the political system, governing for the people, not the powerful."
Opening up greater public participation? Overruling local branches. Cleaning out excesses of the political system? Indulging political poseurs. Governing for the people, not the powerful? Granting a millionaire non-ALP member easy passage to Parliament.
Still, because this is a matter of national importance, we should set aside any petty partisan disputes. After all, the cruciality of Garrett’s canditature is so overwhelming that Peter FitzSimons has composed the most infantile column yet published in an Australian newspaper.
Such sacrifices -- of self-respect, dignity, and career -- must be rewarded. To that end, I now unreservedly support Garrett’s (and Latham’s) ascent. While John Howard distracts us with inconsequential talk of global terrorism, Mark Latham is calmly focussed on the real issue: giving classic-FM rock identities a free ride on your tab. Vote Latham! Vote awful singers!
Mamdouh Habib, one of two Australians arrested on suspicion of terrorist links and held at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, brought charges against [Bilal] Khazal in November 2001, alleging he had beaten and threatened him in the main street of Lakemba. Mr Khazal denies ever attacking Mr Habib and in February 2002, with Mr Habib detained in Cuba, police withdrew the charges.
Bilal Khazal ... hmmm ... that name rings a bell. Maybe the Gnu Hunter can help out.
UPDATE. The Age’s Greg Hywood:
Ronald Reagan, never understood in this country much beyond his caricature as a simple-minded former B-grade Hollywood actor, was the inspiration behind the modern Australian economy.
Our 13 years of unbroken economic growth have a direct link to Reagan's decision nearly 25 years ago to cut the highest marginal tax rate in the US from 70 per cent to 29 per cent.
UPDATE II. Mark Steyn:
If I understand correctly the left’s dismissal of Ronald Reagan, it’s that he was a third-rate B-movie ham of no consequence and simultaneously such an accomplished actor he was able to fool the American people into believing he was a real President rather than a mere cue-card reader for the military-industrial complex.
An advert for women's underwear has been criticised after it was put up on billboards near two mosques.
The poster, for Wiltshire-based company Sloggi, shows four women wearing only G-strings and high heels, alongside the slogan "It's string time".
Not near any mosques it isn’t.
"This ain’t journalism," realises Margo Kingston, finally. "It's crude political propaganda which shames Australian journalism and stinks to high heaven."
So quit already!
The original Sydney Morning Herald headline.
The subsequent stealth-edited Sydney Morning Herald headline.
Good idea! Let's start by remembering how to spell her name.
Go to this ABC website, click on "Words A-Z" in the left-hand menu, then click "A", then click "Aboriginal suitcase." Helpfully, the site also provides a definition for "gin's handbag".
Via reader Michael C., who notes: "What a wonderful organisation."
UPDATE II. All fixed at Sheilville.
P.J. O’Rourke on ...
Rush Limbaugh: "I usually agree with Rush Limbaugh; therefore I usually don't listen to him."
Bill O’Reilly: "We've all backed away from this fellow while vigorously nodding our heads in agreement."
Ann Coulter: "Ann Coulter, on the cover of Treason, has the look of a soon-to-be-ex wife who has just finished shouting."
Michael Moore: "Approached by someone like Michael Moore, a conservative would drop a quarter in Moore's Starbucks cup and hurriedly walk away."
And himself: "I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop."
Radar is The Sydney Morning Herald’s new ... well, it’s got a comments feature, so it’s kind of like a blog. A weekly blog. Click around and post a review here.
It looks, well, cool. And, aside from hurling the usual city buses up and down Fifth Avenue, the disaster is strangely unmenacing. The big frozen New York harbour looks about as chilly as the Saguenay fjord in Quebec come February. You get the feeling that a touch of the old frontier spirit and some long underwear would see you through. Sure, millions would die, but they’d mostly be whiners and helpless EU nanny-state types. The rest of us would get by on ice fishing and small government. So unlike Al Gore I came away very chipper: as a disaster (the movie, not Al) it’s oddly reassuring. As John Kerry likes to say, bring it on!
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Bob Brown, George W. Bush, Andrew Bartlett, Mark Latham, Saddam Hussein, Ronald Reagan, Barry McGuire, Wally Edwards, John Howard, Peter Garrett, John Anderson, Russell Balding, Michael Duffy, and Jon Faine.
US-based Australian journalist Roger Franklin keeps a small bronze bust of Ronald Reagan next to his keyboard. But Franklin wasn’t always a fan, particularly during Reagan’s first term:
That Reagan was a twit went without saying, but I said it anyway, and with some vitriol. For example, there was the moron's blunder at the Detroit convention, where he said trees were worse polluters than cars. What a dolt not to know the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. How stupid would Americans be to elect him? But of course they did, and for the next eight years, most of what I wrote, including a whole book on corruption and fraud in the Reagan-era Pentagon, chronicled how the sunny fool in the White House was getting it all wrong.
Read the entire, utterly charming piece to learn why Franklin changed his mind. On a similar theme, James Lileks:
"The people have spoken, the idiots," I wrote in my journal after he was elected in 1980. I was living in a boarding house a block from the Valli, an English major at the U, a college paper columnist taking all the usual brave stances: Republicans are repressed hypocrites, Playboy insults women, etc ... 1984. We all believe that Mondale will win, because Reagan’s stupidity and inadequacies are manifest to us. We are thrilled when Mondale announces he will raise taxes. Stern medicine, America! But Reagan wins. I repeat: Reagan wins in 1984. Somewhere Orwell is smiling, man. You can smell the karma curdling.
Again, read on to learn of Lileks' reason for change. Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky recalls the exact moment he became a Reagan convert:
In 1983, I was confined to [a 2.5m x 3m] prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of president Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire".
And from Spartacus:
Like most of my contemporaries growing up in liberal NYC, I voted against Reagan in 1980. By then I was already a disillusioned former lefty, whose attraction to socialist ideals had not withstood my first in-depth exposure to socialist realities, but as a heredity Democrat, I had yet to cross the line and actually vote for a Republican. I also felt somewhat personally invested in Jimmy Carter, since I had been an early and enthusiastic supporter of his, and admired his deeply felt morality, honesty and committment to human rights. Of course, I was not delusional enough to believe that he had been a good President and I may have even been slightly relieved when Reagan won.
Then there’s The Guardian’s Peter Preston, whose opinion has never shifted: "Did Reagan, piling cruise missiles into Europe, dreaming star satellite dreams of zapping bad guys, truly win anything? Didn't he just watch the Soviet Union self-destruct on his watch?"
Watching on his watch? Great writing, Peter. By the way, while you dream of zapping Reagan, your own newspaper is self-destructing. On your watch!
• Margo Kingston hasn’t filed anything for Webdiary, so Jack Robertson helps out by posting a bunch of his random e-mails to press secretaries, defence officials, the Australian Federal Police, the US ambassador, the national media, Santa Claus, Jim Morrison, and the Great Pumpkin. No unifying theme is present, and the piece ends with this inexplicable plea: "I urge you all to think about Greg Shackleton’s last report from Balibo at least once every day."
• More than half of the country’s rugby league players say they are embarrassed to be rugby league players. The other half refused to admit that they were rugby league players.
• Kate Sullivan needs a name for her new dog. My suggestion: "Furry Stroke Victim".
• Apparently there’s some new rule against free speech in Australia.
• Harry Hutton is getting rid of his old step-ladder: "I am not sentimental about throwing it out, since it is only my step-ladder. I never knew my real ladder; he abandoned us when we were small and I was raised by in the forest by a family of foxes. One day I'll tell you of how we were found by a farmer, of our slow return to civilisation, and the adventures we had along the way. It is a beautiful story; stranger than any fiction."
• Andrea Harris visits Fundy Muslim Summer Camp. Sing along!
• Melbourne City Council wants to name a street in honour of AC/DC.
• If Sheila O’Malley hands you her eyeball, it means she likes you.
At least 13 Zimbabwean farms have been invaded in the past couple of weeks, The Independent reports:
The latest victim of the renewed violence is a British grandmother, Pat Campbell, 62, who was beaten by a "security guard" wielding a stick and an AK47 rifle last week when she attempted to feed her cattle on her farm, 90 miles north of Harare. The farm has been allocated by the government to Lieutenant General Phillip Sibanda, commander of the Zimbabwe National Army and a former UN peacekeeper.
Can’t trust the UN. Can’t trust those bitch nuns from Little Children of the Blessed Lady, either:
Arthur and Ansy Swales, who grow maize in the Banket district, 60 miles north of Harare, said they had first been approached in 2002 by nuns from the Little Children of the Blessed Lady order, led by Sister Helen Maminimini and Sister Notvurgo, about using some land to grow vegetables. The couple donated around 90 acres and helped the sisters prepare it, but said the nuns grew increasingly aggressive, demanding expensive equipment and more and more land. Then last month the nuns gave the Swales 24 hours to leave the farm. The couple refused. Eleven days later a group of youths from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party arrived at midnight. "They went and woke up all the workers, and made them run and sing government songs," said Mrs Swales. "They forced the guards to open the barn gates so they could get to the equipment."
If ever you doubted the horrors of Zimbabwe, just remember: it’s a place where they have government songs.
To protest abuses inside Abu Ghraib, the Australian Prisoners Union is calling for a strike:
This is a proposal from the Australian Prisoners Union that there be a call for a strike by prisoners in Australia and their supporters. We would call for parallel actions around the world. It is time to assert ourselves as human beings with a common issue. We know the comradeship of the prison experience.
So, how is this strike going to work?
Prisoners and their communities could decide on a crime strike, and tell the public what would make that possible. To make a conscious decision to not break the law for a day. The police could be asked to show goodwill and tolerance at the same time. If we can show that we can make a difference that would lead to greater possibilities in the future. Worldwide the effect would be enormous.
As the Gweilo writes:
How utterly diabolical. In retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi detainees, criminals worldwide are threatening to deprive us of ... crime.
What would the striking criminals do if strike-breaking scab criminals defied the no-crime order? Beating them up is against the law.
Italian police have arrested a Madrid bombing suspect:
A man has been arrested in Italy in connection with the Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people in March.
The man is accused of being one of the leaders behind the bombings. His arrest in Milan was part of a international operation by police in Europe targeting suspected Islamic militants.
The arrest follows a three-month investigation by Italian intelligence forces. The Interior Ministry said last year alone 71 people were arrested on suspicion of links to "international terrorism".
UPDATE. Forza Azzurri! The Italian hostages in Iraq have been rescued.
UPDATE. Joy of Knitting:
The three Italian hostages have been liberated. In a blitz, thankfully, and not as a gracious concession on the terrorists' side. This means the kidnappers won't be able to pose as the good guys who are so very nice if you only obey their every whim. Remember the Mafia? The more you feed it the stronger it becomes.
Opinion is divided on the ALP’s bold plan to install millionaire celebrity environmentalist law graduate Barker College rock doofus Jesus-squeezer Peter Garrett in the safe Labor seat of Kingsford Smith: is it stupid, or is it incredibly, unbelievably stupid? Third Way exponent Mark Latham maintains an alternative view:
"Peter Garrett would make a fantastic parliamentarian," he told reporters.
"He's dynamic, he's bright, he's an inspiring person (and) I would certainly welcome him to the Labor Party team in Canberra if he decided to run."
If Garrett is so damn good, the ALP should run him in a Liberal-held seat. Latham seems star struck:
"To have someone of Peter Garrett's quality in the Australian Parliament is something that is highly desirable," Mr Latham told Channel Nine, saying he would be "tickled pink" to have him in the caucus.
I reckon the ALP could do worse than choose a man that every Maroubra surfie and the mums and dads who grew up in the '80s would be proud to know. Labor needs passion with its power.
Indeedy. Garrett is famous for his empathy with suburbanites:
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad's so bad he lives in the pub, it's a underarms and football clubs
People in Kingsford Smith like football and pubs. No wonder Labor members are meeting tonight to tell Garrett: "Stay the hell out!" Here’s Labor identity Johnno Johnson:
We believe that Peter Garrett is such a principled person that when he sees the opposition to his candidacy being imposed on the membership of the party, within Kingsford-Smith, that he won't be in it.
Ex-Randwick mayor and ALP member Dominic Sullivan describes Garrett as "some wealthy, aging, former rock star, who doesn't even live in the area, who is not even a member of the Labor Party." That’s just redneck talk, according to Bronze Age lefty Tom Uren:
"I hope (he will stand) because a lot of the people that have really been speaking out against him are rednecks," Mr Uren told ABC radio.
"They're been very, very conservative people.
"I haven't heard any progressive person come out and say anything against Peter Garrett."
Bjorn Lomborg is no redneck. If Garrett does run, his television debate with Lomborg would make a fine campaign ad. For the Liberals.
UPDATE II. "I'm hoping that [Garrett] will take up Labor's offer to join our team," hopes Mark Latham. "He's got convictions." So have Rex Jackson, Andrew Theophanous, Keith Wright, Brian Burke, and Bill D'Arcy. Join the team!
UPDATE III. Alan Ramsey says the pursuit of Garrett -- whose political cool evaporated in the mid-80s -- was led by the Labor leader himself:
Latham has been after a seat for Garrett since he became leader. He is driving the idea, aided and abetted by Labor's senate leader, John Faulkner, now one of Latham's closest allies.
Is recruiting rock trash the best we can expect from highly creative Mark Latham?
UPDATE IV. SMH reader Di Pearton agrees that alleged vote-magnet Garrett should exploit his wild popularity in a non-safe seat:
If Peter Garrett can help defeat John Howard, his candidature for the Labor Party is justified. However, his high profile should be used to win a marginal seat.
UPDATE V. Electrical Trades Union boss Peter Tighe points out Garrett’s deep ties to the Kingsford Smith electorate:
Peter Garrett's first performance as a rock singer, with his band Midnight Oil, was in this seat.
And then he went home. To the North Shore.
UPDATE VI. It's up to Old Baldy whether or not the rank and file is trampled:
The former rock star Peter Garrett looks certain to enter federal politics as a Labor MP despite the opposition of more than 200 ALP members who packed into the Randwick Labor Club last night to vent their outrage at plans to parachute him into the safe seat of Kingsford Smith.
UPDATE VII. Former Labor minister Barry Cohen:
Imagine the reaction in rural Australia, where Labor needs to win and hold seats to have a hope of gaining office. Garrett will go down like a lead balloon in these areas. He won't be able to venture outside the capital cities, unless it's to sing. John Howard can't believe his luck.
Reader N.D. forwards an e-mail received from Saudi Arabia which details last month's Khobar massacre from within. N.D. explains: "I lived [in Saudi] for several years and remain in contact with friends who are still there.
"I don't know the guys mentioned in this e-mail personally, and I've received this e-mail about fourth hand, nevertheless I have no reason to doubt its authenticity ... The spelling mistakes probably arise from someone typing quickly and under some stress." The email, edited to conceal identities, is reproduced below (not italicised, due to length):
Things have got a little hot round here, Contrary to what you are reading on the news, here is the real story. At 6.45 Saturday morning six terrorists scaled the walls of Oasis 3 compound. At the same time another five drove up to the main Vehicle Check Point. There was a civilian car in front of the terrorists and the school bus behind in the que.
There are two gates, supposedly to provide an inspection area.( drive through one the door closes behind. Car gets inspected second door opens car drives onto the compound etc). It appears the internal door was open all the time, so as soon as the car in front of the terrorists drove in. A terrorist popped the sun roof of there vehicle and took out the armed gaurds with machine gun fire. ( Saudi guards were probably asleep as usual).
He then turned round and opened up on the school bus killing two kids and injuring four others two of which are in critical condition 5 and 7 year olds. Fortunatley at this point the terrorists decided to drive into the main compound area giving G. (a security guard) the opportunity to get everybody off the bus and spirit them away to a safe area in the compound.
The terrorists then went on the rampage kicking in doors and slitting the throats of any non-muslims they could find. They took 54 hostages and put them on the sixth floor of the guest hotel in the centre of the compound.
They then booby-trapped all the exits and proceeded to fortify there position. The Soha Towers Hotel. The correct name for the building taken in the siege is located at the far East end of the compound as an attachment to the Soha Oasis. During the first minutes of the initial assault the military personnel on site are reported to have fired over 1000 rounds of 50cal into the building.
At the same time as the attack at Oasis, another group of four went into the Petroleum centre which is next to the DHL building on the main Doha to Khobar road. they opened fire on the occupants killing B. and two phillipino's who had the balls to try and stop them killing B. The police arrived and killed two on site. A third was killed running from the building and the forth escaped over the wall into Al Hada compound.
At the same time as the first two sites were being hit a third group hit the APICORP buiding about quater of a mile away down the Khobar Dammam highway next to raka compound. They used an RPG on the gatehouse and once inside began slitting the throats of non-muslim's. It amazes me how many people managed to survived these injuries. K. got shot as he drove up to the apicorp gates for work.
They dragged him out of the car still alive and tied him to the back of there four wheel drive and drove of up the raka road to the Dammam highway.They made it as far as the intersection lights before a Saudi Civilian rammed there car off the road. They shot him dead before he could get out of his car. The police shot the terrorists before they could make there escape.
The guy who escaped from the Petroleum centre made his way up to the holiday Inn and hijacked a car. before escaping he shot up the holiday Inn however there were no casualties except the building.
Back at Oasis the Saudi Special Forces surrounded the place. at 9.30pm G. managed to get the teachers and kids that were on the bus out presumably through the underground car park to safety.
At about two am on the Sunday morning the Saudi Special Forces attempted to enter the hotel section (not realising it had been booby trapped) and several of them were injured in two explosions. They pulled back when the terrorists threatened to kill the hostages. At 4am two brit C130's landed at Daharan military airbase and according to the british ambassador, members of SO12 provided "logicstical" support to the Saudi Forces. I am told they infiltrated the compond under the cover of darkness but I cant get anyone to confirm this.
At 6.30 am the Saudi Special forces arrive in to National Guard Kowasaki KC113, a smaller version of a chinuck, land on the roof of the hotel and storm the building. During the 0230 assault 2 American military officers were injured both of which were admitted to SAAD Specialist hospital and later flown out to Kuwait.
Following this incident a vehicle was reported to be driving around the Khobar area with 4 armed males on board. The proceeded to kill and injure another 11 security and military personnel located at approximately 5 other compounds with one being confirmed as the Golden Belt. During and after the 0230 incident a number of shots could be herd from different areas of Khobar some small arms fire and some heavy machine gun fire.
The second attack started at 0530 with what was a ground attack and could be considered as a diversion whilst the main assault force approached by air from the south in 4 flights. During the chopper recovery heavy gun fire appeared to be aimed at the helicopters from a position approximately 2 kilometres south of the oasis.
There was very little gunfire and the terrorists surrendered. 7 were captured and two killed. Three others escaped. It is unclear how they managed this with the whole building surrounded with Special Forces. The implication is that they had help.
There is no doubt in my mind that the terrorists were allowed to "escape" if not even escorted away from the facility. The lay out and position of the building is such that an escape attempt would be virtually impossible.
There was a steady stream of ambulances comming out of Oasis all day so the injury toll was a lot higher than anyone here is letting on. Tension is high here and there are unconfirmed reports of shootouts in several parts of Khobar and Dammam. We can hear gunfire but its a fair distance from where we are.
In response to M's question. Its your choice as to whether you decide to come back, there are lots of people "getting out of dodge" as fast as they can. My feeling is this is a time for cool heads, logical thourght and consise action. Irrational people make irrational decisions. For me I'm comfortable to stay at present, however I am evaluating the situation on an hour by hour basis and I'll keep you updated.
On the positive side they have effectivley taken out 17 terrorists and with the prisoners I would expect they will find and arrest a lot more.( The geneaver convention dont apply here so these boys are going to wish they'ed been killed)
Lots of people are scared and there is a feeling of paranoir about, mostly from people who wer'nt anywhere near the site of the action. The locals have been great about this, they are as shocked and disgusted as the expats. More worrying is there fear that this may turn into a full scale revolution. That would mean a slaughter of the sheite population and they are shitting bricks. Having said that from what I'm seeing the government troops have got it pretty well squared away and are on top of any incedents pretty dam quick.
I'm okay as I've said just keep an eye on your e-mail boxes for updates.
UPDATE. Lots more on this from Belmont Club.
The latest on BBC Middle East reporter Frank Gardner, now in a coma following his shooting in Riyadh:
Riddled with bullets, BBC correspondent Frank Gardner pleaded for his life in the Saudi capital shouting to bystanders to help a fellow Muslim, a police officer said today.
"I'm a Muslim, help me, I'm a Muslim, help me," the British father of two daughters cried in Arabic, the officer said.
In his circumstances, I’d say the same thing -- or whatever else might save me. It’s unclear whether Gardner is, in fact, a Muslim. I can’t find any confirmation online. Gardner is described here as "a fluent Arabic-speaker with a degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies", for what it’s worth.
Okay. What if Gardner is a Muslim? This bring us to an awkward place; a reporter’s religion need not influence, or be in any way relevant to, the accuracy of his coverage. Yet the BBC has mentioned George W. Bush’s religion as an explaining behavioural factor. So should a BBC reporter’s religion be similarly considered? Here Gardner moderates an online BBC forum with Arab League advisor Hamza Yusuf:
Gardner: I want to start first with one which reflects a view that I hear a lot as a correspondent every time I go to the Middle East. Ahmad Alam, UK asks: Thousands of Muslims have been killed in Bosnia, over 3,000 Palestinians have been killed since 9/11 by the Israelis and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died because enforced UN sanctions. Why don't these events register in the Western mind? Are Christian, Jewish and Hindu lives worth that much more than Muslim ones?
Later, there is this exchange:
Hamza Yusuf: I think it's secular - you know terrorism to jihad is what adultery is to marriage.
Frank Gardner: It's a great line. I'm going to remember that one.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Gardner is a Muslim. Should his religion have been disclosed by the BBC? Would this influence your opinion of his reporting? Should all journalists’ religious affiliations be disclosed? Should their views disqualify them from certain assignments?
Myself, I'd have preferred to have known that Gardner is (if indeed he is) a Muslim convert. If Phillip Adams identifies Miranda Devine's Catholicism as influential, surely Gardner's religion is equally significant.
(For the record, I'm agnostic, formerly Anglican.)
UPDATE. Natalie Solent has more.
UPDATE II. Mark Steyn: "I get the impression they're not sending a lot of Jews to cover Israel."
UPDATE III. The Australian reports:
Friends said yesterday that Gardner, a father of two and a fluent Arabic speaker with a degree in Arab and Islamic studies, had not converted to Islam but was carrying a small copy of the Koran as a device to try to reassure militants he might encounter.
Also at the above link: Gardner is recovering after surgery to remove multiple bullets.
Today is Fairfax’s day of doom:
Fear and loathing have gripped the Darling Park headquarters of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald. Management has deemed up to 45 senior journalists must go by the end of next month to save $4 million a year. The staff say savings could be found in other areas, such as the fat level of management introduced under departing CEO Fred Hilmer. After negotiations with the journalists' union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, management yesterday released the final details of the redundancy program. Staff have until June 8 to apply. If the bean-counters aren't happy with the cash they can save from those volunteering to be cast off, executions will continue apace. Reporters, editors, sub-editors, designers, artists and photographers on a pay level of J9 or above (about $80,000) are in the sights of editors Robert Whitehead and Phil McLean.
Mark Day predicts trouble:
Having 57 per cent in the two most senior and costly pay brackets cannot be sustained in any balanced business, and in my view Whitehead and McLean have a business case to perform their slim-down.
But that's not how many of those inside Fairfax see it. They say it's an unconscionable dumbing down of the product; a vendetta against the best people in the building; a process devoid of creative awareness; and an issue worthy of stop-work discussions, if not strikes.
"Dumbing down" the Sydney Morning Herald? Talk about your editorial challenges. Management denies that any "list of the unwanted" exists, but it surely must -- you don’t commence a staff cut without some idea of exactly which staff you want cut. Only 15-20 or so voluntary bail-outs are expected, according to Fairfax insiders, so we might shortly see some ominous shoulder-tapping.
A staff chop has been expected for some time, but it's still surprising to see Fairfax go through with it. The culture of the place isn’t quite as hopeless as at The New York Times, but there are similarities; here’s former NYT boss Howell Raines in the May Atlantic:
Hiring mistakes are rarely shown the door at the Times, and the paper can be stuck with them for years. After a probationary period of fourteen weeks would-be staff members get tenure for life. In one famous case a supervising editor missed the fourteen-week deadline for dismissing an unproductive newsroom staffer. The supervisor told the staffer that surely he did not want to stay, on account of a technicality, where he was unwanted. The employee disagreed, said he could live with that, and is still there a quarter century later.
UPDATE. From Amanda Meade's Diary column in The Australian last week (no link):
Still no names to emerge from the Fairfax $8 million redundancy push, although the cost-cutting has already started, with columnists Chris McGillion and Peter FitzSimons losing their op-ed places ... but the comment of the week must go to SMH editor Robert Whitehead who has been telling people that columnist Paddy McGuinness did not resign at all. He sacked him first.
• Silent Running presents D-Day as it might be reported by the modern media -- via the magic of BeebVision!
• Italy’s Joy of Knitting has a question: "European anti-Americanism I can well understand. It's stupid, but I can understand it. It's mainly based on envy. Another reason is of course envy, and then, oh, envy again. But American anti-Americanism? What's the reason for it?"
• Ali at Iraq the Model gets hauled in for suspicious picture-taking. A fine tale, well told.
• Visitors to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, will have learned that the founder’s otherwise-lifelike statue is planted on oversized feet -- because Jack’s petite pedal extremities were too small to support little Jack in statue form. So imagine how big the feet would be underneath this statue.
• Ronald Reagan remembered. A round-up from within the blogosphere and beyond.
(This article first appeared in the Sunday Telegraph)
What happens when a Rolls-Royce and a Tonka truck are cross-mutated in a nuclear accident? You end up with the Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI. Watch it flatten mountains! Listen to it roar! Actually, you don’t hear the twin-turbo five-litre diesel V10 so much as feel it. This engine is a primal force. It’s like having your very own domesticated volcano.
The Touareg’s specifications are a little intimidating: 230 kilowatts of power and 750 Newton metres of torque, which is more metres than Newton ran in his entire life. With that much torque available, grabbing reverse too quickly could snap the continent in two. Or at least launch your drinks out of their holders. Either way, some environmental damage is assured.
So exercise caution. Especially when towing, because these gigantic power reserves can easily make you forget you’ve got something big hooked up behind you -- up to and including objects the size of Randwick.
Or another Touareg. At 2,500 kilos, this unit is equal in mass to the entire Tongan royal family. Behind the wheel, of course, you’d never guess. Steering is light and sharp (helped by tarmac-friendly low-profile tyres), acceleration is extraordinary (0-100kmh in seven seconds or so), and the brakes are outrageous spaceship-sized mega-discs that halt progress more effectively than a Greens-controlled Senate. You haven’t seen calipers this impressive since the last polio outbreak.
Speaking of Greens ... they mightn’t cope too well with the Touareg’s interior. Is walnut an endangered tree species? It might be, after a few years of Touareg production. Global cow stocks seem to be holding, however, so there’s no threat to the Touareg’s delicious seats and other cow-coated trim. Interior quality -- in materials, design, and production -- is world-leading, and soothing in the manner of a English gentlemen’s club. Subsequent upgrades may include a butler.
And then there are all the gadgets! Flipper-style manual override shifters for the six-speed auto. Seats that heat. Variable suspension settings. Independent climate controls for the driver, front passenger, and both rear passengers. Keyless entry and ignition. Sunroof. Enough airbags to refloat the Titanic. Parking beepers to help you avoid unpleasant Hyundai-squashing incidents. Satellite navigation that points out the location of shopping centres, fuel stations (not needed as frequently as might be thought), and the houses of cute women whose husbands are at work (sorry - again, that feature isn’t due until the next upgrade).
Naturally, you can’t expect to buy into all of this with a couple of shopper dockets and a tax refund. The V10-equipped Touareg (an African word meaning: "Two shopper dockets and a tax cheque? Get out of here!") will set you back around $140,000.
Which nonertheless represents tremendous value. The technology supplied in a Touareg would have been inconceivable for a publically-available device only a decade or so ago. Go back a little further, and the only machines capable of transporting so many people in such speed and comfort across continental distances were known as aircraft.
You don’t think we live in a golden age? Consider this: the average worker needs 148 weeks’ earnings to afford a Touareg TDI. In 1960, the same amount of work got you a big Dodge -- with leaf-spring suspension, biscuit-dimension brakes, and a text-based (“map”) navigation system. And a speedometer that ran to perhaps 120 mph, rather than the Touareg’s 320 km/h (!).
One final note. I took a journalist friend -- who has spent considerable time aboard US Air Force One, and in other cashed-up surrounds -- for a brief drive. Afterwards, he didn’t want to get out. "Please," he said, "can I live in this?"
Sales of The Guardian are collapsing like so many pre-war Guardian predictions:
Between April 2003 and April 2004, the daily sales of The Guardian fell by 17,357, or -4.35%. The average daily sale is now only 381,449, which is but 14.32% of the quality national daily newspaper market, or a minuscule 3.14% of the total daily national newspaper market. And this is despite a large increase in the number of weekly supplements issued by the paper (including the new 'Life' supplement on science).
The story for The Observer is perhaps worse. The average Sunday sale is currently 450,119, which represents 16.30% of the quality Sunday national newspaper market and a mere 3.55% of the total Sunday national newspaper market. Losses on April 2003 were 5,363 (-1.18%). But the problems appear to be accelerating, with losses in April 2004 on March 2004 looking worryingly bad at 2,138 (i.e., -0.47% in one month).
Guardian columnist Mark Lawson was the first to run the plastic turkey story. Now the evil bird is exacting its terrible revenge! (Incidentally, I recently contacted The Guardian seeking to interview Lawson. He sent me one e-mail, then ceased correspondence. Possibly he Googled me and became apprehensive.)
Speaking of our favourite Thanksgiving creature, screenwriter and cartoonist Ben Tripp joins the club of fools:
Journalists are falling over themselves to find a scandal they can expose first, thus securing the turf for future book rights. Sy Hersh scores big in Abu Ghreib! Washington Post breaks plastic turkey scandal! There's something dreadfully jejeune about the whole thing. What's so bold about gathering in a mob to pelt Bush with clinker bricks after he's hoist himself, petard-wise. If you want to attack a president, attack him when he's at his most powerful, you pusillanimous, dyslogiac rhyparographers! Pussies!
Funny thing is, if you run a general Google search for “plastic turkey”, the first article that turns up is this -- the Seattle Times version of the original turkey piece from the Washington Post. It doesn’t mention any plastic turkey. In fact, it clearly explains that the turkey was real, yet it’s obviously been massively linked to by anti-Bush obsessives convinced it provides evidence of that which it actually disproves.
Can’t these people read? When 3AW radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell got all turkeyish in a recent newspaper column, a reader sent an e-mail pointing out his mistake. This is the response she received, from Justin Smith, Mitchell’s producer:
A reporter for the Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com, broke the story of the fake turkey shortly after President Bush’s visit to Iraq. I’m sure the article is in their archive system.
Find that article, Justin. I'd love to read it.
At the end of her sneering Reagan obituary ("running against Jimmy Carter, one of the most unpopular presidents in history, he was voted in by only 27 per cent of Americans"), the SMH’s Marian Wilkinson writes:
Eight years after Mr Reagan left the White House in 1988 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and his mind deteriorated rapidly.
As the disease progresses, memory loss, difficulty in completing simple tasks, and more overt personality changes, often combined with depression, become more evident. Mathematical and verbal skills decline, which mean that a person may no longer be able to read instructions or to count their change. Conversation can become empty and meaningless.
The BBC confirmed today that one of its cameramen had been shot dead in the Saudi capital Riyadh and that one of its journalists had been wounded. "The BBC has confirmed this evening that a BBC team has come under fire from gunmen in a suburb of Riyadh," it said.
More from the BBC here.
Distressed over inadequate Australian place-name representation in modern song, Phillip Adams demands action:
What about my home town? Gundy. Population 150, Gundy needs and deserves a song of its own.
Inspiration has struck: If you visit Gundy on a Mundy / You’ll want to stay till Sundy.
I reckon you can do better. Post or e-mail us your own Aussie namecheck lyrics. We’ll publish the best of the bunch – and get the nation singing!
Hooray! Let’s try to help. I’m a white-hot Muslim fundy / I won’t partake of Bundy / I’m headed up to Gundy / Where I won’t be ... er ... shunned-y ... ? / Phillip Adams is rotundy
This would be a lot easier if Adams lived in Hunt.
When Malcolm Fraser decides to weigh in, it’s a sure sign that an issue is over. The ex-Prime Minister -- and they don’t come much more ex than Malcolm -- today shares his opinion on Bush’s post-Howard speech and the situation in Iraq:
How sovereign can a government be if there is a large occupying army within its borders?
Beats me. Ask the Germans.
"I was always grateful to the Americans for liberating us, even though we were the victims of their bombs." Similar sentiments have emerged from Iraq; this is from a Frenchwoman whose town was essentially demolished during the Allied bombardment of Normandy.
Reagan won the Cold War, writes Dinesh D'Souza. But many disagree:
They insist that Soviet communism suffered from chronic economic problems and predictably lapsed, as Time magazine's Strobe Talbott put it, "not because of anything the outside world has done or not done . . . but because of defects and inadequacies at its core".
Defects and inadequacies that Talbott, among others, didn’t detect until after Reagan won the Cold War. No; wait. Sydney Morning Herald reader Catherine Craddock says no such thing ever happened:
Wearing cowboy boots and speaking in cliches no more brought an end to the Soviet Union than it will bring a "shining beacon of democracy to Iraq". History will deal with both fantasies.
Keep the dream alive, Catherine! One of Reagan’s finest gags -- "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes" -- is demeaned as a gaffe in The Age and an ill-timed joke by the SMH’s David Dale; it’s like we’re reliving the ‘80s all over again. “Living” isn’t a condition Australian blogger Niall Cook desires in his ideological opponents; lately the strange, Toyota-loving racist has wished death upon Prime Minister John Howard:
Enjoy your retirement, and may you exit this veil, soonest.
And of Reagan, he writes:
I cheer the passing of yet another failure of U.S. politics.
Odd fellow. A week or so ago Niall denounced local right-wing bloggers as "jigga-boos". I have no idea what he thinks the word means. Perhaps some African-Americans could inform him.
On a more human note, reader Brent has a prized Reagan photograph I’d like to see. Scan it, Brent!
Mark Latham believes Australia is a bigger terrorist target because of our involvement in the war against terror. Gareth Parker presents a counter argument, arising from the recent trial in Perth of terrorist Jack Roche:
According to evidence heard in court, Jack Roche began his terrorist conspiracy on February 15 2000.
That was 19 months before terrorists crashed four commercial airliners in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, 19 months before Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article IV of the ANZUS treaty committing Australia to the war on terrorism, 32 months before 88 Australians were killed by terrorist bombs in Bali and 37 months before the Australian Government committed troops to the war in Iraq.
Gareth has a link to the Roche judgment. Go read.
Mark Steyn: "Only Reagan could have stood there and declared without embarrassment: Tear down this wall! -- and two years later the wall was, indeed, torn down. Ronald Reagan was straightforward and true and said it for everybody."
Arthur Chrenkoff: "The Western sophisticates sneered when he spoke about the 'Evil Empire'; we knew it was evil and that it was an empire - we lived in it."
Florida Cracker: "He was a good man who righted the Ship of State."
Charles Austin: "The original misunderestimated president."
Matt Welch: "When the old fella said 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' I laughed at his blustery naivete, as I did whenever he uttered the phrase 'Evil Empire.' Needless to say, I was wrong about that, and he was right, and I'm still ashamed about it."
Michael Totten: "What I didn't understand, because I was just a kid, was that most people who lived in the Soviet Union agreed with him. I'm sure I'm wrong about some things now and I'll be wrong again in the future. But I'm not making that mistake again."
Dawn Eden: "The difference Reagan made is that our country and the world can now distinguish more clearly what is passing away and what has newness of spirit. It truly is morning in America."
NZ Pundit: "Hero and emancipator of countless millions."
Andrew at Pathetic Earthlings: "I loved him because he taught me to love my country."
William Kristol: "He was able to take the moral offensive against communism not only because he believed the Soviet Union evil, but because he believed America a force for good."
Bob Hawke: "He was always keen to get formal meetings over, so that we could go to lunch and swap a few jokes."
Damian Penny: "I was terrified of Ronald Reagan when I was a child. Today, for his role in bringing down a politcal system that murdered over 100 million people in 70 years (and brought unimaginable misery to millions more), I believe he was a hero."
The Gnu Hunter: "If you relied on surface impressions garnered from the front page of newspapers when he was President you will know he was a dumb cowboy, B-grade actor who should never have been made President. He was in reality the Cold Warrior who won the Cold War."
John Derbyshire: "Reagan had the firmest, clearest, truest moral compass of any modern President."
Andrea Harris: "The commies were scared shitless of him."
Alan Anderson: "Reagan lasted long enough to pass away at a time when the forces of freedom are again on the march. A happy consequence has been the belated recognition of his contribution to the cause of liberty."
George F. Will: "If you seek Ronald Reagan's monument, look around, and consider what you do not see. The Iron Curtain that scarred a continent is gone, as is the Evil Empire responsible for it. The feeling of foreboding -- the sense of shrunken possibilities -- that afflicted Americans 20 years ago has been banished by a new birth of the American belief in perpetually expanding horizons."
Roger L. Simon: "I never voted for him for Governor or President but ... he undoubtedly had more positive effect on history than all those for whom I did."
Andrew Sullivan: "He was and is my hero, my political inspiration, the reason I was proud to call myself a 'conservative,' when I first came into political consciousness."
Jessica’s Well: "Great enough to defeat an enemy without firing a shot, effectively liberating half a continent."
John Howard: "Ronald Reagan, in my view, was the greatest of post World War II American presidents."
Adrian the Cabbie: "Ronald Reagan saved the world from Mutually Assured Destruction. Period. Thanks mate, from me, my son and generations to come."
Pejman Yousefzadeh: "Job well done, Mr. President. We'll miss you. And I'm sorry for rooting against you 24 years ago. Chalk it up to the mistakes of youth."
Ryne McClaren: "His footsteps in the White House during the eight years he was in office will echo forever."
Powerline: "It's difficult for those who weren't politically conscious by 1980 to understand how different it felt to be an American that year compared to eight years later."
John Hawkins: "One of the greatest figures of the 20th century and a better man than I'll ever be."
Fred Gion: "We will remember the fighting spirit, the moral clarity, the optimism and the jokes. 'Reagan dead' is an oxymoron."
Belmont Club: "None of his detractors, however polished and poised, have changed the world so profoundly as this one man."
Sgt. Stryker: "The last President who was worth a damn."
Jennie Taliaferro: "He won the Cold War without firing a shot and he won our hearts by being himself."
Silent Running: "Thanks in large measure to Reagan's steadfast support of the idea that human beings everywhere are entitled to freedom, the Free World has been expanded tremendously."
Farm Accident Digest: "I spent his presidency loathing his policies and considering him a well meaning, but dangerous fool. I have, of course, grown up since then."
Mike Jericho: "May he find in the heavens a place of tranquility befitting a man who brought lasting peace to a world on the verge of nuclear annihilation."
Evil Pundit: "I was a Lefty in the 80s, and while Reagan was President I actually believed all that propaganda about Reagan being a moron who wanted to start World War III. People on the Left regarded him almost exactly the way that they regard Bush now, right down to the snide 'moron' jokes. How wrong I was."
Professor Bunyip: "If Margo, Carlton, Ramsey, Adams or any other member of the ABC/Fairfax axis says a bad word against the memory of Ronald Reagan, they need to be dragged out of their offices and whipped."
Helen at CaribPundit: "May the Lord God give comfort to President Reagan's family in their hour of grief; may He receive our thanks that President Reagan's long night has ended as he goes on to be with Christ Jesus in paradise."
The OmbudsGod: "Viva La Reagan Revolution!"
• O.J. Simpson is so poor these days he can’t even afford a mirror.
• Peter Garrett, Labor candidate? Pray that it happens, for the massive hilarity factor. Also, scroll down for a frightening portrait of retiring ALP fixer Laurie Brereton.
• There are too many great lines in this Mark Steyn column to extract any samples. Just read.
• Andrew Bolt salutes crusading Christine Nixon.
• Sophisticated Paris recently witnessed its second attack on a young Jewish man within a week. The latest victim was stabbed in the chest by someone screaming "God is great."
• Unpredictable Tasmanian governor Richard Butler is turning into Richard Nixon: "I have been told by several good, credible sources from Canberra that there was an interest in some circles in trying to get me brought down or removed from this job. I know it to be true."
• Yesterday’s brilliant fight (or sequence of fights) at the Essendon-Hawthorn game will probably result in 10+ suspensions. And bigger crowds for both clubs next week. Said Hawthorn supporter Angela Hunter: "It was unbelievable. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you can't win, send them home with a few bruises. I thought it was an absolutely magnificent game."
The real test of American resolve will not be our willingness to stay in Iraq, but our desire to keep Bush in office.
Al Qaeda and the Ba'ath Party want to defeat Bush to avenge his tough stance against them after the 9/11 attacks. They know that John Kerry would usher back the Clinton days of timid U.S. reaction and that the Democrat's likely repeal of vital sections of the Patriot Act would open the door for their terror strikes in America.
It is obvious that Osama and his allies all want Bush out. It might profit Bush's supporters (though not the president himself) to point out this obvious fact to the American people.
"These days," wrote Phillip Adams in November, "Iraqis can’t even buy petrol for their vehicles."
Well, cheer up, sadman! They can now:
Iraqis seem to be the only people getting cheap gas as a result of the invasion. They pay just five cents for a gallon — thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer subsidies.
Since Iraq has little capacity to refine its own gasoline, the U.S. government pays about $1.50 a gallon to purchase fuel in neighboring countries and deliver it to Iraqi filling stations. A three-month supply costs American taxpayers more than $500 million, not including the cost of military escorts.
Baghdad taxi driver Osama Hashim says he owes his livelihood to the U.S. taxpayer.
"We thank the Americans. They risked their lives to liberate us and now they are improving our lives," said Hashim, 26, topping up the tank on his beat-up 1983 Volkswagen.
Drive on, Iraq.
Beginning with the headline -- "I won't budge: Latham defies Bush on Iraq" -- this SMH piece is pure, maximum-rotation, vortex-creating spin:
The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, has refused to give ground after an unprecedented attack by President George Bush over his pledge to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, plunging Labor's relations with the US to a new low.
"Nothing President Bush has said today changes our hopes and expectations about the future," Mr Latham said after Mr Bush described Labor's proposed pull-out as "disastrous" and implied that he should not be elected prime minister.
Mr Latham issued a declaration on Iraq policy, repeating Labor's claims that the Government's policies were making Australia a bigger target and diverting resources from the "real" war on terrorism.
Everybody else thought Latham’s statement was simply a statement. At the SMH, Latham’s limp reaction carries the force of a "declaration".
A leading strategic analyst, Hugh White, said Mr Bush's comments were unprecedented and foreshadowed problems for the alliance if Mr Latham and Mr Bush won the elections.
Like Hugh White is someone we need to care about. The SMH should report what actually happened: Latham issued a brief statement and refused all requests for interviews. A negative spin on this might yield the headline: "Latham Dodges Bush Criticism, Hides Like Girl."
Alan Ramsey reaches for a state beyond paranoia:
George Bush rubber-stamped John Howard's "how to vote" card yesterday. Bush needed help from an obliging Murdoch journalist, who in turn had got an assist from an anxious visiting Prime Minister who thought he was about to miss out. But even Bush knows what's expected of him if jolted hard enough. You know, like those hooded Iraqi prisoners with the electric leads on their privates.
That would be “hooded Iraqi prisoner”. Singular. And the electrodes were fake, according to everybody besides old Al. Next, Ramsey rolls out several hundred words of White House transcript, with occasional interjections of “And on, and on, and on” to prove to his editors that he hasn’t gone home or gotten lost on the elevators. Confused and angry, the veteran correspondent then attempts to sort out what happened during press questions following Bush’s meeting with Howard:
The locals' two questions showed no interest in Bush's visitor. The first Australian question asked when the incarcerated David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, buried alive in Guantanamo Bay for 2 years without charge, would face trial. Bush mumbled a non-reply about "the case proceeding". The second Australian question incited Howard. As an American reporter tried to grab the last opportunity, Howard interjected: "Mr Lewis, Steve Lewis, The Australian."
The second Australian question? He means the first, about Hicks and that other idiot. How difficult is it to count to two? Anyway, check the White House transcript linked above for a less addled version of events; for a time, it seemed nobody was game to ask a final question.
Lewis, taking his cue: "President Bush, if I could ask a question?" Bush, scanning the media gaggle: "Where are you?" Lewis: "Just here. Thank you." And then the Murdoch press gallery journalist from Canberra asked the question his Prime Minister had gone half round the world to get answered, out loud, for his election campaign ads.
You really think so, Alan? Can’t see it myself. Then again, there’s lots of things I can’t see that are no doubt swirling in your direct vision even as I write.
(Alan’s borrowed word count in today’s two pieces: 59%. Better than usual!)
UPDATE. Chris Sheil exposes my complete hypocrisy.
From the Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group:
Next Thursday, Harvard is hosting Kofi Annan as Commencement speaker and giving him an honorary degree. Local activists, led by Boston’s Black Ministerial Alliance, and Sudanese survivors of genocide will be rallying to protest at Annan’s inaction on the genocide in Darfur.
The coalition of activists is appealing to people around the world to sign their petition demanding Annan take action. We hope you will alert your readers about the campaign.
Sign the petition here.
Satire mag The Chaser reveals Michael Moore’s next media strategy:
Michael Moore says that he has put the media storm surrounding Fahrenheit 9/11 behind him, and is already working hard on the media storm surrounding his follow-up movie, which has the working title Preaching To The Converted IV.
The director promises his fans that like the rest of his highly successful books and movies, his next film will demonstrate Moore’s enormous political clout by completely convincing lifetime Democrat voters not to vote Republican.
In other publicity-addicted lunatic news, elderly anti-nuke freak Helen Caldicott is the subject of a new film made by her niece. It’s called -- seriously -- Helen’s War: Portrait of a Dissident, and calmly examines the total greatness that is Helen:
Helen's War is a Canadian-Australian co-production that follows Caldicott in the US promoting her book, The New Nuclear Danger, before and after the Bush Administration declared war on Iraq.
The documentary also covers Caldicott's anti-nuclear crusade and shows her with her family.
Fantastic. I can’t wait to not see it.
QUESTION: I would like to know, is it allowed for a wife to suck her husbands private parts if he is wearing a flavoured condom?
ANSWER: It is permissible as long as it does not constitute oral sex.
And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best!
Curse this war! Mark Latham is not happy:
"The war in Iraq and instability in the Middle East have contributed to record high petrol prices that are now hurting Australian motorists."
Latham, of course, supports ratifying the Kyoto Protocol -- which would cause medieval hurt for Australian motorists. Still, Latham will probably ditch the eco-talk if he wins office, and revert to his earlier anti-Green position:
On his first day in the parliament as Opposition Leader, the second question Mark Latham asked the Prime Minister was why wouldn't he sign the Kyoto Protocol. John Howard replied that it would destroy jobs in many of the industrial areas of Australia.
Had he been quicker on his feet, he would have gone on to recall that Latham campaigned in the Cunningham by-election in 2002 warning victory for the Greens candidate would force the closure of BHP's steelworks at Port Kembla and cost 10,000 jobs.
I reviewed Latham's first book in 98 for the Melbourne journal Overland - and for my pains, Marky Mark had a go at me in a speech in Cairns as a "typical left wing academic born with a silver spoon in his mouth who's probably never worked a day in his life". My dad grew up working hard on a farm, I'm stuck on the contract/casual treadmill created by the downsizing of universities - and have sometimes worked up to 70-80 hours a week ... he strikes me as rather thin-skinned and liable to respond to debate or discussion with abuse and putdowns.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if those putdowns hit their target. Last year Latham described me as someone "who is always looking down his nose at working class pastimes". Big opera fan me.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s version of John Keegan’s Daily Telegraph column is more than 200 words shorter than the original, and was clearly edited for space. But did they really have to remove Keegan’s conclusion?
Keegan in the SMH:
It is a regrettable but not wholly to be unexpected outcome of a campaign to overthrow a dangerous Third World dictator.
Keegan in the Telegraph:
It is a regrettable but not wholly to be unexpected outcome of a campaign to overthrow a dangerous Third World dictator. If those who show themselves so eager to denounce the American President and the British Prime Minister feel strongly enough on the issue, please will they explain their reasons for wishing that Saddam Hussein should still be in power in Baghdad.
Amir Butler -- who is quite keen on watching others -- doesn’t much like it when the tables are turned. Writing in The Age, the executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee complains about anti-vilification legislation he formerly supported:
I can say with some confidence that these laws have served only to undermine the very religious freedoms they intended to protect.
At every major Islamic lecture I have attended since litigation began against Catch the Fire Ministries, there have been small groups of evangelical Christians - armed with notepads and pens - jotting down any comment that might later be used as evidence in the present case or presumably future cases. (The Islamic Council of Victoria is suing Catch the Fire under Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.)
The organisations being targeted by these evangelical Christians are neither involved in nor supported the legal action by the Islamic Council, and yet must now suffer the consequences of having their publications and public utterances subjected to a ridiculous level of scrutiny and analysis.
More than a year before 9/11, a Pakistani-British man told the FBI an incredible tale: that he had been trained by bin Laden’s followers to hijack airplanes and was now in America to carry out an attack. The FBI questioned him for weeks, but then let him go home, and never followed up.
Key word missing from all of these items: Clinton. Not that the then-President can be blamed for this apparent FBI failure, but, as the Left enternally reminds us about Bush and 9/11, it happened on his watch.
(Via InstaPundit, currently posting at a daily rate of two-per-hour. Nearly three, if you count updates.)
George W. Bush deals with He Who Would Withdraw:
US President George Bush has delivered an unprecedented blow to the Labor Party, describing Mark Latham's policy of withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq as "disastrous".
Speaking after a one and a half hour meeting with the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the White House, Mr Bush said withdrawing the troops would "dispirit those who love freedom in Iraq" and "embolden our enemy which believes it can shake our will".
"It would be a disastrous decision for the leader of a great country like Australia to say that we're pulling out," Mr Bush said as the two leaders met reporters in Washington early today, Australian time.
"It would say that the Australian Government doesn't see the hope of a free, democratic society [in Iraq]. It would embolden the enemy to believe that they could shake our will."
Reaction to this locally will be something to see. Anticipate rage.
UPDATE. The yelping begins:
US President George W. Bush should pull his head in and stop interfering in Australian domestic policy, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.
Liberals' anti-war hysteria seems to have run its course. I base this conclusion on Al Gore's lunatic anti-war speech last week. Gore always comes out swinging just as an issue is about to go south. He's the stereotypical white guy always clapping on the wrong beat.
At least Gore is getting some applause, even if it’s off-beat and his own. John Kerry is clapless:
Kerry seemed alarmed by the complete absence of applause, or other audience interaction, he was receiving from a small crowd in Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday.
On several occasions, Kerry paused, seemingly expecting applause for his lines. For example, at one point he said, "I will do what I think is best for the country," then waited for applause that only developed after one of his advance staffers began leading a weak round of applause.
His lukewarm reception was so bad that Kerry lost his cool, telling his audience, "I know you don't want to be here anymore."
If only they had an exit strategy.
UPDATE. Reader Bill R. writes:
The St Petersberg Times had a picture of Kerry at my favorite Cuban-American restaurant - La Teresita - in Tampa. I eat there quite often and thank God I wasn't there when Kerry lurched in to press flesh.
The reference to "lurching" may have been subconscious.
UPDATE II. Because I love Cuban food and haven’t been to Florida for years, I asked Bill for some La Teresita menu highlights:
Main dishes are pork, more so than beef, white, yellow, and moro rice (rice mixed with black beans), platins (fried bananas), black and red beans, and cafe con leche that beats anything Starbucks offers. One of the best things is that a party of four can eat for about $30.00.
The best innovation of the past 20 years is ... the smoke alarm?
Next came the mobile phone, which was judged a ground-breaking innovation by 61% of respondents.
In third place in the poll of 1,961 adults was the microwave oven, with 52%.
The SMH doesn’t say so, but these were the results of a British survey. Britain being famous for people calling the fire brigade on their mobile phone after a microwave has exploded. Because they’re cooking a smoke alarm.
A veteran Margo observer writes:
Have you noticed her gathering problem with parenthetic elements, ie pairs of commas and dashes? This now seems to me just as severe as the intractable plural possessives thing. My daughter, who's 11, shows no difficulty handling any of this stuff.
Well, that disqualifies your daughter from a career with the Sydney Morning Herald, mister! Here’s a sample from Margo’s latest:
Today I publish the official document setting out the agreement between the invaders - The U.S., the U.K. and Australia on the Geneva Conventions in Iraq.
Meanwhile, a Kingstonista deputation has descended upon the national US spelling bee:
The protesters' complaints: English spelling is illogical, and the national spelling bee only reinforces the crazy spellings that they say contribute to dyslexia, high illiteracy and harder lives for immigrants.
"We advocate the modernization of English spelling," said Pete Boardman, 58, of Groton, N.Y. The Cornell University bus driver admitted to being a terrible speller.
Contestants paid the protesters little mind as they battled "illogical" English spelling:
By day's end yesterday, 46 of the original 265 spellers remained for today's championship. The participants are competing for a top package of $17,000 in cash and other prizes.
Some of the stumpers yesterday were "phyllotaxy," "triboluminescence," "ziphioid" and "dacquoise."
Which Margo would respectively define as "a non-progressive, deeply discriminatory tax on phylls", "illuminated tribes", "the disease spread by Ziphioid Mary", and "a yummy drink mixed in one of these."
In other newspaper news, the OmsbudGod rounds up OmsbudViews on terrorism. It’s a bad word!
SPELLING BEE UPDATE. Way to go, Akshay Buddiga!
Paul McCartney confesses:
A song like Got To Get You Into My Life, that's directly about pot, although everyone missed it at the time. Day Tripper, that's one about acid. Lucy In The Sky, that's pretty obvious. There's others that make subtle hints about drugs ...
Really? Let’s examine the discography ... Ebony and Ivory? That's got to be Mexican black tar heroin and Peruvian cocaine. Let Me Roll It? Kinda easy to work out. And every single recording since 1978? Valium.
Government ministers today blasted national broadcaster ABC for allowing popular children's show Play School to air the story of a girl going to the fair with her two mothers on Monday.
"I'm Brenna. That's me in the blue. My mums are taking me and my friend Meryn to an amusement park," the little girl says over images of her two mums smiling and waving.
So it’s okay for lesbians to take pre-schoolers to amusement parks ... but whenever I invite pre-schoolers to watch my collection of lesbian DVDs I end up explaining myself in court. How is that fair? Anyway, the ABC’s Claire Henderson defended Play School:
"Play School aims to reflect the diversity of Australian children, embracing all manner of race, religions and family situations," she said.
All family situations? Can’t wait for the domestic violence and child slavery episodes. Australian Democrats senator Brian Greig says the ABC has the right -- no, the duty -- to reflect modern life and culture:
"Gay and lesbian taxpayers, who pay their eight cents a day to the ABC, have a right to have their family structure seen in local content just like everybody else."
Right on! No taxation without representation! Next on Play School: two millionaire conservatives take their children hunting, after which the youngsters skin their prey and compose derisive limericks about Greenpeace.
UPDATE. Brendan O'Reilly exposes the real problem with ABC kids’ TV -- evil capitalism!
Our ABC now promotes countless products to our kids. The ABC Shop devotes about half its floor space to children's products - toys, books, CDs, DVDs, videos and other product tie-ins. Some, like the endless Bananas in Pyjamas and Thomas the Tank Engine products are blatant money-spinners ...
It should be unacceptable for any media outlet to take advantage of our children. But it is unforgiveable that our trusted Aunty has joined in their exploitation too.
"Maureen Dowd entered May with a sonic boom of idiocy that was felt as far away as Australia," writes the wonderful Cathy Seipp, who is to Dowd as sulphuric acid is to kittens.
The toss? Yes. Otherwise NO
I'd buy the game on DVD and watch it again and again if we won, but I think I'll be spending that money on alcohol instead.
Essendon by a thousand. Possibly more if they kick straight
(Via reader Geoffrey G.)
Man of Steel meets Man of Sapphire! Check out Arnie’s supersized blue jewellery -- but be careful: "The only way to protect yourself is by avoiding direct eye contact with that big blue ring Schwarzenegger has been wearing. Repeat: Do NOT stare into the ring. It has hypnotic powers."
Doug Payton sets the record straight:
I was dead wrong. Alexandra Polier, the intern that a Wesley Clarke aide, and later the Drudge Report, said had had an affair of some sort with John Kerry gives the step-by-step description of what she went through during the whole media handling of the story. While Drudge certainly took front and center when he posted the story, blame doesn't lay with him alone by any means. The article hits both new and old media (and some friends of Alexandra's) that all share culpability.
And in some small way it rubs off on me, since I wasn't entirely skeptical enough. I did, however, take her word for it when she denied it, so I hope that counts for something.
I apologize to both Polier and Kerry. I jumped the gun and got slapped back fair and square. I suppose that's easy for me, a miniscule voice in the blogosphere, but I think it's worth saying anyway.
UPDATE. And here’s a positive development at Kerry headquarters -- the Senator’s staffers aren’t kissing up to anti-war journalists:
How do you deal with terrorists? You crush 'em, said Burton, continually shutting down the conversation when I brought up the wimp concept of "root causes." There lay only danger and weakness, apparently. The least suggestion that injustice may be a cause of global insecurity "is giving terrorists a cover." End of conversation.
The New York Times reports:
The Iraqi attitude toward the American occupation forces has swung from apathy and surface friendliness to active dislike. According to a military government official, this is finding expression in the organization of numerous local anti-American organizations throughout the zone and in a rapid increase in the number of attacks on American soldiers. There were more such attacks in the first week of May than in the preceding five months of the occupation, this source declared.
Some words may accidentally have been altered during transmission. Check the above link for the original text. In other "bad-things-only" news, Andrew Bolt writes:
Consider this: the ABC's three most important current affairs shows ran 135 items on Iraq last month. Only one was clearly a good-news story.
Read the whole piece, especially the section that begins: "Isn't it a miracle Iraq has come so far without all those disasters that those who tried to save Saddam's regime warned us of?"
Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter contacted Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury to discover what he thought of Michael Moore adapting the book's title for his stupid new film. Jan Haugland at Secular Blasphemy has the translation:
Bradbury: Michael Moore is a screwed asshole, that is what I think about that case. He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission ... If I just could make him change his title silently, that would be the best thing.
DN: Do you think that is possible, I mean the movie is very famous under that title now?
Bradbury: Who cares? Nobody will see his movie, it is almost dead already. Nevermind, nobody cares.
DN: But it won the Palme d'Or in Cannes?
Bradbury: So what? I have won prizes in different places and they are mostly meaningless. The people there hate us, which is why they gave him the d'Or. It's a meaningless prize.
There’s lots more from the Swedish interview at Jan’s site. Click 'n' go.
"Is Australia's complicit in the US war crimes at Abu Ghraib?" asks Margo Kingston. I's dont's know's! Let's find's out's:
To begin, the fact is that The Sydney Morning Herald's Tom Allard's breaking story on Thursday in Army knew months ago has proved accurate in almost every detail, including Australia's involvement in drafting interrogation technique protocols in Abu Ghraib, investigating abuses and drafting replies to the Red Cross. Layer upon layer of denials of his story by Howard, Hill, Cosgrove and Smith have been stripped away in the days since, partly because the Herald later revealed the official reply to the Red Cross last year, the draft of which the government also had in its possession. You'd think Tom would have got such a detailed, accurate story from someone in government who knew what he or she was talking about, which would mean Australia has its Abu Ghraib whistleblower, like the junior US soldier who blew the whistle at Abu Ghraib and the person who leaked General Tagula's devastating report to Seymour Hersh.
Of course we are complicit in the American's cover-up of the abuses and their extent before April. Of course we are.
UPDATE. That "Australia's complicit" headline has been corrected. The rest of Margo's errors seem intact.
UPDATE II. Margo Kingston:
The latest Iraq scandal to engulf the government is bloody difficult to get your head around.
Fellow cranial navigator (and Meg Lees staffer) Gary Sauer-Thompson:
I've been working all day trying to get my head around energy.
Guys? Forget these complicated issues. They’re beyond you. Master basic spelling and punctuation first.
A former Qantas baggage handler at Sydney Airport charged with a terrorist offence has been granted bail even though police allege that he helped another suspected terrorist, Saleh Jamal, to jump bail and flee to Lebanon.
Great. The guy gets bail. Are we considering any broader issues here? Meanwhile, Michael Ledeen concludes in a wide-ranging piece on the extent of global terror: "This is a time for war."
UPDATE. Greg Hywood writes:
In Australia we still seem strangely disengaged from the terrorism threat. It remains something of a political plaything.
George Galloway seems to have forgotten a certain incident involving Nicholas Berg:
The only professional heads to roll in the whole Iraq imbroglio - Davies, Dyke, Gilligan, Morgan - tumbled into a basket marked "media".
Timely image, pal. Galloway then moves on to the European parliament elections, and foresees his own version of Michael Moore’s Payback Tuesday:
I predict that next week will see the worst election result in Labour history. Then significant numbers on the Labour benches will be staring down the barrel of their own personal general election defeats. Thus the British are the most powerful people in the world on June 10. Give Tony Blair a hard enough slapping and they can bring him down. And umbilically connected as they are, Blair's defenestration would surely be the last straw for Bush's already fading re-election hopes.
Tony Blair’s removal would sweep Bush aside? Makes sense to George.
The government in Zimbabwe has proposed new contracts for all Internet service providers that will force them to block content or report "malicious messages" to the authorities.
The proposed contract, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Tuesday, obliges Internet service providers to "take all necessary measures to prevent" any content inconsistent with Zimbabwe laws to be carried on its network.
Police in Zimbabwe last year arrested 14 people accused of circulating a subversive electronic mail message calling for "violent demonstrations and strikes to push Robert Mugabe out of office".
Sounds like that "crushing of dissent" you sometimes hear journalists complaining about.
Assistant Commissioner Tim Atherton, who ordered six detectives be transferred out of their unit, said yesterday that the police service should not be judged by the actions of a "stupid few".
"In the same way that we do not judge the great nation of the United States by the actions of, perhaps, a few US army officers in a prison in Iraq," he said.
In accordance with standard global procedure, an apology has been issued:
After The West Australian's account of the incident appeared on several American websites, including Drudge Report, there were dozens of letters to the newspaper from outraged Americans here. Mr Atherton, who has apologised to the US Consulate over the incident, said he was concerned by the hysteria generated by reporting of the events.
At last, something worthwhile on the Internet:
The Philippines is to launch on-line betting on cockfights in the next few weeks, officials said.
Oh, yeah! Let the pecking begin!
Phillip Adams rails against George W. Bush’s use of the G-word:
In declaring his wars on terror, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, the French, the Germans, the UN and the Democrats, George W. Bush started saying "God" once, twice, even thrice in every sentence ... Replace God, the Almighty and the Lord with Allah, and Bush's dangerous devotions would be appropriate to an Islamic fundamentalist.
Adams wishes Bush was more like John F. Kennedy, who, he writes, "was a tribal Catholic, not a dogmatist, and kept God out of politics."
Really? Here’s JFK’s inaugural address:
Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
In a 1962 speech on the space program:
As we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.
And an address on the Cuban missile crisis:
Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of right-not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this Hemisphere and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.
Andrew Sullivan reviews developments in Iraq:
If someone had said in February 2003, that by June 2004, Saddam Hussein would have been removed from power and captured; that a diverse new government, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, would be installed; that elections would be scheduled for January 2005; and that the liberation of a devastated country of 25 million in which everyone owns an AK-47 had been accomplished with an army of around 140,000 with a total casualty rate (including accidents and friendly fire) of around 800; that no oil fields had been set aflame; no WMDs had been used; no mass refugee crises had emerged; and no civil war had broken out... well, I think you would come to the conclusion that the war had been an extraordinary success. And you'd be right.
UPDATE. James Lileks:
Yesterday marked the third Memorial Day since 9/11 to pass without a terrorist attack on America. Spin the war however you like; that has to count for something.
• Jailed for terrorism, Jack Roche could be free by May 2007.
• Irshad Manji is one brave lady.
• Readers outside Australia may be surprised to learn that Iraq prison abuses are still front-page news here -- because of a dispute over exactly when the Australian military learned of prisoner abuse. Blogger Reckers offers his opinion.
• Speaking of Scott, he’s applying for a journalistic training programme at The Guardian: "Candidates must be fluent in English and at least one other language, including but not limited to foreign languages, computer languages, English dialects or the vocabulary of music, art or science."
• Imagine life under Mark Latham. A lefty supplies John Howard’s perfect re-election platform.
• In the two months since it was launched, Air America has lost all its founding senior executives except for President Joe Sinton.
• Ralph Nader is doing even better than he was at this point in 2000, writes Matthew Continetti.
The 23rd Psalm has been updated. Meet Psalm 23 version 2.0:
In a new version published by the Church of England, the words: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" are replaced by: "Even if a full-scale violent confrontation breaks out I will not be afraid, Lord." The new version shares with the traditional one the opening line "The Lord is my shepherd", but the psalmist goes on: "He lets me see a country of justice and peace and directs me towards this land" and that His "shepherd's power and love protect me" - instead of "thy rod and thy staff they comfort me".
Readers are invited to submit their own rewritten Biblical verse, after the modern fashion.
Swoon with delight! Margo Kingston today actually uses the phrase "US military industrial complex". And Halliburton is mentioned four times! Best of all, there’s this brilliantly Margolian line:
How sad most the mainstream media is these days.
How sad indeed. You’d expect a mainstream media identity like Margo to at least be able to write a coherent sentence.
This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin is filed from sunny seaside Wollongong and mentions violence, beer, death, wealth, bluejuice, Jake Stone, Stav, BlueScope, Immortal Dominion, Fleshgrind, John Tulloh, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the UN, the ABC, Tony Delroy, David Marr, and -- via Alan E. Brain in comments -- Tony Blair and George W. Bush.
French intellectuals have taken up a new cause, which they describe as a defining issue for modern society. They are calling for more sleep.
Philosophers, authors and scientists have joined forces to campaign for the right to nod off, arguing that tiredness is one of the greatest threats to the developed world, particularly France.
They say the syndrome is exacerbated in France by widespread anguish over globalisation.
The European Union's newest members are using corporate tax cuts to win a bigger share of investment in Europe, and putting pressure on French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to consider tax reductions to spur growth and increase employment.
Companies including Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker, France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and Siemens AG, Germany's biggest engineering company, are building factories and hiring workers in the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU on May 1. The median tax rate in those nations is 19 percent, half that of Germany and compared with 34 percent in France.
(Via reader Matt T.)
Remember when Paul Krugman became all agitated about George W. Bush’s interview with Tim Russert? Here’s what the paranoid economist told Australian television:
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.
Hmmm. It'll be interesting to see what Krugman has to say about House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi:
Appearing on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, predicted the outcome of the race for the White House with Broadway Joe-style certainty.
"I will guarantee you that John Kerry will be president of the United States," Ms. Pelosi told the program's host, Tim Russert ...
It’s possible that Pelosi would not regard it as a legitimate thing if someone else were to take power. Meanwhile, Krugman’s fellow NYT columnist Maureen Dowd has discovered the secret to enjoying Memorial Day weekend -- treat the veterans as gorgeous little mall accessories:
I was one of the snobs who hated the design of the World War II memorial. As a native Washingtonian, I felt sad to see L'Enfant's empty, perfect stretch of mall, elegantly anchored by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, broken up.
But when I went Friday and saw all the adorable World War II veterans rolling in wheelchairs, walking slowly with canes or on their own, sitting on the benches that encircle the fountains, taking pictures with children and grandchildren, meeting up with their old buddies, the memorial was suddenly a lovely place to be.
Thrilled with their moment in the sun in their usual humble way, inspecting the memorial they earned 60 years after D-Day, they looked in that setting as shining and valuable as jewels in a Tiffany's window.
We had an alligator in a tub out in the backyard when I was a kid. My dad brought it home from the water plant where he worked. They'd come in through the big pipes sometimes. I was feeding the gator a hotdog one day and it bit me good. I looked in its alligator eyes and realized that I and it were never going to connect. So it went to live on the farm.
Who’s scared of The Day After Tomorrow? You know, besides Al Gore? The Australian’s Alan Wood theorises:
It will certainly frighten university students and schoolchildren. After all, they have been assiduously prepared to be frightened. According to Mark Latham last week, one of the three issues always raised with him in high schools and universities is the Kyoto protocol.
As Latham said, they have grown up with the issue. It would be more accurate to say they have grown up with teachers pumping ever-so-politically-correct propaganda on Kyoto and climate change down their throats.
Stupid kids. They actually listen to teachers these days?
The OmbudsGod rains godly justice down upon The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. And Italian blog Joy of Knitting considers the Venice Film Festival's dilemma following Fahrenheit 9/11’s Cannes success:
After the first prize to Michael Moore, how are the Venice Festival people going to top that? Noam Chomsky doesn't make movies, as far as I know. Yes, there's always some film director from some obscure place with a film so terminally boring that only his own mother could endure watching it, and perhaps an aunt or two. But Michael Moore? Unless they come out with a prize for the collected videos of OBL, throwing in the prize for best director and best actor as well, I don't see how they can come out of their predicament.
Don’t even mention Cannes to Cuban exile Jesús J. Chao. He gets a little worked up about it.
Adrian the Sydney cabbie observes events outside News Ltd headquarters:
A pizza guy on a bike arrived with 20 pizzas plus bottles of drink. It’s a party! He told me it was a regular order, I think - his English was shithouse. By comparison, over in the glass towers on Sussex, Fairfax night staff receive trays of pastries. There’s something symbolic about this but I’m too tired to work it out ...
In other taxi news:
Sydney taxi drivers will strike later this month, angry at the NSW government's new rules stopping them from knowing their destination.
Arthur Chrenkoff has translated a Polish interview with Marek Edelman, last surviving military leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising. It’s a remarkably powerful document:
Interviewer: ... the Spanish withdrew their troops from Iraq after the terrorist attack in Madrid.
Edelman: Please don't tell me what the Spanish did. So what? Do you seriously think that it will save them from further attacks? No. The weak just get punched in the head. Pacifism lost a long time ago.
Read the whole thing. Much thanks to Arthur for this translation.
Two teenage Frenchsters celebrate their closeness to Germany:
In the centre of Caen yesterday, two teenage visitors from Clermont-Ferrand, in central France, confirmed the changing mood in their country, accelerated by the tragedies of Iraq. "I think we are much closer to Germany now than we ever were to America or Britain," Annalise Laguiller, 18, said.
Well, if you love the Germans so much then why don’t you just let them invade your country with tanks and guns and ... oh. You already did. And they didn’t really need all those tanks and guns, did they?
Her friend, Arlette Roquelle, 17, added: "Bush is our enemy now, much more than any Germans."
Hey, Arlette! Ever wonder why the only German phrase your grandmother knows is "Hello, handsome soldier"? Ask her one day.
(Via reader Bernard M.)
UPDATE. Mark Steyn writes :
In January the municipality of Carquefou in north-western France held a competition. The town's schoolchildren were asked to illustrate what America meant to them. The older pupils turned in pictures of an enslaved Statue of Liberty being run over by Uncle Sam on a motorcycle ...
But even more weirdly obsessive were the entries of the younger children. For them it was all about the evils of Coke and McDonald's. Corpulent American moppets were pictured devouring giant cheeseburgers and sipping giant colas over explanatory slogans like "Obesité assuré". To French schoolchildren, Americans are a race apart - strange, misshapen monsters staggering from across the ocean to devour anything in their path. As the French student advances toward graduation, he comes to understand that the condition of the American behemoth approximates that of the dinosaurs of old: huge bodies, tiny brains, doomed to extinction. After which, the natural leaders of the world will resume their rightful role.
That's why Michael Moore makes such a perfect performing seal for the European intellectual class ...
One year ago today my mother died. She would be pleased with the household improvements. She kept an immaculate house with seven children and without money.
That’s not an extract. It's an entire post. Perfect.
The ABC’s Media Watch recently contacted World Net Daily writer Sherrie Gossett, asking for details of the fake Iraqi-porn scandal Gossett had uncovered on May 4. Last night, Media Watch ran an item on the fake photos -- and didn’t credit Gossett at all:
These phoney images, plucked from porn sites were circulating around the world as evidence of even fouler American abuse of prisoners. Those fakes and worse were published as real on several Arab language internet sites and some Middle Eastern newspapers.
Media Watch is a program about media ethics. Crediting sources is ethical. More comically, Media Watch buried the local lead; turns out the print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald ran the bogus rape images on May 14, which Media Watch pointed to without explaining that publication of the photographs came after the WND story, and also after the Boston Globe had subsequently published the same photographs, and been exposed for doing so. Also, no mention was made of SMH columnist Alan Ramsey, who kept the fake-rape myth running in the next day’s paper.
Media Watch host David Marr indicates his priorities with these comments:
These fakes were a deliberate incitement to anti-American passions - and though they were immediately denounced - they worked ... The pictures were phoney but the anger was real.
Consider the implications of that last sentence.
If you were creeped out by Richard Neville’s SMH piece on the murder of Nicholas Berg, prepare to be completely revolted by the extended version now available at Neville’s site, which includes this update:
The cast of characters now swells to include Michael Moore, who interviewed Nick Berg prior to his departure for Iraq.
No, he didn’t. Pay attention, you hopeless old bong attachment.
(Via Man of Lettuce)
Collingwood footballer Cameron Cloke was recently caught travelling at 144 km/h in a 100 km/h zone. That’s a terrifying twenty-six miles per hour over the limit! Check the humiliating apology Cloke, whose club is sponsored by the Traffic Accident Commission, was forced to read:
"I totally accept that my actions were inappropriate and contrary to the message that the club and the TAC have given to players and the community. There are no excuses for speeding. I was fortunate that neither myself or anyone else was injured and I accept the penalty handed down by the club."
Cloke is injured more frequently playing football than he is ever likely to be while driving at civilised speeds in a safe, modern car on a freeway. Speeding paranoia swamps the nation.
UPDATE. Chris Sheil on May 25:
The government is reeling. All election plans are off. His Darkness has gone back to the drawing board, after a budget that will go down as one of the most comprehensive political failures of his entire period of government. We know all this because today's ACNielsen poll has reinforced the messages from the three other post-budget polls, showing that the ALP now has an extraordinary 12 point (56/44) 2pp spread. If carried through to the real poll, this would give the ALP a massive landslide victory, leading to wild and unprecendented celebratory scenes from one end of the wide brown land to the other.
And Newspoll today:
John Howard and the Coalition have bounced back to an election-winning lead three weeks after the budget - their best position since Mark Latham took over as Labor leader.
In what appears to be a delayed reaction to the budget, there has been a startling 13 percentage-point turnaround in the primary vote, giving the Coalition a 10-point lead over Labor.
These polls will continue to swing around before the election. Best not to take them too seriously.
One for specifically defined liberal electoral democracies, another for countries that aren't quite there but are improving, a third for countries not yet close but not yet totalitarian, and a fourth for the real bad guys. Everybody still gets a seat at the one big table, but only real democracies can ever have veto power, or a significant chairmanship, no matter how temporary. Countries should be given an incentive to liberalize and join the next Circle of Friends; be penalized for being horrible.
If it ever happens, "Circle of Friends" should be part of the official UN description, just so we can see it in New York Times headlines ("Libya ascends to third Circle of Friends"). In the same Norm Geras profile, Matt -- who knows himself well -- answers the question: "What talent would you most like to have?"
The ability to fix anything at all.
An IT company in Nordjylland, Denmark has introduced a novel program to keep employees satisfied. After examining well-known trends in Internet and business traffic, LL Media decided it would be sensible and appreciated to offer all of its employees free subscriptions to Internet pornography.
The company's director, Levi Nielsen, believes that access to porn is a natural fringe benefit, like a free phone or a company car.
(Via reader Paul N.)
An Evian-sponsored panel has named history’s most naturally beautiful women. And coming in at number one:
Film legend Audrey Hepburn was yesterday named the most naturally beautiful woman of all time by a panel of experts.
The women were chosen for their "embodiment of natural beauty, healthy living, beautiful on the inside and out, with great skin and a natural glow to their personality, as well as their complexion", Evian said.
Hepburn certainly was beautiful. But as for “healthy living”, well, Hepburn herself might disagree. As is widely known, that eternally elfin frame was at least partly due to the actress’s Netherlands childhood under Nazi occupation:
During the German occupation, Hepburn suffered from malnutrition (which would permanently affect her weight), witnessed various acts of Nazi brutality, and at one point was forced into hiding with her family.
By 1945, Hepburn’s “healthy living” had left her skeletal and racked with illness:
Audrey is now five-foot-six and weighs ninety pounds, suffering from asthma, jaundice and other diseases due to malnutrition, including anemia and severe edema. Also, her metabolism is permanently affected, leading in future to difficulty gaining weight ...
And an Evian award.